Mawson Papers

Scope and Content

Deeds, letters, volumes, plans (Ordnance Survey & other) and legal miscellanea from the office of Mawson, Freeman & Curry, an old firm of Durham lawyers who were the University of Durham's lawyers. The papers concern property at Consett, Durham City, Ebchester, Helmington Row, Knitsley, Medomsley, Moorsley (including a paper mill) and Sunderland in Co. Durham; Elrington in Northumberland, etc.; various accounts; lawyers papers (correspondence, certificates etc. appointing to legal posts) especially of John Ward; payments etc. by the Overseers of the Poor to militiamen's wives in 1812; draft calendars of Durham Quarter Sessions prisoners and transportees 1833-34; business records and correspondence. There are some volumes of legal handbooks, registers of property (mostly transferred from the Dean & Chapter of Durham to the University of Durham, including a volume of plans and surveys of corps land), and letter-books of letters written for the University by their solicitors, 1935-1940. There are also two boxes of legal business papers, mainly early 20th century, which are unlisted. The plans relate to property improvements, mainly in Durham City, and Ordnance Survey large scale maps of Durham City and the surrounding area.

Administrative / Biographical History

The New Exchequer Buildings, 50 North Bailey, Durham City was from its opening in 1856 the home of several local administrations relating to the Bishopric. John Ward (Mayor of Durham in, and died, 1871) practised law there, and held the office of deputy of the Durham Court of Pleas. At his death he was succeeded by his son, William Charles Ward, registrar of the High Court. In 1880 the firm of Ward and Mawson appears at that address, after which Joseph Mawson appears in his own right. Mawson carried on alone until eventually forming Mawson & Son. In the 1950s this became Mawson, Freeman and Curry, which eventually transferred from the New Exchequer premises in 1971, when it became the University Law department. The solicitors continued in Durham, as Freeman Johnson.


By deposit, and then subject, and chronologically.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

The material arrived in several instalments:

  • 1. First six boxes received at the Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic of the University of Durham (since 1990 part of the Archives and Special Collections department of Durham University Library) from the office of Mawson, Freeman & Curry solicitors (then of the Exchequer Building, 50 North Bailey, Durham City) (along with Land Tax Records not related to them), before October 1957.
  • 2. From a skip outside the above premises when University of Durham Dept. of Law took over the building, and from the incineration area at the University Surveyor's Department on 10 & 15 September 1971 - volumes and papers retrieved by members of the archives staff.
  • 3. From the University Dept. of Law on 17 & 29 September 1971, being plans, etc. left by Mawsons.

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue. Maps included in old card indices of maps & O.S. plans. Two boxes of 20th century correspondence unlisted.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Material relating to property transferred from the Dean & Chapter of Durham to Durham University can be found in the Church Commission Durham Dean & Chapter Estates Deposit and the University of Durham Records.

Personal Names