The following types of records are maintained by the Register of Deeds office:
The state of North Carolina officially began keeping birth certificates in 1913. (In some outlying
areas it began a bit later.) Birth certificates tell where a child was born, who the parents were
and their age at the time of the birth. Other information is sometimes listed such as occupation
of the father, number of children already in the household, etc.
Delayed Birth Certificates (delayed births)
If someone, somehow, escaped the notice of a birth certificate registrar or happened to be
born before births were listed, they could have applied for a delayed birth certificate. To obtain
such a certificate, individuals had to supply documentation, often a family Bible record.
North Carolina began keeping Death Certificates in 1913. If an ancestor died before this time,
one must turn to such records as wills, tombstones, and family Bibles to find the death date.
Death certificates contain the date of death and birth as well as the parents' names and cause
of death--and sometimes a good bit more.
One must remember that this information was not supplied by the subject under consideration.
All information on a death certificate is supplied by an "informant." Informants are often family
members but that does not mean that the information they supplied is 100 percent accurate.
During the majority of North Carolina's history, most of its citizens got married in any manner
that suited them. Ministers and magistrates were nice, but often, one concludes, not necessary.
This makes the existence of public marriage records chancy at best, but some do exist.
Officially, there were two ways to get married in the state up until 1868. One was through the
publication of banns whereby a marriage would be announced on three consecutive Sundays
in church. If no one spoke up against the merger, then the couple was free to wed. A certificate
stating that this procedure had been followed was supposed to have been created, but, of course,
did not have to be placed on file anywhere.
The second method which lasted from 1741-1868 (and overlapped the period of banns) involved
the issuance of a marriage bond. The bridegroom obtained these through the Clerk of the County
Court. They signified nothing more than that the couple listed intended to marry. It is possible
that they changed their mind later and never tied the knot. Originals to all marriage bonds--except
those from Granville County which retained its copies--are in the State Archives. Bonds were
filed in the County where the intended bride resided. Information on Bonds include bride and
groom's names, the bondsman's name and witness (often the clerk of court). Marriage licenses
existed for most of North Carolina's history but were not required to be kept until 1851. In 1868,
bonds were discontinued and the Register of deeds in each County issued the required marriage
Wills are maintained by the County Clerk of Court
The person who makes a will is called the "testator" or "devisee." The folks who get the
goodies are “legatees" or "devisees." The fellow who makes sure that the final wishes are
carried out is the "executor." If the executor happens to be female, she is an "executrix."
"Probate" is the process by which the will becomes official and the written desires are
validated. There are usually three copies of a will: the original, the one copied into the
county clerk's records, and the one issued to the executor. The copy that is committed
to the to the county clerk's book will often contain probate information: witnesses, executor,
probate dates, etc.