York Diocesan Archive: Diocesan Registry: Faculties

Scope and Content

This sub sub fonds has been divided into 6 series as follows:

  • Faculty Papers, 1620-1992. Faculty & Archdeacons Certificates, 1993-1999 [FAC]. The documents in these faculty files comprise for the most part petitions, citations, commissions to view, certificates, plans and estimates, copies of faculties and occasional correspondence. The files have of course survived in varying degrees of completeness. There are very few plans before the end of the 18th century.
  • Archdeacons [Faculty] Certificates, 1987-1992 [Fac.Cert].
  • Faculty Books, 1737-1983 [Fac.Bk]. The early registers not only include faculties, sequestrations and relaxation orders, but also licences for parish clerks, schoolmasters, surgeons and midwives, commissions for granting marriage licences, caveats and dissenters' meeting-house certificates.
  • Faculties not proceeded with, c1900-1967 [Fac.NP]. Files of faculty papers, plans, correspondence relating to applications that were not proceeded with. Unlisted.
  • Draft Faculty papers, 1858-1911 [Fac.DRAFT]
  • Unidentified faculty papers, n.d. [c19th century] [Fac.UNID].

Administrative / Biographical History

In its general sense, a faculty gives permission for someone within the church to do something. In practice it mostly applies to any alteration, repair, renovation, removal or addition to the fabric or contents of a church or churchyard. Faculty jurisdiction has long applied to church buildings, and since the nineteenth century has applied to the contents of the buildings also. Permission is granted by the ordinary through the Diocesan Chancellor, although more recently archdeacons have also been able to issue certificates granting permission to undertake certain tasks.

A request for a faculty (petition) is made by the parish in order to undertake a specified task. The petition is publicly displayed for a period of time during which objections can be made. If there are no objections, the faculty is issued and the task can go ahead. If there are objections, the case is usually determined through the church courts.


The system of arrangement is reflected in the scope & content.

Conditions Governing Access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation and the wishes of the donors/owners.

Acquisition Information

The Diocesan Registrar has deposited records relating to the Diocese of York at the Borthwick Institute since 1953.


Description compiled by Victoria Stretch, Archives Hub project archivist, June 2004 with reference to 'A Guide to the Archive Collections in the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research', David M Smith 1973, 'A Supplementary Guide to the Archive Collections in the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research', David M Smith 1980 and 'A Guide to Archival Accessions at the Borthwick Institute 1981-1996' complied by Alexandrina Buchanan, 1997.

Other Finding Aids

Hard copy finding aids are available at the Borthwick Institute for the following:

  • Faculty papers, listed chronologically, 1620-1999 [FAC].
  • An index to faculties [FAC] by place names, 1977-1995
  • Faculty certificates, 1988-1992 [Fac.Cert] (lists are bound with the faculty papers [Fac])
  • Faculty Books, 1737-1983 [Fac.Bk]

A catalogue of the faculty papers and register entries 1613-1899 has been published - P. Evans, Church Fabric in the York Diocese 1613-1899 (Borthwick Text and Calendar 19, 1995). Faculties 1613-1899 are indexed by church, subject, and by architects, artists, bell founders, organ builders etc.

Conditions Governing Use

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is a 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 the provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Appraisal Information

These records have been appraised in accordance with Borthwick Institute policy.

Custodial History

See 'Towards a University' by J S Purvis (York, Herald Printers, 1968) for information regarding the history of the York Diocesan Archive and its deposit at the Borthwick Institute.


Accruals are expected

Related Material

York Diocesan Archive


P. Evans, Church Fabric in the York Diocese 1613-1899 (Borthwick Text and Calendar 19, 1995).

Geographical Names