Maine Probate Records
This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The county seat is where an executor or petitioner would go to commence probate, adoption, or guardianship proceedings. The earliest of Maine's wills have been published in William Sargent's Maine Wills, 1650'1760 (1887; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1972), which covers the entire state since there was only one place for instituting probate proceedings. William D. Patterson's Probate Records of Lincoln County, Maine, 1760'1800 (1895; reprint, Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1991) extends Sargent by including all probate records, not just wills, and all of eastern Maine to 1789 when Hancock and Washington counties were set off from Lincoln. There were five probate courts by 1800.
Since probate records include more than wills, John E. Frost has been compiling the earlier material to complement the wills. Maine Probate Abstracts, 1687'1800 (Salt Lake City: Microfilm Service Corp., 1986'87) is a microfiche edition of all York County probate records for the time period and not just wills. It is presently available at Maine Historical Society, the Maine State Library, New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the FHL. Maine State Archives holds the Somerset County probate records. Joseph Crook Anderson II's two-volume work, York County, Maine Will Abstracts, 1801'1858 (Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1997) brings Frost's work forward fifty years for York County wills and includes a comprehensive every-name index.