Tracing Anglican clergy
Reverend Samuel Slocock, rector of Kelvedon Hatch
A churchman in the family? A look at the various records to find out about their career.
This article is about tracing Anglican clergy, that is Church of England ministers, not Roman Catholic or Non-Conformists.
Because of their position in society, records about clergymen are more easily found than, let us say, farm labourers.
Ideally you need to have their full name, the name of at least one parish were they served, or the diocese where they were ordained. As with any other ancestor, the further you go back the fewer the records.
Most would have attended university and most of them it would have been at either Oxford or Cambridge Universities. The published list for Cambridge covering 1261 to 1900 with later additions is known as Alumni Cantabrigienses. It can be searched at the Cambridge University Library or on Ancestry.co.uk.
In the case of Oxford the list is called Alumni Oxonienses and covers 1500 to 1886. Dates 1500 to 1714 are on British History Online and 1715-1886 on the Internet Archive. The combined database is on Ancestry.co.uk.
19th century records
Like every other person, Clergymen appear on birth, death and marriage registrations, and on the census returns.
The vast majority would have an entry in Crockford's Clerical Directory. Published annually this was a directory of the Clergy of the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Ireland. It was published from 1858.
Often the entry is very detailed, revealing their university education, where they were ordained and their career to date. It does not contain personal family information.
Crockfords for the years 1868, 1874, 1885, 1898, 1908 and 1932 are available online at Ancestry.co.uk. Google Books has the 1868 edition. More may become available.
One very useful website is The Clergy of the Church of England Database which covers the period 1540-1835. It is still being added to. The database is a compilation of information from many different archives and records.
Many clergymen received their education at Cambridge University
Image courtesy of Swedish National Heritage Board on Flickr. NKCR
Offline, it is reported elsewhere that the archivist at Lambeth Palace is willing to carry searches of their collection of Crockfords (there's no mention of this on their website). See link further below.
County and trade directories in their description of each town or village will list principal members of the community so invariably the vicar's or rector's name appears and some information about their vicarge and the church.
Newspapers widely reported appointments, obituaries and other news about clergymen. Also the London Gazette is another source of official announcements.
Local Record Offices have all types of local records in which clergymen will appear.
Ordination records, appointment of parish clergy, and other records are detailed in Lambeth Palace's Biographical Sources for Anglican Clergy. Finally, the link for Lambeth Palace Library website.