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Introduction

The surviving records relating to the diocesan and capitular administration of the diocese of Carlisle are held in the diocesan record office:

Cumbria Record Office, The Castle, Carlisle, Cumbria. CA3 8UR.
email: carlisle.record.office@cumbriacc.gov.uk
website: http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/libraries-archives/archives/recordoffices/carec.asp
tel: 01228 607285/607284
fax: 01228 707274

Unless otherwise indicated, all the records discussed are held at the Somerset Record Office, Taunton.

  • 1540 to 1660 (Reformation to Restoration)
  • 1660 to 1768 (from the Restoration to the commencement of the episcopate of Charles Lyttelton in 1768).
  • 1768 to 1835 (from the appointment of Charles Lyttelton as bishop to the end of the period covered by the database).

1540 to 1660 (Reformation to Restoration)

Only a fragment of the original diocesan archives survive for this period. There is an episcopal register covering the years 1561–1643, containing ordinations and appointments, and visitation records for 1574–7, 1585 and 1606–8, but no subscription or licensing books. The names of some curates have been recovered from the clerical subsidy returns of 1556–94 (The National Archives, PRO E179/60, 307). We are much better informed about the cathedral, with chapter registers running from 1570 to 1644.

The registers as sources for appointments to benefices and cathedral offices

The single episcopal register for this period (DRC 1/3) contains a fairly complete listing of institutions and collations to livings and cathedral canonries, as well as some presentations and resignations, for the years 1561 to 1643. A gap for 1627–9 has been filled with returns to the First Fruits Office in the Exchequer (TNA, PRO E331 Carlisle/12). Institutions during vacancies in the see will be recovered from the archiepiscopal registers at York.

Other appointments ( curates, preachers and lecturers, schoolmasters etc).

Curates, ‘plebani’ (evidently clergy entrusted with chapels), and readers are listed in some number in the visitation records for 1574–7 and 1606–8 (DRC 3/2, 5/1) and curates also appear in the clerical subsidy returns of 1556–94 (TNA, PRO E179/60, 307). A few licences of curates and preachers are entered in the episcopal register. Schoolmasters are conspicuous by their absence, although a handful are mentioned in the visitation records of 1574 and there is a stray reference to another in Bishop White’s rental of 1626 (DRC 46/1). The visitation records of 1574–7 include the appointment of rural deans.

Ordinations

The episcopal register contains what seems a fairly full list of ordinations between 1569 and 1640. A few contain details of age and place of birth, as well as the usual listing of educational qualifications and place of residence.

Records of the dean and chapter of Carlisle cathedral

The sequence of chapter registers for 1570 to 1644 contains evidence on presentations to livings in the chapter’s gift, and the appointments of vicars choral, deans, canons, divinity lecturers, masters of the grammar school, masters of the choristers, precentors, sacristans, and those exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

1660-1768 (from the Restoration to the commencement of the episcopate of Charles Lyttelton in 1768).

In preparation.

Episcopal Registers, etc. as sources for institutions and collations

In preparation.

Other appointments ( curates, preachers and lecturers, schoolmasters etc).

In preparation.

Ordinations

In preparation.

Visitation records and other clerical lists

In preparation.

Records of the dean and chapter of Carlisle cathedral

In preparation.

From 1768 to 1835 (from the appointment of Charles Lyttelton as bishop to the end of the period covered by the database).

The records surviving for the diocese of Carlisle in this period are thin in comparison with those for many other dioceses, although the small size of the diocese makes this less significant a deficiency than it might be in some other jurisdictions.

The most striking deficiency is the absence of any subscription books for the period, often a vital source for unbeneficed clergy.

Episcopal registers, etc. as sources for institutions and collations

We have two surviving act books/registers for this period. But given the small size of the diocese, a lot could be crammed into a single register. DRC 1/8 covers the period 11 September 1768 to 28 January 1823, and thus the episcopates of Bishops Lyttelton, Law, Douglas, Vernon (Harcourt) and Goodenough. The collations, institutions, presentations and resignations it records have all been extracted. The same holds for the second volume, DRC 1/9, 'The Register of the Lord Bishop of Carlisle commencing 1823 ending 1849', covering the period from 23 March 1823 to the end date of the CCED project, and thus more of Goodenough's acts and the first part of Hugh Percy's episcopate.

Other appointments (curates, preachers and lecturers, schoolmasters etc).

Once more the Bishops' Registers, DRC 1/8-9 are a major source, including many records of the licensing of curates, often associated with ordinations. Sadly, the bound volumes of curates' licences which are a common feature of diocesan archives after the introduction of new legislative measures relating to curates in the second decade of the nineteenth century either never existed or have not survived at Carlisle. What does survive is an uncatalogued Register of Curates licences, containing copies of licences from the 19 December 1827 onwards past the end date of the database. The 65 relevant records this contains have been extracted, providing details of nominators and salaries for these appointments not contained where they are noted in the register.

A striking feature of the diocese was the number of perpetual curacies, and appointments to these are contained in the Registers.

For schoolmasters' appointments the Bishops' Registers DRC 1/8-9 again provide much evidence. Among other licences recorded there are those to preach in the cathedral, and to gaol chaplaincies.

Clergy lists

Partly in view of the importance of recording curates in the large parishes of Carlisle diocese, and in the absence of subscription books, it has been decided to enter an unusually large number of call books for the modern period. Since record keeping generally became more comprehensive post-1800, those selected all date from before. We have entered DRC 5/49, 54, 59, 64, 69, 74 and 80, described as 'Call Books for the General Chapter', thus giving roughly quinquennial records of the clergy in post between 1770 and 1800.

Ordinations

Records of ordinations and of the issue of letters dimissory have been extracted from the Episcopal Registers, DRC 1/8-9. In many instances they give titles for ordination, facilitating record linkage. We know from some records recorded elsewhere, of candidates being sent on letters dimissory to the Bishop of Carlisle towards the end of the period, that not all Carlisle ordinations appear to have been extracted. We therefore intend to use the published ordination lists included in several religious periodicals to supplement the archival record, but this has not yet been done.

Records of the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle cathedral

The records of the dean and chapter, deposited at the Cumbria Record Office in Carlisle, are a vital resource not only for the clergy appointed to cathedral positions, but as a means of supplementing the diocesan archive, recording as they do presentations and nominations made by the dean and chapter to livings in their gift. We have used the chapter act/ 'order' books: D&C 1/11, 12 and 13¸ extracting all presentations, nominations, resignations, appointments to minor canonries in the cathedral, installations and appointment of schoolmasters up to and including 31 December 1835.