Rhode Island Probate Records
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This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Unlike any other state in New England, from colonial times probate functions have been organized by town, not county or separate probate district. The town council, in addition to its normal function, handled probate matters in Rhode Island. Wills were accepted and challenged, executors authorized, administrators appointed, inventories ordered, and estates distributed, although the town council book, probate book, or will book differed from town to town. It was not until much later that a certain uniformity began to take hold in the recording procedures, dividing town functions into separate books instead of locating them on whatever blank parchment space was available in the office or home of a council member.