A Guide to the Albemarle County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1794-1902 Albemarle County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1794-1902 0007555751, 0007704686

A Guide to the Albemarle County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1794-1902

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007555751, 0007704686


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The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
0007555751, 0007704686
Albemarle County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1794-1902
Physical Characteristics
.80 cu. ft. (2 boxes)
Albemarle County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

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Preferred Citation

Albemarle County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1794-1902. Local government records collection, Albemarle 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 Albemarle County.

Historical Information

Albemarle County was named for William Anne Keppel, second earl of Albemarle, and governor of Virginia from 1737 to 1754. It was created by a statute of 1744 and formed from Goochland County; part of Louisa County was added in 1761 and islands in the Fluvanna (now the James) River in 1770. The court met for the first time on 8 February 1745. The county seat is the city of Charlottesville.

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

Albemarle County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1794-1902, 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:

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

  • African Americans--History
  • Coroners--Virginia--Albemarle County
  • Death--Causes--Virginia--Albemarle County
  • Murder victims--Virginia--Albemarle County
  • Murder--Investigation--Virginia--Albemarle County
  • Slaveholders--Virginia--Albemarle County.
  • Slaves--Virginia--Albemarle County.
  • Geographical Names:

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

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

Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1797 July 5, Daniel, enslaved:

Owned by John Gadberry, Daniel came to his death while endeavoring to escape from a Lumber House and persons that were in pursuit and accidentally bruised himself.

1799 July 12, Dinah alias Diana (child) enslaved:

Owned by Thomas Jefferson, Dinah was assaulted and murdered by Dick, enslaved, a boy of nine years and three months. Dick was determined (because of age and other circumstance) not to come under law that constitutes real murder and was discharged.

1810 April 1, John McCoy, Jr.:

Came to his death by voluntarily and feloniously jumping into a well.

1812 Dec. 5, Joe, enslaved:

Owned by John Patterson, Joe came to his death as a result of being struck on the head by Thomas Tilesson, overseer, which fractured his skull.

1829 Dec. 28, Milly, enslaved:

Owned by John Maupin. Found lying on the side of the road against a log. She was frostbitten and had marks on her back and other parts of her body. Her head was much bruised, which was done by strokes of violence or by her falling. She was supposedly sufficiently cold to have chilled her to death.

1837 August 7, Hughy Sharkey:

Sharkey was a native of Ireland. He came to his death by blows inflicted on his body by Patrick Hogerty also a native of Ireland.

1845 April 24, Phillip, enslaved:

Owned by Matthew M. Harris. Cause of death was pistol shot wound by Powell L. Morris, overseer for Daniel Scott. Phillip had resisted punishment and was said to have been "insolent."

1855 May 30, Juda, enslaved:

Owned by William H. Turner, came to her death by hanging herself on a tree by a rope about five feet from the ground.

1857 March 29, Wilson Harlow:

Came to his death from accidentally falling from the railroad bridge opposite the cotton factory of John A. Marchant.

1861 Dec. 1, Jim enslaved:

Owned by Daniel P. Lewis. Came to his death by a pistol shot fired from the hand of George W. Herndon, overseer. According to jury, deemed in self-defense and justifiable homicide.

1888 July 12, Thomas Moon:

Came to his death by strangulation by his own hands in his jail cell.

1889 June 18, unknown child:

Came to its death by being thrown in a pond with a monkey wrench tied with a strong twine cord around its desk.