County Quarter Sessions

The Quarter Sessions courts of England and Wales were created following a statute of 1388. The name derives from the fact that the Justices met to hear cases four times a year, (every quarter). Before Derbyshire County Council was formed in 1889, many of the things that we now regard as our functions were carried out by the County Quarter Sessions. The court had a broad and changing range of responsibilities, which touched on many aspects of people's lives.


We hold a very large collection of Quarter Sessions archives (all the associated reference numbers begin with the letter Q). We are grateful to the several volunteers who over the years have helped make these records more accessible by creating indexes and transcripts. These are now available on our catalogue (opens in a new window).

You can use them to find out if someone you are tracking through history was:

  • employed on a barge in the 1790s (Q/RM/3/1)
  • an apprentice in a cotton mill in 1841 (Q/AG)
  • enrolled in the Navy or Army in 1795 or 1797 (Q/AN) or an officer in the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers (Q/AD/31)
  • the subject of an inquest after their death (Q/AF/8)
  • legally classified as a "lunatic" in the early 19th century (Q/AL/13)
  • the proprietor of a business that had its scales tested for accuracy in 1797 (Q/AM/1), or who was convicted of weights and measures offences in 1798 or 1825 (Q/SO)
  • considered suitable for jury service in 1775 (Q/RJ)
  • apprehended as a "vagrant" or subjected to a settlement examination to work out whether they were legally entitled to remain in a parish they had moved to (Q/RV), or a removal order to send them back again (Q/SB/7)
  • a Roman Catholic from 1693-1767 (Q/SB)
  • ordered to pay for the upkeep of illegitimate offspring between 1682 and 1800 (Q/SO)
  • tried by the Local Magistrates between 1792 and 1830 (A/SO) or the Assizes Court between 1834 and 1853 (Q/SP)