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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Parish registers

Find out about the parish registers at Durham County Record Office.

What we keep

We hold Church of England parish registers for more than 420 County Durham parishes.

Durham diocese

The majority of the parish registers that we keep relate to the diocese of Durham, covering the area between the rivers Tyne and Tees, broadly equivalent to the historic County Durham boundary. This includes registers for the parts of Tyne and Wear, and Teesside, that were in County Durham before 1974. For example, the parish registers of Gateshead, South Shields, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Stockton and Billingham are all preserved in Durham County Record Office.

Newcastle and Ripon dioceses

We hold the registers of a few parishes in the dioceses of Newcastle and Ripon, where the parish lies within the present County Durham boundary. Examples include Edmundbyers (Newcastle) and Romaldkirk (Ripon).

Examples of parish register entries

The information recorded in parish registers can vary. Printed page layouts, introduced from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, helped to standardise the details that were recorded. Here are some examples of typical parish register entries at different dates, with a summary of the information that they contain:

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 Search Place Names index to find out which Church of England parish a County Durham place or settlement was situated in, at any given date.

For a brief overview see our Parish registers guide.

How to view parish registers

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 make an appointment and reserve a microfilm reader.

At present you can't view the contents of parish registers online. What if you can't visit?

Parish registers still kept in local churches

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 the Durham Diocesan Directory of People and Places to identify who to contact. The Diocesan Directory covers all current parishes in Durham diocese.

Parish registers in other archives in the North East

Durham University Library Special Collections

There is a Muggleswick parish register, 1783-1812, in the Special Collections at Palace Green.

Northumberland Archives

Original registers, or microfilm copies, for the majority of parishes in the diocese of Newcastle (including the geographical county of Northumberland and Newcastle, the parishes of Hunstanworth and Muggleswick in County Durham, and Alston, Garrigill and Nenthead in Cumbria) are held at Northumberland Archives.

Teesside Archives

Original Church of England registers and microfilm copies are held at Teesside Archives.
See Church of England Parish Registers at Teesside Archives and Middlesbrough Reference Library.

Tyne and Wear Archives

You will find microfilm copies of registers for most parishes in Tyne and Wear at Tyne and Wear Archives.
See Tyne & Wear Archives User Guides.

About Church of England parishes

Many new Church of England parishes were created in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially in rapidly developing industrial areas, to cope with the increased population. It is not unusual for a town, village or urban area to fall within a different Church of England parish (or parishes) at different periods in its history. Our Search Place Names index will help you identify which Church of England parish a County Durham place or settlement was situated in at any given time.

More recently the closure of redundant churches and the creation of team ministries has again affected the way settlements and Church of England parishes overlap.

If you are not sure of the location of a place/settlement you may find the Geographic Information System (GIS) helpful. The GIS interactive mapping allows you to interact with both modern and historical maps of County Durham and the immediate surrounding area.

Transcripts and indexes

In the Record Office

Many County Durham parish registers have been transcribed and/or indexed. For a list of the transcripts and indexes that are available in the Record Office search room see Indexes and Transcripts - Durham (Church of England). Indexes are also identified in our Church Registers database.

FamilySearch

Many baptism and marriage registers of parish churches were indexed for the International Genealogical Index (IGI), produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). The Record Office has a 1992 edition of the IGI on microfiche, for the counties of Durham, Northumberland, Yorkshire, Cumberland and Westmorland. You can now find this information online on the FamilySearch website.
See Parishes indexed on the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and Boyd's Marriage Index.

Boyd's Marriage Index

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. You can also find this information online on the FamilySearch website. The index covers the period from 1538 to 1837.
See Parishes indexed on the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and Boyd's Marriage Index.
 

Joiner Marriage Index

The Joiner marriage index covers marriages in many County Durham parishes from 1521 to 1837.