Catholic History Podcasts by the ECHA

The English Catholic History Association have launched a series of podcasts which are available in the iTunes Store.   By subscribing to this free podcast you will be able to download the talks to a media player of your choice.  In the forthcoming months they will be sending each talk to the podcast on a weekly basis.

The current podcast is described below and  they all can be found by following this link.

Recusant Liturgy by Michael Hodgetts

Michael Hodgetts reviews the 300 years of liturgical practice of Catholics under penal conditions in England from the mid 1500s to early Victorian times. Music, missals, primers, chapel architecture and decoration, official and unofficial records of one sort or another, contribute to our knowledge of the quite elaborate rites that took place in wealthy country houses, despite unfavourable circumstances. We also get an impression of the secrecy and isolation under which priests laboured in order to bring the sacraments to Catholics in towns and villages.


Botthian and Amphian, De La Salle Brothers in Australia 1864-1867



Sylvia brought this book by Brother Rory to my attention.

From the jacket:

The establishment of a De La Salle Bothers’ school in Perth [Australia] in the 1860s was part of the missionary thrust by the Catholic Church throughout the world during that century. It also coincided with the influx of religious congregations of men and women to Australia which established a system of education, health and social services that continues to the present day.

This study tells the story of two men who left Europe for a better life in America. There they became Brothers of the Christian Schools and set out to establish and conduct good schools in India and South East Asia. Eventually they arrived in Australia where they became pioneers of Catholic secondary education for boys in the colony of Western Australia. Using extensive archival resources, the study investigates the product of personality, prayer and partnership in moulding men and institutions; some of which were highly successful.

Sylvia’s comments:

There are lots of illustrations; some family background of Br. Bothiam, a German, and Br Amphian, an Irishman; background history of the era and the trials of being ahead of their time in education in developing recognizably modern and enlightened methods. There are 344 pages.

HIGGINS, Rory, FSC.  Botthian and Amphian, De La Salle Brothers in Australia 1864-1867, published by De La Salle Brothers District of Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea 2011

Change Of Venue

The next meeting of the North West Group has had a change a venue from Preston to Manchester Students Chaplaincy, 335 Oxford Rd. Manchester  M13 9PG (next door to Holy Name Church)

The date and topic are unchanged: November 8th,  The Tyldesley Family in the 17th and 18th centuries – what can we learn from the Index of Nuns Project?

Roman Catholic Records


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And some more useful information from our chairman, Sylvia Dibbs:Logo Transparent

Jim has covered the best material. Knowing the history of Catholicism in England is a very necessary prerequisite to researching Catholic ancestors.

So you will find Catholics in Anglican marriage and burial records, many of which are on commerical websites. Catholics also appear in ‘Anglican Parish Chest’ records or the local Quarter Sessions records, perhaps becuase they have broken the law in relation to their religious activities.

Some specifically Catholic records have strayed into local archives (for example in Warwickshire) and then been picked up by commercial sites, but for the most part Catholic priests and bishops have been very reluctant to release any archives in their care.

The National Archives at Kew gives some helpful guidance on what records they hold. Many state papers include lists of papists made to collect fines/taxes or lead to prosecution for following the Catholic faith. I have made a transcription of some of these which will be made available for a small fee to download through the Catholic FHS website via GENfair. So ‘watch this space’.

Some free records can be found at where out of copyright books have been scanned and made available to download. Use search terms ‘papist’ ,  ‘recusant’, ‘roman catholic’ ; with a little patience there is some worthwhile material to be found here.

The Latter Day Saints is always worth trying as some Catholic names have strayed here too.

Try too. It does give details of catholic records on the family search site from around the world and of course many English catholics emigrated.

Access to Archives at gives details of archives arround England including their catalogues. For example Birmingham Archdiocesan Archives has a very good catalogue, which often gives brief details, which may be all a researcher needs.

One of the members of the Catholic Family History Society is compling a data base of as many pre-1837 Catholic names from all manner of documents as he can find. In due course he intends to put his on-line and it will be a very usefull resource. So something to look out for.

Catholic records do provide family historians with a very interesting challenge. It will be a long time before any commercial or free site makes much headway with them.

Roman Catholic Records Online


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A follow-on from the previous post giving more information from Jim Lancaster. The enquirer was asking if there is a list of what is available online.

Sadly there is no such list.  It would a major task that would need someone
to commit themselves solely to it.  Michael Gandy spent several years
compiling his volumes and his task was not as vague.  He compiled a list of
all the missions (no mean feat in itself) then contacted all the parish
priests of those churches to find where their registers were deposited.  Not
all priests responded and he had to contact some several times.  He would
also have contacted the various record offices to check their holdings.  A
comparable listing of on-line registers would be much more difficult, given
the unorganized nature of record transcriptions.

The British Isles have always been seen by Rome as three distinct entities,
no matter what the politics of the day stated.  The Church in Great Britain
is divided into two, England and Wales, and Scotland; and Ireland North and South) as a separate entity.  All three are separate with their own hierarchies, etc.  I have little knowledge of Catholic history in Scotland or Ireland.  A major source for the chronology of the development of Catholic missions in Great Britain is the Catholic Directory, an annual publication. This started in the early 1800s and
covered London initially and developed to cover Great Britain (England,
Wales and Scotland).  The Catholic Directory are now two separate volumes
one for England and Wales and one for Scotland.  Ireland has its own

I referred to Gandy’s books because these list all the known chapels and
their registers, IF they exist.  If a register is not listed, there is no
point in looking for it on the internet.  Canon Law requires each parish
priest to maintain his registers in a safe condition.  Most dioceses issue
advice as to how this is done, but the dioceses often differ in this advice
according to their circumstances.  Some dioceses collect the registers no
longer needed for religious purposes into the Diocesan Archives (I think
Northampton is one such) whereas others recommend that the old registers are
deposited in the local County Record Office.  The three Lancashire dioceses
(Liverpool, Salford and Lancaster) have agreed that parishes in Lancashire
use the Lancashire Archives in Preston as the place of safety – except for
parishes in the City of Liverpool and they use the Liverpool Record Office.
Ancestry, FindMyPast, etc., have been active in acquiring access to
deposited registers.  Some of the Diocesan Archivists have agreed to this
and have made transcripts. etc., available to one or more of these groups.
As far as I know there is no listing of these.

At the time civil registration of Births, Marriages, and Deaths commenced in
England (Scotland is different) the Registration Commissioners requested
that non-parochial chapels submit their registers for authentication so
that the information (pre July 1837) could be used in courts of law.  Most
Free Church chapels submitted their registers for authentication, many on
the understanding that the registers would be returned, but very few RC
chapels submitted their registers (I think, mainly from north-east England).
The only Lancashire chapel to submit its registers was Blackburn (St Alban).
The registers were not returned and have eventually found their way into the
National Archives.  They are listed in TNA catalogues as Class RG4.  There
was a repeat request made in 1858 and these registers are in Class RG5 or
RG8, I think.  These deposited registers are now available on both Ancestry
and FMP .

Many local family history societies have transcribed some Catholic registers
but these are not usually available on line as the sale of the transcripts
help to support the FHS.  Some societies are selling information on the
internet through one of the major sites.  Most of these are listed in the
GenGuide site I mentioned in my earlier note.

It must also be remembered that the civil law between 1756 and 1837 required
all marriages to be solemnised in a licensed Anglican church before an
authorised Anglican minister if they were to be recognised in law.  Except
is very rural areas there were no Catholic burial grounds and Catholics were
usually buried in the local Anglican church.  Often the fact that the
persons involved were Catholics (Papists) is not mentioned in the register.

As the various transcribing agencies each has its own aims and agenda, there
is little coordination of the activity.  Even within one team there may not
be a planned program of transcribing.  It usually depends on what the
volunteers can access easily.  As an example, I have attached a listing of
the RC material that is currently available on LancashireOPC.

FamilySearch has a listing of the records it includes.  Searching that list
for a specific church will show if any of its registers have been
transcribed for FamilySearch.

Roman Catholic Records


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Logo TransparentThis blog post is a response by Jim Lancaster to someone who was enquiring about the availability of Catholic record online. It contains a lot of useful information and I have reproduced it verbatim.

The period between the reign of Elizabeth and about 1791 is often referred to as the Penal Times and it was a period when it was dangerous to be a Catholic priest in England and therefore dangerous to keep records.Any Catholic records generated could have been used against individual Catholics, or the Catholic community.  The main records of Catholics in this period are ‘hostile’ records, records made by the state or its agents the Anglican clergy.  It is only from about 1791 that Catholic clergy felt sufficiently confident about civil legislation that mission registers could be maintained.  If you are seeking information from these registers, the best place to start is a set of books by Michael Gandy published originally in 1993  that list all the known surviving registers for Catholic missions in the UK for the period 1700 to 1880.  Some of these volumes have been revised as old registers have surfaced and more parish registers have been deposited in places of safety..

In the late Victorian time, there were groups in most counties who were transcribing Anglican parish registers, one example being the Lancashire Parish Register Society that is still operating today.  There was a move among Catholics to do the same for Catholic registers and this resulted in the formation of the Catholic Record Society.  This initially was concerned with the preservation and transcription of Catholic records and among its early volumes are Catholic registers from across England and Wales.  Many of these are now out of copyright, particularly outside the UK, and have been made available on the internet.

There is a guide to Catholic Records on a site “GenGuide” ( ) and this has lists of books, CDs, internet sites. and on-line databases. Some may lead to pay-to-view sites.  This site is as good a collection of basic information as I have been able to find

This site is comprehensive but not complete, and you will find that different parts of the country have different densities of Catholics and hence more or less interest in the Catholic community.  Different counties may have different facilities. Lancashire is particularly well served.  I have mentioned the Lancashire Parish Register Society that has transcribed most of the early Anglican registers.  This are the major records of Catholic marriages between 1756 and 1837, though Catholic marriages may not be clearly identified.   There is the Lancashire On-Line Parish Clerk Project ( ) which is transcribing parish registers and making them available on the internet.  Again it is mainly Anglican church registers that have been transcribed but there are increasing numbers of non-Anglican registers including Catholic ones.  For post-1837 births marriages and deaths there is the LancashireBMD site ( ).  This site is transcribing the Local Registrar’s Indexes and where possible upgrading them.  Again it is useful for marriages, though non-Anglican marriages appear as Registrar marriages until an Authorised Person was appointed by the church to act for the Registrar.  This became possible in 1898 but was not taken up by many Catholic parishes until 1960+.

The Manchester & Lancashire FHS has developed an index of Manchester Catholics from material that it had produced and from transcripts made available to it ( ).  There is a similar site for Liverpool – Liverpool History Projects ( ) but for some items there may be a charge.  For the more northern parts of Lancashire, around Preston, Blackburn and Burnley, the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society have published a large number of fiche of Catholic registers.  In recent years, the Catholic Family history Society has published a number of CDs and details are to be found at

Catholic History Walks in London



Wednesday 10 September 2014
Meet 6.30pm (after 5.30pm Mass) on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. Walk to Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament.

Wednesday 1 October 2014
Meet 6.30pm (after 5.30pm Mass) on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. Walk down to the river and the south bank.

Saturday 18th October 2014
The “Two Cathedrals” Procession of the Blessed Sacrament through London. Starts 1.00pm for 1.30pm departure from WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL, and finishes with Benediction at St Georges Cathedral, Southwark. COME AND WITNESS TO THE FAITH IN LONDON. The procession crosses the Thames at Lambeth Bridge, making a splendid sight with Parliament in the background – come and be part of it all!

Wednesday 22 October 2014
Meet 3.00pm by the door of St Georges Cathedral, Southwark. (Nearest tube: Lambeth North or Waterloo) for tour of Cathedral.

Wednesday 5 November 2014
Meet 5.30pm Precious Blood Church, O’Meara St: (Nearest tube: London Bridge) a walk to the Tower of London.

Saturday 22 November 2014
Westminster Cathedral Hall, all day from 10.00am TOWARDS ADVENT Festival, with stalls and displays from Catholic organisations from across Britain. Opening Ceremony 10.30am with Mgr Keith Newton of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham,. Admission FREE.

Thursday 27 November 2014
Meet 5.30pm at THE MONUMENT, London EC1 (Nearest tube: Monument) walk to Precious Blood Church, London Bridge for Evensong and Mass.

The Catholic History Walks will be led by Joanna Bogle. Wear comfortable shoes and suitable clothing – we’ll be walking whatever the weather.

These walks are sponsored by Continuity/Miles Jesu

Early Modern Catholics in the British Isles and Europe: Integration or Separation? – Call for Papers


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1-3 July 2015 Ushaw College, Durham

Speakers include:

  • Peter Marshall (Warwick)
  • Susannah Monta (Notre Dame)
  • Stefania Tutino (UCSB)

Call for Papers

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to explore the degree to which Catholics in the British Isles were integrated with or separated from institutions, people and movements in Europe. We would also encourage proposals that address the relationships between Catholics in Europe and those in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Were Catholics in the British Isles unique and isolated in their archipelagic experiences? How much were they influenced by wider European religious and intellectual movements? To what extent were British and Irish Catholics part of wider continental phenomena?  Building on recent work on Catholic exiles, this conference will position Catholics from the British Isles within wider European movements, such as, for example, the Counter-Reformation, Gallicanism, Jansenism or the Enlightenment. The relationships and networks considered are to be explored in the widest possible framework. The timeframe is being understood in the broadest sense, from c.1530 to 1800.

Papers might explore:

  • Engagement with early modern intellectual, literary, artistic, cultural, political, theological and devotional trends.
  • Institutional relationships, for instance between local church figures or authorities.
  • The role of British and Irish Catholic exiles in the development of European Counter-Reformation culture, and their role in transporting it to their homelands.
  • The reaction of British and Irish Catholics to European Protestant developments.
  • European interactions with Catholics from or in the British Isles.

We invite proposals for 20 minute communications on any related theme from any field. The organziers plan to publish a volume of essays drawn from the conference papers.

Please send proposals (c. 200 words) by email to James Kelly ( by 16 January 2015 at the latest.


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