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Clergymen Records (Including Scotland) (Occupations)

Nature of Source

Records of those that followed a career as a clergyman in the Scottish and English churches. Resources include biographies and personal histories as well as certificates of ordination. The church courts dealt with the ordination of clergy and their appointments to serve in a particular parish, although the right to appoint clergy was not the sole responsibility of the bishop.

The hierarchical ministry structure within the Anglican church consists of three levels, namely bishop, priest and deacon. The majority of priests began their career at the lowest level as a deacon who had limited clerical responsibilities The parish priest can variously be described a vicar, rector, incumbent or presbyter.

Historically, a rector headed a parish in receipt of both greater and lesser tithes and was thus self-supporting whilst a vicar headed a parish that only received the lesser tithes and relied on the financial support of the diocese. Perpetual curates formed a separate category of clergy who were nominated directly by the bishop and were wholly supported financially by the diocese. Perpetual curates were only appointed to parishes not served by a rector or vicar and were of a higher status to curate who acted as an assistant parish priest. Under the Pastoral Measure 1968, all perpetual curates became vicars in 1969. The term parson can refer to all incumbents and a chaplain was usually found in the military, at universities and overseas.

The main published directory of clergymen is Crockford's Clerical Directory which remains in print today. The directory includes clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, the Established Church of Ireland and up to 1982, certain colonial and other overseas Anglican churches. A typical entry will record birth and death details (not recorded in the earlier editions), academic qualifications, date of ordination and career details. The other important directory is the Clerical Guide and Ecclesiastical Directory published from 1817 which was replaced by the Clergy List from 1841 to 1917. Also check diocesan directories published locally which will contain details of the parish and its appointed officials. Some editions of the Clerical Guide are available to read online or download from Google Books or the Internet Archive whilst editions of the Clergy List are available online at The Gentleman's Magazine also carried reports of clergy deaths.

The majority of clergymen studied divinity at university, many at Oxford or Cambridge, before firstly becoming a deacon and then a priest. See University & College Records for more information. Notices of appointments, retirements, deaths and obituaries can be found in the two leading Anglican newspapers; the Church Times established in 1863 and the Church of England Newspaper established in 1828. The Church Times Archive, 1863-1892 and 2000-present is available online in partnership with UKPressOnline. The Church Times website holds information from 2004 onwards and can be found by using the on-site search facility.

Holders of public office which included clergymen were required to sign an oath of allegiance. For more information on these various oaths see:
Association Oath Rolls
Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy

Where Found

Lambeth Palace Library (Research of individual clergymen. See the guide Biographical Sources for Anglican Clergy)
Diocesan Record Offices (Ordination papers. The Church of England yearbook gives details of the DRO for each diocese)
County Record Offices (ARCHON Directory: Find the details of a UK archive from a searchable list of over 2,500 archives The catalogue can be found on the TNA Discovery home page)
Society of Genealogists (The religious section of the library contains runs of the Clergy List and Crockford's Clerical Directory as well as works on nonconformist ministers. The Fawcett Index is a mixture of clergy and north country families extracted from a variety of sources)

Period Covered

1500 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Name of clergyman, address, qualifications, places of education, date of ordination, details of previous posts held.

Further References

Bertie, David. Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689-2000: T & T Clark, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Crockford's Clerical Directory: various publishers, 1858-onwards (Some editions available to read online or download from Google Books)  
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: The Succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation: T. & T. Clark Publishers (A few volumes are available from the Internet Archive)  
Hart, Arthur Tindal. Clergy and Society, 1600-1800: Church Historical Society, 1968  Buy Now on Amazon
Owen, Dorothy Mary. The Records of the Established Church in England: British Records Association, 1970  Buy Now on Amazon
Small, Rev. Robert. History of the Congregations of the United Presbyterian Church, from 1733 to 1900: David M. Small, 1904 (Listing of ministers of the United Presbyterian and other secession Churches available online at Internet Archive)  Buy Now on Amazon
Towey, Peter. My Ancestor was an Anglican Clergyman: Society of Genealogists, 2006  Buy Now on Amazon

Websites (Sources for tracing clergy at the Guildhall Library) (Sources for Scottish clergymen) (Christians Together: Presbyterianism - Scottish style: Brief History of the Presbyterian Christian Church in Scotland) (Scotland's churches after 1700)
(Church of Scotland and some other churches: Brief History) (TravelScotland: The Great Disruption of 1843) (Scottish History Online: The Scottish Roots of the Episcopal Church) (Methodist Archives and Research Centre: Printed lists of Methodist ministers and lay people) (Church of England Dioceses & Parishes with a Diocesan Map) (Durham University Library: Family and Local History Records: Guide to tracing information on Durham clergy) (Clergy of the Church of England Database: A-Z list of English Anglican dioceses with details of parishes and former incumbents) (Hierarchy of the Church of England) (Glossary of Anglican Clergy Titles) (Diocese of Manchester: Types of Ministry) (Structure of the Church in Wales) (Scottish Episcopal Church Organisation) (Church of Ireland Dioceses & Parishes) (Ancestry Message Boards: Occupations)

Online Databases (The Clergy of the Church of England Database, 1540-1835. The database contains the careers and biographies of all clergymen in the Church of England based on names extracted from primary sources such as dioceses registers, licensing books and liber cleri found in record offices. The site also contains reference material relating to the structure and work of the church including an A-Z list of English Anglican dioceses with details of parishes and incumbents. Clergy appointed to institutions such as houses of correction are also recorded. Exact dates of birth and death are not included. The contents of Church of England Clergy Database can also be searched at Connected Histories together with a number of other databases)
British History Online (Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, 1541-1857: The work is also known as the Higher Clergy of the Church of England is useful for identifying higher clergy such as bishops and archdeacons associated with the cathedrals of England and Wales. The Fasti Ecclesiae Hibernicae covers Irish cathedrals with some editions available at the Internet Archive. British History Online consists of a digital library of British historical sources developed by Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust. The site is free to use with a search facility linking users to full transcripts of various sources) (Crockford's Clerical Directory: Online biographies of over 26,000 Anglican clergy in the UK from 1968) (The Surman Index Online: Biographical card index of Congregational ministers held at Dr Williams's Library) (Sheffield Indexers: Sheffield Anglican Clergy, 1866-1934, Courtesy of Hugh Waterhouse) (Including Crockford's Clerical Directory, Clergy Lists and the Catholic Directory for the Clergy & Laity in Scotland) (FamilySearch Community Trees: Ministers of Scotland. This date base contains lineage-linked families extracted from Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae a compilation of ministers of the Church of Scotland from the Reformation) (York's Archbishops Registers Revealed. Free access to over 20,000 images of registers with a searchable index of names, subjects, places and organisations dealing with wills and probate dating from early as 1267 and the appointment of parish and diocesan clergy) (Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, biographies of Church of Scotland ministers covering 1560-1866 Gretna Green Marriage Register, 1794-1895) (Irish Catholic Church Directories, 1836-37. This directory lists all members of the clergy and parishes in Ireland for the years 1836 and 1837, as well as much of the Catholic hierarchy throughout the world)
(Crockford's Clerical Directories, 1868-1932)
(UKPressOnline. Church Times, 1863-current)

CD Roms

Archive CD Books (The Clergy List, 1852)
S & N Genealogy Supplies (Crockford's Clerical Directory 1929; the Clergy List 1852; Index Ecclesiasticus 1800-1840)
Anguline Research Archives (The Clerical Guide, 1822) (Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, succession of Scottish ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation)