Reference code(s): GB 0214 Q
Held at: Glamorgan Archives
Title: Glamorgan Court of Quarter Sessions
Short Title: Glamorgan Court of Quarter Sessions
Creation date(s): 1719-1971
Level of description: Fonds
Extent: 700 volumes, 1,550 rolls, 450 papers and parchments, 51 boxes, 1,110 plans
Name of creator(s): Great Britain. Courts of Quarter Sessions (Glamorgan)
Administrative/Biographical history: Courts of Quarter Sessions were introduced in Wales following the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543, and took their name from the fact that they met at quarterly intervals throughout the year. Until the establishment of county and district councils in 1888 and 1894, they were responsible for both judicial matters and the civil administration of the county. The earliest document surviving among the records of the Glamorgan Quarter Sessions dates from 1719 (this is typical for the counties of Wales). At this time, the court met twice a year in Cardiff, once in Cowbridge and once in Neath. Wherever it met, it could deal with business relating to any part of the county. In 1776, Swansea took over one of the Cardiff sessions, with the result that the court moved westward through the year: Epiphany Sessions - Cardiff; Easter Sessions - Cowbridge; Midsummer Sessions - Neath; Michaelmas Sessions - Swansea. In 1850, Cowbridge and Neath were dropped, and the sessions alternated between Cardiff and Swansea. At the same date, committee meetings of the court were moved from the Pyle Inn to Bridgend. The principal administrative responsibilities of Quarter Sessions were: bridges (some bridges were nominated county bridges, and Quarter Sessions was responsible for the upkeep); prisons (until responsibility was transferred to the Home Office in 1878); asylum; police (after the Rural Police Act, 1839; it was adopted in Glamorgan in 1841); registration and licensing (alehouses, friendly societies, dissenting meeting houses, printing presses); registration of electors; and the deposit of plans of public undertakings. From 1793, oversight of the upkeep of highways by parishes; to hear appeals under the Poor Laws; and the levying of rates to finance the court. Most of the administrative functions of the Quarter Sessions were taken over by the Glamorgan County Council on its establishment in 1889. The judicial work continued until 1971, when the court was abolished and replaced by the Crown Courts and the Magistrates' Courts. The Clerk of the Peace was the principal officer responsible for the records of the Quarter Sessions and the Lieutenancy. The Clerk of the Peace became in addition Clerk of the County Council in 1889. The two offices were always held in tandem until 1971, and the Clerk thus had responsibility for the records of the two bodies which inherited respectively the judicial and administrative functions of the pre-1889 court.
Scope and content/abstract: Records of the Glamorgan Court of Quarter Sessions, 1719-1971, including judicial records (Court in Session), minute books and session rolls; and administrative records, including deposited plans, Land Tax Assessments and Registers of Electors, financial records, and miscellaneous papers of the Clerk of the Peace.
Language/scripts of material: Latin, English
System of arrangement: Arranged by type and date. The records have been classified as follows: Administration; Clerk of the Peace; Deposits, registration and enrolment; Constabulary; Finance/Treasurer; Gaols; Lunatic asylums; Plans; and Courts in Session.
Conditions governing access: Uncatalogued material may not be made available for inspection.
Conditions governing reproduction: Normal Glamorgan Record Office conditions apply.
Finding aids: The following lists and indices and available at the Glamorgan Record Office: Handlist; Handlist of deposited plans; Minute books - Subject index to Volumes 1-12, Index of printing presses, Index of dissenting meeting houses and ministers, Index of highways and bridges; Sessions rolls - Index, 1724-1734, 1760; and Calendar, 1758-1761, 1765-1773.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained.
Accruals: Accruals are not expected.
Immediate source of acquisition: Quarter Sessions records were transferred by the Clerk of the Peace on various occasions.
Related material: Further material in the Glamorgan Record Office is DART; DXEO; CLMS; and CLWDS. Related units of description in the National Library of Wales, Swansea & Llangevelach (Llangyfelach) hundreds sessions of the peace, minutes book, 1677-1678.
Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds.
Archivist's note: Compiled by Hayden Burns for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Glamorgan Record Office, Catalogue of records for the Glamorgan Quarter Sessions; Riden, Philip, Records Sources for Local History, (London, 1987); Moir, Esther, The Justices of the Peace, (Harmondsworth, 1979).
Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.
Date(s) of descriptions: October 2003