Rhode Island County Resources
This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The major genealogical use for counties in Rhode Island is the pursuit of court records and federal census returns. Before 1729 there were no county courts in Rhode Island. Two counties became incorporated in 1703: Providence and Newport. By 1750 all of Rhode Island’s present counties existed, and no more developed after these were formed. Bristol became a county in 1746–47 when five towns, originally belonging to Massachusetts, were ceded to Rhode Island. Perhaps because the rest of the country is so oriented to counties, some of the vital records have been published in “county” groups, but the records themselves exist only on a town level.
Modern court records are at the superior court at the county seat; earlier ones have been moved (see Rhode Island Court Records).
|Map||County Address||Date Formed||Encompassed Towns|
|E7||Bristol||1746/47||Barrington, Bristol, Warren|
|Bristol 02809||Bristol County, Mass.|
|E4||Kent||1750||Coventry, East Greenwich,|
|East Greenwich 02818||Providence||Warwick,West Greenwich,|
|G6||Newport||1703||Jamestown, Little Compton,|
|Newport 02840||original||Middletown, Newport,|
|New Shoreham (Block Island),|
|C3||Providence||1703||Burrillville, Central Falls,|
|Providence 02903||original||Cranston, Cumberland, East|
|Providence, Foster, Glocester,|
|Johnston, Lincoln, North|
|Providence, North Smithfield,|
|Pawtucket Providence, Scituate,|
|H3||Washington||1729||Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton,|
|West Kingston 02892||Narragansett||North Kingston, Narragansett,|
|Country||Richmond, South Kingston,|