England Borough Session Records

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England Gotoarrow.png England Court Records

Borough Sessions[edit | edit source]

The equivalent of the hundreds’ petty sessions for the boroughs, which were towns administered by a corporation and having privileges confirmed by royal charter of defined by statute, were the borough sessions. The mayor of a corporation was normally the ex officio Justice of the Peace for the borough. The situation is variable in different places, though, since there may have been several courts operating within one borough, each with its limited purview, such as a manorial court leet, a mayor’s court, a court of orphans, of conscience and requests, one for gaol delivery and a pie-powder (market) court all in addition to the Sessions of the Peace.

In the borough of Great Torrington, Devon film 1526359 the 1769 sessions are confusingly called the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace and Leet and Law Day of our Lord the King. Presiding were John Coplestone mayor and Daniel Johnson justice, with two aldermen (John Palmer and Isaac Williams), two capital burgesses (Thomas Moore and Theophilus Heles) and the steward Thomas Bolton in attendance.

Fourteen jurors were listed and sworn and a motley assemblage of cases were heard, for example:

These jurors present Mr Nathaniel Isaac Greenslade, Miss Claps
and Andrew Gorwill for keeping trade and not being free [i.e. plying their trades without being freemen of the borough].
John Atkinson for a dangerous trapdoor in the street ...
Several recognizances for selling ale were given.

Thomas Bolton gave a certificate for having received the sacrament and taken the oaths of allegiance, supremacy and abjuration, and made the declaration against transubstantiation.

On 1 Oct 1798 appointments were made of constables, supervisor of the market, pig drivers, scavengers, searchers and sealers of leather, and aletasters.
Also the bakers of the borough and town were presented for forestalling the markets (making unlawful profits).

On 2 Oct 1809 many people were presented for bad pavements and
William Cole the pig driver for suffering the pigs to ruin the streets; and Henry Grant for neglecting to ring the bell evenings at eight o’clock according to ancient custom

Borough court records[edit | edit source]

Borough court records may be found at the town hall, often with no full-time archivist in charge of them, but many have been deposited at the county record office or county library. On the FamilySearch Catalog look under COUNTY-PLACE-COURT RECORDS. Other examples of filmed borough court records include:

Some transcribed and indexed records are available as well, for example:

  • Depositions relating to Americans 1641-1736 in the Lord Mayor’s court of London by Coldham (1980).
  • Portsmouth Borough Session Papers 1653-1688 by Willis and Hoad.[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Christensen, Penelope. "England Petty, Borough, and Quarter Sessions (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/England_Petty,_Borough,_and_Quarter_Sessions_(National_Institute).