Vol. 89: East Sussex Coroners’ Records 1688-1838


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Editor: Roy Hunnisett
Volume: Volume 89
Published 2005
ISBN: 978 085445 068 8

The text of this volume is in three parts. The first consists of all the extant bills submitted by the coroners of East Sussex to claim the expenses to which they became entitled in 1752 for holding inquests and travelling to venues. They contain summaries of 3,620 inquests held between 1752 and 1838. The second part contains 142 inquests from between 1688 and 1838, with four earlier ones which have recently come to light. All the East Sussex inquests known to exist from 1194 to 1838 are therefore now in print with the exception of those held after 1688 in the Cinque Ports confederation, there being too many from Rye, Winchelsea, Hastings, Pevensey and Seaford to be included here.

East Sussex before 1838 comprised the whole of the rapes of Hastings, Pevensey and Lewes. The East Sussex county coroners also officiated in the eastern part of Bramber rape which was part of the archdeaconry of Lewes and also held occasional inquests in other parts of West Sussex when there was no West Sussex coroner or he was incapacitated.

Thirdly, there is in an appendix a series of documents concerning the prosecution of Thomas William Wheeler, a county coroner, for offences committed in the course of his duties.

The records illustrate many aspects of the life of the period. Some are concerned with smuggling, many more result from the large number of regular soldiers and militia stationed along the Channel coast or nearby during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, and others reflect the growth of seaside towns, especially Brighton. Among noteworthy individual deaths are the first Brighton trunk murder and the murder of a man by his wife whose trial was the last Sussex case of petty treason.

Roy Hunnisett, formerly of the Public Record Office, has published books and articles on the history of the office of coroner, including the editions of earlier Sussex inquests.

Cover illustration: Seals and signatures of the coroner and jurors on a Rottingdean inquest of 1783 (TNA: PRO: ASSI 94/1241), reproduced by permission of the Keeper of Public Records. In the text (no 353 within) the spellings of the jurors’ names are those of the inquest, not of the signatures.