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Key collections

Staffordshire quarter sessions, 16th-20th centuries

The Quarter Sessions records provide an insight into every aspect of the lives of Staffordshire's people over four centuries. 

The county magistrates' original function was to try criminal cases, but from the sixteenth century onwards they were given an ever-expanding range of administrative functions. Criminal records include calendars of prisoners and depositions of witnesses. 

Civil records include:

  • electoral registers and poll books
  • registration of dissenting meeting houses, freemasons, canal boats, etc.
  • deposited plans of railways and public undertakings, such as municipal gasworks

Parish collections, 16th-21st centuries

A vital source for both family and community history, these collections include:

  • records of baptism, marriage and burial
  • the building and maintenance of parish churches
  • community organisations and local charities
  • relief of poverty
We publish a guide to the parish registers and bishop's transcripts held across the Archive Service. 

Diocese of Lichfield, 12th-21st centuries

As Coventry and Lichfield was one of the largest dioceses in medieval England this collection is central for the history not only of Staffordshire, but also of Derbyshire, Shropshire and Warwickshire, and to a lesser degree Cheshire and south Lancashire.

Subjects covered include:

  • appointments of clergy
  • church building and repair
  • the maintenance of social order through the church courts
  • issue of marriage licences
  • probate of wills
A more detailed overview of this collection is available in our published guide to the contents of the Lichfield Record Office.

Lichfield City Council records, 14th-20th centuries

We hold records for the City Council, which received its first charter in 1548, and for its predecessor the Guild of St Mary and St John the Baptist.

These include:

  • freemen's records and material from the city companies, including the Butchers, Sadlers and Smiths
  • court books
  • documents about elections
  • 19th century improvements such as paving and lighting

Family and estate collections, 11th-20th centuries

Staffordshire was dominated economically and politically by a handful of aristocratic families and their extensive estates. 

We hold the archives of many gentry families including the:

  • Dukes of Sutherland (Leveson-Gower)
  • Marquesses of Anglesey (Paget)
  • Earls of Dartmouth (Legge)
  • Earls of Lichfield (Anson)
  • Lords Stafford (Stafford/Jerningham/Fitzherbert)
  • Lords Bagot (Bagot)
  • Lords Hatherton (Littleton)

They give an invaluable insight into the management of great landed estates, and their economic development, including the exploitation of agricultural and mineral resources.

The personal papers of family members reflect not only their family and social lives, but also their public service, whether in government, the church or the armed services.

We publish a hard copy guide to the family and estate collections held across the Archive Service.

Pottery industry records, 18th-20th centuries

The pottery industry was the dominant industry of the city of Stoke on Trent and its five towns for two centuries, giving impetus to the city's artistic and cultural life.

Stoke on Trent City Archives holds records of some of the most prestigious companies including:

  • Royal Doulton and Spode for tableware
  • Minton for tiles
  • Twyfords for sanitaryware
  • Capper Rataud for pottery transfers
  • Jesse Shirley for colour manufacture
We publish a guide to the business records held across the Archive Service.

Locomotive and rail engineering companies, 19th-20th centuries

One of the great success stories of the nineteenth century was the explosive growth of the railway network in Britain and worldwide.

The hold the records of companies such as:

  • Bagnall's of Stafford
  • Baguley-Drewry of Burton upon Trent
  • Dorman's of Stafford
  • Birmingham Rail Carriage and Wagon Company of Smethwick

They contain invaluable information about the rolling-stock that they produced and supplied to railways in Britain and around the world, from South America to south-east Asia.

We publish a guide to the business records held across the Archive Service.

Coal mining records, 16th-20th centuries

This industry, dirty and dangerous, powered the nation, and was one of the county's mainstays for over 200 years.

Staffordshire has three coalfields:

  • North Staffordshire
  • Cannock Chase
  • South Staffordshire

Extensive records survive in the Paget family papers concerning coal extraction and related iron-smelting activities on Cannock Chase from the sixteenth century. We also hold records deposited by the former National Coal Board for many colliery companies nationalised in 1947, mainly relating to production.

We publish a guide to the colliery company records held across the Archive Service.

Public institutions, 19th-20th centuries

We hold records of a range of institutions, such as:

  • hospitals
  • prisons
  • schools

They contain detailed information about people, and give insights into their lives. Access to information may be restricted in certain cases.

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