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The Records of the Police Court/Municipal Court: Criminal Cases 1846-1945

Introduction

The records of the Police Court/Municipal Court described in this inventory cover the years 1846 to 1945 and total 61 volumes.  They form a subgroup within the record group, Police Department.

This group of records documents the criminal cases that came before the PoliceCourt/Municipal Court of Manchester.  This court was called the Police Court, City of Manchester, from 1846 to 1913.  It was renamed the Police Court for the District of Manchester from 1913 to 1915.  In March of 1915, the Police Court changed names again to the Municipal Court of Manchester.

The first Criminal Court volume, 1846-1850, has been restored courtesy of a New Hampshire State Library's Moose Plate Conservation Grant.  The scanned images of the book can be seen below.


Scope and Content

The records of the Criminal Cases consist of seven series of records of cases arranged chronologically.  From 1846 to 1850 and again from 1873 to 1945, cases with all punishments were recorded together in one docket.  From 1850 to 1873, the records were kept in separate volumes making up two separate series: one for persons sent to the House of Corrections and the other for persons receiving fines.  There are two volumes of records of Complaints corresponding to the dockets from 1850 to 1853: one covers those receiving fines and the other for those sent to the House of Corrections.  There are also series for dockets of cases sent to the Supreme Judicial Court (1850 to 1945), one volume for the House of Reformation (1858 to 1874), and one volume for the Session for Children (1907 to 1916).

The Court Dockets for fines, jail time, or those cases that were sent to the Supreme Judicial Court are generally complete.  The Complaints, House of Reformation, and Session for Children records cover a limited span of time.

The records are handwritten in bound volumes and are in fragile condition.


Arrangement

The records are arranged chronologically within each series.  Most of the volumes from the Court Dockets are lettered on their spines, but some are not.


Administrative Information

The Criminal Case Police Court records were arranged and the finding aid prepared by Bonnie Kilby, Archival Assistant, in December 2000.


Access

The records are open for research with restrictions.  Researchers must receive permission from the Archivist to reprint any portion of the material.


Citation

The records of the Police Court/Municipal Court: Criminal Cases, Police Department, City of Manchester, New Hampshire.
Accession 2000.22


Series Descriptions

Court Dockets: All Punishments

Forty-one volumes arranged chronologically. These cover the periods from 1846 to 1850 and 1873 to 1945.   In most cases, they record the date, name of the accused (and sometimes the accuser), crime, plea, and judgment/sentence of cases tried in the Police Court/Municipal Court of Manchester.  Many records in the last two volumes in particular contain much less complete records for each case.  The records in this series cover the earliest and later periods.  The volumes from L (January 1879) forward, with the exception of FF and GG, have an index.

Court Dockets: Fines Only

Six volumes arranged chronologically and covering the period from 1850 to 1873.  In most cases, they record date, name of the accused (and sometimes the accuser), crime, plea, and fine for cases tried in the Police Court of Manchester.

Court Dockets: Jail Terms Only

Two volumes arranged chronologically and covering the period from 1850 to 1873.  In most cases, they record date, name of the accused (and sometimes the accuser), crime, plea, and sentence in House of Corrections for cases tried in the Police Court of Manchester.

Court Dockets: Cases sent to Supreme Judicial Court

Eight volumes arranged chronologically and covering the period from 1850 to 1945.  They record the cases which came before the Police Court/Municipal Court, but were sent to the Supreme Judicial Court (named the Court of Common Pleas up to August of 1855) for trial.  In general, they contain name, date, crime, plea, fines, and the date these cases were heard in the Supreme Judicial Court.  These crimes were more serious than those found in the Police Court Criminal Dockets.  Volumes M, Q, and W also contain records of some search warrants or records for arrest.  All the volumes from M (January 1879) forward contain an index.

Complaints

Two volumes covering the period from 1850 to 1853.  When applicable, each record contains name of the accused, description of crime, occupation, other persons summoned as witnesses, date, justice issuing order for arrest, fees involved, and when and by whom the party in question was brought before the Police Court.  These records correspond to the cases listed in Criminal Dockets B for fines and C for jail time.  The jail sentence (in volume C) or fine (in volume B) is recorded on the back of each record.

House of Reformation

One volume covering the period from 1858 to 1874.  It contains records of those individuals sentenced to the “House of Reformation for Juvenile and Female Offenders.”  Generally each entry contains the name, crime, date, plea, sentence and fine.

Session for Children

One volume covering the period from 1907 to 1916.  Each case record contains the name, crime, date, judge, clerk, and a basic analysis of the proceedings.  A significant number of cases have notes in the margin recording information such as the child’s age, past crimes, family situation, or ethnicity.


Manchester, NH Criminal Docket Vol. 1 1846 - Aug. 1848


Manchester, NH Criminal Docket Vol. 1 Sept. 1848 - 1850

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