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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2004-03-24 07:39:36
Subject: Re: Coroner's Inquests as Genealogical Tool

* Forwarded (from: GEN_BRITAIN) by Stephen Hayes using timEd/2 1.10.y2k.
* Originally from Roy Stockdill (8:8/2002) to All.
* Original dated: Tue Mar 23, 08:11

From: roy{at} ("Roy Stockdill")

This debate reminds me of a couple of stories from my days on a local 
evening paper in Coventry. The Coventry coroner in those days (early 
1960s) was a rather eccentric old buffer, a retired solicitor, who 
was probably going a bit senile. He used to make the most ludicrous 
remarks in his summing-ups which, fortunately for him, we tended not 
to report because the local reporters liked him and we didn't want to 
embarrass him.

I can still recall to this day one incident on a man who had suffered 
an attack of some kind whilst swimming in the local baths and 
drowned. The coroner delivered his verdict that "this unfortunate man 
suffered a temporary attack or seizure whilst swimming and by the 
time he came round he was dead"!

And at another inquest on someone who had chucked himself in front of 
a train, evidence was given by a police officer of finding bits of 
legs and arms and other body parts strewn across the track. Cue 
coroner: "And was he dead, officer?"

I have not been to an inquest for some 40 years (I'm glad to say), so 
I hope the system has changed somewhat. But in those days it was 
rather bizarre and callous, at least in Coventry. The jury was always 
composed of retired policemen (I don't ever recall seeing a woman on 
a jury) and they used to regard it as a day out, a chance to meet old 
colleagues and also to earn a few bob! At the end of the inquest, 
even before the relatives of the deceased had left the courtroom, 
the coroner's officer, a sergeant, would be dishing out 10-shilling 
notes to them from an old tin and they would all be comparing notes, 
saying things like "Well, we've got three next week, that's jolly 
good isn't it?" They got 10 bob for each inquest, you see.

As I say, I hope times have changed!

Roy Stockdill
Web page of the Guild of One-Name Studies:-
Newbies' Guide to Genealogy & Family History:-

"It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of
people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean
advantage of them." 

- P. G. Wodehouse

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