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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.

Summary Information

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.
PDF Version:

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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.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library: Rare Book Collection,  2012

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Leslie O'Neill and Mitch Fraas

Access Restrictions

The archives reserves the right to restrict access to materials of sensitive nature. Please contact the department for further information.

Use Restrictions

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.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)
  • Chew, Benjamin

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Collection Inventory

Bucks county, 1773-1776.

Box Folder

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus William Caldwell. Burglary., 1773 April.

1 1

The King versus Adam Gitman. Copy of indictment. Perjury., 1773 August.

1 2

The King versus William Meredith and Mary Meredith. Murder., 1774 January.

1 3

Examination of Lambertus Schulein., 1775 October 18.

1 4

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus Lambertus Schulein. Counterfeiting., 1776 May.

1 5

The King versus Jacob Rittenhouse. Depositions., 1776 January 26.

1 6

Jacob Rittenhouse. Inquisition of murder., 1776 January 26.

1 7

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus George Beans. Burglary., 1776 March 25.

1 8

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus Bartholemew Lot. Homicide by misadventure., 1776 March 25.

1 9

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus John Shannon. Homicide by misadventure., 1776 March 25 .

1 10

Chester county, 1768-1787, undated.

Box Folder

Chester Nisi Prius minutes., 1768 August 15.

1 11

List of cases to be tried at Chester Assizes., 1769 March 27.

1 12

Appeal of Abiah Parke from an order of the Orphans Court of Chester county., 1769 September.

1 13

Distring returnable to the Nisi Prius Court of Chester county., 1770 June 11.

1 14

Elizabeth Ring's petition for a valuation., 1770 September 26.

1 15

Nisi Prius Court of Chester minutes., 1772 December 3.

1 16

Tredyffrin versus Mitchell. Sheriffs costs., 1772 December 3.

1 17

Causes to be tried at Chester., 1772 March 23.

1 18

Nisi Prius minutes., 1773 August 23.

1 19

Printed jury summons with jury list., 1774 May 2.

1 20

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus Jonathon Smith. Manslaughter., 1774 August.

1 21

List of causes with notes., circa 1774.

1 22

Oyer and Terminer Sessions. The King versus Mary Sheal. Arson., 1774.

1 23

Distringas returnable Chester., 1775 August 23.

1 24

Michael Kelly and Edward McCarty committed on suspicion of robbing the house of Bernard Vanleer of Chester county., 1786 July 18.

1 25

Examination of Edward McCarty, Chester county., 1786 July 27.

1 26

Chester county Oyer Respublica versus Jonathon Jones. Recognizance., 1786 October 21.

1 27

Examination of Samuel Baskett., 1786 December 9.

1 28

Recognizances Respublica of Samuel Baskett., 1786 December 10.

1 29

List of monies due to the Grand and Traverse Juries at a Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery for Chester County., 1787 April 23.

1 30

List of justices and constables, Chester county., 1787 April 23.

1 31

Oyer and Terminer. List of Juries Deafaulter., 1787 April 23.

1 32

Oyer and Terminer. Commission of C.J. McKean., 1787 April 23.

1 33

Oyer and Terminer. The Commonwealth versus Samuel Baskett. Burglary., 1787 April.

1 34

Oyer and Terminer. The Commonwealth versus Michael Kelly., 1787 April.

1 35

Oyer and Terminer. Commonwealth versus Daniel Hackney and John Ewing. Robbery., 1787 April.

1 36

Respublica versus Joshua Way. Recognizance., undated.

1 37

Traverse jury list., undated.

1 38

Petition of Allen Meuross to William Allen and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania., undated.

1 39

Philadelphia county, 1775-1787.

Box Folder

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus Stacey Hepburn. Manslaughter., April 1775.

1 40

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus Robert Henry. Burglary., 1776 April.

1 44

Oyer and Terminer. The King versus Mary Oharra. Burglary., 1776 April.

1 45

****Certificate relating to the service of Lawrence Smith as a marine at the capture of the *******, 1787.

1 46

Miscellaneous, undated.

Box Folder

James Stevenson against James Pemberton. Verdict., undated.

1 47

List of juries and defaulters., undated.

1 48

List of names., undated.

1 49