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The Barnstable Registry of Deeds

Believe it or not, Barnstable County began a system of recording deeds in 1686! As it was back then, the function of the Registry today is to provide a central location for the formal recording of deeds, mortgages and any other related documents which affect the legal or financial status of property within Barnstable County.

With each and every document on file available for public scrutiny, the Registry is among the busiest of the twenty-one in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When a disastrous fire destroyed the Registry and its contents in 1827, the building housed 94 volumes of recorded land deeds. After the smoke had cleared, one volume remained.

Not surprisingly, the ensuing chaos proved the complete antithesis of the heretofore orderly system. In a subtle, yet enduring manner, the ramifications of the fire exist to this day as witnessed by still-existing Cape Cod title problems, including titles referred for clarification to the Land Court system. Nowadays, modern technology essentially precludes the loss of vital records.

According to Mr. John Meade, Register of Deeds, all recorded information is stored on microfilm and computer disk, and is secured in a subterranean vault within a facility known as Iron Mountain. Located in New York State, it is purported to be impregnable to fire, water and nuclear holocaust.