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Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors,
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Tracing Anglican clergy
Reverend Samuel Slocock, rector of Kelvedon Hatch
A churchman in the family? A look at the various available 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 1200 to 1900 with later additions is known as Alumni Cantabrigienses. It can be searched at the Cambridge University Libabry or on Ancestry.co.uk. With 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
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.
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.
Local Record Offices have all types of local records in which clergymen will appear.
The Clergy of the Church of England Database covers the period 1540-1835. It is still being added to. The database is a complilation of records from many different archives and records.