The clipped image below comes from the Dorset, England, Quarter Sessions Order Books, 1625-1905 via Ancestry.com:

Name: Arthurus Bewsey
Event Date: 1682-1693
Event Place: Dorset, England
Reference Number: QSM 2/1

enter image description here

My 8th great grandfather Arthur Bewcy, a Yeoman, was buried on 29 Mar 1719 at Holnest, Dorset, England

Arthur BEWCY buried 29.3.1719 - see Dorset Online Parish Clerk records for Holnest

I have not tried to read a Quarter Sessions Order Book previously and I am only about 80% sure that I have picked out his name (at bottom left).

I think the last line starts:

Arthurus Bewsey & John ...

but that is all that I can read of it.

According to Ancestry.com:

The records document Quarter Session judges’ decisions in matters that include settlement inquiries, highway rates, criminal trials, registers of settlement, orders of removal, bastardy examinations, apprenticeships, licensing, contracts, lists of justices, and other matters related to the business of running the county.

so I am very keen to understand what brought my ancestor to a Quarter Session and how he fared there.

Is anyone able to read more or all of the entry related to Arthurus?

For anyone able to use it, this is a link to the image on Ancestry.com, and the entry above is the one at the bottom of the left hand page.

Dorset County Council has posted a PDF guide to quarter sessions which has lots of interesting information about this recordset and says that:

The records for the early to mid 17th century are largely in Latin but thereafter you will usually find them in English. From 1731 the records are legally required to be in English

Since this is late 17th century the above suggests that it might be in English but as @HarryVervet has commented this is in Latin.

  • 1
    I'd try to figure out what language is used first. "Arthurus" for Arthur suggests it may be in Latin. That said, based on the looped "h" in Arthurus, I think the fourth word in that line, which you have as "John...", is actually "Holnest". I'll try to have a proper look later.
    – AndyW
    Oct 8, 2016 at 6:15
  • Thanks @AndyW - I think you are right about Holnest, and that it may be in Latin (which I know not).
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 8, 2016 at 6:53
  • 1
    @PolyGeo It is definitely all in Latin. These plea books are in Latin up to the 1750s.
    – Harry V.
    Oct 8, 2016 at 23:26

2 Answers 2


Building on the previous answer, the section is headed:

Recogn' contin' Respect' & capt' apud ult' sess'

(roughly translated: recognizances respited and taken at the last sessions)

The entry in question

comp' & ex'
Arthurus Bewsey de Holnest agr' pro b. b. pro b. g.

(appeared and discharged
Arthur Bewsey of Holnest, farmer, for good surety, for good behaviour

These were recongnizances appearing at the Epiphany quarter sessions on January 13-15th 1684 (NS 1685), held at Blandford Forum.

So there must be a previous entry in the previous Quarter Sessions – Michaelmas, October 7th-9th, 1684, held at Bridport – and indeed there is one:

enter image description here

It is under the heading:

Recogn' modo Retorn'

(Recognizances now returned)

com' R' &c m — xl s
Arthurus Bewsey de Holnest agr' pro b. g.

(appeared, plead guilty [Reus] etc., fined 40 shillings
Arthur Bewsey of Holnest, farmer, for good behaviour

Unfortunately in these plea book entries there does not appear to be a specific mention of why Arthur Bewsey was taken to court.

  • Many thanks - you finding and translating that earlier Quarter Session entry is a bonus for me. Were you able to see a date on either entry? I'm happy to ask that as a separate question if you think it warrants one.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 9, 2016 at 7:27
  • @PolyGeo I've added the dates and places of each of the sessions (Ancestry has them indexed under the wrong year)
    – Harry V.
    Oct 9, 2016 at 12:18
  • Thanks for doing that @HarryVervet - expect to see me accept your answer but I'll leave it unaccepted for a few days just in case anyone else may have more to add.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 9, 2016 at 12:23
  • To that point, were the records here using the Gregorian or Julian calendar? I recall decoding a similar document in my own research from around the same period and finding I needed to convert the dates to align it to other records. Oct 14, 2016 at 23:59
  • @richardtallent Julian calendar - England didn't change to the Gregorian calendar until 1752. The start of the year at that time was Lady Day (25th March) under the Julian calendar, hence the first example being January 1685 by modern reckoning.
    – Harry V.
    Oct 15, 2016 at 0:38

The text is indeed Latin, although most words are English names, and some other words are English as well. What I read is this:

Arthurus Bewcy de holnest agij. pro b.b. pro b.g.

This agij could also be agr, although the r normally seems to be written differently. But other entries state the trade of the person, like "labourer" and "spinster", so could agr stand for agricola "farmer"? Perhaps that word was used to indicate a yeoman at the time? I'm afraid I'm not very familiar with 17th-century English spelling, nor with insular abbreviations. The Latin word de means "from", and Holnest is a parish in Dorset.

  • Many thanks - those are some significant steps forward from where I was.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 8, 2016 at 23:59
  • @PolyGeo♦: I'll mull over it some more—good luck!
    – Cerberus
    Oct 9, 2016 at 0:21
  • I wonder whether the latin for bastardy bond has the initials b.b. too.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 9, 2016 at 0:35
  • @PolyGeo♦: Hmm I'm sure something like bastardus would start with a b, but "bond" is difficult to translate. It is possible that they used English here?
    – Cerberus
    Oct 9, 2016 at 0:37
  • I think I am reading the number "84" further up that page. Presumably 1684? Also, Arthur's only son (that I know of) married that year: Robert BEWSEY s.o. After and Agnes & Elezeneth BRYDELL daughter of Edward and Ephzebath married 20-May 1684 opcdorset.org/HolnestFiles/HolnestMarriages.htm
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 9, 2016 at 0:41

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