There are many different types of record found in Quarter Sessions and accordingly the exact nature of information shown for each individual depends upon the nature of their involvement. You should expect to see as a minimum the following:
• Quarter session
• Type of document
• Archive reference
The County Quarter Sessions was a court with administrative and judicial functions until the 1888 Local Government Act transferred most of its administrative powers to the County Council. Each sitting was held within 21 days of the Quarter Day (Easter, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Epiphany), with occasional adjustments. A wide variety of administrative record types are included, such as appointments, bastardy papers, inquests, oaths of allegiance and petitions, as well as the whole panoply of records surrounding criminal cases. The Shropshire Quarter Sessions Rolls Index 1831-1920 provides all the information required to identify a specific record within this time period, but the original document can only be consulted at Shropshire Archives.
Note that the Quarter Sessions dealt with relatively minor criminal offences. The Assize Courts dealt with more serious crimes, principally capital crimes (those potentially involving the death sentence). Assize records are held at The National Archives in Kew. Our collection of criminal justice records from TNA can be accessed via the useful links on the right-hand menu.