The CCEd is a very valuable resource for the archives community and its user constituencies. Drawing together as it does resources collected in over fifty repositories, using collectors with appropriate palaeographic and subject skills, it opens up holdings to many non-specialist users such as family historians who would otherwise struggle to interpret the evidence
We hope that CCEd will be a very useful tool for archivists running local or national collections in a number of different ways. It should help with public enquiries from genealogists, local historians or academics relating to the clergy of the Church of England across our three centuries, 1540 to 1835, and, we hope, become a first port-of-call since CCEd contains not just a relational database but also a website with essential information about the structure of the Church including its complex types of location, the stages of the clerical career, glossaries of terms, lists of bishops, dioceses and parishes, and, for each diocese, we have begun providing maps and manuscript and printed sources. One of the novelties of the database is the attempt to reconstruct names and careers not just of incumbents, but also of curates, lecturers, chaplains to gaols, hospitals and workhouses, clerical schoolmasters, personal domestic chaplains and clergy working overseas, all of whom are often overlooked in existing sources. While clergymen predominant, the database also includes vital evidence about the exercise of ecclesiastical patronage, by the crown, institutions and individuals, including female patrons, and much information about school-teachers and schools.
As we remind our users, CCEd does not contain all ecclesiastical records relating to the clergy between 1540 and 1835. In order to capture the key events of clerical careers, we have tried to record all ordinations and appointments using episcopal act books, subscription books and visitation records from diocesan collections. However, in most dioceses we have only sampled visitation records unless very few survive; nor have we made much use of Bishops Transcripts and wills, and we have not touched parochial records. Nor have we been able to use the major archidiaconal collections relating to Leicester, St Albans, Richmond and elsewhere. Our core evidence is drawn from about 50 diocesan and cathedral archives, supplemented by national records since as E179, records of clerical taxation in the National Archives, or the Elizabethan surveys of the ministry. A great advantage of our national coverage is that we have been able to reunite records now in separate repositories (records relating to the diocese of Cheshire, for example, are in Cheshire RO, Lancashire RO and West Yorkshire Archive Service). Often we have picked up evidence in one diocese relating to activity in another, where the original record is lost; exhibit books, for example, contain details of ordinations occuring in other dioceses for which few ordination registers survive. Moreover national records often plugs gaps in diocesan collections.
We also hope that the Database will assist cataloguing of other records. At Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, archivists report that ‘We have three boxes of fragments of c200 unidentified bishop’s transcripts, mainly from the 17th to early 18th centuries for parishes in Wiltshire, but also Dorset and Berkshire. Identification of those signed by incumbents should be possible by using CCEd.’
CCEd will eventually contain a full listing of all sources used, from central and local archives, which we hope to be of assistance to archivists and their users. It should demonstrate the distinctive strengths, and in some cases limitations, of any one surviving diocesan collection compared to others across the country.
The CCEd team is conscious that many more records can be incorporated into the database, and would welcome suggestions or even offers of help from archivists and their users. We would also be grateful to hear of any new acquisitions or documents which come to light relating to the clergy in this period. Please contact CCEd’s Research Officer, Mary Clayton, at m.e.clayton[at]durham.ac.uk.