Photograph of a clergyman, 1899 (Catalogue reference: COPY 1/443)

This is a brief guide to researching records of Anglican or Roman Catholic clergy. Many records of clergy survive, especially Anglican clergy, and they are held in a variety of archives. There are also some useful online databases to consult. Records of the clergy held by The National Archives contain little information useful to family historians.

  • What do I need to know before I start?

    • Try to find out:

      • the name of the person
      • a date range to focus your search
      • in which diocese the person was ordained, and the name of their church or parish
  • What records can I see online?

    • There are no records of members of the clergy available online.

  • What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

    • The National Archives is not the best place to find records of Church of England clergy.

    • Records of Roman Catholics (1580-1858)

      Consult the in-depth research guide Catholics for information about which series to search. The records of Roman Catholics held at The National Archives mostly relate to the imposition of fines or seizures of land for failure to attend Protestant services.

  • What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

    • Church of England clergy

      Download the source guides from the Lambeth Palace Library website to trace an Anglican clergyman from the 17th century onwards.

    • Records held locally

      Search the Access to Archives (A2A) and the National Register of Archives (NRA) databases to find records held in diocesan or local archives.

Did you know?

Many records of clergy survive, especially Anglican clergy.

Material on persecutions of Roman Catholics is kept by many local archives.

If the parish your ancestor belonged to no longer exists, you might have to do some detective work to find out where its records are now.

Organisations such as Lambeth Palace Library and the Catholic Family History Society are working to preserve records and make them more widely available.