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Kay Collins 2007
Quarter Sessions


The Quarter Sessions were county court sittings held in January (Epiphany), April (Easter), July (Thomas a Becket) and October (Michaelmas), numbered 1-4 in the indices. The cases were mostly felony, poaching, keeping disorderly alehouses, wages owed, removal appeals, bad treatment of apprentices by their masters, rates disputes, blocking waterways and failure of parishes to keep roads and bridges in good order. The Courts also set rates for wages and carriage, and details are found in the Record Books, Order Books, Minute Books and the Court Rolls, the latter being more difficult to use as they are odd sized sheets and scraps of paper and vellum all rolled up together after each court. Some may not have been unrolled since the day they were rolled up and tied round. There are many more names found in these books and rolls than I have extracted e.g. jurors, attorneys, vicars, surveyors and there are many appeals against rates charged in some parishes, appointment of workhouse masters, vagrant carriers and tradesmen working on prisons and other county buildings, and there is much about county expenditure on prisons, the canal and highways.

The earliest records are in a book starting in 1668, followed by 3 Order Books, 2 Minute Books and several Record Books and together these cover 1686-1834. Under Miscellaneous QS listings are 3 Books of Presentments (people to be brought before the court), Badgers or Higglers licences (dealers licensed by the court), Gamekeepers appointed, and Meeting House certificates.

Also at the Quarter Sessions Courts there were special sittings dealing with Bastardy cases but these rarely give the parish. They are, however, indexed and a copy is at Northamptonshire Record Office and the index is also included in the Personal Names Database (PND) of the Northamptonshire Family History Society.

NRO Ref: Quarter Sessions + Year and Quarter
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