Maintaining the rule of law has been seen as one of the main functions of the English Crown (monarchy) since the Middle Ages. Courts of law and justice existed and still exist today to deliver it.
Justices of the Peace (JPs) were appointed by the Crown on the advice of the Lord Lieutenant for the county to administer justice at a local level.
County JPs met four times a year in Gloucester, at meetings known as Quarter Sessions. They met to try cases.
At these meetings, JPs dealt with a wide range of administrative business as well as criminal cases. This included the repair of the major county highways and bridges and the county gaol. They licensed a wide range of activities including the sale of alcohol, the operation of printing presses, and the formation of friendly societies. And they supervised other bodies, such as the parish officers responsible for poor relief.
Less serious cases were heard by JPs in Magistrates' Courts (often called Petty Sessions). This is how Stroud Magistrates' Court was established, but it is due to close summer 2016
In 1889, the County Council was established and all this administrative business was transferred. Although the Quarter Sessions Court continued to meet, in 1971, the Court was replaced by Gloucester Crown Court, with professional judges.