Effect of the Industrial Revolution
With the 19th Century the movement of population to the towns brought new problems. The 'county' families moved out of the newly urbanised districts into neighbouring countryside. The 'trading Justices' chiefly associated with Middlesex, but who were also prominent in Lancashire, came in. In the second half of the 18th Century a large number of clergymen had served as Justices. Some had, in fact, been chairmen of Quarter Sessions. The Reverend W.R. Hay, who held a valuable living at Rochdale worth £2,500 a year, was probably the first. Another clergyman, the Reverend Richard Burn, Vicar or Orton in Westmoreland, was a chairman of Quarter Session, and published in 1755 his great work "The Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer". The edition published in 1869 was in five volumes.
During the change from rural to urban conditions, many of these clerical Justices played a prominent part, particularly in improving conditions in county gaols. In 1832, of the 5,300 active JP's, one in every four was in holy orders.
JP's relieved of administrative duties
Between 1829 and 1888, JP's were relieved of some of their major administrative duties with the exception of liquor licensing, and it was thought widely that they would soon be relieved of their judicial duties also. The historian Maitland wrote "The JP is cheap, he is pure, he is capable but he is doomed, he is to be sacrificed to a theory on the altar of the spirit of the age". Since he wrote those words, the judicial responsibilities of JP's have increased almost annually.
The effect of progressive urbanisation
Before 1835, Justices in towns were appointed in accordance with rights granted by charter. The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 provided for them to be nominated by the Lord Chancellor for the boroughs in consultation with local advisers, while, for the county benches, he continued to confirm the nomination of the Lord Lieutenants, who had their own methods for finding suitable candidates. The appointment of both was vested in the Crown acting on the Lord Chancellor's advice. The exception to the rule was Lancashire, where both county and borough magistrates were nominated by the Chancellor of the Duchy.
The system of appointment challenged
The Liberal Government in 1906 challenged this system of appointment, which led to a preponderance of Conservatives on the benches. The property qualification was abolished for county magistrates. Lord Loreburn, as Liberal Lord Chancellor, nominated 7,000 magistrates between January 1906, of whom 3,197 were liberals. The Royal Commission on the Appointment of Justices of the Peace 1910, recommended the institution of an Advisory Committee system, and by the end of 1911, Advisory Committees on which Liberals and Conservatives were usually equally represented had been set up in most counties to advise Lords Lieutenants on nominations. Ten or twelve years later, the boroughs also had formed Advisory Committees. Appointment to these Committees was for life until 1925, when Lord Cave introduced appointment for six years and ordered half the Committees to retire by rotation every three years.