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Chester County, Pennsylvania

Chester County

Chester County was established on November 1682 as one of the three original counties. The county was named for the English city of Chester in the county of Cheshire.

Currently the Chester County Seat is located in West Chester and in addition the county government website is

Counties adjacent to Chester County are Berks County (north), Montgomery County (northeast), Delaware County (east), New Castle County, DE (southeast), Cecil County, Maryland (south), Lancaster County (west).

Municipalities situated in Chester County consist of Townships: Birmingham, Caln, Charlestown, East Bradford, East Brandywine, East Caln, East Coventry, East Fallowfield, East Goshen, East Marlborough, East Nantmeal, East Nottingham, East Pikeland, East Vincent, East Whiteland, Easttown, Elk, Franklin, Highland, Honey Brook, Kennett, London Britain, London Grove, Londonderry, Lower Oxford, New Garden, New London, Newlin, North Coventry, Penn, Pennsbury, Pocopson, Sadsbury, Schuylkill, South Coventry, Thornbury, Tredyffrin, Upper Oxford, Upper Uwchlan, Uwchlan, Valley, Wallace, Warwick, West Bradford, West Brandywine, West Caln, West Fallowfield, West Goshen, West Marlborough, West Nantmeal, West Nottingham, West Pikeland, West Sadsbury, West Vincent, West Whiteland, Westtown, Willistown. Boroughs: Atglen, Avondale, Downingtown, Elverson, Honey Brook, Kennett Square, Malvern, Modena, Oxford, Parkesburg, Phoenixville, South Coatesville, Spring City, West Chester, West Grove. Cities & Towns: Coatesville. See also Chester County Municipalities Incorporation Dates.

Chester County vital records can be found at the Pennsylvania Office of Vital Records has copies of birth and death records since 1906 and death records. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in Pennsylvania for current fees and application process. Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events.

You can search online for Chester County Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Records. You can also Order Electronically Online or can download an application for Pennsylvania  Birth CertificateDeath Certificate Applications to mail. Walk-in service is available at any of these six public offices: Erie, Harrisburg, New Castle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Scranton.

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

Chester Co. Mortality Schedules can be obtained for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Chester Co. Industry and Agriculture Schedules can be acquired for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Chester Co. Union Veterans Schedules can be found for 1890. You can find free down-loadable and also printable census forms to help with your research.

Chester County Society and Family History Resources

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

Chester County Courthouse and Government Records

Researchers often forget the great importance of Chester County court, probate, and land documents as a resource of genealogical information. Hidden away in Pennsylvania courthouses and archives everywhere are the hopes and dreams and frustrations of countless Pennsylvania inhabitants. The possibilities are great that your chosen ancestors have left a detailed record of at least several factors of their lives in the Chester County court records. Even if your ancestors and forefathers is not mentioned in a Court case, contemplate all of the other procedures which may have lead to him or her appearing in court records.

You should speak to the clerk's department to determine hours, mailing address, fees and other facts in advance of visiting or looking for information because of sometimes changing contact info. The Department Offices DO NOT DO RESEARCH. The data files are readily available to interested parties, barring private issues. A lot of employees will guide individuals in locating the materials, but it's up to the man or women to complete the researching.

The below information and facts shows whatever death, marriage, birth,, land, wills, and legal records are typically in Chester County. The dates indicated listed below tend to be the first known records data with this county.

  • Chester County Courthouse (all departments listed below are located here, unless otherwise noted)
    • Address: 2 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380
    • Phone: (610) 344-6000
  • Chester County Recorder of Deeds is responsible for recording documents related to property. Documents recorded consist of, but are not limited to, deeds, mortgages, restrictions, notaries, public and elected county officers. Other documents, such as Military Service Discharges, foreign birth certificates, as well as obscure documents like cattle brands, are also recorded here.
    • Address: 313 W. Market Street, Suite 3302, P.O. Box 2748, West Chester, PA 19380-0991
    • Phone: (610) 344-6330
    • Land Records: 1688
  • Chester County Prothonotary / Clerk of Courts has been the clerk of court of common pleas since 1707. Court records here include divorces, naturalizations, peddlers' licenses, registration of attorneys, oaths of county officers, equity, sheriff's sales, juror lists, some tax records, and some civil court records.Other court records are with the clerk of courts.
    • Address: 201 W. Market Street, Suite 1400, P.O. Box 2746, West Chester, PA 19380-0989
    • Phone: 610-344-6135
    • Court & Divorce Records: ?
  • Chester County Register of Wills/ Orphan's Court Clerk are often the same person, sometimes sharing the responsibility of the recorder of deeds and clerk of courts as well. The Register of Wills' principal duties include probating wills and accepting for filing all documents necessary to complete the administration of a decedent's estate. The Clerk of Orphans' Court, our office serves as the filing office and custodian of records for matters involving adoptions, guardianships and estate litigation. The office also issues all marriage licenses. Since 1885 the clerk of the orphans' court in each county has had the responsibility of recording marriages
    • Address: 201 W. Market Street, Suite 2200, West Chester, PA 19380-0989
    • Phone: 610-344-6335
    • Marriage & Probate Records: 1924 (1714–1923 is located at Chester County Archives and Records Service, Government Services Bldg., Ste. 80, 610 Westtown Rd., West Chester, PA 19382)
    • Birth & Death Records: before Jan 1906
  • Chester County Tax Assessor Office has tax records but may also be in the county commissioners' office or with the prothonotary.

Chester County Links

The following are web links to Genealogy and family history, Records and Resources relevant to Chester County. Each of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Business oriented Sites, Private Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some require a cost. This is basically a listing which has been compiled or submitted. I do not recommend or promote one genealogy site over another. Feel free to provide your own favorite Chester County genealogy or family history related sites.

Chester Co. PA Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

Chester Co. PA Books, Newspapers & Publications

Chester Co. PA Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Chester Co. PA Court, Probate Land and Tax Records

Chester Co. PA Census Records

Chester Co. PA Cemeteries & Graveyards

Chester Co. PA Church & Bible Records

Chester Co. PA Family Websites, Pictures & Histories

Chester Co. PA General and History Websites

Chester Co. PA Immigration & Naturalization

Chester Co. PA Military Records

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