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

Society of Friends (Quakers)

Information about Society of Friends (Quaker) meetings and Quaker records in Durham County Record Office.

Births, Marriages and Deaths/Burials

Quakerism became a significant movement from about 1655 and in 1656 George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), instructed his followers to buy necessary books for registering births, marriages and burials. The registers were eventually kept in most areas by the monthly meeting, which covered a larger area than one parish.

From 1776 notes of births and deaths were forwarded to quarterly meeting, where they were also registered. The registers of deaths always give the place of burial, which, in the earlier years, was the parish churchyard, but by the end of the seventeenth century most Quaker meeting houses had burial grounds.

Quakers were not allowed to marry until each party had appeared at two or three successive monthly meetings: a quarter to a third of monthly meeting business concerned marriages. Marriages may therefore also be traced through monthly meeting minute books. Quaker marriage certificates, especially after 1677, are extremely detailed and include lists of witnesses. Registers often included a complete transcript of the certificate. After 1837 Quaker marriage registers adopt the standard civil form.

After 1837 separate registration of births and burials by monthly meeting ceased. Notes of births and burials were made in the monthly meeting minute books. In 1864 the Registration of Burials Act required each burial ground to have its own register.

How to Search for Quaker Records

Quaker registers are on microfilm and to see them you must  and book a microfilm reader.

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 all Quaker meeting records on our online catalogue go to Catalogue Search.  Type Society of Friends into the Keywords box and select Non-conformist Church Records from the Category drop-down list.

To search for any references to Quakers in our catalogue type Quaker or Society of Friends into the Keywords box and select Yes to include Word variations. 

More information about Quakers

You will find further information about the Quaker organisation and the Library of the Religious Society of Friends on the Quakers in Britain website.