England, Kent, Quarter Sessions and Court Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England, Kent, Quarter Sessions and Court Files, 1558-1899 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Kent,  England
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Location of Kent, England
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Record Description
Record Type Quarter Sessions and Court Files
Collection years 1558-1899
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Kent History and Library Centre

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. The England, Kent, Quarter Sessions and Court Files collection is available to the Family History Library, FamilySearch Centers, and to members of the supporting organizations. The images can be viewed at a FamilySearch Center near you.

For those in the United Kingdom, images may also be viewed by visiting the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone, England.

What is in the Collection?

This Collection will include records from 1558 to 1899.

The collection consists of Quarter Sessions and Court Files for the County of Kent. Availability of the records varies by year and locality. This collection is restricted to FamilySearch Members which includes members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Centers, and affiliated organizations.

Only a small percentage of citizens ever appeared before the magistrates of the Quarter Sessions. The records varied in form over time an with the location where the court was held. However, they generally included five main sections:

  • Order books. These were the official records of a judge’s decisions.
  • Indictments. These recorded the criminal charges against a defendant and usually included such information as the defendant’s name, place of residence, details of the crime, and witnesses to it.
  • Minute books. These were notes from the clerk of the peace, who detailed the court proceedings.
  • Sessions’ rolls or files. These are records used during the session and usually included such things as petitions, depositions, jury lists, examinations, and other lists.
  • Any other documents that were lodged with the clerk of the peace.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Kent, Quarter Sessions and Court Files, 1558-1899.

Collection Content

Court files can include:

  • Names
  • Places of residence
  • Birth places
  • Birth dates
  • Parents
  • Family members
  • Spouse
  • Place of marriage
  • Occupations

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search, it it would be helpful to know the following:

  • Name of ancestor
  • Court jurisdiction
  • Place of residence

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "Court Jurisdiction"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Record Type"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Year Range, Volume Number" which will take you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. The information may also lead you to other records about your ancestors.

Use the place and names to locate other records such as civil registration, church records and census records (be aware that census records are taken every ten years; the first to list names was in 1841). For information on these records see the Related Wiki Articles section of this article.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank or status within the community.
  • Search by surname in the same court and location. This may help you to identify other family members.
  • Sometimes searching by location can help you find the history of a community or a likely occupation, which could provide valuable insight into your ancestor’s life.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for an index. Local genealogical and historical societies sometimes have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

General Information About These Records

Quarter Session records can help you identify names, residences, occupations, and family relationships. They may also contain information leading you to the records of other ancestors such as the parents, siblings, and children of the primary person in the court case.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"England, Kent, Quarter Sessions and Court Files, 1558-1899." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace, Kent Archives Office, Maidstone.

Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.