Records of Quarter Sessions

This record is held by Derbyshire Record Office

Details of Q
Reference: Q
Title: Records of Quarter Sessions

No records of the mediaeval justices have survived. The earliest records known date from the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and consist of a small number of documents from the Quarter Sessions bundles and the earliest of the rolls of deeds of bargain and sale enrolled under legislation of 1535.


Except for entries made on the rolls of deeds of bargain and sale, no Quarter Sessions records are known from the period of James I's reign (1603-1625) or from the early years of the reign of his successor Charles I. From the mid-17th century, the work of the Court and the Justices becomes progressively better documented. In part, this was because greater care was probably taken of the records but there was also an increase in document creation, with new record series initiated as a result of Parliamentary legislation.


Records of Quarter Sessions have been grouped as follows:

Q/J records relating to the Justices; Q/S records of the Court in session; Q/A records of administration; Q/R records enrolled, registered or deposited with Quarter Sessions; Q/M miscellaneous series. Records relating to the Justices of the Peace: Q/JP/1/1-18 commissions of the peace; Q/JP/2/1-40 writs of dedimus potestatem; Q/JP/3/1-20 qualification oaths; Q/JP/4/1-85 certificates of qualification; Q/JP/5-7 lists of justices. Records of the Court in Session: Q/SB/1/1-21 "Liber Pacis" or book of the peace; Q/SB/2/1-1403 session papers; Q/SB/3/1-2 precepts (sheriff's writs); Q/SB/4/1-27 jury panels; Q/SB/9/1-606 highway and footpath closures and diversions; Q/SC/1/1-13 poor rate valuations and assessments; Q/SD/1/1-5/2 records relating to tithe, particularly corn rents; Q/SM/1/1-17 ?draft minutes; Q/SM/2/1-8 minutes of indictments; Q/SM/3/1-10 recognisance books; Q/SO/1/1-70 order books (microfiche 1682-1853); Q/SO/2/1-3 orders of sessions (administrative only); Q/SO/3/1-8 printed "Minutes of Proceedings" (administrative only); Q/SP/1/1-18 calendars of prisoners. Records of administration: Q/AB/1/1-2/33 records relating to gaols and lock-ups; Q/AB/3/1-117 returns of lock-ups 1790; Q/AD/1/1-41/4 militia; Q/AF/8/1-41 coroners' expenses claims; Q/AF/9/1-183 corn price returns and certificates; Q/AG/1-36 cotton mill apprentices; Q/AH/1/1-7/19 highways and bridges; Q/AL lunacy records; Q/AM/1/1-14 weights and measures; Q/AM/2/1-43 land carriage rates; Q/AM/3/1-18 hemp and flax bounties; Q/AM/4/1-2 gunpowder mill and stores; Q/AM/5/1 theatre licensing; Q/AR/1/1-92 enclosure acts; Q/AR/4/1-3 returns, act and report on the poor laws; Q/AT/1/1-19 transportation to America. Enrolment, registration and deposit: Q/RA/1/1-5 licensed victuallers (alehouse and innkeepers); Q/RA/2/1-7 badgers, drovers and swa(i)lers; Q/RA/3/1 slaughterhouses; Q/RA/4/1 woolwinders; Q/RD/1/1-7/1 militia enrolment (fiche); Q/RE/1/1-2 registration of annuities; Q/RE/2/1-93 poll books; (not numbered) land tax assessments (film); (not numbered) electoral registers (fiche to 1900); Q/RG/1/1-3/6 poor rate returns; Q/RJ/1/1-2/94 men eligible for jury service; Q/RK corn rents and tithe payments; Q/RM/1/1-4/62 miscellaneous registration (gamekeepers, hairpowder duty, boats and barges, crop returns); Q/RP deposited plans; Q/RR/1/1-22/9 religion and state security; Q/RS/2/1-28 Friendly Societies and Benefit Building Societies; Q/RS/4/1-44 Savings Banks; Q/RS/5/1-44 printing presses; Q/RT/1-3955 turnpike accounts; Q/RV vagrant passes and settlement examinations. Miscellaneous: Q/MP/1/1-41 Derby Division Petty Sessions; Q/MP/2/1 Derby Division Petty Sessions, Long Eaton and Sawley; Q/MP/3/1-2 Borough of Glossop, commissions of the peace.
Date: 1558-1971
Held by: Derbyshire Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Language: English, Latin

Derbyshire Quarter Sessions, c 1350-1971

  • Derbyshire
  • Administration of justice
  • Local government
Administrative / biographical background:

The Court of Quarter Sessions was the meeting of the Justices of the Peace held 4 times a year from 1362 to 1971 when Quarter Sessions were abolished.


Although the principal functions of the Court were to determine judicial cases and to take the preliminary hearings of more serious cases which would progress to the Assize Courts, from the 16th century many other duties were imposed upon the Justices by central government. They administered the licensing laws and became in effect the County government, whilst the Court was designated as a place of registration for a variety of purposes by direction of numerous Acts of Parliament.


Keepers or conservators of the peace had been periodically appointed from 1285 but their powers were limited and it was not until 1361 that they became justices rather than merely keepers of the peace and that provision was made for the appointment of a custos rotulorum (keeper of the rolls or records). From 1362, the Justices were to meet 4 times a year. In Derbyshire their meetings were generally known as Hilary, Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas Sessions, respectively sitting in January, April, July and October.

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