Frequently Asked Questions
Compiled by the late Brian Pears
NORTHUMBRIA is a mailing list dedicated to the discussion of Genealogy and Local History in the counties of Northumberland and County Durham, England.
"Northumbria" was the name of an ancient Saxon kingdom which covered roughly the same area as the counties of Northumberland and County Durham or, more correctly, these two counties as they were before the local government re-organisation of 1974. Northumbria hasn't existed as an administrative entity for many centuries but the name is used by many organisations which serve the two counties, for example, the Northumbria Tourist Board and Northumbrian Water.
|Maps by Colin Hinson and Brian Pears
Northumberland and County Durham are the two most northerly counties on the eastern side of England; Northumberland lying roughly between the River Tyne and the Scottish border, and County Durham between the rivers Tyne and Tees.
County Durham is the only county in Great Britain (i.e. England, Scotland and Wales) which has the word "County" in it's name - this is to avoid confusion between the county and the city of the same name. The terms "County Durham" (or "Co Durham") should be used if you mean the county, and "Durham" (or, better still, "Durham City") if you mean the city. The word "County" (or "Co") should never be used as part of the name of Northumberland.
The local government changes of 1974 resulted in the formation of two new counties within our area. These were "Tyne and Wear", which took in the urban areas of Northumberland and County Durham on both banks of the rivers Tyne and Wear, and Cleveland, which took in parts of County Durham and Yorkshire around the river Tees. Both counties have subsequently been abolished (Tyne & Wear in 1986 and Cleveland in 1996) and the Districts within them now have "county" status. The names of these Districts are "Newcastle-upon-Tyne", "North Tyneside", "Gateshead", "South Tyneside" and "Sunderland" (from the former county of Tyne and Wear), and "Hartlepool", "Stockton-on-Tees", "Middlesbrough"* and "Redcar and Cleveland"* (from the former county of Cleveland). In addition to these, in 1997 the Darlington District too was given county status. (* Not in the Northumbria Mailing List area.)
These independent Districts had only a single-tier of local government, in contrast to the rest of the "Northumbria" area which had two - a county council and a district council. Northumberland - the new smaller Northumberland which had lost its main urban areas to Tyne and Wear in 1974 - comprised the six districts of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Alnwick, Castle Morpeth, Wansbeck, Blyth Valley and Tynedale, each of which had a District Council providing some services, with Northumberland County Council providing the rest. The districts in County Durham - the new, smaller Co Durham - were Chester-le-Street, Derwentside, Durham, Easington, Sedgefield, Wear Valley and Teesdale, and, of course, the county council was Durham County Council. In 2009 the six District Councils in Northumberland and the seven in County Durham were abolished and the two County Councils became Unitary Districts responsible for all services.
To subscribe (join the list) or unsubscribe (leave the list) you send an e-mail to:
NORTHUMBRIA-L-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com (for mail mode)
NORTHUMBRIA-D-request[at]rootsweb[dot]com (for digest mode)
which contains in the subject and body of the message, the single word:
or the single word
There should be no other text in the message, not even your "sig", and it must be in plain-text only, not HTML.
Please note that (1) "unsubscribe" messages must be sent from the same e-mail address which you used to subscribe to the list, and (2) you cannot post messages to the list using these e-mail addresses.
If you subscribe to the list in Mail Mode, all messages posted to the list are resent to you separately.
If you subscribe in Digest Mode, you will periodically receive a large e-mail - the "digest" - containing a compilation of several messages. At present you will receive the digest either every twelve hours or when the digest size exceeds 32 kilobytes, whichever occurs first.
Messages are posted to the list by sending an e-mail to:
Such messages will be seen by all NORTHUMBRIA Mail Mode and Digest Mode subscribers.
Your message should be as brief as possible but should include important details - e.g. dates and places, as well as names.
Subject lines too should be brief but should be carefully chosen to indicate the nature and topic of the posting. If you are posting your surname interests, it is useful to put the surnames at the beginning of the subject line, preferably in upper case (capitalised).
Please note that (1) you can only post messages to the list from the e-mail address you used to subscribe to the list, and (2) you must not send subscribe or unsubscribe messages to the above address.
The usual net etiquette ("netiquette") rules for mailing lists and news groups apply.
- Messages must not contain offensive language and must not be abusive in content or tone.
- Messages must be "on topic", that is, they must relate to genealogy or local history in Northumberland or County Durham. Everything else - eg messages about other areas or subjects, test messages, chain letters, political announcements, current or future events, look-up offers, items for sale, personal messages, warnings about scams, viruses, trojans or hacking - is prohibited.
- Attached files are not allowed.
- Do not promote any commercial organisation in any way. (You may, however, mention a commercial product or service or refer to a commercial website if it might help answer a specific list query, but no prices or ordering information should be given, and nobody should ever mention any product, service or website in which they themselves have a financial interest.)
- Do not post anything relating to living people. You must not use the NORTHUMBRIA list to help identify, locate or contact living people.
- We encourage subscribers to respond to queries on the list rather than by private e-mail. This ensures that responses are archived and are available to aid researchers now and in the future. However, subscribers are free to decide whether to respond publicly or privately - but please, under no circumstances, should anyone ask for off-list responses. Leave it up to the responder to decide how he or she wants to respond.
- Do not impose any other rules or conditions, expressed or implied elsewhere, upon this list. Rules of other forums may not necessarily apply here. Do not try to regulate this list. If you do not like the way someone formats their queries or responses, or the content of their subject titles, take it up OFF-LIST with the list admin. The list is for Genealogy and History only.
- Messages should be in plain-text only. Some e-mail programs cannot handle messages in HTML format or multi-part messages containing alternate plain-text/HTML formats.
- Do not send messages entirely in upper case (capital letters). By convention upper-case is only used to emphasise individual words, and it should be used sparingly.
- When responding to a message do not quote the whole of the original message. Edit your quote to include the minimum needed to put your response in context and also ensure that readers can readily distinguish between quoted text and your response.
In addition to the above, our list owner has asked us not to send queries to individual list members. This was to address a continuing problem whereby certain list members, who regularly contribute their time and energy to answering member's queries, were receiving a large volume of personal e-mail from list members containing new queries or requests for additional information. Such queries or requests should always be sent to the mailing list and you should not expect a reply if you send them to an individual. Obviously, this does not apply in cases where list-members discover a common research interest and wish to continue their discussions by means of private e-mail messages.
Our listowner is Fiona Mitford who can be contacted at:
Please contact Fiona if you have problems relating to the NORTHUMBRIA mailing list.
Many areas now have mailing lists and discussion groups dedicated to genealogy and local history.
For details of mailing lists serving other parts of the British Isles see:
and for mailing lists serving other parts of the world see:
The Northumberland and Durham Family History Society covers the same area as the NORTHUMBRIA Mailing List. For further information see:
For those with a particular interest in the southern part of County Durham might also find the Cleveland, North Yorkshire and South Durham Family History Society of value. For details see:
For details of family history societies serving other parts of the British Isles see:
The definitive Internet resource for genealogy in the British Isles is GENUKI - the United Kingdon and Ireland Genealogy Information Service. The home page of this service is at http://www.genuki.org.uk and information of value to Northumberland and County Durham researchers can be found on this page and on the British Isles (http://www.genuki.org.uk/big) and England (http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng) pages. However, of particular value to our list members are the County Durham pages at:
and the Northumberland pages at:
These pages contain information relating to each county as a whole and subsidiary pages give information relating to individual parishes within the counties. There are also links to many other genealogy resources relating to the two counties.
The following resources will also be of interest (links to these can also be found on the GENUKI pages mentioned above).
Yes, there are two ways to access messages that have been posted to the list:
- Threaded Archives:
- Searchable Archives: