Explore thousands of criminal records from these court Quarter Sessions, discover if your Portsmouth ancestors had been caught up in a criminal activity. Findmypast’s browse search allows you to search each Session register from beginning to end.
The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information:
Year of crime
Date of crime
Details of the offence
Date of warrant
When received into custody
Outcome (how the accused pleaded and what happened at any trial)
Location of the court
Name of the prison
Other information (can include marital status and details of other accused and charges)
Name of accuser
Names of witnesses
Name of magistrate
The courts of quarter sessions were held over a number of days in rotation at different locations at four set times each year.
They took place in the weeks around the dates of Epiphany (January 6th), Easter (variable dates), Midsummer (June 24th) and Michaelmas (September 29th).
Quarter sessions dealt with serious non-capital crimes, in other words, those that did not command a death penalty. Capital crimes were tried at twice-yearly Assizes. The middle tier of the court system, Quarter sessions were presided over by unpaid magistrates, also known as justices of the peace, appointed by the Lord Chancellor.
At each Quarter session, two juries would be elected. The Grand Jury’s job was to hear the evidence against the accused and to decide whether the case should go to trial. If they sent it forward it was the turn of the Trial or Petty Jury who would decide guilt.
You can search by year and session
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