The Surrey Quarter Sessions 1780 – 1820 contain more than 47,000 records of non-capital crimes that went to trial in the county.
Non-capital offences were those that did not carry the death penalty. The sessions were presided over by magistrates, otherwise known as justices of the peace. Magistrates could listen to evidence, send a case to trial and pass sentence. They also administered summary justice without a jury outside the quarter sessions. Justice was swift at the time, with the majority of trials lasting less than a day. The defendant rarely had a defence barrister.
The amount of information within each record varies. The majority include the place and date of the crime, the name, aliases, and occupation of the accused, details of their offence, and the verdict and sentence passed. Details of any witnesses, victims and accusers present at the trial are often featured also.