Our North East Inheritance (NEI) project ran from 2006 to 2010. It created an online digital image catalogue of over 150,000 wills and related archives from across County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. These documents provide an invaluable insight into north-eastern people and communities, their family relationships, trades and lifestyles. The wills date from the 16th Century to the mid-19th Century and many are accompanied by inventories of the goods belonging to the deceased, bonds, accounts, and a variety of associated documents.
Historians, genealogists, students and anyone interested in the history of the region and its people can search the Durham probate records by name, place, occupation or date, and link to a comprehensive set of digital images of the actual wills themselves. Most of these images are held on the Genealogical Society of Utah's 'familysearch' website, with other images served from our own site: the catalogue entries link directly to the images regardless of their location. The NEI project also funded conservation of the most fragile of the archives, ensuring their preservation for future generations. Access to both the catalogue and the digital images remains free and available worldwide, 24/7.
North East Inheritance was funded by a £274,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This grant of £274,500 was matched by contributions from Durham University and by the English Record Collections Society, amounting to a further £141,250.
The following pages in this guide reproduce the exhibition which was curated to mark the completion of the cataloguing phase of the North East Inheritance project, in September-October 2009.