Court Records

The Somerset County, PAGenWeb Project has some user-donated court records.  If you have court records and would like to share them with our visitors, please contact April Phillips (email address below) or use our submission form to send them to us.  Your submissions help other researchers so please consider sharing them with us!

History of Courts in Pennsylvania

A Brief History of PA Courts, follows, outlines the development of the Pennsylvania Court system - good information on what court records to search for genealogical information.

For general information including how to obtain copies of court records, specifically: Orphan's Court (1682 to present), Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace (1722 to present), and the Court of Common Plea's (1722 to present), please contact the Somerset County Court House. Note: For information on obtaining records prior to 1795 - see the Bedford County, PAGenWeb website.

Somerset County Court House
111 East Union St.
Somerset, PA 15501

Orphan's Court, see also: Additional information regarding Adoption searching in Pennsylvania can be obtained through the PA Adoption Search Menu

Courts in PA

Date Name of Court Description
1682 - 1722 County Courts Original three counties - later called the provincial court. Dealt with equity and estate issues, civil and criminal matters - no capital crimes. The justices of the court also oversaw the orphan's court procedings.
1682 to Present Justice of the Peace courts Justice of the peace courts were established for each township. They nolonger exist in some counties. Types of records: Marriage
1682 to Present Orphan's Courts Dealt with orphan, guardianship and estate issues.
1684-1722 Provincial Court Dealt with appeals from inferior courts, civil matters and criminal issues.
1697-1789 Admiralty Court Dealt with issues of navigation and trade. In 1789 was turned over to federal courts.
1700 - 1780 Court for Trial of Negroes Established in each county. Tried cases dealing with Negroes accused of committing crimes. Court was abolished in 1780.
1720 - 1735 Court of Chancery/Equity Short lived court - little records exist.
1722 - Present Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace Criminal case entries, roads, appointment of civil officials, and tavern and peddler license issues.
1722 - Present Court of Common Pleas Countywide jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases including real estate, bankruptcy, tax collection, naturalization, and divorce.
1722 - Present Supreme Court Replaced the provincial court. Divided into districts for eastern, middle, northern, and western areas.
1811 - 1873 District Court Essentially a court of the common pleas. Abolished in 1873.
1895 - Present Superior Court Intermediate Appelate court.
1903 - Present Juvenile Court Established in 1903 to administer offenses committed by children under the age of 16.


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This county is part of the USGenWeb Project, a non-profit genealogical resource web system, and is maintained by April Phillips and Connie Burkett with help and information provided by other volunteers.

Last Revised: January 27, 2016

Copyright The Somerset County, PAGenWeb Project.