Manchester was granted its own Quarter Sessions on 1 April 1839, as a corollary the Charter of Incorporation of 23 October 1838. It was replaced by the Crown Court under the Criminal Justice Administration Act, 1956.
Before 1839 Manchester cases were tried at the Salford Hundred Quarter Sessions. The library has calendars of prisoners tried at these Sessions, 1808-1847 (L27/1,2 and P37 16/2), and notes of proceedings before members of the Mosley family, 1616-1630, 1661-1672 and 1734-1739 (MS f347.96 M2). The official Quarter Sessions records for the Salford Hundred are at the Lancashire Record Office, but some are on microfilm in the Local History Library.
As the borough had no gaol in 1839, agreement was made with the county magistrates that persons sentenced to up to six months imprisonment should be housed in the New Bailey Prison, Salford, with the county prisoners for the Hundred. Longer term prisoners went to the County Gaol at Lancaster. In November 1839 the judges in the Court of Queen's Bench stated that Manchester, not having a borough gaol, could not enter into contract for the maintenance of its prisoners in the county gaol. Therefore the county magistrates ordered that only prisoners convicted by county magistrates could be admitted to the New Bailey. This made the Borough Sessions ineffective and accounts for the gap in the files from December 1839 to October 1842 (M116/2/4).
In August 1842 the Borough Incorporation Act became law. This removed all doubts about the validity of the Charter of Incorporation and the corporations right to negotiate for the maintenance of its prisoners. A new contract was made for short term prisoners to be kept in the New Bailey and it was not until 11 March 1850 that the Borough Gaol, Hyde Road, was opened. Even this was inadequate and some prisoners were still sent to the New Bailey.
The following records of Manchester's Quarter Sessions were transferred to the Library in 1964 and 1971 from the City Magistrate's Court, Minshull St., Manchester.M116/1/1-6 THE COURT AND ITS OFFICIALS; M116/1/1 Grant of Quarter Sessions. 1839; M116/1/2-6 The Second Court; M116/1/2 Orders For Second Court And Appointment of Assistant Barristers.; M116/1/3 Approvals By Home Secretary Of Appointment Of Assistant Barrister To Reside Over Second Court.; M116/1/4 Certificates Of Recorder That Assistant Barrister Presided Over Second Court And Is Entitled To Fees.; M116/1/5 Certificates of Recorder That Assistant Clerk In Second Court Is Entitled to Fees.; M116/1/6 Certificates of Recorder That Assistant Crier In Second Court Is Entitled To Fees.; M116/2/1-10 THE COURT IN SESSION; M116/2/1-2 Minutes; M116/2/1 Clerk Of The Peace.; M116/2/2 Assistant Barrister.; M116/2/3 Calendars Of Prisoners - see also M116/2/4; M116/2/4 Files ie 'Sessions Roll'; M116/2/5 Depositions.; M116/2/6 Enquiries To Assess Compensation For Compulsory Purchase Of Property Under Improvement Acts.; M116/2/7 Settlement Cases.; M116/2/8 Miscellaneous Jury Lists; M116/2/9 Draft And Copy Orders.; M116/2/10 Order Book - see addnl. list 3; M116/3/1-4 ADMINISTRATION; M116/3/1 Certificate Re Altering Railway Reference Book.; M116/3/2 Coroners' Accounts For Inquests.; M116/3/3 Depositions Of Inspectors of Weights And Measures Re Fees Entitled To.; M116/3/4 Recognizances of Inspectors of Weights and Measures.; M116/4/1-6 ENROLMENT, REGISTRATION AND DEPOSIT.; M116/4/1 Highways; M116/4/2 Parliamentary Plans.; M116/4/3 Board of Trade Plans.; M116/4/4 Ordnance Survey Maps Of Manchester.; M116/4/5 Societies Rules Etc.; M116/4/6 Returns Of Masonic Lodges.; M116/5/1-3 CLERK OF THE PEACE; M116/5/1 Tables Of Fees.; M116/5/2 Correspondence.; M116/5/3 Miscellaneous.; M116/6 MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS..