Find out about the parish registers at Durham Record Office.
- What we keep
- Examples of parish register entries
- How to find which registers are here
- How to view parish registers
- Parish registers still kept in local churches
- Parish registers in other archives in the North East
- About Church of England parishes
- Transcripts and indexes
We hold Church of England parish registers for more than 420 County Durham parishes.
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 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).
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:
- Parish registers before 1754
- Banns and marriages 1754-1812
- Baptisms and burials 1798-1812
- Baptisms, marriages and burials after 1812
- Marriages after 1837
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).
Search church registers to gather all the references you need.
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.
All of our parish registers have been microfilmed or digitised to preserve the original records. Some 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.
At present you can’t visit the search room or view the contents of parish registers online. We continue to offer a restricted enquiry service where there is a legal need to obtain a copy of baptism, marriage or burial entry.
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 Directory covers all current parishes in Durham diocese.
Durham University Library Special Collections
There is a Muggleswick parish register, 1783-1812, in the Special Collections at Palace Green.
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. There is a guide to Anglican Parish Registers in the User Guides section of the Leaflets page.
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
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.
In the Record Office
Many County Durham parish registers have been transcribed and/or indexed. Indexes are identified in our Church Registers database.
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). Previously available on microfiche, you can now find this information online on the FamilySearch website.
FamilySearch includes indexes to surviving baptism and marriage records up to 1812 for all County Durham parishes and chapelries except Bishopton, Croxdale, Elwick Hall, Hart, Hartlepool, Heighington, Kelloe, Lamesley, Penshaw, Sadberge, Satley, St John’s Chapel, Stockton, Stranton and Whitworth.
The indexes for some parishes, including Auckland St Andrew, Auckland St. Helen, Durham St. Oswald and Brignall, are incomplete.
There are many indexes to more recent parish registers, but very few burial records are included.
FamilySearch also hosts the England, Durham Diocese Bishop’s Transcripts, 1639-1919 collection.
Boyd’s Marriage Index
Many parish marriage registers have been included in Boyd’s Index to Marriages in Durham Parishes. Originally produced on microfiche, this information is now online on the FamilySearch website. The index covers the period from 1538 to 1837.
All County Durham parishes are indexed up to 1812 except Barningham, Billingham, Bishopton, Bowes, Brignall, Croxdale, Darlington, Edmundbyers, Eggleston, Hart, Hartlepool, Haughton le Skerne, Hunstanworth, Hutton Magna, Lamesley, Monkwearmouth, Norton, Penshaw, Rokeby, Romaldkirk, Sadberge, St John’s Chapel, Startforth, Stockton, Stranton, Whitworth, Wolviston and Wycliffe.
Joiner Marriage Index
The Joiner marriage index covers marriages in many County Durham parishes from 1521 to 1837.