A Guide to the Rockingham County (Va.)Coroners' Inquisitions, 1780-1913 Rockingham County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1780-1913 1159560

A Guide to the Rockingham County (Va.)Coroners' Inquisitions, 1780-1913

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode Number: 1159560


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The Library of Virginia
Barcode Number
Rockingham County (Va.) Coroners' Inquistions, 1780-1913
.20 cu.ft.
Rockingham County (Va.) Circuit Court

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Rockingham County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1780-1913. Local government records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in a transfer of court papers from Rockingham County under accession number 40981.

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.

Rockingham County was named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, second marquis of Rockingham, who supported the colonies during the years before and during the Revolutionary War. The county was formed from Augusta County in 1778. The county seat is the city of Harrisonburg.

Scope and Content

Rockingham County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1780-1913, 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 include 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.


Chronological by date coroner filed inquisition in the court.

Related Material

Additional Rockingham County court records can be found on microfilm and in the Chancery Records Index at the Library of Virginia. Consult "A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm" and the Chancery Records Index .

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

  • African Americans--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Coroners--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Death--Causes--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Infanticide--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Murder victims--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Murder--Investigation--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Slaves--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Women--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Geographical Names:

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

  • Death records--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Health and medical records--Virginia--Rockingham County
  • Local government records--Virginia--Rockingham County