Restrictions on researchers' access to archives, whether because of a legal or other
closure period, or because damage or fragility makes archives unfit for production.
A record of the addition of a new item.
Information about the history or life of an organisation, family or individual who
is or was the creator of archives.
Information about the history of archives - such as former ownership, storage or
Records in any format and of any date, created by individuals, families or organisations
in the course of their activities or business, and preserved permanently. See also
What are Archives?
Directory of contact details for repositories noted in the National Register of
From the 16th century onwards in England and Wales, the status of a child born to
parents who were not married to each other had particular legal and social consequences.
These consequences led to the creation of documents which exist today as archives.
For example, a bastardy bond or recognisance could oblige the supposed father to
appear at the Quarter Sessions or Petty Sessions court, or simply oblige him or
another relation to provide for the child so that she or he was not supported by
the parish authorities. A bastardy or affiliation order could be made by a Quarter
Sessions or Petty Sessions court, requiring the father to pay for the child's upkeep
- failure to pay could result in a prison sentence.
Bond or recognisance
A legal document recording an obligation to pay a sum of money, or acknowledging
a present or future debt.
Borough or municipal corporation
Dating from as early as the 11th century. Typically, a town with a governing corporation,
and privileges conferred by a royal charter such as its own justices of the peace.
The process of arranging and describing of archives.
Lay official of the parish, responsible for parish property, income and accounts,
the upkeep of the fabric of the church, oversight of poor relief and other matters
relating to the Church of England parish. The post was usually held by one of the
more substantial inhabitants of a local community, and was elected annually by the
vestry. Parishes usually appointed at least two churchwardens, sometimes four.
A period of time when archives are held in a repository but are not yet available
for public access and consultation, for legal or privacy reasons. Some categories
of archives which are less than 100 years old may be covered by a closure period
('closed'). If closure periods exist, details are usually given in A2A catalogues.
A group of archives created by the same individual, family, business or other organisation
and which is managed as a single unit.
The date or dates when archives were created. If it is unknown, this may be indicated
in a catalogue by terms like 'undated', 'no date' or 'n.d.' If a copy of a document
is described in a catalogue, the creation date given is generally the date when
the copy was made.
In archives catalogues, the name of the organisation, family or individual responsible
for creating or accumulating archives.
Information about the type, content and date of a document.
Extent and form
Information in a catalogue about the quantity, bulk or size of all or some of the
archives described in that catalogue.
A catalogue, index or list describing archives, intended to help researchers find
what they need.
All the archives created or accumulated by a specific person, family or organisation.
Justice of the Peace or magistrate
An individual appointed by the Crown to keep the peace within a specified area such
as a county. The title dates back to 1361 and is sometimes abbreviated to JP.
A unit of estate administration or piece of landed property with tenants over whom
the landlord exercised rights of jurisdiction in a private court.
n.d - stands for 'no date'
This may appear in a catalogue when the creation dates of archives are unknown.
Overseers of the Poor
Appointed in every parish under the Poor Relief Act 1601 to provide for the relief
or maintenance of poor people who had settlement in that parish, and to levy a parish
rate or tax for that purpose.
The smallest unit of local government, governed by a vestry and responsible for
the appointment of parish officers such as churchwarden, overseer of the poor, constable
Unit of local government established under the Local Government Act of 1894.
The lowest tier in the English and Welsh court system, now known as magistrates'
courts, where most crime is dealt with. From the 16th century onwards Petty Sessions
were held for specific areas or divisions of a county, and separately in boroughs.
Petty Sessions archives typically relate to criminal cases heard by the magistrates
or justices of the peace for each division or borough. They may also include documents
such as plans relating to the licensing of public houses, clubs and other bodies.
The law which related to the public relief and support of poor people in England
and Wales, before the establishment of the modern social services and benefits system.
Relevant Acts of Parliament include the Poor Relief Act 1601.
In the archives of Quarter Sessions courts, a statement of fact by the grand jury,
a justice of the peace, or officers such as high constables or petty constables.
The term used to describe the retrieval of archives from storage for research use.
Archives may not be fit for production if they are damaged or fragile. Individual
files, volumes, boxes or documents may be treated as 'producible units' by a repository.
The main judicial and administrative bodies of the English and Welsh counties from
the 16th century onwards. Their administrative function was replaced by county councils,
established in 1889, but their judicial function was not abolished until 1971. Members
of Quarter Sessions courts were known as justices of the peace. Quarter Sessions
typically met four times a year. There were separate Quarter Sessions courts for
The principal Quarter Sessions archives relate to criminal cases, but there are
administrative papers too. The archives reflect the wealth of human experience from
birth to death: for example apprenticeship, work, poverty, transport, land use,
religion, and all sorts of misdemeanours are among the subjects which they cover.
Recognisance or recognizance
An obligation or bond acknowledged in court or in the presence of an officer authorised
Typically made by Justices of the Peace. Used to send poor people back to their
parish of settlement for maintenance.
A record office, archives unit, library or other institution where archives are
held, cared for and made available for researchers and members of the public.
A certificate proving that an individual has received Holy Communion according to
the usage of the Church of England. Required from all those appointed to public
office in England and Wales in the period 1672-1828, under the Test Act of 1672.
Scope and Content
Information in a catalogue summarising what all or some of the archives described
in that catalogue are about. Scope and Content may include details on relevant time
periods, subject matter, documentary forms or administrative processes. It may also
include details of people or places mentioned in archives.
Part of an archival fonds. Archive documents maintained as a unit because they result
from the same activity or filing process or have a particular form; or because of
some other relationship arising from their creation, accumulation or use.
The Poor Law required the authorities of a parish to be responsible for the maintenance
of poor people settled there. Settlement certificates were issued to those who moved
to another parish. If the need for maintenance arose, the authorities could make
a removal order to send them and their dependents back to their parish of origin,
after carrying out an examination (or interrogation) as to their settlement. Settlement
certificates, removal orders and settlement examinations may be found in the archives
of Quarter Sessions courts and of parishes.
Part of an archival fonds. All the documents created by a specific part of the organisation
which created the fonds; or corresponding to geographical, chronological, functional
or other groupings.
Part of an archival series, consisting of closely related documents.
Meeting of parishioners to discuss parish affairs including church business and
the administration of poor relief. In some places "open" vestries operated,
with all rate-paying inhabitants eligible to attend. In other areas "select"
or "closed" vestries were limited to a small number of principle inhabitants.