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Each record contains a transcript and an image of the original entry. The information contained varies considerably but you could find out the following about your ancestor:

  • Name
  • Address
  • The date they were in court
  • Whether they were a witness, a complainant (or victim) or defendant (accused)

The image often gives a great deal of additional information including:

  • Details of the offence
  • Details of the verdict and the sentence
Petty Sessions courtroom

The Petty Sessions handled the bulk of lesser legal cases, both criminal and civil. They were presided over by Justices of the Peace, who were unpaid and often without any formal legal training. The position did not have a wage, so the role was usually taken by those with their own income – in practice usually prominent landowners or gentlemen. Justice was pronounced summarily at these courts, in other words, without a jury.

Cases of a more serious nature, which did require a jury, were held at the Quarter Sessions, which, as the name suggests were held four times a year. The most serious cases, those like murder or treason that carried the death penalty, were presided over by at least one legally trained judge at assizes held twice a year in circuit. The jury courts used a system known as a commission of Oyer and Terminer, a Norman French phrase meaning To See and To Judge. There were two juries, a Grand Jury who assessed the strength of the prosecution evidence, and the trial jury, who would hear the case if the Grand Jury had decided the case was strong enough to go forward to trial.

At the lower levels though, justice was summary and swift. The Petty Sessions, which sat daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the volume of cases, often saw controversial judgements. Every court had a clerk, whose job it was to record the details of each case in a register. It is those registers you are looking at in these records. The clerks also collected any fees from those involved in the cases.

The Petty Sessions were formally established with legislation in 1827, although they had been in operation for centuries before that. By 1851, amid growing concerns about the fairness of some of the justices of the peace, the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act sought to tighten up the rules. JPs were gradually replaced by trained and paid magistrates as the 19th century went on.

Covering both civil and criminal cases, the Petty Sessions’ brief was wide. Cases ranged from merchants who had not paid duty on their goods, to workers suing for unpaid wages. Farmers were fined for letting their cattle wander or for allowing their cart to be driven without their name painted on the side. Debts were collected and disputes settled. Public drunkenness was a common offence, as was assault and general rowdiness. Political feelings were often volatile and there are frequent cases all over the country of people charged with putting up seditious posters or leaflets.

There are very few registers which pre-date 1851 and none for Dublin city, Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown) and some other districts, either because they weren’t covered by the 1851 Act or because the records did not survive. However the latest records added include those for one of the main Dublin courts, Kilmainham, for most years between 1833 and 1854 as well as the year 1887. Findmypast has also added more of the available pre-1851 records. Further records will be added in due course.

Included in the records are the colour images from Newmarket-on-Fergus in County Clare. These records a kindly provided by Dr Patrick Waldron. Dr Waldron’s ancestor, Georgina Frost, made history by becoming the first woman to hold a centrally appointed official role as clerk of both Newmarket-on-Fergus and Sixmilebridge courts.

Georgina Frost was the third generation of the same family to hold this role and won her legal challenge to be able to take up the job, something she would normally have been barred from doing, as a woman.

The Petty Sessions were replaced by the District Courts in Ireland in 1924. The system continues in Northern Ireland where they are usually referred to as Magistrate’s Courts.

What's on site now?

County of CourtCourtYearNotesNew
CARLOWCARLOW1910  
CARLOWFENAGH1851-74  
CARLOWHACKETSTOWN1902-03  
CARLOWMYSHALL1860-1911  
CARLOWBAGENALSTOWN1851-1913 Additional years
CAVANBAILIEBOROUGH1851-98  
CAVANBALLINAGH1852-1914  
CAVANBAWNBOY1851-1911  
CAVANBELTURBET1851-1912  
CAVANCAVAN1851-1912  
CAVANCOOTEHILL1852-1912  
CAVANDOWRA1912  
CAVANKILLESHANDRA1862-1912  
CAVANKILNALECK1857-62, 1865-66, 1871-1904, 1911-14  
CAVANMOUNTNUGENT1876-79, 1895-1914  
CAVANMULLAGH1861-1914  
CAVANSWANLINBAR1866-1911  
CAVANBALLYJAMESDUFF1853-61, 1865-72, 1877-84, 1887-1914 Additional years
CAVANKINGSCOURT1851-1912 Additional years
CAVANVIRGINIA1830-31, 1834-60, 1863-1914 Additional years
CLAREBALLYVAUGHAN1852-1911  
CLAREBROADFORD1898-1911  
CLARECRUSHEEN1864-1912  
CLAREENNIS1851-1913  
CLAREFEAKLE1884-1914  
CLAREKILDYSART1885-86, 1898-99  
CLAREKILLALOE1910-11  
CLARECOROFIN1856-1912 Additional years
CLAREKNOCK1851-1913  
CLARELISDOONVARNA1914  
CLAREENNISTYMON1851-1914 Additional years
CLAREKILKEE1872-1914 Additional years
CLAREQUIN1851-52, 1868-1911  
CLARESIXMILEBRIDGE1851-1911  
CLARETOMGRANEY1876-76  
CLARETULLA1885-1914  
CLAREKILRUSH1851-1912 Additional years
CLAREMILTOWN MALBAY1851, 1853, 1855, 1862-1913 Additional years
CLARENEWMARKET-ON-FERGUS1841-1914 Additional years
CORKAGHERN1851-1913  
CORKAHADALLANE1864-65, 1870-71, 1874-1907  
CORKBALLINCOLLIG1899-1912  
CORKBALLYDEHOB1900-1914  
CORKBALLYMARTLE1863-1911  
CORKCASTLEMARTYR1853, 1872-1914  
CORKCASTLETOWNROCHE1851-1911  
CORKCOBH1851-58  
CORKDONERAILE1862-1912  
CORKDRIMOLEAGUE1900-1914  
CORKDUNMANWAY1851-97, 1903-11  
CORKFIRMOUNT1907-11  
CORKKANTURK1851-1911  
CORKKILDORRERY1854-55, 1858-59, 1875-77, 1881-83, 1887-1908  
CORKKINSALE1863-1912  
CORKLISCARROLL1906-09, 1913  
CORKMICHELSTOWN1853-56, 1860-73, 1878-80, 1884-1914  
CORKMILLSTREET1851-1913  
CORKRATHCORMACK1851-1913  
CORKSCHULL1911-13  
CORKSKIBBEREEN1860-61, 1908-13  
CORKTIMOLEAGUE1892-1907  
CORKYOUGHAL1851-1914  
CORKCASTLETOWNBERE1834-37, 1843-1914 Additional years
CORKFERMOY1852-58, 1891-1913 Additional years
CORKQUEENSTOWN (COBH)1853-1912 Additional years
DONEGALARDARA1851-1911  
DONEGALBALLINTRA1852-1911  
DONEGALBALLYSHANNON1851-1911  
DONEGALDONEGAL1868, 1886-87, 1889-1913  
DONEGALDUNFANAGHY1851-1913  
DONEGALDUNGLOE1897-1913  
DONEGALFALCARRAGH1871-1911  
DONEGALGLENTIES1852-1911  
DONEGALKILLYBEGS1851-1913  
DONEGALLETTERKENNY1858-59, 1871-72, 1878-79, 1895, 1900  
DONEGALLIFFORD1870-1913  
DONEGALMOVILLE1898-1913  
DONEGALNEWTOWN CUNNINGHAM1851-1913  
DONEGALRAMELTON1851-1913  
DONEGALRAPHOE1851-1913  
DONEGALRATHMULLEN1851-1913  
DONEGALMILFORD1857-1914 Additional years
DONEGALSTRANORLAR1859-1913 Additional years
DUBLINKILMAINHAM1833-37, 1842-45, 1849-54, 1887 New court
DUBLINBALBRIGGAN1851-87, 1894-1914  
DUBLINBLANCHARDSTOWN1840-1912  
DUBLINCABINTEELY1859-1913  
DUBLINCOOLOCK1868-96  
DUBLINDUNDRUM1852-1913  
DUBLINNEWCASTLE1865-72  
DUBLINRAHENY1861-69, 1904-06  
DUBLINRATHCOOLE1851-65, 1869, 1873-1908  
DUBLINSWORDS1872-1913  
DUBLINDRUMCONDRA1852-62, 1866-1914 Additional years
DUBLINLUCAN1851-1912 Additional years
DUBLINTALLAGHT1906-12 Additional years
GALWAYAHASCRAGH1851-1912  
GALWAYARDRAHAN1851-1914  
GALWAYARRAN1859-61, 1870-1914  
GALWAYATHENRY1851-1914  
GALWAYBALLYGAR1864-1872, 1875, 1881-85, 1889-1895, 1898-1910  
GALWAYCARNA1897-1912  
GALWAYBALLINASLOE1851-1912 Additional years
GALWAYBALLYMOE1859-1914 Additional years
GALWAYCLIFDEN1857-1914  
GALWAYCLONBUR1912-13  
GALWAYDERREEN1857-78, 1884-1899, 1905-07, 1912-14  
GALWAYDERRYNEA1864-66, 1891-92, 1900-12  
GALWAYEYRECOURT1851-59, 1882  
GALWAYCASTLETOWN1860-63, 1866-1913 Additional years
GALWAYGARRAFIN1902-14  
GALWAYGORT1851-1913  
GALWAYGURTEEN1838-1913  
GALWAYCLEGGAN1892, 1902-1914 Additional years
GALWAYGALWAY1836, 1839, 1851-1914 Additional years
GALWAYHEADFORD1851-1913 Additional years
GALWAYKILLIMORE1857-1913 Additional years
GALWAYLOUGHREA1904-13  
GALWAYMOUNTBELLEW1860, 1870-71, 1874-1913  
GALWAYMOYCULLEN1876-87, 1891-95, 1908-14  
GALWAYORANMORE1861-1914  
GALWAYOUGHTERARD1851-1914  
GALWAYPORTUMNA1851-66, 1877-1913  
GALWAYRECESS1913-14  
GALWAYROUNDSTONE1862, 1888-1914  
GALWAYSPIDDAL1855-1914  
GALWAYTUAM1858, 1865-1914  
GALWAYWILLIAMSTOWN1851-1911  
GALWAYLAWRENCETOWN1851-1914 Additional years
GALWAYLETTERFRACK1861-1913 Additional years
GALWAYWOODFORD1851-1913 Additional years
KERRYCAHERCIVEEN1851-1912  
KERRYANNASCAUL1895-1913 Additional years
KERRYCASTLEGREGORY1896-1913  
KERRYCOOLMAGORT1851-66, 1872-1909  
KERRYDINGLE1901-13  
KERRYKILLARNEY1851-1911  
KERRYKILLORGLIN1869-1912  
KERRYMILLTOWN1851-1911  
KERRYBALLYLONGFORD1855-1913 Additional years
KERRYCAHERDANIEL1851-1912 Additional years
KERRYVALENTIA1906-11  
KERRYTARBERT1860-1914 Additional years
KERRYTRALEE1853-71, 1875, 1883-1913 Additional years
KILDARECLANE1892-93, 1898-1903, 1907-1913  
KILDAREKILMEAGUE1864-67, 1874-91  
KILDAREMONASTEREVAN1902-1911  
KILDARENAAS1866-67, 1874-77, 1881-1914  
KILDARENEWBRIDGE1860-1913  
KILDARENEWBRIDGE TOWN COMMISSIONERS COURT1869-70, 1886-1914  
KILDARERATHANGAN1851-1913  
KILDARERATHANGAN AND CLONBULLOGUE1852-1913Clonbullogue is in Offaly 
KILDARECURRAGH1860-1914 Additional years
KILDAREKILDARE1851-53, 1860-1914 Additional years
KILDAREROBERTSTOWN1875, 1891-1913 Additional years
KILKENNYCASTLECOMER1851-1912  
KILKENNYFRESHFORD1859-1913  
KILKENNYGORESBRIDGE1854-1909  
KILKENNYGOWRAN1865-67, 1893-1911  
KILKENNYBALLYRAGGET1851-1912 Additional years
KILKENNYKILKENNY1854-1914  
KILKENNYKILMANAGH1851-58, 1861-1907  
KILKENNYKILMOGANNY1851-1911  
KILKENNYLIMETREE1851-55  
KILKENNYROSBERCON1870-99  
KILKENNYSTONEYFORD1851-54, 1857-67, 1883-85, 1892-1913  
KILKENNYTHOMASTOWN1851-60, 1876-77, 1886-1914  
KILKENNYGRACES OLDCASTLE1851-1911 Additional years
KILKENNYJOHNSTOWN1851-1914 Additional years
LAOISBALLYBRITTAS1851-61, 1870-1913  
LAOISBALLYLINAN1851-1911  
LAOISCASTLETOWN AND COOLRAIN1851-86, 1897-98  
LAOISMARYBOROUGH1853-1914  
LAOISMOUNTRATH1851-1913  
LAOISSTRADBALLY1896-1913  
LAOISTIMAHOE1851-86  
LAOISPORTARLINGTON1851-1914 Additional years
LAOISRATHDOWNEY1893-1910 Additional years
LEITRIMKINLOUGH1851-1911  
LEITRIMCARRICK-ON-SHANNON1837-1914 Additional years
LIMERICKABBEYFEALE1901-03  
LIMERICKADARE1851-88, 1904-13  
LIMERICKASKEATON1853, 1857, 1873-86, 1891-1913  
LIMERICKBALLINGARRY1862-63, 1876, 1879-88, 1891, 1897-1913  
LIMERICKBALLYNEETY1907-08  
LIMERICKBRUREE1880-92  
LIMERICKGALBALLY1887-1911  
LIMERICKKILFINANE1908-11  
LIMERICKKILMALLOCK1882-1912  
LIMERICKLIMERICK CITY1851-1913  
LIMERICKBRUFF1858-1912 Additional years
LIMERICKLIMERICK CITY CHILDREN1909-11  
LIMERICKLIMERICK LIBERTIES1853-1913  
LIMERICKNEWCASTLE1899-1900  
LIMERICKPALLASKENRY1851-1913  
LIMERICKRATHKEALE1887-88, 1894-1913  
LIMERICKCROOM1855-60, 1863-1913 Additional years
LIMERICKLIMERICK CITY (POLICE COURT)1851-53, 1859-1912 Additional years
LONGFORDARDAGH1878-83, 1894-1913  
LONGFORDBALLINAMUCK1904-08  
LONGFORDCARRICKBOY1858-71, 1900-08  
LONGFORDEDGEWORTHSTOWN1862-1913  
LONGFORDKENAGH1855-72, 1876-1901, 1910-13  
LONGFORDLONGFORD1851-1913  
LONGFORDBALLYMAHON1857-71, 1877-78, 1890-92, 1901-13 Additional years
LOUTHARDEE1851-1911  
LOUTHCASTLEBELLINGHAM1854-1912  
LOUTHCOLLON1851-1912  
LOUTHDROGHEDA1851-1912  
LOUTHDULEEK1904-08  
LOUTHDUNDALK1853-1912  
LOUTHDUNLEER1851-59, 1866-1912  
LOUTHLOUTH1902-12  
LOUTHMELL1860-1912  
LOUTHRAVENSDALE1899-1913  
MAYOBALLA1847-52 New court
MAYOCHARLESTOWN1882-86, 1892-93 New court
MAYOBALLINA1852-1911  
MAYOBALLINDINE1882-1912  
MAYOBALLINROBE1854-1911  
MAYOBALLYCASTLE1866-1912  
MAYOBALLYGLASS1858-1911  
MAYOBALLYHAUNIS1855-1911  
MAYOBALLYVARY1851-59  
MAYOCASTLEBAR1851-1912  
MAYOCLAREMORRIS1880-1912  
MAYOCONG1851-1911  
MAYOFOXFORD1851-52, 1858-1914 Additional years
MAYOHOLLYMOUNT1851-1912  
MAYOKILLALA1861-1911  
MAYOKILMAINE1860-62, 1874-86, 1893-1911  
MAYOKILTIMAGH1900-13  
MAYOLOUISBURGH1852-1913  
MAYOLOWPARK1859-1911  
MAYOAdditional yearsPORT1854-55, 1859-1914 Additional years
MAYOSWINFORD1853-1913 Additional years
MAYOWESTPORT1840-43, 1851-1914 Additional years
MEATHATHBOY1851-1913  
MEATHCROSSAKIEL1860-1912  
MEATHDRUMCONRATH1851-1911  
MEATHDUNBOYNE1882, 1906-1910  
MEATHDUNSHAUGHLIN1839-41, 1845-97, 1906-14 Additional years
MEATHGEORGES CROSS, NAVAN1851-1913  
MEATHJULIANSTOWN1854-1911  
MEATHKELLS1851-1914 Additional years
MEATHMOYNALTY1896-1914  
MEATHNAVAN1851-1913  
MEATHOLDCASTLE1851-1913  
MEATHSLANE1851-1913  
MEATHTRIM1852-1913  
MONAGHANBALLYBAY1851-1912  
MONAGHANCARRICKMACROSS1836-1913 Additional years
MONAGHANCASTLEBLAYNEY1851-1912  
MONAGHANCLONES1855-1914 Additional years
MONAGHANMONAGHAN1851-1913 Additional years
MONAGHANNEWBLISS1851-1912  
OFFALYCLONBULLOGUE see Rathangan Kildare 
OFFALYEDENDEERY1851-1913  
OFFALYFAHY1854-1911  
OFFALYFRANKFORD1910-11  
OFFALYMONEYGALL1901-11  
OFFALYPARSONSTOWN1884-1911  
OFFALYPHILIPSTOWN1851-1913  
OFFALYPORTARLINGTON1905-09  
OFFALYTHOMASTOWN1873-76, 1903-11  
ROSCOMMONATHLONE1851-1900see Westmeath 
ROSCOMMONBALLINLOUGH1851-1912  
ROSCOMMONBALLINTOBBER1851-52, 1864-1912  
ROSCOMMONBALLYDANGAN1851-53  
ROSCOMMONBALLYFORAN1856-1913  
ROSCOMMONBOYLE1852-1913 Additional years
ROSCOMMONBRIDESWELL1851-59, 1903-13  
ROSCOMMONCASTLEREA1851-55, 1861-1912  
ROSCOMMONCOOLDERRY1851, 1858-1913  
ROSCOMMONCOOTEHALL1851-1912 Additional years
ROSCOMMONCROGHAN1851, 1858-1913  
ROSCOMMONHILLSTREET1912  
ROSCOMMONLECARROW1900-13  
ROSCOMMONROOSKY1862-69, 1876-1913  
ROSCOMMONROSCOMMON1872-1914  
ROSCOMMONSTROKESTOWN1849-52, 1877-79, 1882, 1884-86, 1892-1914 Additional years
SLIGOBALLINAFAD1851-1913  
SLIGOBALLYDOOGAN1857-61, 1869  
SLIGOBALLYMOTE1854-1914  
SLIGOCOLLOONEY1906-12  
SLIGODROMORE WEST1860, 1870-72, 1876-1912  
SLIGOEASKEY1881, 1885-1904, 1908-13  
SLIGOENNISCRONE1911  
SLIGOMULLAGHROE1851-1913  
SLIGOSCREEN1851-54, 1868-91, 1895-1912  
SLIGOSLIGO BOROUGH1864-69, 1879, 1888, 1891-1901, 1905-06, 1910-13  
SLIGOSLIGO COUNTY1863-64, 1868-1913  
TIPPERARYARDFINNAN1912  
TIPPERARYBANSHA1851-57, 1861-68, 1872-81, 1884-1913  
TIPPERARYCAHIR1851-1914 Additional years
TIPPERARYCAPPAWHITE1875-1913  
TIPPERARYCARRICK-ON-SUIR1897-1901  
TIPPERARYCLONMEL BORO1851-1911see Waterford 
TIPPERARYDUNDRUM1896-1905  
TIPPERARYFETHARD1851-1913  
TIPPERARYGOLDEN1860-61, 1871  
TIPPERARYNENAGH1837-42, 1846-1914 Additional years
TIPPERARYNEW INN1858-75  
TIPPERARYROSCREA1873-1913 Additional years
TIPPERARYTEMPLEMORE1851-1913  
TIPPERARYTHURLES1909-13  
TIPPERARYTIPPERARY1851-1913 Additional years
WATERFORDARDMORE1851-1913  
WATERFORDBALLYMACARBRY1861-1914 Additional years
WATERFORDCALLAGHANE1851-1913  
WATERFORDCALLAGHANE1851-1921 Additional years
WATERFORDCAPPOQUIN1863-64, 1874-1913  
WATERFORDCLASHMORE1851-55, 1859-1913  
WATERFORDCLONMEL RURAL1851-1911see TipperaryAdditional years
WATERFORDDUNGARVAN1908-13  
WATERFORDLISMORE1895-1912  
WATERFORDPORTLAW1851-1904, 1907-11 Additional years
WATERFORDSTRADBALLY1887-91, 1895-98, 1901-05, 1909-13  
WATERFORDTALLOW1872-74, 1881, 1884-91, 1899-1913  
WATERFORDTRAMORE1851-1913  
WATERFORDVILLIERSTOWN1894-1913  
WATERFORDWATERFORD CITY1851-1914 Additional years
WATERFORDWATERFORD CITY (POLICE COURT)1851-97, 1902-13  
WATERFORDWATERFORD CITY (ST PATRICK'S HALL)1851-1913  
WESTMEATHATHLONE1900-11see Roscommon 
WESTMEATHBALLYMORE1870-1913  
WESTMEATHBRAWNEY, ATHLONE1851-1900see Roscommon 
WESTMEATHDELVIN1852-60, 1871-1913  
WESTMEATHGLASSON1843-58, 1867-1913  
WESTMEATHKILLUCAN1851-1913  
WESTMEATHMOATE1828-61, 1866-1914 Additional years
WESTMEATHMULLINGAR1851-1913  
WESTMEATHMULTYFARNHAM1851-1905 Additional years
WESTMEATHROCHFORTBRIDGE1862-72, 1875-79, 1883-84, 1887-1913  
WESTMEATHTYRELLSPASS1875-1913  
WEXFORDARTHURSTOWN1853-59  
WEXFORDCLONROCHE1873-76, 1905-13  
WEXFORDDUNCORMICK1896-1914  
WEXFORDENNISCORTHY1834, 1837-1914 Additional years
WEXFORDFERNS1853-1911 Additional years
WEXFORDGOREY1900-1911  
WEXFORDNEW ROSS1851, 1853-1913  
WEXFORDNEWTOWNBARRY1852-1912  
WEXFORDOULART1851-1911  
WEXFORDTAGHMON1851-52, 1893-1913  
WICKLOWARKLOW1851-1911  
WICKLOWAVOCA1869-79, 1883-92, 1896-1911  
WICKLOWBRAY1834, 1837-70, 1873-1912 Additional years
WICKLOWCARNEW1869-92  
WICKLOWCOOLKENNO1869-92  
WICKLOWENNISKERRY1859-1914  
WICKLOWNEWTOWNMOUNTKENNEDY1851-1911  
WICKLOWRATHDRUM1851-1913  
WICKLOWREDCROSS1866-69  
WICKLOWSHILLELAGH1892-1913  
WICKLOWTINAHELY1869-1913  
WICKLOWWICKLOW1891-93 

Who was involved in digitising this collection?

The images were provided by Family Search from records held at the National Archives of Ireland. Indexing was carried out by IIM Inc.

Copyright of IIMI Inc and brightsolid online publishing (Ireland) Ltd. All rights reserved. Images and Index Data owned by IIMI Inc and brightsolid online publishing Ireland Ltd Images provided by and copyright (c) familysearch.org Images derived from National Archives of Ireland Petty Sessions records.

The remaining records at the National Archives of Ireland will be published later this year.