A Guide to the Northampton County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1728-1868 Northampton County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1728-1868 0007532961

A Guide to the Northampton County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1728-1868

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007532961


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Library of Virginia

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Repository
The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
0007532961
Title
Northampton County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1728-1868
Physical Characteristics
.25 cu. ft.
Collector
Northampton County (Va.) Circuit Court
Location
Library of Virginia
Language
English

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Northampton County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1728-1868. Local government records collection, Northampton 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 Northampton County.

Historical Information

Northampton County was named probably for the English county, of which Obedience Robins, a prominent early resident of the Eastern Shore, was a native. The county, which originally included all of the peninsula south of Maryland and which was one of the eight shires, or counties, first enumerated in 1634, was first called Accomack. The General Assembly changed the name to Northampton County in 1643. Accomack County was created from Northampton County about 1663, but in October 1670, the General Assembly temporarily reunited the two counties as Northampton County. In November 1673, Accomack County was again separated from Northampton. The county seat is Eastville.

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

Northampton County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1728-1868, 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.

Arrangement

Chronological by date coroner filed inquisition in the court.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

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

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

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