Carlisle Courts of Law

  > The Assizes - in A.D. 1435, and the 14th year of the reign of Henry VI, in consequence of the assizes having been removed to other places, during the Scottish wars, an Act of Parliament was obtained, which enacts as follows:- "Whereas, by a statute made in the time of king Richard II, it was ordained that the justices assigned or to be assigned to take assizes and deliver goals, shall hold their sessions in the principal and chief town of every county, that is to say, where the shire courts of the counties heretofore and hereafter shall be holden, our lord the king, willing the same statute to be observed and kept in the county of Cumberland, considering that the city of Carlisle is the principal and chief town of the said county, and in which the shire court of the same county hath been holden before this time, hath granted and ordained by the authority of the same parliament, that the session of the justices to take assizes and to deliver gaols1 in the county of Cumberland, be holden in time of peace and truce in the said city of Carlisle, and in none other place within the same county, as it hath been used and accustomed of old time." The assizes are held in spring and autumn, and each assize is now attended by two judges, who, during their stay, generally remain at Mrs. Warwick's, 43, Fisher-street.

The County Midsummer and Christmas Quarter Sessions are held at Carlisle2 on the first week after the 24th June and the first week after the 28th December.

Quarter Sessions for the borough of Carlisle are held in the Town Hall, on the Monday preceding each county session, by the mayor and two senior aldermen.

The Courts of the Mayor and Bailiffs of the borough of Carlisle, sits every Monday, in the Town Hall, to try actions in debt and trover3, to the amount of 40s. It may be adjourned at pleasure, and is held quarterly, when, by a concurrent jurisdiction, actions of debt , &c., amounting to upwards of 40s., may be tried and determined.

The borough magistrates also sit at the Town Hall, every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday; and the county magistrates sit at the Court House, every Wednesday and Saturday.

A Court Leet and View of Frankpledge for the city of Carlisle, was formerly held twice, but now only once a year, in October, by the dean and chapter, in their manors of Botchergate and Caldewgate.

Courts Leet and Baron are held at "The Thorn" in Hesket parish, on St. Barnabus' day, by the duke of Devonshire.

The County Court of Cumberland, is held at Carlisle, Penrith, and other places, to suit the convenience of the inhabitants. Matters to any amount were originally determined in the county courts, until the statute of Gloucester directed that no suits, in which the actions exceeded 40s. should be commenced without the king's writ.

In 1846 an act was penned, "for the more easy recovery of small debts and demands," and in February an order in council declared that all courts for the recovery of small debts and demands, under any previous acts should be abolished on the 13th of March, 1847, with the exception of the city court of Middlesex, a small debt court at Bath, one at Liverpool, one at Sheffield, and two at Bristol, which are to be held as county courts under the late act. A second order in council declared that the act should be put into force on the 15th of March, in every county in England and Wales, and that each county, shall, for the purposes of the act, be divided into districts. The following are the places, in Cumberland at which the district courts are held, and, as in most other places, they imply the several superintendent registrars' districts, and bear the same name, viz., Alston, Carlisle, Cockermouth, Keswick, Penrith, Whitehaven, and Wigton.

A very commodious police station was erected in 1840, on the West Walls4, out of the corporation funds; and an excellent and efficient constabulary is maintained from the same source, without calling on the inhabitants for any rate whatever, although, under the old regime, a rate of about 800 a year was levied on the inhabitants for the support of the police establishment. The establishment consists of a superintendent, two sergeants, four day officers, and fifteen nightmen; Mr. Thomas Hodgson is clerk to the watch committee, Mr. John Sabbage, superintendent, and John Barnfather and Joseph Haugh, sergeants.


Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847




1. "deliver gaols" - to clear prisoners from gaol (jail) and deliver them safely for trial.
2. The Easter and Michaelmas County Quarter Sessions were held at Cockermouth.
3. "trover" - actions brought to recover goods illegally held by another person.
4. The police station was still on West Walls in 1901. The police station in Rickergate was opened in 1941, but following the devastating floods of 2005 has remained unused, with a temporary station in the Citadel, on English Street. A new HQ is being built at Durranhill.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman