A Guide to the Staunton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1841-1938 Staunton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1841-1938 0007327065

A Guide to the Staunton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1841-1938

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007327065


Library of Virginia

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

Processed by: Claire Culbertson and Ed Jordan

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Staunton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1841-1938
Physical Characteristics
.45 cu. ft. (1 box)
Staunton (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Staunton (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1841-1938. Local government records collection, Staunton 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 Staunton.

Historical Information

Staunton , in Augusta County, was named, according to most authorities, for Rebecca Staunton , wife of Sir William Gooch, lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1727 to 1749. Staunton was laid out in 1748 at the site of the Augusta County courthouse and was established as a town in 1761. It was incorporated as a town in 1801 and as a city in 1871.

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

Staunton (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1841-1938, 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:

  • Staunton (Va.) Circuit Court
  • Subjects:

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

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

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

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1876 Aug. 12, Death of Samuel Clarke:

Clarke died from a fall from the eastern window of the chapel of the Western Lunatic Asylum.

1890 Dec. 27, Death of A.K. Hathaway:

Hathaway, a student, died after being accidentally shot with a pistol by fellow student, James W. Whitworth.

1910 Sep. 19, Death of Evans Ross:

Died from acute dilation of the heart brought about by violent exertion from lifting.

1913 May 31, Death of Margret J. Pollard:

Pollard, a patient at the Western State Hospital, died after being struck by an eastbound Chesapeake and Ohio passenger train after escaping from the hospital. The jury attached no blame to either the hospital or railroad, but they recommended that the grounds of the Western State Hospital should be fenced or otherwise secured in order to prevent similar situations from occuring in the future.

1932 Apr. 1, Death of Lacy Ashby:

Died after consuming corrosive acid given to him by Johnnie Myers.