James Raine Correspondence

Scope and Content

These letters, from a late stage of Raine's life when he was widely known and respected, relate to many different areas of his activities, as antiquary and historian, librarian to the Dean and Chapter of Durham, Surtees Society secretary, Rector of Meldon, and Principal Surrogate in the Durham Consistory Court.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Raine (1791-1858) was born at Ovington, Yorkshire, the son of James and Anne Raine, and educated at Kirby Hill School and at Richmond Grammar School in Yorkshire. From 1812 until 1827 he was Second Master at Durham School. He was ordained deacon in 1814 and priest in 1818. Meanwhile, in 1816, he had been appointed librarian to the Dean and Chapter of Durham, a post which he retained until his death. In 1822 the Dean and Chapter appointed him to the rectory of Meldon, Northumberland. In 1825 he was appointed Principal Surrogate in the Consistory Court of Durham under the Chancellor, James Baker, and in 1828 he was appointed by the Dean and Chapter to the rectory of St Mary the Less, Durham City.

Raine achieved lasting fame as an antiquary and historian. As a young man he was the friend of several of the most notable local historians of North East England, including Robert Surtees (d. 1834), the historian of County Durham, and John Hodgson (d. 1845), the historian of Northumberland. Raine's first historical writings appeared in the 1820's, and the first to achieve fame was his account of the excavations of 1827 at St Cuthbert's shrine in Durham cathedral. In and after 1834, he was the prime mover in the foundation of the Surtees Society, intended as a memorial to the historian whose name it bore. In the ensuing years, Raine edited numerous texts for the society, as well as producing further works of his own, of which the best known was his History and Antiquities of North Durham.

Raine married, 28 January 1828, Margaret Peacock. They had three daughters and one son (Rev. James Raine the younger, 1830-1896, Chancellor and Canon Residentiary of York). The family lived at Crook Hall, just outside Durham. James Raine the elder died on 6 December 1858, and was buried in the churchyard of Durham cathedral.


The letters are arranged in six sections, five by topic, and one miscellaneous. Each section is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and then chronologically:

  • Add. MS 833/1-21: Antiquary and historian
  • Add. MS 833/22-25: Librarian to the Dean and Chapter of Durham
  • Add. MS 833/26-27: Secretary to the Surtees Society
  • Add. MS 833/28-32: Rector of Meldon
  • Add. MS 833/33-34: Principal Surrogate of the Durham Consistory Court
  • Add. MS 833/35-38: Miscellaneous

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Edward Hall, 1957.


Part of : Additional Manuscripts

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue available at online catalogue.

Separated Material

Durham Cathedral Library: Raine MSS.

Related Material

Surtees Society Records.