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Abstracts of Wills on File in the City of New York Surrogate’s Office 1660-1680

Abstracts of Wills on File in the City of New York Surrogate’s Office 1660-1680

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Until the 1680s, wills were probated by either notary public’s’ or aldermen, according to Dutch law and custom. Unfortunately, the law did not require wills to be recorded at a public archive. The notaries kept these wills and other original legal documents (such as marriage contracts, guardianship’s, letters of apprenticeship, powers of attorney, contracts, and conveyances) in their personal custody. Some notarial records of persons in New Netherland (what is now New York and New Jersey) eventually ended up at the old Amsterdam Municipal Archives.

From May 1787 to the present, county surrogate’s courts have recorded probates. However, the court of probates and court of chancery handled estates of deceased persons who died in one county but who owned property in another. An 1823 law mandated that all probates come under the jurisdiction of the county surrogate’s courts. Each surrogate’s court has a comprehensive index to all probate records, including the unrecorded probate packets.

Interestingly enough, there are wills existing and on record at the Surrogate’s Office in New York City for the time-span of 1660-1680. Genealogical extracts of these wills have been provided below.

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