Massachusetts Court Records can help you in a lot of subject areas in your genealogy research. You may be investigating land ownership, taxes, or naturalizations. The thing with court records in Massachusetts is that they change greatly from each county in both terms of volume and quality. Therefore you will have to go by different methods and different Massachusetts courthouses to look for documents in each county. A good rule of thumb is to procure MA court record from the courthouse that originally issued them, especially if you’re looking to obtain certified copies of court documents.
Massachusetts court records in the Plymouth colony, which is also referred to as the Old Colony, operated a unique area for the most part of the seventeenth century. In 1692, all the records were merged with Massachusetts Bay Province. Today the towns that are currently deemed a part of the counties of Plymouth, Barnstable, and Bristol used to be under Plymouth. Therefore it was the County Commissioner of Plymouth whose offices kept records regarding wills, and other deeds. The Massachusetts Archives maintains their manuscript archives. Many cases have published records in the State Library.
Many early Massachusetts court records are available in print. The Massachusetts General Court of the state was established in 1629, the court met only once every three months and operated as a religious and peaceful government. Years after that, every county acquired their own inferior quarter courts. Here civil and criminal cases as well as common pleas were heard. In 1692 the system changed again and along with it the courts of general session.
You can walk into state courthouses or the County Registry of Deeds and make use of the public computers there to access information regarding court records. Docket entries that are heard by the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court can be searched online through the state?s official site. You do not need passwords here. All searches are to be conducted by inputting information like the docket number, the name of the involved party, or the attorney. You can access this information any day of the week, and it is always updated so that attorneys and the residents of Massachusetts can get their hands on accurate information.
All records from the various courts in Massachusetts are put out the county pages. Every record regardless of the county is under the control and authority of the Supreme Judicial Court. The court documents involve three types of records that are file papers, record books, and docket books.
Docket books have information regarding civil actions that were heard in court in chronological order,. Minute Books contain criminal cases. Record books are about history of cases and the action, plaintiff, and defendant of a certain case. Here you won?t find more than a few records from before the nineteenth century.