Essex County, Massachusetts Genealogy Guide
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Essex County, Massachusetts (Map It) was created on May 10, 1643 as one of four original counties created in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The county was named for the English county of Essex. Learn More About State of Massachusetts History
Essex County Cities and Towns include Amesbury, Andover, Beverly, Boxford, Byfield, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Gloucester, Groveland, Hamilton, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lawrence, Lynn, Lynnfield, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Peabody, Rockport, Rowley, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham and West Newbury.
Essex County, Massachusetts Courthouse Records
Essex County, MA Courthouse
The Essex County Courthouse is located in Salem, Massachusetts & Lawrence, Massachusetts. The county government was abolished on July 1, 1999. The county was divided into two districts in 1869. The Salem office is the "parent" county seat. After that it remained the probate office for the county, but the registry of deeds for only the Southern District. This registry also has all the "old" Norfolk County (1637-1714) and Ipswich Series Deeds, 1640-94, two of which have been transcribed by George Sanborn for the manuscript collection at New England Historic Genealogical Society. Essex court records to 1800 are at the Peabody Essex Museum. 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 Essex 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.
- Essex County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1637. 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.
- Southern District includes the towns of Amesbury, Beverly, Boxford, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Gloucester, Groveland, Hamilton, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lynn, Lynnfield, Manchester, Marblehead, Merrimac, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, Peabody, Rockport, Rowley, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham, and West Newbury.
- Northern District includes the towns of Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover.
- Essex County Clerk of Probate Court has Probate Records from 1635. 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.
- Essex County Clerk of Courts has Court Records from 1636. The County Clerk of Courts has jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, and equity cases.
- Essex 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.
Essex 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
Essex 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.
Essex County, Massachusetts Resources
- Andover Historical Society
- Beverly Historical Society
- Cape Ann Historical Society
- Danvers Historical Society
- Essex Historical Society
- Georgetown Historical Society
- Haverhill Historical Society
- Historical Society of Old Newbury
- Methuen Historical Society
- Newburyport Maritime Society
- Peabody Historical Society
- Saugus Historical Society
- Essex County, Massachusetts Message Boards
- Essex County, Massachusetts Genealogy Forum