Hessen-Nassau Court Records

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Vormundschaft (guardianship)

Illegitimate children were without rights and to legitimize their interests was unknown in the beginning of German family law. They could not be guardians nor could they have a guardian. They did not even have any rights towards their mother, but did have a right to be supported by their progenitor. Guardianship concerning the elderly as well as the insane or encumbered persons did exist. A guardianship did then not exist for squanderers or missing persons. In the Southern part of Germany evolved the attentive care guardianship together with a mandate of accountability. This trend spread to Northern Germany as well. Hand in hand with this development emerged the guardianship overlooked by the government. First a guardian was installed according to recommendations of the father, later according to recommendations of the judge. Helpless people who did not have a guardian were assigned one by the judge. To install mothers as guardians over their children came much later. However, she received the rights for personal care for her offspring, which left the installed guardian to look after the administration of the wealth.

Source: R. Schröder. Lehrbuch der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte. Leipzig 1898

Guardianships are also known as Tutel, Kuratel, Pflegschaft. By law legal guardians are fathers for their minor children, the grandfather on the mother’s side in case of illegitimate children or appointed officials. As legal guardians can be installed furthermore the adoptive father, the mother of the children, the grandparents, or someone who mother and/or father want to have installed by last will ratified through the court. These people need a certificate of appointment in contrast to the legal guardians.

Guardianship records are of great worth to genealogical research because relationships can be established.

Guardianship records are available for Hessen-Nassau through www.familysearch.org Family History Library Catalog, film number 810899.

Protocollum civile

"A brief note or momorandum of a transaction made by a notary or other official, for the purpose of being afterwards extented or written out in full. A hasty note of a transaction" is the content of a protocollum civile (book of transactions).

Source: Alexander M. Burrill. A Law Dictionary and glossary. Vol. II New York 1867.

Protocollum civile are available for Bergen, now Bergen-Enkheim and surrounding areas through www.familysearch.org, Family History Library, Catalog, film 810927. Indexes provide names and indicate what legal matter is documented on a certain page, such as marrige contracts, probates debts etc.

Ehestandsbuch, Heiratsstandbuch, Ehevertrag, Heiratsbrief, Eherezess (prenuptial agreements)

are German words for a contract between engaged couples which are recorded in Ehestands- or Heiratsstandbücher. They not only promise each other marriage but also sort out proprietary matters for the duration of the union as well as determine what is to take place if the marriage dissolves etc. The court enters all those who request a written permit to get married. For such action the couple has to pay. Their names are listed so that the authorities are not being swindled out of manumission or moving away fees.
A recording of intended marriages is also done to control the population growth, to insure proper support of families and other reasons. After a couple has received permission to marry, they have to be proclaimed three times before the marriage ceremony can take place.

Marriage contracts for Hessen-Nassau are available through www.familysearch.org Family History Library, Catalog, Keyword Search: Hessen-Nassau, Zivilstandsregister . Films can be ordered through the Research Center network.


is a register of sums, valuables or important documents such as wills deposited with the court. Usually a receipt is issued. Also, the testimony of a witness or an expert is called a depositon.

There are some deposition books available for Hessen-Nassau through www.familysearch.org Family History Library Catalog, Keyword Search: Depositen, Depositenbuch.