Rockingham County| History

Rockingham County, NH

Cathy Ann Stacey, Register
Becky Burns, Deputy Register

Mailing Address                                    Physical Address

                    P.O. Box 896                                  (UPS, FED EX & Directions)
                                                                                               Kingston, NH 03848                                          10 Route 125                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                        Brentwood, NH 03833                                        

Tel. (603)642-5526| Fax (603)642-5930
Office hours – Monday through Friday8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Recording Line Closes at 3:30 pm

Rockingham Registry Home

Rockingham History

The Rockingham County Registry of Deeds was established in 1769 by the New Hampshire Legislature. Until this time the Province of New Hampshire came under the jurisdiction of Norfolk County, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Four other counties were established at the same time; namely, Cheshire, Grafton (but as part of Rockingham unti1 1773), Hi1lsborough and Strafford. The remaining five counties came into existence at later dates.

All land records for New Hampshire that had been recorded in Norfolk County were brought to Exeter which had become the County seat for Rockingham County. Therefore, early land records for all of New Hampshire are to be found in the Rockingham County Registry. The earliest documents were recorded in 1643. Since its beginning in 1769 there has been a Registry of Deeds in Exeter. The Registry is an ongoing repository for all land records in Rockingham County.

Previous to 1966 the Registry of Deeds was located in downtown Exeter in the building where the Town offices are now located. The first floor was shared with the Registry of Probate.

The Deeds office was moved to the newly constructed Rockingham County Administration and Justice Building on Hampton Road in the summer of 1966. The Registry of Deeds again shared the ground floor with Registry of Probate until 1982 when a major restructuring of the interior of the building was undertaken. At that time the Registry of Probate was moved to the first floor. The wall between the Probate area and Deeds was removed and Deeds expanded to include most of the ground floor.

During Mrs. Holland’s twenty two years as Register she instituted and put into operation many improvements to bring the facilities and procedures to 20th century standards.

With archival quality necessary for the permanent retention of the records and accuracy of the indexes of prime importance, a great deal of research was done to find the best methods to attain these requirements. It was at this time (1970s) that our present system began.

Sometime during the 1940s representatives from the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City had been in the Registry of Deeds and microfilmed Volumes 1 through 347 of the records. As is the practice of the Church, one copy of the film had been sent to the Registry. Sometime later (after Mrs. Holland’s election) the film was found in the basement of the Records Building. This film was used as the nucleus for the development of the microfilm system now in use in the Registry.

Original deeds, mortgages and other documents recorded are microfilmed and the original document is returned, usually to the person who recorded said document. The film is used by the public to view recorded instruments and by the Registry staff to make copies for sale to the public.

In late 1967 the first computer generated indexes were printed through a service bureau. Gradually, through the use of Revenue Sharing Funds, we began to acquire computer equipment and in 1978 began to create and print most of the indexes in house. In 1987 a larger computer was purchased and we are now able to print all indexes. Indexes back to 1643 are now stored on magnetic tape.

An archival quality copy of all microfilm and magnetic tapes of all indexes are stored off premise in a secure place. In the event of a disaster such as fire, explosion or other destruction, the Registry would be able to call back records from storage and recreate all indexes and documentation.

We are constantly reading about and investigating new processes and procedures to enable us to provide the best and most accurate records for the use of the public.

In 1973 when the Deeds office went completely to microfilm for permanent records, a custodian’s room was remodeled to create a camera room where two MRD2 Eastman Kodak cameras were installed. The room which had housed a monstrous Photostat machine was converted to a laboratory for processing and duplicating the microfilm.

During the early l970 a portion of the cafeteria area on the ground floor was converted into three small rooms and one larger room. At the present time one of the small rooms is used as a conference room. The larger room is a storage room for the Registry of Deeds. The wall between the remaining rooms was taken down to create a ground floor smoking room in 1989. (When the building was declared totally non-smoking by the Commissioners in January 1991, this room became another conference room.)

In early 1985 part of the remaining cafeteria area was walled off to make a storage room for the County Attorney. In about the same time period another storage closet near the cafeteria was opened up to add space to the processing room area.

A Registry of Deeds is basically a recording office for instruments (documents) relating to real property transfers. The Register of Deeds is elected biennially; and by law, is charged with maintaining the registry office (especially an index to all recorded instruments) All recorded documents are available to be seen by the public during regular business hours. Many people such as attorneys, title abstractors, paralegals, land surveyors, real estate agents, historians, genealogists, architects, town or other governmental officials make use of the records of the Deeds office for one reason or another. The staff is always willing to help the general public use the facilities.

Documents are recorded in time sequence and have an individual book and page reference stamped on each page in the order in which they were recorded.

By New Hampshire law the Register must have a Day Book entry sheet that lists each document by names of grantors (seller) to grantees (buyer) as they are recorded. Also, there must be a permanent alphabetical index of grantors to grantees as well as an alphabetical index of grantees from grantors.

Accurate indexing of each document recorded is of prime importance. I f a document is not indexed properly or a name is misspelled the document may be lost in the filing forever.

Edith E. Holland was appointed Commissioner to Perform the Duties of the Register of Deeds in 1963 (upon the death of John W. A. Green, who had held the office of Register of Deeds for over fifty years). Mrs. Holland was then elected to the office of Register of Deeds in 1964 and held the office until her resignation on June 30, 1985.

Mary Wright, a registry employee since 1965, and Deputy Register for seventeen years was appointed by the Superior Court to fill out Mrs. Holland term of office. Mrs. Wright retired on December 31, 1986.

Betty Waitt Luce, a registry employee since 1978 and Deputy Register for two years was elected to fill the office of Register of Deeds for the term starting January 1, 1987. Mrs. Luce retired on December 31, 1994.

Cathy Ann Stacey was elected to fill the office of Register of Deeds for the term starting January 1, 1995. During her current administration the indexing system has been made available on computer system to the public with indexing information starting from January 3, 1980 to current day.

Faced with the eminent move of the State court and the sale of the building on Hampton Road, the Registry of Deeds moved to its current location on Route 125, Brentwood, New Hampshire on June 1, 1996.  In a remarkable effort by Registry and County staff the office was moved over a weekend and no interruption in accessibility was experienced by the public.

In late 1999 an index and document imaging system was implemented at the Registry to enabling the public to view the indexes and images simultaneously. 

In the early twenty-first century there were many complaints about the health/air quality of the new courthouse.  After significant testing was performed it was determined that remediation was needed to fix the air quality conditions throughout the courthouse.  The Registry was forced to temporarily move into a much smaller workspace.  This was a significantly busy time at the Registry of Deeds and the local real estate market.    As a result of these issues in March, 2003, the indexes and images from 1980 to the current date were made available on-line to the public. Mrs. Stacey has implemented many new practices and procedures to streamline the office resulting in higher efficiency, lower cost and better service to the public.

Since 2003 the entire indices collection back to 1643 is available on-line to the general public.  In addition imaged documents dating back to 1914 or Book 687 have been converted for internet viewing by the public. These imaging files are added to on a daily basis. 

All plans filed with this office are available for viewing on the website with the exception of Tax Maps or not recorded plans which are for informational purposes only.  The Registry of Deeds also offers WI FI capability to the public.

Mrs. Stacey has implemented many new practices and procedures to streamline the office, resulting in higher efficiency, lower cost, and better service to the public.