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.
- The Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah has many New Hampshire probate records available on microfilm. For collection details see the Family History Library Catalog. Use the "Place Search" option to search for a specific New Hampshire county. Then look for topics labeled "Probate Records" or "Guardianship."
Statewide Record Collections
- Probate Records of the Province of New Hampshire. Reprint, Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage Books, 1989–1990. (FHL 972.2 P2p) These volumes are reprints of volumes 31–39 of the New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers. 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. A digital version of volumes 31-34 (1635-1753) is available on Ancestry ($).
- Melnyk, Marcia D. Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research, 4th ed. Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999. (FHL 974 D27g)
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."