The Minutes of Coroners Proceedings: City and County of New York, John Burnet, Coroner, 1748-1758
Each case begins with the number of the case or an indication that the case was unnumbered. It will then state when the coroner viewed the body of the deceased person. The reports then list the names of the jurors and witnesses that contribute to the coroner's conclusions. After these lists, the documents state the description of the event according to the coroner's analysis, the testimony of the witnesses, and the convictions of the jurors. Every case ends with coroner John Burnet’s signature.
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John Burnet plays an important role in this collection. In his job, he found himself in the middle of a conflict between the New York colonial government and the British imperial government. If you would like to read bout John Burnet’s Story, click here.
This collection is important to preserve for it serves to help genealogical researchers needing to find an ancestor that died in New York between 1748 and 1758. The cases in this volume give us humanizing stories about the life and times of the people that died in this period. The deaths “remind us that New York was and is a port city, with mercantile opportunities that attract people, and with dangers that may destroy them,” Sypher writes. This collection especially gives us insight into how strenuous work-life was for many people. Preserving stories such as this one can help us restore the agency of the deceased along with helping a researcher who has an ancestor who would have otherwise not gotten much information about the strenuous nature of their ancestor’s life and surroundings.
Coroners’ Reports New York City, 1823-1842, 1843-1849
In 1989 and 1991, former President of the NYG&B, Kenneth Scott, abstracted two volumes worth of coroners’ reports in New York City. The two volumes of Coroners’ Reports New York City, 1823-1842, 1843-1849 were added to volumes XII and XIV of the Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Volume XII and XIV cover 1823 through 1842 and 1843 through 1849, respectively.
The coroner reports in these pages are of utmost importance and need to be preserved. These coroner reports give us insight into a New York City that was evolving at a rapid pace with the increase in population. This was sparked by Americans from other parts of the country and immigrants pouring “into the metropolis.” People coming into New York were from the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Ireland, “the United Kingdom in general,” “Scandinavian countries,” France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and Spain.
This volume is text searchable – searches entered in the fields will query this volume. The images can also be browsed by clicking the links below, which will take you to the beginning of the section you are interested in reading.
These collections are organized by stating the last name first, followed by the first name. It then states the cause of death, where they died, when they were born, their age at the time of death and the date of their death. This information will be key for many researchers who are looking to find more about their ancestors.
Researchers can also find out the occupation of someone they are looking for. Although not stated specifically, in many cases it can be inferred with the context of their death. Some of those occupations consist of, “ labourers, merchants, carpenters, mariners, ropemakers, cabinetmakers, masons, plumbers, jewellers, printers and portrait painters.” In finding the occupation of an ancestor, one can empathize with how difficult life was during antebellum era New York City. Many died of intoxication, others drowned and died on the job for a variety of reasons. Aside from people dying on the job, people died of disease either in adulthood or childhood. “Maladies” such as “apoplexy, pneumonia, pleurisy, cholera and various fevers, dropsy and epilepsy” were common. Accidents were also “extremely common,” whether it was through choking on food or “boilers” blowing up “on ships and on the land,” danger lurked in the unlikeliest of places. As Scott noted, “life in the metropolis was difficult, especially for some immigrants from Europe.”
Suggested citation for this collection:
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, “New York County Coroner's Report Abstracts” digital images, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, (www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org), 2019.