Court of General Sessions, District of the County of Colchester fonds

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Court of General Sessions, District of the County of Colchester fonds

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  • 1820-1899 (Creation)
    Nova Scotia. Court of General Sessions of the Peace (District of the County of Colchester)

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8.5 cm of textual materials

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The Colchester region of Nova Scotia was considered part of Halifax County for administrative purposes until 1783, when a provincial statute allowed for the establishment of an Inferior Court of Common Pleas in Onslow Township and a Court of General Sessions of the Peace was appointed shortly thereafter. In 1765, the colonial government in Halifax had passed a law vesting virtually all responsibility for local governance to the Courts of General Sessions of the Peace, effectively sweeping aside the New England model of township self-government. The Colchester district encompassed the townships of Economy, Londonderry, Onslow, Truro, Westchester, and River Philip. The District of Colchester was eventually made a county in 1835. The Courts of General Sessions of the Peace were presided over by appointed Justices of the Peace. A county sheriff, also appointed, served as the Justices' executive officer. From a list of substantial land owners in each Court of Sessions' jurisdiction, the sheriff selected the Court's Grand Jury. Although the Sessions did function as courts of law, typically dealing with petty offences and preliminary hearings, much of their time was devoted to matters of local government, including: the appointment of local officers; licencing of taverns; levying of county and poor rates; control over roads and bridges, prisons and hospitals, and other public works; and hearing petitions on matters of local concern. Some township clerks, who were appointed by the Sessions after 1765, also kept township books recording vital statistics, land records, cattle marks, and township minutes and accounts. This arrangement continued until 1879, when the provincial government passed the County Incorporation Act, which did away with Sessional government. Under this act, the Sessional jurisdiction of the District of the County of Colchester became the Municipality of the County of Colchester.

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