The Resource Petersburg (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1807-1947
- Petersburg (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1807-1947
- Inclusive dates
- Reports -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Petersburg (Va.)
- Death. -- Causes -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Slaves -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Slaveholders. -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Suicide. -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Petersburg (Va.) -- History
- African Americans -- History
- Infanticide. -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Local government records -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Death records -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Free African Americans. -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Coroners. -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Murder victims -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Women. -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Murder. -- Investigation -- Virginia | Petersburg
- Petersburg (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1807-1947, 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 occasionally deponents in coroner investigations
- Biographical or historical data
- The city of Petersburg was formed from parts of Dinwiddie, Prince George, and Chesterfield Counties. A garrison and fur trading post called Fort Henry was established there in 1645 on the site of the Indian town Appamattuck. The present name, suggested in 1733 by William Byrd (1674-1744), honors Peter Jones, Byrd's companion on expeditions into the Virginia backcountry. Petersburg was established in 1748 and incorporated as a town in 1784. In the latter year the towns of Blandford, Pocahontas, and Ravenscroft were added to Petersburg. It was incorporated as a city in 1850.
- 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 determining 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.
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