York Diocesan Registry

Scope and Content

The records of York Diocesan Registry comprise the records of the York Diocesan Registrar, the chief legal officer of the Archbishop. These records are wide ranging in date, extent and content, comprising the day to day legal business of the diocese.
The office of Registrar has a long history. As Registrar of the Archbishop’s Consistory and Chancery Courts, the Diocesan Registrar conducted the entire business of the courts and maintained the registry of court records. He also conducted all the business connected with the Archbishop’s Visitations. He prepared and arranged all matters and documents connected with ordinations, consecrations, institutions, licences and other business. He attended on the diocesan chancellor and archdeacons where necessary. He dealt with all the daily office correspondence on diocesan business and he undertook all the work involved with the administration of the diocese and the spiritual functions of the Archbishop. By very ancient custom the Registrar was, for the tenure of his office, the custodian, and for that time the legal owner, of all the archives in his care.
These are the functions still exercised by the Diocesan Registrar today. She is responsible for the management, issuing and maintenance of documents in relation to a variety of functions and procedures: issuing, for example, the legal documents for the appointments of clergy and lay office holders and for the consecration of churches, churchyards and cemeteries, processing faculty applications, authorising changes or additions to consecrated buildings and burial grounds, issuing of common licences for marriage, maintaining a register of patrons in the diocese, ensuring proper procedures are followed in the filling of vacant benefices, maintaining the diocesan records, and the giving of advice to the Archbishop, suffragan bishops, archdeacons, rural deans, churchwardens, and other clergy and lay officials. She is also the Registrar of the Diocesan Synod, and legal adviser to the Consistory Court.
The York Diocesan Registrar is also the York Provincial Registrar, and in this role she deals with provincial business such as the procedure and legal requirements relating to the appointment of bishops, and the processing of applications from overseas clergy to minister in the province. She is the Registrar of the Court of Chancery and she acts for the Archbishop in cases of clergy discipline.
The office of York Diocesan Registrar was, in earlier times, held by a prominent individual, who might be a cleric or a barrister. It was also held by members of the same family. From the mid seventeenth century to the late eighteenth century the office was held by the Aislabie family. Between the late eighteenth century and the late nineteenth century the office was held by younger sons of the Archbishops of York, while day to day business at the Registry was conducted by deputy registrars (sometimes one deputy, sometimes joint deputies) who were solicitors and public notaries. Today the York Diocesan Registrar is a member of a York legal practice and is a specialist in canon law and in the governance of the Church of England.
Records in this section include all the records of day to day legal administration of the diocese, including archbishops’ registers (1225-1974) and institution act books (1545-ongoing); records relating to the ordination and licensing and resignations of clergy in the diocese(1531-ongoing); records relating to benefices and patronage (1531-ongoing); records relating to the consecration and licensing of churches and church premises (1635-ongoing); records of church land and property, including glebe, parsonage houses, schools, mission rooms and archbishop’s estates (1555-ongoing); records of tithe (1836-1936); records of faculties (1620-ongoing); marriage bonds and licences (1618-1998); records relating to parishes, including parish register transcripts (1600-ongoing); and records relating to rural deaneries (1865-1875), charities (1618-1994), dissenters (1712-1852), national returns and surveys (1743-1902), registry administration (c.1300-ongoing), and fragments of records and non-diocesan records found in the Registry (12th century to early twentieth century).


This is part of the new arrangement of the York Diocesan Archive which is currently being prepared.
The new arrangement draws on the earlier arrangements of 1973 and 2003-2005 but will also incorporate some reorganisation, based on a comprehensive survey and inventory of the archive, and much new cataloguing.

Other Finding Aids

Until the new arrangement of the York Diocesan Archive is complete, the online finding aids to series level on the Archives Hub,http://archiveshub.ac.uk/ should be consulted. These reflect the 1973 arrangement as modified in 2003-2005.

Archivist's Note

Created by K. Webb April 2016


Further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Other records created and maintained by the Registrar which relate to the Archbishop’s courts can be found in YDA/5 Archiepiscopal Courts, YDA/10 Peculiar Jurisdictions and YDA/11 Probate. Records relating to Visitation are in YDA/6.

Additional Information