The Collegiate Church of St Peter’s, Westminster, or Westminster Abbey, is a Royal Peculiar. This means that it is neither part of a diocese nor under episcopal authority; rather it is under the direct jurisdiction of the sovereign. The original abbey, consecrated during the reign of Edward the Confessor in 1065, provided a new monastery for a community of Benedictine monks. It was situated on a marshy area of land known as Thorn Island, a few miles west of London (hence, West Minster: minster west of St Paul’s).
The abbot and monks surrendered their abbey to the Crown in 1540, as part of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. The statute 31 Hen. VIII c. 9 on the 17 December 1540 reconstituted the former abbey as the cathedral of the new diocese of Westminster, under Bishop Thomas Thirlby. The old abbot, William Benson, along with the prior and some monks stayed on as the new dean and chapter. The church continued in this role until the abolition of the diocese in 1550, before the accession of Mary I saw the brief reinstatement of the Catholic monastery. A charter of Elizabeth I on 21 May 1560 founded the present collegiate church, alongside the school. It was also at this point that the monarch was instituted as Visitor.
During the Interregnum, the College came under the control of governors appointed by Parliament; most of the royalist prebendaries had fled the Abbey over the course of the war, being replaced by Puritan preachers and lecturers. At the Restoration in 1660, the Elizabethan constitution was reinstated, with the chapter consisting of a Dean and twelve Prebendaries (only four of whom had survived their exile and returned to their stalls). This arrangement survived until the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of 1835 and 1836 recommended the reduction of prebendaries (thereafter called canons) to six, which was completed in 1859. A Westminster prebend was lucrative and highly sought-after, explaining the relatively low turnover within the chapter and the infrequency of resignations. Many members of the chapter went on to become deans and bishops (indeed, the reverse was often the case), and between 1666 and 1802 the deanery of Westminster was held in commendam by the poorly-rewarded bishops of Rochester, since the income of the bishopric was substantially lower than that of the dean (the dean’s income was on average £2,979 by 1834 whilst the bishop’s was £1,523).
The Elizabethan Charter also confirmed the foundation of six minor canonries (sometimes called petty canons), along with lay vicars and choristers. The musical foundation was led by the precentor (known as the chanter up until 1794), who was one of the minor canons, alongside the organist. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was common for ordained clerics to be appointed to the choir as lay vicars whilst also being committed to serve as a minor canon whenever a vacancy arose. In fact, there are only a very few exceptional cases where minor canons were installed after not having served as a layman of Westminster at all. For the other laymen not destined to hold a minor canonry, there was a probation system in place by which singers would subscribe and then be installed usually a year later, subject to requirements. In 1731 an order of Dean Joseph Wilcocks established that six out of the twelve laymen in the choir would be ordained and serve as priests in the abbey.
Most of the abbey’s income came from rentals and fines from property owned corporately by the Dean and Chapter. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners recorded that from 1829-1831 the average net yearly income of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster was £19,928. They owned estates in the counties of Southern England as well as in London and were responsible as patrons for over twenty parishes by the eighteenth century. They also held ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the City of Westminster: the parishes of St Margaret’s, Westminster and St John’s, Smith Square as well as the proprietary chapels in Duke Street, Broadway and Knightsbridge.
The abbey is famous for its royal connections, as the coronation church since 1066 and as a site of internment of British monarchs. Its popular image as a shrine of illustrious Britons maintains its reputation as a place of high sacred and secular standing.
In 1831, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners recorded that the Dean and Chapter of Westminster had the following livings in the Diocese of Lincoln: Alconbury, Huntingdonshire; Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire; Hinckley, Leicestershire, and Turweston, Buckinghamshire. In the Diocese of Worcester: Eckington, Worcestershire; Longdon, Worcestershire; Mathon, Worcestershire and St Andrew Pershore, Worcestershire. Diocese of Salisbury: Chaddleworth, Berkshire; Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire and Steventon, Berkshire. Diocese of Canterbury: Otford, Kent and Shoreham, Kent. Diocese of London: St Botolph without Aldersgate; St Bride’s Fleet Street; Christ Church with St Leonard Foster Lane; St Mary Maldon, Essex; South Benfleet, Essex; St John the Evangelist, Westminster and St Margaret, Westminster. The Dean and Chapter were also patrons of the Knightsbridge and Broadway chapels, Middlesex in the Diocese of London and the Ruthin Hospital, Denbighshire in the Diocese of Bangor.
Carpenter, Edward (ed.), A House of Kings: The History of Westminster Abbey, (London, 1966)
Horn, Joyce M., Ely, Norwich, Westminster and Worcester Dioceses: Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857, vol. vii, (London, 1992)
Users of CCED with an interest in Lincolnshire will no doubt be interested in this new publication from the Lincoln Record Society. The second of a series to cover the county, which began with a companion volume on the deaneries of Aslacoe and Aveland in 2013, the volume offers brief lives of Lincolnshire clerics over a very long period. The book is published by Boydell and Brewer at £40: more details here.
In the latest CCED update, we have made public all the data we have gathered for the diocese of Exeter after 1760 and linked it to person and place. However, this remains a very incomplete record, as, for a variety of reasons, we were not able to complete record recovery during the funded phase of the project. If there are any local historians in Exeter who might be interested in helping complete our record of the Exeter material, we would be delighted to hear from them. We would not be able to pay a fee for any work done, but would supply the materials and necessary software, and would of course make the material freely available for the researchers’ own purposes, and fully credit their contribution to the project. If anyone is interested, or knows of anyone who might be, please contact Arthur Burns at email@example.com.
We are pleased to announce another release of updated material to the public CCED website. New material has been added for Exeter, Gloucester and Ely dioceses in the modern period, and a great many clerical personifications and career models have been updated as it becomes possible to merge records following advice from users and checking of existing linkages.
An exciting new development is that a researcher is now actively collecting modern data for Westminster Abbey. Daniel Rignall, an undergraduate research fellow on the project at King’s College London began work a week ago, and we hope by the end of the summer to have mounted this material.
The database has now been updated to reflect progress on linking records and the consolidation of personal identities over the past 6 months. We should begin by thanking the many users who have sent in very helpful material, which has enabled us to confirm, enhance and correct many identifications during this period.
The most important changes to the data reflected in the new update are:
1) Completion of linkage of modern Chester records to both person and location
2) Completion of the linkage of almost all modern records to locations in Hereford save for some tricky cathedral and vicars choral appointments); all Hereford records involving surnames A-D personified and career modelled.
3) linkage of some Peterborough 1540-1660 records
4) linkage of Patent Rolls 1540-1640 – especially locations.
5) A thorough check of records for modern Bangor, Canterbury, Carlisle and Durham, and some of Ely, to ensure all records are linked, and where possible merging records which clearly belong together to single career models and personifications.
One result of this work is that the total number of persons identified in the database may now have shrunk thanks to the merging of related records.
We are delighted to post a full review of Michael Gladwin’s recent study of the first Anglican clergy in Australia by W. M. Jacob. As Dr Jacob’s account makes clear, this is a book that will be of interest to anyone with clerical ancestors who worked in Australia as well as to anyone interested in the history of the early nineteenth-century clergy of the Anglican church
Michael Gladwin, Anglican Clergy in Australia 1788-1850: Building a British World (Royal Historical Society/Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2015).
Reviewed by W. M. Jacob
To cite this review: W. M. Jacob, ‘Review: Michael Gladwin, Anglican Clergy in Australia 1788-1850: Building a British World (2015)’, CCEd Online Journal Reviews 2, 2015. http://www.theclergydatabase.org.uk/review_two/
Little attention has been paid to the Anglican clergy who in the century between 1750 and 1850 were present in almost every British colonial enterprise, and played significant parts in establishing and developing settler colonies and relations with indigenous inhabitants of the lands being occupied. The information now available via the Clergy of the Church of England Database, providing details of clergy backgrounds, education and careers, makes it possible to undertake a collective or group biography of the clergy in a colony, Their part in the development of a colony can be explored by using archives and libraries to discover whether their diaries or letters survive, and if there is any correspondence with Colonial Office officials, bishops, missionary societies and family and friends with or about them, and whether they wrote books or pamphlets or contributed to local newspapers,
Michael Gladwin has provided an excellent model of how to build up a collective biography of an occupational group or profession, in this case Anglican clergy who served in the Australian colonies between 1788 and 1850. This dispels many myths about the part clergy played in early colonial life, and reveals the challenges, rigours and privations of life in these colonies.
Dr Gladwin briefly sets the context of the establishment of the four Australian colonies and the appointment of chaplains to minister in the initial penal colonies, and subsequently settler communities, and the development of the Church of England’s oversight of clergy serving in the colonies. Much recent scholarship about the development of Anglicanism overseas has claimed that, in response to the loss of the American colonies, until the 1830s, successive governments used clergy to promote a conservative, hierarchical settler society in new colonies. Dr Gladwin demonstrate there is little evidence to support this, at least in Australia, where successive governments showed little interest in the Church. The earliest chaplains in Australia seem to have been recruited through English Anglican evangelical networks. Only after 1810 did governors of the colonies request the Colonial Office to appoint chaplains. In 1826 the British government authorised the creation of an archdeaconry in the diocese of Madras to oversee the twenty-one chaplains serving in the then two Australian colonies (New South Wales and Tasmania), and, in 1836, a diocese of Australia was created.
Initially it was difficult to recruit clergy to go to Australia as chaplains, but by the 1840s more people wanted to work there than there were openings. Dr Gladwin analyses the social, educational national and churchmanship backgrounds of the 234 clergy (excluding bishops) who served in the Australian colonies between 1788 and 1850, and shows the wide variety of backgrounds from which they came. A sizable minority already had overseas experience – as sons of military officers, diplomats and planters from other parts of the Empire, as missionaries in India and the West Indies. Some had previously been Nonconformist missionaries, and some naval chaplains. Some were recruited as a result of family and friendship networks. When bishops were appointed to the Australian colonies after 1836, they recruited friends and former pupils from public schools and Oxford and Cambridge. Over 25% of the clergy were Irish Anglicans. The rest were mostly English, from London and the home counties. 70% of all clergy were graduates suggesting that, like most Anglican clergy, they were from middle class or professional backgrounds. Some subsequently moved on to other colonies or chaplaincies and about a third returned to England. They illustrate the diverse and wide-ranging opportunities the British world offered Anglican clergy in this period.
Their motivations for working in the colonies are shown to be many and varied. Their average age when going to Australia (thirty-seven amongst those arriving between 1800 and 1819, and thirty-two for those arriving between 1820 and 1859) suggests they were making mature decisions. Amongst those whose letters and diaries survive many were motivated by a strong vocational sense. The nationalist, imperialist or patriotic aims that many historians have attributed to them are virtually absent from the reasons given by this random sample of those going to Australia.
In many ways their roles in a colony were similar to clergy roles in England. Obviously they conducted Sunday and daily services and baptisms, weddings, and burials, preached, and taught children the Catechism. They were also, like clergy in England, much occupied in charitable and philanthropic work, either personally, or through philanthropic and benevolent societies, which they were often instrumental in setting up, and in encouraging thrift and responsibility amongst laypeople, for example through setting up savings banks. Clergy continued, as in England, to maintain registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, and contributed to the good ordering of new societies by their preaching and teaching. A few, as in England, were appointed magistrates (only twelve before 1850), for there was a shortage of suitable lay candidates. This has led early Australian clergy to be caricatured as ‘flogging parsons’. Dr Gladwin shows that, while Samuel Marsden, the first chaplain, did have a reputation for unduly severe sentences, contemporaries, even critics, generally thought clergy were no more, and perhaps less, severe than lay magistrates. He produces evidence that clerical magistrates were concerned for the welfare of convicts, and used their role as a means of conciliation. He found that on numerous occasions they took the part of the poor, and the illiterate, and convicts against officials. He points out that clergy were the interface between administrators of charity and benefits and the poor, noting that, as most early settlers were convicts or poor, most welfare was provided by the government via hospitals, asylums and orphanages, on the boards of which clergy sat, and in which they made pastoral visitations. From the 1830s, when colonial governments began cutting back on such provision, clergy took initiatives in establishing voluntary provision for hospitals, lying-in institutions, asylums, Magdalen societies for fallen women, temperance societies, ragged schools, savings banks, and friendly and life insurance societies.
He shows that clergy were in the vanguard of the transformation of penal colonies into free settler societies. They contributed a religious and moral framework to the developing community life in the colonies, and in their early economic, political and scientific life. They lobbied governments on behalf of the poor, contributed to newspapers, wrote pamphlets on current social and political issues, contributed to and edited literary journals, founded literary, philosophical and scientific societies, museums, botanic gardens, choral societies, mechanics’ institutes to provide adult education for the poor, and played an active part in running them. Clergy in rural areas contributed to developing the agricultural economy, for example in cultivating vineyards, citrus fruit and tobacco. They also undertook statistical and geological surveys.
Gladwin concludes that clergy regarded ministry to settlers as their first priority, so there was little coordinated missionary effort amongst Aboriginals before 1850. However, a few clergy devoted themselves to indigenous peoples, and some contributed articles to newspapers condemning depredations on Aboriginals, and claims that they were subhuman, and criticised colonial governments’ policies and attitudes towards them, especially in relation to property rights. But he points out that they were mostly compromised by their tendency to support and sympathise with settlers, and their support for ‘better’ use of Aboriginal lands.
It is clear that life, especially in rural areas, was often very challenging for clergy, and especially their wives.
From the appointment of the first chaplain, Anglican clergy in Australia were forced to reconcile the role of state-employed clergyman with that of Christian minister. They were in part agents of the state, whether British, or later colonial, by virtue of their funding and their general political and social outlook, and their status aligned them with the elite and the hierarchy. Yet Gladwin shows most of them consistently rejected the subordination of Church to State and adopted an independent and critical posture towards the State, emphasising the duties of governors as well as governed, of masters, as well as servants. They supported Aborigines, convicts and the indigent and made humanitarian interventions to challenge the perceived evils of authority and empire.
In the 1830s, British governments began to withdraw from making grants to fund church building and clergy in both England and the colonies, and largely delegated responsibility for internal affairs to colonial legislatures. Colonial governments reduced contributions towards clergy salaries, and ceased to appoint chaplains, and to contribute towards the provision and upkeep of parsonages and glebe, and churches and schools, and to pay sextons and parish clerks. The Church in the Australian colonies was thus effectively disestablished. Dr Gladwin shows how clergy contributed to reshaping the Church, as a voluntary body under episcopal government, including seeking funds from lay people for their salaries and housing, and to build and maintain churches and schools. Questions about whether English ecclesiastical legislation applied in self-governing colonies also raised doubts about clergy’s security of tenure, and relationships with the newly-created bishops. Australian Anglican clergy had to adjust to a very different situation from the early days, and in England. They became much more dependent on the goodwill and financial support of their congregations, who were keen, in return, to be have a say in the government of the Church. Clergy were also more dependent on their new bishops, who had more time and power than English bishops to oversee, and take an interest, not always welcome, in clerical activities.
This is an excellent account of who the clergy were, the challenges they faced, and how they rose to them, but it would have been helpful to have had more of a sense of the contexts in which clergy were working, beyond their dealings with officials. It would be interesting to know if there is any evidence of how they and their ministrations were received by and responded to by laypeople. There are hints from time to time that relations may have been tense. There also is little sense that Anglican clergy were working in a competitive religious market place. Methodists, Church of Scotland, and Roman Catholics are mentioned briefly, but there is no sense of competition and tensions, especially with Irish Roman Catholics, for example in Sydney, and no doubt elsewhere, and whether, perhaps this was exacerbated by the more than 25% of Anglican clergy from Irish backgrounds, and the high proportion of the rest who were evangelicals.
Dr Gladwin has very helpfully thrown new light on the early development of Anglicanism in Australia, making clear the differences between the five colonies, and shows how much Anglican clergy contributed to the early development of Australian society. He has provided a model that might be used for similar studies of clergy in settler communities elsewhere in the British Empire.
W. M. Jacob.
Dr Jacob was until recently archdeacon of Charing Cross in the Anglican Diocese of London. He is the author of many works on the history of the Church of England, notably in the eighteenth century, including The Clerical Profession in the Long Eighteenth Century 1680-1840 (Oxford University Press, 2007)
The CCEd is very pleased to announce that we have recently been able to implement another substantial upload of new data to the CCEd website.
As promised in January, this is notable for seeing the completion of the linkage of records for the Diocese of London since 1760 to both place and person, and the publishing of the location links for the records for the diocese of Chester since the same date. This marks a major leap forward in our coverage for the north-west of England, covering as it does parishes in Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmorland and west and north Yorkshire. Work is now underway on linking the Chester records to persons for the same period (it is not yet publicly available, but we are up to surnames beginning with F!)
Further south, linkage for modern records for the diocese of Gloucester is now completed with the linkage of records for surnames beginning R to Z, and a start has been made on Hereford for the same period. Linkage has been continuing for the diocese of St David’s.
For the earlier part of the database, new records have been linked from the diocese of Peterborough 1540-1640 and from the Patent Rolls 1540-1603. Both of these remain work in progress.
It is also worth noting that the London records include many relating to the church in the British empire and other overseas locations.
Gladwin’s book focuses exclusively on Australia, and by doing so is able to offer a richly textured description of the lives of the Anglican clergy which will be of great help to anyone tracing the lives of the clerics involved in this very particular aspect of the growth of global Anglicanism. Michael made use of the CCEd in his work, which cast some light on the careers of the clerics before and in some cases after they went out to Australia, and it is particularly opportune that it should appear shortly after the traces of colonial careers to be found in the English archives began to go live on the Database website. We are delighted to see the database being used in such work. The team congratulate Dr Gladwin on his important volume (I should declare an interest here, in that I served as Gladwin’s academic editor for the book, but I can honestly say that I have learned a very great deal from it, and that it was a fascinating and thought-provoking study).
This is how Gladwin himself summarizes the content of his book:
Anglican clergymen in Britain’s Australian colonies in their earliest years faced very particular challenges. Lacking relevant training, experience or pastoral theology, these pioneer religious professionals not only ministered to a convict population unique in the empire, but had also to engage with indigenous peoples and a free-settler population struggling with an often inhospitable environment. This was in the context of a settler empire that was being reshaped by mass migration, rapid expansion and a widespread decline in the political authority of religion and the confessional state, especially after the American Revolution.
Previous accounts have caricatured such clerics as lackeys of the imperial authorities: “moral policemen”, “flogging parsons”. Yet, while the clergy did make important contributions to colonial and imperial projects, this book offers a more wide-ranging picture. It reveals them at times vigorously asserting their independence in relation both to their religious duties and to humanitarian concern, and shows them playing an important part in the new colonies’ social and economic development, making a vital contribution to the emergence of civil society and intellectual and cultural institutions and traditions within Australia. It is only possible to understand the distinctive role that the clergy played in the light of their social origins, intellectual formation and professional networks in an expanding British World, a subject explored systematically here for the first time
The Clergy Database team would like to wish all our users a happy new year and all the best for their researches in 2015!
We are pleased to be able to announce that another important update of the Database is about to occur, with thousands of new records becoming available in linked form. One of the most important features is the completion of linkage on all our post-1760 records for the diocese of London, a major landmark in the history of the project, involving the identification of many tricky locations (including a chapel afloat on the Thames). More progress has also been made on the many colonial and foreign records contained in the London archives, and we are beginning work on records relating to naval chaplains from the same source.
Other important additions will include: completion of linkage on the more modern records of the diocese of Gloucester; the linkage to place of post-1760 Chester records (where we have finally been able to rekey a seminal source which had become corrupted; linkage to person is now underway for these 12,000 records).