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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4198
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1892-1894
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.5 linear metres
Name of creator(s): London (South) Quarter Sessions


Administrative/Biographical history:

The origins of the Justices of the Peace lie in the temporary appointments of 'conservators' or 'keepers' of the peace made at various times of unrest between the late twelfth century and the fourteenth century. In 1361 the 'Custodis Pacis' were merged with the Justices of Labourers, and given the title Justices of the Peace and a commission.

The Commission (of the Peace) gave them the power to try offences in their courts of Quarter Sessions, appointed them to conserve the peace within a stated area, and to enquire on the oaths of "good and lawfull men" into "all manner of poisonings, enchantments, forestallings, disturbances, abuses of weights and measures" and many other things, and to "chastise and punish" anyone who had offended against laws made in order to keep the peace.

During the sixteenth century the work of the Quarter Sessions and the justices was extended to include administrative functions for the counties. These were wide ranging and included maintenance of structures such as bridges, gaols and asylums; regulating weights, measures, prices and wages, and, probably one of their biggest tasks, enforcing the Poor Law.

The bulk of the administrative work was carried out on one specific day during the court's sitting known as the County Day. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was clear that the Quarter Sessions' structure was unable to cope with the administrative demands on it, and it lost a lot of functions to bodies set up specifically to deal with particular areas - the most important of these was the Poor Law, reformed in 1834.

Until the seventeenth century the Middlesex court met in the Castle Inn near Smithfield, which was replaced in 1612 by a new sessions house built in Saint John's Street, at the expense of a leading justice, Sir Baptist Hicks. Essentially only a wooden building, Hicks Hall, as it was known, was demolished in 1782, a new sessions house having been built on Clerkenwell Green in 1779, and also known as Hicks Hall. In 1889 following the reduction in size of the County of Middlesex, the sessions moved to the Westminster Guildhall in Broad Sanctuary. When this building proved too small for the amount of work carried out there, a new Middlesex Guildhall was built next to it and opened in 1913. The new County of London sessions continued to meet on Clerkenwell Green until 1919 when they moved to the former Surrey sessions house on Newington Causeway.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London (South) Quarter Sessions, 1892-1894, comprising applications for changes to status of highways in South London, originally filed with Newington Sessions House.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged in one series: LMA/4198/001: Highway proceedings plans and newspapers.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Formerly held by Surrey Record Office.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited as a gift in April 1998.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Surrey Record Office hold other records for Newington Sessions House.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
November 2009 to February 2010

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