Quarter Sessions: Minute Books, 1667-1948
RECORD GROUP: Clerk of the CourtHISTORY:
RECORD SERIES #: 3000.1
SERIES: Quarter Sessions: Minute Books
VOLUME: 84 volumes
Forms part of the repository's County Clerk's Office subgroup. New Jersey state courts of sessions established in Monmouth and 3 other counties in 1682; held quarterly, chiefly dealing in criminal cases; also known as Court of General Quarter Sessions. Minute books, including "scratch minutes" which overlap with the official minute books and minutes for the Court of Oyer and Terminer and Juvenile Court. Entries generally include the plea of the defendant, record of trial if held, including verdict and, if guilty, sentence, and amount of bail. Minutes before 1856 were recorded in the Court of Common Pleas minute books. Gaps exist in the records, the largest of which is 1745-1768.
Transferred to the repository by Jane G. Clayton, Monmouth County Clerk. Finding aid in the repository.
||New Jersey. Court of Oyer and Terminer (Monmouth County|
||New Jersey. Juvenile Court (Monmouth County|
||Monmouth County (N.J.). County Clerk|
||County Courts--New Jersey|
||New Jersey. Court of Sessions (Monmouth County courts--New Jersey|
|GENRE OR FORM:
||Court records--New Jersey--Monmouth County|
Quarter Sessions Court: Minutes
||County Clerk's Office|
||Quarter Sessions Court: Minutes|
||1667-1948 (with gaps)|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SCOPE AND CONTENT
I. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
The Court of General Quarter Sessions (hereafter Sessions) was established in New Jersey in 1675 and redefined as a county court in 1682. The word "Quarter" in its name stems from the practice of holding the court four times each year in each county. Until 1869, the court consisted of three justices of the peace, after which time there were a series of changes too complex to discuss here.
The primary function of the Sessions Court was to deal with criminal cases, at a higher level than the Court of Small Causes, which was presided over by one justice of the peace, and at a lower level than the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which was presided over by a Supreme Court Justice and one or more other judges. However, except for the most serious crimes, most felonies could be tried in either Oyer or Sessions. It was not unusual for individuals to be arraigned in one court (usually Oyer) and tried in the other.
As a consequence of the 1947 New Jersey Constitution, Sessions was officially abolished in 1948.
II. SCOPE AND CONTENT
These volumes consist of the minutes for the Court of General Quarter Sessions from 1667 to 1948, with gaps in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the volumes are labeled "Scratch Minutes" and overlap with the official minute books. Minutes for the Court of Oyer and Terminer and for Juvenile Court are included in some volumes. Available minutes for the years 1735 to 1852 were recorded in the Common Pleas minute books.
Typical entries in the minute books will include the plea of the defendant and, if the defendant pleaded not guilty, a record of the trial. The trial record includes the names of the jury, the witnesses, and the attorneys. Testimony of witnesses is not recorded. If the defendant is found guilty, the minutes include a record of the sentence. Records of recognizances issued (bail) are also recorded.
The minute books were written chronologically and do not contain any indexes. Indexes to the books are planned; check with Archives staff for availability.
Although the minute books are an important court record, researchers should use them in conjunction with other archival records. For many cases, the archives also holds complaints, warrants, indictments, grand jury lists, recognizances, and other loose papers which provide more information. In addition, as previously mentioned, some criminal cases involved more than one court, and researchers may need to consult Oyer and Terminer and/or Small Causes records.
- Clerk of the Court Records
- Chancery Court, 1792-1925
- Circuit Court: In Equity, 1851-1902
- Circuit Court: Loose Papers, 1798-1935
- Common Pleas: Loose Papers, 1721-1949
- County Court: Civil, 1948-1983
- County Court: Criminal Appeals, 1947-1979
- District Court: Judgment Books, 1913-1961
- District Court: Small Claims, 1980-1982
- District Court: Special Civil, 1976-1979
- Justice of the Peace: Docket Books, 1856-1949
- Justice of the Peace: Joseph H. Schooley, 1922-1949
- Oyer & Terminer: Books, 1856-1948
- Superior Court: Municipal Appeals, 1979-1996
- Superior Court: Recognizor Registers, 1922-1986
Page Last Updated: 8/18/2015 2:50:00 PM