A County Durham parish’s ‘lost register’ is now online.
Durham Records Online has announced that: “Researchers are often disappointed to learn that the earliest parish register of Tanfield St. Margaret, up to 1719, has been lost or destroyed.
Sir Cuthbert Sharp’s manuscript
“Fortunately, some extracts of the first register were recorded in a manuscript compiled by Sir Cuthbert Sharp (1781-1849), a distinguished antiquarian and friend of Robert Surtees, with whom he collaborated on that mammoth work on Durham’s history, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham. Prominent Durham families and their pedigrees were included in that book, which may explain why Sharp collected noteworthy extracts from a number of selected parish registers. This small book, titled Manuscript Library of Sir C. Sharp, is one of a collection known as Sharp MS22, held in Durham Cathedral’s Library.
Tanfield’s ‘drowned’ register
“On page 54 of the manuscript, under the heading of Tanfield, appears this statement: ‘The early register in a most lamentable condition has been drowned’. Some of these extracts were mentioned in the 3rd volume of Sharp’s Chronicon Mirabile seu Excerpta Memorabilia e Registris Parochialibus Com. Pal. Dunelm circa 1841, and some were mentioned in the Surtees volumes in 1820. It is quite likely that the register was lost long before 1820, and also likely that Sharp and Surtees got these extracts from a much earlier transcription by George Allan,Thomas Randall, or Christopher Hunter.
“One of our team recently transcribed the 271 extracts from Sharp’s manuscript, consisting of 146 baptisms, 31 marriages and 94 burials between the years 1577 and 1719. The second register, which we have had online for years, begins in 1720. When comparing Tanfield to a parish with similar numbers of records for 1720-1730, we estimate (very roughly) that these 271 extracts represent around 2% to 3% of the records that originally existed for 1577-1719, with their content heavily skewed toward the nobility and land-owning families.
- 13 Apr 1578 Nic. [Nicholas] Greenwell;
- 18 Sep 1616 William Blakeston, son of Mr. Nich. [Nicholas] Blakeston;
- 20 Oct 1715 Dulcibella Davison of Beam[ish], daughter of Mr. Wm. [William] Davison.
“Sample marriages – the earliest marriage in the transcript is in 1615:
- 20 Aug 1615 Saumewell Hancocke married Alice Sotheren;
- 19 Aug 1714 George Humble married Ann Headley of par. Ryton [the parish of Ryton].
“Sample burials – the earliest burial is in 1578:
- 9 Nov 1596 Anne Shafto, wyff of Mr. Shafto;
- 1 Jan 1628 Sir Wm. Wray, of Beamish, Knt. [Knight];
- 3 Oct 1718 Mr. James Blaxton, son of James Blaxton.
“All of these records will display the following note to clarify their provenance:
[Note: this register was water-damaged beyond repair and is no longer extant, so this record is from Cuthbert Sharp’s pre-1841 register extracts held at the Durham Cathedral Library.]”