Coroners' Inquests in an English County, 1600 - 1800: a Preliminary Survey

Jim Sharpe, J.R. DIckinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is a preliminary investigation of the work of county coroners in Cheshire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, drawing on the coroners' inquests found in the records of the Court of Great Sessions at Chester. It provides a brief guide to the overall work of the coroners, focusing on the categories of murder, manslaughter, infanticide, accidental death and death by visitation of God. It then goes on to discuss the decision-making processes which coroners and inquest juries were involved in, raising questions about how verdicts finding various categories of death were arrived at. It also includes a brief discussion of the social background of the Cheshire coroners, and also of their possible involvement in county politics, and the possibility that the office enjoyed an enhanced reputation over the later eighteenth century. It adds to a growing body of work on the history of the coroner, but is based on unusually rich archival sources. These sources demonstrate that coroners' inquests and related documentation often provide unexpected evidence on the broader themes of social and cultural history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253 - 269
Number of pages16
JournalNorthern History
Issue number2
Early online date1 Sept 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011


  • Coroners
  • Cheshire
  • Murder
  • Suicide

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