Archive centreKendal
TitleWestmorland Quarter Sessions
DescriptionQuarter Sessions records have been divided into administrative and judicial records for convenience. However, in practice, administrative and judicial business was conducted side by side. Consequently, records such as order books, minute books and account books may also contain references to judicial matters. The sessions rolls include proceedings relating to the administrative functions of the Quarter Sessions.

Summary of unlisted records:
Chairman's notebooks (1 box and 3 volumes);
Appointments of sheriffs and undersheriffs (2 boxes);
Minutes and lists of files 1969-1971;
Unsorted papers (4½ boxes).

Order books: WQ/O
Minute books: WQ/M
Account books: WQ/F
Bridge papers: WQ/AB
Bonds for county officers: WQ/AD
Highway diversions: WQ/AH
Licences and other administrative records: WQ/A
Census: WQ/SPC

Indictment books: WQ/I
Calendars of prisoners: WQ/JC
Transportation bonds: WQ/SPT
Sessions rolls: WQ/SR

Kendal parish corn rent awards: WQ/R/C
Inclosure awards and Commissioners' papers: WQ/RI
Deposited plans of public undertakings: WQ/RDP
Jurors' books: WQ/RJ
Land tax returns: WQ/RLT
Papists Enrolled Deeds: WQ/R/P
Registers of annuities: WQ/RPA
Parliamentary elections: WQ/RPE
Societies: WQ/RS
Turnpike Trusts: WQ/RTT
Clerk of the Peace: WQ/C

ContextThe Quarter Sessions were meetings of Justices of the Peace (JPs) held four times a year at Easter, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Epiphany. The sessions dealt with minor criminal cases (assault, theft, poaching, etc.) and, from the 16th century, with the administration of the county. Administrative responsibilities included maintaining county buildings such as the Shire Hall and the gaol; maintaining roads and bridges (1531- ); licensing innkeepers and other tradesmen (1552- ); inspecting and licensing lunatic asylums (1832- ); supervising the parish constables and (from 1839) the county police force; administering the poor law (1601- ) and licensing dissenting meeting houses (1688- ). Much of this business dwindled in the 19th century, the remaining administrative functions of the Quarter Sessions being transferred to the newly created County Councils and County Borough Councils in 1889.

The Judicial functions of Quarter Sessions continued until the Courts Act abolished Quarter Sessions in 1971 and amalgamated them with the Assize Courts to create Crown Courts.

Many records were deposited with the Clerk of the Peace as a legal record, including enclosure awards; land tax returns (1780-1832); electoral registers (1832-1889); deposited plans of public undertakings (late 18th c-19th c); etc.
Catalogue levelFonds
Subject termsQuarter sessions

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