Bristol County, Massachusetts
Genealogy and Facts

Bristol County

Bristol County was founded on June 2, 1685 as one of three original counties created in the Plymouth Colony. The county was named for its original county seat of Bristol, Massachusetts, which is named for the English port city of Bristol - when the Town of Bristol joined Rhode Island, the name of the county was kept.

Currently the Bristol County Seat is situated in Taunton and the county government website is http://www.bristol-county.org/

Places adjacent to Bristol County are Norfolk County (north), Plymouth County (northeast), Newport County, Rhode Island (southwest), Bristol County, Rhode Island (west), Providence County, Rhode Island (northwest).

Cities and towns situated in Bristol County are made up of Acushnet, Attleboro, Berkley, Dartmouth, Dighton, Easton, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, Mansfield, New Bedford, North Attleborough, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Westport.

Bristol County vital records can be found at the Massachusetts Office of Vital Records has copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Massachusetts for current fees and application process. Vital Records have been registered in Massachusetts since 1635. Statewide collection began in 1841. There is a fee for each copy requested. Records for events that occurred from 1841-1910 are available at the State Archives.

You can search online for Bristol County Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Records. You can also Order Electronically Online or can download an application for Massachusetts Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate Applications to mail.

Bristol County does have Federal Census Schedules to guide in looking into your family tree. Federal government Population Schedules are available for 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (free index), 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.

Bristol Co. Mortality Schedules can be obtained for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Bristol Co. Industry and Agriculture Schedules can be found for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Bristol Co. Union Veterans Schedules can be found for 1890. One can find free online and printable census forms that can help with your research.

Bristol County Society and Family History Resources

A list of Bristol County Historical  and Genealogical Societies, Forums, Message Boards, Libraries, Archives.

Bristol County Courthouse and Government Records


Bristol County Courthouse

Genealogist often overlook the great importance of Bristol County court, probate, and land records as a useful resource of ancestry and genealogy details. Hidden away in Massachusetts courthouses and archives just about everywhere are the aspirations and frustrations of many Massachusetts inhabitants.

The odds are great that your chosen ancestors have left a detailed document of at least quite a few facets of their lives in the Bristol County court records.


Old Bristol County Courthouse

Even if your ancestors is not referred to in a Court case, take into account all of the other methods which often can have lead to her or him appearing in court records.

The following information and facts shows whatever birth, marriage, death, property, probate, and legal records will be in Bristol County. The dates indicated below could be the first recognized records data for this particular county.

The county seat was Bristol until 1746 when succeeded by Taunton. The Taunton seat divided into three districts in 1837 with Taunton remaining as probate office but only registry of deeds for the Northern District.

Remember to get in touch with the clerk's dept to verify hours, mailing address, fees and other facts prior to visiting or asking for information because of many times changing contact details. The Department Offices DO NOT DO RESEARCH. The data files are readily available to interested parties, barring confidential issues. A lot of staff will aid persons in finding the resources, however it is up to the individual to perform the basic research. For Town Records contact the Town Clerk (Helpful Telephone Listings for your City/Town Hall)
  • Bristol County Register of Deeds is the place where all transactions of a Real Property nature are recorded so that the public is made aware of their existence. Deeds, mortgages, tax liens, water liens, declaration of homestead and many other kinds of documents regarding the title and ownership of real estate are noted permanently in official records.
    • Northern District, 11 Court Street, Taunton, MA 02780; (508) 822-0502; The Northern District includes the towns of Attleboro, Berkley, Dighton, Easton, Mansfield, North Attleboro, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk and Taunton.
    • Southern District, 25 North 6th Street, New Bedford, MA 02740; (508) 993-2605; The Southern District includes the towns of Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, New Bedford and Westport.
    • Fall River District, 441 North Main Street, Fall River, MA 02720; (508) 673-1651; The Fall River District includes the towns of Fall River, Freetown, Somerset and Swansea.
    • Land Records: 1685
  • Bristol County Clerk of Probate Court has many responsibilities which include the administration of estates, probate of wills, and the appointment of guardians, have been under the jurisdiction of the courts since the 1630s. County courts and later, county judges of probate, were responsible for these functions until 1783, when the probate courts were established. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the probate and family courts were given jurisdiction over adoptions, divorces, name changes, and domestic relations.
    • Address: 21 FR DeValles Boulevard, Fall River, MA 02723
    • Phone: (508) 672-4669
    • Probate Records: 1685 
  • Bristol County Clerk of Courts has jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, and equity cases.
    • Address: 9 Court St., Room 13, Taunton, MA 02780
    • Phone: ?
    • Court Records: 1685 
  • Bristol County Town Clerks has copies of vital records (birth, marriage, divorce and death records). Clerks respond to inquiries regarding vital records, since most have indexes available. They also have tax lists that may still be available at the town office. Earlier taxes for the towns exist as well.
  • Massachusetts Office of Vital Records has copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Massachusetts for current fees and application process. Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. Vital Records have been registered in Massachusetts since 1635. Statewide collection began in 1841.

Bristol County Links

The following are links to Family history and genealogy, Records and Resources relevant to Bristol County. A lot of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Business oriented Sites, Personal Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some call for a cost. This is just a collection which has been compiled or submitted. I do not recommend or promote one genealogy site above another. Feel free to present your own preferred Bristol County genealogy or family history associated sites.

Bristol Co. MA Books, Newspapers & Publications

Bristol Co. MA Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Bristol Co. MA Court, Probate Land and Tax Records

Bristol Co. MA Census Records

Bristol Co. MA Cemeteries & Graveyards

Bristol Co. MA Church & Bible Records

Bristol Co. MA Family Websites, Pictures & Histories

Bristol Co. MA General and History Websites

Bristol Co. MA Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

Bristol Co. MA Military Records

Bristol Co. MA Schools & Directories

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