England Quarter Session Records

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Quarter Session records started to be kept as early as the 13th century but most from the 16th century. These records dealt with the everyday man. Court was held four times a year. Anyone with a grievance could complain, no matter their social status. A rich variety of records exist, but not for all places and times. Among the records are:

  • Lists of names of justices present, bailiffs and high constables of Hundreds, and jurymen.
  • Writs to the sheriff, to summon juries, officers, defendants and others.
  • Presentments and returns on a variety of matters (some with signatures).
  • Indictments (formal accusations), usually in legal Latin language.
  • Bonds (a monetary fee) to ensure defendants and witnesses appear at the trial and that they are orderly.
  • Lists of prisoners, usually stating the offense and sometimes the sentence.
  • Complaints, Certificates and Testimonials concerning a variety of matters.
  • Licenses granted to persons for a variety of occupations, such as a alehouse keeper.
  • Removal Orders for Paupers. They were "removed" from their current location to their home parish.
  • Reports of Inspectors of Weights and Measures.
  • Certificates of dissenters' meeting-houses.

Records are housed in county or council offices in England. Few have been indexed but they are usually arranged by date. Some are on film in the Family History Library. Search for your county of interest in the Family History Library Catalog for: