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

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

What is in the Collection?

This collection will include records from 1639 to 1919.

This collection contains images of parish register transcripts recording the events of baptism, marriage, or death in the Diocese of Durham, Church of England parishes. Includes parishes in the counties of Durham, Northumberland, and parts of York and Cumberland.

The collection was published as a digital image collection and was loaded when Record Search began. It is in need of substantial engineering work to complete loading of all parishes and to correct certain anomalies which arose in the 1951 catalog of the transcripts.

North Durham is explained in the linked wiki article and a history of the transcripts Howe Manuscript. There are certain transcript pages at present marked as "unknown" in Historical Records, which represent detached transcript pages at the time of digital image collection. Since each page of transcripts is identified by a parish and transcript number these will be relocated in future by engineering the image collection and the "unknown" section simple houses the image until this can be achieved.

The collection will in future need to be taken down to correct these and other assembly issues. The transcripts for Sunderland and Wallsend were mixed prior to digital imaging and will need work to reorganize images.

Please refer to the parish wiki page for details of such issues in the collection. Where images were not loaded for parishes or images are unavailable at FamilySearch Historical Records, the parish content endeavors to inform them of the issue. We have no indication of the future removal and reloading of the collection by engineers.

Baptisms (christenings), marriages, and burials were recorded on blank pages in a bound book called a register. The events of baptism, marriage, and burial were all recorded in one volume until 1754, when a law required that marriages be recorded in a separate book. Banns, or proclamations of “an intent” to marry, were recorded in yet another book. Starting in 1812, preprinted registers were introduced, and then separate registers were kept for baptisms, marriages, and burials. Before 1812, bishops’ transcripts were usually recorded on loose pieces of paper. Following that year, the transcripts were recorded on the same pre-printed forms as parish registers.

In 1530, King Henry VIII established the Church in England, also known as the Anglican Church, the State Church, or the Episcopal Church. A law passed in 1537 required ministers to record the baptisms, marriages, and burials that took place in their parishes. Priests recorded these events in registers and kept them at the parish level, which is the lowest level of authority in the Church of England. Within some parishes, chapelries were created to provide for the worship needs of the parishioner when the parish church was not easily accessible. Chapelries sometimes had the authority to perform baptisms, marriages, and burials, so they kept their own registers. Several parishes formed a deanery (presided over by a dean), several deaneries formed an archdeaconry (presided over by an archdeacon), and several archdeaconries formed a diocese (presided over by a bishop).

Beginning in 1598, ministers were required to send copies of their registers to an archdeacon or bishop annually. These copies are referred to as bishops’ transcripts, or sometimes archdeacon transcripts. As a result, two copies of many parish registers exist from 1598 to about the mid-1800s. After civil registration began in 1837, the value of keeping bishops’ transcripts diminished, so by 1870 most parishes had stopped making them.

Banns are proclamations of an intent to marry. After 1754, these banns were required to be read for three consecutive Sundays before a marriage so that anyone with reasons against the marriage could oppose it. Banns were read in both the bride’s parish and the groom’s parish. The vast majority of the English population belonged to the Church of England. Only since the mid 19th century have other religious groups made headway.

The Durham Diocese transcript collection is fragmented Durham Bishop's Transcripts: The Howe Manuscript Collection outlines the local collection and storage history for the Diocese. Durham Transcripts were also affected by geographical boundary changes. North Durham references in the Durham Bishop’s Transcripts collection 1700-1900 explains the background to the inclusion of parishes and burial Grounds in Cumberland and North Yorkshire, as well as the designation of certain Northumberland parishes.

Each parish in the Diocese has been entered in Research Wiki and where a place has an alias these have been cross referenced to parishes. Extra parochial places mentioned contain indications of nearby parishes.

The Durham Transcripts were deposited in 1951 with the Durham University Library Special Collections. In this phase they were organised chronologically by parish name and each parish was cataloged with a reference prefixed DDR/EA/BT and then pages were sequenced in a 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

Note: The FamilySearch Historical Records image collection is not completely loaded and there are parishes which do not yet appear. Further engineering work is needed to load all images and to improve search features. Please refer to the parish name in Research Wiki for specific information about images for each parish. The parish entry will indicate if partial images are available and where to locate them.

In 1537, the Church of England mandated that parishes begin keeping church registers by the next year (1538). These church registers continue to the present. Bishops’ transcripts, or copies of parish registers, were required beginning in 1598 and continued to the mid 1800s.

Collection Content

England Church of England Parish Register Christening.jpg

Baptism/christenings records prior to 1812 may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of the baptism
  • Full name of child
  • Given names of the parents

Baptisms/christenings after 1812 may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Given name of child
  • Legitimacy of child
  • Parents' names, their residence and occupation
England Church of England Parish Register Marriage Before 1754.jpg

Marriage records prior to 1837 may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Names of witnesses
  • May list the dates that the marriage was announced, also called “banns published” (This normally took place on three separate occasions prior to the marriage and gave anyone with a valid reason a chance to object to the marriage.)
England Church of England Parish Register Marriage after 1837.jpg

Marriage records after 1837 may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Ages and marital status of the bride and groom
  • Residences of the bride and groom
  • Name of father of the groom
  • Name of father of the bride
England Church of England Parish Register Burial.jpg

Burial records before 1812 may contain the following information:

  • Day, month and year of burial
  • Place of burial
  • Name of the deceased.
  • If deceased is a child, the father’s name might be given.
  • If deceased is a married woman, the husband’s name might be given.

Burial records after 1812 may contain the following information:

  • Day, month and year of burial
  • Place of burial
  • Name of the deceased
  • Age of deceased when buried
  • Residence of deceased

How Do I Search the Collection?

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, year/place of birth, parish and family relationships, such as the names of their parents. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "Place"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Parish"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Year range" which will take you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

  • Marriage records sometimes state the residence for the bride and groom. You can use this information to look for their baptisms and to identify the children of this couple.
  • Sometimes the groom’s occupation is listed, which could help you find more records about the groom. Marriage records after 1754, list the names of witnesses, who were often family members. These can help you identify your ancestor’s family.
  • Signatures in the records might be used to identify a particular individual by the handwriting style.
  • After 1812, and sometimes before, burial records include the age of the deceased. Use this age to approximate the person’s birth year and to find the baptismal record.
  • If the deceased is a child, the parents’ names might be given. This information helps to extend your family another generation.
  • Banns indicate the parish of residence of the bride and groom. This information often leads to the records of another parish. You can search for the baptisms of the bride and groom in the parishes of residence since these might also be the parishes where they were born.
  • Baptism or christening records list the parents’ names, making it possible for you to connect your ancestor to an earlier generation. You may find a birth date listed or be able to approximate a birth date.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?

  • Bishops’ transcripts are a backup source for parish registers that are missing or illegible. If possible, you may want to search both the parish registers and the bishops’ transcripts since one is a handwritten copy of the other and might contain differences.
  • After 1812, the baptismal records list a place of residence, making it easier to identify your family by where they lived. The records also list the father’s occupation, which makes it easier to identify your ancestor's family when more than one family with the same name lived in the parish.

General Information About These Records

Church of England parish registers are one of the best sources for identifying individuals and connecting them to parents, spouses, and other generations. In July 1837, the government instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. However, parish registers continue to play an important role because they are often more readily available than civil registers. Information in parish registers and bishops’ transcripts can be verified against each other.

Parish registers were created to record church events of baptism or christening, marriage, and burial. Baptismal entries usually list the person’s birth date, and burial entries list the death date. In the Church of England, baptism, which was also called christening, was performed soon after the birth of a child. Marriage in the church legally united a man and a woman for civil legal reasons and for the purpose of founding a religiously sanctified family. Burial is a function of the church to inter the deceased soon after death.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
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.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"England, Durham Diocese Bishop's Transcripts, 1639-1919" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Church of England, Record Office, Matlock.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking 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.