A Guide to the Hampton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1881-1940 Hampton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1867-1940 0007431368-0007431376, 0007692278-0007692282

A Guide to the Hampton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1881-1940

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007431368-0007431376, 0007692278-0007692282


Library of Virginia

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© 2017 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Mary Dean Carter, Chris Smith, and Jerry Hunt

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
0007431368-0007431376, 0007692278-0007692282
Hampton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1867-1940
Physical Characteristics
6.30 cu. ft. (14 boxes)
Hampton (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Hampton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1867-1940. Local government records collection, Hampton (City) Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Hampton, VA 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in shipments of court records from the city of Hampton.

Historical Information

The city of Hampton, was located in Elizabeth City County, which is now extinct. It takes its name from Hampton Creek, earlier called Southampton River in honor of the earl of Southampton, an important figure in the Virginia Company of London. An Indian town stood on the site in 1607, when Captain John Smith visited the area. The colonists established a village there in 1610 and a trading post in 1630. Hampton was established by an act of assembly in 1680 and was designated as a port of entry in 1705. It was first incorporated as a town in March 1849, but the act was repealed the following December. It was incorporated again in 1852, but the act of incorporation was repealed in 1860. The General Assembly incorporated the town of Hampton in 1887 for a third time, and it became a city by court order on 4 March 1908. It was greatly enlarged on 1 July 1952 by a merger with Elizabeth City County and the town of Phoebus; the county and town thereby became extinct.

Elizabeth City County was named for Elizabeth, daughter of King James I, and was one of the original shires, or counties, first enumerated in 1634. It became extinct on 1 July 1952 when it was incorporated into the city of Hampton, which was the county seat.

Records were burned or destroyed during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Additional records were burned in Richmond on 3 April 1865, where they had been moved for safekeeping during the Civil War. A few pre-Civil War volumes such as deed books, will books, and order books exist.

The separate office of coroner appeared in Virginia about 1660. The judicial duty of the office is to hold inquisitions in cases when persons meet sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious death, or death without medical attendance. The coroner would summon a jury to assist him in determining cause of death. Prior to November 1877, the jurors numbered twelve. Between November 1877 and March 1926, the jurors numbered six. The jury viewed the body of the deceased and heard the testimony of witnesses. The coroner was required to write down witness testimony. After seeing and hearing the evidence, the jury delivered in writing to the coroner their conclusion concerning cause of death referred to as the inquisition. After March 1926, only the coroner determined cause of death. The coroner could require physicians to assist him with determing cause of death. If a criminal act was determined to be the cause of death, the coroner was to deliver the guilty person to the sheriff and the coroners' inquests would be used as evidence in the criminal trial.

Scope and Content

Hampton (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1867-1940, are investigations into the deaths of individuals who died by a sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious manner, or died without medical attendance. They include coroners' inquisitions filed in Elizabeth City County court. Causes of death found in coroners' inquisitions include murder, infanticide, suicide, domestic violence, exposure to elements, drownings, train accidents, automobile accidents, and natural causes. Documents commonly found in coroners' inquests include the inquisition, depositions, and summons. Criminal papers such as recognizance bonds can be found in coroner inquisitions. Information found in the inquisition include the name of the coroner, the names of the jurors, the name and age of the deceased if known, gender and race of the deceased, and when, how, and by what means the deceased came to his or her death. Information found in the depositions include the name of the deponent and his or her account of the circumstances that led to the death of the deceased.


Chronological by date coroner filed inquisition in the court.

Related Material

See the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection available at Virginia Memory.

For more information and a listing of lost records localities see Lost Records research note .

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Elizabeth City County (Va.) Circuit Court
  • Hampton (Va.) Circuit Court
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--History
  • Coroners--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Coroners--Virginia--Hampton
  • Death--Causes--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Death--Causes--Virginia--Hampton
  • Infanticide--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Infanticide--Virginia--Hampton
  • Murder victims--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Murder victims--Virginia--Hampton
  • Murder--Investigation--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Murder--Investigation--Virginia--Hampton
  • Suicide--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Suicide--Virginia--Hampton
  • Women--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Women--Virginia--Hampton
  • Geographical Names:

  • Elizabeth City County (Va.)--History
  • Hampton (Va.)--History
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Death records--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Death records--Virginia--Hampton
  • Local government records--Virginia--Hampton
  • Reports--Virginia--Elizabeth City County
  • Reports--Virginia--Hampton

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Elizabeth City County (Va.)--History
  • Hampton (Va.)--History

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1906 May 9, Elsa Pavlinie:

Pavlinie "came to her death from multiple gunshot wounds from a pistol in the hands of Julian Pavlinie (husband). A deliberate, premeditated, willful attack." The Pavlinies were a German couple. Elsa Pavlinie had been sent to Eastern State mental hospital and complained of the treatment there. Her husband said she made him promise to kill her should she need to return because of the harsh treatment she encountered there. He shot her six times, apparently while she was asleep. The case was reported in newspapers all over the state of Virginia and nationwide. Case also includes document in German on prostitution.

1906 July 3, Dilsey Boykins:

"Cause of death myocarditis and exonerate John Bryant from responsibility for her death, though undoubtedly illegally practicing medicine." Bryant had "prescribed" herbal remedies for Ms. Boykins' complaints and administered "rubbings" in exchange for eggs and cash.

1912 March 30, Ida Belote:

Mrs. Belote was brutally murdered by Virginia Christian, a young house keeper, after a dispute. Christian was later convicted and sentenced to death for the murder making her the first female of the 20th Century to be executed in the Commonwealth. Furthermore, she is the only female juvenile executed in the Commonwealth. For more inforamtion about the Belote case, read the Library of Virginia's "Out of the Box" blog entry.

1917 June 12, Maggie Boulton:

Coroner's report indicates that Mrs. Boulton was murdered by a gunshot wound to the head by Willie Browden. Mr. Browden then turned the gun on himself taking his own life. The only witness to this murder-suicide was Ms. Boulton's seven year old son John whose deposition is included in the report. Mr. Browden was also apparently known to use the surname Boulton which indicates that there was likely an intimate or familial relationship between Browden and Boulton.

1916 February 8, Thomas Lipscomb:

Mr. Lipscomb came to his death by falling or tripping over the rails of an Electric Car track. The coroner's reports indicate that Lipscomb was an elderly veteran, possibly of the Civil War, who was deaf and often stayed with a Mr. J. M. Walker. The depositions implies that Mr. Lipscomb was a Union soldier, staying with a Virginia family and Lipscomb mentioned regularly that he intended to leave all he possessed with Walker's daughter upon his death though he had family in Canada and Michigan.

1914 October, Georgianna Copeland:

Ms. Copeland, her son Fenton, and her husband were struck in their wagon by a Chesapeake and Ohio passenger train. Elizabeth City coroner, Dr. George Vanderslice interviewed crew members of said train as well as individuals representing the railraod. There is much dialogue regarding the safety issues surrounding dangerous railroad crossings in urban areas. The depositions explore in great detail the various measures being used and experimented with to notify automobiles, electric cars and pedestrians of coming trains.

1915 June 23, Lauritz Larsen:

Mr. Larsen came to his death by jumping off the ship S. S. Michigan and getting struck by the propeller of the ship. A Danish soldier, Larsen was believed to have intentionally jumped the ship to "escape" but we do not know from what. Inquest includes a newspaper clipping relating the story.

1921 December 8, T. Azuma:

Azuma died from drowning after a fight aboard a ship in Hampton Roads. Presumably Japanese, Azuma and another Japanese companion were accused of killing George Andrews in search of money and whiskey. Azuma and his companion were then attacked by Andrew's friends and thrown off of a boat after the fight. Inquest includes papers found in Azuma's pocket book with both English and Japanese characters on them.

1927 April 22, Robert H. Bushman:

At 28 years old, Bushman took his life by ingesting bichloride tablets, a commonly used antiseptic. Severely diabetic, Bushman was living in the National Soldier's Home and became infatuated with a nurse there named Ms. Anderson. She apparently did not reciprocate his sentiments and this rejection was believed to be the catalyst to Bushman's suicide. Included with the inquest is Bushman's oddly poetic suicide note addressed to Ms. Anderson.

1931 April 16, Charles Edward Thompson:

Charles Thompson shot himself in the chest January 2nd 1931 and died January 6th 1931 from those wounds. Included in the inquest are two notes; one a letter to whoever would find his body and a second, written on an envelope and addressed to his brothers requesting that they see to it that Thompson's children do not end up in the home of their mother. Inside said envelope were two live .22 caliber rounds and one empty casing with loose bullet presumably from the weapon used to commit the act.

1931 October 28, Murray Small:

Small was with a group of men gambling and drinking and while under the influence of alcohol, started an altercation with a Eunice Jenkins. Small attacked Jenkins with an iron pipe and Jenkins retreated to a closet returning with a pistol and shot Small three times in the chest. The inquest includes admission and discharge papers for Jenkins regarding his treatment in the National Soldier's Home for paranoia and "hearing voices." Jenkins was a member of the 368th Infantry, 92nd Division also known as the Buffalo Soldiers and served in France during World War One. Jenkins admission papers mention "visions…of the German Prisoners whose voices he had been hearing."