A Guide to the Lynchburg (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1811-1887 Lynchburg (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1811-1887 0007326017

A Guide to the Lynchburg (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1811-1887

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007326017


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

Processed by: Ed Jordan

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Lynchburg (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1811-1887
Physical Characteristics
.45 cu. ft. (1 box)
Lynchburg (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Lynchburg (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1811-1887. Local government records collection, Lynchburg 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 Lynchburg.

Historical Information

Lynchburg was named for John Lynch, the owner of the original town site. It was established in 1786, was incorporated as a town in 1805, and became a city in 1852. Parts of Campbell and Bedford Counties were annexed to the city in 1976.

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

Lynchburg (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1811-1887, 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:

  • Lynchburg (Va.) Circuit Court
  • Subjects:

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

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

  • Death records--Virginia--Lynchburg
  • Local government records--Virginia--Lynchburg
  • Reports--Virginia--Lynchburg

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1811 Nov. 3, Death of Billy Wichet (slave):

Billy, a slave owned by General James Breckenridge of Botetout County, was feloniously killed and murdered by John Cumminger by an assault with a stone to the side and top of his head.

1834 Nov. 18, Death of Rice Parker:

Died of various wounds inflicted upon the body, thighs, and legs by the dogs of George W. Pettijohn. Said dogs were willfully and maliciously set upon said Parker by Pettijohn.

1845 Jan. 12, Death of Barney (slave):

Barney, a slave, was feloniously killed and murdered by Gustavus, a slave.

1846 May 9, Death of Franky (slave):

Franky, a slave, died from some cause not absolutely known to the jury because the court refused to pay surgeons' fees. The jury's strong suspicion rest upon Oliver, the slave of Albon McDaniel.

1865 May 1, Death of Frank M. Almy:

Died from a pistol shot fired by Stanton Terry. Almy was a Federal soldier.

1869 December 25, Death of William P. Boley:

Died from a gunshot wound inflicted by a Federal soldier named James Madison, alias Slim Jim.

1872 Mar. 27, Death of an unknown infant:

Died by violence at the hands of its mother, aided and abetted by Judy Flood and Harry Johnson.

1885 Dec. 26, Death of Thomas Wade:

Died by making a mistake and drinking carbolic acid when he thought he was drinking whiskey. Both bottles were together on his dresser.

1887 Mar. 22, Death of Nettie Miller:

Died by the hands of her husband, Moses Miller, who struck her on the jaw with a hot poker and choked and strangled her to death.