The papers which came to Durham are concerned only with properties belonging to the school in the county of Durham and do not contain any accounts or material relating to the school itself.
They include a 20th century copy of Christopher Leven's grant of the above mentioned annuity to Pilkington from lands in Hetton le Hole (No. 30) and some material relating to the lands at Sedgefield (Nos. 31 and 32), Wharnley Burn (Nos. 85 and 86), Whickham (Nos. 87 and 88), Lynesack (No. 89) and Wolsingham (Nos. 90-96). Most of the collection, however, falls into three groups:
- 1. Papers arising from lawsuits in the 17th century over the lands in Heighington (Nos. 1-29).
- 2. Papers from similar lawsuits over the rent charge on lands at Silksworth (Nos. 33-84).
- 3. Papers from an abortive attempt in the 19th century to sell property in Wolsingham to its tenant Mr Surtees (Nos. 90-135).
The lawsuits, which in both cases began about 1638 or 1639 and were not concluded until 1662 or 1663, reflect the problems encountered by the school in enforcing their rights. In the case of Heighington there was some doubt as to the school's title as the inhabitants of the township disputed the right of the Bishop to grant these lands to the School. At Silksworth the School's right to the rent charge was undisputed but, as the Middleton family had disposed of part of the lands on which the charge was laid, there was a dispute as to who was liable to pay the annual sum of £6.13.4d. By the time the case was settled, 24 years after George Middleton refused to pay any more, it was estimated that his son should pay the school £433.0.4d. for rent arrears, damages and costs.
By the mid 19th century the school's governors had sold many of the lands in Durham and invested the proceeds elsewhere. However, the attempt to sell Mr Surtees his lands at Wolsingham was frustrated by the refusal of the Charity Commissioners to sanction the sale, apparently because of objections raised by Revd. Thomas Sutcliffe, vicar of Rivington and later a governor of the School.