Opening up North Yorkshire’s past for a worldwide audience

25 February 2013

North Yorkshire County Council is one of the founding members of the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium – a partnership of authorities which has pledged to make its parish records available online. Once the project is under way, millions of family and parish records from across Yorkshire will be viewable by people researching their family or parish histories.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Library and Information Services said:

This is a vast resource and it will be of inestimable value to people all over the world who want to find out about their North Yorkshire roots.

We are proud and excited to be supporting this initiative through our County Records Office, whose task will now be to convert the microfilm of the parish registers into digital copies, ready for uploading.

It’s thought the digitisation process could take 18 months to two years, after which the entire record will be available at a Yorkshire section of




Parish registers were established in the reign of Henry VIII, and the earliest date from the first half of the sixteenth century. They were compiled by the vicars of every parish in the country. Primarily recording details of baptisms, marriages and deaths, they also frequently contain other information of great interest to social historians.

Entries in the parish records of North Yorkshire include:

  • Essabell, daughter Bartholomew Scaife of Crosby Garret, Westmorland … by traveling over the moores by the tempestiousnes of the wethere was perished and dyed (Burial, Muker, 1641)
  • Eleanor Hill of Sessay, unmarried aged 20 years. Died of a profligate life (Burial, Sessay, 1804)
  • Ellen; no other name known – born of some foolish girl of Baldersby (Christening, Topcliffe, 1579)
  • John, son of John Rawling of Barton le Street; born under the Northfield hedge at Asenby (Christening, Topcliffe, 1612)
  • John Carr, shot by a king’s cutter on board a smuggler (Burial, Hinderwell, 1769)
  • Thos Cassildine, a soldier of the 1st Regiment of Dragoon Guards cruelly murdered at Runswick in attempting to seize some smuggled goods (Burial, Hinderwell, 1776)
  • Richard Sturdy, John Cartman and Richard Sturdy; all poisoned by neglect of a servant girl in making a pudding (Burials, Kirkby Wiske, 1791)
  • Thos, son of Thos Lee. Died with drinking gin, aged 13 (Burial, Thirsk, 1789)
  • Thos Hill (son of Edward Hill who was infected by the dogma of those commonly called Quakers) (Christening, Kilburn, 1702)

The records reveal the wide and often suprising occupations of those who have lived and worked in North Yorkshire over the centuries. They include

  • Thos Tayolor of Rome, murderer (Burial, Giggleswick, 1661)
  • Amram Foljamb, butter searcher (Burial, Whitby, 1739)
  • Thos, son of Thos and Catharine Brown of Staithes, umbrella repairer (Christening, Hinderwell, 1830)
  • Wm Allman, shoemaker and teacher of psalmody (Burial, Thirsk, 1782)
  • Robt Newby, a famous mathematician (Burial, Thirsk, 1875)
  • John Martin from Lancaster, a travelling person who mended clocks (Burial, Thirsk, 1771)

As well as proper names, the parish records also frequently give nicknames:

  • Kateren Ditchborn, called Mother Mydnyght (Burial, Helmsley, 1578)
  • An illegit child of bouncing Eliz (Burial, Thirsk, 1587)
  • Eliz Johnson, widow, commonly called Bessy Malt (Burial, Thirsk, 1793)

And in at least one instance, the Vicar felt it his duty to record the severe weather conditions suffered by his parishioners. The incumbent of Thornton in Lonsdale recorded that March 16th, 1719, is memorable for a prodigious quantity of snow falling, which being driven by a violent wind drifted the ways and roads to that degree they were not to be travelled for many days; nay the storm went so high that door neighbours (if they had occasion) could not visit one another without difficulty, nay danger, from six in the morning till eleven; at which time, the wind abating, with boots on their legs and spades in their hands, they made a communication from one house to another.

Many more resources for people interested in family and local history will be on display at the Family History Day, organised by the County Record Office, at Harrogate Pavilions on Saturday 16 March. Tickets are just £2 each, payable at the door. The event will feature leading experts in the fields of family and house history research, and some 30 stalls and trade stands run by a wide range of archaeology and history organisations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Go toTop