Catalogue Finding NumberQS1
Office record is held atWakefield, West Yorkshire Archive Service
TitleQuarter Sessions Rolls
DescriptionThe sessions rolls are general files containing the original documents generated by the business of quarter sessions. Although always referred to as rolls they were, as in other counties, rolled files which ceased to be rolled when the quantity of records became too great. When the session was held by adjournment at different places, there is a separate roll for each adjourned session, except when solely administrative matters were under consideration.
The variety of records to be found on the rolls do not make them easy to consult and they are most readily examined using the indexed indictment and order books as a guide to their contents. Of the major classes to be found on the rolls the largest comprises the records of the criminal jurisdiction of the court. Indictments and recognisances are the most numerous items and these are accompanied by informations, examinations, depositions, lists of jurors and calendars of prisoners. The indictments were transcribed into indexed volumes, which also include lists of recognisances. A series of calendars of prisoners from 1816 was kept separately in addition to those placed on the rolls. There is usually also a minute book which was used to make a summary note of the proceedings.
The administrative records on the rolls include the signed reports of the committees and the Riding officers. Up to 1865 these reports may be found transcribed into the order books, but from 1842 to 1889 they are most readily accessible in the accounts of the treasurer. From 1891 to 1915 similar information can be found in the yearbook of quarter sessions. Administrative business is recorded in the sessions papers of the deputy clerk. Under an Act of 1752 coroners returned abstracts of inquests to sessions in order to claim their expenses. The abstracts give the date of the inquest, the name of the deceased and the verdict, but no supplementary detail. Payments to coroners became a county council function in 1889.
Several classes of records found on the rolls derive from the jurisdiction of petty sessions. Quarter Sessions heard appeals from decisions and convictions by petty sessions, many of which were on poor law matters. Removal orders in particular are to be found in some quantity. Apart from those submitted in appeals, it seems that the court may also have accepted uncontested removal orders for filing, a practice which was observed in some counties although it had no statutory sanction. After an Act of 1773 the court received orders of justices for the diversion of highways and footpaths for filing. These are accompanied by plans, mostly with little detail. This procedure was continued by the Highways Acts, 1835 and 1959. As a result of the 1835 Act new roads only became repairable at public expense if they were formally adopted by the parish. A certificate of two justices was to be enrolled at session.
Filing of memoranda of summary convictions with Quarter Sessions was a common practice from the late 18th century. Convictions under the Worsted Act, 1777, appear always to have been kept separately from the rolls, but other returned convictions which are now found as a separate group may originally have been filed on the rolls. An Act of 1855 made it obligatory for petty sessions to file proceedings in cases of larceny with quarter sessions. Examinations and depositions 1856-1868 are with the records of summary convictions, but the certificates of conviction were filed on the sessions rolls.
Quarter Sessions performed a variety of licensing and registration duties. On the rolls can be found requests for licensing of nonconformist meeting houses, 1689-1852, agreements between townships for the combined provision of workhouses under Gilbert's Act of 1782 and applications for licences for theatrical performances, 1788-1843. Certificates submitted by lodges of freemasons under an Act of 1799 are to be found on the rolls prior to 1836; from 1836 to 1918 there is a separate series. Petitions to the court were submitted by those seeking charity to compensate for losses from fire, flood and other natural calamities. There are also petitions from townships for certificates in support of applications for charitable briefs to finance the rebuilding of churches. Some of the petitions are accompanied by plans and estimates. Sacrament certificates and copies of oaths subscribed in quarter sessions to fulfil the statutory obligations required of holders of public offices, including justices of the peace, are filed on the rolls.

Arrangement: the early records in the series no longer retain their original format, but have been sorted into the following series for each meeting of the court: 1 Indictments; 2 Informations; 3 Examinations; 4 Recognisances; 5 Traverses; 6 Petitions and Certificates; 7 Orders; 8 Miscellanea
Detailed listing of individual papers within these series have initially been confined to the informations, examinations, traverses, petitions and certificates, orders, and miscellanea, which last class includes justices' notes and papers, as well as jury lists and minutes
Date1662-1971
Extent2195 boxes
LevelSeries
SubjectFOOTPATHS
QUARTER SESSIONS
PETTY SESSIONS
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