Jun 232012
The orginal returns are now available for free, by download from the National Archives DocumentsOnline service.  Some knowledge of the geographical and administrative boundaries in1851 is helpful to locate these records.  There are 623 bundles of records organised by Registration districts within Counties.  The process of accessing them is a little convoluted the first time, but stick with it.


Start here http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/browse/C8993?v=h from which point there are links to 57 county pages.  Within each county page will be found the Registration district bundles.


Select one of these bundles which will have number like HO129/xxx.  Click “Add to basket”.  Then move to the basket (top right of the screen, then “View basket”).  Add your email address and “Checkout”.  After you submit your order you will receive a download link to the file.  The files will be large (100MB) and contain a zip file with one Adobe pdf file.  This file is a collection of the images of the actual census return forms.  This is where some local knowledge will be helpful in locating the form for a specific place of worship.

© 2012 – 2016, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.

 Posted by at 4:57 pm
Nov 252011

Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies in conjunction with Queen Mary College has launched the Dissenting Academies Project.  It provides databases of academies in the 17th-19th centuries, principals, tutors, students and a “virtual” composite academies library from this period.


It is a huge resource of information on this topic and period but also provides a starting point for future research.

The earliest dissenting academies were established after the Restoration as a result of the 1662 Act of Uniformity, and were intended to provide Protestant students dissenting from the Church of England with a higher education similar to that at Oxford and Cambridge, from which they were largely excluded. Their main purpose was to prepare candidates for the ministry, but many educated lay students as well. They played a crucial role in ministerial and lay education: the tutors and the students they educated contributed in fundamental ways to the development of ideas, notably in the fields of theology, philosophy, literature, and science. In the nineteenth century the academies’ original purpose to provide a higher education was largely superseded by the founding of London and the provincial universities, which were open to dissenters, and by the eventual reform of Oxford and Cambridge.

© 2011 – 2012, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.

May 282009

Charles Surman’s biographical card index of Congregational ministers includes the names of about 32,000 individuals, and, where known, their dates, details of their education, ministries or other employment, together with the sources used. It covers the period from the mid-seventeenth century to 1972, and though it focuses on England and Wales, it includes Congregational ministers serving abroad provided they trained or served as ministers in Britain. Although intended as an index of Congregational ministers, it also gives details of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Presbyterians and some Baptists.

The index is available at http://surman.english.qmul.ac.uk.

© 2009 – 2012, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.