A Guide to the New Kent County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1865-1929 New Kent County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1865-1929 0007315511

A Guide to the New Kent County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1865-1929

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007315511


Library of Virginia

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

Processed by: Mary Dean Carter

The Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers
New Kent County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1865-1929
Physical Characteristics
.35 cu. ft. (1 box)
New Kent County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

New Kent County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1865-1929. Local government records collection, New Kent 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 New Kent County.

Historical Information

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.

New Kent County may have been named either for the English county of Kent or for Kent Island, in the upper waters of the Chesapeake Bay. William Claiborne, a native of Kent who had been driven from Kent Island by Lord Baltimore, was a prominent resident of the New Kent area about 1654 when the county was formed from York County. Part of James City County was added in 1767. The county seat is New Kent.

Records were destroyed when John Posey set fire to the courthouse on 15 July 1787. Many records were lost when the courthouse was partially destroyed by fire during Civil War hostilities in 1862. Additional records were burned in Richmond on 3 April 1865, where they had been moved for safekeeping during the Civil War.

Scope and Content

New Kent County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1865-1929, 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. 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

Additional New Kent County Court Records can be found on microfilm at The Library of Virginia. Consult "A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm."

New Kent County is one of Virginia's Lost Records Localities. Additional New Kent County Records may be found in the Virginia Lost Records Localities Collection at the Library of Virginia. Search 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:

  • New Kent County (Va.) Circuit Court
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--History
  • Coroners--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Death--Causes--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Infanticide--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Murder victims--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Murder--Investigation--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Suicide--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Women--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Geographical Names:

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

  • Death records--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Local government records--Virginia--New Kent County
  • Reports--Virginia--New Kent County

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1865 December 21, Death of Denis:

Died from wounds of the head, which occurred from the hands of person or persons unknown.

1879 January 17, Death of John Calvin Lacey:

Came to his death by being murdered feloniously by violence, his body being much mutilated by the hands of Patrick Smith, Julius Christian, and Andrew Whiting...by means of some sharp instrument supposed to be a hatchet or knife or both, and that the deceased was attacked and murdered in the public road while in his cart on his return from the City of Richmond.

1894 January 28, Death of Fleming Turner:

Died from intoxication and lying out all night in the rain.

1901 February 3, Death of Robert Wilkerson:

Died by turning over his wagon with a sewing machine on it, and was mashed to death.

1904 September 13, Death of I.J. Johnson:

Died by being struck on the head by a railroad engine.

1902 August 31, Death of Lee Robbins:

Died by drowning caused by Schooner owner M. Harris being run down by the steamboat, Sharlott in York River.

1906 October 20, Death of an unknown male:

Killed early in the night, and the body put on the track and the freight train struck him.

1915 September 18, Death of an unknown infant:

The skeleton of infant was found. Apparently it had been placed in a garret of the dwelling home on Marengo Farm "at least 25 years ago, and possibly longer." "No means of ascertaining cause of death."