Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions

Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions in the British Isles–

__Chapel of Ease, Chapelry.  Local church building to enable congregation to worship on Sunday, close to home. Baptisms may be performed here with proper clergy; marriages rarely performed at this level. Lector or lay reader may be only attendant present.
__Parish.  Church building with cure of souls provided by Curate, Vicar, or Rector with a Clerk to record events.  Basic jurisdiction:  you must know the name of the parish to search christenings, marriages, burials, and many other local record categories.  Many parishes begin in the 16th century.
__Parochial Enclaves and Exclaves.   Over 1,000 parishes included parcels of land completely detached from their borders.  Some were even located in different shires. They usually create no records of their own, unless they have a local chapelry; their records are kept by the parish owning the land.
__Peculiar.  A parish created on land exempt from church and poor rates,  called a peculiar or extra-parochial place.  It was exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bishop, and sometimes from the Archdiocese as well.  The peculiar had authority to probate and to issue marriage licenses.  Jurisdiction was originally granted by the King as head of the Church of England. The highest local official could be a nobleman or higher clergyman who answered directly to the King. In 1840, there were more than 200 of these jurisdictions.
__Deanery.  The rural deanery is a group of parishes  with an incumbent of one of the parishes as Rural Dean.  Church disciplinary court..  The dean  inducts the parish clergy to their benefices.  Synod includes representatives from each parish in the deanery.
__Archdeaconry.  Headed by an archdeacon who serves under the Bishop with power to issue licenses to marry and to probate cases.  Church disciplinary court.  The archdeacon serves on the Diocese synod council, selected by the deans.
__Diocese.  Boundary usually coincides with county boundary.  Under the direction of the bishop, the diocese superintended and monitored a group of parishes by regular visitations.  Copies of the parish register entries were sent annually to the Bishop–called Bishop’s Transcripts.    In medieval times, the Bishop was a nobleman.  The diocese courts probated wills and issued marriage licenses. The Bishop of London has always been the most powerful bishop.
__Archdiocese, Province.  England was divided into two provinces:  Canterbury, all of Southern England and other parts of the British Empire including Scotland, Ireland, Isles of the Sea, and America.  York, Northern England.  Each archdiocese oversees a group of dioceses through regular visitations.  Archdiocese courts also probate wills and issue marriage licenses.

Local Jurisdictions in the British Isles–There was no one jurisdiction responsible for the functions of local government.  Governance was divided among a variety of overlapping authorities, public and private.  British local jurisdictions were territorial and often grew like topsy.  Your favorite British genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  You may want to print these jurisdictional pages–either to a flash drive, smart phone or other electronic device.  Or even make a paper copy–which is what I do.  Then add these pages to your research file.  When you are working online or at your favorite research library, they become a ready reference to guide you in finding and understanding the sources they create.

PPS  The pre-1600 records and compiled sources you will search are usually based on law–English common law and local custom or statutory laws often enforced sporadically. Stay tuned!  This blog will provide some guidance in where and how to know what the law was and who it was applied to.  Every level of society could be differently impacted by the laws of the lands and the ensuing records created.  When the Crown needed money, all kinds of supporting  laws and customs were summoned to justify what happened.

PPSS  There is nothing boring about the pre-1600 world!  Stay tuned.

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