In theory records of the Court of Quarter Sessions ought to survive from the fourteenth century. In reality the earliest surviving record is the Vetera Indictamenta 1580 - 1630 which is a single volume of indictments. No other records survive for the early period. The order books begin in 1680 and there is a complete series until 1971. Other classes of records are incomplete. Covering dates given in the catalogue contents list, for example 1584 - 1971, do not mean that records exist for the entire period 1584 - 1971 merely that the first record is dated 1581 and the last 1971. The detailed lists give all the dates of records held.
The records have been listed under six main headings which describe a specific role of the court or records relating to a particular class of court official. The headings are:
The Justices (reference QJ)
The Court in Session (reference QS)
Administration (reference QA)
Finance (reference QF)
Registration Enrolment and Deposit (reference QR)
The Clerks of the Peace (reference QC)
Each class of record under these headings has been given one or two further letters as a unique reference for example indictments are records relating to the Court in Session so they have the reference QSI. QS for the Court in Session and I for Indictment. The Discharge Prisons Aid Society was administered by the Clerk of the Peace and so its records have the reference QC (for Clerk of the Peace) DP.
Each list has a brief introduction describing the records listed and any relevant information. Some records are 'box listed' only and others have been listed in detail.