24/06/2013 09:59 BST | Updated 24/08/2013 06:12 BST

Genealogy Alert: Check This Out if You Have Church of England Clergy Ancestors

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In my genealogy, family history, and ancestry work, I am blessed to have some truly wonderful mentors who help guide me along my way, partner with me in my work, act as half cheerleader-half taskmaster, and best of all make me a much better researcher as a result of our partnerships. Such was the case recently with Peter Foden, a truly world-class palaeographer and researcher who you can find at While Peter was helping me with a substantial family will from the mid 1800s, he noted that one of my ancestors named as an heir in the will was a Reverend. He casually suggested that I might want to investigate the website for the Church of England Clergy at

Another of the benefits of a good mentoring relationship is that you come to recognize the value of those 'off the cuff' suggestions that come your way from your mentor. This was exactly the case recently with this recommendation from Peter, so I quite quickly turned my attention to this site.

I was not disappointed and while I am accustomed to finding some good resources on the Internet, this one is far above average, holds tremendous information, and best of all combines the findings from over 50 archives in the UK and Wales. Formally titled "The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540-1835 (CCEd) was launched in 1999 this effort was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is now online as a free resource.

The stated aim of the site is "providing coverage of as many clerical lives as possible from the Reformation to the mid-nineteenth century". They seem to accomplish this task very well. Collaborating with the Arts & Humanities Research Council, University of Kent, University of Reading, Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London (University of London), and the British Academy it is a genealogist's treasure trove!

This database contains over 1,250,000 individual evidence records, over 120,000 what they call 'career narratives' from over 26 Dioceses and thousands of Parishes. I especially like that when you click the 'Database' tab at the top, the search page offers you the opportunity to search on 'Person' or 'Location'. Plus it offers both a basic and advanced search function. I think you will agree that it's not often we genealogists find sites with over a million and a quarter names!

To best illustrate this site's power and value to you as a genealogist or family history fan, I will use one of my ancestors as an example. His name is Reverend Jonathan Phillips Carpenter. When I clicked on the letter 'C', I noted that the database contains over 11,900 individuals with surnames for just this single letter. As you can see from the first screen shot below, the first window gave me such titbits as his education at Oxford, and his two appointments.


But wait! There is more. When you click on 'View' under the 'Education Events' tab, 'Full Record' column, you get his degree, University, College, and details of his ordination. Very nice to have a note on his education, that I can follow up on right here in the one database and now I know to take a look at Oxford's alumni databases.


Then while I was seeing what else I might discover, I opened the 'Vacancy Evidence Record' and was treated to a rare item. As you can see in this screen shot, in the often critical tab of 'Other Information' is this: "Stipend £60. Together with the Surplice fees. To reside at Mount Tavey within 3 Miles of the Church of St. Dominic." What a find! Not only do I get to see what his stipend was in 1821, but also that he was allowed to live at the family home of Mount Tavey. Solid genealogy gold!


With a bit more exploring I discovered another family member, this time William Phillips, who was appointed at St. Cleather parish. Upon opening his record, I was delighted to find the name of his patron, Charles Phillips, listed. So many treasures in one database!


I am continuing to search for even more of my family tree members that might have been Church of England clergy to add to my genealogy work - all in one place.

As you continue your work in genealogy, I strongly suggest you bookmark the CCEd site and dig in! It just might hold as many genealogy gems for you as it does for me!

Onward To Our Past!