Historical Facts of Vermont Counties

Vermont County records can vary widely from county to county in both quality not to mention quantity. Some have been very carefully maintained while some have been much misused and neglected. Some Vermont records have purely vanished. For genealogists doing research in Vermont there’s no valuable substitute to have an on-site search of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia

There were only four Vermont counties from 1772 to 1777. They were Cumberland, Charlotte, Albany and Gloucester. Although there were many New Hampshire towns in those counties, they were considered to be part of New York, politically. The records for Gloucester County have been published. Bennington and Cumberland counties were founded in 1777, but Cumberland county ceased to exist in 1781. At that time, it was split into Orange, Windsor and Windham counties. Meanwhile, Rutland County was formed in part of what was Bennington County.

Counties don’t have much meaning in Vermont politically. However, there are some court records, records for unorganized towns and a few other bits of information available in the various county offices. The county designations were also used during the taking of censuses. The probate districts and political boundaries line up for nine Vermont counties. However, there are 6 counties that each had two probate districts. They are: Addison, Bennington, Orange, Rutland, Windham, Windsor

The Addison division was dissolved in 1962 and the Orange division was dissolved much later, in 1994.

Vermont Counties

Vermont is divided into 14 counties. These counties together contain 255 political units, or places, including 237 towns, 9 cities, 5 unincorporated areas, and 4 gores. Each county has a county seat, known in Vermont as shire town. Vermont State Government is located in Montpelier. See Also Vermont City and Town Incorporation and Settlement Dates.

The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Vermont county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Addison October 18, 1785 Part of Rutland and Orange Counties Middlebury
Bennington February 11, 1779 One of the original two counties Bennington
Caledonia November 5, 1792 Part of Orange County St. Johnsbury
Chittenden October 22, 1787 Part of Addison County Burlington
Essex November 5, 1792 Part of Orange County Guildhall
Franklin November 5, 1792 Part of Chittenden County St. Albans
Grand Isle November 9, 1802 Part of Chittenden and Franklin Counties North Hero
Lamoille October 26, 1835 Parts of Chittenden, Franklin, Orleans and Washington Counties Hyde Park
Orange February 22, 1781 Part of Cumberland County Chelsea
Orleans November 5, 1792 Part of Chittenden and Orange Counties Newport
Rutland February 22, 1781 Part of Bennington County Rutland
Washington November 1, 1810(renamed November 8, 1814) Parts of Orange, Caledonia and Chittenden Counties Montpelier
Windham February 22, 1781 One of the original two counties Newfane
Windsor February 22, 1781 Part of Cumberland County. Woodstock
City Government Links

Vermont Directory Downloads


Interactive Map of Vermont Counties Formation

(Vermont maps made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company)

Vermont Extinct Counties

Vermont contains counties that no longer are in existence. They were organized by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. A lot of these counties were established and disbanded during the Nineteenth century; county borders have altered very little since Nineteen hundred in the great majority of states. These counties needs to be researched when performing ancestors and family history research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or consolidated with a different county.

  • Cumberland County: Originally a New York county, it went out of existence as a New York entity in 1777 when Vermont became independent. Land that had been in Cumberland and Gloucester counties, N.Y., then fell under Cumberland County, Vermont, jurisdiction. Cumberland County, Vermont, was abolished in 1781 when Windham, Windsor, and Orange counties were formed.
  • Jefferson County: Formed in 1810; renamed Washington, 1814.

Vermont Counties with Burned Courthouses

The harm to Vermont courthouses drastically has a bearing on genealogists in just about every way. Not only are these types of historic structures torn from each of our lifetimes, so are the files they kept: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they’re gone forever. Although they happen to have been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn up too. The most tragic side of this is the reason that virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist. However, don’t assume all records were destroyed. A number of Vermont counties have dealt with a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Addison County Courthouse – On 25 February 1852 a fire in the courthouse burned the probate records for Addison district (not New Haven). What remains for Addison Probate District records before 1852 are fragments.