Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seek and ye shall find An interactive web database of Anglican clerics helps out historians and amateur genealogists

Ecclesiastical history is not, at first glance, a topic naturally associated with the web. Yet a pioneering web database is taking shape that whizzes church history smartly into the 21st century. The Clergy of the Church of England database (CCEd) aims to provide a constantly updated digital record of the identity and career of every Anglican clergy man in England and Wales over three centuries, from the Reformation to the start of the Victorian age.

The database, so far featuring over 105,000 "clerical CVs" and counting, is intended to establish the first clear picture of one of the most important professions, filling gaps in church history and providing a resource for academics, amateur historians and genealogists. Along the way, it is shining a light on a host of extraordinary individuals: characters to emerge include James Mayne, campaigning 19th-century curate of Bethnal Green and unlikely ancestor of the actor Patsy Kensit, and the less dutiful Richard Thursfield, vicar of Pattingham, who was reportedly "frequently seen lying in the roads in a state of intoxication".

The project, conceived 12 years ago, might seem an unlikely marriage of the latest technology and a somewhat stuffy subject, acknowledges Arthur Burns, history professor at King's College London and one of three historians collaborating on the scheme. "We have always been seen as the most traditional types of scholars, very archive-heavy historians," Burns admits cheerfully. "Ecclesiastical history is often seen as a musty, old-fashioned discipline. But this has helped bring out our non-tweediness."

More here-


No comments: