State Records Office of WA SROWA

Government of Western Australia, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Series S204 - MINUTE BOOKS - COURT OF QUARTER SESSIONS

Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S204

Title

MINUTE BOOKS - COURT OF QUARTER SESSIONS

Date(s)

  • 1830-01-01 - 1890-01-01 (Creation)

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Volumes

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Context area

Name of creator

AU WA A44 - SUPREME COURT OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA (1861-01-01 -)

Administrative history

A Court of Quarter Sessions was established in Western Australia in 1830 and a Civil Court established two years later. However, as the colony grew and as society became more complex, the judiciary became overtaxed. In the 1850s the equity jurisdiction of the Civil Court was challenged while the courts' jurisdiction in criminal matters was questioned. For these and other reasons, the Supreme Court Ordinance of 1861 was introduced.

The Supreme Court Ordinance (proclaimed on 18 June 1861) provided for a Supreme Court which had the same criminal, common law, and equity jurisdiction as the Courts of Westminister. The Ordinance amalgamated the Court of Quarter Sessions with the Supreme Court and transferred to it a number of functions of the Civil Court. For example, the Supreme Court was empowered to grant probates and letters of administration and given jurisdiction in bankruptcy matters. After 1863, the Supreme Court was also given jurisdiction in matrimonial causes (i.e. divorces).

Under the Ordinance, the officers of the Supreme Court were to be the Chief Justice (Archibald Paull Burt), an Attorney-General, a Master, and a Registrar.

In 1880 a new Supreme Court Act was introduced. The Act which came into force on 1 August 1881, clarified the Court's jurisidiction in admiralty matters and empowered the Chief Justice to make Rules for the conduct of the Court. Provision was also made for the appointment of one or more puisne judges and for the Chief Justice and other judges to sit as a Full Court. Initially, the Full Court could only entertain motions for retrials and pronounce on points of law, but after 1886 it was given the status of a Court of Appeal.

The first sitting of the Supreme Court was held on 3 July 1861 and for the first few years it occupied premises in the Police Court and Gaol Building in Beaufort Street, Perth. In 1863 it moved to the old (1836) Court House in Stirling Gardens and in 1880 moved again to the old (1835) Commissariat Store at the foot of Barrack Street. Despite alterations the Commissariat building was inadequate and in the 1890's work began on a new, purposely-designed courthouse. The new building, completed in 1903, is still the principal seat of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Name of creator

AU WA A102 - COURT OF GENERAL QUARTER SESSIONS OF THE PEACE (1830-01-01 - 1861-01-01)

Administrative history

On 9 December 1829, Captain Stirling appointed Justices of the Peace to deal with civil and criminal matters. The greater part of their work was in connection with criminal offences and they held Courts of Petty and Quarter Session as in England. Quarter Sessions were held early in January, April, July and October in each year, the first sitting being in 1830.

The Quarter Sessions Act 1832 conferred on the Court power to hear and determine all felonies and misdemeanors committed in the colony, including forgery and perjury.

The Court of Quarter Sessions first sat in the office of the Deputy Harbour Master at Arthur's Head, Fremantle, and later in another room in Fremantle. It was not until the Courthouse was built in Perth in 1837 that Quarter Sessions were held in the capital.

The Court of Quarter Sessions and the Civil Court of Western Australia were amalgamated into the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 1861.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

On 9 December 1829, Captain Stirling appointed Justices of the Peace to deal with civil and criminal matters. The greater part of their work was in connection with criminal offences and they held courts of Petty and Quarter Sessions as in England. Quarter Sessions were held in January, April, July and October in each year. The Quarter Sessions Act 1832 conferred on the court power to hear and determine all felonies and misdemeanor committed in the colony, including forgery and perjury. The Court of Quarter Sessions first sat in the office of the Deputy Harbour Master at Arthur's Head, Fremantle and later at another room in Fremantle.

It was not until the Courthouse was built in Perth in 1837 that Quarter Sessions were held in the capital.
Minute books kept by Registrar, and which give details of cases heard at each session. Lists cases as they were heard, giving name, indictment, plea, witnesses, verdict, and judgement. Also names of jury panels are listed for each session.

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Numerical

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Existence and location of originals

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Related

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Dates of relationship

1830-01-01 -

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Category of relationship

Related

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1830-01-01 -

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Preceding

Description of relationship

Dates of relationship

1886-01-01 - 1946-01-01

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Archivist's note

Range Control Symbol = 1 -
Copies: Microfilm copies available in State Records Office of Western Australia

Accession area