A Guide to the Court Records of Early Massachusetts

    IN 1977 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, inventoried the records of the major trial court of the state, the Superior Court and its predecessors.1653 The records included in this inventory spanned over three and a half centuries, excluding only the lesser trial courts, specialized courts, and the “Suffolk Files” records of the highest courts—the Superior Court of Judicature and the Supreme Judicial Court.1654

    This article is designed to supplement and complement the 1977 inventory for researchers wishing to use early (pre-1859) records. Because it was not possible to revisit every courthouse, this inventory, based on the 1977 field survey, is restricted to the records of the major trial courts.1655 Nevertheless, this guide to using court records and the history of the courts will aid researchers using Massachusetts court records which are not included in the inventory.

    The following summary of history of the courts and their jurisdictions in Massachusetts up to 1859 is not intended as definitive. Rather, it is intended to aid the researcher to determine which court’s records are appropriate for a particular research task.

    The Organization and Jurisdiction of Early Massachusetts Courts

    Although the names and powers of the courts in Massachusetts changed significantly from the founding of the colony to the Civil War, the history of the jurisdiction of the various courts is not complicated. One basic principle was in place throughout most of that period—a three-tiered system of courts, with jurisdiction based primarily, but not exclusively, on the seriousness of the dispute or criminal charge. Appeals from a lower-tier court could generally be heard at the next higher tier. At almost every point in Massachusetts history there was: (1) a person or court to handle minor civil and criminal matters (commissioner, justice of the peace, or municipal court; (2) a trial court for most of the remaining jurisdiction (County Court, Court of Common Pleas, Superior Court); and (3) a high court which was primarily appellate, but which also had some original jurisdiction (Court of Assistants, Superior Court of Judicature, Supreme Judicial Court).

    The three-tiered structure was by no means static. Jurisdiction frequently shifted, particularly in the direction of narrowing the original jurisdiction of the highest court. In addition, the courts themselves were frequently reorganized and renamed. Finally, specialized courts, such as the Strangers Court created in 1639, were established to deal with an increasingly complex economy and society and the greater role of the law in those spheres.

    The first trial courts in Massachusetts were the county courts, established in 1636. Located in Cambridge, Boston, Ipswich, Salem, Springfield, and York (now Maine), these Inferior Quarter Courts, as they were also known, were circuit quarterly courts of general civil and criminal jurisdiction staffed by local magistrates appointed by the General Court. County courts heard civil cases involving disputes greater than 40 shillings and not exceeding £10, as well as all criminal cases other than those punishable by banishment or loss of life or limb.1656

    Cases under 40 shillings could be heard initially by magistrates and, after 1647, by one-person commissioner’s courts in towns without magistrates. The criminal jurisdiction of the commissioner’s courts included drunkenness, lying, swearing, and theft. Commissioners were also empowered to lay out highways, appoint masters of the correction houses, license innkeepers, and maintain highways. Appeals from these courts could be heard by the county courts.1657

    The next level was the Court of Assistants, also known as the Greater Quarter Court, composed of the governor, deputy governor, and twelve Assistants. This same group also functioned as the Governor’s Council. The Court of Assistants met twice a year for judicial business, hearing criminal cases punishable by loss of life or limb, divorces, and civil cases above the jurisdictional level of the county courts.1658 The Court of Assistants also heard appeals from the county courts.

    The county courts, commissioner’s courts, and the Court of Assistants comprised the three-tier model described earlier. But in the half-century under the original charter, the aptly named General Court, while primarily a legislative body, had an adjudicative function as well, acting as a supreme court for appeals from the Court of Assistants.1659 The General Court was composed of the Court of Assistants plus the deputies from the towns.

    The revocation of the charter in 1684 led to a reorganization of the courts, with the three-tiered structure retained, but names, structures, and jurisdictions altered. In 1692 the Inferior Court of Common Pleas replaced the old county courts. The Court of Common Pleas was a quarterly circuit court composed of four justices in each county, three of whom were a quorum. Its jurisdiction extended to all civil cases above forty shillings. Cases below that amount which did not involve land titles were heard by constables and justices of the peace, but were appealable to Common Pleas.1660 The Court of Common Pleas was the main trial court in Massachusetts until 1859, although it underwent slight changes in name and more significant changes in structure over the 167 years.

    Contemporaneous with the establishment of Common Pleas, a new court was created—the Court of General Sessions of the Peace. Composed of the justices of the peace in each county sitting collectively, this court had both administrative and adjudicatory functions. In its adjudicatory capacity, it heard criminal cases not punishable by death, as well as criminal appeals from justices of the peace. In its administrative capacity, it handled inns and liquor licensing; issues of settlement, poor relief, and bastardy 3 and control of highways and roads.1661 This court succeeded to the functions previously performed by commissioners.

    At the top, the Superior Court of Judicature replaced the Court of Assistants. It was a circuit court composed of a chief justice and four associate justices, any three of whom were a quorum, with original jurisdiction in matters involving the Crown and in many probate and land matters. It also heard appeals from both the Inferior Court of Common Pleas and the Court of General Sessions of the Peace. The Superior Court of Judicature retained jurisdiction over serious crimes, but “matters relating to the peace” became the province of General Sessions. Unlike the Court of Assistants, which prior to legislation of 1660 and 1672 had original jurisdiction in cases above the jurisdictional limit of the County Courts, Common Pleas apparently had no such limitation until the nineteenth century. Accordingly, the Superior Court of Judicature had no original jurisdiction based solely on the amount in dispute.1662

    Although it may appear that by the end of the seventeenth century, Massachusetts had constructed a rational system of courts of progressively greater jurisdiction, in fact this system was the height of inefficiency. The problem was a system of trials de novo, which presented litigants up to three chances to have a fact finder try a case. A party could bring an action in Common Pleas and, if he lost, receive a new trial before the Superior Court of Judicature. The party losing before this court could seek another trial before that same court, providing he had not also lost below. Thus it was possible for a case to be tried three times.1663

    Despite the widely perceived and lamented inefficiencies of this system, it survived the eighteenth century and the Revolution with only slight changes. In 1780 the Superior Court of Judicature was reconstituted as the Supreme Judicial Court. This became the state’s major appellate court, retaining original jurisdiction only over capital offenses, divorces, and some land cases. The full court of five justices traveled yearly to every county, twice a year to the populous ones. The Supreme Judicial Court continued the inefficient system of trials de novo, hearing appeals in cases where the appellant had not already suffered two adverse decisions.

    Attempts to reduce the inefficiencies and delay endemic to this system resulted only in fine tuning. In 1799 the Supreme Judicial Court was increased to seven members, any three of whom could constitute a quorum. The following year the quorum requirement was reduced to two, and in 1804 the court was empowered to hold nisi frius terms, where cases could be heard by a single judge. All these measures increased the number of cases the court could hear, but did not solve the problem of delay.1664

    Other changes in the post-Revolutionary years merely shifted jurisdiction among the various courts. For example, in 1783 justices of the peace were authorized to hear all cases under £4 (changed to $20 in 1807) in which land title was not an issue. Common Pleas was expressly forbidden to hear such cases except as appeals from justices of the peace.1665 Justices of the peace were also given jurisdiction over assaults and batteries, affrays, riots, and disturbing the peace.1666

    A later change of greater significance was the demise of that unwieldy hybrid, the Court of General Sessions. In 1809 its adjudicatory functions were transferred to Common Pleas; four years later they were transferred back again. In 1813 most Courts of General Sessions were abolished, but this, too, was only a temporary move. In 1818 Sessions was reestablished, but the trend was clear. In 1827 Sessions was abolished for good, and its administrative functions were transferred to the County Commissioners.1667

    By the early nineteenth century, then, the three-tiered system was still intact. Justices of the peace heard minor civil and criminal matters; Common Pleas heard the rest; and the Supreme Judicial Court was primarily, but not exclusively, an appellate court. Boston had a Municipal Court to hear criminal cases heard in other counties by Common Pleas. This modification demonstrates the creation of specialized courts where the press of business demanded it.

    The political and legal environments which caused the reorganization of Massachusetts courts are beyond the scope of this brief introduction. Scholars have studied many aspects of this story, particularly from an institutional perspective. But a functional history of Massachusetts courts, based on an analysis of their actual business, remains to be written. The records described in this inventory will be an important part of that research.

    How to Use the Records

    The key to utilizing court records is to understand what information can be obtained from each type of record and how different records series are interrelated. The type of information found in a particular record series is a product of the purpose for which the record was created.

    A basic source is the minute or docket book.1668 These contain the name of the case, what type of action it was (i.e., assumpsit, trespass, and the like), the procedural history of the case, and its resolution. A case reappeared on a docket at every court session until it was disposed of, either by trial, dismissal, motion, or other means. These books generally detail all motions and all appearances of attorneys. However, the information is in a skeletal format; the facts supporting an action, motion, or decision are not included. Dockets and minute books are rough guides to the volume and nature of civil litigation and criminal prosecutions. While providing much information on the procedural history of actions, the administrative history of the courts, and even the growth of the legal profession, minute books and dockets shed little light on the nature and flavor of legal disputes. They serve as a guide to court procedure and legal practice, as well as a type of index to other court papers, especially files, by giving a barebones account of every case. Thus, a researcher studying a particular type of legal dispute—for example, assumpsit—could use minute or docket books to identify cases in that category, but could not determine the nature of the case or the business relationship between the litigants.

    A narrative description of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution frequently appears in extended record books, described in the inventory as “Records.” These oversize volumes contain a capsule summary of the dispute or crime as well as the ultimate disposition of the case. While informative and accessible to the layman, these narratives are still only summaries of what brought the parties into court and how it was that they left. Detailed facts such as summaries of testimony are not to be found in record books. Records, too, can serve as an index to other records series.

    The third major record series are the case files. Unlike dockets, minutes, and records, the files follow no prescribed form. They are the papers filed with the court for each case. They include writs, bonds, pleadings, bills of costs, and executions of judgment. But they can include other documents related to a case which have little legal significance, but may be of great historical value. The eclecticism of case files is what makes them so appealing to historians who use them not only as a guide to legal history, but to reconstruct societies in the past.1669 Files may contain almost any sort of document—from surety bonds to guarantee appearances to summaries of witness testimony. In debt cases the files may include the actual note or other evidence of a debt, or the account indicating payment due. In disputes over real estate the files frequently include maps or surveys of the area in question. Miscellaneous documents, also described in the inventory, offer a flavor of the range of business which courts handled, from licenses to vital records.

    Prior to the establishment of police forces, beginning in Boston in 1837, courts were probably the form of secular authority with which the citizenry had the greatest contact. Early court records, accordingly, mirror almost every aspect of civil authority.

    How to Use the Inventory

    The inventory is arranged by county and court. The first listing will be a County or Quarter Court, if its records survived and if the county had one. The next listing will be the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, followed by the Court of Common Pleas. No distinction is made in this inventory between the colonial Inferior Court of Common Pleas and the post-Revolutionary Circuit Court of Common Pleas because, from a records perspective, this was primarily only a change in nomenclature.

    The inventory within each court for each county is divided into two main parts. The first comprises the primary or major record series: dockets, files, and records. The second part, labelled “Miscellaneous” in the inventory, comprises the secondary record series. Each entry gives a short title of the series, the inclusive dates, and the number of cases, volumes, or boxes which comprise the series. Indexes which are interfiled with a series are included in the entry. Indexes which are kept as a separate record series have their own listing.

    As the volume of court business expanded, counties gradually introduced specialized record-keeping. In particular, criminal cases began to be recorded separately from civil. The point at which such specialization occurred varied with the size of the county. In Suffolk, for example, criminal cases were separated—and indeed heard in a separate court—as early as 1800; in Norfolk it did not occur until 1847. When criminal cases were separated from civil in 1847 in Norfolk, that did not create two new record series. Instead, a criminal series was established and the old series was continued, containing now only civil cases. To show this specialization and to stress that the series which formerly had contained all cases continued with only civil and with no indication of any change, the inventory uses the following notation—the example is from Norfolk County:

    Dockets, 1794–1859

    Civil and Criminal, 1794–1847; Civil, 1847–1859, 54v

    Criminal, 1847–1859, 5v

    The term “box” as used in the inventory refers to all manner of boxes, ranging from the common one cubic foot archive box found in 1977 in the State Records Center and Middlesex County to large open wooden and cardboard boxes in Berkshire. “Small metal case” refers to a metal case or drawer, the most common way of storing case files. Whether a closed case, open case, or drawer, the dimensions are usually 5″ wide, 12″ high, and from 17″ to 24″ deep.

    49. Case files of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Suffolk, showing the tins in which many colonial court records are still stored. Courtesy, Social Law Library, Boston.

    In 1977 court records were found not only in courthouses, but also in private and public libraries, historical societies and institutions, and in the State Records Center. By the mid-1980’s, however, all historic judicial records will be transferred to the judicial section of the new state archives building, now under construction. Accordingly, the location indicators of 1977 will soon be obsolete and have been excluded from this inventory. Researchers wishing to use court records prior to their move to the archives buildings should consult the clerk of the court in the county in which the research will take place. For a copy of the 1977 inventory, which includes specific locations of records, usually by room, and both in and out of courthouses, researchers should write to Social Law Library, 1200 Courthouse, Boston, Massachusetts 02108. Records in fragile or deteriorating condition undergoing or awaiting conservation may be temporarily unavailable.



    Boston Municipal Court






    Court of Common Pleas

    Circuit Court of Common Pleas

    Inferior Court of Common Pleas


    File Drawer (5″–8″ wide)


    Large File Drawer (13″–7″ wide)




    Superior Court


    Court of General Sessions of Peace


    Supreme Judicial Court




    Works Progress Administration



    Various expenses owed by the court.


    Written sworn statement of facts introduced as evidence in trial.


    Resort to a higher court to redress supposed error or injustice of lower court.


    Process of seizing chattels or taking title to real property by virtue of a writ; frequently used to satisfy judgment or to guarantee appearance at trial.


    The process of obtaining the release of a person under arrest by assuming responsibility for his appearance at time and place specified; also refers to money pledged to guarantee this appearance.

    Bastardy bonds

    Money pledged to court to guarantee that bastards do not become public charges; usually paid by putative father.

    Bill of costs

    A certified, itemized statement of the amount of costs in an action or suit.


    A promise to pay; used here, it refers to money paid to court for a specific purpose, usually to prosecute and appeal (appeal bond) or for bail (bail bond).


    The first pleading on the part of the plaintiff in a lawsuit; usually states the specific complaints alleged against the defendant.


    Statement by defendant that truth of plaintiff’s allegations are not sufficient to make demurring party answer them or not sufficient to require answers or to allow cause to proceed.


    Sworn written testimony of witness taken by interrogation, but not in court.


    Outline of case prepared by clerk of court; gives dates of major pre-trial, trial, and post-trial actions.


    A copy of an extract from the rolls of any court in which the fines, recognizances, and the like, imposed or taken by that court upon or from the accused are set down, and which are to be levied by the bailiff or other officer of the court.


    Objection to a decision made by the court.


    A writ putting into effect a final judgment of the court.


    Papers accompanying a case or action, usually including writs, complaints, answers, and bonds.


    Sum of money paid at end of a case, usually as a penalty.


    Alphabetical or chronological listing of cases or parties referred to in a given record series; as used here, usually compiled at the time the records were created and intended to be used with them.


    Accusation in criminal case found and presented by grand jury.

    Innholders and Retailers

    Provisioners to whom Court of General Sessions granted licenses, particularly to serve liquor.


    Coroner’s investigation into a death.

    Jury Bills

    Costs for maintaining jury (in this usage, distinct from grand jury bill, or finding of sufficient evidence to prosecute).


    Permission to sell liquor, granted by General Sessions.

    List of entries

    List of cases formally entered on to court docket or records.


    Order of court or magistrate to sheriff commanding him to take the person therein named to jail and to the jailer commanding him to keep the prisoner until further notice.


    Applications made for consideration and hearing of a certain point.


    Writs issued in cases which were satisfied or dropped before coming to court.


    Division of land between co-owners or co-proprietors.


    Process performed by parties in a suit, alternately presenting written statements of their contention, responding to preceding contentions.


    Writing containing the accusation presented by grand jury.


    Obligation entered into before some court with condition to perform some particular act as to appear in court, keep the peace, pay a debt, and the like.


    As used here, the extended account of a case, including a prose summary of the proceeding, but generally lacking substantive summaries of testimony and evidence.


    The sending of a case back to a lower court by a higher court.

    Return Day

    Day named in writ by which an officer is required to return it.

    Revolutionary Pensions

    Applications by Revolutionary War veterans for pensions, c. 1820; include important information about applicants’ finances.

    Scire Facias

    Process based on court records, to execute on a judgment, or to revive either a judgment or the original action.


    Judgment formally pronounced in criminal cases.

    Session Book

    List of cases heard in a given period or court session; more skeletal than docket; similar to trial calendar.


    Writ notifying person to appear in court on a given day.


    Order by court to sheriff to summon a jury.


    Writ requiring sheriff to arrest a person and to bring him to court on a given day for an offense with which person is charged.


    Barnstable CountyFounded: 1685

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Records, 1783–1791

    Records, 1783–1791, 2v (includes CCP dockets)

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1783–1859

    Dockets, 1783–1791, 2v (includes Sessions records)


    Rule Book, 1782, 1v

    Berkshire CountyFounded: 1761

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Dockets, 1761–1827

    Dockets, 1761–1796, 1808–1815, 1822–1827, 4v (WPA typescripts, 1761–1795, 2v)

    Files, c. 1762–1827

    Files, 1762–1827, 34 bundles and 1 box Licenses, 1763–1827, 17 bundles Writs, c. 1780–1827, 29 bundles

    Records, 1761–1827

    Records, 1761–1822, 2v (WPA typescripts, 1761–1827, 3v)

    Records, 1769–1770 (1875 ms copy), 1v


    Minutes, 1799, 1v

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1799–1859

    Civil, 1799, 1803; Civil and Criminal, 1810, 1815 (includes Sessions), 1841; Civil, 1848–1859, 18v

    Files, 1761–1859

    Criminal, 1797–1859, 6 boxes

    Executions, 1762–1768, 6 boxes

    Executions, 1781–1782, 1789–c. 1827, 3 bundles and 4 boxes Writs, 1761–1859, 7 bundles and 21 boxes

    Records, 1761–1859

    Civil, 1761–1774, 1782–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1849; Civil, 1850–1859, 84v Executions, 1767–1785, 2v

    Bristol CountyFounded: 1685

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Files, 1704–1827

    Files, 1704–1762, 1764–1765, 1769–1780, 15 metal cases; Files, 1748, 1773–1827, 3 boxes

    Records, 1697–1827

    Records, 1697–1827, 16v (includes CCP and Marriages)

    Court of Common Pleas

    Files, 1652–1859

    Civil, 1765–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1834; Civil, 1834–1859, 234 metal cases Executions, 1765–1859, 63 bundles; Miscellaneous Writs, Bills, and Bonds, 1652–1820, 22 metal cases

    Records, 1702–1859

    Executions, 1721–1722, 1v (includes Sessions); Records, 1702–1776, 1783–1859, 61v (includes Sessions)


    Index, 1730–1767, 6v

    Vital Records

    Marriages, 1699–1805, 1 metal case (includes Sessions)

    Marriages, 1700–1798, 3v

    Dukes CountyFounded: 1695

    Quarter Court

    Records, 1665–1692

    Records, 1665–1692, 1v (includes Sessions and CCP)

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Files, c. 1765–1827

    Files, c. 1765–1827, 3 metal cases (includes CCP)

    Records, 1692–1827

    Records, 1692–1715, 1722–1827, 5v (includes Quarter Court and CCP)

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1772–1859

    Dockets, 1722–1859, 22v (includes Sessions)

    Files, c. 1777–1855

    Files, c. 1777–1855, 7 metal cases including:

    Decisions and Orders, 184–1–1855,

    Executions, 1770–1855,

    Indian wills, 1669–1812,

    Indictments, 1781–c. 1827,

    Petitions, 1777–1853,

    Warrants and Complaints, 1778–1837,

    Writs, 1790–1795, 1813–184–2 (includes Sessions)

    Records, 1692–1859

    Records, 1692–1715, 1722–1859, 6v (includes Sessions), Index; 1851–1859, 1v

    Proprietors Record, Farm Neck, 1707–1827, 1v

    Essex CountyFounded: 1643

    County Court

    Files, 1636–1694

    Files, 1636–1694, 58v

    Records, 1637–1748

    Records, 1637–174–8, 5v

    Records (Ipswich), 1645–1692, 5v

    Records (Norfolk), 1648–1680, 2v

    (Pulsifer copies [David Pulsifer was a Clerk of Court], 1648–1654, 1672–1679, 2v)

    Records (Salem), 1636–1642, 1647–1656, 1673–1685, 4v


    Index, 3v

    WPA Index, 1636–1694, 4v

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Files, 1693–1827

    Accounts, 1737–1755, 1780, 1792–1800, 1802–1813, 1816, 1818–1827, c. 25 boxes and 1 bundle

    Bastardy, 1707, 1801, 1 box

    County Orders, 1798, 1 box

    Files, 1693–1827, 49 metal cases and 1 envelope

    (includes CCP)

    Files, 1793, 1797–1799, 1805, 1819, 3 boxes

    Indictments, 1797–1801, 1 box

    Innholders and Retailers, 1799–1813 (Sessions), 1809–1811 (CCP), 1812–1813 (Sessions), 1814–1818 (CCP), 1819–1827 (Sessions), 2v

    Licenses, 1750, 1813, 1 box

    Presentments of the Grand Jury, 1726, 1732

    1734–1750, 2 boxes

    Records, 1692–1827

    Records, 1692–1795, 10v

    Records, 1796–1827, 5v


    Index, 1695–1696, 1726–1744, 2v

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1692–1859

    Civil, 1692–1726, 6v

    Civil, 1721–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1812; Civil, 1812–1831, 1833–1859, 92v

    Files, 1693–1859

    Accounts 1703, 1720, 1780, 1793, 1795–1802, 1804–1815, 1817–1819, 1824–1831, 1833–1839, 1841, c. 50 boxes Attachments, c. 1790, 1 box Bonds and Notes, c. 1770–c. 1780, 1 box Executions, 1719–1737, c. 1830, 3 boxes

    Executions, 1793–1859, 67 metal cases

    Files, 1693–1859, 448 metal cases and 1 envelope

    Grand Jurors Records, 1797–1803, 1834, 1 box

    Larceny Cases, 1708, 1 box

    Mittimuses, 1722, 1736, 1739, 1798, c. 1820–c. 1830, 3 boxes Non-Entered Writs, 1726–1729, 1732–1742, 1744–1748, 1750, 1756–1767, 1770, 1773–1774, 1778, 1787–1791, 1793–1794, 1798, 1801–1815, 1817–1818, 1823–1839, 1851, 1859, c. 150 boxes

    Recognizances, 1733–1734, 1789, 1798, 1800, 1801, 1825–1826, 3 boxes

    Scire Facias, 1736, 1763, 1 box

    Summons, 1694–1695, 1703–1704, 1734–1735, 1767, 1772–1774, 1789–1790, 1799, 2 boxes

    Venires, 1736, 1777–1780, 1783, 1794–1801, 1804–1805, 1824–1825, 1827, 1830–1831, 1833, 2 boxes

    Records, 1680–1858

    Civil, 1696–1698, 1v

    Civil, 1749–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1835, 74v

    Executions, 1680–1783, 2v


    Consolidated Index, 1749–1904, 8v

    (includes SC)

    Vital Records

    Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1636–1795, 5v


    Miscellaneous Papers, 1692–1693, 1 box

    Miscellaneous Papers, 1692, 2v

    Hampshire County (Springfield Sitting)

    Sessions and Quarter Sessions Records, 1681–1739, 1v

    Sessions, Quarter Sessions and Court of Common Pleas Records, 1692–1706, 1710–1729, 2v

    Sessions and Court of Common Pleas Records, 1707–1714 (typed), 1724–1726, 2v

    Sessions and Court of Common Pleas Files and Miscellaneous Documents, 1720–1812, 3v

    County Court, Sessions and Court of Common Pleas Records, 1720–1727, 1664–1812 (typed), 2v

    Hampshire CountyFounded: 1662

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Files, 1721–1827

    Files, 1721–1827, 41 metal cases

    Records, 1677–1827

    Records, 1677–1827, 16v (includes CCP)

    Court of Common Pleas

    Files, 1712–1859

    Civil, 1712–1804; Civil and Criminal 1804–1850

    Civil, 1850–1859, 387 metal cases

    Records, 1677–1859

    Civil, 1677–1798, 21v (includes Sessions)

    Civil, 1797–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1853

    Executions, 1715–1764, 1v


    Index, c. 1700–1859, 17 fd

    Middlesex CountyFounded: 1643

    County Court

    Files, c. 1648–c. 1777

    Executions, 1658–1699, 1 metal case Files, c. 1648–c. 1777, 650 envelopes (includes CCP) (photocopies of envelope contents, 67v)

    Records, 1649–1699

    Records, 1649–1663, 1671–1686, 1658–1699, 4v (includes CCP) (Pulsifer copies, 1649–1663, 1681–1686, 2v)


    Abstract, 24 fds

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Files, c. 1650–1827

    Files, c. 1650–1827, 154 metal cases

    Records, 1686–1827

    Records, 1686–1688, 1692–1761, 1790–1802, 1809–1827, 9v (photostatic copies, 1686–1688, 1692–1723, 1735, 4v) Records, 1722–1729 (includes CCP), 1761–1790, 1796–1799, 1801–1808, 5v


    Licenses, 1791–1810, 1v

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1728–1859

    Civil, 1728–1731, iv (includes Sessions)

    Civil, 1738–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1844; Civil, 1844–1859, 151v

    Files, 1648–1859

    Civil, 1723–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1859, 1207 metal cases

    Executions, 1700–1858, 361 fd

    Files, c. 1648–c. 1777, 650 envelopes (includes County Court)

    Files, c. 1650–1802, 15 metal cases (includes Sessions)

    Records, 1699–1852

    Civil, 1699–1770, 1780–1792, 1799; Civil and Criminal, 1805–1844; Civil, 1844–1859, 116v

    Civil, 1728–1731 (includes Sessions), 1770–1780, 1792–1795, 1799–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804, 1805, 1809, 1829, 1839, 16v

    Executions, 1751–1767, 1v

    Executions, 1767–1784, 1v

    Partitions, 1785–1815, 1837–1856, 2v


    Venire Abstract, c. 1650–c. 1700, 1 fd

    Vital Records

    Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1778–1793, 1v

    (Pulsifer Copies, 1632–1677, 1673–1745, 2v)

    Births, Marriages and Deaths Abstract, 1652–1699, 2 fd

    Marriages, 1733–1767, 1v

    Files, 1794–1827

    Files, 1794–1827, 10 metal cases

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1794–1859

    Civil and Criminal, 1794–1847; Civil, 1847–1859, 54v (Index, 1806–1810, 1827–1859, 85v, interfiled)

    Files, 1793–1859

    Civil and Criminal, 1794–1847; Civil, 1847–1859, 206 metal cases

    Executions, 1794–1859, 29 metal cases

    Non-Entries, 1794–1832, 6 metal cases

    Records, 1794–1859

    Records, 1794–1859, 56v (Index, 57v)

    Vital Statistics

    Marriages, 1793–1795, 1v

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Records, 1686–1827

    Records, 1686–1692; 1698–1818, 12v (includes Marriages)

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1745–1859

    Dockets, 1745–1749, 1796–1802, 3v

    Files, 1687–1859

    Civil, 1798–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1849, 113 metal cases (Sessions interfiled)

    Executions, 1735–1855, 1 box

    Files, c. 1700–1843, 29 metal cases

    Venires, 1702, 1797, 1800–1859, 7 metal cases (includes SC)

    Warrants, 1701–1857, 1 metal case

    Writs, 1701–1859, 8 metal cases

    Writs, 1714–1835, 1v

    Records, 1702–1859

    Records, 1702–1859, 38v

    Vital Records

    Births, Marriages, Deaths, 1620–1697

    (Plymouth Colony Records), 1v

    Marriages, 1793–1795? 1v (includes Sessions)

    Suffolk CountyFounded: 1643

    County Court

    Records, 1680–1692

    Records, 1680–1692, 2v (photostatic copies)

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Dockets, 1727–1822

    Dockets, 1743–1758, 1764–1773, 5v

    (fragments, 1727–1728, 1733–1741, 1759, 1762–1763, 1776–1780)

    Files, 1793–1816

    Files, 1793–1796, 1 box

    Records, 1702–1822

    Records, 1702–1732, 4v

    Records, 1718–1720, 1v

    Records, 1796–1822, 5v

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1720–1824

    Dockets, 1720–1722, 1726–1731, 1733–1735, 1740–1746, 1749, 1751–1759, 1763–1764, 21v

    Dockets, 1738, 1767–1771, 1776, 1779, 1783, 1785–1788, 1790–1799, 1805, 1808, 1816, 1822–1824, 78v

    Dockets, c. 1790–1805, c. 30v

    Files, 1709–1855

    Civil, 1730–1774, 1776–1817, 436 metal cases

    Civil, 1806–1819, 1832, 5 boxes

    Depositions, 1692–1766

    Executions, 1709–1855, 83 boxes

    Non-Entries, 1730–1855, 13 boxes

    Writs, 1770–1822, 116 boxes

    Records, 1692–1855

    Partitions, 1782–1832, 1837–1855, 5v

    Records, 1692–1701, 1706–1715, 6v

    Records, 1701–1706, 1715–1718, 1720–1722, 1724–1751, 1776, 1780, 1782–1791, 1793–1855, 250v (Index, 1852–1855, 1v)

    Worcester CountyFounded: 1731

    Court of General Sessions of the Peace

    Minutes, 1777–1803

    Minutes, 1777–1780, 1782–1785, 1792–1799, 1801–1803, 38v (includes CCP)

    Files, 1776–1827

    Files, 1776–1827, 51 metal cases

    Records, 1731–1827

    Records, 1731–1827, 9v

    Court of Common Pleas

    Dockets, 1777–1859

    Civil, 1777–1780, 1782–1785, 1792–1799, 1801–1803, 1851–1852, 53v (includes Sessions)

    Civil, 1781–1783, 1855–1859, 27v

    Civil, 1785–1792, 1794–1796, 1798–1801, 1803–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1826, 1828–1831, 1833–1834; Civil, 1837–1844, 1846–1850, 1853–1854, 251v

    Files, 1731–1859

    Civil, 1731–1859, 827 metal cases

    Civil, 1735–1804; Criminal, 1804–1859, 70

    metal cases and 14 bundles

    Records, 1731–1859

    Appeals, 1785–1806, 1v

    Civil 1731–1804; Civil and Criminal, 1804–1835; Civil, 1835–1859, 131v

    Civil, 1779–1782, 1v

    Executions, 1744–1792, 2v

    Vital Records

    Marriages, 1746–1796, 2v