Do you have a murder case in your family? Why don’t you check out Coroners’ Inquests!

Records Spotlight: Coroners’ Inquests

In this month’s edition of Records Spotlight, we are going to focus on Coroners’ Inquests. Coroners’ inquests can give valuable information about the death of individuals. Typically, inquests are administrated when deaths are sudden or involved with possible court cases. Winslow states in North Carolina Research Genealogy and Local History “Inquests provide data on disease, suicide, and murder” (Winslow, p. 285).

It would be beneficial for genealogists working on criminal cases dealing with murder. The inquest will give more insight to the trial. Normally, coroner’s inquest also provides the date of death. This can be especially helpful to researcher needing a date of death before 1913, as North Carolina death certificates did not begin in 1913. The search room has microfilm copies of death certificates from 1913-1975.

The two main formats for coroners’ inquests are handwritten manuscript and printed form. The handwritten document tends to be associated with the older coroners’ inquests. The printed forms have specific questions that the coroner answered. The answers on the forms may be handwritten or typed.  Sometimes the form includes a pre-drawn image that indicates the injuries to the deceased.

Coroners’ inquests would be beneficial for historical research as well. Here is an interesting article by Chris Meekins regarding coroners’ inquests from Pasquotank County ( ) Meekins’ article brings to life the stories behind one coroners’ inquest.

Our oldest coroners’ inquests will be located in the Secretary of State Collection and include inquests from various counties. The collection is arranged in chronological order. There is abstract of the inquests in the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Vol. 1, No.1 (Jan. 1975), p. 11-37.  The journal is located in the Search Room. The call number for the coroners’ inquest is as follows:

Secretary of State

Series XVIII: Record keeping Coroners’, 1738-1775

Box 1

Finally, coroners’ inquests located with the county records are arranged chronological and alphabetically. A list of coroners’ inquests at the State Archives is presented below. I would expect that it would take longer to search for an inquest in the chronological arrangement versus alphabetical. You may view these documents in the State Archives of North Carolina search room Tuesday-Saturday.

Winslow, Jr., Raymond A. “Records of County Officials.” Ed. Helen F. M. Leary. North Carolina Research Genealogy and Local History. 2nd ed. Raleigh: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996. 285.

Arranged chronological:

Buncombe County (1875-1929): C.R.013.913.1-C.R.013.913.2

Chatham County (1796-1971): C.R.022.913.1-C.R.022.913.3

Craven County (1782-1905): C.R.028.913.1-C.R.028.913.2

Cumberland County (1791-1909): C.R.029.913.1

Granville County (1755-1905, 1920): C.R.044.913.1-C.R.044.913.2

Haywood County (1822-1967): C.R.049.913.1-C.R.049.913.2

Henderson County (1853-1926): C.R.050.913.1

New Hanover County (1768-1880): C.R.070.913.1-C.R.070.913.2

Northampton County (1793-1905): C.R.071.913.1

Orange County (1785-1911, no date): C.R.073.913.1

Perquimans County (1794-1892): C.R.077.913.1

Pitt County (1961-1960): C.R.079.913.1-C.R.079.913.14

Richmond County (1906-1967): C.R.082.913.1-C.R.082.913.7

Robeson County (1857-1965, no date): C.R.083.913.1-C.R.083.913.27; C.R.075.605.1-C.R.075.605.2

Scotland County (1902-1946): C.R.088.913.1-C.R.088.913.5

Stanly County (1914-1957): C.R.089.913.1-C.r.089.913.2

Stokes County (1805-1916): C.R.090.913.1

Warren County (1800-1848; 1902-1967): C.R.100.913.1-C.R.100.913.2

Wilson County (1859-1915): C.R.105.913.1-C.R.105.913.2

Arranged alphabetically:

Columbus County (1914-1968; 1981): C.R.027.913.1-C.R.027.913.34 (Adams-Zark)

Harnett County (1906-1968): C.R.048.913.1-C.R.048.913.7 (Adams-Young)

Iredell County (no date, 1854-1968): C.R.054.913.1-C.R.054.913.9 (Abernathy-Zimmerman)

Pender County (1876-1968): C.R.076.913.1-C.R.079.913.9 (Armstrong-Wright)