Various authorities have been responsible for local administration in Dorset; the responsibilities of these authorities included poor relief, education, highways, the courts and building control.

District, borough and county councils

Dorset History Centre holds records for Dorset Council as well as many superseded authorities including Dorset County Council, and district and borough councils. 

Core records for most of the these authorities are minutes, agenda papers, correspondence and accounts. We also hold some building control records.

Many of these collections are not yet catalogued, so if you are unable to find what you are looking for on our online catalogue please contact us.

Quarter Sessions

Our guide to quarter sessions will help you make the most of the archives.

Some of the records within the Quarter Sessions collection include:

  • records of the appointment of county officials
  • alehouse licences
  • bastardy orders
  • lists, plans and reports on bridges and highways
  • plans of canals
  • poll books 
  • enclosure maps 
  • jury lists
  • land Tax assessments
  • militia lists
  • rolls of various oaths of allegiance etc
  • plans for various public works - gas, electricity, water and railways

The Quarter Sessions also tried criminal cases.

Listings for Quarter Sessions records are not yet available through our online catalogue. Please contact us for advice, or make use of our paper catalogues at the History Centre.

Parish councils

We also hold the records of Dorset's (civil) parish councils.

Please use our online catalogue to search parish council records.