means properly the crown-officer. In Saxon times it was his duty to collect the Crown revenues; next, to take charge of Crown pleas; but at present to uphold the paternal solicitude of the Crown by searching into all cases of sudden or suspicious death. (Vulgo, crowner; Latin, corona, the crown.)
But is this law? Ay, marry, is't: crowner's quest law.
Shakespeare: Hamlet, v. 1.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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