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Introduction

The bulk of the surviving records relating to the diocesan administration of the diocese of Chichester are held in the West Sussex Record Office, Chichester.

Contact details:

West Sussex Record Office, 3 Orchard Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1DD
Email: records.office@westsussex.gov.uk
Website: [http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/libraries-and-archives/record-office/
Tel: 020 7898 1400
Fax: 020 7928 7932

Except where otherwise indicated, all the records discussed are held at the West Sussex Record Office.

  • 1540 to 1660 (Reformation to Restoration)
  • 1660 to 1754 (from the Restoration to the commencement of the episcopate of Sir William Ashburnham in 1754).
  • 1754 to 1835 (from the appointment of Sir William Ashburnham as bishop to the end of the period covered by the Database).

1540 to 1660 (Reformation to Restoration)

In preparation.

The registers as sources for appointments to benefices and cathedral offices

In preparation.

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

In preparation.

Ordinations

In preparation.

Records of the dean and chapter of Chichester cathedral

In preparation.

1660-1754 (from the Restoration to the commencement of the episcopate of Sir William Ashburnham in 1754).

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 Chichester cathedral

In preparation.

From 1754 to 1835 (from the appointment of Sir William Ashburnham as bishop to the end of the period covered by the database).

The modern records of Chichester have an unusual configuration. There is no episcopal register surviving after 1792. But it seems highly likely that, given the close relationship between the surviving register and the subscription books from the diocese, that the practice of maintaining the register simply lapsed, the subscription books thereafter fulfilling the same role in the Diocesan Registry. It was not until after the end of the Database period, under Bishop Ashurst Gilbert in the 1840s, that the use of printed forms for subscriptions seems to have made the duplication seem less necessary and the register was resumed.

Episcopal registers, etc. as sources for institutions and collations

Only one register survives this period, WSRO, Ep.I/1/11, the register for Bishop Sir William Ashburnham (1754 to 1798), containing events from 1753 to 13th January 1792. All the relevant clerical events have been extracted. It contains both appointments to procure livings and to cathedral offices. A few resignations are also included.

If as we believe, the register is constructed from the subscription books in this diocese, it is striking to note that the dates of the subscriptions from the events recorded in the register those also recorded in the subscription book of the same events. This is encouraging for the use of the subscription books when no register survives. Sometimes the subscription books appear to be called more detail of the event than the registered in the period to which they overlap, example indicating not just a vacancy, but a promotion is the cause of a cleric leaving a position.

In view of this, we have adopted a rather unusual entry strategy for this period of the history of the diocese of Chichester. The research assistant entering data was asked to work with both the register and relevant subscription books open at once, and, while treating the register as the main source, to add any additional data omitted from the register found in the subscription books.

The subscription books used for this process, were WSRO, Ep.I/3/7, covering the years from Ashburnham's appointment to 12 December 1772, WSRO, Ep.I/3/8 (27 January 1773 to 3 February 1787), and WSRO, Ep.I/3/9 (21 February 1787 to 15 December 1800). Once the period covered by the register came to an end (on fo. 61 of Ep.I/3/9), the researcher was asked to continue entering all records relating to appointments found in the subscription book, which took them well into the episcopate of John Buckner (1798–1824). WSRO, Ep.I/3/10, covering 1 January 1801 to 17 December 1814, was then used to recover appointments, followed by WSRO, Ep.I/3/11, covering events between 6 January 1815 and 20 February 1829, thus covering the first part of the episcopate of Robert James Carr (1824–31). WSRO, Ep.I/3/12, in contrast to its predecessors, is a subscription book confined solely to recording the subscriptions of incumbents, taking the records down to the end of the period covered by the database, and thus covering the first part of Edward Maltby's episcopate.

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

In the period for which there is a register, WSRO, Ep.I/1/11 has only a limited number of licensing records, thirty-seven in all, including perpetual curacies, a single licence to preach and several schoolmasters. There are only a few licensings of stipendiary curates, mostly lined as events to their ordination. All these have been extracted.

The main subscription books from the same period do not offer a great deal more, but what they do have is captured in the same way as described for the appointments above in relation to WSRO, Ep.I/3/7–9. From 1792 onwards, Ep.I/3/9 provides another thirty-seven licensing events up to 15 December 1800. However, WSRO, Ep.I/3/10 provides evidence for some 170 stipendiary curates and nine schoolmasters in the next fourteen years, a much healthier figure if still not particularly reassuring, while WSRO, Ep.I/3/11 sees the coverage drop once more, this recording only thirty-four licensing events between 1815 and 1829, with no collective licensings at ordinations recorded after 1820 and the distinction between stipendiary and perpetual curates not being made very clear.

The explanation of this poor coverage is that the diocese maintained a separate series of curates’ subscription books from 1815, which include subscriptions not only from stipendiary curates, but perpetual curates, gaol chaplains, and schoolmasters. This archival sequence is not repeated in any other diocese in the database. As a prequel, WSRO, Ep.I/4/1, maintained by Daniel Hollingsbury as commissary, covers the Lewis archdeaconry from 6 April 1799 to 1821, and contains nineteen records; but WSRO, Ep.I/4/2, covering the whole diocese (including the dean’s peculiar) for the period January 1815 to November 1830, contains some 200 records, while WSRO, Ep.I/4/3, which runs from 15 June 1829 takes us up to the end of the period covered by the database with a further 113 records. These subscription books seem to stand in for the more normal sequence of bound copies of curates licenses found in most dioceses from about 1813 onwards. However, from 1833 such a bound volume does exist, WSRO, Ep.I/68/6, and has been entered up until the 31 December 1835.

Clergy lists

No clergy lists for the whole diocese have been entered from this period.

Ordinations

As in the case of appointments, the most striking feature here is the absence of registers for most of the period. WSRO, Ep.I/1/11 contains records of ordinations of varying levels of detail; educational details, for example, hvae not always been recorded. As with appointments, the researcher was asked to keep the contemporary subscription books (WSRO, Ep.I/3/7–9) open while entering these details and to add in any additional material that they contained. Once the register petered out, Ep.I/3/9 became the main source, containing better records with regard to education than the register. WSRO, Ep.I/3/10–11 continued the story down to 1829. Thereafter the diocese maintained separate ordination subscription books. Only the first of these was required for the period of the database: WSRO, Ep.I/4a/1 covering 8 February 1829 to December 1862, beyond the end of Database period.

Records of peculiar jurisdictions

Some of the records already discussed cover the dean of Chichester’s peculiar – the curates’ subscription books (Ep.I/4/2–3), for example. WSRO, Ep.III/1/2/1–9 are subscriptions for presentations in the period 1746–1833, and there are two letters of institution in WSRO, Ep.III/14/2. More will no doubt be recovered from the Chapter archives. For South Malling, the names of clergy recorded in the deanery’s liber cleri were entered at five-yearly intervals from WSRO, Ep.V/8/7–8. Records for the other peculiars under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Canterbury will be uploaded with the modern Canterbury material.

Records of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester

The records of the dean and chapter have not yet been surveyed for the Clergy Database.