A Guide to the Amherst County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1795-1878 Amherst County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1795-1878 0007289055

A Guide to the Amherst County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1795-1878

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007289055


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The Library of Virginia
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Amherst County Coroners' Inquisitions, 1795-1878
Physical Characteristics
.20 cu. ft.
Amherst County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Amherst County Coroners' Inquisitions, 1795-1878. Local government records collection, Amherst County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in shipments of court papers from Amherst County.

Historical Information

Amherst County was named for Major Jeffery Amherst, British commander in North America during the French and Indian War and governor of Virginia from 1759 to 1768. It was formed from Albemarle County in 1761.

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. He 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

Amherst County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1795-1878, are investigations into the deaths of individuals who died by a sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious manner, or died without medical attendance. Causes of death found in coroners' inquisitions include murder, infanticide, suicide, exposure to elements, drownings, train accidents, and natural causes, or as commonly referred to in the 19th century, visitation by God. Documents commonly found in coroners' inquests include the inquisition, depositions, and summons. 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, where the deceased was from, if known, and when, how, and by what means the deceased came to his or her death. If the deceased was African American, the inquest would identify the deceased as a slave or free person if known. If the deceased was a slave, the inquest would include, if known, the name of the slaveowner and the slaveowner's residence. 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.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Amherst County (Va.) Circuit Court
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--History
  • Coroners--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Death--Causes--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Murder victims--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Murder--Investigation--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Slaveholders--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Slaves--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Suicide--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Women--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Geographical Names:

  • Amherst County (Va.)--History
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Death records--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Local government records--Virginia--Amherst County
  • Reports--Virginia--Amherst County

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1800 March 17, Death of Joseph England:

Was killed when struck with a hand spike by Joseph Martin.

1803 April 8, Death of Joseph Hopkins:

Shot in the center of his breast by Lewis W. Wain.

1820 Jan. 17, Death of Isaac (slave):

Isaac, a slave owned by Charles Taliaferro, was struck with a pipe or some weapon by Robbin (slave).

1832 February 1832, Death of Hesekiah Jackson:

Death by a loaded wagon running, accidently, over him.

1839 Dec. 27, Death of Lewis (slave):

Died from freezing in a state of intoxication.

1843 April 11, Death of Susan Ballard:

Suicide by hanging.

1856 January 10, Death of Rieves (slave):

Died of numerous wounds inflicked upon his body by James F. Wilson.