Middlesex County probate records now online

Middlesex County map 1 State map from Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research, 5th edition (NEHGS, 2012)

Middlesex County was created on 10 May 1643 as one of the original four counties of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The other original counties were Essex, Suffolk, and a now extinct Norfolk – a name later reused for a different geographic region in the state.

At its founding, Middlesex County covered a broad swath of Massachusetts. The county was bordered to the north by New Hampshire, to the east by Essex County, to the south by Suffolk County, and to the west by New York – until Hampshire County was created in 1662. Middlesex’s western boundary was altered again by the creation of Worcester County in 1731. Now, and for the first time ever, historic Middlesex County probate records are fully searchable online – and for free!

Throughout the period covered in these records, Middlesex was the most populated county in Massachusetts, with some 275,000 residents by the 1870 U.S. census. Available on AmericanAncestors.org, and made possible through a partnership with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives, this database includes more than 45,000 probate cases between 1648 and 1871. The cases include wills, guardianships, administrations, and various other types of records.

Probate records are data-rich genealogical documents often containing information about the date and place of death of the subject, the subject’s marital status, spouse’s name, children’s names, relationships between family members, residences, inventories of property, and perhaps even the subject’s mark or signature. For a New England researcher, these records should prove invaluable for providing detailed information on individuals who resided in the region from its earliest days to the late nineteenth century.

The following towns – with the year in which they were established – are included in this database:

Acton (1735), Arlington (1807), Ashby (1767), Ashland (1846), Bedford (1729), Belmont (1859), Billerica (1655), Boxborough (1835), Brighton* (1806), Burlington (1799), Cambridge (1636), Carlisle (1780), Charlestown* (1630), Chelmsford (1655), Concord (1635), Dracut (1701), Dunstable (1673), Everett (1870), Framingham (1700), Groton (1655), Holliston (1724), Hopkinton (1715), Hudson (1866), Lexington (1713), Lincoln (1754), Litchfield** (1734) Littleton (1715), Lowell (1826), Malden (1649), Marlborough (1660), Medford (1630), Melrose (1850), Natick (1781), Newton (1688), North Reading (1853), Nottingham** (1733), 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), and Woburn (1642).

* Brighton and Charlestown were annexed by Boston in 1874.

** Litchfield and Nottingham were ceded to New Hampshire in 1740.

Happy searching!

Ryan Woods

About Ryan Woods

Engaged in museum and library management for more than a decade, Ryan Woods oversees the day-to-day operations of NEHGS and is responsible for the strategic implementation of technology and content services. Since joining NEHGS in 2007, he has held successive roles developing education programs, supervising the research library, and leading business and technology initiatives, including the creation of the Society’s flagship website, AmericanAncestors.org. Prior to arriving at NEHGS, Ryan served in several key capacities at the Mary Baker Eddy Library and at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where he was recognized by members of Congress and the Archivist of the United States with a special commendation for outstanding achievement in public service. A licensed educator and author of educational and genealogical articles, he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in history, education, and non-profit program management from Boston University. In addition to his work at NEHGS, Ryan serves on several boards of historical and educational institutions and is a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, the Society of Colonial Wars, the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem.View all posts by Ryan Woods