Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives hold five Court Books for the Fraserburgh Police Court. Police Courts heard cases relating to less serious offences and infringements of local bye laws, with cases decided on by a magistrate without a jury.
The Police Court Books are valuable sources for family historians with ancestors who stayed in Fraserburgh in the late 19th century, but, as a thriving port, Fraserburgh welcomed sailors from across the North of Scotland and further afield and some of whom also appear in the Court Book.
The first volume of the Police Court books (AS/Afra/2/1), covering the period 27 August 1881 - 17 August 1896, has been transcribed by our volunteer Sandy Weir and is available as a PDF below. Use the find tool to search for individual names.
The Court Book records:
- The name of the person accused and their designation (their profession, residence and, for women, their husband’s name).
- The date the case was heard at the court.
- The offence (see below).
- How they pleaded (many people didn't appear in court, in which case the plea column will appear blank – these cases usually forfeit any bail money they have paid and a warrant may have been issued to apprehend them).
- The amount paid to witnesses and the names of witnesses for the prosecution and defence (witnesses for the defence may be described as appearing 'in exculpation').
- The magistrate’s name and the finding (typically a fine or short jail sentence, occasionally non-residents can be ordered to leave town and some children are sent to industrial schools in Aberdeen. Very occasionally cases will be withdrawn).
- Any fines paid.
Often the legislation is cited rather than the crime itself, so you may need to refer to the original piece of legislation to discover what the individual is accused of. Copies of the acts may be held at both branches of the archive service, and some may be available online on the Legislation.gov.uk website.
Acts referred to in the first volume of the Police Court include:
- General and Police Improvement (Scotland) Act, 1862
- Public Houses Acts (Scotland) Amendment Act. 1862
- Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892
- Harbour Docks and Rigs Clauses Act, 1847
- Trespass Acts
- Fraserburgh Harbour Acts and Bye Laws (AS/Afra/3/27 Fraserburgh Harbour Acts 1839 - 1922 may be of use here).