findmypast logo

The Petty Sessions order books are one of the great untapped resources for Irish genealogy. They are one of the most extensive sets of records about the general population of Ireland in the nineteenth century with many millions of cases. These court records date from 1842 to 1913.

What was the Petty Sessions Court?

These were the lowest courts in the country, which dealt with the vast bulk of lesser legal cases, civil and criminal. The Court was presided over by two or more unpaid Justices of Peace, or by a single paid (stipendiary) Magistrate. Judgements were made summarily by the JPs or Magistrate. In other words there was no jury. Each Court met daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the volume of cases to be heard. Every Court had a Clerk who kept the registers that are published here, and collected fees from those involved in cases.
This system is still in place in Northern Ireland and Britain and usually referred to as the Magistrates Court. In the Republic the courts were replaced by the District Court in 1924.

Who were the Judges?

As Justices of the Peace were unpaid they were invariably local landowners who were untrained and often more interested in their own private gain. It was for this reason that over the course of the 19th century the government slowly replaced the use of JPs with paid and trained Magistrates.

Origins and development of the Petty Sessions Court?

From the medieval period the government appointed Justices of the Peace in each county to act as judges and arbiters of legal cases that were not of the most serious nature (i.e. murder, treason, rape, insurrection, etc.). In practice the JPs set up Quarter Sessions (courts held 4 times a year) to deal with cases that had to be tried by jury or summarily (without a jury). JPs were given rights to try and convict people summarily at different dates and for different reasons from the 1500s onwards. Because of the volume of cases it was considered more efficient to deal with the lesser matters at local courts called sessions more commonly called petty sessions.
The system governing how Petty Sessions worked was only set out by statute (despite centuries of operation) in 1827 with the “Act for the better Administration of Justice at the holding of Petty Sessions by Justices of the Peace in Ireland, 2 July 1827” (7 & 8 George IV c.67). This specified that the Grand Jury in each county (the forerunners of modern county councils) should set out petty sessions districts in a formal manner. It also required proper registers to be kept, trained clerks, and regular courts. The system was overhauled again in 1851 with another act, “Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act” which sought tighter regulation of the keeping of records and meeting of courts.

What records survive?

There are very few registers which pre-date 1851, and none for Dublin city, Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown), and some other districts either because they were excluded in the 1851 act, or because the records do not survive.Most surviving records for the Republic are held by the National Archives of Ireland. This is the source for most of the records that currently appear on this site, and will do in the future. Other records are held privately or by local libraries and we hope to include them as well. The records for Northern Ireland are either held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland or still reside in the court houses. We hope to digitise these too.

How are the records structured?

The structure of the petty sessions registers was set out by statute and includes the following columns of information for each record:

These columns cover two pages, but if there is no information in the second page it has not been captured. Between 4 and 8 cases can appear on each page.

Column

Description

Date

-

Name of Justice(s)

-

Complainant(s)

The person or persons who bring the charge (often police)

Defendant(s)

The person or persons charged with an offence

Names of witnesses

-

Cause of Complaint

-

Particulars of order or dismissal

The judgement

Act under which order made

The statute governing sentence

When and how amount ordered to be paid

The fine payment details

Imprisonment

Details of custodial sentence

Name etc. of person receiving compensation

If ordered by the magistrate/justice

Name of defendant against whom order made

Name of defendant sentenced

Amount to be paid

-

Stamps and Signature

Stamps for court fees and Judges signature.

What's on site now?

County of CourtCourtYearNotesNew?
CARLOWBAGENALSTOWN1851-1913  
CARLOWCARLOW1910  
CARLOWFENAGH1851-74  
CARLOWHACKETSTOWN1902-03  
CARLOWMYSHALL1860-1911  
CAVANBAILIEBOROUGH1851-1898  
CAVANBALLINAGH1852-1911  
CAVANBALLYJAMESDUFF1858-1861, 1865-1872, 1877-1884, 1887-1913  
CAVANBAWNBOY1851-1911  
CAVANBELTURBET1851-1912  
CAVANCAVAN1851-1912  
CAVANCOOTEHILL1852-1912  
CAVANDOWRA1912  
CAVANKILLESHANDRA1862-1912  
CAVANKILNALECK1866, 1871-1882, 1885-86, 1893-1904, 1911-12  
CAVANKINGSCOURT1851-1912  
CAVANMOUNTNUGENT1877-79, 1895-1913  
CAVANMULLAGH1863-1871, 1879-1897  
CAVANSWANLINBAR1866-1911  
CAVANVIRGINIA1842-55, 1863-1913  
CLAREBALLYVAUGHAN1852-1911  
CLAREBROADFORD1898-1911  
CLARECARRIGAHOLT1920  
CLARECOROFIN1856-1912  
CLARECRUSHEEN1851-1912 New
CLAREENNIS1851-1913 New
CLAREENNISTYMON1851-1912  
CLAREFEAKLE1884-1913 New
CLAREKILDYSART1885-86, 1898-99  
CLAREKILKEE1872-1912  
CLAREKILLALOE1910-11  
CLAREKILRUSH1851-1912  
CLAREKNOCK1851-1913  
CLAREMILTOWN MALBAY1851, 1853, 1855, 1862-1913  
CLARENEWMARKET-ON-FERGUS1851-1911  
CLAREQUIN1851-52, 1868-1911  
CLARESIXMILEBRIDGE1851-1911  
CLARETOMGRANEY1875-76 New
CLARETULLA1885-1913 New
CORKAGHERN1851-1913  
CORKAHADALLANE1864-65, 1870-71, 1874-1907  
CORKBALLINCOLLIG1899-1912  
CORKBALLYDEHOB1900-1913 New
CORKBALLYMARTLE1863-1911  
CORKCASTLEMARTYR1872-1893, 1897-1913  
CORKCASTLETOWNBERE1858-1911  
CORKCASTLETOWNROCHE1851-1911  
CORKCOBH1851-58  
CORKDONERAILE1862-1912  
CORKDRIMOLEAGUE1900-1913 New
CORKDUNMANWAY1851-1903, 1907-13 New
CORKFERMOY1852-58, 1891-1913  
CORKFIRMOUNT1907-11  
CORKKANTURK1851-1911  
CORKKILDORRERY1854-59, 1875-77, 1881-83, 1887-89, 1901-08 New
CORKKINSALE1863-1912  
CORKLISCARROLL1906-09, 1913  
CORKMICHELSTOWN1853-56, 1860-73, 1878-80, 1884-1912 New
CORKMILLSTREET1851-1913 New
CORKQUEENSTOWN (COBH)1853-1912  
CORKRATHCORMACK1851-57, 1861-1913  
CORKSCHULL1911-13 New
CORKSKIBBEREEN1860-61, 1908-1913 New
CORKTIMOLEAGUE1892-1907  
CORKUNION HALL1912-13 New
CORKYOUGHAL1851-1913  
DONEGALARDARA1851-1911  
DONEGALBALLINTRA1852-1911  
DONEGALBALLYSHANNON1851-1911  
DONEGALDONEGAL1868, 1886-87, 1889-1912 New
DONEGALDUNFANAGHY1851-1913  
DONEGALDUNGLOE1897-1913  
DONEGALFALCARRAGH1871-1911  
DONEGALGLENTIES1852-1911  
DONEGALKILLYBEGS1851-1913  
DONEGALLETTERKENNY1858-59, 1871-72, 1878-79, 1895, 1900  
DONEGALLIFFORD1870-1913  
DONEGALMILFORD1865-1913 New
DONEGALMOVILLE1898-1913  
DONEGALNEWTOWN CUNNINGHAM1851-1913  
DONEGALRAMLETON1851-1913 New
DONEGALRAPHOE1851-1913  
DONEGALRATHMULLEN1851-1913  
DONEGALSTRANORLAR1859-1913  
DUBLINBALBRIGGAN1851-87, 1894-1911  
DUBLINBLANCHARDSTOWN1851-1912  
DUBLINCABINTEELY1859-1913  
DUBLINCOOLOCK1868-96  
DUBLINDRUMCONDRA1852-62, 1866-1902, 1911-13  
DUBLINDUNDRUM1852-1913  
DUBLINLUCAN1851-1912  
DUBLINNEWCASTLE1865-72  
DUBLINRAHENY1861-69, 1904-06  
DUBLINRATHCOOLE1851-65, 1869, 1873-1908  
DUBLINSWORDS1872-1913 New
DUBLINTALLAGHT1906-12  
GALWAYAHASCRAGH1851-1912  
GALWAYARDRAHAN1851-1911  
GALWAYARRAN1859-1861, 1870-1913  
GALWAYATHENRY1851-1913  
GALWAYBALLINASLOE1851-1912  
GALWAYBALLYGAR1864-1872, 1875, 1881-85, 1889-1895, 1898-1910  
GALWAYBALLYMOE1862-1911  
GALWAYCARNA1897-1912  
GALWAYCASTLETOWN1860-63, 1866-1911  
GALWAYCLEGGAN1892, 1902-1912  
GALWAYCLIFDEN1860-1913 New
GALWAYCLONBUR1912-13  
GALWAYDERREEN1857-1878, 1884-1899, 1905-13 New
GALWAYDERRYNEA1891-2, 1902-08  
GALWAYEYRECOURT1851-59, 1882  
GALWAYGALWAY1851-1864, 1869-1870, 1890-97, 1900-1913  
GALWAYGORT1851-1913  
GALWAYGURTEEN1851-1911  
GALWAYHEADFORD1851-1913 New
GALWAYKILLIMORE1857-1913 New
GALWAYLAWRENCETOWN1854-1911  
GALWAYLETTERFRACK1861-1913 New
GALWAYLOUGHREA1904-13  
GALWAYMOUNTBELLEW1860, 1870-71, 1874-1913  
GALWAYMOYCULLEN1908-1913  
GALWAYORANMORE1899-1913  
GALWAYOUGHTERARD1859-1865, 1870-75, 1880-89  
GALWAYPORTUMNA1851-1913 New
GALWAYROUNDSTONE1862, 1888-1913 New
GALWAYSPIDDAL1855-1912 New
GALWAYTUAM1858, 1865-1913 New
GALWAYWILLIAMSTOWN1851-1911  
GALWAYWOODFORD1851-1913  
KERRYANNASCAUL1895-1913 New
KERRYBALLYLONGFORD1855-59, 1863-1913 New
KERRYCAHERCIVEEN1851-1912  
KERRYCAHERDANIEL1851-1912  
KERRYCASTLEGREGORY1896-1913 New
KERRYCOOLMAGORT1851-66, 1872-1909  
KERRYDINGLE1901-1913 New
KERRYKILLARNEY1851-1911  
KERRYKILLORGLIN1869-1912  
KERRYMILLTOWN1851-1911  
KERRYTARBERT1860, 1873-1913 New
KERRYTRALEE1853-1871, 1875, 1883-1913 New
KERRYVALENTIA1906-11  
KILDARECLANE1892-93, 1898-1913  
KILDARECURRAGH1860-1913  
KILDAREKILDARE1853, 1860-1913  
KILDAREKILMEAGUE1864-67, 1874-1880, 1883-1891  
KILDAREMONASTEREVAN1902-1911  
KILDARENAAS1866-67, 1874-77, 1881-1913  
KILDARENEWBRIDGE1860-1913  
KILDARENEWBRIDGE TOWN COMMISSIONERS COURT1886-1910  
KILDARERATHANGAN1851 - 1913 New
KILDARERATHANGAN AND CLONBULLOGUE1852-1913Clonbullogue is in Offaly 
KILDAREROBERTSTOWN1875, 1891-1912  
KILKENNYBALLYRAGGET1851-1912  
KILKENNYCASTLECOMER1851-1912  
KILKENNYFRESHFORD1859-1913  
KILKENNYGORESBRIDGE1854-1909  
KILKENNYGOWRAN1865-67, 1893-1911  
KILKENNYGRACES OLDCASTLE1851-1911  
KILKENNYJOHNSTOWN1853, 1856-1913  
KILKENNYKILKENNY1854-1911  
KILKENNYKILMANAGH1851-58, 1861-1907  
KILKENNYKILMOGANNY1851-1911  
KILKENNYLIMETREE1851-55  
KILKENNYROSBERCON1851-99 New
KILKENNYSTONEYFORD1854, 1894-1913 New
KILKENNYTHOMASTOWN1851-1860, 1876-77, 1886-1913 New
LAOISBALLYBRITTAS1851-61, 1870-1913  
LAOISBALLYLINAN1851-1911  
LAOISCASTLETOWN AND COOLRAIN1851-86, 1897-98  
LAOISMARYBOROUGH1853-1895, 1899, 1902-1913 New
LAOISMOUNTRATH1851-94, 1907-09 New
LAOISPORTARLINGTON1851-1913  
LAOISRATHDOWNEY1893-1910  
LAOISSTRADBALLY1896-1913 New
LAOISTIMAHOE1851-1866 New
LEITRIMCARRICK-ON-SHANNON1851-1911  
LEITRIMKINLOUGH1851-1911  
LIMERICKABBEYFEALE1901-03  
LIMERICKADARE1851-88, 1904-13  
LIMERICKASKEATON1853, 1857, 1873-86, 1891-1913  
LIMERICKBALLINGARRY1862-63, 1876, 1879-88, 1891, 1897-1913  
LIMERICKBALLYNEETY1907-08  
LIMERICKBRUFF1858-1912  
LIMERICKBRUREE1880-92  
LIMERICKCROOM1855-60, 1863-1913  
LIMERICKGALBALLY1887-1911  
LIMERICKKILFINANE1908-11  
LIMERICKKILMALLOCK1882-1912  
LIMERICKLIMERICK CITY1851-1913 New
LIMERICKLIMERICK CITY (POLICE COURT)1851-53, 1859-1912  
LIMERICKLIMERICK CITY CHILDREN1909-11  
LIMERICKLIMERICK LIBERTIES1853-1913  
LIMERICKNEWCASTLE1899-1900  
LIMERICKPALLASKENRY1851-1913  
LIMERICKRATHKEALE1887-88, 1894-1913  
LONGFORDARDAGH1878-83, 1894-1913  
LONGFORDBALLINAMUCK1904-08  
LONGFORDBALLYMAHON1857-71, 1877-78, 1890-92, 1901-13 New
LONGFORDCARRICKBOY1858-71, 1900-08  
LONGFORDEDGEWORTHSTOWN1862-1913  
LONGFORDKENAGH1855-72, 1876-1901, 1910-13  
LONGFORDLONGFORD1851-1913  
LOUTHARDEE1851-1911  
LOUTHCASTLEBELLINGHAM1854-1912  
LOUTHCOLLON1851-1912  
LOUTHDROGHEDA1851-1912  
LOUTHDULEEK1904-08  
LOUTHDUNDALK1853-1912  
LOUTHDUNLEER1851-59, 1866-1912  
LOUTHLOUTH1902-12  
LOUTHMELL1860-1912  
LOUTHRAVENSDALE1899-1913  
MAYOBALLINA1852-1911  
MAYOBALLINDINE1882-1912  
MAYOBALLINROBE1854-1911  
MAYOBALLYCASTLE1866-1912  
MAYOBALLYGLASS1858-1911  
MAYOBALLYHAUNIS1855-1911  
MAYOBALLYVARY1851-59  
MAYOCASTLEBAR1851-1912  
MAYOCLAREMORRIS1880-1912  
MAYOCONG1851-1911  
MAYOFOXFORD1851-52, 1858-1912 New
MAYOHOLLYMOUNT1851-1912  
MAYOKILLALA1861-1911 New
MAYOKILMAINE1860-62, 1874-86, 1893-1911 New
MAYOKILTIMAGH1900-1913 New
MAYOLOUISBURGH1852-1913  
MAYOLOWPARK1859-1911  
MAYONEWPORT1854-55, 1859-67, 1873-96, 1900-07, 1910-13  
MAYOSWINFORD1853-1913  
MAYOWESTPORT1851-1913  
MEATHATHBOY1851-1913 New
MEATHCROSSAKIEL 1860-1912  
MEATHDRUMCONRATH1851-1911  
MEATHDUNBOYNE1882, 1906-1910  
MEATHDUNSHAUGHLIN1851--1897, 1906-13 New
MEATHGEORGES CROSS, NAVAN 1851-1913  
MEATHJULIANSTOWN1854-1911  
MEATHKELLS1851-1873, 1876-1909 New
MEATHNAVAN1851-1913  
MEATHOLDCASTLE1851-1913  
MEATHSLANE1851-1913  
MEATHTRIM1852-1913  
MONAGHANBALLYBAY1851-1912 New
MONAGHANCARRICKMACROSS1851-1912  
MONAGHANCASTLEBLAYNEY1851-1912  
MONAGHANCLONES1855-1913 New
MONAGHANMONAGHAN1851-1913 New
MONAGHANNEWBLISS1851-1912  
OFFALYCLARA1913  
OFFALYCLONBULLOGUE see Rathangan Kildare 
OFFALYEDENDEERY1851-1911  
OFFALYFAHY1854-1911  
OFFALYFRANKFORD1910-11 New
OFFALYMONEYGALL1901-11  
OFFALYPARSONSTOWN1884-1911 New
OFFALYPHILIPSTOWN1851-1913 New
OFFALYPORTARLINGTON1905-09 New
OFFALYTHOMASTOWN1873-76, 1903-11 New
ROSCOMMONATHLONE1851-1900see Westmeath 
ROSCOMMONBALLINLOUGH1851-1912see Waterford 
ROSCOMMONBALLINTOBBER1851-52, 1864-1912  
ROSCOMMONBALLYDANGAN1851-53  
ROSCOMMONBALLYFORAN1856-1913  
ROSCOMMONBOYLE1852-1913 New
ROSCOMMONBRIDESWELL1851-59, 1903-13  
ROSCOMMONCASTLEREA1851-55, 1861-1912  
ROSCOMMONCOOLDERRY1851, 1858-1913  
ROSCOMMONCOOTEHALL1851-62, 1871-1913 New
ROSCOMMONCROGHAN1851, 1858-1913 New
ROSCOMMONELPHIN1913 New
ROSCOMMONHILLSTREET1912-13 New
ROSCOMMONKEADUE1911 New
ROSCOMMONLECARROW1900-13  
ROSCOMMONROOSKY1862-1869, 1876-1913 New
ROSCOMMONROSCOMMON1872-80, 1888-1913 New
ROSCOMMONSTROKESTOWN1877-79, 1882-86, 1892-1913 New
SLIGOBALLINAFAD1851-1913 New
SLIGOBALLYDOOGAN1857-60, 1869 New
SLIGOBALLYMOTE1854-1911  
SLIGOCOLLOONEY1906-12  
SLIGODROMORE WEST1860, 1870-72, 1876-1912  
SLIGOEASKEY1876-1904, 1908-13 New
SLIGOENNISCRONE1911  
SLIGOMULLAGHROE1851-1913 New
SLIGOSCREEN1851-54, 1868-91, 1895-1912  
SLIGOSLIGO BOROUGH1864-69, 1879, 1888, 1891-1901, 1905-06, 1910-13 New
SLIGOSLIGO COUNTY1863-64, 1868-1913 New
TIPPERARYARDFINNAN1912  
TIPPERARYBALLYNONTY   
TIPPERARYBANSHA1851-57, 1861-1868, 1872-1881, 1884-1898, 1901-1913 New
TIPPERARYBORRISOLEIGH1913 New
TIPPERARYCAHIR1851-1912  
TIPPERARYCAPPAWHITE1875-1913  
TIPPERARYCARRICK-ON-SUIR1897-1901  
TIPPERARYCLONMEL BORO1851-1911see Waterford 
TIPPERARYDUNDRUM1896-1905 New
TIPPERARYFETHARD1851-1911 New
TIPPERARYGOLDEN1860-61, 1871  
TIPPERARYNENAGH1846-1913  
TIPPERARYNEW INN1858-75  
TIPPERARYROSCREA1873-1913 New
TIPPERARYTEMPLEMORE1851-1913 New
TIPPERARYTHURLES1909-1913 New
TIPPERARYTIPPERARY1851-1913 New
WATERFORDARDMORE1851-1875, 1878-1913  
WATERFORDBALLYMACARBRY1861-75, 1880-1911  
WATERFORDCALLAGHANE1851-1913  
WATERFORDCAPPOQUIN1863-64, 1874-1912 New
WATERFORDCLASHMORE1851-55, 1859-1913  
WATERFORDCLONMEL RURAL1851-1911see Tipperary 
WATERFORDDUNGARVAN1908-13  
WATERFORDKILMACTHOMAS1913 New
WATERFORDLISMORE1895-1912  
WATERFORDPORTLAW1851-1904, 1908-11  
WATERFORDSTRADBALLY1887-1891, 1895-98, 1901-05, 1909-13 New
WATERFORDTALLOW1872-74, 1881, 1884-91, 1899-1913  
WATERFORDTRAMORE1851-1913 New
WATERFORDVILLIERSTOWN1894-1913  
WATERFORDWATERFORD CITY1851-1905  
WATERFORDWATERFORD CITY (POLICE COURT)1851-1897, 1902-13  
WATERFORDWATERFORD CITY (ST PATRICK'S HALL)1851-1913  
WESTMEATHATHLONE1900-11see Roscommon 
WESTMEATHBALLYMORE1870-1913 New
WESTMEATHBRAWNEY, ATHLONE1851-1900see Roscommon 
WESTMEATHDELVIN1852-60, 1871-1913  
WESTMEATHGLASSON1851-58, 1867-1913  
WESTMEATHKILLUCAN1851-1913  
WESTMEATHMOATE1851-61, 1869-1913  
WESTMEATHMULLINGAR1851-1913  
WESTMEATHMULTYFARNHAM1851-1905  
WESTMEATHROCHFORTBRIDGE1862-72, 1875-79, 1883-84, 1887-1913  
WESTMEATHTYRELLSPASS1875-1913  
WEXFORDARTHURSTOWN1853-59 New
WEXFORDCLONROCHE1873-76, 1905-13  
WEXFORDDUNCORMICK1896-1906  
WEXFORDENNISCORTHY1851-1913 New
WEXFORDFERNS1853-1911  
WEXFORDGOREY1900-1911  
WEXFORDNEW ROSS1851, 1853-57, 1860, 1869-1913 New
WEXFORDNEWTOWNBARRY1852-1912  
WEXFORDOULART1851-1911  
WEXFORDTAGHMON1851-52, 1893-96, 1899-1913  
WICKLOWARKLOW1851-1911  
WICKLOWAVOCA1869-79, 1883-92, 1896-1911  
WICKLOWBRAY1850-70, 1873-1911  
WICKLOWCARNEW1869-1892 New
WICKLOWCOOLKENNO1869-1892 New
WICKLOWENNISKERRY1859-1895 New
WICKLOWNEWTOWNMOUNTKENNEDY1851-1911  
WICKLOWRATHDRUM1851-1913  
WICKLOWREDCROSS1866-69  
WICKLOWSHILLELAGH1892-1913 New
WICKLOWTINAHELY1869-1913 New
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.