Massachusetts Land and Property

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Proprietor and Town Records

During the colonial period, land was granted by the General Court to proprietors, who also granted land. These records are located at the Massachusetts State Archives and other repositories. The state archives also has records and papers relating to proprietary grants, land claims, grants of bounty lands to soldiers, boundary disputes, and surveyors' records.

After proprietors sold their land or a town was incorporated, town clerks recorded deeds and mortgages. These records are at the town halls; the Family History Library has copies of most of them.

Plymouth Colony records (1632–1701) are in:

Shurtleff, N. B. and David Pulsifer, eds. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England. 12 Volumes. Boston, Massachusetts: William White, 1855-61. (FHL book 974.4 N2n; film 944128-29; fiche 6046866.)

Massachusetts Bay Colony records (1628–1685) are in:

Shurtleff, Nathaniel B. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Five Volumes. Boston, Massachusetts: W. White, 1853-54. (FHL book 974.4 N2s; fiche 6046893.)

County Records

After a county was created, land records were recorded at county registry of deeds offices. Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, and Worcester counties have more than one office because they are divided into two or more land districts. Addresses of the offices are found in Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research (see Massachusetts Gazetteers).

The Family History Library has most county land records and indexes from the county's creation to the early 1900s. For example, see Suffolk County deeds:

Suffolk County (Massachusetts). Register of Deeds: Records of Deeds, 1639–1885; Indexes to Deeds, 1639–1920. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969. (On 1128 FHL films.)

Boston and Suffolk County records (1629–1697) are in:

Suffolk Deeds. 14 Volumes. Boston, Massachusetts: Rockwell and Churchill, 1880-1906. (FHL book 974.46 R2s; Volumes. 1-14 are on five films, beginning with FHL film 1033902; vols. 1-2, 4-7, 9-11, and 14 are on FHL fiche 6046903.)