"BYRNESS is another hamlet in this township [Township of Rochester Ward in Elsdon Parish] situated on the north bank of the Reed twelve miles north-west by west of Elsdon. There has been a burial ground here from time immemorial, and in consequence of its distance from the parish church, a Chapel of Ease was erected in 1800, and endowed with £1,750, of which £1,200 was given by the Rev. L. Dutens, at that time rector of Elsdon, £400 by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and £150 by the subscribers to the edifice. The living, a perpetual curacy in the archdeaconry of Lindisfarne and deanery of Rothbury, is in the patronage of the rector of Elsdon, and incumbency of the Rev. John Burrell." [From History, Topography, and Directory of Northumberland, Whellan, 1855].



  • Northumberland County Record Office holds Copies of Census Returns 1841 - 1891 and provides a useful User Guide 
  • The 1851 Census Index (microfiche CN20) published by the https://www.ndfhs.org.uk/ may be of value to researchers interested in this parish.

Church Records

Church of England Records.
  • Byrness, St Francis: Records of baptisms 1797-1978, marriages 1886-1922 and burials 1813-1977 are available at Northumberland Record Office
  • Bishops' Transcripts for the period 1800-1803 and for 1813 are deposited at Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections, Palace Green, Durham City. A full transcription of these records can also be found by following the link below please scroll down the page to find the parish required
  • https://northumberlandparishregistertranscriptslocalhistory.wordpress.com/
  • Byrness is not included in the IGI or in Boyd's Marriage Index.
  • Transcripts of baptisms and burials 1797-1812 and of monument inscriptions can be found at the Local Studies Section of newcastle Central Library.
Adjacent Parishes.

Civil Registration

  • This area is within Northumberland West Registration District.
  • Certificates of birth, death and marriage can be ordered from Northumberland County Council.

Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Byrness which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Byrness has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



  • A history of the village of Byrness from the Northumberland National Park website.
  • Catcleugh Reservoir in this parish was built between 1891 and 1904. A stained glass window in the church commemorates this mammoth undertaking and a plaque lists those who died over the course of the project. Jane Clark has provided a transcript of the plaque and photographs of the church, plaque and window.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NT770023 (Lat/Lon: 55.314238, -2.363927), Byrness which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Byrness Parish was part of Bellingham Poor Law Union. The Union Workhouse was located in the town of Bellingham. Some records are held at Northumberland Record Office, but these are of limited genealogical value.
  • Peter Higginbotham has provided details, a map and photographs of Bellingham Workhouse.