View Full Version : Was an inquest common?
26-01-2008, 6:53 AM
I have an ancestor from rural Devon, between Hatherleigh and Okehampton, who died in 1866 at the age of 69 of Angina Pectorus.
Apparently there was an inquest. For the era and the lifestyle of the man I would've considered that to reach 69 years and die of Angina was not too remarkable.
Would an inquest be quite common in these circumstances or would it indicate there was suspicion of 'foul play'?
It appears to have been quite usual to have had an inquest, particularly if the death was regarded as 'sudden'. I suspect the person in question died suddenly, perhaps whilst at work or during the night, and probably had no known history of heart problems (well, he may have had the odd pain in the chest but might have thought nothing of it). Having read of many such inquests in local newspapers, the thing which always strikes me is the fact that the inquest was usually carried out on the same day (or the next day) as the person died - and very often took place at the person's home.
26-01-2008, 10:14 AM
the inquest was usually carried out on the same day (or the next day) as the person died - and very often took place at the person's home.
According to a fascinating book I have, inquests were usually held in pubs. It wasn't until 1902 when an Act of Parliament curtailed the use of inquests on licensed premises.
"Viewing the Lifeless Body. A Coroner & his inquests held in Nottinghamshire Public Houses during the Nineteenth Century 1828 to 1866", by Bernard V. Heathcote, published 2005 by Nottinghamshire County Council, ISBN 0 902751 51 4.
26-01-2008, 1:21 PM
I have an ancestor from rural Devon, between Hatherleigh and Okehampton, who died in 1866 at the age of 69 of Angina Pectorus. Apparently there was an inquest.
As has been commented upon, it depends on the circumstances of the death. If a Doctor had not previously treated the deceased for an illness/injury which killed him - and had not seen him in repsect of that within the fourteen preceeding days; then the doctor could not have issued a certificate. With an unknown cause of death, the matter would have to be referred to a Coroner.
27-01-2008, 3:12 AM
Many thanks for your very informative replies. Once again I am astounded by the depth of knowledge of our list members.
It would be my assumption, based on the facts I know, that this person would have been of very poor means, so a visit by a Doctor would have been most unlikely.
I imagine that many of our ancestors , in similar positions, would have viewed their health problems, such as this was, as the inevitable consequence of aging which would lead, inevitably, to death.
Thank you all once again
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