England, Durham Diocese Bishops' Transcripts (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England, Diocese of Durham Bishops' Transcripts, 1639-1919 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Durham,  England
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Location of Durham, England
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Record Description
Record Type Bishop's Transcripts
Collection years 1639-1919
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Durham University Library


What is in the Collection?

This collection consists of church records from County Durham for the years from 1639-1919. The collection also includes records from select parishes in the counties of Northumberland, York, and Cumberland. More images will be added as they become available.

In its most basic sense, a parish register is a record of religious ordinances performed in the Church of England. Beginning in 1538, every parish priest was required to write down certain information about every baptism (officially termed “christening” in Anglican use), marriage, and burial that took place in his parish over the course of each year. He was then supposed to bind these pages into a single volume, thereby annually producing a comprehensive history of his ministerial efforts. After 1754, a new law required that marriages be recorded in a separate book, and banns—public proclamations of a couple’s intent to marry—were to be recorded in yet another book. Starting in 1812, pre-printed registers were introduced, and separate registers were then kept for baptisms, marriages, and burials. It should also be noted that many parish records were not kept during the Interregnum, 1649-1660, due to temporary changes in the hierarchy of the Church of England.

Due to this long and relatively stable tradition, parish registers are central to English genealogical research as they are often one of the only sources for finding families and individuals in England before the start of civil registration in 1837.

Further information: Church of England Parish Registers

As one of the 39 historic counties of England, County Durham has a long history. From the time of the Norman Conquest, the county was governed by a series of bishops who had been endowed with great secular authority by royal decree, making the city of Durham one of the foremost centers of both religious and political influence in the north of England. This eminence lasted until the nineteenth century when the bishops of Durham were stripped of the bulk of their secular powers.

For a list of parishes which historically made up this county, see the Durham Parishes page.

The Durham Diocese transcript collection is fragmented due to jurisdictional boundary changes, as detailed in the North Durham References page. The Howe Manuscript Collection page outlines the local collection and storage history for the Diocese.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Diocese of Durham Bishops' Transcripts, 1639-1919.

Collection Content

This collection contains mixed baptism, marriage, and burial records.

Sample Images

What Can This Collection Tell Me?

The following lists indicate potential information given in each type of record. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all the listed information, as the procedures for keeping parish records evolved considerably over the centuries after 1538. It must also be noted that individual parishes often developed record-keeping traditions unique to themselves.

Baptismal Records may include:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Full name of child
  • Sex of child

Included after 1812

  • Legitimacy of child
  • Full names of parents
  • Residence of parents
  • Marital status of parents
  • Occupations of parents
  • Names of godparents
  • Names, ages, occupations, and residences of witnesses
  • Name of minister

Marriage Records may include:
Before 1754

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Full names of bride and groom
  • Dates of the proclamation of banns
  • Residences of bride and groom

Included after 1754

  • Full names of witnesses
  • Name of minister

Included after 1837

  • Ages of bride and groom
  • Previous marital statuses of bride and groom
  • Full names of parents
  • Occupation of groom

Burial Records may include:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of burial
  • Name of deceased
  • Marital status of deceased
  • Name of spouse

Included after 1812

  • Age at death
  • Residence of deceased
  • Name of father, esp. if infant
  • Sex of deceased, esp. if infant

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. This information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person, though other information may be substituted as necessary.

View Images in This Collection by Visiting the Collection Page

⇒ Follow the Browse through images link
⇒ Select the appropriate Place
⇒ Select the appropriate Parish
⇒ Select the appropriate Year Range to go to the images

Compare the information found on the images with what is already known determine if a particular record relates to the correct person. This process may require examining multiple records before the correct person is located.

Some of the records in this collection may be written in an old script that can be challenging to read. Refer to BYU’s Script Tutorial for assistance with reading the records.

Search the Original Records

Since 1951, the Durham Transcripts have been kept in the Durham University Library Special Collections. They are organised chronologically by parish name; each parish has been cataloged with a reference prefixed DDR/EA/BT and the pages have been sequenced in numerical order. Thus the parish of Aycliffe:

Aycliffe (Durham)
Reference number: DDR/EA/PBT/2/14
Date: 1762-1877 will have page sequences DDR/EA/PBT/2/14/1 for 1762 to DDR/EA/PBT/2/14/474 for 1877

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking for, What Now?

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record entry for future reference; see below for assistance in citing this collection. Save or print a copy of the image if possible.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the age listed in the record to estimate a year of birth, if that is yet undetermined.
  • Use the information which has been discovered and locate the original parish record, if possible. The England, Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, Miscellaneous Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)|Durham Miscellaneous Records]] collection may contain the original parish register; if not, see the Durham Church Records page for information on further options.
  • If in the appropriate period, use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and the England Civil Registration records.
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Note that family members often appear on an individual's vital records, such as in the role of witnesses to a marriage.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Check for variants of given names and surnames; simple clerical errors were always possible. In addition, spelling was not standardized for much of the period of this collection, so pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation. Individuals could also listed under a middle name, nickname, or abbreviation of their given name. For women, it was not uncommon to revert to a maiden name after the death of a husband.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches. Alternatively, try expanding the date range; this is especially useful in searching baptismal records, as it was not unusual for a child to be baptized weeks or even months after birth.
  • Search the records of nearby parishes. While it was uncommon for an individual in this period to move more than about 20 miles from their place of birth, smaller relocations were not uncommon. For this particular collection, this step may require finding records in the bordering English counties of Northumberland or Yorkshire, or perhaps even Cumberland or Westmorland. Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided.
  • The individual in question may not have records in the Church of England at all, but rather might have belonged to a nonconformist denomination. See England Nonconformist Church Records for more information.

For additional help searching online collections see FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:

"England, Durham Diocese Bishop's Transcripts, 1639-1919" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Church of England, Record Office, Matlock.

Image Citation:

When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Durham Diocese Bishop's Transcripts, 1639-1919.


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