Tudor Coroners Reports

clip_image002Oxford University fellow Dr Steven Gunn is heading a project to learn more about the deaths in Tudor times which were reported to the Coroner.

The original documents are house at The National Archives under record series KB9.

I have been unable to find out if the study will be available online once completed in four years time, but if it is then it will be a most interesting resource for family historians.

The University website says ….

History Fellow, Dr Steven Gunn, is leading a team undertaking a four-year project studying coroners’ reports of accidental deaths in Tudor England.

Amongst the tragi-comic tales of misfortune, such as standing too near to archery targets or indeed performing bears, lies an incident that may shed light on one of the most iconic moments in the works of Shakespeare.

Two-and-a-half-year old Jane Shaxspere drowned in a millpond whilst picking flowers, not twenty miles from William Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. William would have been five at the time of the incident and it is possible that Jane was his cousin. The parallels between this incident and the death of Ophelia in Hamlet are striking.

“It might just be a coincidence, but the links to Ophelia are certainly tantalising,” commented Dr Gunn. “Coroners’ reports of fatal accidents are a useful and hitherto under-studied way of exploring everyday life in Tudor England.”



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