New Hampshire Court Records – A Guide to Courthouse Research

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State Courthouse RecordsNew Hampshire 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 New Hampshire 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.

New Hampshire 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.


State Court Records

New Hampshire Court Records

There are deeds and probate records located in each county, but there are also court records available as well. Inferior courts of common please, courts of general sessions of the peace, and superior courts existed at various points in time. They dealt with a number of issues, including naturalization, criminal cases, civil cases, and equity cases. Naturalization records can be found in the superior court files.

Starting in the 1870s, divorce records have been indexed by the Bureau of Vital Records. Each county’s superior court holds those records, although some are filed as part of legislative petitions, if they are from earlier years.

The New Hampshire Records and Archives has an index of provincial court records up until 1771. The county seat generally took possession of any records recorded after that year. Some defendant and plaintiff records have card indexes to help the researcher. Many of those records have been moved from each county seat to the New Hampshire Records and Archives. Those records include: Grafton (1773-1899), Hillsborough (to 1880), Merrimack (to 1870), Rockingham (1772-1860), Strafford (1773-1850), Sullivan (to 1880).

The New Hampshire State Library holds microfilmed docket books and court records for the counties of Strafford, Grafton, and Merrimack. Dover-Portsmouth Quarterly Court records from 1640 to 1692 are listed in volume 40 of the New Hampshire State Papers. The FHL and the New Hampshire Records and Archives each hold various court records and indexes from colonial times. The courts were established according to county boundaries, after New Hampshire became a state. See Also Research In Court Records.


State Land Records

New Hampshire Land Records

Exeter was the location where provincial deeds up until 1771 were filed, generally. However, some were filed in Ipswich and others were filed in Salem, Massachusetts, such as the Norfolk County deeds. The first 100 volumes of the Exeter deeds can be found at the New Hampshire Records and Archives. But the originals and microfilmed copies are there.

In 1769, counties were created in New Hampshire. After that, all land transactions were to be recorded at each county seat, but that didn’t actually happen until 1771. Stafford County records are the exception. The new courthouse was not constructed until 1773 in that county. Grantee and grantee volume indexes exist in each of the county offices. They are organized chronologically and then, in most cases, by town name. The town name can be especially useful for identifying land ownership in cases where two people with the same surname owned land. In some cases “metes and bounds” or lot numbers are listed in the property descriptions on the deeds.

Original deed books can be found at New Hampshire Records and Archives, along with an index of 1771 to 1824 Rockingham County deeds. Those records also include Strafford County land transactions from 1771 to 1773. The New Hampshire Records and Archives holds 116 volumes of early Grafton County deeds on microfilm, along with an index of those deeds for the years of 1773 to 1870. The Grafton County courthouse, which is located in North Haverhill, holds the original deed volumes. Deeds for every other New Hampshire county have been placed on microfilm and housed at that county’s seat. The FHL has microfilmed deed books for many counties up until around 1850 on file. The New England Historic Genealogical Society also has a collection of deed records on file, and they are always expanding upon that collection.

Geographic boundary issues created a situation that resulted in some land transaction records from Cheshire County being recorded in Massachusetts, rather than in New Hampshire. So, researchers should consult records in Springfield, Massachusetts, at the Hampden County Courthouse, if they are interested in Cheshire County records. It is also worth noting that the Province Deeds may list information on land grants for New Hampshire in areas that later became part of Vermont. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research


State Probate Records

New Hampshire Probate Records

The colonial era (1636 to 1771) probate records for New Hampshire were originally filed in Exeter and Portsmouth. However, they can now be found at the New Hampshire Records and Archives. The New Hampshire State Papers volumes 31 through 39 also include some of those records. Researchers may need to consult Massachusetts county records for probate records from New Hampshire towns that are near the Massachusetts border. For example, Essex County (Mass.) Probate Index, 1636-1840 should be consulted for Rockingham County records.

Probate records were filed at the county seats, once counties were formed in the state. The records for Coos County from pre-1887 were lost in a fire. All other records still exist today.

Indexes and abstracts of probate records should be consulted, but so should original documents. Each county has its own collection of documents, which may include: Wills, Inventories, Receipts, Bills, Affidavits, Letters.

Some records were recorded in probate books, while others were recorded separately. That is why original records and files need to be consulted. See Also Guide to U.S. Probate Records Research


State Tax Records

New Hampshire Tax Records

New Hampshire tax lists are located in various locations across the state and they have not been fully indexed or surveyed. Town clerk offices, town meeting minutes, manuscript collections, repositories, and archives can each hold some of those records. Annual assessments often feature names of business or property owners in the state, regardless of whether they resided outside of the state. Annual assessments also give information about the number of males of voting age at the time, milling products, animals, land acreage and other important points. So, researchers may learn interesting information from such records, especially about males who moved in or out of a town and the ages of males at the time. Even non-landowners were listed in those assessments. However, some town officials were not required to be listed.

The non-resident tax lists from 1849 to 1974 are important tax records for researchers. The originals can be found at the New Hampshire Records and Archives. There are also microfilmed copies available. It is also important to note that certain tax lists that were printed were actually filed under the heading “Census Records.” A direct tax was ordered in 1798. The returns from that time for nine towns in Strafford County, New Hampshire have been located and published by Heritage Books. See Also Guide to U.S. Tax Records Research


State Immigration Records

New Hampshire Immigration & Naturalization Records

The state of New Hampshire has 32 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. However, it was not a major immigration port. In the late 1900s, many immigrants traveled to New Hampshire from either Massachusetts or Canada. The New Hampshire State Library, American-Canadian Genealogical Society Library, and New Hampshire Historical Society all have valuable records on file relating to those immigrants. See Also Guide to U.S. Immigration Records Research


State Government Records

New Hampshire County & City Government Links

New Hampshire contains 10 counties. Each county is the local level of government within its borders. 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 New Hampshire 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. New Hampshire State Government is located in Concord.

State of New Hampshire County & City Government Links
County

Government

County Seat

Government

County

Government

County Seat

Government

Belknap Laconia Hillsborough Manchester & Nashua
Carroll Ossipee Merrimack Concord
Cheshire Keene Rockingham Brentwood
Coos Lancaster Strafford Dover
Grafton Haverhill Sullivan Newport