New Hampshire Probate Records
Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.” Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. For further information about probate records and the probate process see United States Probate Records.
Probate records from 1636–1771, originally filed in Portsmouth and Exeter, are now in the collection at the New Hampshire Records Management and Archives. Probate records are now found in the county courthouse of each county. These probate files include letters, affidavits, bills, receipts, original wills, and inventories. Records of towns along the Massachusetts border may be found in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Some early probate records have been printed and can be found in:
Many of the probate records are on microfilm at the Family History Library. They can be found by using the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
NEW HAMPSHIRE- PROBATE RECORDS
NEW HAMPSHIRE [COUNTY]- PROBATE RECORDS
NEW HAMPSHIRE [COUNTY]- GUARDIANSHIP
Statewide Record Collections
- Probate Records of the Province of New Hampshire. Reprint, Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage Books, 1989–1990. (Family History Library book 972.2 P2p.) These volumes are reprints of volumes 31–39 of the New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers. (See "Court Records" in this outline for the full citation.) They include abstracts of the wills and probate records between 1635–1771. The indexes include the names of those mentioned in the records, including the names of heirs, witnesses, and owners of nearby land.
- Colonial Court Records, 1638–1772, Approx., cited in "Court Records" in this outline, contains references to many probate cases. Province Deeds and Probate Records from 1623– 1772, mentioned in the "Land Records" section of this outline, also contains abstracts of probate records.
- Melnyk, Marcia D. Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research, 4th ed. Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999. (FHL book 974 D27g)
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."