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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
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.
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.
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.
- University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library
- Finding Aid Author
- Leslie O'Neill and Mitch Fraas
- Finding Aid Date
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