Quarter Sessions Records
The court of quarter sessions was the meeting of the justices of the peace for the county; it derived its name from the fact that it was held four times a year, at Epiphany, Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas.
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Montgomeryshire Quarter Sessions Order Book, 1707-1737 (M/QS/SO/1) has been digitised
Radnorshire Quarter Sessions Order Book, 1801-1813 (R/QS/OB/4) has been transcribed and digitised.
Records of Militia Musters, Friendly Societies and Gamekeepers can be found in the Quarter Sessions records. Our popular topics of research section contains additional records from other sources.
The new counties of Brecknockshire, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire were created by the Act of Union, 1536 '27 Hen. VIII, c.26), and courts of quarter sessions and the office of justice of the peace were introduced in them by a subsequent Act in 1543 (34 & 35 Hen. VIII, c.26).
The records for Powys start later than 1543: Breconshire has sessions rolls from 1690, Montgomeryshire from 1719 and Radnorshire from 1753. By this time the justices had begun to act in a more executive capacity. They were concerned with:
- determining judicial cases (though not felonies which were dealt with at Assize);
- administration of local government; and
- the statutory enrolment and registration of documents not directly related to the court.
During the nineteenth century a change took place, as standing committees evolved to deal with specific functions, e.g. gaols and bridges. Administrative officers were appointed, the County Treasurer, Surveyor or Bridgemaster, Inspectors of Weights and Measures.
Many administrative functions were transferred to other bodies, e.g. Poor Law in 1834, and highway administration in 1835. The establishment of county councils under the Local Government Act of 1888 left the quarter sessions with purely judicial functions. Finally, under the Courts Act of 1971 quarter sessions and assizes were replaced by crown courts administered by central government.
See also Breconshire: Brecknock Museum Transfer Collection for general Quarter Sessions papers (B/D/BM/S) and Enclosure papers (B/D/BM/E)