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Pre-nineteenth century English Diocesan Records held in other archival repositories

The Archdeaconry of Nottingham was part of a network of ecclesiastical administration. For most of its history it was one of the archdeaconries within the Diocese of York. Records of other dioceses and archdeaconries are available to researchers in various archives and record offices.

This page gives details of the pre-19th century archives of each of the English dioceses, with links through to relevant websites, and sometimes a list of further reading where details have been published in book form.

The list was last checked and updated in August 2009. 

 

Bath and Wells

The main records series (1309-), including records of the archdeaconries of Bath, Wells and Taunton, is held at Somerset Archives and Local Studies. A guide to the Diocesan records is available on their website, and catalogue records are available on their online catalogue.

Further reading:

  • Jenkins, C (ed), The act book of the archdeacon of Taunton (Somerset Record Society, Vol. 43, 1928)  

 

Bristol (diocese founded 1542)

Records are held at the Bristol Record Office, and catalogue records are available on the Record Office's online catalogue. Bristol Record Office holds some records from the Archdeaconry of Dorset (which was transferred from the diocese of Salisbury to Bath in 1542, but transferred back again in 1836), although others are held at the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, with the records of the Diocese of Salisbury. Probate records for Dorset are held at the Dorset History Centre.

Further reading:

  • Kirby, I. Diocese of Bristol: a Catalogue of the Records (1970)

 

Canterbury

Records of the Diocese of Canterbury, the Archdeaconry of Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral, and their ecclesiastical courts are held at Canterbury Cathedral Archives. Catalogue records for the Diocesan archive are available on the online catalogue of the Kent Archives Service.

  

Carlisle

Records of the Diocese of Carlisle and the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle Cathedral are held at the Cumbria Archive Service, Carlisle Record Office.

 

Chester (diocese founded 1541)

The main series of diocesan records are held at Cheshire Archives and Local Studies. Summary collection and series level descriptions are available on their online catalogue.

Records which relate exclusively to the eastern deaneries of the Archdeaconry of Richmond are held at the Leeds branch of the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

Many records relating to the western deaneries of the Archdeaconry of Richmond are at Lancashire Record Office.

Other classes of records from the Diocese of Cheshire (e.g. tithe, wills) have been split on a geographical basis between those three offices, the Cumbria Archive Service and the National Library of Wales.

In theory the jurisdiction of the court extended to the whole Diocese of Chester. However, the Commissary Court of the Archdeaconry of Richmond attracted most cases from that archdeaconry, and disputed cases tended to be referred directly to the Archbishop's court at York, rather than to Chester. Thus the Consistory Court records relate mainly to the Archdeaconry of Chester, i.e. Cheshire and Lancashire south of the River Ribble.

Consistory Court books and papers pre-dating the founding of the diocese relate to the old Archdeaconry of Chester, which was in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield (see below).

 

Chichester

Diocesan records, parish registers, original wills from the archdeaconry of Chichester, and copy wills from the Archdeaconry of Lewes are held at the West Sussex Record Office. Catalogue descriptions are available on the Record Office's online catalogue. Original wills from the archdeaconry of Lewes are held at the East Sussex Record Office (The Keep).

Further reading:

  • Steer, F W and Kirby, I M. Catalogue of the Records of the Bishop, Archdeacons and Former Exempt Jurisdictions (1966)

 

Durham

Diocesan records are held at Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections. There is a detailed description available online with links to further catalogues.

 

Ely

Diocesan records are held at Cambridge University Library, Manuscripts and University Archives. There is a general description of the Ely Diocesan Records available on their website. Wills are held at Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies.

Further reading:

  • Owen, Dorothy M. Ely records: A handlist of the records of the Bishop and Archdeacon of Ely (1971) - the working catalogue for the collection.
  • Gibbons, Alfred. Ely episcopal records: A calendar and concise view of the episcopal records preserved in the Muniment Room of the Palace at Ely (1891) - the basis for the modern classification of the diocesan records.

 

Exeter

Diocesan records from the 13th to the 20th centuries, and records of the Exeter Archdeaconry Court are held at Devon Archives and Local Studies. Some records for Barnstaple Archdeaconry, covering the years 1682-1857 (ref: NDRO 1127) are held in North Devon Record Office.

Records of the Archdeaconry of Cornwall are held at Cornwall Record Office. Details are available on their online catalogue.

Further reading:

  • Devon Record Handlist no 1 - J.A. Vage. The Records of the Bishop of Exeter's Consistory Court to 1660 (Devon Record Office, 1981) is an explanatory list of the records to 1660. It is on sale through Devon Record Office

 

Gloucester (diocese founded 1541)

Records for the Diocese and the Archdeaconries are held at Gloucestershire Archives. Catalogue descriptions are available on their online catalogue.

Further reading:

  • Kirby, I M. Catalogues of the Records of the Bishop and Archdeacons (1968)

 

Hereford

Records for the Diocese and the Archdeaconry of Hereford are held at Herefordshire Archives and Records. No detailed information is available about the coverage of the records, but the archive does include visitation and court records.

Records of the Archdeaconry of Ludlow are held at Shropshire Archives.

 

Coventry and Lichfield

Before 1540 the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield included Cheshire, Derbyshire, South Lancashire, North Shropshire, Staffordshire, North Warwickshire and small parts of Flintshire and Denbighshire. In 1540 Cheshire, South Lancashire and the Welsh parishes were moved to other dioceses, and the name was changed to the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry. Records relating to Cheshire are now at Cheshire Archives and Local Studies.

The main diocesan records, dating from the late 13th century onwards, are held at Lichfield Record Office. The archive includes visitation and court records. Details are available on the Record Office's online catalogue.

Further reading:

  • Staffordshire Record Office Cumulative Hand List, part 1: Lichfield Joint Record Office, Diocesan, Probate and Church Commissioners Records (2/1978)

 

Lincoln

The diocese included the Archdeaconries of Lincoln, Huntingdon, Northampton, Leicester, Oxfordshire, Buckingham, Bedford and Stow.

The Archdeaconry of Oxford formed its own diocese after 1542, and its records are held at the Oxfordshire History Centre. The Archdeaconry of Northampton did the same, and became the Diocese of Peterborough. Its records are held at Northamptonshire Record Office. Records from the Archdeaconry of Leicester are held at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.

The Archdeaconry of Bedford, including most of the modern county of Bedfordshire, came under the Diocese of Lincoln until 1837, then under Ely until the transfer to St Albans in 1914. Its records date back to 1537 and are held at the Bedfordshire Archives and Record Service. Records of the Archdeaconry of Buckingham are held at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.

The remainder of the Diocesan and Archidiaconal records are held at Lincolnshire Archives, the Diocesan Record Office. 

Further reading:

  • Major, K. Handlist of the Records of the Bishop of Lincoln and of the Archdeacons of Lincoln and Stow (1953)

 

London

In general, the records of the Diocese of London records are held at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). Diocesan Consistory Court records are at LMA and descriptions appear on LMA's online catalogue. Commissary court (Essex and Hertsfordshire division) records are held at Essex Record Office.

The records of the various archdeaconries within the diocese are split between record offices:

 

Norwich

The ancient diocese comprised Norfolk, Suffolk and part of south-east Cambridgeshire and this remained the case until 1837, when the Cambridgeshire portion along with the Archdeaconry of Sudbury and the Liberty of Bury St Edmunds passed to the Diocese of Ely.  In 1914 the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, except the deanery of Lothingland (the area around Lowestoft), became part of the newly-created Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich whilst at the same time the Fincham and Lynn Marshland deaneries were transferred to Ely.

The records of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich are held by Suffolk Record Office (Bury St Edmunds branch); those of the Diocese of Ely at Cambridge University Library, Manuscripts and University Archives. Probate records for the Diocese of Ely are held at Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies.

The records of the Diocese of Norwich and the archdeaconries of Norwich and Norfolk are held at Norfolk Record Office. Information about the records is available online in the 'Guides to Holdings: Ecclesiastical Records' section of the website, and there are catalogue descriptions on the record office's online catalogue. 

 

Oxford (diocese founded 1542)

The diocese of Oxford, then consisting of the pre-1974 county of Oxfordshire, was created from the diocese of Lincoln in 1542. The archdeaconries of Berkshire (formerly in Salisbury) and Buckinghamshire (formerly in Lincoln) were added in 1836 and 1845 respectively.

Records are held at the Oxfordshire History Centre.

Further reading:

  • Brinkworth, ERC (ed), 'The archdeacon's court: liber actorum, 1584' Oxfordshire Record Society, 23-24, 1942-1946
  • Brinkworth, ERC, 'The study and use of archdeacons' court records, illustrated from the Oxford records, 1566-1759' Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 4th series, 25, 1943, pp 93-119
  • Howard-Drake, J. Oxford Church Courts Depositions, 1542-1550 (1991), 1570-1574 (1993), 1581-1586 (1994)

 

Peterborough (diocese founded 1541)

Records are held at Northamptonshire Record Office.

 

Rochester

Records from the 16th century onwards are held at the Kent History and Library Centre.

 

Salisbury

The records of the Diocese of Salisbury and the archdeaconries of Salisbury and Wiltshire are held at Wiltshire and Swindon Archives.

Some records from the Archdeaconry of Dorset (in the Diocese of Bristol between 1542 and 1836) are held at Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, but they are not extensive. Other Dorset material is with the Bristol Diocesan collection at Bristol Record Office. Probate records for Dorset are held at the Dorset History Centre.

The Archdeaconry of Berkshire was transferred to the Diocese of Oxford in 1836. The records are now at Berkshire Record Office.

Further reading:

  • Stewart, Pamela. Diocese of Salisbury: guide to the records of the bishop, the archdeacons of Salisbury and Wiltshire, and other archidiaconal and peculiar jurisdictions (1973)  

 

Winchester 

Records of the Diocese of Winchester are held at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies. Until 1927 the Diocese of Winchester included the counties of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (Winchester Archdeaconry) and most of Surrey (Surrey Archdeaconry). Descriptions of the diocesan records appear on Hampshire Archives and Local Studies' online catalogue. 

There is also a summary guide, sold by the Record Office:

  • Lewin, Sarah. Records of the Diocese of Winchester in Hampshire Record Office (1991)  

 

Worcester 

Records of the Diocese of Worcester are held at the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service.

 

York

Most records from the Diocese of York and its various archdeaconries (except the Archdeaconry of Nottingham) are held at the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York. A searchable catalogue of cause papers heard in the York Consistory Court is also available online. Archbishops' Registers, 1225-1650, have also been digitised and made available online.

Records of the Peculiar of Southwell, and probate records for the whole of Nottinghamshire are held at Nottinghamshire Archives.  

 

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