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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions

by Johanna Miller Lewis, 2006

The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions served as the civil, administrative, and judicial arms of North Carolina county government beginning in the Proprietary period (1663-1729). Staffed by justices of the peace and appointed by the governor, the court heard cases in which the amount of litigation was between 40 shillings and 20 pounds, as well as a variety of minor civil and criminal actions. The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions played an important role in the daily administration of county life, as it oversaw the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public buildings; the distribution of licenses for ferries, mills, and taverns; and the apportionment and collection of taxes by the sheriff. Justices also acted as an Orphans' Court for the county and supervised the settling of estates. At the close of the colonial period, the county Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions remained virtually intact, but the state legislature now appointed all officers of the court. Following the Civil War, the new state constitution replaced the justices of the peace with a county commissioner form of government in 1868.

References:

Paul M. McCain, "Magistrates Courts in Early North Carolina," NCHR 48 (January 1971).

William S. Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989).

Additional Resources:

"Types of Government Records at the State Archives." State Archives of North Carolina. https://archives.ncdcr.gov/Public/Collections/Government-Records (accessed November 1, 2013).

Comments

Comment: 

Looking for the Court of Please Term Aug 1803 in Wayne Co NC. About William Ham and his children wanting to see property. I live in Washington State is this document on line?

Comment: 

Hello, 

I am sending your comment to our reference librarians who can assist you. 

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Comment: 

I work for the Surry County Register of Deeds and I am looking for minutes from October 13, 1834 in Surry County NC. It involved a Thomas & Mary East selling land to T. B. Wright. Is there anyway to obtain this?

Comment: 

Hello, 

This would be located at the State Archives of North Carolina for that time period. 

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Comment: 

I am looking for a source for the following:
"State of North Carolina, Bladen County: This day Archibald Kelly personally appeared before me and made oath that he and nine other men together in a class in the year 1779 furnished the Continental Army with a substitute by the name of John Dailey who was to serve as a soldier during the war and that the cost thereof to him was ten pounds current money. Signed and sworn to before me this 30th day Sept. 1791. J. Lewis Arch'd Kelly"

Thanks for any assistance since I can't travel right now to NC to the Archives
Julie Gaddy

Comment: 

Hello, 

Thank you for your comment. There are two main sources that i think will assist.

First, i stronly suggest looking at the Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, a 26 volume series digitizedand full text searchable that is available at https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/

The next thing, if its not there, is searching court minutes for Bladen County, which are held at the State Archives of North Carolina. 

Good luck!

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library 

Comment: 

Can you help me with some abbreviations that I don't understand? I'm looking at a page in the "Craven Co NC Court Minutes (Court of Please & Quarter Sessions) 1749-1756, Book IV by Weynette Haun, 1987. On the page it states "Co.mo. Stephen Swilley in the Room of John FRACKS". What is "Co.mo."? And what "Room" is he going to & why? I just don't understand it. I hope you can help. Thank you.

Comment: 

Greetings:

In some microfilmed indenture records I've reviewed (1813, Wilkes County, ) the person bonding out two boys is identified in the recording as the "Chairman of the County Court of Wilkes...") I'm presuming this is referring to the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions. Your entry on this body indicates there was no County Board of Commissioners until the Reconstruction period, so I'm wondering what a Court Chairman was in the early 19th century and he was a governor appointee? I'm presuming this was an executive administrative post.
and not merely a JP, because the person is also identified with the post-nominal, "Esquire," meaning lawyer.

Many thanks in advance,

Kind regards,

A, Colvin,
Senior, History,
University of Houston

Comment: 

Hello,
Can you please tell me how can I get a copy of Charlton vs. Lindner from Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, 1773, at Winfield. It was Pasquotank County apparently.
Thank you!

Comment: 

Dear Gail,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and especially for taking the time to post your question.

Original county court records for North Carolina are kept by the State Archives. Here is the link to their website: https://archives.ncdcr.gov/.  And here is a link to their services page where you will find information about ordering copies: https://archives.ncdcr.gov/researchers/services.

I hope this information helps.  Please let me know if you have additional questions or need further assistance.

Best wishes,
Kelly Agan, State Library of NC

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