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Colonial Court Records of Guilford County

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Research is an integral part of the work at Greensboro's Historic Parks.

The Guilford County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions is a primary source of early local history. It documents not only land transactions, wills, and criminal cases, but also slave manumissions, Loyalist land confiscations, and the daily workings of early Guilford County. Records contain information on thousands of our early residents, their families and their occupations.

This is the first time transcriptions of this resource have been available online. Select from any of these time periods:
Although the British burned records of 1771-1781, these remaining 900-plus pages can still tell you a great deal about who our residents were, what they did, how they got along (or didn’t), and how people of various ethnic and religious beliefs formed their communities.

Once you open the PDF documents linked above, go to the Adobe Toolbar and click on the Search option ("Find" is limited and "Search" will offer more advanced options). You can search by family name (be careful of spellings), occupation, road, town, or other marker of location. The records are fully transcribed, but still contain errors. We will continue to work on these records to make them more useful.

The editing and notation is being done by Brent Brackett, curator at Tannenbaum Historic Park. UNCG student assistants Tish Wiggs and Kendall Edwards, and volunteer Rita Lott, transcribed the bulk of the records. The Guilford Battleground Company funded the three-year transcription project and the Guilford Genealogical Society published the earliest records several years ago.

In 1746, “For the better establishment of the County Courts” it was enacted that they should be held four times in each year, and that the justices of the peace “shall have the power and authority, as amply, and fully, to all intents and purposes as the Justices of the Peace in the counties of England as well as out of their Court of Quarter Sessions, as within, to preserve, maintain and keep the peace within their respective counties.”

-- from “County Government in Colonial North Carolina,” by William Conrad Guess. The James Sprunt Historical Publications. Vol. 11, No. 1. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1911: 7-39