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Aldermen's Court

[Record group 131]
Agency Function

Agency History
The office of aldermen was created in Philadelphia by Penn's charter to the City of 1701 which appointed eight aldermen who, along with the Mayor, Recorder, and twelve Common Council members, formed the Corporation of the City. All were given powers of justices of the peace and of oyer and terminer for both the City and County and two or more aldermen, along with the Mayor and Recorder, comprised the City Court. These offices were terminated with the Revolution but the second incorporation of the City, by an Act of 1789, provided for the popular election every seven years of fifteen aldermen who were to continue to be members of Council, to sit upon the Mayor's (formerly City) Court, and to exercise in their own courts the powers of justices of the peace (with a jurisdictional limit of 10 pounds currency) but for the City only. Acts of 1796, 1804 and 1805 respectively directed that aldermen be appointed by the Governor, placed a $100 limit upon the jurisdiction of their courts, and made them ineligible to sit upon City Council. In 1839, the office was again made elective. An Act of 1851 extended the jurisdiction of the City's aldermen throughout the County. The office passed practically unchanged through the Consolidation of 1854. With the adoption of the State Constitution in 1874, the office of alderman was abolished in Philadelphia and its duties and powers transferred to the then-instituted office of magistrate.

Archival Records
131.1 Criminal and Civil Docket (1845-1857)

131.2 Civil Docket (1850-1852, 1858-1860)

131.3 Landlord and Tenant Docket (1873-1876)

131.4 Bail Bond Docket (1870-1876; missing 1875)

131.5 Criminal Transcript (1876)

131.6 Affidavits (1875-1876)

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Last updated on November 8, 2000