Quarter session courts
The quarter session court dealt with less serious crimes than assize courts. It usually met four times a year. Use the criminal registers for England and Wales 1791 to 1892 (National Archives) first to see if it contains the information you need.
Records we hold with a reference (starting with GB) can be viewed in our Central Library search room, please make an appointment (with at least one day notice).
- Lancashire Quarter Sessions (Salford Hundred) - those areas of Greater Manchester which were traditionally part of Lancashire and did not have their own quarter session court would have been under the jurisdiction of the Lancashire Quarter Sessions (Salford Hundred). For example before 1839 Manchester cases were tried at the Lancashire Quarter Sessions (Salford Hundred). The Quarter Sessions records for Lancashire are held at the Lancashire Record Office.
We also hold some calendars of prisoners tried at the Quarter Sessions of the County of Lancaster (Hundred of Salford), 1821 to 1840 (ref GB127.L27) at Central Library.
Those areas of Greater Manchester which were traditionally part of Cheshire would have been under the jurisdiction of the Cheshire Quarter Sessions. The records of this court are held by Cheshire Record Office.
- Borough or City of Manchester Quarter Sessions - The Borough of Manchester was granted its own Court of Quarter Sessions on 1 April 1839. The Manchester Quarter Sessions area of jurisdiction was the Borough or City of Manchester. We hold records of the Borough or City of Manchester Quarter Sessions Court (ref GB127.M116). The Quarter Sessions files 1839 to 1954 (ref GB127.M116/2/4/1-662) consist of mainly indictments, but also include some minutes, calendars of prisoners, previous convictions, costs, legal aid certificates, jury lists, coroners' lists and expenses and orders relating to roads. The names of prisoners in these files for 1839 to March 1911 have been indexed. This index is available on our archives catalogue (type 'GB127.M116/2/4*' in the 'identifier' field and the surname you are researching in the 'any text' field. We also hold printed calendars of prisoners 1851 to 1852, 1882 to 1884, and 1903 to 1956 (ref GB127.M116/2/3)
- Borough or City of Salford Quarter Sessions (granted 1890) - we hold records 1890 to 1971 (incomplete, ref GB124.A.SQS, restricted access)
- Borough of Bolton Quarter Sessions (granted 1838) - records are held by Bolton Archives
- Borough of Wigan (granted 1886) - records are held by Wigan Archives, and
- Borough of Oldham - we hold cases and files 1939 to 1971, calendars of prisoners 1940 to 1972 (ref GB124.A14, restricted access).