Quarter and Petty Sessions
In 1440 Hull was separated from Yorkshire as
an independent county with its own sheriff. From 1447-1835 the
county of Hull included the parishes of Hessle, Kirkella and North
Ferriby. The county burgesses were empowered to elect twelve
aldermen to assist the mayor and to serve as magistrates. They held
formal meetings that incorporated within them quarter sessions and
petty sessions. The minutes of these early meetings can be found in
a set of unindexed bench books (C BRB 1-10) until 1741 when the
volume of documents being lodged with the magistrates increased and
separate bundles of documents had to be introduced (C CQB). The
Quarter Sessions continued as criminal courts until 1971 when the
County Court judicial system was implemented.
were county courts held by the magistrates (also known as Justices
of the Peace) from the 14th century four times a year at
Epiphany (Jan-Mar), Easter (Apr-Jun), Midsummer (Jul-Sept) and
Michaelmas (Oct-Dec). The work of these courts was varied. They
dealt with criminal matters from petty theft to rape. Quarter
sessions courts also dealt with administrative matters such as
licensing. Many Poor Law cases found their way into the Quarter
sessions Courts. More serious crimes were referred on to the assize
courts where professional judges could handle them, rather than the
Justices of the Peace. Assizes were held in Hull at irregular
intervals until 1794. Thereafter prisoners committed to the assizes
by Hull courts were tried at York. The records of the courts of
assizes are held by The National
courts met daily and formed the lowest tier in the English court
system, now known as magistrates’ courts. They dealt with minor
crimes, licensing, juvenile offenders and civil matters such as
bastardy, child maintenance and adoption.
Hull’s Minutes of Petty Sessions (C CPM) 1811-1835 deal chiefly
with settlement examinations (those trying to claim poor relief in
an area where they have no right of settlement).
Hull’s Judicial Records include:
Juror’s lists (C CQB) These
listed men aged between 21 and 70 who were liable to serve as
jurors. They were lodged with the Clerk of the Peace and, until
1832, they note men’s ages, occupations and residence (or
Calendars of Prisoners (C
CQB) Most of these give their names, ages, charges, levels of
literacy, verdicts and sentences. Some also give the date when the
offender was taken into custody, particulars of any previous
convictions and information about the court officials who sat
during the trial.
Indictments (from 1741) and statements
by witnesses in respect of criminal cases 1840-1971 (C
CQB). Many of these are indexed up to 1899 and are
searchable through our card index system.
(1506-1533 and Jan 1693-Jan 1900) give the names
of people charged and information on their offence, verdict and
sentence. They also give the names of the jury, the complainant and
any witnesses called (CQA).
Recorders Note Books
1875-1971 (C CQG). provide the most detailed
record of cases They were taken by the clerk of the court during
the hearings. However, they are notoriously very difficult to
Colonial Service Agreements
1747-1774 (C CQB). Contracts relating to the transportation of
felons to the colonies. These had to be signed in the presence of
two magistrates. The agreement then had to be certified to quarter
sessions and registered by the clerk of the peace.
Employment records generated by the courts include:
Minutes of Petty Sessions (C
CPM) give names of alehouse keepers and their sureties
Apprenticeship agreements and
any disputes arising causing indentures to be cancelled or
discharged before the magistrates, 1813-1821 (C CPA).
Regulation of wages 1669-1721
Returns of members of Freemasons’
Lodges 1799-1880 with gaps (C CQB). The unlawful Societies
Act of 1799 suppressed certain dangerous societies but permitted
freemasons’ lodges providing that they submitted lists of members
to quarter sessions annually. The lists give occupations and places
of abode if not Hull.
Notices delivered by Printers
1807-1865 (C CQB).
Monetary concerns of the courts
Poor law issues including
maintenance and settlement cases (C CQB).
Taxation Assessments C16-1827
with gaps (C CAT). These were arranged by ward, township or by
street and listed names, sometimes an indication as to wealth and
status and the level of tax to which they were liable. Marriage Tax
Assessments are also held in this category for 1695-1697.
Notices of appeal against
taxation or rate assessments (C CQB).
Relief of Insolvent Debtors
1742-1824 (C CQB and C CQI). The most useful
information is contained in the schedule of assets. This gives the
name and occupation of the debtor, their place of residence and,
usually, the sum owing, the nature of the debt, the names of any
witnesses and an inventory of possessions and real estate. This
arrangement was terminated in 1824 when, by and Act of Parliament,
the local work was transferred to visiting Commissioners sent out
by the central Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors. The
records of the Courts held by these commissioners at Hull are also
held here (C JI).
Other quarter sessions records include:
Registration of places of
worship 1757-1845 (C CQB). These include protestant
dissenters as well as Catholics and oaths of individual protestant
dissenting ministers 1769-1846 (C CQB).
Lists of Pauper Lunatics
1829-1881 with gaps (C CQB). These give the lunatic’s name, age,
sex, nature of lunacy and their financial burden on the relevant
parish. There are also lists that give names, parish and occupation
of those appointed to visit the lunatic asylums.
Statements and verdicts of Coroner’s
Inquests 1840-1899 (C CQB). These include information from
witnesses, regarding untimely or questionable deaths. Many of these
are indexed and are searchable through our card index system.
Please note that there may be closure notices on more
recent quarter and petty session records.