Archives Guide ~ Suffolk County (8200)

Historical note

Suffolk County, established by the Massachusetts General Court on May 10, 1643, initially included Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham and Hull. In 1793, most of the original Suffolk County except for Boston and Chelsea split off and became Norfolk County. In 1803, Hingham and Hull split off and joined Plymouth County. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the annexation of adjacent towns to Boston increased the size of Suffolk County. Suffolk County includes Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County.



8210 Charles Street Jail

Historical note
The North Jail on Leverett Street (the Leverett Street Jail) was built in the 1820s and served as the lock-up for the City of Boston and Suffolk County. The Leverett Street Jail also served as the House of Correction for Suffolk County until 1833 when a new House of Correction was built in South Boston. As the City and County lock-up the Leverett Street Jail held inmates who were awaiting trial and also those who had been sentenced to the House of Correction and were waiting for transport there. The Leverett Street Jail continued in its roles as the city lock-up and the county lock-up until 1851 when it was finally replaced by a new jail on Charles Street known as the Charles Street Jail (aka: the Suffolk County Jail.) The Charles Street Jail continued to serve as the lock-up for both the City of Boston and Suffolk County until it was replaced in 1991 by the new Suffolk County Jail on Nashua Street. The Suffolk County Sheriff operated both the North Jail and Charles Street Jail.


8210.001 Records 1862-1990 with gaps 45 volumes and 1 document case

Scope and Contents note
Includes one volume of personnel records, one volume containing statistics for the jail, a couple of logbooks documenting deaths, cases of insanity, escapes, paupers, sentences, punishments, personal property transfers, emergency contacts for inmates, as well as the daily population and guard schedule. The bulk of the collection includes Criminal Calendars and Daily Commitments. The Calendars cover the years 1967 through 1988 (with gaps) and are a record of inmate commitments to the jail. The Daily Commitments span the period from 1924 through 1987 with gaps and record the daily movement of inmates into and out of the jail. In addition, there are two volumes from 1875-1876 and 1878-1880 that also record inmates entering the jail.

Link to finding aid



8220 Suffolk County Board of License Commissioners 1868-1869

Historical note
Massachusetts departed for a single year from July 1868 to June 1869 from the policy of prohibition followed since 1852 when the Legislature enacted a prohibitory liquor law by allowing the granting of liquor licenses. The Suffolk County Board of License Commissioners was established to grant these licenses.


8220.001 Records 1868-1869 16 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Includes minutes of the Board of License Commissioners, record of Common Victualers in the City of Boston, records of applications and licenses granted, cashbooks, journal and indexes.



8230 Register of Probate 

Historical note
The Suffolk County Probate and Family Court Registry is the administrative arm of the Probate & Family Court in the county. It handles legal cases involving wills, estates, guardianship, divorce, child custody and support, paternity, adoptions, change of name, etc.

Source: www.probatecourtiannella.com/duties.htm


8230.001 Index, 1636-1893 published 1895 3 volumes

Scope and Contents note
"Index to the Probate Records of the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts from the year 1636 to and including the year 1893". These published volumes of the Probate indexes were prepared under an order passed April 3, 1893 by the Board of Aldermen acting as County Commissioners for the County of Suffolk.


8230.002 Publication 1934 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
"Rules of the Probate Courts of Massachusetts", 1934.



8240 Register of Deeds

Historical note
The Suffolk Registry of Deeds is responsible for recording all documents relative to real estate including deed, mortgages, releases, and liens in the cities and towns of Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop. The Suffolk Registry has been recording deeds since the early 1600's. The Registry provides access to these documents for the purpose of checking ownership and to see if a title is clear (no liens against it) before the buyer purchases property or land. Documents are indexed in books by grantor and grantee, and assigned a unique book and page number.

Source: www.suffolkdeeds.com/about.asp


8240.001 Suffolk Deeds, 1629-1697 published 1880-1906 14 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Includes published volumes of the Suffolk Deeds, Books I-XIV. Members of the Suffolk Bar and others petitioned the Board of Aldermen to have the first volume of the Suffolk deeds printed verbatim. The Mayor approved the order on April 13, 1880 "to have printed, indexed and distributed the first volume of Suffolk deeds." In subsequent years, orders were passed and approved authorizing the printing of volumes II-XIV of the Suffolk deeds.