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

Methodist Circuits and Churches

Information about Methodist Circuits and Churches and Methodist records in Durham County Record Office.

About Methodist Churches

The Methodist Church did not formally break away from the Church of England until the end of the eighteenth century and few Methodist registers date from that time. The records of many churches date only from the later nineteenth century.

From the early nineteenth century onwards, the Methodist Church split into different groups, known usually as connexions. It is, therefore, possible to find registers for different connexions covering the same time and the same place. The Primitive Connexion, Wesleyan Connexion and United Methodist Church, the three largest of the Methodist groups, joined in 1932 to form the Methodist Church.

About Methodist Circuits

Neighbouring Methodist churches or chapels are grouped together in circuits and there were separate circuits for each of the different connexions. The constituents of each circuit change from time to time, so an individual Methodist church may be in different circuits at different points in its history.

Baptisms, Marriages and Burials

Methodist registers were kept less systematically than those of the Church of England and many registers have not survived. Very few Methodist burial registers exist.

Baptism registers were kept for circuits and for individual churches. Many pre-1837 non-conformist, including Methodist, registers were sent to the Registrar General in 1840. We hold microfilm copies of original baptism registers for the period before 1837, relating to the historic county of Durham, which are held in the The National Archives (TNA reference RG/4).

Methodist chapels were licensed for the solemnisation of marriages in 1837, but as a registrar was required to be present the record of the marriage was held in the registrar's records. From 1898 a registrar's presence was no longer required and most Methodist marriage registers date from 1898 or later.

The Record Office holds registers of baptisms and marriages for churches in circuits where the main church is in the present county of Durham. A series of marriage registers for closed churches in the present county is also held.

How to Search for Methodist Records

You will find our holdings on microfilm and to see them you must make an appointment.

Search Church Registers for details of the registers we keep.

Many registers of non-conformist churches have been transcribed and/or indexed.  See Indexes and transcripts (Non-conformist and Miscellaneous) in the Guides to Records section of our Information Leaflets.

To search for Methodist church records on our online catalogue go to Catalogue Search.  Type Methodist into the Keywords box and select Non-conformist Church Records from the Category drop-down list.

To search for any references to Methodists in our catalogue type Methodist into the Keywords box and select Yes to include Word variations.

 More sources of information

You will find details of Methodist churches on The Methodist Church website.

Birth, marriage and death records has more information about registrars and civil registration.