Rhode Island County records can vary extensively from county to county in either quality and also quantity. Some happen to have been carefully maintained while some have been much abused and mistreated. A certain amount of Rhode Island records have simply vanished. For genealogists performing research in Rhode Island you will find no valuable replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia

From a genealogical standpoint, most of the valuable information that can be gained from Rhode Island’s county records involves either federal censuses or court records. County courts didn’t exist in the state prior to 1729. Although, two counties, Newport and Providence, came into existence in 1703. Each of today’s Rhode Island counties was in existence by 1750. Bristol County was formed in 1746 or 1747 because the state of Massachusetts ceded five towns to Rhode Island. Most original records only exist on a town by town basis, but several of them have been compiled and published in groups according to county, probably because of the county structures in other states. The superior court county seat holds most modern court records, while earlier records have been relocated to various sources, such as archives and historical societies. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.

List of Rhode Island Counties

CountyDate FormedParent CountyCounty Seat
Bristol1747Newport CountyBristol
Kent1750Providence CountyEast Greenwich
Newport1703Original CountyNewport
Providence1703Original CountyProvidence
Washington1729 Providence CountyWakefield

Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns: Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, East Providence, Exeter, Foster, Glocester, Hopkinton, Jamestown, Johnston, Lincoln, Little Compton, Middletown, Narragansett, New Shoreham, Newport, North Kingstown, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, The Town Portsmouth, The City of Providence, Richmond, Scituate, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren, Warwick, West Greenwich, West Warwick, Westerly, Woonsocket.


List of Rhode Island Extinct Counties

Rhode Island contains counties that no longer are in existence. They were set up by the state, provincial, or territorial governing administration. Many of these counties were established and disbanded in the 19th century; county boundaries have modified very little since Nineteen hundred in the great majority of states. These counties should be investigated when you are conducting ancestors and family history research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or merged with some other county.

  • King’s County was created on 22 Jun 1703 from Colonial lands, renamed Washington County in 1781.
  • Providence Plantations was created in 1636 from Colonial lands, renamed Providence County in 1703
  • Rhode Island County was created in 1636 from Colonial lands, renamed Newport County in 1729