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Durham University

Special Collections

Records of Church of England Clergy

What clergy records are available?

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

Where and when: geographical coverage and dates

The clergy records within the Durham Diocesan Records relate to the whole diocese of Durham (County Durham and Northumberland before 1882, County Durham only thereafter), see bottom of page for details.

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

What family history information will I find within clergy records?

Most clergy records relate solely to their formal appointments within the diocese of Durham.

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.

Letters Testimonial for Thomas Lancaster, 1784

“... hath for the three years last past constantly resided amongst us, and lived piously, soberly and honestly ...”

Letters Testimonial of the Provost and Fellows of Queens College, Oxford, for Thomas Lancaster (ordained deacon), DDR/EA/CLO/3/1784/4

Where is the catalogue and does it include names?

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.

Are the clergy records available online?

No, these records have not been imaged.

Details of geographical coverage for clergy records

Within the final column of the table below, Durham refers to series of records within the Durham Diocesan Records, Borthwick refers to similar records in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York, Woodhorn to Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn.

Area Details Location of clergy records
County Durham (most of county) County Durham north of the Tees, including Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland boroughs Durham
Crayke (Yorkshire)

Durham before 1837; Borthwick from 1837

Allertonshire (Yorkshire)

Birkby, Brompton, Cowesby, Deighton, Hutton Bonville, Kirby Sigston, Leake, Nether Silton, Northallerton with Romanby township, North Otterington, Osmotherley, Thornton-le-Street, West Rounton and Worsall High

Borthwick (including before 1846)
Alston (Cumberland) Alston and Garrigill Durham before 1882; Woodhorn from 1882
Thockrington (Northumberland) Durham before 1882 (not Borthwick); Woodhorn from 1882
Hexhamshire (Northumberland) 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 Borthwick before 1837, Durham 1837-1882; Woodhorn from 1882
Northumberland (rest of county) Durham before 1882; Woodhorn from 1882

For further information

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.