An inquest is held when someone dies in an accident, or has not been seen by a doctor for some time or if they have died in an institution such as an asylum or prison. This is the topic Shauna Hicks has chosen for Week 9 of her 52 Weeks of Genealogy.
As Shauna discussed, most inquests are reported in the newspaper and this is where a search of Trove can be useful in finding information on accidental or sudden deaths in the family. Once the date and place of death is known it is easy to then go to the relevant State Archives and look for an inquest file or register. Witnesses statements usually give an account of a person’s last moments as well as giving personal and biographical information that may not be found elsewhere.
Most State Archives have online guides to inquest records and some may even have online indexes so these should be consulted in the first instance. Also Trove may be useful in determining a date and place of death or inquest but also follow up with the archival record as well.
This is not an area where I have done much research with my own family, and it is a timely reminder of the peril of bypassing any potential sources of information - you may well be missing a goldmine of family details. Hopefully I will be able to use inquests to find out more about an ancestor's death and, through that, his life. Thanks Shauna.
Visit Shaun's blog on Inquest Records to read her full entry on this topic.