Quarter Sessions: Clerk of the Peace

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

The following source list was originally available only on paper in one of the West Yorkshire Archive Service offices. It may have been compiled many years ago and could be out of date. It was designed to act as a signpost to records of interest on a particular historical subject, but may relate only to one West Yorkshire district, or be an incomplete list of sources available. Please feel free to add or update with any additional information.


The Clerk of the Peace was the chief officer of the quarter sessions, most of whose duties were performed by his deputy. A list of clerks and deputy clerks of the West Riding can be found in Sir E Stephens 'The Clerks of the Counties 1360-1960' (published 1961).

The only notable groups of administrative records to pre-date the nineteenth century are those concerning county bridges and elections for the registrar of deeds. Most of the administrative responsibilities of the quarter sessions are represented in the records of the deputy clerk, and the most significant group is the sessions papers. Conveyancing and legal business which arose from the non-judicial functions of the court were the province of the solicitor. The proceedure of nominating justices made up the majority of the content of twentieth century records of the Clerk, in contrast to the nineteenth century collection of correspondence and petitions of selecting magistrates. Other twentieth century records relate to the activities of the finance and general purposes committee, the licensing and the magistrates' courts committees, as well as a small group concerned with administrative affairs for the last thirty years of the quarter sessions.


Further information about the content of the Clerk of the Peace collection can be found on the WYAS catalogue:


  • Bridges (ref. QD1/460-509) 1686-1776


Additional information about many of these functions can also be found in the quarter session Committees records. For records enrolled by the clerk of the peace see Enrolment, Registration and Deposit.