Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources


An inquest is an inquiry into the circumstances of sudden, unexplained and suspicious deaths, accidents and suicides.

Up until mid 1986, Victorian inquests were held before a Coroner in a Coroners Court. From July 1, 1986 the State Coroners Office took on this function.

Be aware that the content in inquests can contain a lot of medical detail and can be confronting.



Inquests into deaths (deposition files 1840-1985)

Online through the
Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)


Inquest index, Victoria on CD-ROM (incomplete)

Inquest index, Victoria on microfiche

Online in the library

GMF 105 box 3


Inquests held for Geelong & District.
Vol. 1  By the hand of death 1837-1850
Vol. 2  By the visitation of God 1851-1859
Vol. 3  On the wings of death 1860-1869
Vol. 4  No man lives forever 1870-1879

G994.52 B99K

Bendigo Advertiser - Index of funerals, inquests, obituaries, accidents and more               
Vol. 1  1854-1871                                         
Vol. 2  1872-1876                                         
Vol. 3  1877-1880                                         
Vol. 4  1881-1884                                         
Vol. 5  1885-1886               
Vol. 6  1887-1888

G 994.54 B 433H
GMF 101 box 3


Pre-1985 inquest records

The following collections are held at the Public Record Office Victoria -

  • Inquests into deaths (deposition files 1840-1985) Some early inquests are now available online through the PROV website but most need to be ordered.
    • For deaths between 1840 and 1937 search the index by name.
    • For deaths after 1937 search by inquest number. The Inquest index for Victoria is available online at the State Library Victoria.
  • Fire inquest records (1858-1940)
  • Post-mortem investigation records (body cards) 1959-1985.
  • Melbourne admittance books (1931-1959). Includes information about deceased people whose bodies were sent to the City Mortuary/Coroner.
    • Search by date of death.

Before you can view records at PROV you need to order them through their website. Go to their Ordering Records page for further details.

Post-1985 inquest records

Although PROV hold inquest records up until 2003, records from 1986 onward the records are closed to public access.  To access these records you will need to make a request to the Coroners Court.

Generally, you need to be an 'interested party' in an investigation to gain access to documents. To become an interested party, you must write to the court and explain your interest in the case, and list the documents you want.

If you are not the senior next of kin or an interested party recognised by the court, you can apply using the following online form -Form 45 - Application for access to Coronial documents’.

Or contact the Coroners Court of Victoria Information and Records Manager on 1300 309 519 or visit the Court’s website.

Coroners Court of Victoria
Level 11, 222 Exhibition Street
Melbourne 3000
Fax: 1300 546 989


Coroners' written findings - November 2009 onwards

The Coroners Act 2008 requires that all inquest findings with recommendations be published on the internet, unless otherwise ordered by a coroner.

On the Coroners' Court of Victoria website is a list of inquest finding and coroners recommendations from 1 Novermber 2009. Please be aware that some information may be graphic or distressing.

Whats on

  • Finding families In this introductory webinar, learn the principles of family history research and find out how to access family history resources through the State Library Victoria.
  • Researching your home This webinar will help to answer the questions and curiosities you may have about your family home, whether it’s the house you’re living in now or the scene of your childhood memories. In this session we will include ways to research your family home, finding previous occupants and uncovering  the social history of the area.
  • Newsworthy learn how to navigate the Library’s extensive newspaper collection in this live and interactive online session. You'll dive into the millions of words printed on both current and historical articles in our online databases, and discover how to find specific newspapers in hard copy, online and on microfilm.