Nantucket County, Massachusetts Genealogy

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United States
Nantucket County

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.

Nantucket County, Massachusetts Record Dates

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[1]
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.

Nantucket County Massachusetts History

Brief History

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

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[2] 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 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

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

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Towns and Cities

The following list of present-day Nantucket County towns and cities links them to their individual pages. There you will find a list of other names used for the town or city and of villages and sections of the town or city.

Nantucket (1671)

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County Histories

Works written on the county include:

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Nantucket County Massachusetts Genealogy Resources

Vital Records

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



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


Emigration and Immigration

Land Records

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

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

Probate Records

Online Probate Records

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Other Court Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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

Revolutionary War

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Nantucket County Massachusetts Libraries and Genealogy Societies

Nantucket Historical Association Research Library and Archives

Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, Inc.
P. O. Box 215
Ashland, MA 01721-0215
Four chapters hold open educational meetings from September through June each year.

For information on additional archives and repositories, see

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Family History Centers

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Nantucket County Massachusetts Websites

Nantucket County Massachusetts Genealogy References

  1. 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.
  2. Massachusetts Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
Adjacent counties:
Massachusetts: Barnstable | Dukes
New York: Suffolk County