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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/0578
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1722
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.01 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Middlesex Quarter Sessions of the Peace


Administrative/Biographical history:

A "recognizance" was a bond or obligation by which a person undertook before a court or magistrate to perform some act or observe some condition, in this case to appear at the next quarter sessions. A sum of money was usually paid if the conditions of the recognizance were not met.

The Commission of the Peace gave Justices of the Peace 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.

The cases which the justices originally dealt with were offences which could not be dealt with by the manorial court (i.e. misdemeanours), but which were less serious than those which went to the Assize Judges (i.e. felonies). Misdemeanours included breaches of the peace - assault, rioting, defamation, minor theft, vagrancy, lewd and disorderly behaviour, and offences against the licensing laws. In 1388 a statute laid down that the court sessions should meet four times a year (hence the name 'Quarter Sessions'): Epiphany, Easter, Trinity (midsummer) and Michaelmas (autumn) - two or more justices (one at least from the quorum) were to decide exactly where and when.

The judicial process began even before the sessions opened with examinations being taken by the magistrates once the crime had been reported by the constable, the injured party or a common informant. The accused could then be bailed to keep the peace or to appear at the next sessions, be remanded in gaol before a trial, or acquitted. Once the sessions had opened there was still an examination by a Grand Jury as to whether there was a case to answer, before the trial proper could get underway.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records relating to the Middlesex Quarter Sessions of the Peace, comprising a recognizance to appear at the next session, 1722.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

One document.

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:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Gifted to the Archive in September 1955.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For further records of the Middlesex Quarter Sessions see MJ.

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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