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Revision as of 16:22, 27 August 2013

United States go to Massachusetts go to Middlesex County

This is a historical and genealogical guide to the county of Middlesex. 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.

Middlesex County Massachusetts History

Brief History

Middlesex County was one of the four original counties when Massachusetts Bay Colony created counties in 1643. When established, it had no defined western or northern border. These borders were more clearly defined when Worcester County was created in 1731 on the west and the Province of New Hampshire in 1680 to the north, but this border remained in dispute until 1741. Early settlers in this county went north, west, and south to establish new settlements in the 1600s and 1700s. The oldest college in the United States was established in Cambridge in 1636 - Harvard College, now Harvard University. Lowell, on the Merrimack River, became one of the centers of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s that drew many immigrants to work in the mills, especially Irish and French-Canadian. The county government was abolished on 11 July 1997, but its former jurisdiction is used for state offices as a district.[1]

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Historical Data

The basic data are from the historical county boundary series[2] with additions from various sources.

Dates Events
10 May 1643 Middlesex County created as one of the four original counties formed out of Massachusetts Bay Colony with no defined western boundary. [Mass. Rec., 2: 38]
26 May 1658 Billerica lost 15 acres to Andover, Essex Co.
10 July 1731 Worcester County created from the western portion.
29 June 1732 Land from Groton and Stow, and Lancaster, Worcester Co., taken to form the new town of Harvard in Worcester Co. that altered the border there.
14 June 1735 Small lost when Upton, Worcester Co., was created on its border.
6 Mar. 1767 Small gain when Ashby was created from Townsend with small parts of Ashburnham and Fitchburg in Worcester Co.
25 Feb. 1783 Gained when Boxborough annexed part of Harvard, Worcester Co.
16 Mar. 1784 Small lost when Berlin was created from Bolton and Northborough (all in Worcester Co.) and Marlborough.
7 Mar. 1786 Small lost when Southborough, Worcester Co., annexed from Framingham.
16 Nov. 1792 Gained large triangular piece when Ashby annexed it from Ashburnham, Worcester Co.
22 June 1797 Sizable loss when Natick and Needham, Norfolk Co., exchanged land to straighten out border.
20 June 1807 Small lost when Northborough, Worcester Co., annexed a part of Marlborough.
8 Mar. 1808 Small lost when Upton, Worcester Co., annexed a part of Hopkinton.
11 Feb. 1829 One acre lost when Bolton, Worcester Co., annexed a part of Marlborough.
27 Mar. 1835 Redefined border between Hopkinton and Holliston, and Milford, Worcester Co.
16 Mar. 1838 Redefined border between Marlborough and Bolton in Worcester Co.
23 Apr. 1838 Sizable loss when Roxbury, Norfolk Co., annexed a part of Newton.
24 Mar. 1843 Small area gained when Marlborough annexed a part of Southborough, Worcester Co.
3 Mar. 1846
25 Apr. 1848
Redefined border between Shirley and Lunenburg, Worcester Co.
10 Apr. 1854 Reading annexed a part of Lynnfield, Essex Co.
7 Jan. 1858 North Reading annexed a part of Lynnfield, Essex Co.
1 Apr. 1859 Small lost when Milford, Worcester Co., annexed a part of Holliston.
20 Mar. 1868 Hudson annexed a small part of Bolton, Worcester Co.
5 Jan. 1874 Suffolk County annexed all of Brighton and Charlestown.
29 May 1874
1 July 1875
Redefined border between Newton and Boston, Suffolk Co.
4 May 1891 Redefined border between Somerville and Boston, Suffolk Co.
29 Mar. 1898
16 May 1898
Redefined border in Charles River with Cambridge and land with Newton, with Boston, Suffolk Co.
16 May 1901 Redefined border with Marlborough and Southborough, Wocester Co.
21 May 1903-
2 May 1905
Several redefined borders with Tewksbury, North Reading, and Reading with Essex Co. towns.
1 May 1905 Redefined border between Hudson and Marlborough with Berlin, Worcester Co.
14 June 1906 Small gain when Littleton annexed a part of Harvard, Worcester Co.
28 Mar. 1907 Redefined border between Newton and Brookline, Norfolk Co.
16 May 1907 Redefined border between Hopkinton with Milford and Upton, Worcester Co.
29 Mar. 1910 Redefined border in Charles River with Cambridge with Boston, Suffolk Co.
18 Sept. 1933 Small gain when Wakefield annexed a part of Saugus, Essex Co.
10 Apr. 1947 Redefined border between Reading and Lynnfield, Essex Co.
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Towns and Cities

The following list of present-day Middlesex 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.

Acton (1735) | Arlington (1807) | Ashby (1767) | Ashland (1846)
Ayer (1871) | Bedford (1729) | Belmont (1859) | Billerica (1655)
Boxborough (1835) | Burlington (1799) | Cambridge (1636) | Carlisle (1780)
Chelmsford (1655) | Concord (1635) | Dracut (1701) | Dunstable (1673)
Everett (1870) | Framingham (1700) | Groton (1655) | Holliston (1724)
Hopkinton (1715) | Hudson (1866) | Lexington (1713) | Lincoln (1754)
Littleton (1715) | Lowell (1826) | Malden (1649) | Marlborough (1660)
Maynard (1871) | Medford (1630) | Melrose (1850) | Natick (1781)
Newton (1688) | North Reading (1853) | Pepperell (1775) | Reading (1644)
Sherborn (1674) | Shirley (1775) | Somerville (1842) | Stoneham (1725)
Stow (1683) | Sudbury (1639) | Tewksbury (1734) | Townsend (1732)
Tyngsborough (1809) | Wakefield (1812) | Waltham (1738) | Watertown (1630)
Wayland (1780) | Westford (1729) | Weston (1713) | Wilmington (1730)
Winchester (1850) | Woburn (1642)

Annexed to Boston: Brighton (1806) | Charlestown (1630)

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County Histories

Works written on the county include:

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Middlesex 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 by 1800. An index to the county copy can be found at FHL film 1420474 Item 3. 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.

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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. Middlesex County is divided into two districts. The county was one district until the creation of the Northern District in 1855.

Middlesex North Registry of Deeds
360 Gorham Street
Lowell MA 01852
Phone 978-322-9000
Email lowelldeeds@comcast.net
This district includes Billerica, Carlistle, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Tweksbury, Tyngsborough, Westford, and Wilmington.

Original records

The original records are held by the Registry but closed to the public. All their records are available ONLINE at LowellDeeds.com. Deeds are searchable by index since 1976. The older deeds, books 1 through 2789, can be viewed on the site, but only by volume and page. Deeds for this district prior to its creation in 1855 were copied from the southern district by town. This is available online, too, but without an index and it does not correspond to the southern district's volume and page.

Note: To see records before 1976, you must first go to the SEARCH option that takes you to the masslandrecords.com website for Northern Middlesex. Under the link at the top left called "Search Criteria," you can select the grantor or grantee index. From the new search page, you can search for a surname or exact name. The default is the pre-district period up to 1855. Later periods to 1975 can be selected before your search. These indexes will give you the volume and page you need for the Registry's main search page of older records by volume and page, town, a brief description, and the type of deed. The pre-1856 index includes the original volume and page found in the Middlesex South distict.

There are no microfilmed records from this district.

Middlesex South Registry of Deeds
208 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02141
Phone 617-679-6300
Email middlesexsouth@sec.state.ma.us
This district included the entire county up to 1855 and all southern towns not listed above after that.

Original records

The original records are held by Registry office and your research will likely require a personal visit to the office. The only records online are: Deed indexes since 1974 and deed books since 1986 are available online from the main page that directs you to the MassLandRecords.com for Middlesex South.

Note: Grantor indexes (NOT grantee) from 1896 to 1973 are available for sale on 8-disc DVD set from the Middlesex South Registry.

Original records on microfilm

Note: All these records (FHL film 532454 (1st of 1780)) listed below are online at FamilySearch.org as a browsable collection only (as of Aug. 2013). Also, it is not clearly stated, but these records are for the entire county up to 1855, though only for Middlesex South after that.

  • Grantor indexes, 1639-1950, 358 reels.
    As 1639-1799 (3); 1800-1835 (3); 1836-1846 (2); 1847-1859 (6); 1860-1869 (14); 1870-1880 (21); 1881-1890 (22); 1891-1895 (15); 1896-1950 (272).
  • Grantee indexes, 1639-1905, 95 reels.
    As 1639-1799 (3); 1800-1835 (3); 1836-1846 (2); 1847-1859 (6); 1860-1869 (11); 1870-1880 (18); 1881-1890 (16); 1891-1895 (13); 1896-1905 (23).
  • Deeds, v. 1 (1639) - v. 2790 (1899).
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Probate Records

Probate and Family Court is organized on a county level in Massachusetts since the creation of the counties. The main records genealogists seek are testate (wills), intestate (administrations), guardianships, and divorces (since 1922), though there are many more that are valuable to any researcher, too. See a further discussion of the topic in general on the Massachusetts page.

Middlesex County operates one office for the entire county holding all the records. Most probates are handled by one of the four satellite offices in the county.

Middlesex County Probate and Family Court
208 Cambridge Street
East Cambridge MA 02141
Phone 617-768-5858
Email middlesexprobate@middlesexprobate.com

Cambridge Satellite Session
121 Third Street
Cambridge MA 02141

Concord Satellite Session
305 Walden Street
Concord MA 01742

Marlborough Satellite Session
45 Williams Street
Marlborough MA 01752

Lowell Satellite Session
360 Gorham Street
Lowell MA 01852

Original records

The original records are likely still stored at the courthouse. That could not be confirmed by a telephone call to the court in August 2013.

Original records online

There are no records available online, but the FamilySearch.org is scheduled to upload the Middlesex County Probate records from 1648 to 1967 in the future. [as of Aug. 2013]

Original records on microfilm

The following records are available at the FHL film 385978 (1st of 886); Massachusetts Archives through 1871 with record books to 1909 and file papers to 19846; and New England Historic Genealogical Society through 1924 (1st series, complete) and through 1967 (2nd series, incomplete).

  • For indexes, see published books below.
  • Docket books, #1-45383.
  • Record books, v. 1-609.
  • File papers, #1-45383.

At FHL film 553248 (1st of 295):

  • Probate packets, 2nd series, 1872-1967, #1-19935.

At FHL film 385974 and Massachusetts Archives:

  • Miscellaneous index and records, 1659-1692
Manuscript records

Published records

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Other Court Records


  • Hendrik Hartog, "The Public Law of a County Court: Judicial Government in Eighteenth Century Massachusetts" in American Journal of Legal History, 20 [1976]: 282-329.
    A study of the records of the Middlesex County Court of General Sessions, 1728-1803.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 973 B2ajL v. 20.
    Digital version at Jstor ($).
  • Nathaniel Harris, Records of the Court of Nathaniel Harris, one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace within and for the county of Middlesex, holden at Watertown from 1734 to 1761 ... (Watertown, Mass., 1938), 135 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL digital link.
  • [Alicia Crane Williams], "Handlist of Middlesex County Massachusetts Fornication cases, 1649-1749" (S.l., typ., 1979), 23 pp.
    Not on WorldCat; Not at FHL; Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants Library.


There are so many published maps of interest to genealogists and historians that this list will not be recreated here. The focus is with resources you can access online.

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Middlesex County Massachusetts Genealogy Societies

Massachusetts Society of Genealogists
PO Box 215
Ashaldn MA 01721
Email president@msoginc.org

Woburn Public Library
45 Pleasant Street
Woburn MA 01801
Phone 781-933-0148
Archives and Local History room

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Middlesex County Massachusetts Genealogy References