The Coroner and the Medical Profession in Victorian Newcastle Upon Tyne ‘… Antagonism and Offence Towards the Medical Profession Such as has Rarely Been Exhibited.’

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Abstract

Studies of the coroner in nineteenth century England suggest that inquests became increasingly medicalised. Much of this research was conducted in London. My research reveals that in Newcastle upon Tyne medicine did not dominate: the solicitor coroner used his skills and knowledge to maintain the legal focus of the inquest. This study reveals a fascinating dynamic between the legally qualified coroner and the local medical profession. In presenting an analysis of examples of the interactions between the Newcastle coroner and the medical profession, this article makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the relationship between medicine and law in the Victorian coroner’s court.

I offer insight into inquests in an important provincial town and discover that the coroner relocated the Newcastle court from official buildings to the public house, its traditional home. Rather than a story of increased medicalisation, the inquest in Newcastle was firmly the preserve of the law. The character and choices of an individual coroner are revealed to have a significant impact on the relationship between law and medicine in the coroner's court. I seek to encourage further research into the work of coroners, to develop a fuller picture of the inquest in the nineteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-226
Number of pages24
JournalNorthern History
Volume60
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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