The County Quarter Sessions was a court with an administration and judicial functions until the 1888 Local Government Act transferred most of its administrative powers to the County Council. Each sitting was held within 21 days of the Quarter Day (Easter, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Epiphany), with occasional adjustments. The Quarter Sessions dealt with relatively minor criminal offences. It was at the Assize Courts which dealt with more serious crimes, principally those involving the death sentence and their records are held at the National Archives.

Shropshire Quarter Sessions Rolls Index, 1831-1920 provides all the information required to identify a specific document, but the original can only be consulted at Shropshire Archives.

Below is a list of the various types of documents that were consulted to create this index.

Document types

AbbreviationDocument typeDescription
accntsAccountsA few copies of accounts relevant to a particular case, e.g. in QR590.230-231, for Stretton House private asylum.
acqitlAcquittalOnly in QR448.50, confirmation of dismissal of the charge.
admssnAdmissionOnly in QR 437.250 - a formal admission of guilt in response to an indictment.
affdvtAffidavitFormal confirmation: in QR554, of the serving of an order (see below); and in QR558.326, of the reasons for non-attendance as a juror.
agendaAgendaFrom 1891, printed agenda for the Quarter Sessions, often more than one copy.
agrmntAgreementIn QR551.105 only: an agreement to let a farm.
allwncAllowanceOnly in QR642.32, payment for attendance at Quarter Sessions, see also 'witexp'.
aplctnApplicationOnly in QR344.32 and QR663.183, an application for a licence to run a 'lunatic house'.
appdisApprenticeship dischargeOnly in QR368.282-284, papers concerning the discharge of a parish apprentice following maltreatment by his master.
appealAppealPapers concerning a notice of appeal, against conviction, a poor rate assessment, a bastardy or licensing order etc., but also in QR695.39 against a conviction under the Defence of the Realm regulations for failure to cultivate farmland.
apprvlApprovalInquest jury's confirmation that the due process has been observed, signed by the foreman (only in QR448.41).
apptmtAppointmente.g. of Under-sheriff or Coroner.
bstrdyBastardy papersVarious types of associated documents, including recognisance, 'respite' of recognisance, affiliation order, appeal etc.
bthcrtBirth certificateOnly in QR684.16, the original certificate.
canalCanal papersOnly in QR369.15-17, documents concerning an application for a new branch of the Birmingham Canal.
carrgeCarriage ratesFrom QR588 onwards, rates for hire of carriages for military baggage transportation, decided by magistrates according to the current price of hay and oats.
certCertificateIn QR383.76, QR384.298, QR387.12, confirming the appointment of a Commissioner of Stamps and Taxes.
charefCharacter referenceUsually a short note written by e.g. an employer, in support of a defendant (see also 'petitn' and 'tstmnl').
chequeChequeOnly in QR570.156/157.
cnvctnConvictionUsually from Petty Sessions, for minor offences, especially vagrancy, drunkenness, etc., but also including assault, breaches of the licensing laws, damage, trespass, illegal weights and measures, unlicensed hawking, and dangerous driving! May also have been used occasionally for 'prcnvc'.
compltInformation and ComplaintIn the early years, before the formal involvement of the police, the statement of the person making the accusation (can also appear as 'depstn' and 'infmtn').
costsCostsOnly in QR592.153, costs of the case.
coverCover sheetBearing at most only the names of the principals in the accompanying papers, often not included in the index for that reason.
cpybptCopy of baptismOnly in QR 431.104 - the Rector confirming an entry in the parish register.
cuttngPress cuttingOnly in QR449.130 and QR618.159.
declrnDeclarationA sworn statement that a task has been carried out, for example confirmation of delivery of a subpoena.
depletDeposition and letterItem includes both deposition(s) and letter(s).
depstnDepositionSee Examination, but in the early years including 'information and complaint' statements by those bringing a prosecution.
docnotDoctor's noteA short note to explain absence from court, as juror, witness or defendant.
enclsrEnclosure agreementOnly in QR370.449 and QR503.1, an agreement or notice to enclose common land.
envlpeEnvelopeOnly in QR590.120, with an address!
estmteEstimateOnly in QR624.139, a list of property recovered with the value of each item.
evdnceAdditional evidenceOnly in QR683.83, further depositions.
exaletExamination(s) and letter(s)A combination of one or more of each with the same item number.
examnExaminationA formal statement by a witness before a magistrate and in the presence of the accused, varying in length but usually containing information about residence and trade and interesting anecdotal details about the case (accompanied elsewhere in the box by recognizances and a presentment for the same case).
exhbtsExhibitsList of exhibits in case.
exhletExhibits and letter(s)Multiple documents with same number.
expnssExpensesA small number of documents relating to expenses claims, including in QR374.455, repayment of expenses incurred in bringing a prosecution, and in QR540.112, Coroner's expenses and salary due.
finesFinesIn QR581.87, QR588.118-119, QR598.140 and QR625.119, a certificate of non-attendance and fine on a juror, and in QR653.123 a list of fines
frfrcgForfeited recognisanceSometimes but not always denoted separately in this way, but see 'recognisance'.
hbtcmlHabitual criminalIn QR510.200/201 under the Habitual Criminals Act of 1869, and in QR521.225/226 under the Prevention of Crimes Act of 1871: a notice that evidence of a previous conviction will be given and that the goods in question will be assumed to be stolen unless proved otherwise.
hwyHighwayVarious papers concerning the building or re-routing of a local road, footway etc., usually with quite specific details about the proposed line, and often a map. May include notices and minutes of vestry meetings on the matter.
indictIndictmentPapers concerning a charge or charges, not falling into other categories, including in QR326.242 a charge of refusing to serve as a special constable.
infmtnInformation and ComplaintSee 'cmplnt'.
inqdisInquest 'dissatisfaction'Only in QR572.112, a petition by jurors requesting the attendance of the doctor to supply additional evidence.
inqexpInquest expensesA certificate confirming receipt of expenses for time lost and travel for witnesses, but also usually including a police constable (for escorting the Coroner to the place of inquest), a surgeon or other 'medical man' (for carrying out the post-mortem) and the innkeeper or householder for the use of the room, mainly in a series from 1875-89, but also similarly in QR359.309.
inqstnInquisitionA standard record, with a brief description of the circumstances of death and a date. For those listed as 'juror' in the index, there will be at most a signature, and often simply a 'mark'. Juror signatures are often almost illegible and for that reason individual names may be wrongly transcribed or omitted. In many cases, especially in the early years, these names were not transcribed at all.
inqsumInquest summonsOnly in QR543.122, instructions to assemble 15 'able and sufficient' men to act as a jury, with a list of jurors and witnesses overleaf.
inqttrTreasure troveOnly in QR641.69 and QR655.60, a treasure trove inquest.
jrysumInquest jury summonsA formal note requesting attendance as a juror, occasionally annotated with reasons for absence, e.g. 'dead', or sometimes accompanied by a letter of excuse not separately numbered.
judgmtJudgementIn QR554.409 & 412, judgement on a debt owed under the Employers and Workmen Act 1875.
letcalLetter and calendar of prisonersOnly in QR684.56, letter attached to the printed calendar.
letterLetterUsually a character reference of some kind, but also e.g. a doctor's note, a request to be excused jury service, or in QR592.173 comment on Petty Sessions re-organisation proposals, accompanying a petition.
licnceLicence applicationAn application for a licence to operate a slaughterhouse or for the sale of alcohol.
listListUsually a list of names with no other information. Also, in QR558.330, a list of recognizances; in QR589.127, a list of goods stolen; in QR617.201-202, lists of Diocesan assessors, not recorded; in QR630.79, a list of licensed houses near the Bricklayers Arms in Barker Street, Shrewsbury, in connection with a licensing application.
listfmList of FreemasonsList of members of a local Lodge, not usually containing any other information than is in the index.
listjpList of magistratesOften a sheet for magistrates to sign up for duty, otherwise e.g. licensing committee or prison visitors, not necessarily transcribed and not containing any additional information.
listodList of OddfellowsAs List of Freemasons.
listppList of paupersBrief details of people involved in cases involving the care of paupers, not just the paupers themselves; often an appeal against the imposition of responsibility for them.
listprList of prisonersUsually the 'black list' of those "who have been in custody before", probably including details about the date and nature of the previous offence and the sentence given. Also includes printed 'calendars' of prisoners, containing much the same information, often in multiple copies.
locgovLocal governmentIn QR586.154, documents regarding the parish of Shelve, and in QR592 formal papers concerning the re-organisation of Petty Sessions Divisions, sometimes treated as 'no indexable information' and not included in the index, but may have letters or petitions associated.
lstgovList of GovernorsOnly in QR612.162, a list of Governors of Whitchurch Grammar School.
mapMapAssociated with highway documents, sometimes containing names as included in the index.
mntsMinutesCouncil minutes re highway matters, only in QR702(.55/80/83).
noteNoteA brief note, referring to the attached documents or perhaps to an item in another box.
notebkNotebookContaining, in QR565.320, only a letter in the form of a good character reference, and in QR566.383, sundry notes and doodles.
notesNotesIn QR449.130, very full details of prisoners, including personal appearance, to aid in identification; in QR457.378-381 and 384-385, rough notes apparently for writing a Committee report, omitted from the index.
noticeNoticeA formal notice of some kind, e.g. calling a vestry meeting in connection with a highways matter; also: in QR584.40, a public notice calling for an arrest; in QR601.145, to receive prisoner on discharge; in QR660.32 and 101, a 'habitual criminal' notice under the Prevention of Crime Act 1908, including details of previous convictions.
oathOathUsually one of three: an oath of allegiance upon taking up appointment as a magistrate; or sworn confirmation of ownership of property as a qualification to serve; or the oath of Sheriff or Under-sheriff to carry out duties in due manner, but occasionally used instead of 'affdvt' or 'declrn'.
offclsCourt officialsThe standard list of Coroners, Chief Constables, Bailiffs or Police superintendents and Grand and Petty Jury members for each quarter. Usually there is no more detail than appears in the index, but occasionally there are annotations, e.g. 'ill', 'deceased'. Also used for occasional separate Petty Jury lists.
orderOrderOf various kinds: in QR480.2/3: for the Clerk of the Peace to make a report relating to Norton in Hales tithes; in QR537.123, rescinding a contract of apprenticeship; in QR554, to repair houses to be fit for human habitation under the Public Health Act 1875; and in QR565.214, for the abatement of a nuisance; in QR599.203, removal order; and QR604.124-5, maintenance order; in QR628A.138 and QR639.49, two Poor Law orders, and others requiring, in QR632.183-201, payments by Lilleshall Company Ltd; in QR637.23, appearance at Quarter Sessions; and in QR639.31, committal of a juvenile to workhouse and reformatory; in QR700.73, a bastardy order, but otherwise in QR702 in connection with highway matters.
petitnPetitionIn QR 439.195-196, a formal petition to Parliament concerning the cost of supporting the militia; in QR455.149, a petition to the Court on behalf of a fellow resident of Shifnal; in QR474.218: a petition to the Court on behalf of a fellow resident of Ludlow; in QR592.156, concerning re-organisation of Petty Sessions Divisions; in QR590.240 in support of a licence application.
photoPhotographOnly in QR605.183, of the White Horse Inn in Frankwell.
planPlanUsually associated with highway papers, but in QR592.166, of the Brown Lion Inn in Oakengates.
plrprtPolice reportOnly in QR656.88, on the accused.
poorrtPoor rateOnly in QR529.408-411, poor rate awards.
prbrptProbation reportBeginning in QR698, very detailed information on the individuals concerned.
prchsePurchaseIn (a) QR455.144 and (b) QR461.255/256, the decision of a jury specially convened to decide a 'compulsory purchase' price for land required by (a) the Wolverhampton New Water Works Company and (b) the London and North Western Railway Company. (a) also includes the warrant requiring the jury to be summoned.
prcnvcPrevious convictionConfirmation of conviction and sentence at a previous Quarter Sessions, sometimes in another county, or at a Petty Sessions in Shropshire.
precptPreceptThe magistrates calling upon the Sheriff to ensure that jurors, prisoners and witnesses are all present at the forthcoming Quarter Sessions - no personal information and not always indexed.
prstmtPresentmentThe indictment as considered by the Grand Jury. It should be endorsed "True bill" or "No true bill" according to whether or not it was passed on to the Petty Jury for a full hearing. If not, then the charge may be crossed through, otherwise plea, verdict and sentence are usually added at the top. On the reverse should be a list of witnesses which was less detailed and not always transcribed in the early years (see also Examination).
ptysssPetty SessionsOnly in QR659.32, notice of petty sessions and a list of cases.
rcptbkReceipt bookOnly in QR658.148 - self-explanatory.
recognRecognizanceMost frequently, a bond entered into by plaintiffs and witnesses, including police officers, to be present at court in order to give evidence in the case (see also Examination) - also includes forfeiture certificates; bastardy recognizances, and occasionally a bond to keep the peace or not to re-offend.
refrncReferenceAs Character reference above.
remnetRemanetOnly in QR645.63 and QR658.166 - confirmation of the length of sentence remaining to be served.
reportReportGenerally the Chief Constable's report including statistics on the cases brought to Quarter Sessions; also Prison Visitors or Licensing Committee or Vestry meeting reports and in QR474.222 and QR481.141: a police report on a particular case, therefore very similar to Examination.
repprnReport on prisonerDetailed and very useful (typed!) report on the prisoner's family background and circumstances.
resignResignationOnly in QR536.204, the resignation of a Coroner.
returnReturnIn QR463.266, a printed return by the Overseer of men qualified to serve on juries through receipt of the poor rate; and in QR568.105, Coroners' claims for number of inquests held and mileage; also includes papers on coroners' appointments.
rgdfbkRegimental Defectors BookOnly in QR 428.196, an extract with remarkable details of the accused's previous misdemeanours!
rmvordRemoval orderOnly in QR360.307, containing details of the family concerned.
schdleScheduleOnly in QR480.1: "... schedule of all messuages, tenements, gardens, orchards, old inclosures and new allotments ... with the corn rents equivalent to the tithes and payments ..."
schemeScheme of administrationFor Whitchurch Grammar School, QR631.62 and QR635.34.
smmnsSummonsOnly in QR419.140-152, for weights and measures offences.
statmtPrisoner's statementUsually brief! Often part of same set of documents as witness statements and classified with them as 'depstn' or 'examn'.
tableTableOnly in QR599.264, a table showing where 'the pauper' resided and worked between 1888 and 1894.
telgrmTelegramAn original telegram, including in QR624.(140), not actually listed, PC Insley from Wolverhampton to the Clerk of the Peace in Shrewsbury - missed his train, will be late to give evidence!
tithesTithe apportionmentsIn QR613.171, papers re 're-commutation' of Norton in Hales tithes, but N.B. in QR616.145, a detailed list of owners and tenants in Norton.
tstmnlTestimonialAs Character reference above.
txasmtTax assessmentOnly in QR352.11.
vrdctsVerdictsIn QR340.5, simply a list of verdicts, and in QR658.167 - informal notes on verdicts.
warrntArrest warrantNotice directing Constables to arrest accused.
witexpWitness expensesOnly in QR686 and QR701, attendance allowances for witnesses in a case other than an inquest.
writWritAs Precept, but may also be used for oath of allegiance and once, in QR597.184, notice to appear at Quarter Sessions.