In the early days of Tennessee, the court system differed from what we know today. The County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was the primary court handling most local issues during this early period. The county court was comprised of Justices of the Peace (J. P.‘s), each representing a defined area which they served. The J. P.‘s were appointed by the Territory or State until 1836, elected thereafter. They were given sole jurisdiction over cases involving less than $50 in property or fines, handling all the minor civil and criminal matters such as tax disputes, probate, debt disputes, etc... as well as performing marriage rights. Cases involving more than $50 in property or fines, criminal matters or appellate matters were handled by the district Superior Court of Law and Equity until 1809, the circuit courts thereafter.
The J. P.‘s also served as representatives on the Court of Quarter Sessions (Quarterly Court). The Quarterly Court, meeting in quorum, served as the legislative body of the county, enacting laws and ordinances by which the local community was governed. The Quarterly Court was the forerunner to today‘s County Commission system of government.
The Knox County Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions index is a complete listing for all dockets from the creation of Knox County in 1792 to 1900. Practically, the largest number of filings occurred in the first half of the 1800‘s.
Copies of the original records can be obtained from the Knox County Archives. Please contact us by phone or e-mail for a price quote.