Dukesfield Documents

A North-eastern history research archive centred on the Blackett and Beaumont lead business records – and much more besides- between the mid 17th and early 19th centuries.


Volunteers have transcribed thousands of letters and other documents to create a free, fully searchable, online collection of material. This began as part of the ‘Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project’ between 2013 and 2015.

This site brings together digital versions of manuscripts held in local archives alongside much more obscure material in distant collections and recently discovered documents in private hands. Full transcripts of each source document, most comprising many individual letters or other items, can be downloaded, and each item is also held separately within the searchable online database.This structure and search capability means, for example, that correspondence long separated between different physical archival locations can now be reunited.

‘Dukesfield Documents’ is provided to help stimulate and support future research into varied aspects of social, economic, political and family history of the North East of England and beyond, between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Keep coming back – documents still being added. 

Over 2 million words have been transcribed and made available so far by around 30 volunteers over more nearly six years. A standard approach to editing and presentation has been followed and applied wherever possible. Please note that the vast amount of material means that it has not always been possible for the volunteers to check and double-check the accuracy to the levels normally found in published and annotated editions of primary source material. The editing conventions indicate words or phrases that are unclear to the transcriber, but we cannot discount the possibility that other occasional mistakes have been made, or editing or presentational inconsistencies introduced.

Hopefully this is far outweighed by the value of digitising and integrating such a wide range of material from disparate sources to provide a highly accessible research resource. Clear references to the original source documents are always provided so that they may be consulted by researchers who wish to go further. If you can use the contents in your own research we will have achieved one of our main aims. We ask only that you acknowledge ‘Dukesfield Documents’ and the web address www.dukesfield.org.uk/documents in any published work.

The search facilities and downloads are supported with background information on the principal correspondents, brief descriptions on the archival collections from which the contents are drawn, a glossary, guides to further reading and support, editing conventions, and the project story. There are occasional notes to accompany a few of the items, but otherwise the collection is simply a digitised version of the primary material. Explore the options given in the navigation. A long series of 18th century lead production figures compiled from financial accounts are available here in spreadsheet form.

Please give us your feedback. If you have a general comment about this archive please use the ‘Contact us’ link at the foot of this page. We welcome further information or corrections on topics and incidents mentioned in individual letters, which we will seek to add to the published material. Please use the ‘Comment’ option on individual items to do this. Please be patient, as it might take a while for our volunteers to check your comments for adding to public view within the website. Please note that we cannot undertake further research in response to questions.

While you’re here explore the rest of the Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers website by clicking on the project logo at the top left.

Search the Archives
Documents and sources
Background & Support

Document of the Day

To Sir Wr Blackett Bt. M.P. to be left at the Cocoa tree Pall Mall London                                       

                                                                                                        Newcastle 23rd October 1761

Hon[ou]rd Sir       Your friends here are sorry you have travelled so far to be laid up by so painful a disorder; but as it seems a regular Fit of the Gout, they are easier than if it had been a return of your late complaint, wch they had heard was partly the case; because they think the Gout, while in the Extream parts is symptomatic of a good Constitution & Long life. I hope so.

I have not yet received the pedigree of the Liddell family from Mr Ellison. I have been with Isable Pattison, whose Testimony, I think will not afford any proof of relations[hi]p between the Fenwicks & Mrs Windsor. She says. she never knew any Sir Francis Liddells but one, & that he lived at Ogle & was about 60 years of age when he left that place to go & live at Stannerton with Parson Fenwick, who had married his Daughter Mary. She says she has heard that the s[ai]d  S[i]r Francis’s Lady came f[ro]m Bambroughshire. So that probably she was Relict of Nich[ola]s Forster, as men[t]ioned in the Eng[lish] Baronetage. I shall see Mr Coll[ingwoo]d Forster in a day or two, & will communicate to him what I have gathered f[ro]m this old woman.

I wish an abatement of your pain & am Hon[ou]rd Sir  Your faithf[ul]l & mo[st] obed[ien]t Serv[an]t      HR 
The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467