Wiltshire Coroner’s Inquests 1801-1920


This website contains transcripts of 5888 press reports of historic Coroner’s inquests for the period 1801-1920 in Wiltshire, England.

1801-1867 is entirely Wiltshire, 1868-1920 less thorough but primarily south Wiltshire with the odd incursion into Hampshire and Dorset.

I recommend you to subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive online, a wonderful resource for all historians. But hopefully you’ll find something to your purpose here as well!

As well as being a good family history resource, this collection contains several famous cases in Wiltshire, including the Rode Hill House murder, the Gore Cross Robbery, the first Salisbury Railway Disaster, and the brief murderous appearance in Wiltshire of Percy Toplis (the Monocled Mutineer).

Unfortunately, I did not have the staying power in my typing fingers to transcribe the multiple press reports pertaining to the Salisbury Boat Train Disaster of 1906 or the Edwin Haskell murder case of 1908, but the links here will take to you to descriptions of these.



You may Search for specific names, ie: “Smith, Emily,” though responses will be from the most recent additions to the site.

I would encourage a general trawl through the year pages, where a list of each year’s cases is given together with my own comments and pointers. Happy Hunting!

Where a report carries the phrase, “By the Foreman/Coroner/Juryman…” it means that the following sentence is evidence elicited from the witness by that person.  In other words, the Coroner is happy to allow one or two experienced gentlemen to ask questions besides himself.


Why Coroner’s Inquests?

This project is the result of my own family history research. I sought answers to a question regarding my great-grandfather, and so started looking at old newspapers on a microfiche viewer in my local library, discovering what a telling window on to the previous life is given by reports of Coroner’s inquests.

As the funeral Service in the Book of Common Prayer says,

“In the Midst of Life So We Are in Death.”

These reports shine a light on social injustices, on industrial advances without Health & Safety, on where certain types of work were carried out and the people involved, on healthcare or the lack of, on the common necessaries of life, and on long-remembered local disasters, and, to put it simply, how much harder life then was for ordinary working class people.

Whilst this project is extensive, it is far from complete.  The years 1801-1867 were found in the Salisbury Journal, and the later years 1868-1920 in the Salisbury Times, but I am only human and have undoubtedly missed some along the way, as no doubt the journalists of the day missed many at the time.

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

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