Early Modern Archbishops’ Papers Project 3

Dr Richard Palmer reports on further work to re-catalogue the early modern Archbishops’ papers. Cataloguing of the Secker papers has been brought to completion.  Secker volumes 8-11 illustrate the artificial nature of the Archbishops’ Papers series, since they are not in fact papers of Secker or of any other Archbishop. Rather they are papers of George Lavington, Bishop of Exeter, and of Henry Rimius, who worked closely together in their polemical campaign against the Moravians. A further three volumes of these papers are found in MS 1172*. A note in the papers of Andrew Coltee Ducarel reveals that when Rimius died in 1756 his papers were purchased by Lavington. After the latter’s death in 1762 the combined Lavington/Rimius archive was given to Secker by Nutcombe Quick, Chancellor of the Diocese of Exeter, and placed in Lambeth Palace Library. The discovery of Ducarel’s note led on to the identification of a catalogue of the collection, compiled for Lavington by Andrew Planta of the British Museum Library (LR/F/20).

Secker 8 comprises Lavington’s anti-Methodist papers. The new item by item description brings to light detailed information on Methodism in Devon and Cornwall, including the results of Lavington’s investigations of alleged immorality by Wesley and his followers. The description also highlights letters of leading figures such as John Wesley, George Whitefield and Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, and of many of the evangelical clergy of the Diocese of Exeter. Secker 9-11 comprise anti-Moravian papers, including testimonies and other documentation on the Moravian Church, correspondence of Rimius with Lavington, Archbishop Thomas Herring and others, and drafts of works by both Rimius and Lavington.

Secker 12 comprises a printed text, General Orders and Rules for the Management of the British Museum, interleaved with manuscript observations, or rather, objections, by Gowin Knight, the Museum’s cantankerous first principal Librarian. These were dated successfully to April 1759. They were doubtless sent to Secker as a Principal Trustee of the Museum and they include annotations in Secker’s hand. The original appointment of Knight as Principal Librarian was catalogued earlier in the Project amongst the Herring papers.

Cataloguing of the papers of Archbishop Cornwallis was also completed. Cornwallis 1 and 2 comprise papers in the suit Canterbury v. Suter in 1776 which established the extra-parochial status of Lambeth Palace in the diocese of Canterbury. Together with related papers (MSS 1161-2, 1361) these volumes provide a wealth of information on Lambeth Palace and its environs, including the Archbishop’s servants, the burial of Archbishops, the barge house, the Lambeth dole, and services in Lambeth Palace Chapel.

Plan of the Palace and grounds adjacent in 1783, surveyed before alterations were made by Archbishop Moore following the death of his predecessor Archbishop Cornwallis.

Plan of the Palace and grounds adjacent in 1783, surveyed before alterations were made by Archbishop Moore following the death of his predecessor Archbishop Cornwallis.

Amongst the miscellaneous papers in Cornwallis 3, the new item by item description brought to light a fascinating letter from Jacob Duché, afterwards Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, on the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War and the dilemmas faced by loyalist clergy. Also found were papers relating to the fabric of St. Paul’s Cathedral, including documentation on ‘the fraudulent and insolent behaviour’ of Robert Mylne, the Surveyor. Cornwallis 4 was identified as an account book recording subscriptions to a fund for the relief of loyalist clergy in America during the American Revolutionary War. The funds were held by three separate bankers. This volume records the funds banked with Robert and Henry Drummond. The volume recording funds banked with Messrs Gosling was identified as SPG VI, ff. 379-88. The volumes record both subscriptions received and sums dispersed for the relief of the American clergy.

Cataloguing of the papers of Archbishop Moore is now in progress.

Hello from the Conservation Studio!

Tucked away in the beautiful Grade I listed buildings of Lambeth Palace you will find a studio dedicated to ensuring the longevity of the library. Here in the conservation studio we use specialised skills to conserve and preserve the library’s collections.

The Studio itself dates back to the 1950’s, originally consisting of two cupboards and two benches set amongst shelves of printed books. Space was limited to say the least! This was especially tight for the part-time Conservators from the British Museum who initially manned the studio. Fortunately the need for a fully equipped studio to care for the Lambeth Palace Library was recognised and in 1993 the Church Commissioners funded the refitting of the studio. The outcome was an exemplary conservation studio that shines within the conservation community and amongst heritage organisations. In 2012 the studio underwent further work to reinforce the floor to address sagging caused mostly by footfall. Permission was sought from English heritage and Lambeth Heritage to create an oak floor with embedded steel beams. The studio we see today accommodates all of the heavy equipment and materials needed to care for the unique collections held by Lambeth Palace Library. It is home to a dynamic team of five that implement collection care to high professional standards across the library.

Meet the Team

Janet Atkinson
Conservation Manager
Janet joined Lambeth Palace Library as a Senior Conservator in 2002 and was the only Conservator here at the time. Since then the department has grown and she now manages a team of Conservators as well as the studio. Janet specialises in the conservation of early printed books.

Fiona Johnston
Consortium Conservator
Fiona works in the studio at Lambeth Palace Library on collection material from Lambeth Palace Library, Church of England Record Centre and Westminster Abbey.  Working across these collections Fiona is able to conserve materials ranging from medieval manuscripts and bindings through to 20th century architectural drawings.

Talitha Wachtelborn
Sion Collection Conservator
Talitha is surveying, conserving and boxing books from the ARC Sequence of Sion College Library.  Her conservation work is part of a project to catalogue and conserve these books in order to make them available to readers.

Suzy Pawlak
Volunteer Conservator
Suzy is a trained books conservator. She volunteers in the studio one day a week supporting projects and studio work.

Ian Watson
Preservation Manager
Ian ensures the best possible environment is maintained for the collections within the Grade I listed buildings of Lambeth Palace. He is also currently building a condition assessment database in order to plan future conservation treatments for the most vulnerable parts of the library and archive.

Sarah Bashir
Preservation Assistant
Sarah is the newest member of the team. She assists Ian in maintaining the environmental conditions and is creating housing for part of the collections. She also monitors the environment and carries out conservation at Church of England Record Centre.


L-R: Ian, Talitha, Janet, Fiona, Sarah

We look forward to sharing more of what we do with you in the following months!

Early Modern Archbishops’ Papers Project 2

Dr Richard Palmer reports on further work to re-catalogue the early modern Archbishops’ papers. In recent weeks seven volumes of papers of Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury 1758-68, were catalogued for the first time on an item by item basis. The papers were found to include many papers inherited by Secker from his predecessors, especially Thomas Herring, Archbishop of Canterbury 1747-57.

Secker 1 mainly comprises papers relating to William and Mary College, Virginia, including a long account of the affairs of the College by John Camm following his dismissal as professor of Divinity in 1757. Also included are papers relating to financial provision for the clergy in Virginia in which Camm also played a prominent part. A letter sent in 1760 to Lord Halifax, Commissioner for Trade and Plantations, signed ‘Philanglus Americanus’, with suggestions on the governance of the American colonies and the role of the Church of England, was found to be the work of Samuel Johnson, President of King’s College, New York, one of Secker’s most prominent correspondents in America.

Secker 2 comprises a miscellany of papers, the largest section relating to the project of Benjamin Kennicott to collate all known Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament. Also included are papers relating to Ireland. Amongst these, as well as 16 letters to Secker from the Dean of Killaloe, published by the Church of England Record Society in 2010, was found an important letter to Secker from his friend John Bowes, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, giving a vivid first-hand account of the anti-union riots in Dublin in December 1759.

Secker 2 f. 232

Letter to Archbishop Secker from William Henry, Dean of Killaloe, 1764 (Secker 2 f. 232)

Secker 3 comprises Canterbury diocesan papers. These were already arranged and listed by the names of parishes, and it was initially assumed that no additional cataloguing was needed. However the papers proved to be more important for their subject matter than their location, and were so disparate in nature (including a report by the architect Robert Mylne on the fabric of Canterbury Cathedal, a catalogue of the parochial library at Detling, and letters on the baptism of a ‘negro’ and an Anabaptist), that a completely new catalogue was necessary. Also included are visitation papers, including an interesting series of 6 letters to Secker from his chaplain, Charles Hall, providing reports on the progress of the visitation in 1762.

Secker 4 comprises metropolitical papers, including correspondence on Secker’s exercise of the ‘Archbishop’s option’, his right to nominate to a benefice of his choice in the diocese of a newly consecrated bishop on its first becoming vacant. Secker’s choice of St George’s Hanover Square, a plum in the diocese of London, caused a rift with Thomas Sherlock, Bishop of London, which is a major theme of the correspondence.

Secker 5 comprises Latin exercises (short dissertations on theological topics) written by candidates for institution to benefices or, more typically, dispensations to hold benefices in plurality. These were already catalogued by the names of their authors. However various inaccuracies suggested the need for a new catalogue correlating each exercise with the institution or dispensation which resulted.

Secker 6 mainly comprises papers of Secker as Visitor of various institutions (especially All Souls College, Oxford). Included are letters from Stephen Niblett, Warden of All Souls, and the jurist William Blackstone. The new catalogue allows these papers to be studied alongside other papers of the Archbishop as Visitor of All Souls in the manuscripts series and Vicar General records.

Secker 7 is miscellaneous in character and the new item by item catalogue reveals many significant items which were previously inaccessible. Included is Secker’s letter to Archbishop Herring in 1755 responding to Herring’s proposal to nominate him to be Bishop of London; original declarations and oaths taken by converts from Roman Catholicism; a letter from Jacob Duche in 1765 giving an account of his life, spiritual development and ministry in Philadelphia; and legal opinions by Lord Hardwicke and others. Also present are papers relating to foreign Protestants, the Faculty Office, Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, and the case of Henry Perfect, a clergyman who failed in every respect to match up to his surname.

Archbishop Davidson and the First World War – Outbreak of War

Archbishop Randall Davidson was 66 when war broke out in 1914. He had been Archbishop of Canterbury since 1903 and had already had a lucrative career at the centre of England’s ecclesiastical life, including acting as the trusted confidant of Queen Victoria during his time as resident chaplain to both Archbishop Tait and Archbishop Benson.

Portrait of Archbishop Davidson by John Singer Sargent, 1910

Portrait of Archbishop Davidson by John Singer Sargent, 1910

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Davidson looked to uphold the role of the Church of England within national life and provide support and guidance in moral, social and political matters. Along with much of the population Davidson had believed that war might be avoided and even spoke of the possibility of Britain avoiding the conflict in a sermon he gave at Westminster Abbey on August 2nd 1914. Davidson had good theological contacts in Germany and had previously expressed the belief that war between the two countries was unthinkable.

Davidson’s lack of foresight regarding the conflict did not prevent him, once war had broken out, from taking the lead on appropriate wartime issues, as and when requested by the government. He believed that the Church of England should act to unite and support the nation throughout the wartime period, and at all costs prevent the deterioration of moral standards. The Archbishop, along with other leaders of the national church, benefited from having the ear of prominent members of government and parliament. This enabled him to have a degree of influence, as well as a voice in various conversations and decisions regarding the conflict.

Although Davidson did protest against aspects of the British government’s methods of warfare (as shown throughout his papers for this period held at the Library), he did not look to publically condemn the wartime government and instead focused his attention on applying pressure behind the scenes. He railed against the government’s policy of reprisal, (especially the use of poison gas), advocated the control of alcohol consumption and temperance during the war period and concerned himself with the moral welfare of the men at the front (including criticising in the House of Lords the War Office’s toleration of brothels close to army camps).

There were many aspects of the war that the Archbishop concerned himself with and in the opening months of war the Archbishop was often seen as the natural point of contact for ordinary citizens seeking advice. Members of the Archbishop’s diocese, in particular, sought reassurance and guidance once war had been declared and they repeatedly contacted him for information on anti- invasion preparations in Kent. Whilst often in the dark himself on these matters, Archbishop Davidson was in the rarefied position of having excellent contacts within government, enabling him to acquire and circulate information, including the latest emergency guidance.

Davidson 376 f.89, Anti- invasion guidelines

Davidson 376 f.89, Anti- invasion guidelines

The Archbishop’s priorities could not fail to be affected by the outbreak of war. The war became the over-riding concern for the Church during this period, presenting it with new predicaments and featuring heavily as a priority in the agenda and minutes of Bishops’ meetings (for more about this see the Library’s previous blog post on ‘The First World War and the Bishops’ ) In particular Davidson was keen to ensure the preservation of moral standards during this difficult time and this led him to question the amount of money being given in separation allowances to soldiers’ wives and partners. He controversially succeeded in preventing unmarried partners receiving the same amount as of right. In 1918 Davidson debated with the War Office and in the House of Lords over the toleration of brothels close to army camps. He also condemned the use of poison gas and the bombing of Freiburg in April 1917 in retaliation for the sinking of two hospital ships. In 1916, at the age of 68, he visited the Western Front and this was followed by a second visit in 1918.

Future blog posts in this series will look more closely at the Archbishop’s wartime role and areas of his involvement. For more information about First World War sources see the Library’s research guide . The Library also has a First World War timeline looking at Archbishop Davidson’s involvement with the war.

The Church and Social Responsibility

The cataloguing of a large and important collection of records created by the Board for Social Responsibility (BSR) is close to completion. Work on the collection, held at the Church of England Record Centre, is being completed as part of a 16-month project, funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme, which will also see the equally substantial and varied collection of the Board of Mission and Unity made widely available to the public for the first time.

Ethics in Industrial Relations -published by the BSR in 1981

Ethics in Industrial Relations -published by the BSR in 1981

Established in 1958 as an Advisory Committee to the Church Assembly (later General Synod), BSR was an amalgamation of two earlier central Church bodies – the Church of England Moral Welfare Council and the Social and Industrial Council. Taking over and expanding on the work of these bodies, the Board sought ‘to promote and co-ordinate the thought and action of Church in matters affecting family, social and industrial life’.

The work of the Board was dictated either by outside requests (from Synod, individual Churchmen, Government departments) or its committees deciding that a particular task should be undertaken. Tasks falling under the remit of BSR included: advising clergy and laity at parish level on matters of social responsibility; accepting requests to provide evidence to central Government, Royal Commissions, departmental and Select Committees; writing reports on issues and briefs for bishops involved with debates in the House of Lords; represent the CofE on external bodies – the BCC for example, and encouraging national and international links thereby helping the Church fulfil its pastoral mission.

The Board was also expected to inform those within the Church wishing to speak on a wide variety of social issues, resulting in an array of subjects appearing on the BSR radar, including: alleged human rights infringements at home or abroad; political and social unrest in South Africa; the accumulation of nuclear weapons and the threat to peace by the ‘Arms Race’; rising unemployment and concurrent decline in traditional industries, such as mining and steel working; the growth of multinational organisations; and the complex and varied anxieties faced by the family in modern society.

Many of the more in-depth BSR investigations were completed by Working Parties comprised of experts drawn from both within and outside of the Church. Generally headed by the BSR Secretary (or a Secretary of a BSR sub-Committee) and convening over a defined period, discussion would focus on material (reports, articles, publications) presented to the party members which offered a range of arguments and viewpoints. Conclusions would be drawn, and, generally, a report of the findings presented to Synod and published.

The focal point for BSR activities was the Secretary, and it was he, supported by the Secretaries of the internal Standing Committees of BSR – Social Policy Committee, Industrial Committee and International Affairs Committee, who would create what became known as ‘resource files’. It is these files, and those created by the Working Parties noted above, which form the core of the collection. Varied in size and content, the files generally contain correspondence, reports from external bodies relating to the specific subject, and all manner of booklets, publications and pamphlets sourced by the Secretary to offer a range of perspectives on the particular subject.

Work with the collection has progressed well, and since February around 500 boxes of BSR material have been appraised, re-packaged when necessary, and catalogued into CALM – the Lambeth Palace/Church of England Record Centre electronic catalogue. A completion date of late November has been set.  Once complete, then work will begin on the 600 or so boxes of material in the Board of Mission and Unity collection with a completion date for that collection of summer 2015.

To view the collection click here.


The Mothers’ Union: In Word and Deed

In 1876 Mothers’ Union founder Mary Sumner had printed a run of fifty cards with practical advice for mothers. There was a hymn on one side and, on the reverse, the following text:

‘Remember that your Children are given up, body and soul, to Jesus Christ in Holy Baptism, and that your duty is to train them for His Service.

1.       Try, by God’s help, to make them obedient, truthful and pure.

2.       Never allow coarse jests, bad angry words, or low talk in your house. Speak gently.

3.       You are strongly advised never to give your children beer, wine or spirits without the doctor’s orders, or to send young people to the public house.

4.       Do not allow your girls to go about the streets at night, and keep them from unsafe companions and from dangerous amusements.

5.       Be careful that your children do not read bad books or police reports.

6.       Set them a good example in word and deed.

7.       Kneel down, and pray to God morning and evening, and teach your children to pray.

8.       Try to read a few verses of the Bible daily, and come to Church as regularly as possible.'[1]

The cards were distributed among attendees of those first Mothers’ Union meetings held in the parish of Old Alresford, and given to those who had expressed interest in the group’s activities. The language used may seem slightly amusing to us now but the dutiful nature of these words can still be felt. Though not exactly a manifesto, the cards set forth (directly or indirectly) some of the principles on which Sumner founded the Union. The sixth point on the list seems to be the most enduring: a ‘good example in word and deed.’ As we shall see, behind the one hundred and thirty-eight-years of tireless social outreach, domestic and international campaigning, and charity work the Mothers’ Union have informed and educated their members through a prolific publishing campaign.

By 1888 the Mothers’ Union was sanctioned and operating in eighteen dioceses, many with several branches. With such rapid growth a means of clarifying the aims and objects of the Union became essential to its unity and coherence as a national organisation. In response the Mothers’ Union Journal was founded and in addition to articles noting the progress and purpose of the Union, the journal published fiction, poetry and teaching for mothers, including a series entitled ‘Letters to a Young Mother from an Old Mother.’ In its second year of publication the journal doubled its page count in order to dedicate more space to reports of meetings and it was around this time that a central Committee was formed with a view to inaugurating a Central Council.

We see then, that the ‘good example’ of the words printed and disseminated through the journal was one of the central organising principles of the movement in these early years. The articles directly informed the ‘deeds’ of many branches, where the issues discussed in the journal often provided a structure or focal point for meetings. The journal would also be used as a means of advertising pamphlets written by Sumner, her brisk but considered language providing a framework for the deeds carried out in the outreach and education undertaken in the various branches of the union.

The journal – succeeded by other periodicals including Mothers Union News, Mothers in Council, and more recently Families First – was only the beginnings of this organised effort in literary outreach. In Ten Years More: 1926-1936, a pamphlet summarising the achievements of the group during that decade, Mary E Thompson wrote:

It is impossible to give an adequate idea of our publication work. Ceaselessly all kinds of books, booklets, pamphlets and leaflets have been poured out to our members.[2]

They were popular too; in 1889 the first Mothers’ Union Almanac quickly sold 20,000 copies. As the publishing project rapidly expanded the creation of a Literature Committee became necessary and was established in 1906 to oversee the movement’s publishing activities, with Diocesan Literature Representatives appointed to recommend educational texts. At the height of its influence the Mothers’ Union maintained a public library for members and their children at Mary Sumner House in Tufton Street, as well as a bookshop.

The Lending Library at Mary Sumner House

The Lending Library at Mary Sumner House. Image taken from ‘This is the Mary Sumner House’, London : Mothers’ Union, [196-?]

In June 2008 the central archives of the Mothers’ Union – including the records from Mary Sumner House, minutes, correspondence, accounts, pamphlets, architectural plans, photographs and slides – were transferred to Lambeth Palace Library. This valuable historical collection is publicly accessible thanks to the diligent work of our archives team and a glance at the archives catalogue will give you an idea of the thousands of items now held at the Palace. In addition to this archival material are the many boxes of printed books currently being sorted through by our library assistants prior to cataloguing.

While the collection numbers many hundreds of books it by no means represents a complete publication history of the Mothers’ Union, again demonstrating the sheer volume of materials produced by the group. The books came to us in boxes which had been grouped by Cordelia Moyse (who worked on the material while it was still at Mary Sumner House, and who has written the brilliant A History of the Mothers’ Union 1876-2008: Women, Anglicanism and Globalisation) in to a number of broad categories including – but not limited to – prayer books, prayer calendars, orders of service, children’s books, moral & social issues, Mothers’ Union lectures, families & parenting, overseas diocesan histories, overseas vernacular literature, annual reports and many variants and sub-categories in between. This list in itself gives an overview of the range of topics and issues addressed by the Union, the organisation of the group, and moreover asserts the central importance of literature within the Union historically.

Children's prayer book.

Childrens prayer book in an unidentified African dialect.

Sorting through the books the range of production values is striking. There are, as you would expect, beautifully bound volumes with glossy illustrations celebrating and documenting the history of the Union. There is also a wealth of pamphlets and publications which have been produced using low cost printing techniques such as lithography or photocopying, presumably to keep cover prices low where applicable and to enable larger runs and reach more people. Some of the ‘overseas vernacular literature’ has been produced on a typewriter and hand stitched with colour images from another source glued in. This D-I-Y approach brings us again back to the relationship between ‘deeds’ and ‘words’; the deed itself manifested in the physical act of labour involved in setting down the words required to support and educate others.

The Mothers' Union Centenary Brochure

‘The Mothers’ Union 1876-1976 : the Mothers’ Union centenary brochure’, [London : Mothers’ Union, 1976]


[1] Quoted in Violet B Lancaster. A Short History of the Mother’s Union. London: The Mothers’ Union, 1958
[2] Mary E Thompson. Ten Years More: 1926-1936. London: The Mothers’ Union, [1936]

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.