This book, originally published in 1905, is a calendar of the Sessions books for Middlesex County, 1690–1709. “Sessions” refers to court sessions, which dealt with a broad range of issues. This calendar serves as an index that notes volumes and pages where items can be found in the Session books at the London Metropolitan Archives.
What You Can Find in the Records
Beginning at the start of the reign of William III and Mary II, this two-decade collection gives unique insights into the times and the day-to-day workings of the county. Many of the entries deal with provisions for the poor, with references to individuals in many cases. Examples include wounded soldiers and sailors, or women who had been deserted by their husbands. There are frequent entries referring to the “settlement” of individuals between parishes. Right of settlement was an important issue in determining which parish was responsible for poor relief for an individual.
The calendar notes punishments for crimes, which may involve sentencing to imprisonment or, more commonly, fines, time in a pillory, or whippings.
The court heard cases on the parentage of illegitimate children and requests for terminating apprenticeships. Appointments to public positions are mentioned, and you’ll find entries regarding payments for work done on roads and other civic improvements.
Nonconformists needed licenses for assemblies of more than five persons, and you can find memorandums regarding these licenses among the records. Some Catholics were listed as “suspected papists” who had refused to take oaths of allegiance to the king and queen.
Licenses were also required for alehouses, and there are complaints about alehouses and suppression or revocation of licenses where owners had “suffered visits from prostitutes” or otherwise run afoul of the prevailing laws.
References to the military can include soldiers seeking relief, debtors being released from prison to serve in the army or navy, and relief for the spouses of soldiers and sailors.
Beyond the names of individuals, you’ll gain insights into the times through legislation aimed at bettering communities and conditions at institutions such as prisons.
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