Papers of Canon Alfred Leslie Lilley

Scope and Content

The material includes correspondence, mostly relating to the modernist movement, lecture notes, notebooks, published abstracts and miscellaneous material. The correspondence after Lilley's death is that of Mrs Alfred Leslie Lilley.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alfred Leslie Lilley (1860-1948) was born in the small town of Clare in Co. Armagh, Ireland. In 1860, he proceeded from school in Armagh to Trinity College Dublin where he graduated in 1889. After two years as a curate in Glendermott he moved to London, firstly as curate in Chelsea then as vicar in St Mary's Paddington.

Appointed to a canonry in Hereford Cathedral in 1911, he was promoted to the archdeaconry of Ludlow in 1913, a post he held until his retirement in 1936. Selected preacher at both of the ancient universities, his sermons and theological studies commanded respect amongst his peers, just as his indefatigable attempts to alleviate the lot of the poor and suffering commended him to a much wider communion. His social interests brought him into contact with the emerging Labour Party who counted him a welcome sympathiser. His interests in the demands of the modern world on the traditional theological presentation of the Christian message drew him into the group of Anglican modernisers.

With so much in common with modernists in the Roman Catholic Church it is not surprising to find Lilley to be a close friend of Baron Friedrich von Hgel nor to find him a confidant of many of the leading European Catholic modernists. His support was particularly important to his fellow Irishman, the Jesuit George Tyrrell. A man of great forbearance, of deep spirituality, of human sympathy and practical charity, he represented for many that which was best in the Liberal Anglican religious tradition.


The papers are arranged in two sequences:

  • Correspondence, arranged alphabetically by writer except for correspondence relating to Lilley's biography of Sir Joshua Fitch which comes at the end of the sequence.
  • Miscellaneous papers, mainly manuscripts of lectures and publications by Lilley, arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

The papers were presented to the university by Dr Alex R Vidler on behlaf of Miss Barbara L Lilley, daughter of Canon AL Lilley, in 1969.


These papers form part of the collection of Roman Catholic Modernist papers held by the University. Correspondence between Lilley and Von Hgel, for example, will appear as part of the descriptions of the papers of both individuals.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

The collection has been listed and is available on the manuscripts database of the University of St Andrews Special Collection Department.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 227 procedures.

Related Material

The papers of Baron Von Hgel, Frank Rooke Ley, Charles Edward Osbone, Wilfrid Ward and George Walter Young are held at GB 227 as the papers of the Roman Catholic Modernist Movement.

Additional Information

This material is original.