Records : 1784-1880.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .N6C6S4S5R4
Category: Nova Scotia
Creator: Nova Scotia. Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Shelburne County).
Description: 10 microfilm textual records (10 Series) ; 16 mm
            The Court of General Sessions of the Peace was the local government body with both administrative and judicial functions within a District or County. The Courts were composed of Justices of the Peace appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. The Legislature determined the size and number of Sessional Districts for each County.  Many Counties were one Sessional District, while other counties were divided into two or more Districts.

Shelburne County was established in 1784 and was named in honour of Lord Shelburne, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1782-1783. Governor Parr had given the name to the huge Loyalist settlement on the South Shore of Nova Scotia in 1783. It was later extended to the County and the settlement became the County town.

The Sessions Court appointed local office holders, nominated by the Grand Jury levied county, town and poor rates; issued licences, exercised control over public accounts, roads, bridges, prisons, and other public works; regulated animals, weeds, fires, taverns, and inland fisheries; and oversaw the administration of justice in a particular District.

The passage of the County Incorporation Act in 1879 replaced the Court of General Sessions with an elected municipal council.

            The Shelburne County Sessions Court Records are divided into ten Series. They include a variety of documents, such as, minutes of proceedings; tax collectors' accounts;  petitions for roads and bridges; correspondence; numerous accounts of the Overseers of the Poor (including provisions, poor houses, compensation, illegitimate children, mental illness, health regulations, infectious diseases, such as smallpox); Treasurers' accounts; lists of Grand and Petit Jurors; returns of fines and punishments; Sheriffs' bonds; returns of debtors and criminals in jail; tavern and shop licences; militia rolls;  lists of  town  constables  and  county officers; court orders; and reports on many issues of concern to the Court.

Arrangement and Content Detail:

Series A Assessment and Taxation Records:  includes appointments of assessors, accounts, appeals, summonses, presentments to Grand Jury, court orders, tax arrears and absentee estates, taxes discounted, distraint warrants, correspondence, petitions to House of Assembly, assessments of the poor rates, collectors rolls of the poor and county rates 

Series C Charities and Poor, and Health Matters:  includes overseers of the poor - accounts, petitions for Shelburne and Barrington, convictions, child maintenance; indenture of poor children, house of correction returns, and health and disease

Pertaining to health, these records primarily regulate poor persons, including how public health and safety was approached in relation to poverty. The persons most widely discussed include widows, the elderly, children, and the disabled. Records include, but are not limited to: petitions for funeral expenses, accounts of expenses of the Overseers of the Poor, accounts of provisions to the poor, conditions of the poor house, compensation for providing care, petitions, notes on illegitimate children, notes on the mentally unstable, health regulations – primarily to prevent infectious disease (smallpox), doctors’ reports, etc..

Series F Financial Records:  includes estimates of expenses of Town and County; financial statements - licences, county rate fund, various funds, Treasurer's accounts - bills, licence, school and wine duty; correspondence of Collector of Import and Excise and Light Duties; Fire Engine Company and fire wards; warrants drawn on Treasurer; bonds posted; Queen's fines; and miscellaneous financial papers

Series G Grand Jury lists:  includes precepts (summoning of jury); lists of grand and petit jurors; void lists of grand and petit jurors; petit jury venires, grand jury venires; summonses concerning jury duty; warrants concerning neglect of duty; Barrington - excuses for neglect of duty; and supoenas 

Series J Administration of Justice:  includes returns of fines and punishments; return of fines; prosecutions; returns of prisoners in jail; expenses of Hugh Walker and others in pursuit of robbers; county jail accounts; sheriff's accounts and jailor's salary; sheriff's papers and bonds; warrants of commitment to jail and work house; petitions concerning sentences and punishments; summons concerning selling liquor without license; correspondence concerning indentured black boy Peter; court case of Richard Cunningham; court case of George Watson of Liverpool; expenses - inquests, summonses, jailor, prosecutions; court house and jail costs; Barrington Town and Lock-up House; costs of Court cases; account with John Miller, jailor; money owing Peter Grant, jailer; returns of debtors in jail; and returns of criminals in jail 

Series L Licences:  includes license fund accounts; pedlar's license and bond; correspondence concerning renewal of tavern license; petition concerning Mrs. Dorris' tavern; petitions concerning tavern licenses (includes Barrington) and Barrington Temperance Society; tavern shop license; petition for license to marry; information concerning settled preachers; and license fund summons

Series M Miscellaneous:  includes schools - petitions, correspondence, lists of School Trustees, school subscriptions lists; ships - stranded ship York and salvage law debate, salvage saved by Lord Spencer, correspondence concerning goods lost on brig Francis/Frances include those of the Duke of Kent, shipwrecks including brig Eclipse, cost of supplies for stranded seamen; deserters at Argyle - each from 6th and 17th Regiments; list of names - census or militia roll; petition for charcoal pit; lists of medicines and spices ordered from Halifax by Isaac Enslow; marriages in Township of Barrington; Return of baptisms, marriages and funerals by Wesleyan minister; Barrington Town House; Temperance Society; 2 poems - Christmas and New Years's Day by Olivia Rosamond Enslow; miscellaneous - 2 notes of Gideon White; correspondence - R. Combauld, between John Sargent and Archibald Cunningham, from Joseph Bell to justices, Mr. McKillop to A. Cunningham, another concerning "sharp shooting", and another concerning missionary subscriptions by N. Sargent; indenture of land - Jordan R. Mahany and D. White; petition of Christopher Cottman for financial relief; complaint of black woman Mertilla Dixon; petitions of inhabitants concerning disorderly house kept by Abigail Marsh, and public market house; correspondence with Provincial Secretary's Office concerning Indians [natives]; miscellaneous Acts and regulations; inquiry into riot involving Shelburne inhabitants and a party of York Rangers; documents concerning charge against Isaac Enslow, clerk of peace; regulations etc. concerning wild animals at large; documents concerning liquid measures, price of flour, weights and measures; petition of Grand Jury 1.) to court to allow John Richards to interpret for David Jenkins, and drunken individual residing next to court house; agricultural grant; letter from Archilas Smith to Thomas Henry, Barrington, concerning robbery; Draft of a petition of Justices of Shelburne County to House of Assembly concerning conflicting dates of Supreme Court and General Sessions sittings; Record Book of Grants of Town and water lots, Shelburne, with petitions and memorials; Record Book of Grants of Town lots and water lots; and Index to water and town lots at Shelburne, as well as for the County (alphabetically arranged by grantee)

Series O Officers and Officials

Series P Proceedings of the Sessions:  includes Minute Books, Grand Jury Book, and loose documents with proceedings

Series R Roads and Bridges, and Public Works:  includes papers concerning statute labour (includes Barrington); roads in Barrington District - precepts, petitions, court orders; returns, correspondence and miscellaneous; Shelburne roads - miscellaneous, petitions, precepts to lay out roads, court orders (summonses) concerning work on roads; accounts concerning roads and bridges; mills, dams and ferries; and rivers and fisheries
Originals: The original records are held by the Nova Scotia Archives.
Archival Ref. No.: PANS RG 34-321.
Finding Aids:
            Finding Documents:
  • The Finding Aid at the start of the film breaks down each Series into individual files/documents; available also in print in The Loyalist Collection red binders.
  • Note the series/section and document numbers of interest (eg. C.287).
  • Find the reel number for that Series or section (eg. "C") using the microfilm shelflist (see Electronic Finding Aid section); each document is numbered on the reel.
A microfilm shelf list is available to provide the reel numbers for each series; available in print (The Loyalist Collection red binders) or digitally (below). A Health and Medicine Finding Aid is available electronically listing select documents on the topic. A partial document list for Series M is also available electronically.
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Microfilm Shelf List.pdf
Health and Medicine Selections.pdf

The finding aid for this collection was used in writing the content notes.

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