Orphans’ Court in PA

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Recently a member inquired about Orphans Court in PA. She stated she found a will of her g-g-grandfather’s from Pennsylvania that references the Orphan Court and a family member in particular. She asked what an Orphan Court is and if there is a place that keeps records of transactions.

IGSI President and researcher Audrey Leonard informs of the following:

Orphans’ Court dealt with orphan, guardianship and estate issues. In the larger cities, orphans’ court became totally separate from other courts.

Part of IGSI's Irish Collection at the MN Genealogical Soc library

Part of IGSI’s Irish Collection at the MN Genealogical Soc library

The orphans’ court also appears to have been the main equity court during much of the colonial period.

Our library also has some orphans’ court records such as Pennsylvania, Orphan’s’ Court (York County), Orphan’s Court Dockets, 1749-1881; General Index to Dockets, 1749-1887 FHL film 22150 (first of 24 films).

These courts were abolished by constitutional amendment in 1968, and became part of the courts of common pleas; however, in most counties, the filing clerk remained Clerk of the Orphans’ Court after the formal abolishment.


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