The law creating Guilford County was passed in 1770, and the county started administration of its territory on April 1, 1771. Any land records prior to that time will be in the records of other counties. Approximately, the western two-thirds of the county came from Rowan County, and the eastern one-third came from Orange County. Rowan was created in 1753 from Anson County, and Orange was created in 1752 from parts of Johnston, Bladen, and Granville counties.
Guilford has suffered two courthouse fires, which destroyed records. One was during March 1781 and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. The other fire was in 1872.
“Old Guilford County” was three times larger than present-day Guilford County, since Randolph County was created from the southern third of Guilford in 1779, and Rockingham County was created from the northern third of Old Guilford in 1785.
Neighboring counties have changed over the years as well. For a downloadable PDF of a series of maps and a list of which counties parented which counties, please click on this link: North Carolina Formation of Counties
When working in early census records, people sometimes ask “Where was Salisbury District?” Salisbury District was not part of Guilford County. Instead, counties were a part of the Salisbury District. In 1755 NC created five District Superior Courts throughout the state. The Salisbury District included all or parts of counties which are now Anson, Cabarrus, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, and Yadkin Counties. If you see the name “Hillsborough District,” then that area was in the Superior Court District for Hillsborough, which is in Orange County. The eastern third of Guilford County came from Orange County in 1771. The District Superior Courts were discontinued in 1806 when individual counties were allowed to have Superior Courts.
I found a series of PDFs which are transcriptions of early Guilford County court records from 1781 to 1811. They came up in a search, but I cannot see how they are linked to the main page of the Greensboro government website. Since they can be difficult to find, even in a search on the site, I downloaded them and then uploaded them to this site.
- Guilford County Register of Deeds – Online Records System – Real Estate Look Up
- North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970
- Court Records – Guilford County NC Digital Archives
- Deeds – Guilford County NCGenWeb Archives
- Colonial & State Records” database from UNC’s Documenting the American South — an excellent resource for early land records
- North Carolina Land Grant Procedures, 1777 – 1800, by Dr. A. B. Pruitt
- Land Record Information – excerpt from Fred Hughes’ map supplement book