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Archives and Special Collections: Sources for Family History: Clergy Records

About the Records

Formal records relating to all the stages of the careers of clergy within the Church of England diocese of Durham are held within the Durham Diocesan Records.  These include ordinations, nominations to curacies, appointments to livings (rectories and vicarages), resignations of livings and related records.

The Anglican clergy records within the Durham Diocesan Records relate to the whole diocese of Durham (County Durham and Northumberland until 1882, County Durham only thereafter).  More information about the diocese of Durham is available under Church of England Records.  But to summarise, records are available for Anglican clergy serving parishes and churches within the following areas:

  • County Durham north of the Tees, including Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton, Gateshead and South Tyneside boroughs and the city of Sunderland
  • Crayke in North Yorkshire (until 1837*)
  • Alston and Garrigill in Cumbria (until 1882*)
  • Thockrington in Northumberland (until 1882*)
  • Hexhamshire in Northumberland (from 1837 until 1882*):  Allendale St Cuthbert, Allendale St Peter, Allenheads chapelry, Bingfield St Mary, Carrshields (or High West Allen), Hexham, Ninebanks (or Low West Allen), St John Lee, St Oswald in Lee and Whitley chapel
  • Northumberland - the rest, including the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside borough (until 1882*)

*For later clergy records for appointments in Crayke, or earlier records for Hexhamshire, consult the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York.  Later records for appointments to all the Northumberland parishes and to Alston or Garrigill are at Northumberland Archives, Woodhorn.

Note that (unlike some other series featured within this guide), records for appointments to churches in Northallerton and Allertonshire (North Yorkshire) are not held in Durham, but by the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York.

Most series of clergy records survive from about 1730 until the present, though the most recent records are usually closed to access.

For a general introduction to researching clergy, see Peter Towey, My ancestor was an Anglican clergyman (Society of Genealogists, 2006). Background information for the procedures recorded within all the clergy records, together with additional sources for tracing Church of England clergy, are available within our Administrative Histories for the Durham Diocesan Records.

Further information for Church of England clergy careers can be found within the following sources:

  • From 1841, the Clergy List includes lists of clergy showing their current appointments.
  • From 1858, Crockford's Clerical Directory includes (in principle) all clergy still alive, together with both their current and previous appointments, dates of ordination and theological training.
  • For the period 1540-1835, the Clergy of the Church of England Database has indexed key clergy records from most dioceses within England and Wales.

Family History Information

Most clergy records relate solely to their formal appointments within the diocese of Durham and so do not include additional family history information, though some records will include signatures of the clergy concerned which may be of interest.

Ordination papers (under reference DDR/EA/CLO/3 within the list) usually include additional information for those being ordained deacon (the first degree to which clergy are ordained within the Church of England). This additional information relates to their age and baptism, education or theological training and current/former parish. For the family historian, the survival of baptism (and sometimes birth) certificates within the ordination papers for deacons is of particular value.

There is a separate list of clergy records within the Durham Diocesan Records. Some series have been listed in detail and include names, other series are only summarily described.

Availability online (digital images)

These collections have not been digitised, so that only the catalogues are currently available online.

If you would like to purchase digital copies of specific items from any of our collections, please get in touch.

If you are a member of teaching staff at Durham University and would like to use material from Archives and Special Collections within your lectures or seminars, we may be able to scan or photograph items for this purpose.  Please contact us as early as possible with any teaching digitisation requests.

See also our guide to Digitised Collections Online for further information on our digital resources.

Access to original sources

The collections mentioned above are located at Palace Green Library.  Our current opening hours are below.

  • Monday to Friday: 10am to 5pm
  • Saturday: closed
  • Sunday: closed

For further information on visiting to use the collections, please see our Visiting Guide.

See separate Libraries and Site Information guide for further information on Palace Green Library.

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