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 mid 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 2012 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. 

3.3 million words and over 13,600 documents have been transcribed and made available so far by around 30 volunteers over the course of more than ten 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.

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Document of the Day

To Richard Wilson Esq Leeds Yorkshire                                               Newca[stle] 27 Novr 1767


I am just come from Wallington where I have been for several days and have met with your Letter of the 23d instant inclosing me a receipt whereof the above is a copy. I shall shew it to the Gentlemen of our bank to morrow and shall then learn what has passed between them & Glyn & Hallifax about the former receipt for seven thousand pounds which I advised you of on the 17 instant. Sr Wr Blackett received of Bell Cookson & Co (w[hi]ch is the stile of our Bank) the Money for that receipt and gave them a discharge on the back of it for that sum with an order for Glyn & Hallifax to transfer that Money from his Acco[un]t to their’s but being abroad so long I have not yet heard whether they <………..> will approve of transferring this Three Thousand pounds also in the same way. When these transfers are made and Sr Wr who is now at Wallington is informed of it of a Certainty, which I don’t doubt our bank will be able to do soon, he will advise you, as you desired, that these two sums amounting to Ten Thousand pounds are for the purchase of the Equity of Redemption of his Estate at East Kenton; of which I wish you a long Enjoyment.

Mr Grahams farm is to be let anew against next Mayday. He has not yet offered anything; but I look upon it as worth £10 a year more than he gives. I should be glad to know whether you would have this farm advertised or you would have me ask him any sum and what for it?

I think when you were pleased to offer me the Care of this Estate along with your other you mentioned £25 a year Salary. I have considered it but cannot think of engaging in the Stewardship for less than 30 a yr. What you offered is not two p[er] Cent[u]m w[hi]ch is so low a Commission that it is not adequate to the trouble. I am etc    HR

London 13th Novemr 1767

Received of Richard Wilson Esq of Leeds by the hands of Sam & Josa Crompton Esqrs three Thousand pounds on Acco[un]t of Sr Walter Blackett.

For Messrs Glyn & Hallifax

P Alexr Carleton

£3000  Indorsed Ric Wilson

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