Connecticut Court Records – A Guide to Courthouse Research

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State Courthouse RecordsConnecticut Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that Connecticut court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.

Connecticut Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.

  • Inventory of the town and city archives of Connecticut. : Fairfield County  (search.ancestry.com)
  • Inventory of the town and city archives of Connecticut.  (search.ancestry.com)
  • The public records of the colony of Connecticut  (search.ancestry.com)
  • Connecticut City Directories  (search.ancestry.com) This database is a collection of city directories for various years and cities in Connecticut. Generally a city directory will contain an alphabetical list of its citizens, listing the names of the heads of households, their addresses, and occupational information. Sometimes the wife’s name will be listed in parentheses or italics following the husband’s. Often, dates of deaths of individuals listed in the previous year’s directory are listed as well as the names of partners of firms, and when possible, the forwarding addresses or post offices of people who moved to another town. In addition to the alphabetical portion, a city directory may also contain a business directory, street directory, governmental directory, and listings of town officers, schools, societies, churches, post offices, and other miscellaneous matters of general and local interest.


State Court Records

Connecticut Court Records

Record centralization makes it east to research Connecticut state court records. The Connecticut State Library holds many of them. However, research can still be challenging because there are so many different types of court records and documents, including apprenticeships, debts, misdemeanors and warrants.

Until the early 1800s, the justice of the peace held the local-level legal responsibilities. The Connecticut State Library has many of those records on file, although some have not survived.

The particular court was the first legal level before counties were created.

The court of assistants and the trial court came into existence between 1665 and 1711. The former handled divorces, appeals from lower courts and criminal cases. The superior court replaced the court of assistants in 1711. The Connecticut State Library has many of the records for the court of assistants on file.

County designations determine superior court districts. It’s important to research parent counties when looking for early records. The Connecticut State Library is home to most of the available superior court records through the mid-1900s.

County courts presided over any matters where superior courts didn’t have jurisdiction. County courts were sometimes called common please courts or prerogative courts. The county court existed from 1666 to 1855. The Connecticut State Library holds most records for the county court system.

When matters couldn’t be handled by a justice of the peace or the superior courts, those matters were handled by the courts of common please. Then, in 1961, the justice court system was dissolved, the district courts came into being and the county superior courts and state supreme court systems were left in place, creating Connecticut’s modern court system. See Also Research In Court Records.


State Land Records

Connecticut Land Records

As with the rest of New England, legally, England was considered the owner of all Connecticut lands. The settlements didn’t get the rights to their own land until almost 30 years after the first Connecticut settlements were created. That happened when a royal charter was established, giving those rights to the settlers. That charter caused the creation of the United Commonwealth of Connecticut, which was a merging between the Connecticut and New Haven colonies. Before 1662, settlers usually acquired land from the Native Americans in the area.

In 1639, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were established. This constitution of sorts stated that all land transactions had to be recorded within the records for each town. The colony was originally presided over by the Connecticut General Court, which later became the Connecticut General Assembly. It put town proprietors in charge of dividing and selling the lands which they controlled. The town clerk recorded each registered deed as land changed hands.

Each deed book usually has an individual index. Comprehensive grantee and grantor indexes are generally held by each town clerk’s office. The FHL and its branches, as well as the Connecticut State Library have all of the deed books up until around 1900 on microfilm. However, there is no statewide deed index in existence. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research


State Probate Records

Connecticut Probate Records

Although Connecticut records are centralized and jurisdictions are clear for vital records, finding probate records can be a bit harder. There are around 130 different probate districts, but there are 169 towns. Over the last 300 years or so, the lines of jurisdiction have change quite a bit. However, probate functions, including guardianship, estate distribution and wills, have stayed the same.

The General Court, also known as the General Assembly, handled probate issues prior to 1698, in most cases. In some cases, they were handled by the colony secretary, the particular courts and then the county court system. In 1698, the probate courts were formed and jurisdictions were similar to county court jurisdictions. However, the four starting districts started to split by 1719. Continuous divisions created the probate districts as we know them today.

There is a lot of genealogical information to be found in probate court record books, as well as in transcripts, wills, affidavits, receipts and other related paperwork. The FHL and Connecticut State Library hold microfilm copies of probate record books up to 1915 and the offices of the probate clerks hold most of the originals. However the original New Haven records up until around 1922 are actually housed at the Connecticut State Library. It is also home to most of the district estate papers up until about 1900 and a few later papers. Many of the originals have been placed on microfilm. That includes most of the records until 1880 and some that cover as late as 1915. Since the originals are so fragile, they can no longer be photocopied. The Connecticut State Library has a complete index of all of those probate packets. See Also Guide to U.S. Probate Records Research


State Tax Records

Connecticut Tax Records

For most of the time that Connecticut has existed, it has had land and personal property taxes. All taxable items were recorded by a lister (assessor). So, there are many tax records for the state available and a lot of them are in the offices of each town’s clerk or at the Connecticut State Library. However, some records can also be found at the Connecticut Historical Society or in other genealogical groups throughout the state.

The 1798 U.S. District Tax Record lists almost half of the towns. Some towns also had listings for the years 1813-1816. Itemized personal property and land listings in those documents can be very valuable to genealogical researchers. Out-of-state land owners are also listed in some later documents. The Connecticut Historical Society holds many original records. See Also Guide to U.S. Tax Records Research


State Immigration Records

Connecticut Immigration & Naturalization Records

Prior to the start of the 1900s, any court in the state had the ability to grant a naturalization. The Connecticut State Library has many of those records on microfilm, but many of the originals are held by the National Archives-Northeast Region and a few can still be found in the county courthouses in the state. The New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport federal district courts hold records of naturalization granted since 1906. See Also Guide to U.S. Immigration Records Research


State Government Records

Connecticut County & City Government Links

Counties were abolished in 1959. Connecticut is divided into 169 towns. This list of city government links is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Connecticut city that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please send us an email so we may edit our database. Connecticut State Government is located in Hartford.

State of Connecticut County & City Government Links
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