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. 

Over 2.9 million words and 12,000 documents have been transcribed and made available so far by around 30 volunteers over the course of nine 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

I Mary Hunter of Hexham in the County of Northumberland Widow do make publish and declare this my last Will and Testament in Manner following, that is to say First I will and order that all my just Debts and Funeral Expences shall be paid and discharged by my Executrix hereafter named as soon as conveniently may be after my Decease And I give and bequeath all my goods Chattels and Personal Estate whatsoever and wheresoever and of what Nature Quality or Kind soever to my Niece Frances Scott Daughter of my much respected Brother John Scott, whom I hereby appoint sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament And I do hereby revoke all former and other Wills at any Time heretofore by me made either by Word or Writing In witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal the Thirty first Day of December – in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Eight Hundred and five.

Signed Sealed published and declared by the said Mary Hunter as and for her last Will and Testament in the Presence of us who at her Request and in her Presence and in the Presence of each other have hereunto set our Hands as Witnesses in the due Execution thereof

Mary Hunter

Jno. Bell

Jno. Bell Junr. 

Prerogative										Entd.

Will of Mary Hunter late of Hexham Co. Northumberland

Widow deceased			9th July 1820 under £100

EDWARD, by Divine Providence, Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England, and Metropolitan, To our well-beloved in Christ, The Right Reverend Father in God William by Divine Permission Lord Bishop of London his Vicar General his Surrogate, or any other competent Judge, Greeting: Whereas 

Mary Hunter late of Hexham in the County of Northumberland Widow  having whilst living, and at the Time of her Death, Goods, Chattels, or Credits, in divers Dioceses or Jurisdictions, did make her Will hereunto annexed and did therein name  Frances Scott Spinster her Niece the sole Executrix who now resides within your Jurisdiction, and, by reason thereof, cannot without great Expence come to our Prerogative Court of York, for the Purposes herein after-mentioned.  We therefore in Aid of Law (Justice so requiring do request you jointly or severally to swear the said Executrix to the truth of the annexed Affidavit as well of the Truth of the said Will as of the faithful Performance thereof, and to make a true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the Goods, Chattels, and Credits of the said Deceased, and to render a true and just Account thereof, and to exhibit the same into the Registry of our said Prerogative Court and further to do in the Premises as shall be needful; requesting that (such Oath being administered) you duly transmit to the Commissary of our said Court, or his Surrogate, the said Will and the whole Proceedings thereon, subscribed with the proper Hand or Hands of one or more of you, immediately after the Execution thereof, together with these Presents, so that Justice may be administered in the Premises; for which you shall receive the like Favour from us, if at any Time required.  Given at York, the first day of July in the Year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and twenty five.

Extracted by								

Mills & Son Proctors   

Joseph Buckle Deputy Register

The Form of the Oath to the Executrix laying her Hand on the Bible or New Testament.

YOUR Oath is, that the Writing hereunto annexed, contains the true last Will and Testament of the above-mentioned Mary Hunter deceased as far as you know or believe, and that you will truly perform the same, by paying first her Debts, and then the Legacies therein contained, as far as her Goods, Chattels, and Credits, will thereto extend and the Law charge you; and that you will make a true and perfect Inventory of all the said Goods, Chattels, and Credits, and exhibit the same into the Registry of the Prerogative Court of York, at the Time assigned you by the said Court, and render a just Account thereof when lawfully required; that the Whole of the Goods, Chattels, and Credits, of the said Deceased, (within the Province of York,) do not amount to the Sum of one hundred Pounds, and that you believe the Contents of the Affidavit hereto annexed, to which you have subscribed your Name, were and are true.

								So help you GOD.

To the Most Reverend Father in God Edward by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of York Primate of England and Metropolitan his Vicar General his Surrogate or any other competent Judge in this behalf.

We John Trenchard Pickard Doctor of Laws lawful Surrogate of the Worshipful Sir Christopher Robinson Knight Doctor of Laws Vicar General and Official Principal of the Consistorial and Episcopal Court of London lawfully constituted with all due reverence do make known and certify that on Wednesday the sixth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty five in our Chambers in Doctors Commons situate within the Parish of Saint Benedict near Pauls Wharf London Appeared  personally before me and in the presence of Henry Virtue Tebbs Notary Public Frances Scott Spinster the Niece and Executrix named in the last Will and Testament of Mary Hunter late of Hexham in the County of Northumberland Widow deceased and presented unto us your Letters Requisitorial together with the said Will hereunto annexed.  And We at the petition of the said Frances Scott Spinster did in aid of the Law accept and take upon us the Execution of the said Letters Requisitorial and did decree to proceed according to the Tenor and Effect of the same and did then by virtue thereof duly administer to her the Oath contained at the foot of your said Letters Requisitorial.  And thus we have, as far as in us lies, executed your said Requisition, which, together with the said Will and all the Proceedings had before us in this behalf, We do herewith transmit to you not doubting the like return from you whenever an Occasion shall require.  And in Testimony of what is above written We have hereunto set our hand and caused the Official Seal which we use in this behalf to be hereunto affixed this sixth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty five.

Decd 22nd March 1825				John Trenchard Pickard Surrogate

And I the said Henry Virtue Tebbs Notary Public appointed by Royal Authority having been present at all and singular the Premises above written to in Testimony of the same likewise herewith set my Name the said sixth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty five.

Pas’d 9th July 1825 undr. £100			H. V. Tebbs	Noty. Publ.
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