Focus on Richmond records – Part 1

By Linda Turnbull, Archivist


May is Local History Month and the North Yorkshire County Record Office had been invited to do a pop-up archive at a number of libraries in North Yorkshire. 

Whilst we cannot fulfil these planned events, due to the coronavirus lockdown and temporary closure of the libraries (and the Record Office), we can take the opportunity to provide a digital look at some of the records we hold that relate to these places.

We plan to do this by sharing blog posts, which will focus on records that we hold and look after: we hope to capture the attention of some of our regular Record Office users but also reach out to a new audience.

A search of our online catalogue provides more than 4,600 hits for the name Richmond. Although many of these are references to places that lie in the larger area around Richmond, covered by the present day Richmondshire District Council and parts of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, many apply to the town itself which was established in the shadow of the impressive castle fortress built following the coming to the throne of William the Conqueror.

Search results for 'Richmond' on our online catalogue
Search results for ‘Richmond’ on our online catalogue

Richmond was founded in 1071 and became the centrepiece of the very substantial grant of land and privileges given to Count Alan of Brittany in recognition of his services to King William and which later became known as The Honour of Richmond.

The quantity of records reflects the significance of the town and all kinds of administrative, ecclesiastical, legal, financial and judicial affairs which were conducted within its walls.

The Records

The earliest official records cover the administration of ecclesiastical and civilian affairs, and relate to the town itself, and the surrounding area that went with it. This consisted of open fields, upland pasture, woods and watercourses, all of which were regulated according to those who had rights and responsibilities. This information survives in the form of parish records created by the church; series of corporation, borough (urban) and rural district council records; and, from 1974, the records of Richmondshire District Council.                                  

At the North Yorkshire County Record Office, we hold the very extensive archival collection of the Dundas family, for which our reference is ZNK. The bulk of the collection has been catalogued in some detail. The family’s connections with the Richmond area began in the 18th century, when Sir Lawrence Dundas purchased the Aske and Richmond estates in 1763. Much of the collection consists of title deeds and leases: the family purchased estates not just at Aske and Richmond but also in the eastern part of the North Riding, in the Loftus and Marske area usually known as Cleveland. As well as landed estates, the family had many business interests, and individual members had military, naval and political careers.

Richmond records can also be found in larger, county wide collections of the former North Riding of Yorkshire, such as the North Riding Quarter Sessions and the North Riding Register of Deeds.  

Next time in Focus on Richmond – Part 2 we will be looking at Parish records

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