This is a brief explanation of the meaning of some of the
archaic and unusual terms that you might come across in the
Worcester City Archives.
property and rights that belong to something else of more
importance or greater worth, e.g. a house with appurtenances could
be a house with a small garden.
Assizes: were periodic criminal
courts that tried capital cases. They were heard by judges who
travelled around the seven assize circuits in England and Wales.
They could only set up court at specific Assize Towns, normally the
county town. Worcester was one such Assize Town, on the Oxford
circuit. It is the equivalent of the Crown Court. Abolished in
- Chamber Order Book
Chamber Order Books
were an early form of the council's (Chamber's) minutes. Early
versions are not a record of matters discussed, but of those where
a course of action was decided (i.e. an Order).
Frankpledge was an
institution in which a tithing of ten households were bound
together and held responsible for one another's conduct. All males
over 12 years were joined in groups of approximately ten
households. This unit, under a leader known as the chief-pledge or
tithing-man, was then responsible for producing any man of that
tithing suspected of a crime.
Freemen are granted specific
privileges in a borough by the ruling council of that borough.
Criteria vary depending on place and time, but generally freedom is
granted by patrimony (inheritance, such as son born to a man after
he became free) or 'servitude' (serving an apprenticeship).
Worcester also allows freedom to be gifted to notable people.
Freeman had specific trading rights and until 1835, only freemen
could vote in elections. In Worcester, arrested Freemen had the
right to be held in the cells under the Guildhall rather than in
the gaol. In 1835, approximately 10 percent of the 27,000 residents
of the town and suburbs had been granted freedom.
- Liber Recorda
Liber Recorda were
literally 'books of records', the earliest Liber Recorda were once
thought to have been council minutes. They relate to the
administration of Worcester and the duties of the Corporation
officers, including copies of important documents.
- Petty Sessions
Petty Sessions were
courts that dealt with low-level offences, and were sometimes known
as police courts. They are the equivalent of Magistrates Courts and
the case was heard by the Justices of the Peace, without a jury.
Abolished in 1971.
Purpresture is a
wrongful encroachment on, or enclosure of, public land.
- Quarter Sessions
Quarter Sessions were
courts that heard cases deemed too serious to be dealt with by
Petty Sessions, but not where the defendant could be sentenced to
capital punishment (or life imprisonment). They had a limited
jurisdiction over civil matters, such as highways, setting of
certain tolls and rates, and awarding licenses to public houses.
The court consisted of three Justices of the Peace (or a single
Recorder) and a jury. They were held four times a year, i.e.
quarterly. Abolished in 1971.
A bond entered into a court
whereby a person promises to appear in court on a certain day, pay
a sum of money, or perform a particular action.
This page was last reviewed 15 May 2013 at 21:33.
The page is next due for review 11 November 2014.