Pontap Hall baptisms 1778-1792 updated; baptisms at Shields 1784-1790 added

Because we had to be in the Pontop Hall and St. Cuthbert’s registers to check the newly released baptisms, we also reviewed and updated our existing baptisms at Pontop Hall for 1778-1792. We added sponsors, some abodes and birth dates, and corrected a few errors. We also added 26 baptisms from 1784 to 1790 inclusive that were performed at North or South Shields (the register just says “Shields”) by the Pontop Hall minister – apparently he traveled there periodically to baptize the local Catholics.

Sample baptism before the update:

  • 18 Jul 1787 Gulielmus Newton, of Coves, son of Gulielmi Newton (Catholic) by his wife Elizabethae (Protestant)

and after the update:

  • 18 Jul 1787 Gulielmus Newton, of Coves near Wolsingham, son of Gulielmi Newton (Catholic) by his wife Elizabethae (Protestant), about 5 weeks old
    Godparents or Sponsors: Johannes Newton of Iveston; Ann Peate

A baptism at Shields, which is particularly useful because it provides the mother’s father and the father’s sister:

  • 12 May 1784 Geo. Wilson, of South Shields, born 6 May, son of Georg Wilson (Protestant) by his wife Susanna Unthank (Catholic), baptized at Shields
    Godparents or Sponsors: Franciscus Unthank, avus [grandfather] ; Eliz. Place, amita [aunt, father’s sister]

If a significant change was made to a record you have purchased from the Pontop Hall set, you will be notified shortly by email.

Confirmations at Pontop Hall & Lanchester St. Cuthbert 1822, 1831, 1837, and 1804-05 communicants

While we were recently dealing with the records at these two Catholic churches, we found in the register several lists of people who had been confirmed on specific dates. These seemed like they might be somewhat useful, serving as a record of someone’s presence at a certain time, so we created a new record type for Confirmations and put these, along with the existing Vestry Minutes, into a new category called Other Parish Records on the Search form’s drop-down menu for Record Type. If you select Other Parish Records, as the record type, the search will consult the vestry minutes, confirmations, and anything else we decide to put in this category.

When you’re confirmed, you get to choose a confirmation name to add to your first and middle names — or you can just use the names given to you at baptism. Your new name must be a Christian name such as one of the canonized saints or a hero from the Bible. Unfortunately the confirmations don’t give the age of the person being confirmed. Most of them were probably teenagers and some were probably adults. It is unlikely that any were below the age or 7 or 8. Here is one sample from each date:

  • 20 Aug 1822 Dominic Mawston – confirmation name Thomas, confirmed at the chapel at Broomside by Rev. Thomas Smith
  • 9 Oct 1831 Anna Hallerburton – confirmation name Anna Maria, confirmed at the chapel at Broomside by Rev. Thomas Penswick
  • 5 Nov 1837 Robertus Liddle – confirmation name Petrus, confirmed at the chapel at Broomside by Rev. Joannes Briggs

We also found a list of the people who had taken Communion at Pontop Hall in 1804-1805, which we decided to make freely available by adding it to our library of local history articles.

Pontop Hall & Lanchester St. Cuthbert Roman Catholic baptisms 1793-1839

261 Roman Catholic baptisms at Pontop Hall and at St. Cuthbert’s church at Brooms, both in the parish and district of Lanchester, spanning 1793-1839. St. Cuthbert’s was built in the 1790s but not formally opened until 1802. It was one of the first public Catholic churches built after the Reformation. Before the advent of St. Cuthbert’s, the local Catholics had been served for at least 50 years by the Jesuit mission at Pontop Hall.

Although these two locations effectively shared one register, from a researcher’s point of view, there are 3 registers to consult. The original Pontop Hall register has the National Archives reference number of RG4/1. The entries are written in Latin, in different hands, unevenly spaced, and some are squeezed in as an apparent afterthought. It has numerous ink blots, Latin abbreviations, and cross-throughs, making it difficult to read.

A parallel register is the Lanchester St. Cuthbert’s register, held at the Durham County Record Office, referenced as RC/Brm1/1. The title page says “Pontop Baptismal Register, copied part from Mr. Johnson’s Baptismal Register, from the year 1778”. (James Johnson was the priest at Pontop Hall in the 1770s.)  This register is a handwritten extract of the Pontop Hall register from 1778 to 1806, but apparently it used to contain entries to 1815. This is explained by this note after the last entry in 1806:

“It would seem that around 1807-8 John Bell made this copy of the baptism entries from the Pontop Register. After 5 April 1808, he ceased to use the original register and from 5 June 1809 he entered all baptisms in this book. He continued this practice until 28 Aug 1815. Then on 25 Sep 1815 he made one final entry in the original Pontop register and his successors continued to do so until 15 Mar 1827 when it was full. Because of the gap in the Pontop register from 1809 until 1815, the two relevant pages of this book were removed and inserted into the Pontop register when it was deposited with the Public Record Office. Signed: R. Richmond, 9 Jan 1990, Public Rec. Office”

Note that the pages dealing with 1809 to 1815 were removed (not copied) from the St. Cuthbert’s copy and added to the original Pontop Hall register. RG4/1 then continues, after the inserted pages, to July 1827. At that point, a new register was started, still titled “St. Cuthbert’s and Pontop Hall”, which runs from 1827 to Sept 1839 and has the reference number RG4/2284.

Because RC/Brm1/1 is a copy, it has evenly spaced entries written all in the same handwriting and is much easier to read – but it also has errors, omissions, and even some additions. In general, the original Pontop Hall register is more accurate, as you would expect. It is also more comprehensive; for example, many baptisms list the relationship of the sponsors to the child (avus, avia, amita, avunculus, etc.), while the St. Cuthbert’s copy omits those relationships and lists only the sponsors’ names. The copy also omits some mothers’ maiden surnames, especially where they were hard to read in the original register. However, in some cases, information was added to the copy that is not present in the original, including names and abodes. In entries from 1778 to 1806, if the two registers offered differing or complementary information, we combined the information from both registers.

Sample baptisms – the register is in Latin to Oct 1833:

  • 21 Sep 1797 John Dunn, of Kio Burne, born 14 Sep 1797, son of Richard Dunn by his wife Maria Teasdale
    Godparents or Sponsors: Jas. Dixon; Maria Dunn
    [Note: this baptism was found in the St. Cuthbert’s copy of the Pontop Hall register, without the birth date. The birth date is from a scrap of paper (listing several children of this couple) inserted between pages 20 and 21 in the original Pontop Hall register.]
  • 13 Dec 1802 Margareta Fenwick, of Marley Hill, born 27 Nov 1802, daughter of Radulphi Fenwick by his wife Mariae olim Stott
    Godparents or Sponsors: Gulielmus Stott; Maria Clara Wake
  • 29 Mar 1824 Margarita Pearson, born 14 Mar 1824, daughter of Richardi Pearson by his wife Annae olim Heavelock
    Godparents or Sponsors: Gulielmus Heavelock; Joanna Grey
  • 29 Jun 1836 Margaret Bell, of Shotly Bridge, born 6 Jun 1836, daughter of John Bell & Mary formerly Conroy
    Godparents or Sponsors: Dennis Conroy; Mary Doyle

Abodes mentioned include Bantling Castle, Bushblades, Collierley, Dipton, Ebchester, Greencroft, Iveston, Kio (Kyo) Burn, Low Brooms, Luns or Lunt’s House, Medomsley, Pont House, Pontop, Shield Row, Shotley Bridge, Stony Heap, Success Pit, and Tantoby. There are also 11 baptisms performed by the Pontop minister at either North or South Shields in 1788-1789, like this:

  • 8 Dec 1788 Elizabetha Wilson, of South Shields, born 5 Dec, daughter of George Wilson (Protestant) by his wife Susanna Unthank (Catholic), baptized at Shields
    Godparents or Sponsors: Gul. Evans; Eliz. Place, amita
    [Note: this small section of baptisms at “Shields” for 1788-90 precedes 1794 baptisms in the Pontop Hall register.]

Darlington Bondgate Methodist Chapel & Darlington Wesleyan Circuit baptisms 1810-1837

157 baptisms at Bondgate Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Darlington or somewhere on the Darlington Wesleyan Methodist circuit, from 1810 to mid-1837, rounding out our previous collection from this chapel, which now runs from 1810 to 1981. The register was actually started in 1812, with several 1810 baptisms and births entered near the beginning in 1813. There are no baptisms recorded between Dec 1813 and June 1821.

Nearly all of these baptisms include the child’s birth date and father’s occupation. Samples:

  • 24 Nov 1823 Jane Botcherby, of Summerhouse, born 14 Sep, daughter of Miles (mason) & Dorothy Botcherby
  • 17 Jul 1836 Mary Elwood, of Darlington, born 16 Jun 1836, daughter of Edward (blacksmith) & Catherine Elwood

The baptisms were performed in various places (as it says in the front of the register) on the Darlington Wesleyan Methodist circuit by various circuit-riding ministers. In order of appearance in the register, the ministers were: Thomas Vasey, James Sykes, Robert Bentham, Robert Pilter, D.G. McAllun, Thomas Hamer, David Rogers, James Miller, Moses Dunn, Joseph Hollingworth, James Johnson, Anthony Boyd Sanderson, Joseph Burgess, William Leach, William Binning, William Towers, William Smith, Thomas Laidman Hodgeson, Thomas Armson, Samuel Crompton, William Woolsey, and James Catton.

Herrington St. Aidan baptisms 1840-1890

At Herrington St. Aidan in the district of Houghton-le-Spring:

  • 1,051 baptisms spanning 1840-1890

The residences listed include many street addresses in New Herrington, plus Bunker Hill, Burn Moor, East Herrington, Flinton Hill, Fox Cover, Hasting Hill, Herrington Engine, Herrington Hill, Herrington Pit and New Pit, Low Haining, Middle Herrington, Mill Pit, Newbottle, Penshaw, Philadelphia, Silksworth, Success, Sunderland, and West Herrington.


  • 3 Oct 1840 Ann [Cummings/Heron], of Middle Herrington, child of William Cummings (farmer) & Elizabeth Heron (spinster)
  • 5 Aug 1865 Mary Snowdon, of Middle Herrington, child of Matthew (countryman) & Elizabeth Snowdon
  • 25 Dec 1890 John William Makepeace, of 32 Fenton Terrace, New Herrington, child of George Valentine Makepeace (banksman) & Mary Jane Makepeace, privately baptised

Herrington St. Aidan was first formed in 1840 as a chapelry in the parish of Houghton-le-Spring. In 1865, we noticed there were only 3 baptisms, all on July 2nd. There were no baptisms following that until April 1866. During this period, administration of the chapelry of Herrington was moved from Houghton-le-Spring to Newbottle. The Vicar of Newbottle held services at St. Aidan’s every Sunday morning and also one Sunday evening each month. If the vicar performed baptisms at Herrington in this period, either he did not record them or he recorded them in the Newbottle parish register without mentioning that they were performed at Herrington. In 1884, the chapelry became the Parish of Herrington, and due to the expansion of the colliery population, a new, larger St. Aidan’s church was built in 1885 and consecrated in 1886.

Dunston Christ Church burials 1911-1962 & baptisms 1916-1925

At Dunston Christ Church in Gateshead district:

  • 1,886 baptisms spanning 1916-1925. We now have baptisms here for 1872-1925.
  • 1,305 burials spanning 1911-1962. We now have burials here for 1876-1962.

Most residences listed are street addresses in Dunston, but a few mention Gateshead, High Teams, and Newcastle.

Nearly all the baptisms give the child’s birth date, which is unusual for this period. Here are some samples:

  • 2 Jan 1916 Winifred Sarah Rickwood, of 17 Victoria Street, born 14 Dec 1915, child of Bertram (boiler erector) & Jessie Rickwood
  • 1 Jun 1919 Robert Martin Butters Bolam, of 5 Stokoe Square, born 13 May 1919, child of Ralph Bolam (waggon examiner) & Mary Ann Bolam

Godparents are listed from July 1923 to the end of 1925:

  • 10 Oct 1923 Thomas Henderson Goulbourn, of West View House, born 19 Sep 1923, child of George Henderson Goulbourn (boiler fireman) & Florence Goulbourn
    Godparents or Sponsors: Mrs. Noble
  • 26 Aug 1925 Ernest Alfred Cook, of 7 Athol Street, born 20 Aug 1925, child of Alfred (chief engineer) & Jennie Cook, private baptism
    Godparents or Sponsors: Charles Wilson & Mary Isabella Wilson

(To observe the 100-year privacy rule and avoid publishing the birth dates of persons who might still be alive, the 2 examples immediately above are infants who died in their first year.)

Sample burials:

  • 12 Jan 1911 Cuthbert Coulthard, of 37 Spurr Terrace, age: 64, buried without the rites of the Church under the Burials Act 1880
  • 14 Sep 1916 Henry McKenry, of 20 Collingwood St., age: 31, wounded in France, died Manchester Military Hospital
  • 27 May 1918 Mary Hannah Stead, of Victoria Street, age: 34, died at Gateshead Workhouse Infirmary
  • 6 Dec 1927 Eli Whitfield, of Atlas Villas, age: 59
  • 13 May 1941 Jane Bainbridge, of 24 Keppel St., Dunston, age: 81
  • 27 Jan 1962 Mary Annie Broadbent, of 84 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, age: 78

Bishopwearmouth (Sunderland) St. Mary Roman Catholic baptisms 1834-1851

2,133 baptisms at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Bridge Street in Bishopwearmouth (now part of Sunderland), from June 1834 to the end of 1851. This is our first offering from this parish, and it might be our last, as this register was astonishingly difficult to work with – darkened pages, lots of smudging and blotting, names spelled in many inconsistent ways, and handwriting that was barely a horizontal scribble at times.

Starting in the end of 1838, most of these show the mother’s maiden surname, but the clerk or priest was inconsistent about this, sometimes entering the father’s surname in both places, so a single baptism is not enough to determine the mother’s surname – you must check it against other baptisms with the same father to see if the mother’s maiden surname changes. Sometimes the mother’s maiden surname is preceded by “late”, but often it is not, so you can’t infer anything from the absence of “late” about whether or not the parents are married – most of the time, they probably are.

From 1834 to 1839, most of these baptisms list the father’s occupation. Starting in mid-1837, most baptisms have one or more sponsors (godparents) listed. From Oct 1837 onward, nearly all the baptisms show the child’s birth date.

Abodes mentioned include Bishopwearmouth, Boldon, Deptford, High Southwick, Hilton or Hylton, Low Southwick, Monkwearmouth, Newcastle, Seaham, Seaham Harbour, South Hilton, Southwick, Sunderland, and the Sunderland Barracks.

Sample baptisms:

  • 1 Feb 1835 Ellenor Jane Mitchell, of Sunderland, daughter of George (watchmaker) & Mary Mitchell
  • 7 Dec 1851 Danniel Lynch, of Sunderland, born 26 Nov 1851, child of William Lynch & Mary Curo
    Godparents or Sponsors: Hugh Brenan; Margaret Lynch
  • 25 Dec 1841 Henry McCardel, of Bishop Wearmouth, born 2 Dec 1841, child of Patrick McCardel & Catherine late Doyle
    Godparents or Sponsors: Bernard Ward; Mary Dodgshon(?)
    [Note: parents’ given names are blotted and smudged, but other baptisms suggest Patrick and Catherine are correct. Surname is McCarl in the GRO birth index.]

There are lots of Irish surnames in this set where the use of the root name plus Mc or O’ seem to all be interchangeable. For example:

  • 28 Jun 1840 Mary McCarrell, of Monkwearmouth, born 15 Jun 1840, daughter of Patrick Carrell & Catherine late Doyle
    Godparents or Sponsors: Thomas Carrell; Catherine Fox
    [Note: surname spelled 2 different ways in this record.]
  • 15 Jun 1851 John O’Connell [Connor], of Sunderland, born 11 Jun 1851, child of Danniel O’Connell [Connor] & Catherine McGaughlin
    Godparents or Sponsors: George Scanlon; Elizabeth Burdon
    [Note: Connor and McLoughlin in other baptisms to these parents.]

Some of you may be familiar with the RG4 record series, a set of non-conformist registers that were hand-copied and sent to the Public Record Office (now the National Archives) around the end of 1837. A copy of the years 1834 through Nov 1837 from this register are part of the RG4 series. However, you should be aware that the copy is missing the sponsors (godparents) and has some errors and discrepancies, some of which we have annotated, and a couple of records of illegitimate children were omitted from the copy. Obviously the original register is the “more primary” source. We do not think this register from Nov 1837 to the end of 1851 has been transcribed or indexed anywhere else on the Internet, and after fighting our way through its problems, we understand why!

Herrington burials 1840-1963

At Herrington St. Aidan in the district of Houghton-le-Spring:

  • 5,600 burials spanning 1840-1963

There had been a chapel at West Herrington as far back as 1291, but this version of the chapel, dedicated to St. Aidan, opened in 1840 as a chapelry in the parish of Houghton-le-Spring. It was later under the umbrella of the district chapelry of Newbottle, and even later became the parish of West Herrington. You can read more about this church’s history here.

Residences listed include Bishopwearmouth, Bunker Hill, East Herrington, Fence Houses, Fox Cover, Hasting Hill, Heath House, Herrington Burn, Herrington Hill, Herrington Pit, Houghton le Spring, Middle Herrington, Mill Pit, New Herrington, Newbottle, Penshaw, Philadelphia, the Royal Infirmary (Sunderland), Seaham Harbour, Shiney Row, Silksworth, South Farrington, Stoney Gate, Success, Sunderland, and West Herrington.

Sample burials:

  • 27 Sep 1841 John Fenwick, of West Herrington Engine, age: 75
  • 10 Sep 1856 William Botcherby, of Mill Hill, Silksworth, age: 80
  • 24 Apr 1877 Ann Hope, of New Herrington, age: 78
  • 14 Oct 1914 Samuel Coffey, of 19 George Street West, New Herrington, age: 28, wounded at Rheims, died in Military Hospital at Cambridge
  • 15 Nov 1933 Margaret Redpath, of 34 Success Cottages, age: 94
  • 13 Jan 1947 John Riley, of High Barnes, age: 82, R.C. [Roman Catholic]
  • 2 Jun 1955 George Henry Bone, of 38 Weardale Crescent, Old Penshaw, age: 71, nonconformist

We will be adding baptisms from this parish for 1840-1890 next week.

Newcastle St. Peter baptisms 1844-1885

1,901 baptisms in the parish of St. Peter in the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, spanning 1844-1885. St. Peter’s was a chapelry within the parish of Newcastle St. Andrew until January 1850, when it became its own parish.

Addresses are mostly streets in Newcastle. The following places were also mentioned: Byker, Dunston, Gateshead, Heaton, Jesmond, Shieldfield, and Tynemouth.


  • 1 Aug 1844 Charlotte Craig, of Lambton Place, child of Thomas (smith) & Dorothy Craig
  • 30 Dec 1866 George Robinson Hepple, of Percy Place, child of John Hogg Hepple (carpenter) & Sarah Herbert Hepple
  • 23 Oct 1885 Ann Lunn McMaster, of Elswick Court, child of John (wire-worker) & Mary McMaster

Tweedmouth burials 1866-1885

659 burials spanning 1866-1885 at Tweedmouth St. Bartholomew in the district of Berwick, Northumberland, from a combination of the parish register and the Bishop’s Transcript.

Even though this was past the time when relationships were usually listed, about 20% of these burials name a parent or spouse, or list an occupation or other useful fact about the deceased. Here are some samples:

  • 16 Jan 1866 Martha Swinney, of Tweedmouth, age: 39, wife of William Swinney (blacksmith), buried at the cemetery
  • 18 Nov 1867 Margaret Flannigan, of Knowe Head, Tweedmouth, age: 101
  • 24 Jan 1872 Margaret Isabel Richardson Purvis, of Spittal, age: 5, daughter of Thomas Purvis (merchant), buried at the cemetery
  • 7 Mar 1874 Jane Wakenshaw, of the Workhouse, Berwick on Tweed, age: 71
  • 21 Feb 1880 William Richardson, of Sunderland, age: 51, mate of the Barque “Devon” lying at the Carr Rock, drowned, buried at the cemetery

Tweedmouth Cemetery opened in 1858, so most of these burials specify “buried at the cemetery” to differentiate from burials in the churchyard. Abodes mentioned besides streets in Tweedmouth and ships in the dock include Berwick upon Tweed, East Ord, Kyloe, Scremerston, and Spittal.