Papers of the Catholic Apostolic Church

Scope and Content

This collection comprises local records from the Bradford congregation and its dependents of Cleckheaton, Keighley, Huddersfield, Halifax and Brighouse. A book of rules and regulations, 1878. Bradford general register recording baptisms, communicants, ministers, the lapsed, the unfaithful and a Record of Events, 1872-1931. Baptism registers for various years and congregations, 1872-1945. Local marriage registers, 1883-1944. Local lists of those Departed in the Faith, 1873-c.1950s. Minute books of congregational councils, 1888-1924. Service books, 1880-1959. Correspondence regarding church property and an Archdeacon's visitation.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Catholic Apostolic Church was established in England in the early 1830s, with the aim of restoring the office of the twelve apostles in anticipation of the imminent second coming of Christ, and preaching the gifts of the Spirit. From Scottish Presbyterian origins, an elaborate liturgy was developed based largely on Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic models, with an increasing trend towards the ceremonial. Its early founders and leaders included a wealthy London banker and politician, Henry Drummond (1786–1860), the first apostle, John Bate Cardale (1802–1877), and the preacher Edward Irving (1792-1834) after whom members of the church are often but unjustifiably called Irvingites. Members were instituted by "sealing" or laying on of hands, by an apostle, the highest order in a fourfold ministry of apostles, prophets (to expound and exhort), evangelists (to declare the truths of the gospel) and pastors (to minister to the flock.) Each congregation was presided over by an "angel in charge".

The peak of the Church's popularity in Yorkshire was around the 1880s-1890s, with meetings also held in Skipton, Shipley, Hebden Bridge, Heckmondwike and Sowerby Bridge. In 1896 nearly &600 was spent on extensions and improvements to the church in Bradford and in 1907 a new vestry was also built there. In 1898, a congregation of 300 took communion at the annual apostolic visitation, and even in 1930-1931 lay attendance topped 100. However, ordinations to the priesthood ceased with the death of the last apostle in 1901 and thereafter congregations disintegrated and membership slowly dwindled. The formerly independent congregations became dependencies once more, firstly of Bradford, in 1914, before Bradford itself was placed under the care of the Angel in Charge of Manchester in 1927. The Bradford diary of services shows monthly meetings with an average of 35 attendees continuing until November 1959.

Conditions Governing Access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including the Data Protection Act 1998.

Acquisition Information

The Papers were gifted by an individual on the 9th July 1987.

Other Finding Aids

A typescript catalogue, to file level, is available for consultation in the Borthwick Institute's searchrooms and at the National Register of Archives, London.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Justine Winstanley-Brown on 17th September 2008

Conditions Governing Use

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute, University of York, terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

Bradford Catholic Apostolic Church GB 202 Ref 53D95

Further records of the Bradford Congregation are held at the West Yorkshire Archive Service, Bradford.

Geographical Names