English & Welsh executions by Court Circuit 1735 - 1799.


With thanks to David Mossop for supplying the data and for his endless patience in checking my manuscripts.

During the period 1735 – 1799 there were a total of 6233 confirmed executions and 241 possible or probable ones carried out. These pages list them all, along with the names of rape and murder victims where known.

At this time in history judges rode on horseback from one county town to the next, trying all the people bought up before the assizes who had been charged with more serious criminal offences that could not be dealt with my magistrates or the Quarter Sessions.   Quarter Sessions were held four times a year in each county and dealt with the lesser, non capital, crimes.
The assize system dates back to the 12th century and by the middle of the 16th century six assize circuits had developed each under the control of the Clerk of the Assize. The Assizes were normally held twice a year in Lent and Summer. In some counties the Assize was an annual event and therefore people could spend many months in prison awaiting trial.  The Assize Court and Quarter Sessions system remained until 1971 when it was abolished by the Courts Act of 1971 and replaced by the present Crown Court system.


Defendants in the counties of London and Middlesex (included in the above totals) were dealt with separately at the frequent Sessions of The Old Bailey. (See the Tyburn & Newgate files for details.)



England had 6 Assize Circuits, these being :


The Home Circuit, covering the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.


The Midland Circuit, covering the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland and Warwickshire; together with the Counties of the City of Coventry and Lincoln and the Counties of the towns of Leicester and Nottingham.


The Oxford Circuit, covering the counties of Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire; together with the Counties of the Cities of Gloucester and Worcester.


The Western Circuit, covering the counties of Cornwall, Devonshire, Dorset, Somerset and Southamptonshire (Hampshire), Wiltshire and the County of the City of Exeter and the Counties of the towns of Poole and Southampton. Only one trial has been traced for the City of Exeter Assizes.


The Norfolk Circuit, covering the counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk and Suffolk; together with the County of the City of Norwich.


The Northern Circuit, covering the counties of Cumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire, together with the County of the City of York and the Counties of the towns of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Kingston-upon-Hull.


Additionally there were several towns and cities that could pass death sentences at Quarter Sessions.

These were Berwick, Bristol, Exeter, King’s Lynn, Lichfield, Oxford, Peterborough and Yarmouth. These are included with the relevant circuit, geographically.



Wales, including Cheshire, had four circuits, known as the Great Sessions, which comprised :


The Brecon Circuit.
This comprised the counties of Breconshire, Glamorganshire and Radnorshire.


The Carmarthen Circuit.

Comprising Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.


The Chester Circuit.

Comprising Cheshire and Chester, Denbigh, Flintshire and Montgomeryshire.


The North Wales Circuit.

This circuit covered the counties of Anglesey, Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire.

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