A Guide to the Orange County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1808-1840 Orange County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1808-1840 0007313086

A Guide to the Orange County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1808-1840

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007313086


Library of Virginia

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© 2012 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Ed Jordan

The Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers
Orange County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1808-1840
Physical Characteristics
.35 cu. ft. (1 box)
Orange County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Orange County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1808-1840. Local government records collection, Orange 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 Orange County.

Historical Information

Orange County , according to most accounts, was named for William of Orange, the Dutch prince who became William III of England in 1688. It is more probable, however, that the name honored William IV, prince of Orange-Nassau, who married Anne, eldest daughter of George II, in 1734--the year Orange County was formed from Spotsylvania County.

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

Orange County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1808-1840, 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:

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

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

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

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

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1833 December, Death of Jerry, a slave:

Died when he fell into a snow filled gully and froze to death.

1834 May, Death of Taylor, a slave:

Died "by the violence of some kicks or blows which he received from" Frank, another slave.