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Petty sessions

Below is a summary of the main series of records to be found in petty sessions, which are prefixed PS.

In April 1975, the number of Norfolk petty sessional divisions was reduced to 13.

Each petty sessions court created very similar records, but the records were often called different names. This differentiation has often been retained in the lists, which can cause confusion - the notes below provide some brief explanations. 

Please be aware that records are closed to public inspection for 30 to 75 years.

The divisions

  • Norwich (held at Norwich) (PS 1)
  • South Erpingham (held at Aylsham) (PS 2)
  • Eynsford (held at Reepham) (PS 3)
  • King's Lynn (held at King's Lynn) (PS 4)
  • Freebridge Lynn (held at Grimston) (PS 5)
  • Freebridge Marshland (held at Terrington St Clement) (PS 6)
  • Clackclose (held at Downham Market) (PS 7)
  • Blofield and Walsham (held at Blofield) (PS 8)
  • Taverham (held at Norwich) (PS 9)
  • Swainsthorpe (held at Swainsthorpe) (PS 10)
  • Tunstead and Happing (held at North Walsham) (PS 11)
  • Mitford and Launditch (held at East Dereham) (PS 12)
  • Smithdon and Brothercross (held at Docking and Hunstanton) (PS 13)
  • Thetford and Grimshoe (held at Thetford and Methwold. (PS 14 see also PS 29)
  • Wayland (held at Watton) (PS 15 see also PS 29)
  • Diss (held at Diss) (PS 16 see also PS 29)
  • East and West Flegg (held at Ormesby St Margaret and Great Yarmouth) (PS 17)
  • Great Yarmouth (held at Great Yarmouth) (PS 18)
  • South Greenhoe (held at Swaffham) (PS 19 see also PS 29)
  • Guiltcross and Shropham (held at East Harling and Attleborough) (PS 20 see also PS 29)
  • Earsham (held at Harleston) (PS 21)
  • Loddon and Clavering (held at Loddon) (PS 22)
  • Depwade (held at Long Stratton) (PS 23)
  • North Erpingham (held at Cromer) (PS 24)
  • Forehoe (held at Wymondham) (PS 25 see also PS 29)
  • Gallow (held at Fakenham) (PS 26)
  • North Greenhoe (held at Walsingham) (PS 27)
  • Holt (held at Holt) (PS 28)
  • Thetford and Grimshoe, Guiltcross and Shropham, Wayland, Diss and South Greenhoe (held at East Dereham, Diss, Swaffham, Thetford and Wymondham.) (PS 29)
  • Thetford Group of Petty Sessional Divisions (later known as Central Norfolk and South Norfolk Petty Sessional Divisions) (PS 30)

Registers of the court

These give the definitive court record of cases heard and of the magistrates' judgments, but provide the bare minimum of information. For more details see evidence books.

  • Up to 1878 to 1915, registers appear to have survived for borough petty sessions but not for any county petty sessions
  • From 1915 to 1932, all county petty sessions courts used standardised volumes with printed headings labelled 'register of the court'
  • From 1932 to 1967, new standard registers entitled 'court register and fines and fees accounts' were used
  • From 1968, a new format called register of the court was used
  • From the mid-1980s, a computer print-out register was introduced

Rough minute books A or hearing books

These were in effect draft registers. 

  • The standard rough minute books A were used in county petty sessions courts from 1878-94  
  • From 1894-1915, these registers were called hearing books, but retained the same size and format

Minute books B or fines and fees account books

These give a financial record of the court, including details of fines levied and collected and fees of officials, in addition to judgments of the court.

  • The standard minute books B were used in county petty sessions courts from 1878-1916
  • From 1916 to 1932, these records were known as fines and fees account books 
  • From 1932 to 1967 these were merged with the registers of the court to form court register and fines and fees accounts 
  • From 1968, they once again became separate

Registers of licences (of public houses)

These give details of licences issued relating to the sale of alcohol.

  • From 1878 to 1902, they were known as register of licenses [sic] C
  • From 1902 to 1910, they were known as register of licences (Licensing Act, 1902)
  • From 1910, they were known as register of licences (Licensing (Consolidation) Act, 1910)

Evidence books or court note books

These are minutes (often in shorthand) of evidence spoken in court. They have no standardised format.

Other records

  • Adoption registers
  • Bail notices
  • Bastardy information and orders
  • Cash committee minutes
  • Depositions
  • Employers and Workmen Act 1875 papers
  • Juvenile court registers and evidence books
  • Legal aid papers
  • Moneylenders Act 1927 papers
  • Orders in lunacy
  • Plans of proposed alterations to public houses deposited with the licensing justices
  • Register of applications and transfers of all licences and of applications for structural alterations
  • Registers of betting and gaming licences
  • Registers of billiard licences
  • Registers of cinematograph licences
  • Register of clubs
  • Registers of certificates granted for the keeping of explosives in store
  • Registers of lodging-house keepers under the Inland Revenue Act 1890
  • Register of music and dancing licences
  • Registers of restaurant and residential licences
  • Registers of applications for separation and maintenance under the Married Women Act
  • Registers of licences under the Sunday Entertainment Act 1932
  • Theatre licences issued, including conditions, plans and playbills
  • Vaccination Act 1898 papers