I have a death certificate issued in Oxford (Oxfordshire, England) in 1909 that says the cause of death, decided by an inquest the next day, was by drowning (in the river).

Where would records of the evidence before the inquest be held? Is this something that would be at the County records office, or are the details never released?

The local newspaper (Oxford Journal) for that year isn't available on the British Newspapers Archive yet.

1 Answer 1


Gut reaction from most English family historians will be - the chances are that the records are gone. (Situation in Scotland may be different, as it's a different legal system).

According to Mark Herber's "Ancestral Trails", "Many coroners' records have been lost or destroyed. Any records surviving from before 1875 are now preserved [my emphasis, AB] but a coroner may destroy any other records more than fifteen years' old. ... Newspaper reports may be the only surviving records of some inquests."

One of The National Archives guides is "Looking for records of a coroner's inquest". That refers to one of the Gibson Guides, "Coroners' Records in England & Wales", by Jeremy Gibson & Colin Rogers. This Guide gives detail for each county of where such records may be found. I haven't got a copy, so can't say what the Oxfordshire situation is, but the usual case is that if any survive, they are probably at the County Record Office. That would also be your best bet for a newspaper report. (You may, of course, need to commission someone to look into that...)

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