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Find out how to access historic probate records

Learn about which probate records are available and how to access them.

Which probate records are available?

The Probate and Family Court is working on digitizing first series probate files and putting them online for the public. Currently, files from these counties are available:

  • Essex County (1638-1881)
  • Middlesex County (1648-1871)
  • Plymouth County (1686-1881)
  • Worcester County (1731-1881) 
  • Hampshire County (1660-1889) 
  • Bristol County (1686-1880) 
  • Berkshire County (1761-1900) 
  • Suffolk County (1636-1893)

These records are available online at American Ancestors.org. You must create a free Guest Membership account (or a regular NEHGS research membership) to search these records. Registration for an NEHGS Guest Membership account doesn't require a credit card or any other form of payment. 

To find your record, choose the correct county under the "Database" drop down. The simplest way to search is to enter either a first and/or last name or just a "Case Number" if it's already known. It's also possible to include "from" and "to" years and/or a location, e.g., Charlestown. Note that some cases extend over a range of years, and not every case is related to a town in the county.

How can I access other probate records?

To access probate records not listed above, contact the Probate and Family Court in the county the probate was filed in and provide them with:

  • The date of death
  • The full name of the individual(s)
  • A docket case number (if known)

The court will send you the search information for your specific county. For more information, please see Get a copy of a will

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