3,930 baptisms and 2,342 burials at Auckland St. Helen covering 1825-1854, from the Bishop’s Transcript.
The clerk continued recording the mother’s maiden surname in most baptisms all the way through this set. We wish all clerks had done the same! However, there was a startlingly high incidence of clerical errors or mysteries in this set. Here are some examples, with the notes we added after researching these anomalies, and our corrections in square brackets as always:
- 3 Mar 1853 John Lamb, of West Auckland, son of Alexander Lamb (labourer) & Mary [Margaret] Brogden
[Note: Likely a clerical error. The mother is Margaret Brogden in the parents' marriage, an earlier baptism, and in the 1861 census.]
- 7 Nov 1847 Stephen Lamb, of West Auckland, 4th son of William [Alexander] Lamb (labourer) & Mary [Margaret] Broughton
[Note: Likely clerical error. Alexander Lamb & Margaret Brogden or Broughton had several children in this parish in this period, and Stephen appears as their son in the 1851 census.]
- 18 Apr 1840 William Wilson, of St. Helen Auckland, 2nd son of James Wilson (pitman) & Christiana Hunter [Jones]
[Note: The mother is Christiana Jones in several other baptisms and in the parents' marriage. Her father was almost certainly Hunter Jones. We don't understand why she is listed as Christian Hunter in several baptisms.]
If anyone can shed any light on the above mysteries, please let us know.
There are also a number of baptisms that first appear to exhibit problems, but for which an explanation can be found. For example, at first glance, this pair of baptisms seems to show two marriages for Henry Armstrong, first to Elizabeth Rand and then to Elizabeth Teesdale:
- 24 Jun 1834 Henry Armstrong, of West Auckland, 1st son of Henry Armstrong (pitman) & Elizabeth Rand
- 26 Aug 1844 Esther Armstrong, of West Auckland, 3rd daughter of Henry Armstrong (pitman) & Elizabeth Teesdale
but a little research reveals that there is just one Elizabeth, causing us to add this note to the first baptism (and index her as Teesdale so searches for her maiden name will find her):
- [Note: Elizabeth Teesdale married William Rand in 1831, then married Henry Armstrong in 1834. She is called Teesdale in other baptisms to this couple.]
This illustrates how sometimes the name recorded is actually the mother’s maiden surname, and sometimes, it is her previous married surname. One wonders how this happened. Was it the husband, remembering that when he married her, she was called Rand ? Or the clerk, remembering the same thing and entering the name from his own memory? Surely Elizabeth herself would have said her maiden surname was Teesdale. Yet there are two more baptisms for this couple in this record set, one listing Elizabeth as Rand and one listing her as Teesdale, so the same thing happened at least once more.
Just to make things challenging, there was also a family in this parish who went by Bell, Howe, and Bell alias Howe ! We don’t know if the child below was part of that family, but it’s an interesting baptism either way:
- 1 Jan 1825 William Howe, of Bridge House, 2nd son of John (hay stealer, for which he was transported for the term of 7 years at the Michaelmas Sessions at Durham in the year 1823) & Hannah Howe
This baptism illustrates another problem with this register: sometimes the mother’s maiden surname is listed as being the same as her married surname, which may or may not be true. It’s certainly possible that Hannah Howe married John Howe, but often an examination of other baptisms to the same couple will reveal a different maiden surname for the bride. If you come across a case like this, don’t assume the maiden surname is correct until you gather more evidence, which may be conflicting !
The burials up to the end of 1837 are highly valuable because they give pre-1813-style details:
- 4 Feb 1825 Mary Worth, of Etherly Lane, age: 4, 1st daughter of Thomas (stonemason) & Elizabeth Worth
- 26 Dec 1826 Matthew Eales, of St. Helen Auckland, age: 57, parish clerk for nearly 20 years
- 23 Dec 1834 Elizabeth Vasey, of Evenwood, age: 36, wife of Thomas Vasey
- 22 Nov 1850 Charlotte Greg [McGregg/McGregor], of West Auckland, age: 35
[Note: McGregor in the GRO death index.]
The oldest person in this set was:
- 27 Apr 1834 Elizabeth Collingwood, of West Auckland, age: 104, widow
Residences mention include Aycliffe, Bildershaw, Bishop Auckland, Bolton Garths, Blue House, Brecon Hill, Brusselton, Burns House, Butterknowl(e), Cockfield, Cockton Hill, Cox House, Crook, Day Gill, Etherley, Evenwood, Fielding or Fylands Bridge, Gagers Arms, Gordon, Greenfield, Hilton in Staindrop parish, Humber Beck (Hummerbeck), Hunter Hill, Hunwick, Ingleton, Lands, Lutterington, Morley, New Moors, North Leases, Oaks, Raby, Ramshaw, Rowntree, Shildon, Sloshes, Spring Garden(s), St. Helen Auckland, Staindrop Field House, Sugar Hill, Sunny Brow, Toft Hill, Weather Hill, West Auckland, White House, Widehope, Wide Open, Windlestone, Witton Park, Wood End, and Wood House(s).