The diocese of Durham had jurisdiction over the probate of most of Northumberland (with the notable exception of Hexhamshire, an ancient peculiar of the Archbishop of York). Wills and inventories held by the Durham Probate Registry are now cared for as part of the Archives and Special Collections of the University of Durham Library. Follow the link for their catalogue and holdings. We are grateful to the staff of the University Library for their support. Several of those for people in the Dukesfield area and others of relevance to the lead industry have been transcribed and included here (DPR1/…). Durham probate records have been extensively catalogued by the Library’s North-east Inheritance project through which digital images of many original documents can now be downloaded . A single stray letter from the Dukesfield mill agent in 1698 has also been transcribed and is included here (Add MS 1623/3).
Also held within the Special Collections is the voluminous correspondence of succcessive Bishops on both spiritual matters and the management of their estates, not least among which was their lucrative interest in the Weardale lead mines. Much of the income was taken in the form of leases and dues on ore raised. The latter, ‘lot ore’, was usually taken in the form of an annual composition in lieu of an actual physical share of the lead ore, and these rights were subject to periodic negotiation. Papers relating to the Bishopric’s side of some of these periods of negotiation, in 1732, the early 1760s and later decades are given here (CCB/B/182/121). The letters complement transcripts correspondence from Walter Blackett’s side during the same period of negotiation, to be found elsewhere in Dukesfield Documents. CCB/B/182/121 also contains a great deal of correspondence related to the plans to enclose Weardale in the late 1790s. The Rector of Stanhope also had tithe rights over Weardale’s lead, and this was tested in the Exchequer Court in 1667 (see depositions in the case between Basire and Wharton in the National Archives page). Notes from Rector Basire’s lawyer in advance of this case being tried are given below (DCD K/LP/6/6). There is also a curious stray copy of a 1667 memorandum by Basire giving further information on the lease of tithe ores (Add Ms.1713).
A small selection of letters found amongst the family papers of Earl Grey (GRE) is also available here, covering correspondence to and about Thomas Wentworth Beaumont in the wake of TWB’s accusations against Grey in 1823, and also two short letters from the Polish exile Count Zamoiski, whose cause of Polish independence was taken up by Beaumont in the 1830s. There are further letters on Beaumont/Grey accusations, and on Northumberland politics in the selection transcribed from the Lambton papers (JGL A40/8-11).