Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

The appointment of churchwardens in the Archdeaconry of Chester circa 1720. And before?

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2015), 164, (1), 21–39.

Abstract

A summary of the wide range of tasks undertaken by churchwardens explains why a diocesan bishop like Francis Gastrell of Chester collected data about them in 1722. This is followed by a brief discussion of the new procedures for appointing wardens in the Church of England canons of 1604. Then Gastrell’s data on the number of wardens in the Archdeaconry of Chester is compared with other sources, and shown to be accurate. There is less comparative material to test his data on the mode of appointment of wardens, but again his data is shown to be generally good. The paper then goes on to examine how wardens were appointed. Using Gastrell’s data the paper demonstrates that the 1604 canons were followed in about half of the churches in the Archdeaconry of Chester in 1722. Pre-1604 customary practices as to numbers of wardens and / or their mode of appointment were still widespread. Ironically, some of these customs furthered clerical influence in the appointment of wardens which the canons had set out to increase. The paper instances the complexity of parochial customs. Finally, it examines briefly how customs had been changed between 1604 and 1722.

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Details

Author details

Phillips, C. B.