A Guide to the Brunswick County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1801-1947 Brunswick County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1801-1947 1208495-1208497

A Guide to the Brunswick County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1801-1947

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers: 1208495-1208497


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Processed by: Ed Jordan

The Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers
Brunswick County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1801-1947
Physical Characteristics
1.00 cu. ft. (3 boxes)
Brunswick County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

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Use Restrictions

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Preferred Citation

Brunswick County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1801-1947. Local government records collection, Brunswick County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in shipments of court records from Brunswick County.

Historical Information

Brunswick County was named for the duchy of Brunswick-Luneburg, one of the German possessions of King George I. It was formed by statute in 1720 from Prince George County and on 31 October 1723 the boundaries of the county were ordered to be laid out, but, because of the sparse population, the county court first met in June 1732. Brunswick County was enlarged by the addition of parts of Surry and Isle of Wight Counties in 1733. The county seat is Lawrenceville.

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

Brunswick County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1801-1947, 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, domestic violence, exposure to elements, drownings, train accidents, automobile 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. 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. 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. Slaves were deponents in coroner investigations.


Chronological by date coroner filed inquisition in the court.

Related Material

Brunswick County criminal suits are filed with Brunswick County Judgments, 1782-1947, located at the Library of Virginia.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

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

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

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

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1812 Nov. 1, Death of Jenny (slave):

Jenny, a slave owned by Benjamin Lewis of Brunswick County, died from repeated blows received from a cow hide whip administered feloniously by Benjamin Taylor. Taylor was Lewis' overseer. The inquisition includes depositions of witnesses who offered detailed testimony concerning Jenny's death.

1840 Mar. 17, Death of unknown child:

The deceased was the child of a slave named Martha owned by H.E. Merritt of Brunswick County. Death caused either by suffocation during birth or strangulation after birth.

1845 May 26, Death of unknown infant:

The deceased was the child of a slave named Mary owned by Thomas D. Edmunds of Brunswick County. Mary had the child while working in the field. Mary buried the child in the field. The child's body was discovered after it was pulled up by a dog.

1859 Sep. 5, Death of Hannah (slave):

Hannah was a slave owned by the late Elizabeth H. Harrvell of Mecklenburg County hired out to James Clary of Brunswick County. Death caused by repeated beatings by Clary. The inquisition includes depositions of witnesses who offered detailed testimony concerning Hannah's death.

1901 July 1, Death of Joseph Walton:

Death by strangulation caused by a rope from which he was hanging by the neck. Joseph Walton, a black male, was accused of breaking and entering into the bedroom of his white boss' teenage daughter. He was forcibly removed from his jail cell by a lynch mob. They took Walton to Gholson bridge where he was hung.

1918 Aug. 26, Death of A.J. Osborne:

Death caused by effects of gunshot wound inflicted by C.S. Reaves. The inquisition includes a sketch of Osborne' body showing the shot wounds.

1919 Aug. 23, Death of Minnie McClellan:

Death caused by an accident. Her buggy was hit by a car driven by Alber R. Moseley.

1921 Aug. 5, Death of unknown black male:

Death by hanging by the neck from a tree limb. The act was committed by an unknown mob.

1929 April 9, Death of John Bland:

Death from natural causes while pushing his automobile up a hill.

1946 March 27, Death of John Atwell Hubbard:

Hubbard was white male who died at age 59 by unknown causes. He lived on a farm owned by Peter and John Poarch with his African American niece who was a child of Hubbard's unidentified sister.