A Diocese is an area with a cathedral under the jurisdiction of a bishop. As important ecclesiastical officials, bishops were at the centre of large administrative organisations and the records produced within this organisation reflect key aspects of diocesan work past and present.

The ancient Diocese of Carlisle covered all of Cumberland north of the river Derwent (except the parishes of Alston and Garrigill) and the northern half of Westmorland (until 1856). The present day diocese now covers all but two small portions of the modern county of Cumbria. Before 1541 the area of Cumbria south of the Diocese of Carlisle was part of the Archdiocese of York, and from 1541-1856 was in the Archdeaconry of Richmond within the Diocese of Chester.

Popular sources amongst Diocesan records include: Bishop's Transcripts (BTs); Marriage bonds; Tithe maps and awards; Terriers; Parish bundles (appointments of clergy and parish schoolmasters); Rural deaneries; Plans of Vicarages; Organisations and Institutions.

Locating diocesan records for Cumbria can be difficult because until the 19th century the area of the modern county was divided between the dioceses of Carlisle, Chester and Durham. Records are deposited in Carlisle, Kendal, Barrow, Whitehaven, Preston, Leeds, Durham and Chester; the links below provide quick links into the material held in Cumbria's Archive Centres.

Diocese of Carlisle (held at Carlisle)

Diocese of Carlisle (held at Kendal)

Diocese of Chester: Deanery of Copeland (held at Whitehaven)

In addition, microfilm copies of Westmorland BTs are available at Carlisle Archive Centre, while microfilm copies of Cumberland BTs are available at Kendal Library.  Barrow holds microfiche of BTs for Bootle, Corney, Whicham and Whitbeck (all formerly in South Cumberland).

You can search for marriage licences and probate records for Cumberland and Westmorland Deaneries which fell within the Archdeaconry of Richmond, Diocese of Chester, online in the Lancashire Archives Catalogue LANCAT.