Overview

Reports relating to deaths and fires were compiled by police officers and forwarded to the City Coroner. On the basis of this information the Coroner decided whether or not an inquest was necessary.

We hold:

  • Police reports to the City Coroner
  • Inquests of the City Coroner, except for the period 1877-1930
  • Inquest registers for regional police stations.

Content warning: Inquests from the middle of the 20th century may include graphic photographs.

Access conditions

Records of the SA Police Department are typically available for general public access after 50 or 60 years.

Records of the State Coroner are typically available for general public access after 60 years. One series dating from 1839-1851 (GRG24/11) is restricted and permission must be sought from the State Coroner's Office.

Copying of graphic photographs or other media types within these records is prohibited.

Researching the records

Until the 1960s, the main Police reports to the Coroner series (GRG1/44) only related to deaths in the Adelaide metropolitan area and matters were forwarded to the City Coroner. This series also included reports on deaths of patients at Parkside Lunatic Asylum and Adelaide Lunatic Asylum.

Inquests for the period 1877-1930 were authorised for pulping during World War II as part of the war effort. For this era you will need to rely on the police reports to the Coroner.

Some regional police station records include a local inquest register. Search for the police station first, and check the consignments for an inquest register.

Indexes and special lists

A publication compiled by Jill Statton - Inquests 1880-1942 : South Australian Record Series No. 3 - partly indexes GRG1/27, GRG1/44, GRG1/94 and GRG1/95. This work is available through Libraries SA. Other relevant publications by Jill Statton are available in the Research Centre.

Correspondence files ('CSO' files) - Colonial, later Chief Secretary's Office, 1852-1856 (GRG 24/6)

Some early inquests were recorded in correspondence of the Colonial Secretary.

Special list to GRG24/6 Coronial Inquests found within the correspondence files of the Colonial Secretary's Office, 1852 - 1856

Correspondence files (‘AGO’ or ‘AGD’ files) – Attorney-General’s Department, 1857-1869 (GRG 1/2)

This list covers 1857 to 1869 and is an alphabetical index to abstracts of, and material relating to, inquests contained in the letters received by the Attorney General's Department.

The list is arranged alphabetically by the person's surname.

Special List to GRG 1/2 - Inquests into sudden deaths and fires 1857 - 1869 A - Z 

Inquest files - City Coroner and successors, 1867-1976 (GRG 1/27)

These records are coronial hearings into deaths and fires where an inquest was deemed necessary.

This list is arranged alphabetically by the person's surname.

Note: Inquests for the period 1877-1930 were authorised for pulping during World War II as part of the war effort.

Special list to GRG 1/27 Inquest files, 1867, 1869 -1876

Police reports to the City Coroner, 1879 - 1982 (gaps between 1884-1891) (GRG 1/44)

Special lists for this series are arranged by year, covering 1911 to 1966.

1911 to 1919

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

1919

1920s

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

1925

1926

1927

1928

1929

1930s

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940s

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950s

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960 to 1968

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

Digitised records

Police reports to the Coroner

FamilySearch has digitised records from within GRG 1/44 and GRG 1/39, with a single catalogue page for all of the Police reports to the Coroner.

For a direct link to catalogue entries by date range:

1879-1892 - TBC (GRG 1/44)

1884-1891 (GRG 1/39)

1893-1918 (GRG 1/44)

1919-1931

1932-1935

1936-1937

1938-1941

1942-1944

1945-1947

1948-1951

1954-1955

1956-1957

Inquest records from Police stations

FamilySearch - Blinman Police Station Inquest register, from 1884 (GRG 5/301/1)

FamilySearch - Carrieton Police Station Inquest register, from 1884 (GRG 5/302/1)

FamilySearch - Jamestown Police Station Inquest register, from 1885 (GRG 5/275/2)

FamilySearch - Waukuringa Police Station Inquest register, from 1885 (GRG 5/291/1)

FamilySearch - Yongala Police Station Inquest register, from 1887 (GRG 5/294/3)

Types of records

Police reports to the Coroner generally include the following information about the deceased:

  • name
  • age
  • former address
  • occupation of deceased
  • date, place and circumstances of death
  • relatives of deceased person
  • names of witnesses
  • name of police officer
  • date of report, and
  • notation if an inquest was unnecessary (this included suicides).

Police reported on deaths of patients at Parkside and Adelaide Lunatic Asylums. Until the 1960s the reports relate only to deaths and fires in the Adelaide metropolitan area. By the 1960's (at least) deaths as a result of traffic accidents have a report from the Police Accident Investigation Squad.

Inquest records generally include the following:

  • name, former residence and occupation of deceased
  • date, place and cause of death
  • name, address and occupation of witnesses
  • reason for holding inquest
  • date and place of inquest
  • name of Justice of the Peace or Coroner, and
  • transcripts of evidence and findings of inquest.

Records held

Police reports to the Coroner

Notices of deaths to Coroner 1875-1876 (GRG 1/28)

Police reports to the Coroner 1879-1982 (GRG 1/44)

Police Reports to the Coroner 1884-1891 (GRG 1/39)

Inquests

GRG 1/2, unit 7, abstract number 10, Robert Montgomery, Correspondence files, ('AGO', 'AG&ME' or 'AGD' files) - Attorney General's Department Depositions taken during inquests, 1839-1851 (GRG 24/11) - seek permission from the Coroner's Court for access to restricted records

Correspondence files (‘AGO’ or ‘AGD’ files) – Attorney-General’s Department, 1857-1869 (GRG 1/2) - letters received by the Attorney General's Department contain abstracts of, and material relating to, inquests.

Inquest files – City Coroner and successors, 1867, 1869-1876, 1931-1976 (GRG 1/27) - Note: inquests dating between 1877 and 1930 were authorised for destruction during World War II.

Burial orders 1926-1971 (GRG 1/91) - partly indexed by Index to certificates of burial, 1933 - 1953 (GRG 1/92)

Inquest findings 1937-1942 (GRG 1/95)

Fire reports 1956-1984 (GRG 1/106) - partly indexed by Index to fire reports, 1966 - 1993 (GRS 14140)

Various police station inquest registers (see GRG5)

Key Facts

Historically, in South Australia the investigation into a reportable death usually started with a police report.

This report was forwarded to the State Coroner who then decided whether or not to proceed with a coronial inquest.

Inquests were held into deaths deemed to be either unnatural or criminally suspicious.

Inquests were also held into the cause of fires, even where no deaths or injuries were reported.