A good rule of thumb when looking for clergymen is to know that before the end of the 1800s, the vast majority of clergymen went to either Cambridge University or Oxford University. Both these universities have printed records of past graduates. For Oxford University, the source from 1500 to 1886 is Foster's Alumni Oxonienses. For Cambridge University, it's Alumni Cantabrigienses by J and JA Venn. Both give an excellent biographical profile of each graduate, forming not only a picture of their educational achievement but when they entered the college; which college; the fathers' name normally appears; and if there is a brother in the college, it would say. "Brother of." Hence these two sources are clearly not for just finding out about your ancestor, but gives a boost towards further generations back. It may well turn out that the father was also a cleric and will also be in the University Records.
The Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae ( 1066-18570 ), published by John le Neve in 1716 lists cathedral clergymen. It was revised later, in the mid-1800s, and this edition is by Hardy. Two web sites with indexes, are worth looking at if you are unable to access these books: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/ and http://www.history.ac.uk/fasti/.
There are a number of clerical directories, including The Clerical Guide will list incumbents history; and The Clergy List, giving curates and incumbants. For London and the old county of Middlesex clergy, Novum Repertorium Ecclesiasticum Parochiale Londinense by Hennessy covers 1321 to 1898, had an index of names of the incumbents. These can be accessed in the Guildhall Library in London, or the national Archives library in Kew England.
Odd as it seems, the clergy were catered for by special life insurance companies, the Guildhall Library in London has records for many companies in London; two that look useful are the Church of England Life and Fire Assurance Trust and Annuity Institution and the Clergy Mutual Assurance Society
The Fawcett Index, which is a card index to Anglican clergy, can be found in the Society of Genealogists Library in London. They will do a search of this index, for a fee.
There are also Ordination Records.These do give extra details for the genealogist to add meat on the bones of their ancestor such as baptismal records, complete record of education, references given about good character, etc. These ordination records are kept in the relevant diocese archives ( check county archives).
Finally there is currently and on-going database being constructed, which is free to use at http://www.theclergydatabase.org.uk/, which will cover the careers of clergymen from 1540 to 1835. It is updated regularly and so is worth visiting every so often, to see if your ancestor is there.
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
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