Ian Watson's New England Settler Resources

Index to the Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts

This is a consolidated index to all nine volumes of the published Essex County quarterly court records, spanning the years from 1636 to 1686. I created it by cleaning, combining, and reworking existing index data for each volume individually. This data was keyed in at the University of Virginia about 2000, under the direction of Benjamin Ray. The Peabody Essex Museum, which holds the copyright to the ninth volume of records (the only one not in the public domain), and the University of Virginia gave permission to reuse the index data.

Feedback is welcome (at the email address on the front page of this website) and I would be happy to assist serious proposals from anyone who would like to work further with the data and improve its usability. (For example, variant surname spellings are gathered together within each volume, but not yet across volumes.)

These files are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, known for short as CC-BY-SA. Under this license, you are free to redistribute these files or the data within them, as long as you identify the creators and rightsholders (Ian Watson, the University of Virginia, and the Peabody Essex Museum) and make any redistribution under the same license. See the license link for the full details.

There are three files in the project:

Download all three files as a .zip archive.

To view the nine published volumes, follow these links:

Volume 11636-1656 https://archive.org/details/recordsandfiles00massgoog
Volume 21656-1662 https://archive.org/details/recordsfilesofqu02esse
Volume 31662-1667 https://archive.org/details/recordsfilesofqu03esse
Volume 41668-1671 https://archive.org/details/recordsfilesofqu04esse
Volume 51672-1674 https://archive.org/details/recordsfilesofqu05esse
Volume 61675-1678 https://archive.org/details/recordsfilesofqu06esse
Volume 71678-1680 https://archive.org/details/recordsfilesofqu07esse
Volume 81680-1683 https://archive.org/details/recordsandfiles01dowgoog
Volume 91683-1686 http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/Essex/vol9/table/index.html

Many people don’t realize that the nine published volumes are not verbatim transcriptions of the original records. The original editorial team, headed by George Francis Dow and including Harriet S. Tapley and Sidney Perley, explained that they printed the records “in abstracted form, free from needless verbiage,” but that “every essential particular is retained so that the historian, genealogist and sociologist may be assured that nothing of value has been omitted” (from volume 1, page vii). In my experience, though, their abstracts were good, but they did in fact omit a few things of value, including prurient details. So examining the originals can be quite useful in some cases. You can view the original court minute books without charge at familysearch.org, many of them on DGS 8121376. The original court files are at the Massachusetts Supreme Court Judicial Archives.