New Hampshire Land Records
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This entry was originally written by George F. Sanborn Jr., FASG, and Alice Eichholz, Ph.D, CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
New Hampshire is a State-Land State.
All New Hampshire deeds for the provincial period before 1771 were filed in Exeter, or the Ipswich deeds and the Old Norfolk County deeds in Salem, Massachusetts. Microfilms and original books of the first 100 volumes of those filed in Exeter, called Province Deeds, now reside, along with a card file index, at the New Hampshire Records and Archives. Microfilm copies of the card file index and the actual deeds are also located at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
Counties were formed in 1769, with each county seat becoming the location for recording land transactions in that county. In actuality, however, the practice did not begin until 1771, except for Strafford County, which, due to delays in constructing a new courthouse, did not commence until 1773. Indexes at county offices are in grantor and grantee volumes, by time period, and often include the name of the town where the land is located. Since there are numerous towns in each county, this detail in the index can be helpful in searching land held by those with a common surname. When details of property description are given in the deed, they usually follow the “metes and bounds” survey system or identify the lot by number.
New Hampshire Records and Archives holds the original books and an index to Rockingham County deeds (1771–1824), which includes transactions in Strafford County (1771–73). Early books of Grafton County Deeds (through volume 116) are available on microfilm at the New Hampshire Records and Archives, as is the index to those deeds (1773–1870). The original volumes are housed at the Grafton County courthouse in North Haverill (see New Hampshire County Resources). For all other counties, deeds are available in the books or microfilms at the county seat. Microfilm copies of deed books to about 1850 for most counties are at the FHL, with a growing collection of the same also at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
Because of geographic and boundary considerations, some early deeds involving land transactions in the Cheshire County area might have been recorded in Massachusetts. Consequently, Hampden County Courthouse in Springfield (see Massachusetts County Resources) should be consulted. Conversely, it is possible that land granted by New Hampshire in what is now Vermont may be mentioned in the Province Deeds.