Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Registry of Deeds Project is Transcribing Handwritten Land Records from 1793 to 1900

A nearly completed initiative by the Norfolk County registry is promising to make it much easier for modern readers to decipher the contents of old land records. In what officials say is the first project of its kind in New England, the registry in Dedham is transcribing into type all the county’s handwritten deeds from the time of its founding in 1793 to 1900, when the office switched to typing its documents. The transcriptions can be a valuable time-saver for historians and genealogists.

More than 250,000 deeds will have been transcribed by the time the two-year effort concludes in April, according to officials at the registry and Xerox Corp., which is undertaking the $2 million project. All the transcriptions are accessible free of charge to the public, posted with the existing land records on the registry’s website.

Details may be found in an article by John Laidler in the Boston Globe at


I have a lot of the Dedham and other Norfolk co records. I am from originally (born there) in Canton, Norfolk co., Ma. I also have the Canton site and the Stoughton site along with bmd for Dedham as my husbands ancestor were in Dedham and some in Bristol co. and also in Rockingham co., NH
to get Dedham and Norfolk co online is fantastic
thank you


I just went to the registry site, but cannot select years prior to 1900. Does this mean no search will be available until the project is complete? Thanks!


Does anyone know if there are any early (1600s) NH deeds still located in this Norfolk County Deed Registry in the period when NH was then a part of MA for a brief period of its history?


    I doubt it. The Norfolk County, Mass you refer to was in a different part of the state (nrothern border) than the Norfolk County that was formed from Suffolk Co in 1793. Before that, Norfolk County records for current day Norfolk Co were kept in Suffolk County. The Norfolk County you refer to was long gone and dissolved into other jurisdictions by 1793.


    Thank you.


I am doing a limited transcription of the property transfer index of Worcester County (1731-1849) for the Rich surname. My Michael Derich descendants lived in this area before moving on to New York and points West. I will only transcribe the actual deeds which are related to my family line. It is hard, painstaking work, but I will share when completed.


Ris Taylor
You can doubt all you like but I have books and updates from Dedham, Canton, Stoughton, Milton from the 1600’s and up and also in New Hampshire.
I didn’t have a computer back 70 years ago when I started my genealogy and have kept my hand in it even tho married and with the children. Back then we had to do a paper in school (including my kids to) on a family member. Back then I chose my Mother who was born in NB and the kids chose their grandfathers and they are in their 60’s now!!!
Yes I am old at the age of 85 and I am not giving up what I believe in.
So much easier way back then and cheaper only cost for postage and some of the papers. I still have quite a few of these papers and they do come come in handy.


Ris taylor
True a lot in Suffolk co. But if you try today to find anything like Boston etc in Suffolk co the only way you will find it is from real early and I mean early like the 1600’s in books because in all of the sites I have searched including ancestry which I don’t like there is nothing on Suffolk co. Not even listed in all of the towns in Massachusetts site from the 1600’s to 1860.
Popes book of the Pioneers of Massachusetts does list Boston when some was living or moving there. That book is from 1620 to 1650


Since many school systems no longer teach script to students – the typed version will be the only one many people will be able to read. Sad, but true. Hundreds of years of history will be lost to those who cannot read script writing. I, for one, love the old script handwriting.


I went into some history and found that Suffolk co had only 2 towns in 1803 Hingham and Hull so in 1999 the county was abolished and now it remains only a geographic area and now includes Boston, Cambridge-Newton.
1643 it was Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree,Weymouth and Hingham and in 1793 most of the orginal Suffolk including (Milton) except for Boston, Chelsea, Hingham and Hull remained.
Massachusetts Bay Colony current boundry between NH and Ma. was not fixed til 1776
NH 1600-1605 2 fishermen settled at Odiorne’s Pt present day Rye, NH 1623 and the 1st permanent settlement Hiltons Pt now Dover NH and in 1679 NH was sold to the King of England
NH was part of Massachusetts for 39 years.
Norfolk co was incorporated in 1793 as the county seat was in Dedham, Ma.
The towns consisted of Bellingham, Franklin, Wrentham, Plainsville, Foxboro, Norfolk, Medway, Millis, Walpole, Sharon, Stoughton, Canton, Norwood, Westwood, Dover, Wellesley, Needham, Dedham, Milton, Randolph, Holbrook, Avon, Weymouth, Braintree,, Milton, Quincy, Brookline, and Cohasset.
Today not all of those towns are in Norfolk county.
I was born in Norfolk co and raised in Canton, next door to Dedham, Sharon, and Stoughton.Dot


    Thank you very much for all the details. I’ll keep it for future research. The time-lines help a lot. Appreciate your time.


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