The county coroner was principally responsible for the investigation of suspicious deaths, a function performed prior to 1666 by the county sheriff and thereafter by a coroner appointed by the governor. From the early nineteenth century, the governor commonly designated one of the county justices of the peace as coroner.
The county coroner, usually with the assistance of a jury, called witnesses, examined evidence, and thereby determined the cause of death, which findings were reported to the police authorities or to the county (later circuit) court. The office of county coroner was abolished in 1939, with its responsibilities assumed by the State Department of Post Mortem Examiners. (from msa.maryland.gov)