Early modern Archbishops’ papers

Dr Richard Palmer reports on the first phase of a new project to re-catalogue the early modern Archbishops’ papers, which began in August. The first two months of the project focused on the papers of Archbishops Sheldon, Tenison, Potter and Herring, totalling 8 volumes.

The Sheldon papers were found to comprise for the most part drafts and copies of out letters in the hand of Sheldon’s Secretary Miles Smith, relating especially to the plague and fire of London, the second Anglo-Dutch War, the survey of hospitals of which the returns are found in MS 639, and the role of the Archbishop as Visitor of All Souls’ College and Dulwich College. Many of these letters were also entered in Sheldon’s register and the new description provides correlation between these texts and also with editions in Wilkins’ Concilia.

The Tenison papers derive for the most part from the archive of S.P.G. and relate to the Church in the American colonies 1701-13. The new catalogue entry describes these important papers on an item by item basis for the first time, and reveals numerous links with the clergy, churches and events which feature in the main S.P.G. archive and the Tenison papers recently catalogued in the manuscripts series.

Map of Albemarle County

Map of Albemarle County, North Carolina, by Edward Moseley, c.1708; from the papers of Archbishop Tenison (Tenison 1 f. 122).

The Herring papers, which include some papers of his predecessors, are also described on an item by item basis for the first time, revealing letters from prominent figures such as the mathematician John Wallis (1616-1703), the architect Henry Flitcroft (1697-1769) and William Wishart (1692-1753), Principal of Edinburgh University. A large section of the papers in Herring 2 are those of the Archbishop as joint trustee, with the Bishop of London, of the fabric fund for St. Paul’s Cathedral. Many of the letters received are from Thomas Secker while Dean of St. Paul’s. When Secker became Archbishop he evidently reviewed these papers and added items from his own papers while Dean, making this an important, if complex, source of documentation. Secker’s comments on the ‘obstinate perverseness’ of Henry Flitcroft, Surveyor of  St. Paul’s, are typically forthright and mordant. The Herring papers also contain important documentation on calendar reform, the affairs of the Church of Scotland, and a dispute in Hereford Cathedral involving the composer and vicar choral William Felton. They also include the original order for the first appointment of a Principal Librarian of the British Museum (Gowin Knight in 1756). This is the original order, with the royal sign manual of George II. Herring was one of the three dignitaries charged with making the appointment.

A start was also made on the Secker papers.

The First World War and the Bishops

This is a further blog post in a series to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The Library and Record Centre together hold substantial material relating to the War, which is summarised in the research guide available on our website.

The records include minutes of Bishops’ Meetings. This was a gathering of diocesan and suffragan bishops in England and Wales, held biannually. The meetings were chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury: during the War, Randall Davidson. The minutes provide an insight into the issues facing the Church following the outbreak of War.

The first wartime meeting took place in October 1914 (ref: LPL BM 6/57) and show its impact on Church activities, for instance the postponement (for a year, it was thought – in the event it eventually took place in the 1920s) of a proposed Mission of Help to the Church in India.


The agenda of the first wartime Bishops’ Meeting, 20 October, 1914 (ref: LPL BM 6/57)

Wartime subjects which already commanded the attention of the Bishops included preparation of special forms of prayer for public use and the possibility of a National Day of Intercession.

The minutes include a copy of a circular letter sent out by Archbishop Davidson on the subject of clergy as combatants, expressing his view that to volunteer as a combatant was “incompatible with the position of one who has sought and received Holy Orders”: the special calling of the ordained ought to be regarded as their “special contribution to their country’s service”. Offers to serve as chaplains in the Army or Navy were at that time “far more numerous than could possibly be accepted”. Those not yet ordained but nearing the end of their time at theological colleges were encouraged to complete their training, but those at an earlier stage of study could be encouraged to enlist as it was thought that “great advantages” could be gained from service, and the fact of having borne arms would not subsequently disable a man from receiving Holy Orders. There was, given the “unprecedented” state of affairs, extensive discussion on the work of Army chaplains (in both the Territorial Army and the new Kitchener Army) and the position of the Chaplain General.

Fees for marriage licences (which enabled greater flexibility in the location and timing of weddings) for soldiers and sailors summoned at short notice to go on active service were discussed. It was advocated that officials adopt some liberality and sacrifice some fees “as only the reality of the crisis and its temporary character can justify”. The Archbishop counselled, however, that such reduction ought not to be used to “expedite marriages otherwise unsuitable”.

Further discussion involved the role of the clergy in facilitating the issue of Government assistance (in the form of separation allowances) to the wives and families of men in the Army and Navy on active service. Dissemination of information on this had been done at the personal request of Lord Kitchener. The question of assistance to unmarried partners of soldiers and sailors ensued, a “difficult and delicate question”. Resolution of this issue the Bishops explicitly considered in some degree as being of a private character within their meeting; but they endorsed this approach of supporting unmarried women, “where there was evidence of a settled home” and unless “such a course would gravely imperil the standards of moral life, both among the men of His Majesty’s Forces and in the nation”.

Use of school buildings and churches by the troops, already requisitioned by the military in a few cases, was mentioned. More specific were prospective requests to use parish churches for the celebration of the Roman Mass for Belgian refugees which, it was argued, could not easily be granted.

The subject of War memorials was raised, and attention called to the importance of parish clergy keeping lists of those from their parishes who served during the War.

Brief reference was made to the peculiar difficulties in which certain ecclesiastical industries (for instance organ building and the making of stained glass) found themselves owing to the War.

A “long and important” discussion followed on the subject of increased drinking, especially among the wives of absent soldiers and in some cases among army recruits. The implications for the opening hours of public houses and on alternative recreations in the camps were raised. Similarly, “moral dangers and difficulties” with regard to the camps and billeting were of concern to the Bishops, with attention paid to means of “helping the young girls of the country”, perhaps by the provision of “women patrols”.

Discussion on these subjects, and on additional topics such as precautions in case of invasion and the moral and spiritual care of German prisoners, continued to resonate in the records as the War proceeded.

Descriptions of the Bishops’ Meetings records are available in the archives catalogue. Other items in this series are featured in the Library’s First World War timeline.

The response of the Church of England to the War was featured on the Radio 4 Sunday programme.

The Papers of the Archbishops of Canterbury

One of Lambeth Palace Library’s core roles is as the official archive of the Archbishops of Canterbury, managing the preservation of, and access to, records created by the administration based at Lambeth Palace over many centuries.

The Archbishops’ Papers are rich and varied, and include correspondence, reports, memoranda, speeches, photographs and a range of other material created in the course of the work of Archbishops and their staff. The collections constitute an invaluable resource for research into a large array of topics, be they ecclesiastical, social, political, national or local, and their popularity is shown by the high number of research visits and enquiries relating to them which the Library receives.

From 1279 to 1642, the Library’s series of Archbishops’ registers are the principal record of the Archbishop’s activities, and include material relating to institutions and appointments, visitations and other correspondence. After the Restoration the registers were superseded in importance by the Archbishops’ Act Books, part of the Vicar General archive.

Whilst these sources provide valuable insights into the activities of early Archbishops, it is likely that many office holders may well have considered the papers they created to have been their own personal property, so sadly material does not survive in great quantities for seventeenth and eighteenth century Archbishops. One notable exception is Archbishop William Wake (1716-1737) who gave his papers to Christ Church College, Oxford (Lambeth holds microfilm copies).

But by the time of Archbishop Charles Longley (1862-1868) there had clearly been a change of approach, and series of papers survive in large quantities from then on. In the cases of Archbishops Archibald Tait (1868-1882) and Randall Davidson (1903-1925), the amount of material is vast; the Davidson papers for example, run to over 800 individual volumes.

Archbishop Tait (1811-1882)

Archbishop Tait (1811-1882). This portrait hangs in Lambeth Palace.

A major part of the Library’s ongoing work consists of the appraisal of recent Archbishops’ papers, where material worthy of permanent preservation is identified, and subsequently catalogued so that it can be made accessible. Current work focuses on the papers of Archbishop Robert Runcie (1980-1991) with papers from the early years of his time in office now available following a 30 year closure period, and covering such topics as the Falklands War and the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982. Preparatory work is also being carried out on the papers of subsequent Archbishops, such as capturing information which will be of use in cataloguing, or dealing with the increasing prevalence of digital formats and alternative media.

The Library is also cataloguing the papers of the Council on Foreign Relations (CfFR), the body responsible for the Archbishop’s ecumenical relations with overseas churches for the period 1933-1982, which form a distinct subset of the Archbishop’s papers.

The First World War and Lambeth Palace

Among the papers of Archbishop Davidson survives a typescript list of relatives and friends of members of the Lambeth Palace household serving in the War (ref: LPL Davidson 22). It includes the name Craufurd Ellison, a reminder of the connections between three episcopal families whose relationships are documented by the Library’s holdings. Craufurd Tait Ellison was the son of Agnes Sitwell Ellison (née Tait), she in turn the youngest daughter of Archibald Campbell Tait (Archbishop of Canterbury 1868-82) and Catharine Spooner Tait.

Agnes Tait and her sisters

Agnes Tait and her sisters (ref: MS 4502/41)

Agnes (b. 1860) died in 1888 after giving birth to her son Craufurd, soon after her marriage in January that year. She was buried at Addington, where the Archbishops had a Palace at that period. The 1891 census shows her young son living with his widowed father, his father’s brother and sister, his grandfather, and four female servants (including his nannie, Susannah Soan), in Warwick Square (Pimlico). By 1901 he was at school in Rottingdean, Sussex.

The name Craufurd was resonant in the Tait family, as it was earlier the name both of the Archbishop’s father (d. 1832), and of the Taits’ only son, also a clergyman: Craufurd Tait (b. 1849) had died in 1878, followed soon after by his grieving mother, both memorialized in an account published after their deaths by the Archbishop. The family’s history is well-known for the earlier loss in 1856 of five of their seven children to scarlet fever, leaving only Craufurd and one sister surviving. Further daughters were born to the Taits after the tragedy. The Library holds records of the Tait family, including this photograph picturing Agnes (standing), Lucy (left) and Edith (ref: LPL MS 4502 item 41), and also including letters and papers on the engagement and marriage of Agnes Tait to John Henry Joshua Ellison (another clergyman) and her death (ref: LPL MS 4499 ff. 215-233, MS 4500 item 2).

Craufurd Ellison was thereby the nephew of Archbishop Davidson, though his wife Edith (née Tait), who was Agnes’s sister. Randall Davidson was a friend of their brother Craufurd Tait (the Library holds records of a tour of Egypt and Palestine they made together in 1872-3, ref: LPL MSS 1602-1603), who was instrumental in Davidson’s ordination to the ministry by his father Archbishop Tait; Davidson subsequently became the Archbishop’s chaplain.

In the 1911 census Ellison, then in his early twenties, was already serving in the military, a 2nd Lieutenant, and his marriage certificate records that he was married to Marjorie Wynyard (daughter of a retired Colonel) in the chapel at Lambeth Palace on 2 August 1914, with Archbishop Davidson officiating and Edith Davidson among the witnesses (also recorded in the Chapel register, ref: LPL MS 2886 p. 33).

Marriage record of Craufurd Ellison

Marriage of Craufurd Ellison (ref: MS 2886 page 33)

The marriage was by special licence issued on behalf of the Archbishop – the number of licences for August 1914 is noticeably increased over the same period the preceding year, presumably owing to the circumstances of the War (ref: LPL FM III/23). The Library holds letters to Randall and Edith Davidson from and concerning their nephew, including letters of 1890-1 written on behalf of the infant Craufurd enumerating his activities such as spinning his top and feeding the ducks, and early letters in his own hand (including one to Uncle “Wrangle”). A letter from his nannie written soon after his wedding in 1914 describes the sun suddenly shining on the bridal couple as Craufurd put on the ring, recalling the moment when the same thing occurred as his mother first held her child in 1888. There are also letters of farewell following the outbreak of War in 1914 and reporting Craufurd’s injury in the early months of War (ref: LPL MS 4499 ff. 234-289). Following his war service with the King’s Royal Rifles, he is listed (in Kelly’s Directory 1920) as a Captain living in Wiltshire. He died as a Major in 1942, his name appearing on the war memorial in Wilton, Wiltshire alongside that of John Damer Craufurd Ellison (b. 1915), his only son, who died on war service in North Africa the following year. He also had a daughter (b. 1919) – another Agnes, like his mother.

The Library also holds records of the Ellison family among the papers of Gerald Ellison (Bishop of London 1973-81). He was the son of John Henry Joshua Ellison (1855-1944), who had married Agnes. Craufurd Ellison was thereby the (much older) half-brother of Gerald (b. 1910), who was the son of John’s second wife. Among the family material which survives in the Ellison papers are visitors’ books from the family homes dating from 1901 onwards – including the signature of Craufurd Tait Ellison (ref: LPL Ellison P/2/2).

Additional information from genealogical sources on the Ancestry website.

The First World War and Queen Anne’s Bounty

Queen Anne's Bounty World War One memorial

Queen Anne’s Bounty World War One memorial

This is the first blog post in a series to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The Library and Record Centre together hold substantial material relating to the War, which is summarised in the research guide available on our website.

The records include files among the archive of Queen Anne’s Bounty on the impact of the War. Queen Anne’s Bounty was founded in 1704 to augment the incomes of the poorer clergy of the Church of England, and remained a central body in church administration into the 20th century (it was succeeded in 1948 by the Church Commissioners). The files record how the Bounty Office adapted to wartime conditions and the consequences for its activities and staff (ref: QAB/7/12).

When War was declared on 4 August 1914 there were 38 permanent and 10 ‘supernumerary’ (temporary) members of staff employed by the Bounty Office, based at Deans Yard, Westminster, and many of these were members of the Territorial Army. By 9 December 1914 nine members of staff had joined the armed services. In common with the Civil Service, the Bounty Office continue to pay staff their peacetime salaries minus their military pay, while the remaining staff worked increased overtime and took fewer holidays to cover the work. The Bounty Office attempted to keep its remaining staff of military age and in a letter dated 29 February 1916 the Treasury agreed that, for recruiting purposes, the Queen Anne’s Bounty should be treated as a Government Department, which enabled them to secure exemption for three key members of staff. However, by May 1918 the remorseless pressure for recruits left the Bounty Office with no male staff under the age of 31, three exempted members of staff aged 31-41, 17 male members of staff over the military age of 41 and 12 female members of staff, a significant reduction from peacetime staffing levels.

Being a small organisation there was considerable contact with staff serving in the armed forces and the files contain correspondence received from locations including France, Italy and the Middle East, giving detailed accounts of their experiences, health and morale. For example Lieutenant Alexander Symons, a clerk before the War, was severely wounded on 28 August 1916 and awarded the Military Cross. On 19 December 1917 he wrote to Mr Le Fanu, Secretary and Treasurer of the Bounty, thanking him for sending ‘pipe and tobacco’. Some of the letters bear evidence of censorship.

Other material expressive of wartime conditions includes a copy of a War Office memorandum of 21 December 1916 concerning the inadvertent disclosure of military information to enemy intelligence through parish magazines, stating: ‘The clergy are to a great extent naturally ignorant of the various means the enemy employ to collect their information about our troops and dispositions’. In 1918-19 the Bounty Office produced a series of ‘Bounty Gazettes’ to those staff serving in the armed forces (ref: QAB/9/7). The first Gazette of 18 April 1918 referred to the impact of food rationing: ‘We grow somewhat thinner, physically, but that is because the Army must be fed and so we civilians are limited in the intake. Of course we grouse and say hard things of the Food Controller but that’s just the British way of letting off steam’. There is also correspondence concerning a Memorial Service for Civil Servants killed in the War held on 11 July 1918 in Westminster Abbey and attended by George V, which included an allocation of 10 seats to the Bounty Office with preference being given ‘to those who have served in the War, or who have lost relatives’ (ref: QAB/7/12/2). The final section of the files relates to the demobilisation and return of members of staff back to their posts following the Armistice.

Two members of the Bounty Staff died during the War, Captain Gaze killed on the Somme in 1916 and Rifleman Perry killed near Ypres in 1915, and a third, Private Goad, died in 1919 of illness contracted on active service. The memorial to those who died survives in Church House, Westminster.

Detailed descriptions of these files are available in the archives catalogue.


With a little help from our Friends II: Geometria Speculative

The Library holds significant numbers of works that were written by Archbishops of Canterbury, many of whom have been distinguished scholars. Earlier Archbishops tend to be under-represented: one such is Thomas Bradwardine, c.1290-1349, who was Archbishop for only 38 days. Bradwardine, nicknamed the Doctor profundus, was one of the prominent thinkers of the fourteenth century, and his influence remained strong after his death, as witness Chaucer’s mention of him alongside Augustine and Boethius.

Line 422 of Chaucer, Nun's Priest's Tale

Chaucer, line 422 of Nun’s Priest’s Tale, from a copy of his works which belonged to Archbishop Whitgift

Bradwardine’s work, following a tradition established by his predecessors at Oxford, combined theology with mathematics and science. He was almost as well-known for his work on mathematics as for his theology, and was concerned to relate the two fields, emphasising the philosophical relevance of mathematical concepts. While at Oxford, Bradwardine wrote Geometria Speculative: this was published in 1495 in Paris by Guy Marchant. It was the first mathematical work by any Englishman to appear in print.

A page from Geometria Spectulative

A page from Geometria Speculative

A copy of the work became available in 2006 and was purchased for Lambeth Palace Library using generous grants from various bodies including the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library, Friends of the National Libraries, and the Lambeth Diploma Association.

Football and the War

The World Cup is over for another four years but in the last month we have seen the power that football has to arouse strong passions in people. How much stronger such passions can be in times of war and conflict is shown by a pamphlet entitled Football and the War, which we came across when reviewing our collections for the World War I commemorations. The author of the pamphlet, Frederick N. Charrington (1850-1936), a member of the wealthy brewing family who gave up his fortune after converting to Christianity, is best known as a temperance reformer and for his philanthropic work. However, in late 1914 he was prominent in a campaign to halt professional football so that players could join the war effort.

Football and the War

First page of Charrington’s Football and the War which was published late in 1914

Charrington believed that the 7,000 professional footballers should set an example by enlisting and he wanted to see the Football Association free them from their contracts. Furthermore, he thought that the football stadiums should be turned into drill grounds and recruitment centres. He wrote letters to the press, the football association and even the King in support of his idea. For Charrington it was “a National shame and disgrace to our country if we have our best athletes charging one another on the football field instead of charging the Germans on the battlefield.” Charrington was a fiery campaigner. During his campaign against music halls in the 1870s and 1880s he had been arrested several times for harassing patrons and in 1915 he stormed into the House of Commons, took up the Mace and began to protest against the members’ bar. This passion was also evident in his crusade against professional football when he tried to make an unauthorised speech at a game at Fulham’s ground, Craven Cottage, in September1914, and had to be forcibly ejected by two members of club staff, an incident captured by the press photographers in attendance.

Your country needs you

“Your country needs you” – a contemporary press cartoon reproduced in Football and the War

The Football Association decided to continue with the 1914/15 programme and responded to their critics by pointing out that they were making their facilities available for recruiting and that they had made a financial contribution to the war effort. It is clear from Football and the War that Charrington thought that the FA’s response was inadequate. The language and tone of Football and the War are uncompromising. He accuses the players of the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland of lacking patriotism, writing that:

Men who won’t fight for their country are unfit to represent their country in any capacity. They have not a shred of patriotism in their souls. They are the mountebanks of a great game.

He thinks that after the hostilities cease, the decision to continue playing football will meet with opprobrium:

What will the Belgian and French hosts at whose banquets they will be guests think of the men and the employers of the men who on the other side of the English Channel kicked footballs about when the towns of Belgium and the fields of France were ravaged by the Huns?”

He goes even further and accuses both players and their employers of cowardice, calling them the “white feather brigade” and says that:

On their caps and on their jerseys, in addition to the national emblem the players sport, let each player have a neat white feather worked by loving hands. This will be a perpetual memorial to master and man-to the Football Association and its hirelings-of their selfish cowardice in the hour of Imperial danger.


“Patriotism” – a cartoon by Joseph Morewood Staniforth reproduced in Football and the War

The campaign against professional sport, and football in particular, was not Charrington’s alone and was taken up by the press. Indeed, he included several press photographs and cartoons in the pamphlet. Much of the criticism levelled against the FA and its players was unfair as many players, particularly the unmarried ones, had joined up and the clubs were active in recruitment. Eventually, with dwindling crowds and difficulty in paying players, the FA decided to suspend professional football for the duration of the War. The FA Cup Final of 24 April 1915, the so-called “Khaki-final” because of the numbers of spectators in uniform, was the last major professional game of the war. It was played between Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea. When presenting the Cup to the victors, Sheffield, Lord Derby said:

You have played with one another and against one another for the Cup; play with one another for England now.

Further Reading

Frederick N. Charrington. Football and the War. London: Book Saloon, [1914]

Cyril A.E. R. Gull. The great acceptance: the life story of F.N. Charrington. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1913.

Derek Birley. “Sportstmen and the deadly game” in J. A. Mangan (ed.) A Sport-loving Society: Victorian and Edwardian Middle-class England at Play. Routledge, 2005