New Hampshire Probate 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.
Probate records covering the colonial period (1636–1771), originally filed in Portsmouth and Exeter, are in the collection at the New Hampshire Records and Archives; abstracts have been published in volumes 31–39 of the New Hampshire State Papers (see Background Sources). These volumes are being added to the online subscription database at <www.ancestry.com>. Probate records for residents of towns along the Massachusetts border may be found in Massachusetts counties. For those in Rockingham County, see Essex County (Mass.) Probate Index, 1636–1840 (see Massachusetts—Probate Records).
After the formation of counties, probates were filed at county seats. All probate records, except for Coos County (whose records were burned prior to 1887), are extant.
Microfilm copies of many are at the FHL and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (see page 13). Published abstracts include Helen F. Evans, Abstracts of Probate Records of Strafford County New Hampshire, 1771–1799 (Bedford, N.H.: the author, 1973); Abstracts of the Probate Records of Rockingham County [New Hampshire], 1771–1799 (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2000), also available on CD-ROM; and Nicholas G. Copadis et al, Hillsborough County Register of Probate Index, 1771–1884 (Nashua, N.H.: n.p., 1973).
Abstracts and indexes are only the tip of the iceberg in probate records, however. Not all material in the probate file was recorded in probate books. Consequently, a probate search is not complete without surveying the materials in the original files. Original files that include letters, affidavits, bills, receipts, original wills, and inventories are at New Hampshire Records and Archives for Rockingham, Cheshire, and Grafton counties. Other counties retain their originals.