CCEd offers academics an important resource of use for research involving the clergy of the Church of England over the period covered by the Database. In what follows we indicate some of the most significant ways in which the Database can be exploited – but we are always happy to hear about others which have not yet occurred to us! Anyone using the CCEd is strongly advised to consult the guidance provided in ‘How to use the database’ before beginning their researches.
There are a few basic points to be aware of concerning the information in the database before you begin searching.
- The Database only covers clergymen of the Church of England: those of other denominations will not be present.
- As long as some part of the career of a clergyman falls within the date range covered in the Database, he will be present: but those records relating to events outside the range will not be present.
- The Database is a record of clerical career events, and does not set out to include vital dates or other information unless it is easily recovered from the records relating to these events.
- Therefore the date range associated with a name in CCEd is not intended as a lifespan, but records the years for which we have records associated with that person.
- It is quite possible that records associated with an individual may be divided between several CCEd persons whom we cannot as yet confidently pronounce to be one and the same person; they may also have been incorrectly attached to the wrong person who shares your person’s name.
- The Database is continually being updated and revised. Thus if information you believe should be there is missing, please check on the state of linkage for the relevant location and period in About the Database: Current Content of the Database.
You will find some helpful advice on vital dates and names in particular in our advice to genealogists here.
Researching individuals who were clergymen
At the most basic level, CCEd provides a means of obtaining biographical information on any individual who was a clergyman of the Church of England. For anyone researching a specific individual, there are several key respects in which the database can be especially helpful:
- If you are researching a relatively obscure figure, whose biographical data are not easily obtainable from another source. The CCEd is particularly useful here for non-graduate clergy not covered in the University alumni volumes. But we also find that in many cases we can correct errors made in such volumes (and Foster’s Alumni Oxoniensis in particular is prone to confusion and omission).
- For better known figures, however, we are often able to add to the information recorded in alumni volumes or ODNB entries, above all because we record information on the licensing of curates, schoolmasters, and other non-beneficed offices which can be omitted in other accounts of careers, but which may shed vital light on networks etc.
- We also record information regarding the patronage involved in appointments, which may often differ in particular instances from the ‘standard’ patronage of a specific living (as when an archbishop exercises an option, or a patron is still a minor).
It is also worth noting the CCEd forms part of the Connected Histories project, which enables data-mining across a wide range of early modern datasets at once. We do, however, recommend any such search is preceded by a search within CCEd itself if the person you are investigating is known to be a cleric.
Researching other individuals
CCED has the potential to illuminate the careers of many non-clerics as well. They can be encountered in the database in several forms:
- As schoolmasters and occasionally as diocesan officials: we have not excluded non-clerical schoolmasters who were licensed by the bishop
- As patrons of livings
- As the employers of chaplains
- As clerics – some individuals aborted clerical careers at an early stage, but not before they had left an archival trace
In all these cases searching is a bit more hit and miss than for clergy, for obvious reasons, and we are often at the mercy of the quality of the information in archives. But we are increasingly able to link chaplains to named individual employers (this has become the norm at the modern end of the CCEd collection) who are effectively ‘locations’ in terms of our structure. At the moment these are best located using the Advanced Search engine, selecting ‘Domestic chaplains’ in the ‘Geographic Diocese’ box and ‘Lay chaplains’ in the ‘CCE region’ box, before entering appropriate free text and wild cards in the ‘Location’ box. This will bring up the career narratives of clergy which include an appointment event fitting these criteria. We hope soon to make the records browsable. To identify patrons, free text searches in the patron box are necessary. The considerable difficulties which are encountered as a result of the variety of formulations used by those compiling the records make it impossible to link up patrons, so this is an area where it useful to has some information about which livings are involved in order to pin down the actual patronage exercised by individuals.
Investigating clerical cohorts
The CCEd is also useful for anyone seeking to identify basic information about large numbers of clergy identified by name or office in lists or as a result of research into another topic. A good example is the use Nick Draper made of the Database in identifying clergy who had received compensation payments at the emancipation of slaves in the 1830s for his book The Price of Emancipation.
Investigating the history of the clerical profession
The CCED is obviously a seminal resource for anyone with an interest in this subject, and the work of the project team and others has already begun to reveal its potential in this respect (for publications from the team, see here). It can even help to illuminate periods not covered by the Database, as for example the Interregnum, as Stephen Taylor and Kenneth Fincham have recently demonstrated. The Advanced Search engine can be used to structure quite elaborate queries. The Project Team are also able to assist in ‘behind the scenes’ searches where data not yet fully linked can be observed, and where even more complex queries can be articulated. We therefore welcome enquiries from those with queries which they are not quite sure how to pursue within the Database front-end as publicly available.
The CCEd Website also includes a growing body of information on the jurisdictional context and historical development of the structure of the Church of England in the early modern period which is not readily accessible elsewhere. This is being regularly updated. Users should consult the Reference section.
Collaboration, discussion and dissemination
The new CCEd website greatly increases the potential of the CCEd as a hub for discussion of the history of the clergy of the Church of England. Our online peer-reviewed journal can now offer much faster turn-round times for pieces on the history of the clergy of the Church of England, and we welcome submissions. Shorter pieces and reflections can be accommodated in our Notes and Queries section, and we are keen to commission more reviews on relevant publications for our new Reviews section. Finally, our new Blog facility means we have a platform for more speculative and off-the-cuff reflections or questions which might interest our user community. We positively welcome postings which once moderated can appear there.
As already indicated, the CCEd has enormous untapped potential as it continues to develop for research not only into the Anglican clergy in England and Wales but also overseas, or into themes completely unconnected with the clergy. We are always interested in discussing potential collaborations with others for research projects which might untap some aspect of this potential, so please do not hesitate to contact the project team to see what might be possible. We also are very keen to hear about any research projects making use of the data here, and welcome suggestions about future development, so please keep us informed about how you are using the Database, not least what works well and what doesn’t!
For information on how to cite CCEd and its contents, see here.