Northumberland County is situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in central Ontario, Canada. It is located east of Durham County (now the Regional Municipality of Durham), west of Hastings County, southeast of the Kawartha Lakes and south of Peterborough County. The county seat is Cobourg. Together with Durham County, it formed the Newcastle District from 1798 to 1849 and the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham from 1850 to 1973.
The first settlers were United Empire Loyalists who left the former 13 British American Colonies in the late 18th century. The Crown provided plots to the settlers for nominal sums (with the stipulation of making the land productive in a set number of years) or gratis to those who had served against the American Colonial Army. Following the War of 1812 many port towns, Cobourg in particular became important centres for commercial activity and a landing point for European immigrants arriving on steamers.
The Archives of Ontario has a map of Northumberland County as it looked between 1945 and 1951.
A sketchmap from Ontario GenWeb shows the outlines of the original townships.
The original eight townships (together with the administrative reorganizations in the latter quarter of the 20th century), are listed below. The order of the list is from west to east, then south to north.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Northumberland County