Nantucket County, Massachusetts Genealogy

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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Nantucket. You will find help with town histories, vital records, deeds and land records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, town records, newspapers, maps, and libraries.

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named for the island, perhaps meaning "faraway land or island" or "sandy, sterile soil tempting no one. It is located in the southeast area of the state.[1]

Nantucket County, Massachusetts Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1600s 1600s 1600s 1721 1695 1706 1779
*Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1841. General compliance year unknown.

Brief History[edit | edit source]

The settlers on Nantucket are generally an insular group. Many surnames are uniquely identified to this island. As an island, its inhabitants moved about the coastline freely. The island is home to a large Quaker community. Its earliest history is tied to Martha's Vineyard, so research there would be important if you run into problems

Historical Data[edit | edit source]

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[3] with additions from various sources.

Dates Events
in 1674 The region was included in a grant to the Duke of York.
1 Nov. 1683 Made part of Dukes County when established by the Colony of New York that included the islands of Elizabeth, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. [N.Y. Col. Laws, Ch. 4, Sect. 1, p. 122]
7 Oct. 1691 Became part of the rechartered Massachusetts Bay Colony Genealogy without being established as a county.
22 June 1695 Nantucket County created from Nantucket Island. [Mass. Col. Acts, Vol. 1, Ch. 7 [1695/6], p. 216]

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

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Populated Places[edit | edit source]

MassachusettsNantucket CountyDukes CountyBarnstable CountyNantucketEdgartownOak BluffsFalmouthBourneSandwichMashpeeBarnstableYarmouthDennisBrewsterHarwichChatham
County and town borders are identical in Nantucket County, Mass.

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[4]

Census-designated places

County Histories[edit | edit source]

Works written on the county include:

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Resources[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

In Massachusetts, the original vital records (of births, marriages, and deaths) have been created and maintained by the town or city in which the event occurred. In very early colonial times, copies of these records were submitted to the county, but that practice died out long before 1800. There were marriage intentions commonly recorded in the bride's home town and additional recordings maybe found in the groom's home town and their current residence.

Massachusetts was the first state to bring a unified state-level recording of these events (but not marriage intentions) in 1841 (Boston excluded until 1850). The associated records of divorce and adoption are handled by the courts. The state has maintained a state-wide index to divorces since 1952, but adoption records will require more researching to discover.

It is easiest to start with the state vital records for events since 1841, though realize the original record is with the town or city. More details can be found on the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide page.

See also How to order Massachusetts Vital Records or order electronically online.

Online Vital Records

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Death[edit | edit source]

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Cemetery[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
USGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
Tombstone Project FamilySearch Places
Billion Graves
See Massachusetts Cemeteries for more information.

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 4,555
1800 5,617 23.3%
1810 6,807 21.2%
1820 7,266 6.7%
1830 7,202 −0.9%
1840 9,012 25.1%
1850 8,452 −6.2%
1860 6,094 −27.9%
1870 4,123 −32.3%
1880 3,727 −9.6%
1890 3,268 −12.3%
1900 3,006 −8.0%
1910 2,962 −1.5%
1920 2,797 −5.6%
1930 3,678 31.5%
1940 3,401 −7.5%
1950 3,484 2.4%
1960 3,559 2.2%
1970 3,774 6.0%
1980 5,087 34.8%
1990 6,012 18.2%
2000 9,520 58.3%
2010 10,172 6.8%
Source: "".

Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Land Records[edit | edit source]

Land transfers, commonly called deeds, are recorded on the county level in Massachusetts. Not all deeds were recorded as is common practice today. The earliest transactions were charters or grants from the English Crown. Once local government was established, the colony would grant land to settlers directly or to towns to dole out. Some towns first start out as proprietorship and records were recorded there. Once towns were established, deeds were recorded on the county level.

Nantucket County Registry of Deeds
16 Broad Street
Nantucket, MA 02554
Telephone: 508-228-7250

Original records

Records are available at the Registry. Their records ONLINE are:

  • Recorded Land [i.e. deeds], 1967-current.
  • Recorded Plans, 1974-current.
  • Registered Land [i.e. land court], 1958-current.
  • Registered Land Plans, 1899-current.

Original records on microfilm
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Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Dukes CountyBarnstable CountyMA NANTUCKET.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Online Probate Indexes and Records

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Other Court Records[edit | edit source]

The court system can appear to be complex. The system was reorganized in 1686/1692, 1859, and 1978. Described below are the most commonly used records for history and genealogy, but realize that this list is incomplete. For more detailed information regarding court structure, see Understanding the Massachusetts Court System.

Older records are held by:
Supreme Judicial Court Archives
(administration - records stored in several off-site facilities and the Mass. Archives)
16th Floor, Highrise Court House
3 Pemberton Square
Boston MA 02109
Phone 617-557-1082

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County Court[edit | edit source]

This court was active from 1636 (called a quarterly court and then the county court when Suffolk was created in 1643) to 1692. The court heard all civil causes up to 10 shillings (raised to 40 shillings in 1647) and all criminal causes not concerning life, limb, or banishment. These were all jury trials. Some records can be found in the [Suffolk_County,_Massachusetts#Suffolk_Files|Suffolk Files].

The records microfilmed:

At the Massachusetts Archives:

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Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace[edit | edit source]

This court was active from 1692 to 1827. The court heard criminal cases and had authority over county affairs that included levying taxes, reviewing town bylaws, highways, licensed liquor, regulated jails, supervised the administration of the poor laws, and appointed some county officials.

The records microfilmed:

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Inferior Court of Common Pleas[edit | edit source]

This court was active from 1692 to 1859. The court heard all civil cases over 40s unless a case involved freehold or was appealed from a justice of the peace.

The records microfilmed:

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Superior Court[edit | edit source]

The Quarterly Court of General Sessions was merged into the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in 1827, and that court was reorganized in 1859 to created the Superior Court as the new lower (i.e. trial) court. It covers both criminal and civil matters.

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Supreme Judicial Court[edit | edit source]

The Supreme Judicial Court was established by the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 that combined the former Governor and Council with the Superior Court of Judicature creating the highest state court. This court hears appeals, writ of error, capital offenses, and crimes against the public good. That included divorces until that action was moved to the lower court in 1887.

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Naturalization Records[edit | edit source]

Naturalization records were created on a variety of governmental levels from the Federal down to the city at the same time. The county records for all levels are outlines below. For more information, see the Massachusetts state page for more on naturalization.

Federal Naturalization Records for Nantucket County

Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online
Court of Common Pleas
Supreme Judicial Ct.
1804-1903 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7173072-7173083; Part of the United States, New England Petitions for Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Nantucket County Naturalization Records

Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online
Superior Court 1803-1974 Judicial Archives Card index Records, 1908-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR; Declarations, 1908-1945, Petitions, 1910-1945, and Citizenship granted, 1930-1945, FHL films 2132425-2132426
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Maps[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Massachusetts county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Massachusetts County Boundary Maps" (1643-1947) may be viewed for free at the website.

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Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

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Nantucket County Massachusetts Libraries and Genealogy Societies[edit | edit source]

  • Nantucket Historical Association
    15 Broad Street
    P.O. Box 1016
    Nantucket, MA 02554

For information on additional archives and repositories, see

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Nantucket County Massachusetts Websites[edit | edit source]

Nantucket County Massachusetts Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Nantucket, County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Nantucket County, Massachusetts . Page 329-331 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 322-323.
  3. Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Nantucket," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 9 March 2020.
Adjacent counties:
Massachusetts: Barnstable | Dukes
New York: Suffolk County