West Hartlepool St. James baptisms 1923-1952, marriages 1906-1956

At West Hartlepool St. James in Hartlepool district, picking up where we last left off here:

  • 4,328 baptisms from 9 Apr 1923 to  24 Aug 1952, filling a gap we had – we now have baptisms here to Sep 1956
  • 1,675 marriages from 6 Aug 1906 to 22 Sep 1956

In September 1956, the parish of St. James joined the parish of Christ Church. The St. James register was discontinued and events from that point onward were recorded in the Christ Church register.

Most of these baptisms show the child’s birth date, and starting in December 1937, most have godparents. There are several adult baptisms, which can be useful if there was no earlier baptism record for that person. There are many soldier fathers in the WWII years, and, reflecting Hartlepool’s status as a large port with shipyards, there are lots of ship builders, railroad workers, and sailors in all years. Some samples:

  • 22 Jun 1924 Thomas Wilson, of 9 Dent St., born 16 Oct 1883, son of Samuel Wilson (boiler maker) & Mary Alice Wilson, adult
  • 13 Jul 1933 Sheila Lake, of 13 Burn Rd., born 28 Jun 1933, child of Edward Lake (dock labourer) & Winifred Mary Lake, private, received into Church on Sunday 16 July 1933
  • 25 Aug 1940 Barry Calder, of 6 Lansbury Grove., born 23 Jul 1940, child of James David Calder (R.A.F.) & Edna May Calder
    Godparents or Sponsors: James Barker, Marjorie Mellor, James Broome
  • 3 Aug 1952 Lynda Parkinson, of 39 Seamer St., born 22 Jul 1952, child of Joseph (rivet heater) & Winifred Parkinson
    Godparents or Sponsors: Jean Clark, Marion Parkinson, Joseph Parkinson

Sample marriages:

  • 9 Aug 1906 Reuben Whitecross Coward (bachelor, fireman), age 25, of 125 Lynn St, West Hartlepool, son of John William Coward (engine driver), married Edith Benson (spinster), age 24, of 27 Havelock St, West Hartlepool, daughter of John William Benson (butcher)
    Witnesses: William Whitecross Coward, Sarah Jane Coward
  • 15 Oct 1921 Reuben Allison Galley (widower, shipyard caulker), age 52, of 169 Burbank St., son of John Galley (driller), married Mary Jane Adams (widow), age 45, of 21 Temperance St., daughter of Robert Hunter Rowntree (Custom House Officer), by licence
    Witnesses: John James Rowntree, M.D. Rowntree

Ahhh…young love:

  • 22 Jul 1953 Thomas Rayner (widower, platelayer, retired), age 78, of Olcote Coast Rd., Blackhall Rocks, son of Thomas Rayner (deceased), married Harriet Wilton (widow), age 82, of 32 Reed St., daughter of Jabus Jones (deceased), by banns
    Witnesses: Alice Hendrick, Frederick Heron


Auckland St. Helen burials 1813-1814 updated

Like the 1813-1814 baptisms we recently updated for Auckland St. Helen, it turns out there was also a 2nd burial register that contains additional detail for the same period. We have now updated our 62 existing 1813-1814 burials to include the details from the 2nd register, and added one burial that had been missed.

For example, these burials from the standard register:

  •     28 Jun 1814 John Lee, of West Auckland, age: 90
  •     9 Sep 1814 Esther Reed, of West Auckland, age: 14

look like this in the 2nd (more detailed) register:

  •     28 Jun 1814 John Lee, of West Auckland, age: 90, died Jun 26th, goose-herd
  •     9 Sep 1814 Esther Reed, of West Auckland, age: 14, daughter of John Reed (mason)

If you purchased a burial at Auckland St. Helen in this period, you should check to see if it has been updated. Log in, click My Account, then click the My Orders tab to see your purchases. If a significant change was made, such as a name or date, you have already been emailed.

Felling baptisms 1866-1871, marriages 1867-1877

At Felling (Christ Church) in Gateshead civil district:

  • 463 baptisms: 1866-1871
  • 52 marriages: 1867-1877

The parish of Felling was created in 1866 from Heworth St. Mary. Most of the people using this church lived in Felling, Felling Shore, Friars Goose, Hebburn, High Felling, Holly Hill, Low Felling, or Quarry Row, plus a few from across the river in the Newcastle area.

Sample baptisms:

  • 20 May 1866 Lydia Catherine Purvis, of Felling Shore, daughter of John (tailor) & Elizabeth Purvis
  • 6 Dec 1871 Eleanor Joyce, of Carlisle Street, Felling, daughter of Joseph (mason) & Eleanor Joyce

Marriages did not begin here until the year following parish creation. Oddly, there are no marriages recorded in 1876 and the numbering of the marriages is consecutive from the end of 1875 to the beginning of 1877, so it does not look like 1876 marriages are missing from the register; it simply looks like no marriages occurred at this church in 1876.

Sample marriage:

  •  31 May 1875 Bernard Morran (widower, labourer), age 35, of [the] Parish of St.Alban’s, Heworth, son of Henry Morran (labourer), married Anne Fury (widow), age 50, of Felling, daughter of Charles Nixon (joiner)
    Witnesses: Edward Robson, Caroline Emmerson

Gosforth baptisms & burials 1762-1812 & 1840-1846, marriages 1762-1812

Expanding our collection of events at Gosforth St. Nicholas in the Castle Ward district in the county of Northumberland – just  across the River Tyne from Gateshead in County Durham:

  • 1,620 baptisms covering 1762-1812 and 1840-1846
  • 1,376 burials covering 1762-1812 and 1840-1846
  • 424 marriages covering 1762-1812

These are from a combination of the Bishop’s Transcript and the parish register, and fit on either side of our existing 1813-1839 collection from Gosforth (1813-36 in the case of marriages).

Abodes mentioned include Benton Grange, Blake Gate, Blakelaw, Blood House, Brunton (and Brunton Hall and Brunton Mill), Bullock Stead or Steads, Bulman Village, Causey End, Cow Causey End, Cox Harbour, Coxlodge, Cragg Hall, Dean Houses, East Brunton, East Farm, East Kenton, Fawdon, Gosforth, Gosforth Bar, Gosforth House, Haddrick’s Mill, Hazelrigg, Hens Harbour, High Heaton, High Laws, Jesmond, Kenton, Kenton Bank Foot, Kenton Lodge, Long Benton, Matthew Bank, Middle Brunton, Newcastle, North Gosforth, Pecks Houses, Regent Pit, Roseworth, Salter’s Bridge, Seghill, Shoulder of Mutton, Six Mile Bridge, Slateyford, South Gosforth, Sunniside, Three Mile Bridge, West Brunton, and Wideopen.

In baptisms, mothers are not mentioned (with a few exceptions) until 1798. Here are some baptism samples, including the creatively-named Flower Shore Humble and New Years Sandilands:

  • 25 Jul 1762 Barbara McKenzie, of Salter’s Bridge, daughter of Benjamin McKenzie
  • 11 Jul 1784 Jane Yellowley, of Kenton, daughter of John Yellowley
  • 19 Aug 1798 Elisabeth Wild, born 24 Jul, 2nd daughter of Robert Wild (collier, native of Tanfield) by his wife Elisabeth Pattison (native of Heddon on the Wall)
  • 21 Mar 1802 New Years Sandilands, born 1 Jan, illegitimate daughter of Anne Sandilands (single woman, native of this parish)
  • 17 Nov 1811 Matthew Richardson, of Kenton, born 4 Jan, 8th son of William Richardson (pitman, native of Lamesley, Durham) by his wife Alice Fenwick (daughter of Ephraim Fenwick, native of Whickham)
  • 13 Dec 1844 Flower Shore Humble, of Jesmond, son of Joseph Wright Humble (woolstapler) & Ellen

Burial samples:

  • 3 Feb 1762 Grace Anderson, of Kenton, wife of Thomas Anderson
  • 8 Jul 1774 Ann Atkinson, of North Weetsled, widow of Ralph Atkinson
  • 29 Sep 1785 Luke Wright, of Byker, son of Ralph Wright
  • 28 Dec 1798 Jane Parkin late Marshall, of Gateshead, age: 57, wife of John Parkin (innkeeper), died 26 Dec
  • 25 Oct 1811 Joseph Moore, of Three Mile Bridge, age: 81, blacksmith, native of this parish, died 23 Oct
  • 5 May 1811 George Patten, of Kenton, age: 25, son of George Patten (native of Hebburn) by his wife Elizabeth Liddle (native of Whickham), died 3 May, liver complaint
  • 15 Nov 1841 Ralph Cram, of Felling, age: 62
  • 3 Sep 1846 William Heslop, of Marlow Hill, age: 23

Marriage samples:

  • 19 Apr 1763 Edward Wylam, of Washington married Mary Holmes, of this parish, by licence
    Witnesses: Ralph Atkinson, Joseph Clough
  • 2 Aug 1787 Rev’d James Ord (minister), of Castle Eden in the diocese of Durham married Barbara Brandling, of this parish, by licence
    Witnesses: Charles Brandling, Mary Fenton
  • 8 Jun 1811 John Brack (bachelor), of the parish of Whitburn, County Durham married Eleanor Foreman, of this parish, by banns
    Witnesses: Thomas Foreman, Margaret Armitage

Penshaw baptisms & burials 1841-1865, marriages 1837-1865

At Penshaw All Saints in Houghton-le-Spring district:

  • 2,077 baptisms covering 1841-1865
  • 1,750 burials covering 1841-1865
  • 382 marriages covering 1 July 1837 through 1865 – these are fully-detailed civil-registration-era marriages with fathers & occupations

Luckily for us, James Waters, the Rector of Penshaw, continued the local practice of recording the mother’s maiden surname in baptisms until the end of November 1850, as well as the child’s birth date in nearly all baptisms up to that point and occasionally afterwards.

This register had a slightly higher error rate than most. It reads as if the rector was copying the information from one register to another, or perhaps from scraps of paper or small notebooks into the master register. There were many errors of the type that come from mis-reading handwriting, rather than mis-hearing a name (although there are plenty of those too). We have, of course, annotated these inconsistencies. For example:

  • 17 Sep 1848 James Elliot Barker [Barber], of Washington Staiths, born 31-Jul, son of John Barker [Barber] (quarryman) & Jane White
    [Note: Barber in the GRO birth index and other baptisms with these parents.]

You can see how a person could mis-read Barber as Barker, but it is less likely that those two names would be mixed up when hearing them. Likewise:

  • 25 Oct 1846 George Oxlin [Oxley], of Shiney Row, born 30-Apr, son of George Oxlin [Oxley] (pitman) & Sarah Dixon
  • 19 May 1850 Edward Smart [Smirk], of North Biddick, born 26-Apr 1850, son of Edward Smart [Smirk] (engine driver) & Sarah Lynn
    [Note: this surname is Smirk in the GRO birth index, in other baptisms with these parents, and in the 1851 census.]

Here’s an interesting baptismal entry:

  • 19 Aug 1855 Benjamin Burton English, of South Hetton, son of Benjamin Burton English (blacksmith) & Isabella, “from the noise at the Church Doors, I was obliged to baptize this child in the Vestry, so as to be able to perform this duty without interuption – J. Waters, Rector”

The same note was written with the next baptism on the same day. I checked the British Newspaper Archive online and was unable to find any mention of a miner’s riot, a storm, or other potential cause of “great noise” on this date. If anybody knows what was going on, please share!

Burial samples:

  • 15 Feb 1841 John Clavering, of New Lambton, age: 48
  • 11 May 1852 Mary Cowley, of New Penshaw, age: 81, burial fee not paid – Mr. J. Humphrey promises to pay – paid
  • 13 Feb 1855 Sarah Atkinson, of Cox Green, age: 103
  • 3 Apr 1864 Thomas Dodds, of 47 Elswick East Terrace, age: 50, born Newcastle upon Tyne

Marriage samples:

  • 24 Jun 1838 Edward Taylor Henderson (bachelor, shipwright), full age, of Hilton Ferry, son of Edward Henderson (keelman), married Sarah Burton (widow), full age, of Bishopwearmouth, daughter of Cuthbert Bowden (waggonway wright), by banns
    Witnesses: Henry Mitcheson, Robert Mitcheson
  • 16 Dec 1850 Thomas Spencer (widower, labourer), age 74, of Offerton, son of William Spencer (blacksmith), married Mary Ann Pendleton (widow), age 36, of Offerton, daughter of Thomas Accles (slater)
    Witnesses: George Dawson, Robert Mitcheson

Abodes mentioned besides Penshaw include Barmston Forge, Biddick, Boundary House, Bowes House, Bunker Hill,Burnmoor, Carr Row, Chaters Haugh, Coxgreen, D Pit and D Pit Row, Davison’s Place, East Barnwell, Elba (sometimes abbreviated as L.B.), Fatfield, Fence Houses, Fox Cover, Hasting Hill, Haswell, Herrington and Herrington Burn, Houghton-le-Spring, Hylton, Jane Pit, Jarrow, Lambton Cottage, Low Lambton, Low Marley, Mill Pit, Moorsley, New Herrington, New Lambton, New Penshaw, Newbottle, North Biddick, Offerton, Offerton Haugh, Old Penshaw, Pallion, Penshaw Foundry, Penshaw Place, Penshaw Stables, Penshaw Staiths, Philadelphia, Primrose Hill, Quarry Head, Ryhope, Sherburn Hill, Shiney Row, South Biddick, South Hetton, Spa Well, Sunderland, Thornley, Usworth, Wapping, and Washington Staiths.

Although Penshaw was in Houghton-le-Spring civil registration district, many of the events at this church have associated registrations in Chester-le-Street district, because many of the parishioners lived at Wapping or North Biddick, which are in Chester-le-Street district.

Wingate Grange 1841-1850 baptisms updated with occupations & abodes

We have updated 1,010 baptisms at Wingate Grange from 1841 to 1850 inclusive with abodes and father’s occupations. We found 2 missed baptisms and made a few corrections.

Before the update:

  • 15 Jun 1848 Robert Middleton, son of John & Elizabeth Middleton

After the update:

  • 15 Jun 1848 Robert Middleton, of South Wingate, son of John (butcher) & Elizabeth Middleton

If a major change, such as a name, was made to a record you purchased, an email has already been sent to you with the correction. Otherwise, if you have purchased a baptism at this church in this period, you should review it to get the new information and see if any other changes were made. Log in, click My Account, then click the My Orders tab to see your purchases.

This is part of our mission to update our Easington-district baptisms that are missing occupations and abodes. Next up will be the next 10 years at Wingate Grange.

Gateshead Wesleyan Methodist Circuit baptisms 1837-1883

6,373 baptisms on the Gateshead Wesleyan Methodist Circuit from July 1837 to August 1883.

Abodes, besides streets in Gateshead, include Ayton [Eighton] Banks, Beamish, Bensham, Bill Quay, Birtley, Blackwall, Blaydon, Burnopfield, Byermoor, Carr’s Hill, Derwent Haugh, Felling, Felling Shore, Friar’s Goose, Gateshead Fell, Havannah, Heworth, Heworth Colliery, High Felling, Kibblesworth, Lamesley, Lintz Colliery, Low Fell, Low Teams, Marley Hill, Marley Hill Colliery, Mount, Mount Pleasant, New Gateshead, New Washington, Newcastle, Old Pit, Pelaw Main, Pelton, Perkinsville, Peth Head, Pit Hill, Portobello, Quarry Fields or Quarryfield, Redheugh, Ryton, Salt Meadows, Shear Legs, Sheriff Hill, Springwell, Springwell Colliery, Star Gate, Stella, Swalwell, Teams, Twizell Colliery, Tyne Main, Urpeth, Urpeth Forge, Usworth, Usworth Colliery, Waggon Row, Washington, Waterloo, West Pelton, Whickham, Windmill Hills, Windy Nook, Winlaton, and Wrekenton.

Since a Methodist minister traveled around his circuit, baptising as he went, many baptisms say where the baptism occurred:

  •  28 Dec 1840 George Heslop, of Abbot’s Entry, parish of Gateshead, born 11 Sep 1840, son of William & Ann Heslop, [baptised] at Gateshead, in their house

The registers are not in chronological order due to the nature of the minister’s travel around the circuit, and at times, several years of baptisms are jumbled together. The minister’s habit of recording the baptisms in a small notebook or on scraps of paper and then later transferring them into the register led to frequent errors in names, which we have tried to untangle by supplementing with investigations in the census and GRO birth index. Here are some examples of us adding alternate names and notes trying to explain what we think was meant:

  • 16 Aug 1866 William [Batey], of Mount Pleasant, born 12 Jul 1866, son of David [Batey] & Elizabeth Ann [Batey]
    [Note: The surname is blank. This is likely William Batey, as David & Elizabeth Ann Batey of Mount had other children baptized on this circuit, the GRO birth index shows a William Baty in this quarter, and the 1871 census shows them with a son William, age 4, born at Gateshead. This baptism is entered again on 16 Aug 1867 with a birth date of 12 Jul 1867, with the surname again blank.]
  • 11 Apr 1869 John Anns [Hands], of Blaydon, born 12 Mar 1869, son of John & Mary Anns [Hands]
    [Note: Anns sounds like Hands. The GRO birth index shows a John Hands in this quarter in Gateshead district, and the 1871 census shows 2-yr-old John with John & Mary Hands in Stella.]
  • 26 Jan 1876 William Leigh [Billinge], of Usworth Colliery, born 30 Nov 1875, son of Peter & Sarah Leigh [Billinge]
    [Note: Although Leigh is in the Surname box and there is no mention of Billinge, the GRO birth index says William Leigh Billinge and there are other baptisms to this couple as Billinge.]

Methodist baptisms usually include the child’s birth date, but not the father’s occupation. However, in this register, the father’s occupation is listed in the first 34 baptisms and in 15 of the next 65 baptisms, after which it disappears:

  • 15 Apr 1838 Elizabeth Todd, of Burnop Field, chapelry of Tanfield, born 13 Mar 1838, daughter of George (school master) & Jane Todd, [baptised] at Burnop Field
  • 21 Apr 1841 Thomas Morland, of Gateshead, born 2 Jan 1841, son of Thomas (cheese monger) & Ann Morland, [baptised at] Wind Mill Hill

In September of 1844, the minister switched to recording the child’s age instead of birth date:

  • 8 Sep 1844 George Snowball, of Swalwell, son of John & Mary Snowball, 7 days
  • 7 Aug 1845 William Jobs, of Low Teams, son of Ralph & Ann Jobs, 7 months & 17 days

A year later, he went back to recording birth dates; then, ages again in August 1848, then a mixture of ages and birth dates until September 1852 when he switched to almost always using birth dates for the remainder of the register:

  • 8 Mar 1866 Thomasina Lister, of Mount Pleasant, Gateshead, born 24 Dec 1865, daughter of Robert & Grace Lister
  • 6 Sep 1882 William Joseph Burn, of Gateshead, born 20 Sep 1875, son of Oswald John Burn & Jane Ann Burn

If you’ve been unable to find the baptism of a Gateshead ancestor in Anglican church records, you may find them in the records of this huge Methodist circuit.


Thornley marriages 1865-1915 updated with occupations, witnesses, abodes

985 existing marriages at Thornley (by Kelloe) in Easington district, from Feb 1865 to May 1915, were updated, gaining the occupations of the fathers and grooms, abodes and witnesses, and correcting errors. We also added 10 marriages to finish out 1915.

Here is a sample – before the update:

  • 18 Jul 1852 James Teasdale, age 23, son of Thomas Teasdale, married Mary Greenwell, age 21, daughter of Richard Greenwell

and after the update:

  • 18 Jul 1852 James Teasdale (bachelor, pitman), age 23, of Thornley, son of Thomas Teasdale (pitman), married Mary Greenwell (spinster), age 21, of Thornley, daughter of Richard Greenwell (joiner)
    Witnesses: Richard Greenwell, Jane Greenwell, Richard Greenwell

If you have purchased a marriage at Thornley, you should review it to see if any information was added or changed. Log in, click My Account, then click the My Orders tab to see your purchases. If a significant change was made, such as a name or date, you have already been emailed.

We are working our way through our entire Easington district marriage collection, one parish at a time, adding the information that was omitted when these were first transcribed many years ago. Next up will be Seaham and South Hetton.

Auckland St. Helen baptisms 1813-1814: details added

We recently discovered that in 1813, in addition to the standard baptism register at Auckland St. Helen, there is another baptism register that continues the Barrington-style entries (i.e. mother’s maiden surname, parents’ nativity, and child’s birth date and birth order) to just past the middle of 1814. (Normally these stop at the end of 1812.) This 2nd register also contains 8 baptisms that are not in the standard register. We have now updated our 107 existing 1813-1814 baptisms to include the details from the 2nd register, and added the 8 missing baptisms, with an explanatory note.

For example, this baptism from the standard register:

  • 27 Feb 1814 James Gibson, of Evenwood, son of John (weaver) & Jane Gibson

looks like this in the 2nd (more detailed) register:

  • 27 Feb 1814 James Gibson, born 31-Dec 1813, 7th son, 13th child of John Gibson (weaver, of Evenwood) by his wife Jane Linton (native of Crook, parish of Brancepeth)

Note that the 2nd register does not include the current abode, as was typical of that style of entry, but it does include many other useful details. We prefer to include *all* available information, so we are presenting the combined information from the 2 registers, like this:

  • 27 Feb 1814 James Gibson, of Evenwood, born 31-Dec 1813, 7th son, 13th child of John Gibson (weaver, of Evenwood) by his wife Jane Linton (native of Crook, parish of Brancepeth)

We have added this note to all of these “combined” baptisms:

[Note: In this parish, from 1 Jan 1813 to 23 July 1814, there are 2 versions of the baptism register: the “standard” register, which looks like a regular post-1812 register, and a 2nd version which looks like a 1798-1812 register, including mother’s maiden surname, parents’ nativity, and child’s birth date and birth order. Our baptisms for this period are combined from both registers for maximum detail. The standard register provides the current abode; all other details are from the detailed register.]

If you purchased a baptism at Auckland St. Helen in this period, you should check to see if it has been updated. Log in, click My Account, then click the My Orders tab to see your purchases. If you were unable to find a baptism in this area for the surnames Sedgewick, Megson, Shields, Pattinson, Pickering, Moses, Bainbridge, or Simpson, you should check again to see if it got added, as those were the surnames of the 8 additional baptisms.

Gateshead burials 1769-1812

9,993 burials at Gateshead St. Mary, covering 1769-1812. This includes the detail-rich period of 1798-1812 where all sorts of parentage answers can be found, even in burials!  These are from a combination of the parish register and the Bishop’s Transcript, for maximum detail.

As with the recently released baptisms for this period, mothers are not mentioned (unless they are single mothers) until October 1792, which is also when we start seeing the occupations of fathers. The mother’s maiden surname (for a deceased child), and a deceased married woman’s maiden surname both start appearing in Dec 1797, but unfortunately both disappear midway through 1810 instead of continuing to the end of 1812 like they were supposed to.

Here are some samples:

  • 6 May 1769 Mary Dagnia, wife of Onesiphorus Dagnia
  • 27 Mar 1778 George Birtley, son of Benjamin Birtley
  • 5 Jul 1788 Cuthbert Surtees, son of Martin Surtees
  • 1 Dec 1792 Thomas [Jolly/Jenkin], son of Nathaniel Jolly & Dinah Jenkin
  • 14 Jan 1793 William Oliver, son of Robert (tallow chandler) & Anne Oliver
  • 22 Dec 1797 Jane Stainton late Menham, age: 35, died 20 Dec, wife of Thomas Stainton (iron-founder)
  • 23 Apr 1810 Mary Graham, age: 22, died 21 Apr, daughter of James Graham (deceased) & Margaret late Strangeways
  • 29 Nov 1812 William Steel, age: 56, died 26 Nov, Custom House officer

We love the ones that give the mother’s previous husband as well as her current one (remember, “relict” means “widow”):

  • 19 Dec 1797 Anne Brannan, of Battle Bank, age: 18 months, died 18 Dec, daughter of Thomas Pearson Brannan (woolcomber) & Elisabeth his wife, heretofore Cowling (relict of Richard Scott)

Here is my favorite burial, for the description:

  • 14 Mar 1808 George Goodman, age: 73, died 12 Mar, one of ye Brethren of King James’ Hospital in this parish & a very inoffensive man

and here is the impressively-old oldest person:

  • 19 Aug 1812 Isabella Sharp, age: 114, died 17 Aug, widow of John Sharp (collier), christened Aug 17th 1698

The really exciting thing (for us) about this burial set is that we may have finally put to bed the question of “What does ‘R’ mean in a burial?”. If you’ve been reading this newsletter for the past year, you know that we speculated about “R” meaning “recusant”, but were not entirely happy with this conclusion, as there seemed to be no real reason for its sudden and brief appearance*. In the Bishop’s Transcript for Gateshead, between April 1791 and February 1796, there are 10 burials with a capital letter “R” written to the right of the burial entry, plus two burials that say “rich” in the same location. A note at the end of March 1792 says: “The above names which have the letter R added to them are the only persons who have left riches behind them.” So now it looks like “R” is the opposite of “P” (for pauper or poor), and was presumably recorded for the same reason: to record who was supposed to pay a mortuary (monetary gift to the church). Mortuaries were generally paid according to the value of the deceased’s goods. If you died “rich”, you paid; if you died “poor”, you didn’t.

It appears that the priest or clerk added the “R”s and the note at the end of the year when he was creating the transcript for the Bishop of Durham, because neither the “R”s nor the explanatory note appear in the original parish register. To me, the use of the word “only” in the note makes it sound as if he was trying to protect his parishioners from making unnecessary payments, by emphasizing their general poverty.

I will modify this topic in the FAQ accordingly. Although I have looked for hours, I have not yet found a reason (such as a new law, or dictum from the Bishop) why certain clerks started noting “R” in the burials, carried on for a few months, and then stopped.

*To date, we have seen “R” in the following burials: at Cockfield, 1 in Nov 1769 and 4 in Jan-Mar 1771; at Staindrop, 8 between May and Dec 1767; at Merrington, 3 in 1767; at Gateshead, 9 between Apr 1791 and Sep 1792, 2 in 1795, 1 in Feb 1796 (the final 2 say “rich” rather than “R”).