Van Mildert Papers

Scope and Content

Papers relating to the family of William Van Mildert, bishop of Durham. The documents are divided into 8 sections:

  • 1-86: early family papers.
  • 87-155: William Van Mildert, Rector of St Mary le Bow, Canon of Christ Church and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, 1788-1820.
  • 156-317: William Van Mildert, Bishop of Llandaff and Dean of St Paul's, 1819-1826.
  • 318-586: William Van Mildert, Bishop of Durham, 1826-1836.
  • 587-611: William Van Mildert, manuscript notes, lectures and sermons.
  • 612-624: William Van Mildert, printed works: sermons and proof copies of Van Mildert's edition of the works of Daniel Waterland.
  • 625-704: printed works belonging to William Van Mildert and his nephew Cornelius Ives, including some early 19th century printed maps covering areas under Van Mildert's jurisdiction in his various offices.
  • 705-1334: sermons and miscellaneous papers of Cornelius Ives 1793-1883, Rector of Bradden from 1818. Many of these were taken from collections of sermons written by various ecclesiastical figures, but some were tailored to contemporary events.
Items of particular interest include: letter book containing copies and drafts of letters written by Lawrence Womock (1612-1686), chaplain to Lord Paget, afterwards Bishop of St David's (1); early 19th century recipes and prescriptions (18-84); William Van Mildert's Journal of a tour of the Netherlands 1792 (89); papers relating to the amendment of the Clandestine Marriages Act June 1823 (203-215), and Catholic Emancipation 1829 (510-540); accounts relating to Van Mildert's positions as Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, Bishop of Llandaff and Dean of St Paul's, including accounts for repairs at St Paul's Deanery House; papers concerning the entertainment given by Van Mildert to the Duke of Wellington at Durham Castle, 3 October 1826, including details of arrangements, invitations, costs and receipts (328-506); correspondence concerning Lord Brougham's attempt to influence the composition of the Commission of the Peace, February-April 1831 (550-577).

VMP 1335-1476 form another group of papers from the same source, comprising legal, administrative and estate papers, and letters of the Van Mildert family; notes, sermons, and verses by Van Mildert, and material relating to Daniel Waterland (theologian, 1663-1740, whose works were edited by Van Mildert). The final group documents the work of Arnold Bradshaw attempting to trace information on the Van Mildert family.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Van Mildert (1765-1836), bishop of Durham (1826-1836), was born 6th November 1765 in Southwark, the son of Cornelius Van Mildert (1722-1799), gin distiller, and his wife, Martha, née Hill (1732-1804). Cornelius Van Mildert was the great-grandson of an Amsterdam merchant who migrated to London around 1670, Martha the daughter of William Hill of Vauxhall, Surrey, merchant and financier. Van Mildert studied at the Merchant Taylors' School, and Queen's College, Oxford, 1784-90. Ordained priest in 1789, in 1790 he became curate of Witham, Essex were he met Jane (1760-1837), daughter of General Douglas, who he married in 1795.

In 1795 Van Mildert was given the living of Bradden, Northamptonshire, by Cornelius Ives, his cousin and brother-in-law; in 1796, he became chaplain to the Grocers' Company and rector of St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, London. In London he joined the high-church campaigning group the Hackney Phalanx, served as treasurer of the SPCK 1812-15, gave the Boyle lectures of 1802-5, was preacher of Lincoln's Inn, 1812-9, Bampton lecturer in 1814, and in 1823 published a ten-volume edition of the works of Daniel Waterland. In 1813 he became regius professor of divinity at Oxford and a canon of Christ Church, bishop of Llandaff May 1819, declined the archbishopric of Dublin in 1820, instead becoming dean of St Paul's in commendam with Llandaff, and in 1826 Van Mildert became bishop of Durham.

Charles Thorp, Archdeacon of Durham, and Van Mildert worked towards the creation of a university at Durham: The Durham University Bill passed in July 1832 and the university admitted its first students in October 1833. Van Mildert's wife suffered a stroke in 1833 and died in 1837. Van Mildert died at Auckland Castle, 21 February 1836. Shortly afterwards the bishopric was stripped of its palatine status and the remnant of its ancient secular powers, leaving Van Mildert with the common soubriquet last of the prince bishops.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

VMP 1-1334: discovered in a pigeon loft at Bradden House by Arnold Bradshaw, Principal of Van Mildert College and deposited at Van Mildert College by Edward Grant-Ives, ca. 1973, for Bradshaw to catalogue. etc. with the intention of eventually depositing them with the other WVM material already given by the Grant-Ives family to the University Library. Transferred to the library 1989 by the Dept. of Palaeography. VMP 1335-1476 : presented by Captain and Mrs Grant-Ives, 16 November 1946. VMP 1477-1552 : transferred from Van Mildert College.

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue available at online catalogue. Printed material is included in the Library catalogue and can be found by shelfmark search

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Thorp Correspondence

University of Durham Records


Dictionary of national biographyG. F. A. Best, The mind and times of William Van Mildert, Journal of Theological Studies, new ser., 14 (1963), 355-70.A catalogue of the very valuable library of the late Rt. Rev. William Van Mildert, D. D. Lord Bishop of Durham; comprising a select collection of English and foreign theology, including various editions of the Bible, Fathers of the Church, liturgies, polemical and practical divinity, sermons &c. ... which will be sold by auction, by Mr Wheatley ... on Wednesday 15th June, 1836, and nine following days ... (London, 1836) Bradshaw, Arnold, Van Mildert's Visit to the Netherlands in 1792, Durham University journal, 71 (1978-9), 45-53. Cochrane, R.A., William Van Mildert, bishop (M.Litt. thesis, University of Durham, 1950). Ives, C., Memoir of the author, in Sermons on several occasions and charges by William Van Mildert, ed. C. Ives, (Oxford, 1838) Varley, E. A., The last of the prince bishops: William Van Mildert and the high church movement of the early nineteenth century (Cambridge, 1992)