A Guide to the Goochland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1787-1947 Goochland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1787-1947 0007305780

A Guide to the Goochland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1787-1947

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007305780


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Processed by: Ed Jordan

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Goochland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1787-1947
Physical Characteristics
.35 cu. ft. (1 box)
Goochland County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

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Preferred Citation

Goochland County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1787-1947. Local government records collection, Goochland 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 Goochland County.

Historical Information

Goochland County was named for Sir William Gooch, lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1727 to 1749. It was formed from Henrico County in 1728.

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

Goochland County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1787-1947, 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.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

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

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

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

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1824 January 19, Death of Polima:

Died from severe, unmerciful and inhuman treatment and wounds inflicted by her owner, William T. Fletcher.

1825 October 17, Death of James Hooms:

Murdered by his son, Bartlett Hooms, by inflicting several mortal wounds upon the head with a fence rail.

1825 October 17, Death of Randolph Rice:

Died by attempting to swim the James River in a state of intoxication.

1829 February 16, Death of Rachael:

Rachael, a slave owned by Isham W. Clements, died as a result of being beaten, bruised, and whipped by her owner "from the crown of her head to the sole of her feet."

1835 November 16, Death of Gabriel:

Died from wounds inflicted upon him in his rebellion and violent resistance against his master. Determined to be a "justifiable homicide."

1856 April 21, Death of Caleb Jones:

Caleb, a runaway slave, was arrested and thrown in jail. He subsequently set fire to the jail and died in the fire.