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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2004-03-24 07:41:18
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, 10:07

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

> From:          "Peter Crosland" <g6jns{at}>

> Coroners courts are, with a few exceptions, open to the public so why are
> the records sealed at all?>

ALL types of courts are open to the public virtually ALL of the time 
- but you try asking to see the official records of a particular 
case in a magistrates' or Crown court.

The access is for the physical admission of members of the public to 
a court and for the press's right to report the cases.

The following is taken direct from the Gibson Guide "Coroners' ecords 
in England and Wales, Second Edition".....

"Public access to coroners' records is governed by the Public Records 
Act 1958 (which Guy Etchells has already referred to in another 
thread, amended by the Public Records Act 1967, s. 44, and Coroners' 
Rules (1984) Rule 57. By order of the Lord Chancellor, under s.5 of 
the 1958 Act (Instrument No. 68, Access to Public Records, 16 April 
1984) records relating to reported deaths are closed to the public 
for 75 years, though many archivists still seem to be applying the 
former 100 year closure rule. Anyone who, in the opinion of the 
coroner, has a bona fide research interest may be given access to 
closed records no matter where the records are stored. However, the 
coroner will have due regard for privacy and for the avoidance of 
propaganda or mischief."

However, in practice, once the records are only 15 years old they can 
be weeded out and many destroyed. Certain classes of records are 
scheduled for permant preservation: the indexed registers of deaths 
reported, all papers dated before 1875, papers relating to treasure 
trove, cases illustrating in any significant way contemporary 
coroners' practices and cases relating to general public, scientific, 
forensic, social, local, industrial or unique historical interest 
(the Gibson Guide again).

The survival of coroners' records, as I said in a previous message, 
is very patchy. Some coroners choose to destroy all their records and 
some to preserve them all.

You are still better off by far looking for an inquest report in a 
newspaper of the time (despite what Chris Watts says!).

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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