Archdeacons' Visitation Records

The Borthwick holds a good collection of visitation records of the Archdeaconry of the East Riding. The collection consists of 14 subclasses, but only the ones that contain details of the parishioners will be discussed here.

Court Books [ER.V/CB] 1663-1885 (27 Volumes)
The court books are arranged by rural deanery, i.e. Buckrose, Dickering, Harthill and Holderness. Until the early 1830s the Court Books consisted of two types of 'Calls' -

Visitation Calls: which simply records the incumbent and the old and new churchwardens for every parish within every deanery. The parishes are in alphabetical order within each deanery.

Correction Calls: these are of more use to the genealogist, recording the moral 'crimes' of the parishioners, non-payment of church dues, and many other offences. A full list from Court Book 4 (1675-1679) is provided below.

After 1835 the Court Books are more in the nature of general act books of the archdeacons,  since they contain induction mandates, citation mandates, inhibitions and relaxations, subscriptions, surrogation acts, convocation business, various commissions, monitions and archidiaconal charges to the clergy. They contain very little regarding the parishioners, and Correction Calls have ceased by then.

The Court Book volumes and their coverage are as follows:

1. 1663
8. 1691
15. 1734-1742
22. 1827-1840
2. 1665
9. 1691-1704
16. 1743-1749
23. 1841-1849
3. 1670-1674
10. 1694-1706
17. 1750-1759
24. 1850-1855
4. 1675-1679
11. 1707-1713
18. 1760-1773
25. 1855-1861
5. 1679-1687
12. 1713-1719
19. 1774-1785
26. 1862-1873
6. 1688
13. 1720-1725
20. 1786-1805
27. 1875-1885
7. 1689
14. 1726-1733
21. 1806-1826

Note: There are placename indexes to the court Books, 1665-1848, in ER.V/CB.28a-h.

Churchwardens' Presentments [ER.V/Ch.P] 1672-1834 (15 boxes)
The boxes are arranged by parish, so when ordering do not specify a year, specify the parish. Inside a box you will find two to four bundles, each relating to a particular parish, and each bundle contains all the Presentments for the coverage period. All the presentations found are summarised below.

Correction Citations [ER.V/Co.C] 1671-1827 (3 boxes)
These citations were issued by the Archdeacon's Registrar in York (Thomas Jubb, in the 1720s). They were in the nature of a form, with underneath a brief description of offences, often for several parishes at a time, and requiring the Ministers of the parishes concerned to attend the Visitation, held in St. Mary's Church, Beverley, and publish the process against the persons cited.

Excommunications [ER.V/Exc] 1669-1792 (6 boxes)
Those found guilty of most moral sins were routinely excommunicated. This was not a permanent status, and was usually lifted once the Penance had been performed.

Penances [ER.V/Pen] 1692-1803 (6 boxes)
The penances were very formulaic, and an example is provided below which demonstrates their humiliating nature.

Visitation Returns [ER.V/Ret] 1. Parochial Returns 1720-1724
Rarely an Archdeacon or his representative would Visit individual parishes, to ascertain their general state of repair, and the number and condition of books, vestments and vessels generally considered necessary to perform Divine Service. These Parochial Returns have been examined, and Ellerton was found to have been visited in October, 1723, and the return is provided in full below.

Archdeacons' Visitation Court Books
Vol 1

Vol 2

John Fisher alias Gardner, churchwarden
For not subscribing the bill of presentment and for not presenting the want of a Minister of the church out of repair.
Vol 3 Nil
Vol 4

1677 Margaret Blyth, widow, Edward Ridsdale and Matthew Young For not coming to church nor receiving the sacrement
Anna Room
For having a bastard child
Vol 5 Nil
Vol 6
Vol 7 Nil
Vol 8 Nil
Vol 9 Nil
Vol 10 Nil
Vol 11 Nil
Vol 12

1715 Elizabeth Ridsdale
for not paying her assessment towards the necessary repairs of the church being 3s. 6d
Vol 13

1720 Robert Holburn
for refusing his church sess being 4s. 6d.
1725 Anthony Brownbridge and Anne his wife
for the crime of fornication together before their marriage

Churchwardens' Presentations
(arranged by Parish)

For most years the Churchwardens had nothing to report, and their return to the Archdeacon's Visitation was a signed form. Here is an example, from 1730.

We, the churchwardens of Ellerton having diligently perused the Book of Articles given us in charge at the VISITATION of the Right Worshipful Robert Darley Waddilove, Clerk, Master of Arts, Archdeacon of the East Riding, held in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Eight do declare we have nothing to present.

Peter Brownbridge        Churchwarden


Excommunication was the most common of censure in the Ecclesiastical Courts of York. Ostensibly to be used only for the more serious of crimes, the practice in York was to use Excommunication routinely in cases of debt, especially debts to the Church, and for non-attendance in court to answer cases (presentments) brought against them by the churchwardens during Visitations of the Archdeacon.

Before 1734 Excommunications were in Latin, and in English thereafter. The typical form was as follows (English version):

Jaques Sterne, Doctor of Laws – Archdeacon of the Archdeaconry of the East Riding in the Cathedral and Metropolitan Church of Saint Peter in York, lawfully founded, To all and singular Rectors, Vicars, Curates and Clerks, whomsoever and wheresoever, within our Archdeaconry aforesaid, Greeting, We do hereby order and charge You, that during the Clebration of divine Service, on Sundays and other Holydays, in your Parish Churches and Chapels, you do publickly denounce, and with Effect declare all and singular the Persons, whose Names and Sirnames are underwritten to these Presents, to have been, and to be respectively Excommunicated for their respective Contumacies in not appearing before Us, or our lawful Representative at a certain Place, on a certain Day and Hours, now sometime past, to answer certain Articles, Heads and Interrogatories concerning the Souls Health and Reformation of their Manners, and especially the Crimes and Offences in our late Visitation found and presented, having been lawfully cited to this Effect, and openly, publickly, and often called upon, long waited for, but no way appearing, or excusing their Delay; and what you shall do in the Premises, you shall duly certify Us or our Representative, together with these presents. Given at York, under the Seal of our said Archdeaconry this ninth day of March in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty two.

By Decree of Court

Robert Jubb


[Names of those excommunicated]

The Excommunication was endorsed by the Vicar to certify that the denouncement had been duly made during Divine Worship, giving the date, and then it was returned to the Registry in York.

Only occasionally does the Excommunication state the offence (noticeably during the 1730s), so recourse must be had to the Archdeacons’ Visitation Records and the Presentments made by the Churchwardens.

The following are the Excommunications found for the parish:

3 Jan 1725

Anthony Brownbridge and Ann his wife of Ellerton

1 Dec 1739

Mary Young of Ellerton

4 Jan 1741

Anthony Simpson of Ellerton


No penances have been found for Ellerton.

Parochial Visitation Returns
1723, ER.V/Ret

fol 93
This is to Certify you that the buttresses round the church are in good repair, all the out walls are in good repair and the inside walls are all white-washed and the holes therein are well plastered up, the windows are all glazed where they were awanting; All the floor of the church is well laid with bricks; A decent cover for the font is provided with a table of marriages; Also the buttresses walls and windows of the chancel are put all into good repair.

William Store, vicar; Josias Thornwell, churchwarden

fol 90
A Schedule of the Books, Vestments and Vessells that belong to the Parish Church of Ellerton delivered in the Parochial Visitation of the Right Worshipful Heneage Dering, Doctor of Laws, Archdeacon of the Archdeaconry of the East Riding which was held in the Parish Church of Ellerton within the Deanery of Harthill upon the 6th day of Oct, 1723. 
A surplice
A linen cloth for the communion table
A linen cloth to cover the elements
A cushion for the pulpit
A flagon and chalice

Witness our hands, Wm Store, Vicar
Josias Thorwell, Churchwarden