This section provides sources of information that may be useful for anyone wishing to do research relating to the history of this area. We list:
Why not browse through the publications the Society has to offer in its Book Shop.
For queries relating purely to family history, you may have better luck by contacting the local branch of the Northumberland & Durham Family History Society through the Secretary, see below.
If you have a question you’d like to ask, don’t forget to try our Notes & Queries forum, where your question might elicit an answer from our members.
The websites are ordered alphabetically by title, and will open in a new window in your browser.
Cause Papers in the Archbishopric of York
A searchable catalogue of more than 14,000 cause papers relating to cases heard between 1300 and 1858 in the Church Courts of the diocese of York. The original records are held in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York, and are the most extensive records of their type in the United Kingdom. They offer an extremely valuable resource for family and local historians and scholars interested in social, ecclesiastical, economic and legal history.
This free online collection of transcripts of upwards of 9,000 documents can be searched for a great deal of information on Hexham and its people, as well as on many other topics mainly linked to the region’s lead industry between 1650-1850.
England’s Immigrants 1330-1550, is a fully-searchable database containing over 64,000 names of people known to have migrated to England during the period of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation.
Including names not only from the privileged classes but also from the lower end of the socio-economic scale, the information within this database has been drawn from a variety of published and unpublished records – taxation assessments, letters of denization and protection, and a variety of other licences and grants – and offers a valuable resource for anyone interested in the origins, destinations, occupations and identities of the people who chose to make England their home during this turbulent period.
UK and Ireland geneology, GENUKI provides a virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, maintained by a charitable trust and a group of volunteers. The website link goes to the Northumberland pages.
Hexham Street Map
An up-to-date map of street names and house names/numbers is provided by this site. Type the street name and town name into the search box to get a detailed view.
Historical Trade Directories Online
A searchable collection of trades directories from 1783 to 1910, compiled by the University of Leicester. It should be noted that the earliest directory for Northumberland included is for 1828.
There are a number of images associated with Hexham on the Historic England website.
Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. If you search for Hexham texts, nearly 200 documents will be found. For example, did you know that there was an anti-tobacco society formed in Hexham in 1841?
Listed Buildings in Hexham
This website provides a list of all of the listed buildings in Hexham (over 200).
National Library of Scotland Maps Collection
Ironically, by far and away the best collection of online mapping for England. Provides the ability to compare and contrast historical maps with current mapping.
North East Inheritance Database
Created and maintained by Durham University Library, this is an online database of pre-1858 probate records (wills and related documents) from Northumberland and County Durham. Catalogue records are linked to online images of most of the documents, although you do need a (free) Family Search account to read them online once found. There is a name search facility, and alphabetical name lists are also available for download.
A site created by the County Archives, collating historical material relating to the major towns and villages of the county.
Northumberland Name Books
A set of dog-eared and characterful handwritten books record some fifteen thousand place-names from Abberwick to Youly Sike, with brief descriptions of the places, giving a fascinating overview of Northumberland (including most of Tyneside) around 1860, a time of great change. They are now accessible on the Northumberland Name Books website (namebooks.org.uk), which goes live on 1st September 2021. The 104 Ordnance Survey Name Books for Northumberland (most housed in The National Archives, Kew) record the immense fieldwork project that lies behind the First Edition Six Inch-scale maps of the county, and all subsequent maps. The surveyors visited every corner of the county, consulting locals, describing the landscape and archaeological sites and recording gentlemen’s residences, colliers’ cottages, churches, chapels and now long-gone farms, ferries, wells, spas, pubs, mines and ‘manufactories’.
Thanks to the dedicated work of over thirty volunteers led by retired professor Diana Whaley, a full set of transcriptions and images, together with introductory sections, can now be freely searched and browsed on the website. For anyone interested in town and country, past and present, in names, or in the story behind our mapping, this is a treasure trove well worth exploring.
Pele Towers and Bastles
From the website: “This site aspires to be a comprehensive listing of the medieval castles, castle sites, fortified houses, urban and coastal defences and other fortifications of England, Wales, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man built or in use from 1000 to 1600.”
War Memorials in the North East
The North East War Memorials Project aims to record all of the war memorials between the River Tweed and the River Tees.
A really useful site (once you ignore the adverts) collating documents and images relating to Hexham’s workhouse. Includes a listing of residents and staff from the 1881 census. The site also covers other local workhouses.
Organisations are listed in alphabetical order, and any websites will open in a new window in your browser.
Alston Moor Historical Society
Find out more about the history of Alston and its surrounding area.
Britain on Film is one of the largest and most complex archival digitisation projects ever undertaken by the BFI. It has been one of the most successful archive campaigns, with over 50 million online views to date, helping to unlock film heritage for everyone in the UK. Bringing together a partnership between the BFI National Archive and the UK’s Regional and National Film Archives and rights holder collections, the Britain on Film project has included a sophisticated programme of data capture, cataloguing, copying to archival standards, meticulous preservation of original materials, thorough searching of archives across the country, new state-of- the-art equipment and digital storage facilities to digitise and transfer over 10,000 films to the BFI’s online video platform, BFI Player, made accessible for free to everyone in the UK.
You can access these films by following the website link to the right. You can also contribute if you have any unique knowledge of local locations.
An important reference collection, particularly strong on the history of the Border Reiver families and local folk music, maintained by Museums Northumberland. Visits by appointment only. There is currently no on-line catalogue of the library.
Hexham NE46 1XD
Telephone: 01670 624455
British Association for Local History
The charity responsible for the promotion of local history research.
Macclesfield SK11 6DY
Telephone: 01625 664524
British Archaeological SItes
The site contains various helpful aspects for anyone doing research on archaeological sites, old maps, place names etc. Of particular interest are the old maps, and the button to the right links to a free old map of Hexham (Detailed Old Victorian Ordnance Survey 6 inch to 1 mile 1888 – 1913) which can be overlayed with a modern map of the same area.
Brough Local Studies Collection, Hexham Library
Housed in the Hexham local public library, the Brough Collection is the second largest collection of local history material in the County, including complete back runs of local papers and census returns. Members of the County Library Service also have access to the British Newspaper Archive, Ancestry and Find My Past. The county library catalogue can be consulted online.
Hexham NE46 3LS
Telephone: 01670 620450
Durham County Archives
Although primarily concerned with County Durham, this collection contains much of relevance to Northumberland, particularly ecclesiastical and for those researching the southern stretches of the county. The catalogue is online.
Durham County Record Office
Durham DH1 5UL
Telephone: 03000 267 619
Gateshead Local Studies Library
A major collection of material relating to north east England, from Tyneside to the Wear. The catalogue is online.
Prince Consort Road
Gateshead NE8 4LN
Telephone: 0191 433 8430
Literary & Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne
The Lit & Phil’s extensive library includes many journals dating back to the 18th century and a collection of books belonging to the North East branch of the Wesley Historical Society. Their catalogue can be searched online.
23 Westgate Road
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SE
Telephone: 0191 232 0192
The Land Of Oak and Iron
The Land of Oak & Iron covers the area surrounding the Derwent Valley including Consett, Rowlands Gill, Prudhoe and Whickham. The area once hosted a world-leading iron and steel industry in various forms from the 1690s up until the 1980s.
Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre
Spa Well Road
Blaydon upon Tyne
The National Archives
The repository for archives relating to the county that were produced by or for central government. TNA operates the “Discovery” searchable online catalogue that not only lists its own holdings but those of all the regional public archives. While the Northumberland Archives online catalogue is out of action, this is the best online source of information on its holdings.
The National Archives
Surrey TW9 4RU
Telephone: 0208 876 3444
Newcastle City Library
A major collection of material relating to North East England, including Northumberland as Newcastle was once part of the county.
Charles Avison Building
33 New Bridge Street West
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AX
Telephone: 0191 277 4100
Northumberland & Durham Family History Society (Tynedale branch)
The N&DFHS maintains a vast resource on all aspects of local family history in its library at Percy House in Newcastle. The society has recently (2019) completed several Probate Indexes of all the people named in the wills from 1700 to 1858 (starts on Page 2 of Wills on the Shop page of the web site).
7th Floor, Percy House
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4PW
Telephone: 0191 2612159
Northumberland Museums & Archives
The major collection of primary source material for the county; also holds the Diocesan archives. Museums Northumberland (formerly the County Archives and Woodhorn) hold a vast collection of material relating to Hexham and West Northumberland. They also offer a search facility, although there is a charge for this. Their searchable on-line catalogue describes over 400,000 records, some with images attached; the National Archives Discovery website (see above) has some additional material in its Northumberland Archives listing, but is not entirely up-to-date.
Woodhorn Colliery Museum
QEII Country Park
Ashington NE63 9YF
Telephone: 01670 624455
Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
The Society publishes the annual journal Archaeologia Aeliana and maintains the Black Gate Museum.
Great North Museum: Hancock,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PT
Telephone: 0191 208 3555
Tyne & Wear Archives
Although primarily concerned with the Tyne and Wear conurbations, these archives also hold a considerable amount of primary source material relating to Northumberland. Their online catalogue can be searched.
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA
Telephone: 0191 277 2248
Dilston Maternity Hospital
Records associated with Dilston are held by a medical legal team currently based at Hexham Hospital.
Telephone: 0344 8118111 extension 31452
The Report of the NCC County Medical Officer of Health for the year 1939 details the arrangement for the evacuation of expectant mothers from Tyneside to Dilston Maternity Hospital and other local units.
An extensive list of references to other published material on Hexham and its history, curated by Mark Benjamin.