Registry of Deeds History
The position of Register of Deeds is even older than the country itself and before there even was a United States “land ownership documents” were being recorded in Massachusetts. The Registries of Deeds were established in 1640 under the First Modern Recording Act. Until 1715 the Clerks of the County Courts maintained the public records. At that time a law was enacted calling for the election of Registers of Deeds to represent the people of their district. This was done to ensure that an elected representative of the people would independently maintain land records. Registers of Deeds are elected for a term of six years. The Northern Essex Registry district includes the towns of Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover. Registries operate independently of one another, but coordinate efforts and share best practices through the Massachusetts Registers Association. The Registry of Deeds Division is a subdivision of the Massachusetts Secretary of State and is a repository for land and real estate related documents including deeds, mortgages, mortgage discharges, mortgage assignments and other related land documents. The documents in this office establish an accurate official record of real property ownership. These records are essential to the individual property owner who wants to establish a “clear title” to his holdings.