Information about Roman Catholic churches and Catholic records in Durham County Record Office.
Baptisms, marriages and burials
Roman Catholics by an act of 1606 were obliged to be baptised by the Church of England and buried in the parish churchyard. They usually were buried in the churchyard but baptised and married according to Roman Catholic rites. Heavy penalties meant that it was not safe for registers to be kept, so few are known for the seventeenth century. Roman Catholic priests were not parish priests but were either chaplains or peripatetic priests. Many in fact took their registers from place to place.
After the middle of the eighteenth century registers are more frequent.
After the introduction of Hardwicke’s Marriage Act in 1754 most Catholics underwent a form of marriage in the parish church.
Catholic marriage registers usually begin in the early years of the nineteenth century and after 1837 Roman Catholic Churches could be licensed for marriage.
Few early Roman Catholic registers contain deaths or burials. Some chapels had burial grounds but Roman Catholic burial grounds were not legalised until the Burial Act, 1852.
How to search for Roman Catholic records
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).
To search for all Roman Catholic church records on our online catalogue go to Catalogue Search. Type Catholic into the Keywords box and select Non-conformist Church Records from the Category drop-down list.
To search for any references to Catholics in our catalogue type Catholic into the Keywords box and select Yes to include Word variations.
More information about Catholics
County Durham is included in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle website includes information and contact details for Roman Catholic churches in this county.
There is a guide to Catholic records in The National Archives In-depth research guides.