Gwynedd Archives: Caernarfon Record Office

Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions Records

Reference code(s): GB 0219 XQS

Held at:

Title: Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions Records

Short title: Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions, records

Dates of creation: 1541-1901

Level of description: Fonds

Extent and medium: Information to be supplied

Name of creator(s): Caernarfonshire Court of Quarter Sessions


Administrative and biographical history: The Court of Quarter Sessions in Caernarfonshire sat four times a year, attended by the Justices of the Peace of the county. Quarter sessions courts began in Wales after the Acts of Union, 1536-1543. The Quarter Sessions played a major role in the local administration of Caernarfonshire until the late nineteenth century, when many of its administrative functions were transferred to the County Council. However, the judicial role of the Courts continued until their abolition in 1971. The Court of Quarter Sessions heard a broad range of cases including burglary, assault, drunkenness, poaching, vagrancy, rioting, unlawful cutting of timber, and encroachment. Forms of punishment handed down by the justices were fines, flogging, imprisonment and transportation. The Court also heard disputes between individuals, such as non-payment of debts, and was responsible for the administration of the Poor Laws. There were numerous administrative matters overseen by the courts, including licensing alehouses, determining wage-levels, and controlling registration of charities and nonconformist meeting houses. In addition, the Court had responsibility for overseeing the upkeep of bridges, gaols and houses of correction.


Scope and content: Records, 1541-1901, of the Caernarfonshire Court of Quarter Sessions, consisting mainly of administrative records, 1546-1901, including writs, 1546-1901; nomina ministrorum, 1546-1869; jury records, [c. 1547]-1901; constables' records, [c. 1571]-1851; coroners' records, 1784-1870; treasurers' records, [1816]-1869; surveyors' records, [1816]-1870; accounts, 1640-1870; sacrament certificates, 1674-1826; records relating to the appointment of Justices of the Peace, 1746-1901; memoranda, 1655-1844; licensing records, 1557-1816; records relating to criminal and civil cases, 1541-1901, including letters, 1550-1901; presentments, 1548-1901; recognizances and records, 1543-1901; indictments, 1541-1845; warrants, 1550-1861; examinations, 1616-1851; bills, 1759-1901; notices of appeal, 1784-1900; orders, 1572-1861; depositions, 1588-1901; conviction records, 1812-1900; motions, 1805-1850; petitions, [c. 1547]-1861; summonses, 1566-1900; notices, 1755-1900; marriage certificates, 1654-1657; records relating to prisoners in the county gaol, 1565-1901; deeds and related documents, 1699-1850; records relating to the maintenance of bridges and roads, 1660-1870; corn return certificates, 1776-1818; volunteers' certificates and related records, 1795-1804; and dissenters' meeting house certificates, 1795-1800.


Language/script: English, Latin

Physical characteristics and technical requirements: Some records are torn and faded

System of arrangement: Arranged by year and session

Conditions governing access: No restrictions

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: Hard copies of the catalogues are available in Caernarfon Record Office and the National Library of Wales. A number of the catalogues are available online.
Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records deposited at Caernarfon Record Office have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history: The records have been removed from their original rolls and some disturbance has taken place.


Related units of description: Related records are Caernarfon Record Office, Licensing records, XQA/L and County Gaol records, XQA/G


Publication note: The earliest Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions records were detailed in Williams, W. Ogwen, Calendar of the Caernarvonshire Quarter Sessions Records, Volume I, 1541-1558, (Caernarfon, 1956).

Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds

Archivist's note: Compiled by Richard Burman for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Caernarfon Record Office, Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions records, catalogues; Jones, Gareth Elwyn, Modern Wales: A Concise History, c. 1485-1979 (Cambridge, 1984).

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH

Date(s) of description: September 2004



Court records | Wales | Gwynedd

Criminal courts | Wales | Gwynedd

Great Britain. | Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace | (Caernarfonshire) | Archives

Local government | Wales | Gwynedd

Prisons | Wales | Caernarfon

Personal names

Corporate names

Great Britain | Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Caernarfonshire)