New Hampshire Court Records

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Background[edit | edit source]

Many of your ancestors may be found in court records. They may be listed as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors. They may have participated in cases involving probate, adoption, guardianship, divorce, debt, licenses, civil and criminal law suits, crimes, property disputes, appointment to public offices, or other matters brought before a court. Court records can establish family relationships and places of residence. They often provide occupations, descriptions of individuals, and other family history information.

On 1 July 2011, the New Hampshire legislature merged the District Court, Probate Court and Family Division Court into one Circuit Court system to improve the court system and to improve services. Jurisdictions for the Circuit Court are the same as their prior jurisdictions. There are now ten circuit courts, one for each of the states counties. Some of the largest counties have more than one circuit court clerk assigned to manage divisions in more than one city or town. The locations of the district, family, and probate divisions are listed by county and/or town at: New Hampshire Judicial Branch.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

New Hampshire courts have kept records of genealogical value that include the following:

  • 1682-present: Justices of the peace have jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal matters in each town.
  • 1769–1824: Courts of general quarter sessions handled civil and criminal matters (1769–1794 and 1820–1824).
  • 1769–1859: Justices of the courts of common pleas had jurisdiction over civil matters (1769–1820 and 1824–1859).
  • 1769–present: Superior courts are county-wide courts with jurisdiction over divorce and alimony, marriages, equity matters, and some appeals (1769–1813, 1816–1855, and 1901–present).
  • 1874–1876: Circuit Courts held appellate jurisdiction during this period.
  • 1813–present: The Supreme Court is the statewide appellate court (1813–1816, 1855–1874, 1876–present).

Colonial Court Records[edit | edit source]

New Hampshire court records of the Provincial Period 1630s-1772 are at the New Hampshire State Archives. Most of those records have either been microfilmed or published, as explained below:

  • New Hampshire. Courts. Colonial Court Records, 1638–1772 Approx. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. These include civil court cases and miscellaneous material in over 30,000 files and indexes found at the Division of Records and Management Archives in Concord, New Hampshire. On several films there is an index to individuals' first and last names, with file numbers. The court records are arranged by file number. (On 207 FHL films beginning with 1001334.)

For more information on the New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, see:

  • Towle, Laird C. New Hampshire Genealogical Research Guide. Bowie, Maryland.: Heritage Books, 1983. This has a detailed list of what each volume of the state papers contains. (FHL book 974.2 D27t.)

See Also[edit | edit source]

See United States Court Records for more detailed information on court records. Refer to New Hampshire Probate Records and New Hampshire Naturalization and Citizenship for information about those specific court records.

Family History Library[edit | edit source]

Court records are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under: