Coroner’s Inquests as a source of information.on September 9th, 2011 at 10:36 PM
From: Mzinga@aol.comI had always heard of coroner’s inquisitions as a possible source ofgenealogical information, but had never seen any until I saw some on a SouthCarolina Magazine of Ancestral Research database that is being made free on atemporary basis by Ancestry.com. The causes of death vary, ranging fromnatural causes to accidental deaths (including babies overlaid by theirmothers), suicides, murders and deaths with unknown causes. Reading aboutsome of the cases that involved confrontations between slaves and theirmasters or overseers definitely provides a glimpse into the ugly side ofslavery. Also, seeing a number of cases of slaves who were said to havekilled themselves by hanging sent chills up my spine as I wondered how manyof these cases were actually disguised murders.This database has been available since 10/25/99, and I think they are only available on afree basis for 10 days. I have copied a couple of examples below so you cansee what I’m talking about.–Audrey (Mzinga@aol.com)The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral ResearchSCMAR, Volume XVIIINumber 1, Winter, 1990Union County Coroner’s Inquisitions, 1806-1869 (Continued from Vol. XVII,p.198)SCMAR, Vol. XVIII, Winter 1990, No. 1, p.48Inquisition indented taken at the plantation of Mrs. S. C. Sims in UnionDistrict on 13 June 1845 upon view of the body of Elizer a Slave the propertyof Mrs. S. C. Sims (this name stricken) the Estate of Nathan Sims, dec’d.,then and there being dead, on oaths of Doctr. W. N. Askew, Doctr. J. P.Thomas, John Johns, J. T. Hill, David Harries, Joseph Pearson, Z. P. Evins,William Hollingsworth, David C. Stokes, James Scain, Peter Scain and JohnCarter, being a lawful Jury of Inquest, who being charged and sworn do sayfrom all the circumstances and such evidence as they had before them that thedeath was occasioned by the violent abuse given her by the hands of David R.Henderson, the overseer of B. F. Sims, by beating her with such weapons aswas calculated to destroy life.The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral ResearchSCMAR, Volume XIXNumber 4, Fall, 1991Union County Coroner’s Inquisitions, 1806-1869 (Continued from Volume XIX,p.144)SCMAR, Vol. family law lawyer . XIX, Fall 1991, No. 4, p.201Union District – An inquisition indented taken at Mrs. Williams’ in theDistrict aforesaid on 10 April 1825 before G. Gregory, Coroner, upon view ofthe body of a Negro woman Slave named Maria, the property of Thomas Belew,then and there lying dead, upon the oaths of Thomas Kennedy, James Rowntree,Patrick Williams, James Williams, Robert Walker, David Nicholas, WilliamLong, Stephen McCollum, James Burges, Thomas Scott, Thomas Howard, T. M.Bragg, good and lawful men of sd. District, who being charged and sworn dosay that from a burn[?] given by whipping by the aforesaid Thomas Belew athis own house on the 6th inst. with switches and a blow with his fist whichwas given in heat and passion by the sd. Thomas Belew on the thighs, loins,belly and breast of said negro Maria but not with the intent to murder, andso the Jurors aforesaid say upon their oaths that the aforesaid Thomas Belewin manner and form afsd. Negro did kill and murder against the peace of thisState.The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral ResearchSCMAR, Volume XVIIINumber 3, Summer, 1990Union County Coroner’s Inquisitions, 1806-1869 (Continued from Vol. XVIII,p.104)SCMAR, Vol. XVIII, Summer 1990, No. 3, p.127Union Dist. – An inquisition indented taken at the plantation of Wm. K.Clowney in said district 1 Sept. 1841 before Isaac Gregory, coroner, uponview of the body of George, the property of said Wm. K. Clowney, then andthere being dead, by the oaths of Wm. Long, Jos. Greer, Marshal Carroll, Wm.Gibson, Jas. Jackson, Jas Orr, A. Pearce, Micajah Pearce, John Liles, EvansWilliams, John Mays and Job Hammons, a lawful jury of inquest, do say that onMonday, 30 Aug. last the said slave was shot with a shot gun on theplantation of Wm. K. Clowney by Charles Meng, the overseer of the plantation,and died about dusk the following Tuesday evening.The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral ResearchSCMAR, Volume XVIIINumber 1, Winter, 1990Union County Coroner’s Inquisitions, 1806-1869 (Continued from Vol. XVII,p.198)SCMAR, Vol. XVIII, Winter 1990, No. 1, p.47An Inquisition indented and taken at John Forbises in Union District on 26Feb. 1845 upon view of the dead body of Elizer a female slave, the propertyof John Forbis, upon the oaths of B. Johnson, C. diamond . H. D. Ward (?Dillard?), B.Bishop, Gad Clark, James McCaughey, James Long, Joseph Greer, Mark Fowler,William White, Ellis Palmor, John Palmor and George D. A. Brandon, being alawful Jury of inquest who being charged and sworn do say that the said Elizadid voluntarily herself kill by tying a rope around her neck and hangingherself to a joist in an out house in District aforesaid.The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral ResearchSCMAR, Volume XXNumber 3, Summer, 1992Union County Coroner’s Inquisitions, 1806-1869 (Continued from Volume XX,p.99)SCMAR, Vol. XX, Summer 1992, No. 3, p.164Union District – 11 June 1840. The examination of a female Slave namedMalinda, the property of E. P. Porter, Esqr., on a Coroner’s Inquisition overthe dead body of George Prisock of Said District, This deponent says thatGeorge Prisock attempted to whip a Negro man Slave, the property of E. P.Porter, who refused to submit and drew up his hoe, when the overseer askedhim if he intended to strike him with it the Negro James said nothing butgave back with his hoe up, when said Prisock picked up a rock with which hehit said negro and seemed to Stagger him, and then with a stick which he heldin his hand he struck said negro two blows, at which time the negro strucksaid Prisock on the head with his hoe, and knocked him down, said negroturned short round and stepped off a few steps and turned about and looked atsaid Prisock a short time and then went right off into the woods with his hoein his hand without saying anything to any person. Signed by Isaac Gregory,Coroner for U.D.