This image is of some Berkshire Quarter Sessions volumes on a shelf in one of the strongrooms at the Berkshire Record Office. The court of Quarter Sessions met quarterly at Epiphany (January), Easter (April), Midsummer (June) and Michaelmas (September) each year. The court presided over the county of Berkshire, but some boroughs had their own separate sessions. It consisted of Justices of the Peace who were local men, often appointed from the gentry or the church. From the nineteenth century, paid judges were commonly used.
The court dealt with minor offences against the person (for example assaults) and most thefts, but were not permitted to deal with offences carrying the death penalty or life imprisonment – such cases would have been held at the Assize court. The Assize court records are held at the National Archives and you can find out more about them on their website.
The Quarter Sessions also dealt with administrative aspects such as maintaining highways and bridges. If you would like to find out more about what Quarter Sessions records we hold, please see our online catalogue.
We have turned the image of the volumes into an online jigsaw via Jigsaw Explorer which you can have a go at making. Simply click on this link and have some fun!