Records and Files Of The Quarterly Courts Of Essex County Massachusetts, 1636 - 1683, Volume 5
Records and Files Of The Quarterly Courts Of Essex County Massachusetts, 1636 - 1683, Vol 1-8, Volume 5. 1911-1921. These volumes contain transcripts or extracts from the record books and loose papers
of all courts that operated in the area that is now Essex County, Massachusetts, from 1636 to 1683. Nearly every person who resided for any length of time in Essex County in this period will be found in this set. In 1636 the Massachusetts Bay General Court established quarterly courts to be held at several places in the colony, including Salem and Ipswich. In 1643 the General Court erected four counties in the colony: Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex and Norfolk. Essex County included Salem and Ipswich, and the courts at those places continued as they had since 1636. Norfolk County (not to be confused with the county of the same name erected in 1793) comprised the towns of Salisbury, Haverhill, Hampton, Exeter, Dover and Portsmouth. Quarterly courts were established at Salisbury and Hampton, and continued until 1679 when New Hampshire was established as a separate colony, Norfolk County was dissolved, and Salisbury and Haverhill were absorbed in Essex County. The last sitting of the Salisbury Court was on 11 November 1679.The Quarterly Courts had jurisdiction over criminal, civil and administrative matters, so one will find here records of prosecution for various crimes, of lawsuits between private citizens, and of licenses for innkeepers. For most courts there are lists of the presiding magistrates and for the grand and petit juries for that court, in many cases accompanied by the grand jury presentments for the court. These courts also held probate jurisdiction, and many early wills, inventories and administration will be found here as well.The main body of the text presents the information found in the record books for each court. Material from the file papers is included in the footnotes and, where possible, keyed to the associated entries in the record books.Very few long-term residents of Essex County escaped mention in the court records.