Coroners Inquest, Newcastle District

Coroner's Inquests, Newcastle District

1836 - 1838

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Records of the Bay or Quinte

Why I am interested in these records.
The records below are reports from "Coroner Investigations and Inquests" from the 1830's.  They are not microfilmed and are an example of the many kinds of records that researchers overlook. Only the name of the deceased person is indexed and searchable on the Archives of Ontario website. However these reports contain information that is historically interesting and also list the names of jurors and witnesses that can be useful.

Source: Newcastle District Coroner investigations and inquests, 1836-40, RG 22-3788, Box 2, barcode B270621
Randy Saylor, Oct 2012

Coroners Inquests were established in Upper Canada to investigate sudden or suspicious deaths. The coroner selected the jury, witnesses were called and a decision was made determining if the death was a possible crime, accident or of natural causes. Janice Nickerson in her excellent book, Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada,  OGS/Dundurn, 2010, describes how the coroners work was part of the overall legal system. She includes a lengthy list of legal records held at the Archives of Ontario and other Ontario repositories. I highly recommend this reference book.

The coroner's reports all follow a similar format. They state the name of the deceased, the township where the death occurred, list the names of the jurors who are all residents in the township, state a synopsis of the facts and the conclusion of the jury and end with the signatures of the jurors. In some cases affidavits of the witnesses are included.

Below is one full transcription of a report which is very similar in style to all the others. A partial transcription of 7 other inquests are given for a few cases from Murray, Cramahe and Percy Townships that caught my interest. These records are for Newcastle District which encompassed the area west and north of the Trent River to Port Hope.

In my case, I had noted William Kelly's inquest in a search of the Archive's web site. As so often happens, I spent considerable time enjoying the other records that were in the folders.

Trent University Archives has some Newcastle reports that are indexed on their web site. These include an index to inquests starting in 1830 and the names of coroners (starting in 1824) and Justices of the Peace and other office holders.

The first report is fully transcribed showing the typical wording of a report. Those following are abbreviated.

21 Nov 1836, The Inquest on the body of John McMullen, Murray

Murray Township, Newcastle District
“An Inquisition indented taken for our Sovereign lord the King at the Township of Murray in the County of Northumberland in the Newcastle District the 21st day of November in the year one Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty Six before Thomas A Corbett Gentn one of the coroners of our said Lord the King for the said District on view of the body of John McMullen then and there lying dead upon the oath of

Joseph  Lockwood, foreman
Abijah Smith
Gibbs Squiers
Drummond Smith
Christopher E Bullock
John Smith
Thomas D Sanford
Wm H Sanford
Hiram Bettes [his death results in an inquest that is in this box; Oct 1838]
Barnabas Bettes
Peter Crouter
Geo Armour
Isaac Proctor
Geo Colter
Good and lawful men of the said township duly chosen, and charged to enquire for our said Lord the King when where how and after what manner the said John McMullen came to his death, do upon their oath say that the said John McMullen departed this life by excessive drinking of Ardent spirits and not from any hurts injury of violence done or committed by any person whatever to the knowledge of the said jurors ……..
Thomas Corbett
[all signed]

3 Nov 1836, The Inquest on the body of Andrew Young, Murray
Murray Township, Newcastle District
“Andrew Young was found dead in his bed at the house of his father Peter Young” and had been “for some time before had been very ailing and infirm”.
John V Murphy Foreman
Matthius Young
William Slack
Peter Swart
Julio Juleo [signed] Julieus Julien
George Dalton
Gibb Squires
Frank Gothard [signed] Francis Gothard
D Lahe [signed] D Leahy
Peter Livingston
Dennis Macauly
Wm Davies [signed] Wm Davis
Daniel David

28 August [ probably 1838], The Inquest on the body of William Kelly
Murray Township, Newcastle District
“An Inquisition indented taken for our Sovereign Lady the Queen at the Township of Murray in the County of Northumberland in the Newcastle District the 28? Day of August in the second year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady the Queen  before Thomas A Corbett Esqr one of the coroners of the said District on view of the body of William Kelly
“the said William Kelly came to his death by the visitation of Almighty God”
John Lloyd, foreman
Thomas Pratt
James Taylor
George Abott
Ezira Trumble
James Rosborough
H M Harris
Stephen Young
Geo R Harris
William McAlnery
James Ferguson
Samuel Powers
Thomas Smith
William Moon
Note: Queen Victoria was crowned in June 1837 so Aug 1838 would be in the second year of her reign.

30 Nov 1838, the Inquest on the body of John Nowlan
Brighton, Cramahe Township, Newcastle District
“John Nowlan came to his death  by excessive drinking of ardent spirits”
There are a number of depositions of witnesses who saw John Nowlan “at the bar room of Jesse Wells … in an intoxicated state”. A doctor, Henry Meade MD was called and he “immediately bled him the said John Nowlan but had no effect in preserving his life.”
B M Mahon?  J.P. acting coroner

E W Roberts
Griffiths Howell
Richard  Spring
Isaac Cary
Augustus Spencer
Joshua M Cadman
James Pattenden?
William C Barker
William Meridith
Abel Church
Edmond F Marsh
Richard Reid
Alonzo Simpson

18 Aug 1837, Inquest of Charles Bates
Murray Township, Newcastle District

“Charles Bates .. in a certain mill in the township … was in the wheels? of the said mill then and there suffocated and drowned ..”
Thomas A Corbett Esq, coroner

Picton Gross, foreman
Charles Biggar
Colin Mackenzie
John MacKenzie
Sheldon H. MacKenzie
Thomas Johnson
William Corrigan
Benjamin Weller
Joseph N? Cryderman
William Lovell
John Lawson
John Blaker [signed] Bleecker
Robert Bonter
Charles Sheared?
Asa Weller

23 June 1840, Inquest of James Priestley
Percy Township, Newcastle District

“came to his death by committing suicide on the twenty third day of June …. by cutting his own throat and then and there instantly died”
Henry Meade, Gentleman, coroner

Isaac Platt
Maitland Platt
Alfred Mabey [signed] Maybee
Nelson Gage
James Douglas
George McCormick
Peter P Smith
Cornelius Puffer
Emery Perry Jr
Israel Baldwin
Cornelius Hull
Peter Hague [signed] Haig
Silas Parkes [signed] Parks
John Palmateer
Charles Praty [signature hard to read but may be Charles Priestle]

1 Aug 1840, Inquest of Akin Burgess at the dwelling house of William Henessy in Murray.
Murray Township, Newcastle District

“Akin Burgess on the 30th day of July … came to his death by being accidentally drowned in the waters of the Trent River.” There are affidavits by William Strohn and Frederick Keeler both of Sidney.
Jacob Ford Esq, coroner

James Potter, foreman
Paul Vader
Philip Carmon
John McCaulay
Charles Stewart
Jones John Forrest
Isaac Gothard
William Henesy
Henry Buttler [signature hard to read – maybe Butls]
William Carter
Samuel R Bush
Guy C Baker

7 Sept 1840, Inquest of Thomas Higgins
Barracks at Presque Isle, Cramahe Township.

“on the 5th day of September instant aforesaid in Presque Isle bay … accidentally fell out of a skiff into the waters of said Bay and was then and there suffocated and drowned.” Affidavits by Patrick Cook, Jas Morton, Thomas Dixon, James Smith. Higgins had crossed the bay from the Barracks to Stoney Point  with William Carrigan who wished to go to Carrying Place. They accompanied Carrigan nearly a mile, left him, on the way back bought some milk and returned to a raft on which Thomas Higgins brother was to a raft nearby where they remained drinking on the raft nearly an hour. They left and about a mile on their way back Higgins fell overboard.
Henry Meade, Gentleman, coroner

William Butler
Mark Develin
Peter Shuler
Augustus Spencer
Isaac Carey
George W Nix
Andrew Davis
Caleb Pringle
Henry Nix
James Campbell
Isaiah Thayer
Peter Lawson
Richard J? Clute
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