Source Information New South Wales, Australia, Criminal Court Records, 1830-1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Selected Court Records. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.

A full list of sources can be found here.

© the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales and is used under licence with the permission of the State Records Authority. The State of New South Wales gives no warranty regarding the data's accuracy, completeness, currency or suitability for any particular purpose.

About New South Wales, Australia, Criminal Court Records, 1830-1945

The Supreme Court in New South Wales heard the most serious criminal cases, whilst the General and Quarter Sessions dealt with all crimes and misdemeanours not punishable with death. This collection includes criminal case calendars, indexes of criminal cases and eligible jurors, criminal case registers and returns, registers of depositions, registers of fines and forfeitures, and other related records. This collection includes court records from Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Berrima, Broken Hill, Campbelltown, Cook, Cootamundra, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Eden, Goulburn, Grafton, Hay, Lismore, Maitland, Moree, Narrabri, Narrandera, Newcastle, Parramatta, Sydney, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Windsor, and Wollongong.

One of the interesting subsets of this collection is the Registry of Flash Men, which is a journal documenting underworld life in 1840s Sydney, kept by William Augustus Miles, the Superintendent, then Commissioner, of the Sydney Police, 1840–1848. Each entry contains a little sketch of a criminal, with notations on the crime(s) committed, past incarceration, and sometimes names of associates and family.

Courts of General and Quarter Sessions (known as Quarter Sessions)
(From the Archives in Brief 32 - Quarter Session records on the NSW State Records website.)
Courts of General and Quarter Sessions (Quarter Sessions) were formalised in New South Wales in 1824 under the provisions of the Better Administration of Justice in New South Wales Act 1823. The Courts were given power to deal with all crimes and misdemeanours not punishable with death. In addition they were given a summary jurisdiction over offences committed by convicts not free by pardon, or whose sentence had not expired. The Courts also adjudicated ‘on appeals from summary convictions, or other decisions of single justices, or of the Courts of Petty Sessions, on road cases, and other matters referred to Quarter Sessions by various enactments of the Legislature’.[1]

Initially there was no district structure of the Court, which met as required. In 1858 the Courts of General and Quarter Sessions were arranged into districts.

The court ceased on 1 July 1973 when the Quarter Sessions were abolished and the district courts took on the criminal as well as the civil jurisdiction. The Sydney Court of General and Quarter Sessions became a court in the District Court Criminal and Special Jurisdiction, Sydney and Central Division.

Clerk of the Peace
The bulk of the records relating to cases heard by the Quarter Sessions were created by the office of the Clerk of the Peace. The first Clerk of the Peace (the predecessor of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) in New South Wales was appointed in 1817. The office lapsed in 1821, but after the abolition of the office of Judge Advocate and the institution of Quarter Sessions in 1825, it became necessary to revive the office.

From the 1830s onwards the Clerks of the Peace were appointed in country districts where Quarter Sessions were held. The title Clerk of the Peace changed to ‘Solicitor for Public Prosecutions and Clerk of the Peace’ in 1980 and in 1986 the Director of Public Prosecutions Act appointed a Director of Public Prosecutions to institute and conduct Crown proceedings.

[1] Historical Records of Australia 1.26.638-642