Search Finding Aids
Criminal Court Records of Southeastern Pennsylvania
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
- University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library: Rare Book Collection
- Criminal Court Records of Southeastern Pennsylvania
- Date [inclusive]:
- 1768-1787, undated
- Call Number:
- 1 linear foot
Cite as:[Identification of item], in the Criminal Court Records of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Biddle Archives, RBC.2011.2002, Biddle Law Library, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, PA.
- Finding Aid's Permanent URL:
In 1707, the governor of Pennsylvania, John Evans, established an ordinance to create two separate courts in each county - quarter sessions and oyer and terminer to hear criminal cases and deal with administrative matters and common pleas to hear civil and equity cases. The county courts of oyer and terminer were established by the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790 to hear and determine capital crimes such as murder, rape, treason, burglary, robbery, and arson, that were formerly a function of the Pennsylvania supreme court. Oyer and terminer literally translates to “to hear and determine,” which was exactly as the commissioners and judges of the court did.
Scope and Contents
This collection is divided into three main series, as well as a small miscellaneous series. Arranged alphabetically, each series documents the courts of Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, from approximately 1768 to 1787. The final series, Miscellaneous, contains undated and unidentified documents. Within the records, are crimes on trial such as burglary, perjury, counterfeiting, homicide by misadventure, manslaughter, arson, and manslaughter. In addition, the court administration is well documented and included are a printed jury summons with jury list, nisi prius minutes, the traverse jury list, and other related material.
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Leslie O'Neill and Mitch Fraas
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Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Custodial History note
Received in 1969 by the Curator of Manuscripts at Biddle Law Library. Donated by W. Donald Rhinesmith, President of the University Center in Virginia, Inc.
Controlled Access Headings
- Chew, Benjamin