Early Modern Archbishops’ Papers Project 4

Dr Richard Palmer reports further on the project to re-catalogue the early modern Archbishops’ papers. The papers of John Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury 1783-1805, have now been catalogued.

Moore’s foreign correspondence and papers (Moore 1) include well-known documents such as the royal warrants for the consecration of three of the earliest American bishops (William White, Samuel Provoost and James Madison) and the correspondence of Richard Johnson, Australia’s first clergyman. These documents are now catalogued for the first time on an item by item basis.

Plan of a temporary place of worship at Sydney, New South Wales [1794]. The plan depicts seating for 500, with areas for male and female convicts, soldiers, free persons, officers etc.
Plan of a temporary place of worship at Sydney, New South Wales [1794]. The plan depicts seating for 500, with areas for male and female convicts, soldiers, free persons, officers etc.
The catalogue also draws attention to related items, including a detailed letter written in 1794 by Samuel Marsden relating his voyage to Sydney to assist Johnson, and the conditions he found in the colony. The Moore papers also include significant documentation on the church in Canada, especially the affairs of King’s College, Nova Scotia. Recorded for the first time are letters and memoranda from Charles Inglis, Bishop of Nova Scotia, and William Cochran, President of the College. Also present is a letter from Jacob Mountain, Bishop of Quebec, on the need to carry into effect the establishment of the Church of England in Quebec. The papers also contain documentation on the church in Madras and Bengal, including letters on the establishment of schools for the native population and on the case of Richard Hall Kerr, senior chaplain at Madras, who was found to be officiating without ordination as a priest.

Volumes 2-4 of the Moore papers relate to benefice and parochial matters in the diocese of Canterbury and the peculiars, licences for non-residence, and visitations. Many papers relate to clergy discipline, including the case of John Robertson, curate of Eastchurch, who took revenge for his dismissal in the form of an ‘impudent’ inscription in the parish register, and that of John Symmonds, curate of Shoreham, who had forged his letters of ordination. Papers relating to the foundation of a chapel at Bognor, Sussex (Moore 4 ff. 1-47) document the development of Bognor by the speculative property developer Sir Richard Hotham and the opposition of the local clergyman, Thomas Durnford. Numerous letters from Hotham document his pressing concern to erect the chapel, a sine qua non of the fashionable new resort.

Moore 5, loosely described as provincial and metropolitical papers, contains a diversity of material now recorded for the first time, including letters from William Cartwright, nonjuring bishop of Shrewsbury, giving an account of his life and theological outlook, and letters from James Cornwallis, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, on the fabric of Lichfield Cathedral, where the spire was in danger of collapse. Moore 6 mainly comprises papers of Moore and his predecessors relating to the royal family, including the clandestine marriages of the brothers of George III, the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland. A letter from the Duke of Gloucester asserts his willingness to go through a second marriage ceremony if the King so wished; the King responded that he neither required nor desired such a ceremony, but would permit it if the Duke so wished. These brotherly exchanges were communicated through the Archbishop of Canterbury as intermediary. Also present are papers relating to the Episcopal Church of Scotland, including letters from Granville Sharp on the status of the consecration of Samuel Seabury by Scottish bishops.

Moore 7-9 relate to parliamentary reform, charities (especially the work of Queen Anne’s Bounty) and the disadvantages endured by Dissenters. Their cataloguing brings the project close to completion.

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