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.
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.
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 Digitised Records
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.
Inquests were required to be deposited with the Colonial Secretary.
Index to GRG24/11 Inquest papers - Colonial Secretary's Office 1839-1851
Some early inquests were recorded in correspondence of the Colonial Secretary.
Index to GRG24/6 Coronial Inquests found within the correspondence files of the Colonial Secretary's Office 1852 - 1856
This index 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 index is arranged alphabetically by the person's surname.
Index to GRG 1/2 - Inquests into sudden deaths and fires 1857 - 1869 A - Z
These records are coronial hearings into deaths and fires where an inquest was deemed necessary.
This index is arranged alphabetically by the person's surname.
Inquests for the period 1877-1930 were authorised for pulping during World War II as part of the war effort.
Index to GRG1/27 Inquest files 1867, 1869-1876
Digitised records on FamilySearch
- Blinman Police Station Inquest register, 1884-1915 (GRG 5/301/1)
- Carrieton Police Station Inquest register, 1884-1920 (GRG 5/302/1)
- Jamestown Police Station Inquest register, 1885-1935 (GRG 5/275/2)
- Waukuringa Police Station Inquest register, 1885-1913 (GRG 5/291/1)
- Yongala Police Station Inquest register, 1887-1922 (GRG 5/294/3)
Police reports to the Coroner
Police reports to the City Coroner 1879 - 1982 - GRG 1/44
There are gaps between 1884-1891
Indexes for this series are arranged by year from 1911 to 1966.
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.
Access through FamilySearch will require you to complete a free registration on the FamilySearch site. If the images for the records you require are not available send us an enquiry with the specific reference details for a copying quote.
FamilySearch entries by date range:
14 Jun 1879 - 3 May 1882 (GRG 1/44)
3 May 1882 - 25 Oct 1884 (GRG 1/44)
26 Oct 1884 - 5 Jul 1888 (GRG 1/44)
6 Jul 1888 - 16 Mar 1892 (GRG 1/44)
3 Jan 1892 - 29 Dec 1892 (GRG 1/44)
1884-1891 (GRG 1/39)
1893-1918 (GRG 1/44)
1919-1931 (GRG 1/44)
1932-1935 (GRG 1/44)
1936-1937 (GRG 1/44)
1938-1941 (GRG 1/44)
1942-1944 (GRG 1/44)
1945-1947 (GRG 1/44)
1948-1951 (GRG 1/44)
1952-1953 (GRG 1/44)
1954-1955 (GRG 1/44)
1956-1957 (GRG 1/44)
1958-1960 (GRG 1/44)
1961-1963 (GRG 1/44)
1964-1965 (GRG 1/44)
1966-1967 (GRG 1/44)
Police reports to the Coroner
Notices of deaths to Coroner 1875-1876 - GRG 1/28
Police Reports to the Coroner 1884-1891 - GRG 1/39
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