Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association

PETITIONING PARLIAMENT ‘TO REMEDY THESE GREAT MISCHIEFS’: THE WEST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE QUARTER SESSIONS AND LAW REFORM, 1729–1731

Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association (2011), 36, (123-4), 16–25.

Abstract

A number of initiatives for reforms to improve and cheapen legal procedures were made by the West Riding court of quarter sessions through three petitions to the House of Commons and by the lobbying of members of Parliament between 1729 and 1731. In a national context, the most important consequences of these were Acts of 1729 and 1731, the first of which led to the formalisation of qualification for attorneys and solicitors and the second, well known to both archivists and archive users, finally established the practice of using English in the written proceedings of all courts of law. The third Act reduced the possibility for successful appeals from quarter sessions through either disputes over correct form or the use of writs of certiorari. It is likely that these means were taken to reform legal procedures for the benefit of the numerous small clothiers in the West Riding who were suffering financially from a trade depression in the later 1720s.

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Author details

Barber, Brian