Durham St. Oswald baptisms 1700-1750

2,068 baptisms at St. Oswald’s in Durham city from 1700 to 1750 inclusive, extending our collection from this church backward in time.

Abodes mentioned besides streets in the parish include Aldernage, Alton Stile, Baxterwood, Benthouse, Brome or Broom, Brome Hall, Burnhall, Farewell Hall, Houghall, Monke Harbour, New and Old Elvet, Relly, Shinckliffe/Shinkliffe/Shincliffe, Shincliffe Mill, Shincliffe Moor House, Stotgate, and White House.

Many of these records list the child’s birth date, the father’s occupation, and the family’s abode. Some list only the birth date (no baptism date), which likely indicates a family dissenting from the Church of England but wanting their child’s birth recorded. Mothers are not listed unless the child is illegitimate. In the early 1700s, there are 2 overlapping registers, sometimes containing different information for the same baptism; in those cases, we have combined the differing information into one record and annotated it. There are also several adult baptisms. Here are some samples:

  • Nicholas Paxton, born 18 Feb 1700, son of William Paxton (joyner)
  • 7 Oct 1701 Abraham Parkinson, born 26 Sep, son of Thomas Parkinson (singingman & smith)
    [Note: there are 2 overlapping registers for this period, and the father’s occupation is singingman in one, and smith in the other.]
  • 28 Feb 1714 John Gainford, of New Elvet, born 5 Feb, son of Thomas Gainford (mason)
  • 17 Jan 1726 William Murray, son of Stephen Murray (miller), private baptism, received into the Church Jan 30th
  • 12 Feb 1749 Mary [Heavyside/Armstrong], of Shinckliffe, bastard daughter of John Heavyside & Elizabeth Armstrong
  • 16 Oct 1750 Joseph & Ralph Mitchell, twin sons of Ralph Mitchell (glover)

and my favorite from this set:

  • 23 Jul 1704 Isabel Mainsforth, wife of Thomas Mainsforth, being born of Quaker parents & brought up in ye monstrous opinion

We noticed an odd pattern in this set: abodes are listed far more often when the father has no profession listed or he is a labourer or yeoman, and abodes are more often not listed when he has some other profession. It’s as if the clerk was saying “You can have the profession or the abode, but not both – unless it’s a labourer or yeoman.” So, in any given sequence of consecutive baptisms, the abodes will typically be listed for the fathers who are labourers or yeomen or whose professions are not listed, but the abodes will typically not be listed for the fathers who are weavers, merchants, smiths, masons, etc.

In January 1726 (the last part of 1725 by the calendar in force at the time), Rev. William Forster took over as Vicar, replacing Thomas Rud. Within a couple of months, the number of private baptisms and “reception into the Church” records declined sharply, and the incidence of birth dates also started to decline by the end of the year. Luckily for us, the clerk mostly continued to list the father’s occupation, helping us differentiate between several men with the same name living in the same place at the same time.