Massachusetts Probate Records
Probate records were under the jurisdiction of the general court and the county courts until probate courts were established in 1692. Probate courts exercised exclusive jurisdiction over guardianships, adoptions, probates of wills, and administration of estates.
The original records are at county courthouses, and many of the records and indexes through 1880 or 1900 are on microfilm at the Family History Library. These include probate dockets, wills, inventories, accounts, administrations, and guardianship records. For example, for Suffolk County the library has 439 microfilms of probate records, dockets from 1636 to 1901, and an index to 1910. Indexes of the probate records of Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Worcester Counties have also been published. Each county has its own probate court. Details can be found in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under MASSACHUSETTS, [COUNTY] - PROBATE RECORDS.
Records of cases that were appealed are in the office of the clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court.
A series of pre-1670 Suffolk County will abstracts, which originally appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, have been reprinted in:
- Suffolk County Wills. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, Inc., 1984. (Family History Library book 974.46 P2s; film 1320548 item 1.)
Another source of early probate records is:
- Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories, 1620–1639. Three Volumes. Carbon copy typescript. (FHL 974.4 P2p.) Contains records of wills and property inventories extracted from these wills.