Annapolis County (N.S.). Court of General Sessions of the Peace

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Annapolis County (N.S.). Court of General Sessions of the Peace

Parallel form(s) of name

    Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

      Other form(s) of name

      • Annapolis County (N.S.). Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace

      Identifiers for corporate bodies

      Description area

      Dates of existence



      Prior to 1879 local government in Nova Scotia was the responsibility of the appointed Court of General Sessions of the Peace, which was composed of all those who held commissions as justices of the peace within a particular county. The Annapolis County Court of General Sessions of the Peace began with the creation of the county in 1759. Meeting two or more times a year, the court had both administrative and judicial functions. It was empowered to appoint local officials, who had been nominated by the Grand Jury; levy county and poor rates; exercise control over roads, bridges, prisons, hospitals, and other public works; regulate animals, weeds, fires, taverns, and the inland fisheries and perform other duties assigned by statute. It could also sit as a court of justice, with limited criminal jurisdiction, using the Grand and Petit Jury system from England. The Grand Jury decided whether a charge should proceed to trial. The Petit Jury decided on an accused’s guilt or innocence. Jury members were selected by lot from a list of male residents who either owned land or held a minimum amount of personal wealth. In 1800 Annapolis County was divided into eastern and western districts and the Court of General Sessions was required to sit twice a year in each district. In 1837 the Western District became Digby County and was subsequently under the jurisdiction of its own court. The passage of the County Incorporation Act in 1879 replaced the administrative functions of the Court of General Sessions with an elected municipal council. Its judicial function was assumed by the Supreme Court on County Circuit.


      Legal status

      Functions, occupations and activities

      Mandates/sources of authority

      Internal structures/genealogy

      General context

      Relationships area

      Access points area

      Subject access points

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      Control area

      Authority record identifier

      Institution identifier

      Rules and/or conventions used



      Level of detail

      Dates of creation, revision and deletion

      revised 2024-01-31 Karen White (added functions of Grand and Petit juries, where functions went after 1879)




          Contents of the fonds.

          Phillips, Jim. “Halifax Juries in the Eighteenth Century” in Criminal Justice in the Old World and the New edited by Greg T. Smith, Allyson N. May and Simon Devereaux (Toronto: Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, 1998).

          Maintenance notes