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Council Services:

The Courts

What records do we hold?

Nine Lincolnshire courts are known to have sent transported convicts to Australia, Bermuda and Gibraltar. They can be divided up into three main sections: the assize court, the three county Quarter Sessions courts, and five City and Borough Quarter Sessions courts.

The Lincoln or Lincolnshire assize court

Each county in England and Wales held assize courts at least twice a year. Criminal and civil cases were referred upwards from the Quarter Sessions courts to the assizes, and were heard by royal justices. Most of the Lincoln assizes took place in March and July. An additional session, often in December, could be arranged if large numbers of convicts were to be tried.

The majority of assize court records for Lincolnshire after 1818 are held at the Public Record Office in London (see external link below).  Most records before that date no longer exist. Lincolnshire Archives do have copies of calendars of prisoners (lists of the prisoners to be tried at that court with details of their alleged crimes, and sometimes their ages) for some assize sessions. Some information about the trials can also be found in local newspapers such as the Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury.

The county Quarter Sessions courts

As the name suggests, Quarter Sessions courts were held four times a year at Epiphany (usually January), Easter (usually April), Midsummer (usually June or July), and Michaelmas (usually September or October). Lincolnshire was divided into three different parts: Holland, Kesteven and Lindsey, and each part had its own Quarter Sessions court.

Lincolnshire Archives has a variety of records that relate to these three courts, and which date from the 17th century. The most relevant for transported convicts are the minute books and loose trial documents. The trial documents can include statements by the prosecutor, witnesses and prisoners, recognisance's for the appearance of witnesses, costs of the trial, calendars of prisoners and jury lists, etc. However the type and amount of surviving documents will vary according to the convict.

City and Borough Quarter Sessions courts

Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Louth and Stamford each held Quarter Sessions courts that served their own city or borough.

Lincolnshire Archives only hold a significant series of records for the Boston Borough and Lincoln City Quarter Sessions courts for the dates that this database covers. However there are some gaps in the Lincoln City records. Stamford Town Council holds a draft minute book dating from 1818 to 1824 for the Stamford Borough Sessions, but no records are known to exist for the courts at Louth or Grantham during this period.

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Last updated: 1 November 2011

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