Lancaster County’s first coroner was named in 1729 when Lancaster was established as a county. In 1838, the coroner became an elected office and was summoned to investigate deaths of a suspicious or violent nature. If the coroner was unable to determine the cause of death following an autopsy an ‘inquest’ was conducted to determine responsibility for the death. In the past, six “good and lawful men” were compelled to assist in the inquest as witnesses to determine the manner of death. Coroner Inquest records provide the inquest number, name of the deceased, death date, place, nature of the death, coroner name, and witnesses examined. Witnesses listed may include family members and could be a valuable link for family history research. Coroner Inquest records are a good source of information when traditional death records such as wills are unavailable. For related death certificates contact the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records.