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 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. 

Over 2.3 million words and 10,000 documents have been transcribed and made available so far by around 30 volunteers over the course of seven 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

This is the last Will and Testament of me Ann Mulcaster of Blaydon in the Parish of Ryton and County of Durham Widow and Executrix of the late Robert Mulcaster of the same place deceased.

My Soul I recommend to God my Creator and direct my Body to be decently interred at the discretion of my Executor hereinafter named.  I give and bequeath to my son John Mulcaster of Blaydon all my Leasehold Estate situate in the Parish of Kirkhaugh in the County of Northumberland known by the name of Harlows at present in the occupation of Joseph Birkett subject nevertheless to and charged and chargeable with the Annuity and Legacies hereinafter particularly specified. Viz: To my Daughter Ann Mulcaster of Blaydon I give and bequeath One Annuity or clear Yearly Rent of Ten Pounds of lawfull Money of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland current in Great Britain free from all manner of Taxes and deductions whatsoever for and during the Term of her natural life to be paid and payable to the said Ann Mulcaster half yearly the first payment to commence at the expiration of Six Months next after my decease and I do further give to the said Ann Mulcaster or her Assigns in case the said Annuity of Ten Pounds or any part thereof shall remain due and unpaid for the space of Twenty eight days the power of entering upon the premises so charged with the same and of distraining for the Arrears of the said Annuity, and in case it shall remain due and unpaid for the space of Forty days then I give her the power of entering upon the said premises and of taking the Rents and Profits of the same untill such Arrears as well as every other Expence occasioned by such distress or entering upon the premises be fully paid and reimbursed.  I give and bequeath to my Three Daughters Mary, Lucy, and Hannah Mulcaster each the Sum of Fifty Pounds of like lawfull Money as aforesaid to be paid at or within Six Calendar Months next after my Decease and it is further my will that if any of the said Three Sisters should die before receiving such Legacy the same shall be paid in equal proportions to the surviving two Sisters and should any two of the said three Sisters die before receiving such Legacy then their respective Legacies shall be paid to the surviving Sister.  I give and bequeath to my Grand Daughters Ann Bell and Hannah Mulcaster daughters of my late daughter Frances Mulcaster of Langley Lead Mill or their respective Heirs each the Sum of Twenty five Pounds of like lawfull Money as aforesaid to be paid to the said Ann Bell or her Heirs at or within Six Calendar Months next after my Decease and to the said Hannah Mulcaster or her Heirs as soon as they shall respectively attain the age of Twenty One years if under that Age at the time of my decease and if above that age then at or within Six Calendar Months after that event and it is also further my Will that should either the said Ann Bell or Hannah Mulcaster or their Heirs die before receiving such Legacy the same shall be paid to the survivor or her respective Heirs.  I give and bequeath to my Grandsons Henry Teasdale Harrison and Robert Harrison Sons of my late Daughter Margaret Harrison each the Sum of Twenty Five Pounds of like lawfull Money of Great Britain as they shall each respectively attain the Age of Twenty one years if under that Age at the time of my decease and if above that Age then at or within Six Calendar Months after that event with like benefit of survivorship as before specified.    I do also give and bequeath to my Daughters Ann, Mary, Lucy and Hannah Mulcaster jointly and severally all my Household furniture Bedding, linen and wearing apparel to become the joint or seperate property of such of them as shall remain unmarried, except one Feather Bed, Bedstead and hangings which shall belong to each seperately  according to a Schedule given to my Executor hereinafter named.  And I do hereby make ordain nominate and appoint my said Son John Mulcaster sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament he paying all my just Debts my Funeral Expences as also the expence of proving this my last Will.  And my Will further is that my said Executor shall not sell or dispose of my said Leasehold Estate at Harlows until he has first given sufficient security for the payment of the Annuity and Legacies respectively bequeathed as above.  

And I do hereby revoke and make Void all former and other Wills by me at any time heretofore made and do declare these presents only to be and contain my last Will and Testament.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and affixed my Seal this Fifteenth day of February in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirteen.

Ann Mulcaster     X  her mark

Signed, Sealed, published and declared by the above name Ann Mulcaster the Testator as and for her last Will and Testament in the pre-sence of us who have hereunto subscribed our Names as Witnesses thereto at her request and in her presence and in the presence of each other.  	

John Emerson   Robt. Hall     Thos. Emerson


The seventeenth day of December 1814 John Mulcaster of Blaydon within mentioned the Executor named in this Will was duly sworn etc as usual and that the personal Effects of Testatrix do not amount in value to the sum of £450.

Before me  Geo. Emerson Surr.

Burrell Pr.					
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