County Durham


"A county of England lying on the German Ocean, and bounded by Northumberland, Cumberland,Westmorland, and Yorkshire. It is about 40 miles in length and 30 in breadth, and contains 1 city, 8 market towns, and 113 parishes. It is hilly, and some points are nearly 2000 feet high. There are wide moors amongst the hills, and other tracts completely uncultivated. There are some islands on the coast, Holy Island being the largest. The coast is cliffy in some parts; other parts are shelving sands. The principal rivers are the Wear, the Tees, the Tyne, and the Derwent. Coal, iron, lead, mill-stone grit, limestone, &c., are found here abundantly. The east and south parts of the county are fruitful in corn and pasture, and have a milder air than the other parts. It sends to other parts of the United Kingdom, and to foreign countries, both its native productions, and the goods it manufactures, such as coarse woolen goods, sail-cloth, steel, glass,iron, &c.; &c.; This county was formerly under the special jurisdiction of the bishop of Durham as a Prince Palatine, but in 1836 the palatinate was vested in the crown. Population, 342,284. It returns 10 members to Parliament."

[From Barclay's Complete and Universal English Dictionary,1842]


Archives & Libraries

Durham County Record Office
County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL
Telephone: 03000 267619
Website: Durham Record Office

Research: Records Office online shop as there is now an easier process to order and pay for research online.https://recordofficeshop.durha m.gov.uk/pgHome

Durham County Record Office's search room closed to visitors in January 2022 because the collections are moving to a new home. 

Roughly six miles of the archives will be transferred from Durham's County Hall to the site of the new History Centre in the 19th. century Mount Oswald Manor House on the outskirts of the City.

The History Centre is scheduled to open in 2023 and will bring together archive, heritage and registration services, alongside a cafe and exhibition space.

In the meantime the archive service will continue to respond to public inquiries by email and process online requests, in addition to delivering education programmes, online history  talks and courses,  and digitisation projects. Find out more at durhamrecordoffice.org.uk.


  • Dean and Chapter Library
    The College, Durham, DH1 3EH
    Telephone: (+44) (191) 386 2489
  • Durham City Reference Library is now Durham Clayport Library
    Millennium Place
    DH1 1WA
    Telephone: (+44) (191) 386 4003
  • Durham University Library - Archives and Special Collections
    • Palace Green Section
      Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RN
      Telephone: (+44) (191) 334 2972
    • Section at 5 The College
      (formerly Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic)
      5 The College, Durham, DH1 3EQ
      Telephone: (+44) (191) 334 1210
  • Family history resources at
  • There is a page of photographs of Beamish Museum taken by Brian Pears.
  • Cleveland Archives: The Friends of Teesside Archives exist to promote and assist Teesside Archives and to promote conservation of documents etc in the Cleveland county area. Its volunteers, among other things, help with the indexing of parish records, rate books, electoral rolls and other records of interest to family and local historians.


  • Newcastle Local Studies Library has a large collection of Monumental Inscriptions.



Church History

Methodist Churches in 1940 in the "Newcastle-upon-Tyne" and "Sunderland and Durham" Districts. This includes all of Northumberland and the northern part of Co Durham


Church Records


Civil Registration

Certificates of birth, death and marriage can be obtained from the Superintendent Registrars at local District Register Offices (where they still exist):

  • Durham Central
  • Durham Eastern
  • Durham Northern
  • Durham South-Western
  • Durham Western
  • Gateshead
  • Hartlepool
  • Jarrow
  • South Shields
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Sunderland

If ordering from a District Office, please note the following:

  • (a) the cost of a certificate is currently (June 2010) £9.00 -send a Sterling cheque payable to the Superintendent Registrar plus return postage or two International Reply Coupons;
  • (b) the St. Catherine's Index references are of no value;
  • (c) for marriage certificates, the precise place of marriage must be given;
  • (d) Civil Registration in England and Wales began on July 1st 1837.

Registration districts for the period 1837-1930 with their accompanying places, together with the current location of the records, is listed on Brett Langston's Civil Registration Pages.

Once you find an entry you can, of course, order a certificate.


Correctional Institutions

  • Extracts from (possibly) The Durham Chronicle entitled List of Former Executions relating to executions at Durham between 1732 and 1909 supplied by Alistair and Joan Mills.
  • Extracts from the Newcastle Courant relating to Criminals and Crime 1782-1789 and 1830-1851 supplied by George Bell

Description & Travel




Emigration & Immigration



  • John Fuller has provided full details of the mailing lists serving the county - NORTHUMBRIA-L and DUR-NBL-L. This is but a small part of the data available on the "Genealogy Resources on the Internet " pages maintained by John and Chris Gaunt.
  • The Durham Look-up Exchange (No link) Volunteers are offering look-ups in various research references.
  • Details of a mailing list for people with genealogical or historical interests in Durham and Northumberland.


  • Gateshead Libraries local history project with lots of local history information and photographs from Gateshead and the villages in the Gateshead MBC area. These include bits for Gateshead, Gateshead Fell, Lamesley and Whickham
  • The Durham Victoria County History's new website. Most of the historical information on it at present is about Darlington, but they will be covering the whole county eventually.
  • Managed by Information North, the regional agency for library co-operation, the Tomorrow's History project will be digitising tens of thousands of images and documents from the collections of libraries, museums and archives inthe North East region, linking these to modern and historic Ordnance Survey mapping, providing links to existing indexes, catalogues and content, and stimulating one hundred new Community History initiatives for the new Millennium.
  • Brian Pears has created a page "Some Remnants of Victorian Gateshead" containing photographs of historical Gateshead.
  • The Keys to the Past website "provides access to a complete record of the archaeologyof the two counties [the modern counties of Northumberland and Co Durham], from the smallest prehistoric flint to the largest medieval castle." Note that the Metropolitan Districts of Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland, and the Unitary Authorities of Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees are not covered.



    David Harrison has provided an 1806 map of Co Durham (from J. Carey's engraving). A reduced-size version is also available. Please note that the image on these pages is of 147 kilobytes.
  • Thanks to NORTHUMBRIA subscriber, Ray Rogers, we now have an 1840 Co Durham map online.
  • GENUKI have provided a list of illustrations showing the coverage of the modern OS Landranger sheets.
  • Reproductions of old Ordnance Survey maps for many areas of North-EastEngland are available from Alan Godfrey Maps.
  • Peter Dockerty has produced a new website showing maps of waggonways and mines in County Durham.

Military Records

  • Roll of Honour of civilians killed by enemy action in the UK during World War II - listing of 3736 entries relating to Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire.
  • Recipients of the Victoria Cross associated with the north-east of England.
  • The North East War Memorials Project provides transcriptions, images and information on war memorials in the region.
  • There is a Durham at War website
    This is a Heritage Lottery funded WW1 centenary project dedicated to mapping the story of County Durham and its people in the First World War. The site incorporates free access to 25 inch to the mile historic mapping of the historic county, derived from the 2nd revision (3rd edition) Ordnance Survey of 1914-1919. The website will be live until the end of 2018 and online log-in to add information to the site will be coming soon.

Names, Personal

  • Here is a surnames list, complete with location index, compiled by Graham Jaunay, cataloguing the Northumberland & Durham-related research interests of a number of Internet and CompuServe users.



Probate Records


Religion & Religious Life

There is a large, well organised and informative Durham Diocesan web site which gives full details of the present ecclesiastical set up of the Diocese, together with some historical detail.



  • The Northern Police Orphanage at St George’s House, Otley Road, Harrogate looked after children of police families, mostly from North-East England. It was founded by Catherine Gurney in 1898 and closed in 1956. The first admission was Minnie Smith from Sunderland.

Social Life & Customs

Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs to 1516 was compiled by Dr Samantha Letters at the Centre for Metropolitan History, and is organised by county. It includes a brief summary of the early history of many large and small places, with details of markets and fairs and the people granted the right to hold them.

The site "Village Games" by Colonel Alex Johnson describes games which Alex remembers from his childhood in NW Co Durham in the 1920s and 30s.


Voting Registers