A guide to searching for death and burial records in Southwark

Coroners’ inquests

Coroners would be called to investigate a dead body in the event of a death that was unexplained, unusual or sudden and in the event of the death of a prisoner.

The London Metropolitan Archives has a complete series of coroner’s inquests for the ancient Borough of Southwark from 1788 to 1932 (including Guy’s Hospital, and St Thomas’s Hospital before it moved in 1862). In this context, the Borough of Southwark covers only part of the ancient borough, mainly the area near the southern end of London Bridge, the Borough and part of the Old Kent Road, and not the larger, post-1900 Metropolitan Borough of Southwark.

All the coroners' inquests and depositions for the County of London dating from 1875-1926 have been destroyed. For the subsequent period, 1927 to 1965 (County of London) and 1965 to 1968 (Greater London area), only a 10% sample of the inquests has been retained. Inquests are currently closed for a period of 75 years after creation (i.e. 1945 onwards). Contact the London Metropolitan Archives for further details. 

Coroners’ inquests after 1968 are held by the London Metropolitan Archives on behalf of the coroner. Applications for access to these records must be addressed to the appropriate coroner:

Apply to the London Inner South Coroner’s Court

Any surviving coroners’ records for Surrey (including Bermondsey, Camberwell, Newington, Rotherhithe, and part of Southwark before 1889) may be held by the Surrey History Centre. The Surrey Quarter Sessions papers (QS2/6) include, from 1753, accounts submitted by the coroner for expenses in attending inquests, which often give the name of the deceased and the location of the inquest. Otherwise, no full inquest records are held.

Where the original coroner’s record does not survive, there may be an entry in the local newspaper. The following newspapers are held on microfilm at Southwark Archives. Some may also be searched on FindMyPast (highlighted in bold) or the original newspaper can be viewed at the British Newspaper Archive.

Newspapers available on microfilm at Southwark Archives

Lambeth and Southwark Advertiser      

1855 - 1861

South London Chronicle

1860 - 1907

South London Journal

1856 - 1871

South London Mail

1888 - 1906

South London News

1855 - 1861, 1879 - 1891

Southwark and Bermondsey Recorder

1868 - 1933

South London Observer / Camberwell  and Peckham Times

1870 - 1969

South London Press

1865 - present (with gaps)
Issues from December 2009 are available online

Bermondsey News

October 1987 - July 1988

Southwark and Bermondsey News

August 1988 - 1992

Southwark News



1993 - present (with gaps)
Issues from December 2014 are available online

Southwark Archives offer a newspaper search service. This involves searching the local newspapers based on the date of death, and searching for obituaries or notices of inquests. There is a small fee for this service. Email archives@southwark.gov.uk for further information.

Page last updated: 28 November 2023


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