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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 1960 to 1968
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)
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:
- 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.
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)
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)
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.