South Wiltshire Coroner’s Inquests


This website contains 1867 press reports of Coroner’s inquests for the period 1868-1920, taken from the Salisbury Times, for the area of Salisbury and South Wiltshire in England.  Although I would readily recommend researchers to try the British Newspaper Archive in their search for answers, I hope that any of you with South Wiltshire connections in your ancestry may find a specific answer here, or perhaps a hint from one of the many cases on this site.

My aim is to aid both the researcher seeking their own Family History, and the general historian seeking glimpses of the past.

Those seeking Family History may use the Search box above to seek names, place names or other terms;  or alternatively find a list of each year’s cases on the intro-page to each year.

Be aware that the search function prioritises the most recent cases added to the site. Better results are gained by specifying your search term in quote marks, thus “Smith, Emily” or suchlike.


Why Coroner’s Inquests?

The Funeral Service of the Book of Common Prayer says,

In the midst of life so we are in death.”

My object in transcribing so many inquests is to show that in the midst of death we may see the past life, or at least get a good glimpse of it.

In seeking to confirm or deny a story about my own great-grandfather I read through old copies of The Salisbury Times in my local library on microfilm. Before I had finished the job I was already hooked on the way people died as a way of seeing how they lived.

One case concerned a distant family connection, Emily Smith, who died in March 1902, falling down the stairs in a terrible rabbit warren of poor housing in the middle of the night. Although she was noticed lying in a pool of blood at the foot of some death-trap stairs at 6am, she wasn’t raised or helped until the official came at 7.30 to take her to the Workhouse Infirmary, where she of course died.

The awfulness aside, this gave a good insight into how care and responsibility existed 100 years ago, and spurred me on to read more and more of these cases. Thus started this project, which I will add to as time goes by.  Do come back and have another look!

I hope you will find this project of use, perhaps in explaining a mystery in your family research, or of seeing how people did this or that a century ago.  I am sure you will understand that in transcribing such a mass of material there will be inevitable reading and typing errors, and the interpretations given in each year’s introductions are my personal views alone.

©, 2010.   Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I acknowledge with thanks the permission of Salisbury Journal to reproduce their materials on this blog.