On Cape Cod we are fortunate to have a most cooperative Office of Probate in the Barnstable County complex in Barnstable Village. Anastasia Welsh Perrino, elected last year as our new Register of Probate for the entire County, welcomes those who are researching past probates for genealogical information. Records can be reviewed dating from 1637 onward, and all records are public except if there is a specific Court Order to impound a particular record.
A series of red index books in the Registry of Probate Office contain case numbers for probates by alphabetical order from 1637 to 1980. Card catalogs in the office have information on probates from 1980 to 1991, and records are computerized from 1991 to the present.
The general website for the Barnstable County Probate and Family Court is http://www.barnstablecountypfc.com/. Other records of possible interest to genealogists in addition to probates are also available there. These include divorce records from 1922 to the present; guardianship; conservatorship; paternity (out-of-wedlock births); grandparent visitations; abuse prevention; changes of name; and matters involving the division of property (known as equities). Except for financial statements filed by the involved parties, all matters are public other than out-of-wedlock births prior to 1998.
Family researchers are encouraged to take advantage of these excellent resources; hours are 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday, and the location is in the Barnstable County Office complex at 3195 Main Street, Barnstable Village, Route 6A.
Also within the same complex is the Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, which has land records dating from 1740. Visit http://www.barnstabledeeds.org/ for hours of operation and to access Barnstable County land records online.