Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.pngWorcester County

FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925 .
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What is in the Collection?

This collection contains probate estate files of Worcester County located at the Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston. The files are arranged by number then alphabetical by surname. The collection is being published as images become available

Probate records include the following types of documents:

  • Petitions
  • Inventories
  • Accounts
  • Decrees
  • Oaths of executors
  • Forms about guardians
  • Other court documents
You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925.

Collection Contents

The records usually include:

  • Name of testator or deceased
  • Names of heirs such as spouse, children, and other relatives or friends
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residence of testator
  • Lists of belongings, property, and so forth
  • Document and recording dates (Sometimes the date of death will be given. Recording dates are also used to approximate event dates, i.e. a letter of administration was usually written shortly after the time of death.)

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search you will need to know:

  • The place of residence
  • The approximate death or probate date
  • The name of the deceased

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page,
⇒Select the "County"
⇒Select the "Case File Number and Year Range" which takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
  • Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions.
  • Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Related Websites

Massachusetts Probate Records

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.


Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.


Collection Citation:

"Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Suffolk County Courthouse, Boston.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925.