LIFELINES Genealogy Research...


The County Registry Office record group at the Provincial Archives contains the registered buy and sell transactions of individuals, Church Parishes and Corporations for the fifteen Counties of New Brunswick. The deed documentation of buy and sell land exchanges are the predominant record. Other documents were also tenancy agreements, mortgages, promises of elder care, legal assignments such as liens, sheriff seizures, land title transfers and wills.

Up until 1969 in New Brunswick the County Councils administered the land and legal matters in their jurisdictions. The Councils were responsible for Court hearings, legal disputes, lawsuits and Court proceedings. The County Registry Office records for the most part have survived since 1783.  Worthy of note is some early buy and sell transactions were not registered. These were handshake agreements for barter or other consideration.There are no surviving records of such agreements.

The County Registry Office records are on microfilm and are indexed by the name of the County resident. The format of the microfilmed index columns vary by County. Most County index entries use a Grantor/ Grantee column format, grantor being the seller and grantee the buyer. A researcher notes the Book and Page number and goes to the material record binder to learn the microfilm number.

Unlike the land petition and land grant records (which index the whole Province), the County Registry Office records are separate for each County. Indexes and material records for all fifteen NB Counties are at the Provincial Archives in Fredericton. Each of the original eight Counties of New Brunswick have registered records back to 1783. The original New Brunswick Counties were Charlotte, Saint John, Kings, Queens, Sunbury, York,  Northumberland and Westmorland. Seven other Counties were later created. See those County names and creation dates at this page New Brunswick Land Petitions, Land Grants... 

At the Provincial Archives each County Registry Office record group is assigned a RS number. For example, RS94 is the Saint John County Registry Office group. In the Search Room at the Archives use the gray reference binder with the County RS number. Each County Registry section has index microfilms grouped by year dates. Note the index film number, locate it and go to a viewer. You will see all registered names listed in alpha order. The indexes are grouped by surname and then forename. Note the material film number to view, also the Book and Page number. Locate the material film. To find the transaction search the film by the Book and Page number.

Registry research is a two-step procedure, index film first, material film second. Archives staff will help you with this procedure.

The key to understanding the County Registry Office indexes are the terms grantor and grantee ie, seller and buyer. County Registry indexes vary in style and format. One County index will have the grantor name under the grantor heading on the left side of the microfilm frame. On the right side will be the grantee name under the grantee heading. When you move the film to the next frame, the positions on the page will be reversed. The third frame will revert to the first heading format. A researcher will soon learn the grantor transactions in sequence every second page. Likewise, the grantee transactions every second page.

Another County Registry index may use a different page format. The left side of the index page will list grantee transactions from sellers. The right side of the page will list grantor transactions to buyers.  Keep in mind that a grantor is a seller and a grantee is a buyer.

Registered transactions are entered twice in the indexes, once as a grantor to grantee entry and then as a grantee from grantor entry.

In a case where the grantor sells a property to a grantee the seller may agree to a mortgage with the buyer. Sometimes a land sale is followed by a separate mortgage transaction between buyer and seller.

Registered transactions in County Registry records can reveal names, addresses and locations of extended family members. Estate deeds will tell who inherited the property. A will is often found in County Registry. If a will was contested or was technically faulted or the deceased died intestate, look at the County Probate File index.