Reports of constables returned to each session of court on the conditions and violations within their townships or boroughs. Returns include the name of the township/borough, name of constable, court session in which the return was given, the constable’s affirmed statement that the return is correct to their knowledge, and the constable’s signature. Information in early returns provides the number of tavern keepers, tippling houses, and retailers of spirituous liquors (with names); number of bastards born (sometimes with the name of the mother), deer killed out of season, and slaves newly arrived (“imported”) from out of the county. Other categories of information were added over the years such as the status of roads and index boards (road signs) and any election disturbances. Although required by an 1830 PA Law 387, lists of foreign merchants and later shop keepers started appearing in some of the returns in 1822. Pre-printed forms are used beginning in 1841.
Note 1: Sometimes constables add an “N.B.” (“mark well”) note on a specific situation.
Note 2: Some sessions have up to four returns (different constables or different information).
Arrangement: Chronological by court session and within the session alphabetically by
township or borough.
Index: None. See “inventory” for artificial listing of holdings. “FM” or “M” in the
inventory indicates merchants are listed in the return.
Corresponding Records: Constable Returns continue in the Quarter Sessions Miscellaneous Documents Series 2 until 1933 when abolished by PA Act of February 28, 1933.