Caernarfonshire Quarter Sessions Records

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.

Administrative / 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.


Arranged by year and session

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions


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).

Other 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.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Appraisal Information

All records deposited at Caernarfon Record Office have been retained.

Custodial History

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


Accruals are not expected

Related Material

Related records are Caernarfon Record Office, Licensing records, XQA/L and County Gaol records, XQA/G


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).

Geographical Names