letters of orders

These were issued to newly-ordained deacons and priests as evidence of their ordination. According to canon 137 of 1604 they were to be exhibited at a bishop’s primary visitation or ‘at the next visitation’ after a clergyman’s institution or licensing. The summary of many are recorded in exhibit books, but a few originals survive, including for the years 1646-60, the time when several bishops ignored the official proscription on episcopal ordination and conducted ordinations clandestinely. On occasion letters of orders were transcribed into an episcopal register, as proof of an individual’s ordination.