Thomas Wright, (1711–1786) a famous 18th-century astronomer, architect and mathematician was born and died here. Wright was educated in King James I Grammar School in Bishop Auckland before being apprenticed to a clockmaker in the town. By 1734, after various adventures, Wright had progressed to making a huge working model of the universe (an orrery) for an aristocratic London patron. This set him on his remarkable career that included the first accurate description of the Milky Way.
Professor Harold Orton, (1898–1975) a noted 20th-century linguist and English dialectologist was also born here. Harold Horton was the son of a schoolmaster at Byers Green and attended King James I Grammar School in Bishop Auckland followed by Merton College, Oxford.
Sir Percy Cradock, GCMG, (1923–2010) a senior British civil servant, was born in Byers Green. He was educated at Alderman Wraith Grammar School, Spennymoor followed by St John's College, Cambridge where he read law. Having trained as a barrister Cradock joined the Diplomatic Service and during his career held a number of senior diplomatic posts including Ambassador to China. Later in his career he was labelled by the media as the 'UK's most senior spy' because he chaired the Joint Intelligence Committee (UK) under Margaret Thatcher's government. Cradock died in London on 22 January 2010, aged 86.
It is not known whether there was a village at Byers Green in the Anglo-Saxon period. The village name is quite late; it was first recorded in 1345 as Bires. It is probably the exact equivalent of the modern word 'byres'. The village name thus means '(the green by the) cowsheds'.
Byers Green remained a farming area throughout the medieval period and into the 16th and 17th century. Most people would have worked on the land.
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Byers Green was originally a township in the ancient parish of Auckland St. Andrew in County Durham. It became a separate civil parish in 1866. From 1894 it was part of Auckland Rural District until 1937 when it was abolished. Most of the parish was absorbed into Crook and Willington but some acreage went to Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor. Between 1974 and 2009 the area became part of the larger Wear Valley non-metropolitan district. Since 2009 County Durham has been a unitary authority.