Bristol County, Massachusetts Genealogy Guide
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Bristol County, Massachusetts (Map It) was created on June 2, 1685 as one of three original counties created in the Plymouth Colony. The county was named for its original county seat of Bristol, Massachusetts, which is named for the English port city of Bristol - when the Town of Bristol joined Rhode Island, the name of the county was kept. Learn More About State of Massachusetts History
Bristol County is bordered by Norfolk County (north), Plymouth County (northeast), Newport County, Rhode Island (southwest), Bristol County, Rhode Island (west), Providence County, Rhode Island (northwest).
Bristol County Cities and Towns include Acushnet, Attleboro, Berkley, Dartmouth, Dighton, Easton, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, Mansfield, New Bedford, North Attleborough, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Westport.
Bristol County, Massachusetts Courthouse Records
Bristol County, MA Courthouse
Old Bristol County Courthouse
The Bristol County Courthouse is located in Taunton, Massachusetts. The county seat was Bristol until 1746 when succeeded by Taunton. The Taunton seat divided into three districts in 1837 with Taunton remaining as probate office but only registry of deeds for the Northern District. Learn More About State of Massachusetts Court, Tax, Land and Probate Records.
Please contact the each clerk's department to confirm mailing address, hours, fees and other information before visiting or requesting information because contact information sometimes changes. The Clerk's Office DOES NOT DO RESEARCH. The documents are available to interested parties, barring confidential issues. Most staff will assist people in finding the materials, but it is up to the individual to do the research. For Town Records contact the City/Town Hall Clerk.
The following dates indicates what vital, land, probate, and court records are in Bristol county. The date listed for each category of record is usually the earliest registration filed. The earliest date does not indicate that there are numerous records for that year and does not mean that all such events were actually registered.
- Bristol County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1685. The County Register of Deeds is the place where all transactions of a Real Property nature are recorded so that the public is made aware of their existence. Deeds, mortgages, tax liens, water liens, declaration of homestead and many other kinds of documents regarding the title and ownership of real estate are noted permanently in official records.
- Northern District includes the towns of Attleboro, Berkley, Dighton, Easton, Mansfield, North Attleboro, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk and Taunton.
- Southern District includes the towns of Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, New Bedford and Westport.
- Fall River District includes the towns of Fall River, Freetown, Somerset and Swansea.
- Bristol County Clerk of Probate Court has Probate Records from 1685. The County Clerk of Probate Court has many responsibilities which include the administration of estates, probate of wills, and the appointment of guardians, have been under the jurisdiction of the courts since the 1630s. County courts and later, county judges of probate, were responsible for these functions until 1783, when the probate courts were established. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the probate and family courts were given jurisdiction over adoptions, divorces, name changes, and domestic relations.
- Bristol County Clerk of Courts has Court Records from 1685. The County Clerk of Courts has jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, and equity cases.
- Bristol County Town Clerks has copies of vital records (birth, marriage, divorce and death records). Clerks respond to inquiries regarding vital records, since most have indexes available. They also have tax lists that may still be available at the town office. Earlier taxes for the towns exist as well.
Bristol County, Massachusetts Census Records
- Learn More: State of Massachusetts Census Records
- U.S. Federal Population Schedules: 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (free index), 1890 (fragmented), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940
- State Population Schedules: 1855, 1865
- U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880
- Selected U.S. Federal Census Agriculture Schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880
- Selected U.S. Federal Census Industry Schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880
- Union Veterans Schedules: 1890
Bristol County, Massachusetts Vital Records
- Learn More: State of Massachusetts Vital Records
- Birth, Marriage and Death Records: from late 1916 to present
- Divorce Records: Indexes from 1952 to present
- Locations: Massachusetts Office of Vital Statistics, Massachusetts State Archives (1841-1910)
- Vital Records Online: USAVital, VitalChek or Social Security Death Index
- Vital Records by Mail: Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate Death Certificate Applications.
Bristol County, Massachusetts Resources
- Acushnet Historical Commission
- Attleboro Historic Preservation Society, 185 South Main Street, Attleboro MA 02703; (978) 365-9201
- Easton Historical Commission
- Fort Taber Historical Association
- Norton Historical Society
- Old Colony Historical Society
- Old Dartmouth Historical Society
- Fall River Historical Society
- Bristol Co Chapter, Massachusetts Society of Genealogists
- Bristol County, Massachusetts Message Boards
- Bristol County, Massachusetts Genealogy Forum