How to look for records of... Coroners’ inquests
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
How many are online?
This is a brief guide to help you with your research into coroners’ inquests. The majority of post mid-18th century records of inquests are held at local archives and not The National Archives. Not all coroners’ inquests have been selected for permanent preservation. Records of deaths less than 75 years old may be retained by the coroner’s office.
What do I need to know before I start?
Coroner’s inquests are held in cases of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths. The inquest would be held in the district where the death occurred.
Try to find out:
- the date the coroner’s inquest took place
- the county in which the inquest took place
There are no records of coroners’ inquests available to view online.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
Rolls and files (1128–1426)
Browse Discovery, our catalogue, for entries of inquests from coroners who presented their rolls to the court of the King’s Bench in JUST 1, JUST 2 and JUST 3.
Indictment files (1487–1926)
It was common practice from 1487 to 1752 for coroners to hand over records of all their inquests to assize judges. The judges returned them to the King’s Bench. These records were subsequently transferred to The National Archives.
Those which resulted in verdicts of murder or manslaughter (including many that would now be regarded as misadventure) are normally found in the indictments or depositions files of the relevant circuit.
The remainder was forwarded to the King’s Bench. As London and Middlesex were anomalous jurisdictions without assize courts, their inquisitions were not treated in the same way.
Coroners’ inquisitions therefore survive only for the out-counties and they are filed with the out-county indictments in KB 11.
Coroners’ inquisitions are also in KB 13 and KB 140. They include a significant number of items from the mid to late 18th century, although the practice of forwarding all inquisitions to the King’s Bench appears to have fallen into disuse in the early 18th century.
Inquisitions on prisoners who died in the King’s Bench prison are in KB 14.
Browse other indictment files which may contain inquests in KB 9, KB 12 and KB 13.
London and Middlesex indictments (1675–1845)
Look in KB 10 for any inquests which may be found among the London and Middlesex indictments.
Coroners’ records from other courts (1339–1896)
Browse coroners’ records collected by other courts in CHES 18, CHES17/13, DL 46, PL 26/285–295, ASSI 66, ASSI 47/24–73, PL 26/285–295, PCOM 2/165, C 260 or HCA 1.
Assize court files (1554–1971)
Refer to the table in Criminal trials in the assize courts 1559–1971 to find out what type of trial records for different counties are held in the department code ASSI. It is possible to find inquests related to murder and manslaughter cases and returns from coroners for accidental deaths among the indictment records.
Records in other archives and organisations
Records held elsewhere
The National Archives’ catalogue contains collections and contact details of local archives around the UK and beyond. To locate these records, search our catalogue with keywords and refine your results to ‘Other archives’ using the filters.
From 1752 to 1860, coroners were required to file their inquests at the quarter sessions. Quarter sessions records are held at local archives.
Local coroners’ offices
Search for contact details in telephone directories or on the website of the relevant local authority.
Locate newspapers held at local libraries or the British Library Newspaper Collections which may provide details of an unexpected, sudden or suspicious death. From the 19th century onwards, a newspaper report may be the only surviving account.
Search The National Archives’ shop to see whether any of the publications below may be available to buy. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.
J Gibson and C Rogers, ‘Coroners’ records in England and Wales’ (The Family History Partnership, 2009)
R F Hunnisett, ‘The medieval coroner’ (Cambridge, 1961)
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