Minutes of the Superior Courts, 1807-1966


Superior courts were established in each county in 1806, replacing the district superior courts that had functioned since 1778. These courts were tasked with original and appellate civil and criminal jurisdiction. Criminal jurisdiction extended to serious felonies, such as murder, rape, larceny, house breaking, assault and battery, riot, forgery, and the like; civil jurisdiction extended to suits involving $100 or more (after 1868, $200 or more). Extra-judicial matters assigned to superior court included legitimization of bastards, emancipation and manumission of slaves, registration of aliens, and hearing of grand jury presentments and reports. The minute dockets record the daily transactions of the court, generally giving judgments in civil and criminal actions. They also reflect the internal workings of the court, recording the appointments and qualifications of clerks, the summoning and impaneling of juries, and the hearing of grand jury reports.

Please note that court minutes, both superior court and court of please and quarter sessions, do not typically provide much narrative information. For the late nineteenth into mid-twentieth centuries, the State Archives may also have civil and criminal action files, depending on the county. These occasionally provide more information, including subpoenas, warrants, and witness statements. If you would like the Correspondence Unit to check on the availability of a civil or criminal action file if they are able to locate the court minutes for a case, please say so in the "Additional Comments" option.

Descriptions of original Superior court minutes held by the State Archives are summarized in the online catalog.

Superior court minutes and other related records may also be available on third party websites.