We hold parish records for:
- Parishes in the diocese of Durham - the area between the rivers Tyne and Tees including some areas not in the present county. For example, Sunderland and Billingham.
- Parishes in the dioceses of Ripon and Newcastle, if the parish is in the present county of Durham. For example, Romaldkirk (Ripon) and Edmundbyers (Newcastle).
The web pages in this section provide examples of typical register entries.
All of our parish registers have been microfilmed to preserve the original records. Some of the registers are already over 500 years old. These records are unique and cannot be replaced if they are damaged by excessive handling so we do not produce original parish registers in our Search Room.
We microfilm parish registers on arrival in the Record Office and add the films to the drawers in the Microfilm Room so you can access them as soon as possible.
To view parish registers on microfilm please book an appointment and reserve a microfilm reader.
How to Find Which Registers Are Here
Our Church Records database lists all the church registers we keep, including Church of England parish registers. The database contains the following information about Church of England parishes:
- when the parish was created
- location map
- list of adjacent parishes
- details of each parish register and its covering dates
- details of any name indexes in the Search Room which you can check before you search the microfilm
- original register reference (you need this to find the right place on the microfilm)
- microfilm reference (you need this to find the right film in the microfilm drawers)
Use the Church Records database to gather all the references you need before you visit, or before you contact us to order copies of specific parish register entries.
Use our Place Names index to find out which Church of England parish a County Durham place or settlement was situated in, at any given date.
Parish Registers Still Kept in the Church
More recent parish registers may still be kept in the parish church. If the register you would like to see is not deposited in the Record Office, use Find a Church to identify who to contact. Find a Church covers all current parishes in Durham Diocese.
Creation of New Church of England Parishes
Many new parishes were created in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially in the industrial areas. It is possible, therefore, for a town or village to be in a different parish at different times. Our Place Names index will help you determine which Church of England parish a County Durham place or settlement was situated in at any given time.
If you are not sure of the location of a place/settlement you may find the Geographic Information System (GIS) of some assistance. The GIS is an interactive mapping service which allows you to interact with both modern and historical maps of County Durham and the immediate surrounding area.
Transcripts and Indexes
Many parish registers have been transcribed and/or indexed and you will find the transcripts/indexes available in the Record Office listed in 'Indexes and transcripts (Durham, Church of England)' in the Guides to Records section of our information leaflets.
Many baptism and marriage registers of parish churches have been included in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). The 1992 edition of the International Genealogical Index (IGI), for the counties of Durham, Northumberland, Yorkshire, Cumberland and Westmorland, is available in the Record Office on microfiche.
See 'Parishes indexed on the I.G.I. and on Boyd's Marriage Index' in the Guides to Records section of our information leaflets. The index can also be searched on the FamilySearch website.
Many parish marriage registers have been included in Boyd’s Index to Marriages in Durham Parishes and the index is available in the Record Office on microfiche.
See 'Parishes indexed on the I.G.I. and on Boyd's Marriage Index' in the Guides to Records section of our information leaflets.
The Joiner Marriage Index covers marriages in many County Durham parishes from 1521 to 1837.
Parish Registers in Other Archives in the North East
Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections holds a Muggleswick parish register, 1783-1812.
Northumberland Archives holds the original registers, or microfilm copies of them, for the majority of parishes in the diocese of Newcastle, which includes all the geographical county of Northumberland and Newcastle, and the parishes of Hunstanworth and Muggleswick in County Durham and Alston, Garrigill and Nenthead in Cumbria.
Teesside Archives holds original Church of England registers. See archives at Middlesbrough Council for contact information and opening hours.
Tyne and Wear Archives holds no original Church of England registers but has microfilm copies of registers for most parishes in Tyne and Wear.