The Lewes District of the Eastern Division coronership was created in 1891 and comprised those areas of East Sussex not covered by the new Rye District or by the Franchise Coroner of the Rape of Hastings.
It was augmented in April 1974 by the area which had been covered by the Brighton Borough Coroner since 1854, and reduced in size by a further re-adjustment of boundaries in 1986. On the establishment of Brighton and Hove as a unitary authority in April 1997 the division of the county into Eastern and Western Districts was discontinued, and the reduced area covered by a single coroner based at St Leonards. Records to be received from that coroner will be allotted the reference COR/4, and those from the Brighton and Hove jurisdiction COR/5.
For more details on the origins of the jurisdiction and its extent at different dates, see the introduction to the COR fonds. For the records of the Brighton Coroner, see COR/3.
Apart from a few strays, these records date substantively from 1915, with a significant gap between 1928 and 1937. A note dated March 1942 on the Home Office Return for 1931 (COR/1/8/7) notes that inquests for 1927-1931 [recte 1928] were sent for salvage as a result of a 'War Circular', and that open verdict papers were not retained 'as only between suicide and accident'. A similar enthusiasm resulted in the destruction of much earlier inquests by the Franchise Coroner of the Rape of Hastings in March 1942; see SHE 2/8/10 for details.
The earlier inquests retained, or more probably overlooked, in 1942 were not numbered in any sequence by the coroner, and have been listed as COR/1/3 in a single series from 1 to 2530. When the inquest papers recommence in 1938 they are numbered in annual series. These papers have been listed as COR/1/5, with the year incorporated in the reference; so the first inquest of 1938 carries the reference COR/1/5/1938/1. COR/1/5 extends to the acquisition of the area of the former Brighton jurisdiction in 1974, COR/1/6 to the re-organisation of 1986 and COR/1/7 thereafter.
A small group of papers arising from deaths reported to the coroner which did not result in inquests has been retained for the period before 1927 and listed as COR/1/3; later reported death papers have been destroyed in accordance with Home Office Circulars.
Finding-aids compiled by the coroner are listed as COR/1/1-2 and 1/8, the last representing the only information, all of it statistical, for the period between 1928 and 1937 for which the inquests were destroyed.
East Sussex Coroners
1817-1829 George Gwynne
1829-1864 Francis Harding Gell, died 31 Oct 1864
1864-1879 Lewis GreeneFullager, appointed 7 Dec 1864; John Edward Fullager sat as deputy, Sep - Dec 1879
1880-1887 Wynne Edwin Baxter, appointed 29 Jan 1880; resigned 1 Nov 1887 on appointment as coroner of East London and Tower
1887-1899 George Edward Hillman, appointed 18 Nov 1887;
1899-1927 George Vere Benson MA, MRCS
1928-1947 Edward Fitzwilliam Hoare MD, ChB, barrister; formerly deputy coroner for Salford; appointed Jul 1928; of Lynchetts, Ringmer
1948-1974 Angus Christopher Somerville
1974-1986 John Sherwood Dodd of Eastbourne
1986-1996 Donald John Gooding of Lewes
1996-1997 Veronica Hamilton-Deeley; appointed Brighton and Hove Coroner on the creation of the Unitary Authority in April 1997
East Sussex Deputy Coroners
Sep - Dec 1879 John Edward Fullager
by 1887-1887+ Edward Hillman
by 1899-1899+ Herbert Sprott of Crowborough
1907-1938+ William Alexander Dow MD; in 1927 called deputy for 20 years; appointed as coroner but not able to take up appointment; HJH acted in his absence
1927-1928 Hubert J Hillman, acted during illness of WAD
1948 Albert William Gardner