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Researching an Anglican clergyman

Curate's licences, visitations and appointments

Curates’ licences

Curates are licensed, not instituted, by the bishop and do not appear in the bishop’s registers.

  • Grants of licences to curates were sometimes recorded in other registers and survive for 1516-33, 1586-7 and 1768-1810: see DN/SUN 2a; NCC administration act books, 1586-1588 and DN/DIS 1/2 respectively
  • Curates’ licences are filed from 1782 onwards (see list DN/CUR) and are indexed for 1809-1938 in DN/CUR 1/2
  • Curates are also entered in the Diocese Book and are included in the index volume to it: see above
  • Records of ordinations indicate the parish where a perpetual curate first served: see lists DN/ORR and DN/ORD, described in the Ordinations section below


The consignation books, 1555 onwards, were used at bishop’s visitations and sometimes include information about clergy who appeared at the visitation (see lists DN/VIS and DN/VSC).

The books may record the date of ordination, the name of the ordaining bishop (useful for tracing ordination papers - see below) and the date of institution or licence, as well as noting benefices held in plurality (ie, parishes where the clergyman served more than one parish).

The episcopal visitation was held every few years. In the intervening years, the archdecons visited their own jurisdictions and their consignation books survive for various dates from the 16th century onwards - see lists ANF (Archdeaconry of Norfolk) and ANW (Archdeaconry of Norwich).

For (incomplete) lists of clergy compiled for various reasons and at various dates, see the following:

  • DN/VAL 2-3
  • DN/VAL 4/1
  • DN/VIS ¼
  • DN/VIS 3/3
  • DN/VIS 9/3
  • DN/VIS 17/3
  • Series DN/VSM


Appointments of archdeacons and deans are recorded in the bishop’s registers, mentioned above.

  • For other diocesan officials, such as the chancellor, registrar or steward and other members of the bishop's household, see list DN/ADR 19
  • These appointments were not entered in the bishop’s registers, but were often confirmed by the Dean and Chapter and recorded in the patent books, 1541 onwards: see DCN 93 and microfilm MF/RO 198/1
  • Appointments of cathedral officials are entered in the Dean and Chapter ledger books, 1538 onwards, and recorded in the Chapter act books: see lists DCN 47 and DCN 24, respectively
  • For a list of bishops, archdeacons and other dignitaries see John Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: VII (NRO and NHC), compiled by Joyce M Horn