This type of court emulates a court which met quarterly in Great Britain. In early colonial America, it also had criminal jurisdiction. The genealogist should always examine the minutes of this court. And for good reason. It is similar to the (later) Inferior Court Minutes which registered everything from wills, administrations, inventories, and estates in general. The colonial North Carolina court recorded last wills and testaments as they were entered for probate, detailed inventories, distributions, sales of perishable goods and who purchased them, names of orphans and who they were apprenticed to, appointments of adminstrators, bonds, road commissioners and a general description of road junctures, adjoining lands and ferries. These minutes tell the story of the neighboring lands and what was happening. Simply a mention of your ancestor's name is reason enough to search them, because you discover the years that he resided in that county, as well as some of his personal affairs, like proving deeds as he purchased and sold property, registering of brands (animals), the appointments of church wardens, and districting lines drawn through his property. So often, the genealogist is unable to locate a last will and testament in the will books. The minutes will mention that it was filed as well as the date, even if it was not found in the will books. You simply have too much to gain to overlook this valuable source!
Some interesting information is provided, such as notes that a last will and testament was filed for probate. If the probate court lost its records, this record will confirm a death date, within about 3 days of the death itself. That is because people file the probate immediately after the death, in order to gain authority to dispense the estate. An example in New Hanover County, North Carolina is when the court was in session in 1769 it appointed John Newman as a ferryman Also, James Mason was ordered to pay from the tax funds to Michael Keough for attending Mrs. Cumbow with smallpox. This little tid-bit of information informs us that smallpox was in New Brunswick, North Carolina during 1769. Surprised? It was also present along the coast during the Revolutionary War. To learn more about your ancestors, read the old court house records, especially the Wills on North Carolina Pioneers
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