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.
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.
Hampden County History
The Hampden Registry district includes the towns of Agawam | Blandford | Brimfield | Chester | Chicopee | East Longmeadow | Granville | Hampden | Holland | Holyoke | Longmeadow | Ludlow | Monson | Montgomery | Palmer | Russell | Southwick | Springfield | Tolland | Wales | West Springfield | Westfield | Wilbraham
Prior to its incorporation, Hampden County had been part of Hampshire County since 1662, of which the three original towns were Springfield (1641) purchased from the Agawam Indians in 1636, Northampton or Nonotuck (1653) and Hadley (1659). Westfield, formerly Woronoco, was annexed in 1647 and became a town in 1669. Massachusetts Bay Colony organized counties in 1643. Earlier areas were vast territories, called ‘civil divisions’. From the “civil divisions” of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, counties were organized in 1643. An agreement to form Hampden County was reached in November of 1812. The records remain housed here from the first deed obtained from the Agawam Indians on July 15, 1636, to William Pynchon, Henry Smith and Jehu Burt. The land included Springfield (1636), Northampton (1653) and Hadley (1659). This deed was entered into the county record book AB, Pages 19-20 by the first Register, John Holyoke. With the passage of time, the 23 cities and towns of present day Hampden County were formed. Edward Pynchon, son of founder William Pynchon became the first Register of Deeds for Hampden County. The record keeping for all property sales, deeds, mortgages, highway takings, liens, etc. has been continuous since the beginning. Today the Registry of Deeds is almost completely digitized. It is a rich resource for the public and is maintained meticulously by the present Register of Deeds, Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera, Esq. She is the 15th person to hold this office and only the 11th elected (since four were appointed). She is the first female, and the first Hispanic, to hold this title.