Durham Diocesan Records: Bishops' transcripts of parish registers and related records

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Durham Diocesan Records include bishops' transcripts of registers of parishes and chapelries from the following areas:

  • the archdeaconries of Durham and Auckland
  • the archdeaconries of Northumberland and Lindisfarne (which until 1882 were in the diocese of Durham)
  • Hexhamshire from 1837 onwards when this area ceased to be a detached part of the diocese of York and was transferred to the diocese of Durham. Includes the following Hexhamshire parishes and chapelries: Allendale St Cuthbert; Allendale StPeter; Carr Shield (or High West Allen); Hexham; Ninebanks (or Low West Allen); St John Lee; and Whitley Chapel
  • Thockrington in Northumberland (a York ecclesiastical peculiar before 1837)
  • The Durham ecclesiastical peculiars of Allertonshire (in Yorkshire) prior to 1813. Includes the following Allertonshire parishes and chapelries: Birkby; Brompton; Cowesby; Deighton; Hutton Bonville; Kirby Sigston; Leake; Northallerton withRomanby township; Osmotherley; Otterington North, Rounton West, Nether Silton, Thornton-le-Street and Worsall High
  • Crayke (now in Yorkshire) before 1837 when this parish ceased to be a detached part of the diocese of Durham and was transferred to the diocese of York
  • Alston parish and its dependent chapelry of Garrigill (although in Cumberland, part of the diocese of Durham during the period when bishops' transcripts were made)

Administrative / Biographical History

Transcripts of parish registers were required by orders of 1562 and 1597, although no 16th century transcripts survive for Durham diocese. The 1812 Parochial Registers Act formalised and standardised the style of the transcripts.

For most parishes in the diocese of Durham the surviving bishops' transcripts cover the period from about 1760 - mid-19th century. The majority of the earlier transcripts were lost at an unknown date before the transfer here of the DiocesanRecords. There are usually gaps in the sequence, especially during the earlier years. Few transcripts of marriage entries were made after the introduction of civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in 1837 but those of baptismal andburial entries were still sent in from many parishes for some years after that. Sending in parish-register transcripts to the diocesan registrar was beginning to die out from the late 1830s, so none were made for many of the new parishes andchapelries formed around that time. Some transcripts of the registers of Society of Friends burial-grounds from the 1860s until the 1890s survive here; these were made as a result of the 1864 Registration of Burials Act (27 & 28 Victoria, c.97),one clause of which required that copies of entries in all burial-ground registers should be transmitted to diocesan registrars. A few of these transcripts relate to Society of Friends burial-grounds in the diocese of York (i.e. Ayresome,Cotherstone and Osmotherley).


The transcripts were originally kept in annual bundles, each of which covered the whole diocese, but they have now been sorted into parish and chapelry order. They are listed here in one alphabetical sequence according to place-name.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Other Finding Aids

The Bishops' transcripts have been digitised and have been made available on a pilot site by the Genealogical Society of Utah at https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1309819 Please note that this is a test site and is liable to change or to become unavailable due to maintenance: it may require registration to use, and currently needs a Flash plug-in installed on your web browser. The material is not included in thesite's indexes. The current organisation of the material is not consistent, but Durham University Library has no direct means of changing this at present.

Online catalogue of Bishops' transcripts available at http://endure.dur.ac.uk:8080/fedora/objects/UkDhU:EADCatalogue.0482/datastreams/XTF/content#DDR-EA-PBT-2-t

Separated Material

Durham County Record Office

Original parish registers, County Durham

Northumberland Record Office

Original parish registers, Northumberland

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 PG.Library@durham.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Durham Diocesan Records

Auckland Castle Records