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

What is in This Collection?

This Collection includes 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. 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

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.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. These images can be viewed online by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at a Family History Center near you, or the Family History Library. The images are also viewable to users who have contributed to the FamilySearch Indexing effort. Learn how to be a part of FamilySearch indexing here.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

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.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Court files can include:

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

How Do I Search This Collection?

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

  • Name of ancestor
  • Court jurisdiction
  • Place of residence

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select Court Jurisdiction
  2. Select Record Type
  3. Select Year Range, Volume Number to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • 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 was in 1841)
  • 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

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • 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
    • Essex to the north
    • London and Surrey to the west
    • East Sussex to the south

Research Helps

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Kent.

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 : 14 June 2016. 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.

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.