South Wiltshire Coroner’s Inquests

2015 marks the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta  – Magna Carta – What Happened on Runnymede


This website contains 1867 press reports of Coroner’s inquests for the period 1868-1920, for the area of Salisbury and South Wiltshire in England.  I have recently added the years 1868-1889 to the 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.

I have now added pages containing some

Images of old Maps of Salisbury,

Lists of Cases of particular Types,

and some other Railway Accidents and odd but amazing news items I have transcribed by chance during my researches.

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.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Susan Winch on June 4, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Hello there, what a wonderful website!
    I have just discovered a burial record for my direct ancaetsor, who was buried 17 November 1835 in Mere, Wiltshire. His name was James FORWARD aged 43, “killed by accident.” I would love to know more. I would be so grateful if you could point me in the right direction. Kindest best wishes, Susan (Forward) Winch

  2. Hello Susan,
    Of course, my site only goes from 1860something-ish, so I cannot do 1835, and to be honest, newspapers of that period tended to tell much less of the detail, often you will get a mere mention without details, I have had a look on the British Newspaper Archive website but could find nothing pertinent, you could look in the Wiltshire History Centre for actual Coroner’s records, use the catalogues available at , that’s the best I can suggest. The Wiltshire Family History Soc may have something, or the Online Parish Clerk websites. Best luck.

  3. Posted by Iris on June 13, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Interesting comments regarding the causes of suicide in 1916 – ie during WW1 – a distant relative of mine committed suicide aged 41 at Bramshott Post Office (part of the Canadian camp). Could he have chosen that rather than conscription?
    Where to look for the Inquest?
    Frank Camden Townsend
    Death date: 03/12/1916

    Any help happily received!

  4. Hello, Thanks for your comment, my comments on the cases on this site are often fuelled by modern cynicism, sometimes without real justification! I have searched on the British Newspaper Archive website, but was unable to locate any news item of your ancestor’s death by suicide. It may be that the press reporter was not on the spot to report on it, inquests were often held on the spot in a building local to the event, and often on the same day or that following. The fact is that suicide is simply not something that people would wish to talk about, but clearly it must have been happening. There was an awful lot of bellicose talk about going to war and getting it over quickly, doing your duty etc etc, but I note the date of late in 1916 – the Somme battle was six months old at that moment, many thousands had died there already and the nation was becoming uncomfortably aware of this death-toll. Regarding Coroner’s Inquests, if Bramshott Post Office was in Hampshire, then Hampshire Record Office in Winchester may hold Inquest records, though I would doubt the existence of it myself. Best wishes.

  5. Posted by Tony Lyons on June 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I am chairman of the Bourne Valley Historical Society which covers eleven communities from Hurdcott (nr Salisbury) up to Cholderton. I would like permission to precis some facts in pamphlet form from your great website about those from this area who committed suicide. This would be of great use to our members. I hope you will feel able to grant permission.

  6. Hi Tony, I would hope you would look at more than suicides! Yes, by all means, but, as the condition on the site states,… “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 cannot allow direct copying, but quotes and the use of information in your own item is, of course, fine. I have transcribed all these reports and published them on the site with the permission of Salisbury Journal (Newsquest Media). What else are you writing about in your pamphlet? Best wishes.

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