Connecticut Probate Records
Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.” Genealogists often refer to 'Probate Records' as "All records which relate to the disposition of an estate," whether the person died leaving a will (testate) or not (intestate).
Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, guardianships, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, depositions, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents.
For further information about the probate process, types of probate records, analyzing probate records, and to access a glossary of probate terms, see United States Probate Records.
Probate records in Connecticut are kept by probate district courts. In many cases a probate district consisted of a larger community and several nearby smaller towns. Sometimes a probate district crosses county boundaries.
The Connecticut State Library has a probate district guide showing which probate district or court covered a certain town or city at a particular time. This is very important. It also lists what records for which years are at that district.
The Probate Court Directory has current court locations with addresses, phone and fax numbers, and hours.
Map of current Probate Court Districts (as of 5 January 2011) shows which townships are in each district.
The Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries has a page on Connecticut Law about Probate Law with links to guides, statutes, and other information about probate law in Connecticut.
Statewide Record Collections
- Manwaring, Charles Williams, compiler. A Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records. 3 volumes. Hartford [Connecticut]: R.S. Peck & Company, 1904-1906. Contains probate record abstracts of early Connecticut Colony and Hartford Probate District. The series, which is made up of the first fifteen original volumes, covers the years 1635-1750 and includes wills, inventories, distributions of estates and court records. Volume 1 identifies the changes made in the different Probate Districts of Connecticut from the beginning, and includes information concerning the district boundaries. A digital version of the three volume set is available online at Internet Archive:
Volume 1 (1635-1700), Volume 2 (1700-1729), Volume 3 (1729-1750).
(FHL book 974.6 P2m; CD-ROM no. 2872).
- General Index to Probate Records: All Districts in Connecticut 1641-1948. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1957-1958. (On 67 FHL films 166000-66). Indexes the two collections of probate records below:
- Probate Estate Files, 1881-1915. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1990-1994. (On 577 FHL films beginning with 1685090). Microfilm of original records in the Connecticut State Library. These microfilms only cover the Andover through New Haven Probate Districts. The New London through Woodstock Districts have not been filmed, however most of the records are either at the Connecticut State Library or at the probate district court. The files may include wills, codicils, bonds, applications and petitions, inventories, court orders, court returns, distributions, accounts of administration, receipts, and miscellaneous probate records.
- Probate Files Collection, Early to 1880. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1977-1979. (On 1,622 FHL films beginning with 1015126) These files may include wills, codicils, bonds, applications and petitions, inventories, court orders, court returns, distributions, accounts of administration, receipts, and miscellaneous probate records.
- Trumbull, J. Hammond. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, Prior to the Union with New Haven Colony, May, 1665; Transcribed and Published (In Accordance with a Resolution of the General Assembly,) Under the Supervision of the Secretary of State, with Occasional Notes and an Appendix. Hartford [Connecticut]: Brown and Parsons, 1850. (FHL book 974.6 N2c v. 1). Early Colonial "Wills and Inventories" can be found on pages 442-508. A digital version of this book is available at Internet Archive.
- The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut (see Connecticut Public Records).
- The Connecticut State Library has numerous files of wills, bonds, letters, and other probate documents. For more information, see Research Guide to Probate Records at the Connecticut State Library.
- You can obtain copies of probate records from the local probate district offices. To find the probate district for the town of interest, see the Probate Districts section above.
- The New England Historic Genealogical Society, located in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, has early Connecticut probate records available on microfilm. To search their online library catalog, click Here.
- The Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah has the records listed above in the Statewide Record Collections. For collection details, see the Family History Library Catalog. Use the "Place Search" option to search for a specific Connecticut county or town. Then look for the topic labeled "Probate Records."
- The Connecticut State Library has created a helpful online research guide for determining Connecticut probate districts and available records, called Research Guide to Connecticut Probate Districts.
- Kemp, Thomas J. Connecticut Researcher's Handbook. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1981. The book describes each of Connecticut's probate districts and contains a detailed list of available sources. FHL book 974.6 D23k
- Melnyk, Marcia D. Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research, 4th ed. Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999. [Other libraries with this book. FHL book974 D27g
- Connecticut Probate Court System has a list of courts by district, by town, and by number with contact information for each court and a map of the districts. and explanations of various aspects of probate law.
- Judgepeidia has a list of courts with the number of the court and the county served by each.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."
- Val. D. Greenwood, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2000), 309.