Church Commission land agent's records (Smiths Gore)

Scope and Content

Twenty-four files of material accumulated by Smiths Gore, surveyors, of Peterborough, Northamptonshire in their role as land agents to the Church Commissioners for England and the latter's predecessors, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Most ofthe material relates to the Durham Bishopric and Durham Dean and Chapter estates in Co. Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire but there are also some items relating to other areas of the country.

The contents include:

  • Correspondence, chiefly ca.1949-1960.
  • Accounts and other financial material, probably chiefly 20th century.
  • Papers re Co. Durham and Northumberland land tax, including some items re land tax redemption, early 19th century, with some details of fines paid for leases.
  • Obsolete tenancy agreements.
  • Papers and accounts re woods.
  • Files re Boldon, Co. Durham and Dissington, Northumberland properties.
  • Collection lists for Billingham, Bishop Middleham and Whitburn, Co. Durham.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Church Commissioners for England have existed as such since 1 April 1948, at which date the amalgamation of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the Poor Clergy (founded 1704) and the EcclesiasticalCommissioners for England (founded 1836) took effect under the provisions of the Church Commissioners Measure, 1947. In 1856 the Church Building Commissioners, constituted in 1818, had been dissolved and their remaining powers and duties transferredto the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

The chief duty of the Church Commissioners and before them the Ecclesiastical Commissioners has always been to administer the secular estates and revenues of the Church of England in order to maximise financial support for the clergy. They alsoplay a role in making provision for pastoral reorganisation and dealing with parsonage houses and new and redundant churches.

Since the nineteenth century Smiths Gore (formerly known as Smiths Gore & Co.), through their national network of offices, have acted as land agents for the Church Commissioners, dealing at a local level with land and financial transactionsrelating to ecclesiastical estates. Their Peterborough office, from which this collection came, appears to have coordinated such activities over a wide area.


This material has not yet been sorted or arranged.

Access Information

Items less than 50 years old cannot be produced unless written permission to inspect them is obtained from Messrs. Smiths Gore of Peterborough.

Acquisition Information

Deposited with the Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic of the University of Durham (since 1990 part of the Archives and Special Collections department of Durham University Library) in July 1982 by Smiths Gore of Peterborough,Northamptonshire through the Chief Archivist of Northamptonshire.

Other Finding Aids

The only catalogues are this collection-level description and a brief typescript list of the titles of the files in the main deposit which was received from the depositors; some of these titles are misleading or do not fully describe the contentsof the file.

Separated Material

Church of England Record Centre, London: Church Commissioners' Records.

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 assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

In ca.1980-1982 Smiths Gore of Peterborough, Northamptonshire deposited in Northamptonshire Record Office a range of files relating to various parts of the country, some of which were subsequently redirected by the Chief Archivist ofNorthamptonshire to other record repositories.

Related Material

Church Commission Deposit of Durham Bishopric Financial and Estate Records.

Church Commission Deposit of Durham Dean and Chapter Estate Records.

Church Commission Deposit of Durham Parsonage Houses, Benefice and Chapelry Income Papers.


Best, G.F.A., Temporal pillars. Queen Anne's Bounty, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the Church of England (CUP, 1964)  Brown, J.R., Number One Millbank The story of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (n.d. [ca.1944])  Port, M.H., Six hundred new churches. A study of the Church Building Commission, 1818-1856, and its church building activities (London, S.P.C.K., 1961)  Robinson, E.J., The records of the Church Commissioners, Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol.III, no.7 (April 1968), 347-356  Savidge, A., The foundation and early years of Queen Anne's Bounty (London, S.P.C.K., 1955)  Welch, C.E., The records of the Church Commissioners [re their inherited records], Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol.I, no.1 (April 1955)