Connecticut Court Records

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Major Connecticut courts that kept records of genealogical value were established as follows:

1636-1784: General Court (General Assembly after 1637) was the highest state court throughout the colonial era. It handled many criminal and civil cases. After 1750 it relinquished most of its judicial responsibilities. Many of the General Assembly records were published in The Public Records of The Colony of Connecticut (1636-1776), 15 Volumes. (Hartford, Connecticut: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1850-1890;Family History Library book 974.6 N2c; films 908423-30; fiche 6051120). This is listed in the Family History Library Catalog under CONNECTICUT - PUBLIC RECORDS.

1630s-1961: Town and borough courts had jurisdiction over civil matters in towns. Justice of the peace courts (1686-1961) handled similar matters in areas without a town court. Many of these records are at the Connecticut State Library. These courts were succeeded by circuit courts.

1638-1711: Particular Court was the primary court of jurisdiction for all matters of law, including appeals from town courts. This was succeeded by the Court of Assistants (1665-1711). The published records of this court are in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut (described above).

1666-1855: County courts had jurisdiction over civil disputes and minor criminal cases as well as chancery and divorce matters. From 1855-1870 this court's duties were taken over by the town and justice courts and the Superior Court.

1711-present: Superior Court replaced the Court of Assistants and holds county-wide sessions as the principal trial court for major civil and criminal cases.

1869-present: Courts of common pleas replaced county courts and were reorganized in 1975 to include the circuit court.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of a few Connecticut court records. Many remain in the various court offices. The major repository for the records listed above is the Connecticut State Library. A guide to their court record holdings is Records of the Judicial Department (Part A): Court Records in the Connecticut State Library, 1636-1945, revised, unpublished inventory (Hartford: Connecticut State Library, 1977; not available at Family History Library).

For more information concerning Connecticut court records, see the Guide to Archives in the Connecticut State Library (see the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline). Also see Dwight Loomis and Joseph Gilbert Calhoun, Judicial and Civil History of Connecticut (Boston, Massachusetts: Boston History Co., 1895; not available at Family History Library).