Land ownership records for the Middlesex North District from 1629 to the present are available on Masslandrecords.com. Because our indexing system was created before there were street addresses (or even roads!) the primary method of searching is by owner name.
When you click on our “Search” link, you land on the Name Search page. To change to a different type of search (address, book and page, etc.), move your cursor to the “Search Criteria” command on the upper menu bar. A box of search options will appear.
The following instructions explain how to use each of these search options.
Note – our website displays images in a popup window. The first time you try to view an image, you must “allow popups” from this website, otherwise the image will not display.
Name Search – (1976 to present) Enter the Last Name and First Name of the person you are researching. Omit the middle initial to get the broadest results. Beneath the Last Name box, the system reports how many “rows” answered your query (each “row” is a separate index entry). Most screens will display 20 rows. If your search returned more than that, small numbered boxes appear across the bottom of your screen to show how many additional sets there are. If you wish to narrow your search, click the Advanced button. This allows you to limit the search by document type, town and date range.
- Note 1 – This searchable name index includes index entries from 1976 to present. For earlier index entries, see “Pre-1976 Grantor/Grantee Index” below.
- Note 2 – When index entries for deeds from 1976 through 1986 were imported, the document type “deed” was replaced by “none” so if you’re looking for a deed recorded in that decade, click on entries with document type “none.”
Book Search – (1950 to present) The primary ID number of a recorded document is its Book and Page number. If you have that number, choose Book Search from Search Criteria and enter the numbers in the appropriate fields. Your search should yield just one entry – the document you are looking for.
- Note 1 – Book Search retrieves documents from Book 1132 (from January 1950) to the present. For earlier book images, see “Unindexed Property Search” below.
- Note 2 – Entering a book number without a page number will return all pages of the book.
- Note 3 – Books 1132 to 1590 are presented as single page images. If your document is on multiple pages, you must retrieve each page individually. From book 1591 to the present, multipage documents are returned as a single document.
- Note 4 – If you enter a book and page number and get no result, retrieve the entire book and scroll through the page numbers near your’s. The page you entered might not be the first page of the document so look at the page number immediately preceding the one you tried.
Document Search – (1976 to present). This is rarely used. Historically, all registry documents were assigned an instrument number at the moment of recording. Book and page numbers were assigned later when the physical record book was compiled. To identify a document right after it was recorded, you needed the instrument number. However, since 2002, our recording system assigns the instrument number and the book and page number at the same time and the instrument number has fallen into disuse (although we still have them).
- Note 1 – Instrument numbers repeat each year so to find the document you are looking for, you should add the date the document was recorded.
Property Search – (1976 to present). This is more useful for newer documents. It was only in the late 1990s that we began routinely entering street addresses into our index. It’s best to omit words like Street, Road or Avenue and abbreviations like St, Rd or Ave, from the Street Name field since they are entered in the index in a variety of ways.
- Note 1 – Condominium unit numbers are entered in the Street Name field, after the name of the street. The word “Unit” is also used. For example, “370 Jackson Street Unit 1150” would be indexed as Street # = 370 and Street Name = JACKSON ST UNIT 1150.
- Note 2 – Hyphenated street number are difficult to find. The registry indexes an address as it appears on a document. Let’s say an address is “6-8 Main St.” In practice, one-third of the documents will say “6-8 Main St”; one-third will say “6 Main St”; and the final third will say “8 Main St”. To the computer, those are three different addresses. Searching for one variant will not return the other two.
- Note 3 – When it comes to numbers as street names, the registry indexes as it appears on the document. So one document might be “50 West Sixth St” while another document for the same property will be “50 West 6th St.” The computer will see them as two different values. Searching for one will not find the other.
Recorded Date Search – This is a very handy tool. Let’s say you wanted to see all deeds recorded during March 2020. Set 3/1/2020 as the “From” date and 3/31/2020 as the “To” date then select “Deed” as the document type. Your search will return one entry for each deed recorded that month. If you are only interested in deeds for Lowell, click “Advanced” and select “Lowell” as the town code.
- Note 1 – Use this feature when you know a document has been recorded on a certain date but you can’t find the document through a name or address search. Set the “To” and “From” dates both as that same day and then scroll through the results to find your document
- Note 2 – Unfortunately, our system does not permit users to export search results sets like this as data sets.
Unindexed Property Search – Images for record books 1 (1855) through 1131 (December 1949) are available on this section of the website. Documents for these years do not have a corresponding computerized index entry – hence “unindexed” – but they are retrievable by Book and Page number. Each record book page appears as a single image so if you have a multi page document, you must retrieve each page of the document separately.
Unindexed Pre-1855 Books – The state legislature created the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in 1855. Documents recorded in that year are in Book 1. However, in 1855, there were 200 years of documents for the Middlesex North towns already recorded in the registry at Cambridge. Clerks went through the record books in Cambridge and copied any that were for land in Middlesex North into a separate set of books. These books all have book and page numbers, but they are also separated by town (that being the town the land was located in in 1855, not at the time the document was created). To retrieve one of these pre-1855 documents, you must know the town, the book and the page number.
- Note 1 – IMPORTANT – these pre-1855 images were scanned with the two facing pages in a single digital file that is presented in “landscape” orientation. The website shows only the odd-numbered pages. If you are looking for an even-numbered page, select the image of the next highest odd-numbered page. For example, if you want to see page 2, you must retrieve page 3. When you open that image, page 2 will be on the left; page 3 on the right. If you enter an even number in the Page Number field, you will get no result from the computer.
- Note 2 – These volumes are often called the “Middlesex South books.”
Pre-1976 Grantor Index – Our searchable computer index covers 1976 to the present. For years before 1976, we have scanned the existing indexes and make them available as electronic books. To search for a name in this index, you first select the date range from the drop down menu (i.e., 1620-1855; 1856-1880) and then enter the Last Name and First Name of the person you are researching in the Name field. The names that are returned are only the first name on each page of the index. Find the name closest to the one you are searching (it will have a small arrow in front of it) and display that image. Your name should be on that page. Look at the pages before and after that one to see any additional entries of interest.
Pre-1976 Grantee Index – This works exactly as the Grantor Index described immediately above, only this index is sorted by Grantee Name.
- Note 1 – The Grantor is the person giving something away; the Grantee is the person receiving something. The seller on a deed would be the Grantor and the buyer would be the Grantee.
General – The only reliable way to retrieve a plan is by its Plan Book and Plan Number as will be explained below.
Name Search – When a new plan is recorded, the registry enters in the name field whatever name appears in the title of the plan. If the title of the plan is “Plan of Land in Dracut for Joseph Varnum” the registry would enter Last Name=VARNUM and First Name=JOSEPH. No other names are added to the plan index, either at the time of recording the plan or at any time in the future.
Book (Year) Search – This is the most useful way of retrieving plans. Enter the Plan Book number in the “Book/Year” field and the Plan number in the “Page#/Plan#” field and search. The plan should immediately appear.
- Note 1 – The best place to find a Plan Book/Plan reference is in the property description section of a relevant deed.
- Note 2 – When the registry made actual plan books many years ago, if two plans could fit on the same page, we would put both plans on the same page. Plan Book 100, Plan 4 has two plans. The “A” plan is for land in Wilmington; the “B” plan is for land in Lowell. If you search Plan Book=100 and Plan=4, you get two results, one with town code Wilmington, the other Lowell. If you display the image for the Wilmington entry you will see the Wilmington plan. But if you display the image for the Lowell plan, you will also see the Wilmington plan – at first. That’s because the images of multiple plans on the same page are saved as multi-page image files. If you look closely at my example, the Wilmington plan is the first page of the image file and the Lowell plan is the second page of that same file. You have to display (or download or print) both together.
Document Search – All plan index entries have document number but how the numbers are created varies based on when the plan was recorded. I don’t believe any of them has much practical use. But here’s an explanation:
- Prior to 9/1/1987 – the instrument number of these plans is a concatenation of the plan book and plan number. For example, Plan Book 24, Plan 14, has instrument number 2414. Plan Book 24, Plan 101, has instrument number 24101.
- From 9/1/1987 to 6/30/2002 – These are plans recorded with the Wang system. Plans were given an instrument number from the same set as were recorded documents. The instrument number for these date ranges might be useful. For example, if an Easement document was recorded and a corresponding plan was recorded along with it, they would have sequential instrument numbers.
- 7/1/2002 to present – These are plans recorded with the ACS system. The instrument number for these plans comes from a sequential set used only for plans. This set of numbers does not rollover at the start of each year.
Property Search – When we index a plan, we enter the street names depicted on the plan, not any particular address. This means you cannot search by the street number of a property. You can search for plans that include a street name. This works fairly well except for very long streets that are included on a large number of plans.
Recorded Date Search – This allows you to retrieve all plans recorded within a certain date range and, if you click the Advanced button, limit your search by town. This can be useful if your document refers to a plan but only identifies it as “plan recorded herewith.” Since you know the date the document you are viewing was recorded, do a Plan Recorded Date Search for that date and you’re likely to find the plan mentioned in the document.
Unindexed Property Search – Plans that were created prior to 1855 were recorded in the Cambridge Registry of Deeds. Copies of these plans were copied into separate plan books in Middlesex North. These actual plan books are numbered 00, 02, 03, 04 and 05. However, our system would not accept books numbered in that manner. Consequently, we have “fooled” our system by renumbering these books 900, 902, 903, 904 and 905. So to retrieve one of these plans, go to Plans/Unindexed Property Search and enter the book number (900, 902, etc) and click “Search”. Each of these books has fewer than 2 dozen plans, so it’s easiest to retrieve all the entries for that one book and then select the one you want to view.
Other Plans – We have another, older Plan Image Viewer that resides on this website (as opposed to Masslandrecords.com) that has some overlap, especially of older plans, so if you are looking for a plan and can’t find it in the normal place, try this site.
M Plans – These are road layout plans created by the Middlesex County Engineering Department. References to these plans in documents usually appear as “M-740” for example. These plans are available on our Plan Image Viewer however you must use 00000 (five zeroes) in place of the M. So for M-740, you would enter 00000 in the Plan Book field, and 740 in the Page# field.
County Layout Plans – The Middlesex County Engineering Department used to “layout” roads in the cities and towns of Middlesex County. As part of this effort, they created detailed plans that show the roads and the lots bordering them. The plans have all been scanned. They are available at the “unindexed property search” feature of the “Recorded Land Plans” section of the Middlesex North masslandrecords site.
We have created an index for finding these plans which are organized by town and street name with each town having a separate page. Follow the links for County Layout Plans for:
Plot Plans – Plot plans or mortgage survey plans do not get recorded at the Registry of Deeds. These are plans that typically show the boundaries of a single lot and the footprint of any buildings on the lot. The registry has subdivision plans which show how a larger parcel is divided into smaller parcels, but this plan is usually created before anything is built so they rarely show the footprint of any structures.
General – Registered Land is a separate recording system administered locally by the registry of deeds under the supervision of the Massachusetts Land Court. Registered Land operates in a fundamentally different way than does Recorded Land although the two systems share some terminology (which can create confusion at times). Before getting to the Registered Land search functions, here are some important concepts to understand:
Certificate of Title – When someone becomes the owner of Registered Land, the registry of deeds creates a Certificate of Title that certifies that the person named on the Certificate is the owner of the property. Certificates of Title are sequentially numbered. When a new Certificate is issued, the prior owner’s Certificate of Title is cancelled.
Memoranda of Encumbrances – Any document that affects ownership of the land covered by the Certificate of Title is noted on the back of the Certificate in a section called Memoranda of Encumbrances. This could be a mortgage, an easement, or many other document types.
Book and Page Numbers – Registered Land has Book and Page numbers, but they are not like Recorded Land book and page numbers. Registered Land books contain the Certificates of Title. Registered Land books and pages do not refer to documents like deeds or mortgages. However, when a document is “registered” (recorded in Registered Land), the document is associated with a particular Certificate of Title, so if you search a Registered Land Book and Page number you will retrieve all of the documents that have been associated with the Certificate of Title that is found at that Book and Page number.
Document Number – Registered Land documents are identified by a document number. These document numbers run sequentially and do not roll over each year, so you don’t need the date of recording to retrieve a document number.
Court Case Number – Registered Land Plans are identified by a Court Case Number (instead of a plan book and plan number). When a Registered Land Plan is first created, it is given the suffix A. As the land shown in the plan is further divided and the new plan is refined, new versions of the plan are given a new suffix (B, C, D, etc.) but the Court Case Number remains the same.
Registered Land Search Options
Name Search – The Registered Land name search works the same way as the Recorded Land name search (see above).
Book Search – This search for Book and Page number. But as mentioned above, a Registered Land book and page search will return all documents associated with the Certificate of Title that is located at that book and page number. Unlike Recorded Land, a Registered Land book and page search will not take you to one particular document.
Certificate Search – Here you can search by Certificate of Title number. Enter that number and all documents associated with the Certificate of Title will be returned. TO VIEW THE CERTIFICATE ITSELF, click on any of the document entries that appear, and on the right-hand side of your screen will appear four tabs: View Details; View Images; View Cert; View Enc. To view the Certificate of Title, click the “View Cert” tab and the scanned Certificate of Title will appear in a popup window. To view the Memoranda of Encumbrances, click “View Enc” and the Memoranda will appear in a popup window.
- Note 1 – The Memoranda of Encumbrances tab will only display encumbrances created after July 1, 2002 (when the ACS system was installed).
- Note 2 – To view Encumbrances created prior to July 1, 2002, are scanned at the end of each Certificate of Title. To view the complete list of Encumbrances, look at all the pages of the Certificate of Title then look at the Memoranda of Encumbrances tab.
- Note 3 – To print or download through the basket, either the Certificate of Title or the Memoranda of Encumbrances, click the “print” or “basket” commands. A dialog box will appear with check boxes for Print Document Details; Print Pages; Print Certificate; Print Encumbrance. If you want to print the certificate, check that box. If you want to print the Memoranda of Encumbrances, check that box.
Document Search – This is the best way to retrieve a registered land document. Just enter the document’s document number in the first window and click Search. If you are looking for a range of documents, enter the start and end numbers in the appropriate fields.
- Note 1 – The method of viewing and printing Certificates of Title and Memoranda of Encumbrances described above in Certificate Search are also available here.
Property Search – The Registered Land property search works the same way as the Recorded Land property search (see above).
Recorded Date Search – This method retrieves all documents registered on and between the dates set in the From and To windows. The search can be narrowed by document type and, upon clicking the Advanced button, by town.
REGISTERED LAND PLANS
Name Search – Of limited, if any use. This works like the other Name Searches, however, whatever is returned does not include a tab for displaying the Registered Land Plan.
Book Search – Also of limited use. This returns documents associated with a certificate of title and does display the plan number (“court case number”) but does not have an View Image tab that allows you to display the plan image.
Court Case Number Search – This is the best way to retrieve Registered Land plans which are identified by a “Court Case Number.” Just enter the number in the search field without any suffix. The suffix is usually a letter. Each variant of the plan gets a new letter. Searching the number will return one line for each variant (i.e., each suffix).
Document Search – Of limited use. Registered Land plans do not have document numbers associated with them. You could retrieve a document and perhaps see which plan is associated with it, but this search option does not include a “view image” tab.
Property Search – This has some utility. Enter a street and town name to find registered plans on that street. The “view image” tab is available here so you will be able to see the plan.
Recorded Date Search – Also useful. Set a To and From date and any plan registered in that time period will be returned. The “view image” tab is available so you will be able to see the plan.
** Note Pop-up blockers must be disabled for the image to display **