This record is held by Lancashire Archives

Details of Q
Reference: Q

Alphabetical list of references


AE Enclosure Awards


AT Tithe Commutation


AV Awards: Various


CP Clerk of the Peace


CT County Treasurer


MA Manchester Assize Courts


EL Electrical Registers


PD Deposited Plans


PM Militia Storehouse Plans


PP Prison Plans


QAA Lancashire County Probation Committee


QAB Reformatory and Industrial Schools Committee


QAC Cattle Plague Committee


QAD Licensing Committee


QAF Finance


QAG General Purposes Committee


QAH Provisional Courts Committee


QAL Lancaster Castle Committee


QAM Lunacy


QAP Parliamentary Committee


QAR Roads and Bridges


QAS Standing Militia Storehouse Committee


QAV Various


QDB Bills, Acts and Orders


QDC Charities


QDD Enrolled Deeds and Other Documents


QDE Disputed Elections


QDF Freeholders or Jury Lists


QDG Gamekeepers


QDH Hair Powder Tax


QDL Land Tax


QDP Papists' Estates


QDR Register of Vagrants Deported from Liverpool to Ireland


QDS Societies


QDT Turnpike Trusts


QDV Various


QEC Constabulary Committee


QEV Various - Constabulary


QGB Gaol Sites and Buildings


QGC Convictions


QGG Visiting Committees


QGL Lancaster Prison


QGP Preston Prison


QGR Gaol Reports


QGT Transportation


QGV Various - Gaols


QJA Orders made under Summary Jurisdiction Appeals Act 1933 and National Parks Act 1949


QJB Insolvent Debtors


QJC Calendars of Prisoners


QJD Riot Depositions


QJE Estreats


QJI Indictments


QJS Cases Committed for Sentence to the Appeal Committee of Quarter Sessions


QJV Various


QJX Appeals, Arbitrations, Civil Suits, etc.


QSA Attendance Books


QSB Recognizances


QSC Commissions of the Peace


QSD Highway Diversion Orders


QSG Annual General Sessions


QSJ Oaths and Sacrament Certificates


QSL Lists of Magistrates


QSM Sessions Minute Rolls


QSO Order Books


QSP Petitions


QSQ Property Qualifications


QSR Sessions Rolls


QSV Various


QSZ Annual Sessions Proceedings and Reports

Held by: Lancashire Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Lancashire Quarter Sessions

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

The law required the Justices of each county to meet at Quarter Sessions four times yearly. Quarter Sessions had a considerable criminal jurisdiction exercised by the Justices sitting with juries; but their other functions were of a very different character. At these sessions were present a grand jury of the county, the hundred juries, and also the several Petty Constables and High Constables. All these were bound to present those seemingly guilty of such breaches of the law, including nuisances, as came within their cognizance. Further, each Justice could himself present on his 'own view'. Thus Quarter Sessions were supposed to punish not only ordinary crimes, but also omission to perform the various duties imposed on parishes and counties; in this way their task was one of supervising administration. A great part of it had to be discharged in open court, but there was nothing to prevent the Justices from deciding at private meetings upon certain general principles to be applied by them. The Justices tended therefore more and more to use Quarter Sessions as a means of forming and executing a policy. Nor was this strange, for there was a need of policies, and they could only be devised by the Justices. After 1700 the hundred juries gradually disappeared, and the High Constables usually made only such presentments as the Justices desired; further presentments by individual Justices increased in frequency. Hence the Justices were able to make a growing use of judicial machinery in order to carry out an administrative policy. For instance, the Justices had been given power by an Act of 1691 to levy a rate not exceeding 6d. in the pount upon a parish for the upkeep of a highway. But when a sum exceeding that thereby obtainable was desired, they often raised it by imposing a fine upon a parish for not discharging its highway obligations.


Only a fraction of the Justices' duties were performed at Quarter Sessions. They are also found acting alone, in pairs and at Special and Petty Sessions. In each of these capacities their functions were equally mixed. According to the law, some things could be done by a single Justice, others by any two Justices, and others, again - such as the enforcement of various statutes relating to highways and liquor licensing - by the Justices of a division meeting at Special Sessions. In the eighteenth century the Justices in each division took, to meeting together for other purposes at regular intervals, and these meetings became known as Petty Sessions. The Justices there assembled had a certain criminal jurisdiction - such as was assigned by statute, to any two Justices sitting together - and also exercised some quasi-administrative functions.


As the eighteenth century advanced the Justices made alterations in the methods of local government. In many counties they began to employ a small salaried staff; much business was referred by Quarter Sessions to committees; at the same time Quarter Sessions themselves tended to become a court of appeal from the Justices sitting alone or in Divisional Sessions. Many of the new developments were extra-legal and the virtual assumption of power by the Justices at Quarter Sessions, to act as a subordinate law-making body was definitely illegal. But Parliament encouraged the Justices to ignore the letter of the law by continually adding to their functions and by increasing the number of purposes for which they could levy rates.

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research