All History Items

Some items have their own page on the Hamsterley website. Just click on the links below to link to that page.

If you have any information or photographs, please contact us and we will publish them.

Other pages

There are historical images of the village on the History-Places page and its people on the History-People page.

There are also histories of the various organisations in the village on their individual pages, for example, see the pages for the Baptist Church, St. James’ Church, the School and Hamsterley Hoppings, and there is also now a Family History page. There are some useful history links on the History Links page.


Our thanks go to Mavis Brown-Humes for the loan of a large number of historical records, and to Jonathan Peacock for his ‘A History of Hamsterley’ and several other historical documents. Also thanks to Al Kirtley, Frank Davey from Canada, Trish Haye, Delycia Quinn, Al Kirtley, Ann Richards, Kevin Richardson, Frank Sanderson, David Walton and Betty Jackson for various documents and photographs, and to Beamish Museum for some of the photographs. Also, our thanks to all those – too numerous to list here – who have contributed to the Family History pages.

Many of the documents are not in electronic format – indeed, some are handwritten and difficult to read. We will not be able to verify their accuracy, so there may be errors and ‘untruths’ among the true facts. We will publish the records verbatim, spelling and grammar errors included.

A History of Hamsterley

Hamsterley itself is an ancient settlement whose name (according to the Oxford Dictionary of Place Names) in Old English was derived from the leah, a grove, or open place in woodland, of the ham(e)stra, corn-weevils . . .

Read lots more on the A History of Hamsterley page.

Assize Roll 223, 27 Henry III (1242)

Roger Hansard servant of Winde Gate wounded Ralph Underside of Hamsterley and he subsequently died. iudicum, exigatur per sectum curie (outlawed) . . .

Read more on the Assize Roll 223, 27 Henry III (1242) page.

Ralph Hamsterley

Ralph Pan Head 2W 295x300 All History ItemsMeet an ilustrious Hamsterley man − Ralph Hamsterley. Born in the village and buried in Merton College Chapel, Oxford.

His brass, which is on the floor of the chancel, before the altar, in Oddington Church, is the only existing example of this in Britain . . .

Read more on Ralph’s page.

Protestation Return – 1641

In 1641 all adult males were required to make a Protestation under oath in support of King and Parliament, defending the Protestant religion against all Popery. Members of the House and Peers took it in May, followed by a few parishes in London, and national implementation followed a letter from The Speaker of the House of Commons to county sheriffs in January 1641/2.

Read more about the Hamsterley and South Bedburn Protestation Return on the  Protestation Return – 1641 page.

Extract from diary kept by Thomas Blackett of Hamsterley b1722. referring to the suspension of a vicar of the place

I was brought up in the Established religion but our Parson was a man guilty of drunkenness and swearing and it was proved he was drunk when he gave the Sacrament, as was alleged against him by the officers of the parish in the Bishops Court . . .

Read more on the Suspension of a Vicar page.

The Vestry

In the 18th century, there was no Parish Council; the unit of government was the Vestry, sometimes called the Twelve, consisting of twelve men, who dealt with the matters now dealt with by the County Council or by some higher authority, such as roads and bridges. The Churchwardens still administered the Poor Law, rates were levied locally for these purposes and we have one or two precious scraps of information bound up with the Parish Registers . . .

Read more on the Vestry page.

The Blacketts of North East England – Hoppyland and Shull

Beamish 81167F Hoppylands 1W 300x188 All History ItemsAny visitor to St. James’s Church in Hamsterley, cannot fail to notice an imposing raised tomb in the churchyard. This is the tomb of “William Blackett Esquire of Shull” (1724-1799) and seven members of his family, including William Stephenson Blackett, who died in Durham gaol in 1840 . . .

Read more on the Blacketts page.

The Blenkinsopp Scandal

In the middle of the 19th century Hamsterley was witness to one of the County’s most vivid scandals – a story of adultery and alleged cruelty involving a prominent Landowner and Justice of the Peace, George Thomas Leaton Blenkinsopp of Hoppyland Park in the parish of Hamsterley . . .

Read more on the Blenkinsopp Scandal page.

The accidental death of Jane Sanderson

Frank Sanderson (1828-1915) was close to his older sister, Jane, born in 1826, and they attended the village school in Hamsterley where a tragedy was to happen that would haunt Frank for the rest of his life . . .

Read more on The accidental death of Jane Sanderson page.

Occupations in Hamsterley Township in 1851

Blacksmith, butcher, charcoal burner, cordwainer, edgetool maker, miller, molecatcher, shoemaker and straw hat maker. These are just a few of the occcupations registered for Hamsterley in the 1851 census . . .

Find lots more on the Occupations in Hamsterley Township in 1851 page.

Hamsterley Hoppings 1854

An annual feast or hopping is celebrated at Hamsterley, and is numerously attended by the country people around, presenting a scene of considerable animation . . .

Read more on the Hoppings page.

Piper’s Hole

There are two corn-mills in the township: the one called Beckside Mill is situated south of the village, on the Lynburn, which, though fordable at most times, becomes very much swollen in heavy rains, and is crossed by a foot bridge at the high road (This is the bridge near Ravensford Farm) . . .

Read more on the Piper’s Hole page.

The Hamsterley Tragedy

One of the most interesting trials for many years past as affecting the Bishop Auckland district was that heard in the Criminal Court as Durham assizes this week. The case was well-known as the Hamsterley case and it was a trial which witnessed many stages of development. The central figure was the prisoner, Matthew James Dodds, a lame man who followed the occupation of a jointer in the quaint old village of Hamsterley . . .

Read more on the Hamsterley Tragedy page.

Beating the Bounds

Bounds 1W 300x181 All History ItemsThe ancient custom of beating the bounds of the unenclosed common land of the parishes of Hamsterley and South Bedburn was revived on Saturday, 11th June 1977 as part of the celebrations of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The last time the custom was observed was on 1st June 1960 . . .

Read more on the Beating the Bounds page.

The War Memorial

Warmem W 218x300 All History ItemsRead about the War Memorial on the War Memorial page.


Hamsterley Hoppings 4 (2010) & 5 (2011)

Read about these events on the Hoppings page.


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