Norfolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy
This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Norfolk. 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.
- Massachusetts Genealogy Guide - Guide to Massachusetts State-wide Records
County Information[edit | edit source]
Description[edit | edit source]
The county was named for the English county of the same name. It is located in the central area of the state.
Norfolk County, Massachusetts Record Dates[edit | edit source]
|at town creation||at town creation||at town creation||1928||1793||1793||1779|
Brief History[edit | edit source]
Norfolk County is home to some of the earliest settlements in Massachusetts Bay Colony Genealogy though it is a relatively recent creation (1793). To learn about the earlier records for this area, see Suffolk County. The northeast portion of the county is the mostly heavily populated. The border towns were so intertwined with Boston, that they were annexed to the city in the late 1800s. Always remember the former towns which are listed in the Towns and Cities section below. It is a county of diversity. It is one of the wealthiest counties and has both rural and urban areas. Weymouth is a noted shipyard. Through politics, Norfolk is separated into three pieces. Hingham and Hull fought to stay part of Suffolk County when Norfolk was formed. Ultimately, Suffolk County succeded them to Plymouth County and thus creating the first break. Boston annexing the northern border towns caused the last break as Brookline refused to be annexed and now is surrounded by the city on 75% of its border.
Historical Data[edit | edit source]
The basic data are from the historical county boundary series with additions from various sources.
|20 June 1793||Suffolk County set off its southern two-thirds to create Norfolk County. [Mass. Acts, 1793, ch. 43, sec. 1, p. 272; ch. 9, sec. 1, p. 314]|
|22 June 1797||Needham exchanged with Natick, Middlesex Co. [Mass. Acts, 1797, ch. 22, sec. 1, p. 142]|
|8 Feb. 1798||Loss when a part of Stoughton annexed to Bridgewater, Plymouth Co. [Mass. Acts, 1798, ch. 10, sec. 1, p. 164]|
|6 Mar. 1804||The northern part of Dorchester called "Dorchester Neck" annexed to Boston and now called the neighborhood of "South Boston." [Mass. Acts, 1804, ch. 45, sec. 1, p. 412]|
|14 June 1823||Cohasset gained from Scituate, Plymouth Co. [Mass. Acts, 1823, ch. 28, p. 237]|
|22 Feb. 1825||Border adjusted between Brookline and Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1825, ch. 90, p. 73]|
|3 Mar. 1829||Medway exchanged with Holliston, Middlesex Co. [Mass. Acts, 1829, ch. 125, p. 200; ch. 133, p. 209]|
|18 Feb. 1830||Border between Wrentham and Attleborough, Bristol Co. - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1830, ch. 48, p. 319]|
|25 Mar. 1834||Loss when Dorchester's Thompson Island annexed to Boston, Suffolk co.. [Mass. Acts, 1834, ch. 102, p. 129]|
|16 Mar. 1836
19 Apr. 1837
|Border between Roxbury and Boston redefined then adjusted. [Mass. Acts, 1836, ch. 37, p. 681; 1837, ch. 202, sec. 1, p. 222]|
|23 Apr. 1838||Gained when Roxbury annexed part of Newton, Middlesex Co.. [Mass. Acts, 1838, ch. 167, sec. 1, p. 481]|
|20 Mar. 1840||Loss when a part of Cohasset annexed to Scituate, Plymouth Co. [Mass. Acts, 1840, ch. 58, sec. 1, p. 206]|
|31 Mar. 1847||Border between Weymouth and Abington, Plymouth Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1847, ch. 138, p. 391]|
|3 May 1850||Border between Roxbury and Boston, Suffolk Co., through the water adjusted. [Mass. Acts, 1850, ch. 281, sec. 1, p. 460]|
|21 May 1855||Loss when a part of Dorchester annexed to Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1855, ch. 468, sec. 1, p. 907]|
|3 Apr. 1860||Slight change when border between Roxbury and Boston, Suffolk Co., moved from centerlines of streets to the side. [Mass. Acts, 1860, ch. 172, sec. 1, p. 138]|
|21 Mar. 1861||Border between Randolph and Abington, Plymouth Co., clarified - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1861, ch. 86, p. 390]|
|6 Jan. 1868||City of Roxbury annexed to Boston per act of 1 June 1867 [Mass. Acts, 1867, ch. 359, sec. 1, p. 754].|
|3 Jan. 1870||Loss when Dorchester annexed by Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1869, ch. 349, sec. 1, p. 646]|
|2 Apr. 1870||Slight change when border between West Roxbury and Boston, Suffolk Co., shifts from one side of the street to the other. [Mass. Acts, 1870, ch. 146, sec. 1, p. 21, 95]|
|18 June 1870||Loss when part of Brookline annexed by Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1870, ch. 374, sec. 1, p. 290]|
|7 Mar. 1872||Bellingham exchanged with Mendon, Worcester Co. [Mass. Acts, 1872, ch. 69, sec. 1, p. 57]|
|12 Apr. 1872||Loss when Mt. Hope Cemetery in West Roxbury annexed to Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1872, ch. 197, sec. 1, p. 143]|
|27 Apr. 1872||Brookline exchanged with Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1872, ch. 267, sec. 1, p. 210]|
|5 Jan. 1874||West Roxbury annexed to Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1873, c.314, sec. 1, p. 810]|
|8 May 1874||Loss when part of West Roxbury annexed to Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1874, ch. 220, sec. 1, p. 143]|
|27 May 1890
13 Apr. 1894
|Border adjusted between Brookline and Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1890, ch. 339, sec. 1, p. 299; 1894, ch. 242, sec. 1, p. 219]|
|30 Apr. 1897||Border adjusted between Cohasset and Hingham, Plymouth Co. [Mass. Acts, 1897, ch. 330, sec. 1, p. 318]|
|1 Apr. 1898||Border adjusted between Hyde Park and Boston, Suffolk Co. [Mass. Acts, 1898, ch. 251, sec. 1, p. 185]|
|28 Mar. 1907||Border between Brookline and Newton, Middlesex Co., redefined - no change. [Mass. Acts, 1907, ch. 249, sec. 1, p. 194]|
|1 Jan. 1912||Hyde Park annexed to Boston by act of 24 May 1911 [Mass. Acts 1911, c.469, sec. 1, p. 450 and c. 583, sec. 1, p. 600].|
|23 Mar. 1928||Border between Cohasset and Hingham, Suffolk Co., adjusted - no discernible change. [Mass. Acts, 1928, ch. 160, sec. 1, p. 184]|
Record Loss[edit | edit source]
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
Populated Places[edit | edit source]
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:
County Histories[edit | edit source]
Works written on the county include:
- Biographical Review; containing life sketches of leading citizens of Norfolk County, Massachusetts (Boston, 1898), 710 pp.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL film 908542 Item 1.
Digital version at Internet Archive.
- Elmer O. Cappers, Place Names in Norfolk County, Massachusetts ([Brookline, Mass., 1972?), 40 pp.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
- Louis Atwood Cook, History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, 1622-1918 (S.l., 1918), 2v.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.47 H2c v. # and film 496755.
- D. Hamilton Hurd, ed., History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Philadelphia, 1884), xii, 1001 pp.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.47 H2h and film 1000071 Item 3 (with digital link).
- Thomas Noyes, "Complete List of the Congregational Ministers in the County of Norfolk, Mass., from the settlement of the county to the present time" in American Quarterly Register, 8 [1835/6]: 42-58.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
- The Norfolk County MA GenWeb Project, an member of The MAGenWeb Project, an affiliate of The USGenWeb Project.
- The USGenWeb Archives Project for Norfolk County.
- Norfolk County Massachusetts History - Genealogy Blog - by David Allen Lambert.
- FamilySearch.org FamilySearch Catalog for Norfolk County.
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 this county was established. 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.
Online Vital Records
- 1626-2001 - Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
- 1638-1961 - Massachusetts Town Records, ca. 1638-1961 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
- 1841-1920 - Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841-1920 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
Birth[edit | edit source]
- 1666-1970 - Massachusetts, Delayed and Corrected Vital Records, 1753-1900 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
- 1800-1855 Rhode Island and Pawtucket, Massachusetts Birth Index, 1800-1855 at Ancestry - index and images($)
- 1840-1910 Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1840-1910 at MyHeritage - index ($)
Marriage[edit | edit source]
- 1600-1961 - Massachusetts, United States Marriages at Findmypast — index $
- 1841-1915 - Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
- Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915 at MyHeritage - index ($)
Death[edit | edit source]
- 1840-1910 Massachusetts Death Index at MyHeritge - index only ($)
Cemetery[edit | edit source]
|Tombstone Transcriptions Online||Tombstone Transcriptions in Print||List of Cemeteries in the county|
|Findagrave.com||Family History Library||Findagrave.com|
|MAGenWeb Archives||FamilySearch Places|
|See Massachusetts Cemeteries for more information.|
Census[edit | edit source]
Church Records[edit | edit source]
List of Churches and Church Parishes
Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]
- 1837 - 1965 - Maine & Massachusetts Case Files of Deceased and Deserted Seamen 1837-1965 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
Land Records[edit | edit source]
Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]
Newspapers[edit | edit source]
- 1800s-1999 U.S., Newspapers.com Marriage Index, 1800s-1999 at Ancestry - index ($)
Probate Records[edit | edit source]
- 1635 – 1991 Massachusetts Wills and Probate Records 1635-1991 at Ancestry.com — index and images, $
- 1793 – 1900 Norfolk County, Massachusetts Probate Index 1793-1900 at Ancestry.com — index only, $
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
Quarterly Court of General Sessions of the Peace[edit | edit source]
This court was active from 1793 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:
Inferior Court of Common Pleas[edit | edit source]
This court was active from 1793 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:
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.
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.
Naturalization Records[edit | edit source]
- 1871-1991 - Massachusetts, United States Naturalization Records, 1871-1991 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
- 1906-1917 - Massachusetts, Naturalization Records, 1906-1917 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
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.
|Superior Court||1806-1958||Superior Court, Dedham and Quincy||Card indexes||DEDHAM: Declarations, 1906-1931; Petitions, 1906-1931; Index to records, 1806-1906 [note: rec. not at FHL]; Index to declarations, 1907-1958; Index to petitions, 1907-1958; Index to declarations and petitions, 1920-1958; QUINCY: Declarations, 1920-1937; Petitions, 1920-1931; Citizenship granted, 1929-1939, FHL film 1522670 (1st of 68)|
|1885-1906||Judicial Archives||Card index||NO microfilm|
|1885-1906||Judicial Archives||Card index||NO microfilm|
|1891-1906||Judicial Archives||Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117)||Part of the United States, New England Petitions for Naturalization Index, 1791-1906|
|1900-1904||Judicial Archives||Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117)||Part of the United States, New England Petitions for Naturalization Index, 1791-1906|
Maps[edit | edit source]
Migration[edit | edit source]
- Atlantic Ocean
- Bay Road about 1652 from Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy to New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts Genealogy 
- Coast Path 1630 from Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy to Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Genealogy 
- King's Highway, also known as the Boston Post Road, 1650s from Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy to Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina Genealogy 
- Old Roebuck Road 1636 from Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy to Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island Genealogy 
Military[edit | edit source]
Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]
- 1775 - 1783 - Massachusetts, Revolutionary War, Index Cards to Muster Rolls, 1775-1783 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
- 1805 - 1845 - Massachusetts Revolutionary War Bounty Land Applications, 1805-1845 at FamilySearch - How to Use this Collection
Norfolk County Massachusetts Libraries and Genealogy Societies[edit | edit source]
- Norfolk County Registry of Deeds
649 High Street
Dedham, MA 02026
- Norfolk County MA Historical Societies CountyOffice.org
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
- Boston Massachusetts Family History Center
- Franklin Massachusetts Family History Center
- Hingham Massachusetts Family History Center
- Mount Hope Massachusetts Family History Center
- Worcester Massachusetts Family History Center
- David Allen Lambert Library - an affiliate library
- Thayer Public Library - an affiliate library
- Thomas Crane Public Library - an affiliate library
For information on additional archives and repositories, see
Norfolk County Massachusetts Genealogy References[edit | edit source]
- "Old Norfolk County Records," Essex Antiquarian 1, no. 2 (February 1897), 19-20. American Ancestors by NEHGS ($). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Film 599729 Item 2; Book 974.45 B2a.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Norfolk, County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_County,_Massachusetts
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Norfolk 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.
- Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
- Wikipedia contributors, "Norfolk County, Massachusetts," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, wikipedia, accessed 7 March 2020.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 847-61. WorldCat entry; FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- Handybook, 847, 856.
- Boston Post Road in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 16 October 2014).
- Handybook, 848, 856.
- Agnes Edwards (Rothery), PDF Book: The Old Coast Road From Boston to Plymouth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920), 7. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- William Dollarhide, Map Guide to American Migration Routes 1735-1815 (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1997), 2-4, and 7. (FHL Collection Book 973 E3d). WorldCat entry.
- King's Highway (Charleston to Boston) in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 21 November 2014).
- Handybook, 852, 856.
- Cobb's Tavern in Rising Star Lodge, A.F. and A.M. (accessed 16 October 2014).
Massachusetts: Bristol | Middlesex | Plymouth | Suffolk | Worcester
Rhode Island: Providence County