New Brunswick Court Records

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

County Guides[edit | edit source]

The County Guides give details on the court records, which were kept on the county level.

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Records of the Inferior Courts (RG8) This record group includes the records of County Magistrates, Justices of the Peace for each County, Parish Civil Court Records by County, and Police and Stipendiary Magistrates Court Records. All of which deal with the minor offenses against law and order that originally came before a town meeting, then the Courts of Quarter Session.

Courts of Quarter Session or General Sessions of the Peace (RG8) Because Volume One was listed with “Marriage Certificates,” I discovered the records of the Courts of Quarter Sessions[1]. These General Sessions of the Peace were also concerned with the lesser crimes in the community. Otherwise respectable ancestors may prove to have mixed political passion with too much rum at election time, or they may simply have been called as witnesses to some altercation, but such mentions do pin-point their whereabouts at a specific point in time.

The courts also dealt with licenses (tavern, ferry, and such), and matters concerning indentures and apprenticeships came before it. Such disputes are a rich source of information.

Courts of Quarter Session Books are not listed in the County Guides, perhaps because few are microfilmed. Book I of Northumberland quoted above is, since it contains marriage records, but Book II and following are not.

Other Inferior Courts As the population of a county or a settlement grew, the old General Sessions of the Peace could no longer handle everything. Municipal or parish or county officials were appointed and the records expanded accordingly. The Magistrates’ Courts are where you will find convictions, and more often acquittals, in the countless cases prohibition produced in the 1920s. Barry J. Grant’s When Rum was King (pages 62-67) explains the political appointment of magistrates and sheriffs and how some of their courts functioned. With a very good index, and long lists of “Bootlegging cases taken from a selection of New Brunswick Newspapers,” you just might find some “connection” or other involved.

Records of the Intermediate Courts (RG6) The County Court Records, RS429 (Albert) to RS443 (York). Card index and files are available for most counties at the PANB, see County Guides.

Records of the Superior Courts (RG5) Superior Courts are the Supreme Court of Judicature; the Court of Exchequer; the Court of Chancery or Equity; the Court of Errors and Appeals; the Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes and any courts commissioned by the Board of Admiralty in London. For family historians, the Chancery or Equity Court is perhaps most useful.

Courts of Equity[edit | edit source]

These court records (RG5, RS55) relate to the settling of estates and related guardianships of infants and minors. As explained in each County Guide: the case files are on microfilm, but the card index, 1785-1912 is not.

Supreme Court[edit | edit source]

In the PANB’s RG5, RS 42, Supreme Court Cases, there is a card index for 1784-1822, and a finding aid index for 1822-1835. The Supreme Court of Judiciary in the province, among other things, dealt with civil lawsuits for sums up to £300. Over that was a matter for the Governor in Council. A small sum today, a large sum in 1830, but if a man was in the building trade, shipbuilding, or other businesses that required capital investment, do not overlook this court.

Other Records of the Department of Justice[edit | edit source]

These include the Records of the Central Administration for the Registration of Deeds, and County Registry Office Records (microfilm), see County Guides.

There are also runs of each counties’ Sheriff’s Office Records; Coroner’s Office Records; and County Jail Records, in some of which I found architectural plans and drawings of early 19th century court houses and jails, often a building that combined both uses.

Newly Released Records[edit | edit source]

From time to time, PANB issues a “What’s New” list of records on their homepage. One such list of “Archival Material Recently Available” was published in Generations Vol. 18, No. 1, Issue 67, Spring 1996, pages 26-27. It included a long list of Supreme Court and Supreme Court in Circuit Records from the 19th century, Coroner’s Office Records, and a miscellaneous selection that sounded fascinating. Keep an eye on their website for this sort of announcement.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Much of this material is taken from 'Courts of Quarter Session', Douglas, Here Be Dragons, too! pages 47-54.
  2. Douglas, Althea. "New Brunswick Legal Records (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/New_Brunswick_Legal_Records_%28National_Institute%29.