Ref NoQ
TitleDerbyshire County Quarter Sessions
CreatorDerbyshire County Quarter Sessions
Organsation TypeOfficial Bodies - Justice, Law and Order
Organsation Sub-TypeQuarter Sessions
DescriptionRecords of Quarter Sessions have been grouped as follows:
- Q/J Justices of the Peace, 1711-1907
- Q/S Court in session, 1588-1971, including the "Liber Pacis", sessions papers, order books, minutes of indictments, jury panels, precepts, recognisance books, highway and footpaths closures and diversions, and calendars of prisoners
- Q/A Administration, including records of gaols and lock-ups, militia, coroners' expenses, corn price returns, cotton mill apprentices, highways and bridges, lunacy, weights and measures, land carriage rate, hemp and flax bounties, gunpoweder mill and stores, theatre licensing, enrolment of volunteers to the Navy and Army, printed reference materials relating to enclosure and the poor law, and transportation of convicts to America
- Q/R records enrolled, registered or deposited with Quarter Sessions, including registers of licensed victuallers, slaughterhouses and other tradesmen, militia enrolment, poll books, land tax assessments, poor rate returns, enclosure maps and awards, eligibility for jury service, deposited plans particularly relating to turnpike roads, canals and railways, religion and state security, registration of charities, societies (including Friendly Societies and Benefit Building Societies, and Freemasons' lodges), Printing Presses and Savings Banks, turnpike accounts, and vagrancy records
- Q/M miscellaneous series, containing records of the Derby Division Petty Sessions; Derby Division Petty Sessions, Long Eaton and Sawley; and Borough of Glossop, commissions of the peace

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 were chiefly preserved in bundles, one for each of the quarterly courts held at Epiphany (early January), Easter, Translation (mid-Summer) and Michaelmas (late September/early October). In addition there were already the beginnings of series of documents which could not be accommodated in the bundles.

The records are divided into four categories (Justice, Court in Session, Administration, and Enrolment, registration and deposit), plus records inherited from the Derby Division Petty Sessions (Q/M). There are also a small number of collections containing Quarter Sessions records that strayed from the custody of the Sessions prior to the creation of the county council in 1889 – see the online catalogue for more information.
Administrative HistoryThe 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.

Keepers or conservators of the peace had been periodically appointed from 1285 but their powers were limited as they had no power to enquire into felonies or to determine (judge and punish) cases. 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.

In 1487, the Justices were empowered to take bail and, in 1495, to punish on information without indictment (formal accusation by the grand jury for trial). In 1638, their judicial powers were placed on a statutory basis, their duties to maintain the peace, to enquire into felonies and trespasses, the labour laws, weights and measures and certain market offences.

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.
Custodial HistoryDerbyshire County Council has held Quarter Sessions records since its inauguration in 1889. The records have been transferred to Derbyshire Record Office under Section 4(1) of the Public Records Act since it began in 1962.
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Derbyshire/Derbyshire/United Kingdom
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