State of Rhode Island
Court Records Research

Rhode Island Court Records - Almost all courts in America are generally courts of record that is they are required by law to maintain a record of their proceedings. Rhode Island courts are the same. Moreover nowadays very few people escape mention in a court room records sooner or later during his or her lives as witnesses, litigants, jurors, appointees to office or as petition signatories. Nonetheless Americans from a couple of generations ago also expected to be present before local court proceedings while they were in session. It was a civic duty and in addition they could very well be fined if they did not attend. Rhode Island court files mirror U.S. history. Buried away in courthouses along with archives pretty much everywhere are the desires and frustrations of lots of citizens. The chances are excellent that your ancestors have left a concise record of at least some areas of life in a court room records.

Ever since Rhode Island's counties have been created, in 1729, the courts have only kept county-wide records. The entire state's court cases were handled by the general court of trials and its lower courts before that point. The Rhode Island Superior Court Judicial Records Center, 1 Hill Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860 holds the 1645 to 1900 records for state and colonial courts. Criminal and civil courts were formed in 1729. They were known as the superior court of judicature and the court of common pleas, respectively. Each county's court records contain divorce, debt and trespass records.

Rhode Island Tax Records - The Rhode Island Historical Society, Rhode Island State Archives, and each individual town clerk's office each hold some Rhode Island tax records, several of which were recorded prior to the Revolutionary War. Most town clerk's offices have an inventory available of whatever tax lists they have on file. Yearly tax records can be a good indication of a particular family's social status and presence in a given community. However, most tax records are not officially inventoried.

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