Inquests were held by the Coroner to investigate cause of death. The death certificate should indicate whether an inquest was held. Reasons for conducting an inquest include death by accident, suicide, violence or fire; deaths that took place in public institutions such as hospitals, asylums or police custody; or if the person is unidentified.

Inquest files are available at State Records New South Wales from 1851 to the 1960s, although not all files have survived. See State Records New South Wales Archives in Brief No. 4 for more information.