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Archbishop Thomson's Visitation Returns for the diocese of York, 1865

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by Ruth Larsen & Edward Royle; Borthwick Texts and Studies 34; ISBN 978-1-904497-17-2


Detailed Description

In 1865 archbishop William Thomson conducted his first visitation of his diocese -  an opportunity for him to get to know his diocese and to find out what the challenges for his episcopate were. In advance of his tour, the clergy and churchwardens of the diocese were sent a list of questions to answer about their churches and the parishes they served. This provided an opportunity for local people to have their say about their parishes. Questions were asked about the clergy who served the parish, about where they lived, and what other churches they served. There were also questions about the frequency of services, how often a sermon was preached, how often there were communion services and what proportion of the parish came to church. Thomson also asked a number of questions about education in the parish, with specific enquiries about how many children and adults attended schools, both daily and Sunday schools.

The 654 responses to these questions from the parish clergy, known as visitation returns, form the basis of this edition. These returns are the first set to have survived for a visitation of York diocese since archbishop Drummond's visitation of 1764 (also published by the Borthwick). In Drummond's returns we caught the mid 18th century church on the eve of great social changes. In Thomson's returns we get a chance to see the Anglican church in the early morning of its response to these continuing challenges.

Royle and Larsen introduce the returns with a discussion of the nature of this visitation and explore what they can tell us about Yorkshire parish life between the mid 18th century and the 19th  century. There is a useful appendix giving data about each parish, the size of population, the patron of the church, the value of the living and the existence of parsonage houses.