Benedictine Bath – Monday 6th – Friday 10th July



Downside Monastery Archives and Library along with the Monastic Community would like to invite you all to our week long series of events: ‘Benedictine Bath’

When people think of Bath’s history, they immediately think Roman or Georgian, but the Benedictines have had a presence in Bath for over a thousand years.

As part of our celebration of Bath’s Benedictine history and heritage, there will be:

  • An exhibition in Bath Abbey including pre Reformation books and manuscripts from the Monastery Library
  • Vespers and Benediction in St John the Evangelist Church on Wednesday 8th July at 7 pm including monastic chant by the monastic community. This will be a return to St Johns, built by Downside in 1863, for the monastic community, since the monks left in 1932.
  • Walking tours of the Benedictine sites of Bath leaving Bath Abbey every day at 11 am and 2.30 pm.
  • A conference at the Guildhall featuring papers by Abbot Aidan Bellenger and Canon Anthony Harding.

Please see the attached poster for more details.

Pugin Exhibition, Downside Abbey, Monday 29th June 2015


Details of an event announced by the English Catholic History Association

Downside Abbey Monastery Library and Archive invites you to an exhibition and evening lecture focusing on the conservation of the Downside drawings of A.W.N. Pugin on Monday 29th June in the St Bede Centre.

The Library intern, Anthi Souliti, has spent part of her internship conserving the plans held in the archives and the exhibition is the culmination of her work here.

For more information please click here

Map Images from the National Library of Scotland



A very useful resource from the National Library of Scotland which lets you look at a variety of old maps overlaid onto modern maps and satellite images. So you see what your area of interest looked like at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century overlaid onto a modern street plan.


The link here is centered on Worthing, but you can of course navigate to other places.

Also worth going to this page to see what other mapping resources are available.

Midland Catholic History Society – Upcoming Event


Thursday 2nd July at 11:00

A visit to the Church of SS Peter and Paul, Friars Lane, Lower Brailes, OX15 5HU to include Mass and a talk by Fr Brian Doolan on Bishop William Bishop followed by lunch in the village.

The church is in the upper storey of a medieval malt barn attached to the Old Rectory Farm. It is one of the oldest post-Reformation public Catholic churches in England. More details of the church can be found here.

Booking application and fee of £10, to include a buffet lunch at the George Inn, Brailes, to: Vincent Burke, 16 Brandhall Court, Wolverhampton Road, Oldbury, West Midlands, B68 8DE

Lists Of Papists


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The problems for Roman Catholics started with Henry VIII falling out with the Pope over Henry’s desire to divorce his first wife, Catherine. Henry declared himself Head of the Church in England.

Successive monarchs and their Governments were concerned about a take-over of England by Catholic powers in Europe.Between 1559 and the Emancipation Act of 1829 many Acts of Parliament were passed in order to prevent Roman Catholics practising their Faith and to force them into conforming to the newly established Anglican Church and its rites. They were barred from many occupations and activities.

Those who refused to conform were called recusants. People who followed the Pope in Rome were papists. All those who refused to take the required Oaths to prove their loyalty to the British monarch were described as non-jurors. Not all of these were Roman Catholics. Jacobitism was a political movement working towards restoring the Catholic Stuart King James II of England and VII of Scotland, and his heirs, to the throne, leading to various uprisings and support from Catholic monarchs in Europe. Followers of James were called Jacobites and many of them were also Roman Catholic.

Roman Catholics who came into any of these categories were sought out by the local Anglican Church wardens and constables in order to be punished usually by fines or by double land taxes. To facilitate this, local officials were ordered to make lists of papists/recusants/Jacobites in their area and send such lists to the higher authorities. Such lists may be found in the archives of the Anglican Diocese or local Record Offices. A complete set for 1767 is in the House of Lords Archive. They are not kept in any Catholic Archives, though copies of transcriptions may be.

Two lists have been transcribed by Sylvia Dibbs as part of a long term project undertaken by Brother Rory Higgins of the De La Salle Brothers to build a database of pre-1837 Roman Catholics, mainly in England. The lists have names of adult men and often women. Sometimes children are named or just the number of children in a family. Some lists include occupations. Addresses did not exist then, but locations, necessary for land taxes, areas are often given. As marriages and usually burials had to take place in Anglican Churches this can be a useful pointer to a parish register. The lists are available for download from GENfair by following the links below where more details of the areas covered can be found.

Lists of Papists for Some Counties

List of Papists for the London area

The originals of these lists are in London, England at The National Archives Kew, The London Metropolitan Archives, and The British Library

Bishops’s Registers of London and Midland District Confirmations




A (comparatively) long time ago our society produced printed publications of register transcriptions. Obviously the stocks that we hold go down over the years as items are sold. The source documents for many of these publications are now lost and so it would be very difficult to arrange a reprint, and even if we had the originals printing costs have risen and it might be uneconomic.

I’ve just completed scanning the Bishops’ Registers as they had gone out of print, and these are now available as PDFs on CD-ROM via GENfair here. Apart from keeping the information available there is an additional benefit for our customers in that we can make both publications available on a single disk at the same price that one of the printed books was sold for.

Event at Oscott College (Sutton Coldfield)


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Oscott College, Chester Road, Sutton Coldfield, B73 5AA

Thursday 11th June 2015: Nationality, Religion and Music: the Stuarts in exile

10.30 Arrivals and coffee

11.00 – 12.30 Lecture: Dr Gabriel Glickman, (University of Warwick, author of The English Catholic Community 1688-1745) – Jacobitism and Catholics in the Three British Kingdoms

12.45 Lunch – Special Exhibition open. College chapel and museum open to visitors.

2.00 – 3.30 Lecture: Dr Edward Corp, (University of Toulouse, author of The Stuarts in Italy 1719-66: a Royal Court in permanent exile, and other works on the exiled Stuarts) – Religion, Nationality and Music at the exiled Stuart Courts

3.30 – 4.00 Tea

4.30 – 5.30 Abbot Geoffrey Scott (Douai Abbey), (co-editor of Catholic Gentry in English Society: the Throckmortons of Coughton, and author of Gothic Rage Undone: English Monks in the Age of Enlightenment) – Illustrated Lecture: ‘Stuart images and a Chapel in exile’ (the private chapel of Queen Maria Clementina in Rome)

6.00 Buffet Supper
7.30 Concert by Cappella Fede and Harmonia Sacra directed by Peter Leech – The Cardinal King: rediscovered music composed for Henry Benedict Stuart in Rome 1740-90

Various booking packages available for the day and/or evening. For all further information and bookings, please contact Mrs Maggie Wilson.



Tuesday 19 May at 7.30 pm
Annual General Meeting in the Masterson Room at St Chad’s Cathedral House. The meeting will be followed by an illustrated talk from Michael Hodgetts on the priest hides of the Archdiocese. His Grace the Archbishop, President of the Society, will be attending the meeting this year.

Thursday 2 July at 11.00 am
Visit to Brailes to include Mass and talk by Fr Brian Doolan on Bishop William Bishop followed by lunch in the village.
( the planned visit to Worcester has been postponed until 2016 because Worcester Cathedral library is not available for group tours for much the current year

Tuesday 15 September
Visit to the Triangular Lodge and Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire

Further information is available from the Secretary, Mr Vincent Burke. If you wish to contact him please do so via and follow the link to Catholic History.

Who Do You Think You Are – 2015



The society went to WDYTYA Live 2015 which was at the NEC in Birmingham this year. Here’s a photo of two of our committee members Maureen and Sylvia behind the stall.

The dates for next year have already been announced 7th to 9th of April again at the NEC in Birmingham. Expert help in researching your family history isn’t just for celebrities: come to a live event where everything you need to know is all under one roof!


Irish Catholic registers to go online July 8th



Although as a society we focus on England, Scotland, and Wales many of us have ancestors and so this will be of interest – thanks to for bringing this to my attention.

Note that it says they will not be indexed – so you will probably have to know the parish name, and as my ancestors tended just to say Ireland and not be more specific I wonder how much use they will be to me. I suspect that one of the big online suppliers will come to some arrangement with the NLI to index them.

National Library of Ireland Announces Launch Date for New Online Genealogy Resource

– Almost 400,000 images of Catholic parish register microfilms to be available online for free from 8th July 2015 –

The entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) will be made available online – for free – from 8th July 2015 onwards. On that date, a dedicated website will go live, with over 390,000 digital images of the microfilm reels on which the parish registers are recorded.

The NLI has been working to digitise the microfilms for over three years under its most ambitious digitisation programme to date.

The parish register records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.

Commenting today, the NLI’s Ciara Kerrigan, who is managing the digitisation of the parish registers, said:

“We announced initial details of this project last December, and received a hugely enthusiastic response from people worldwide with an interest in Irish family history. We are delighted to announce that the project has been progressing well, and we will be able to publish all the digitised records online from 8th July onwards.

“This is the most significant ever genealogy project in the history of the NLI. The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s. However, their digitisation means that, for the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.”

Typically, the parish registers include information such as the dates of baptisms and marriages, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses. The digital images of the registers will be searchable by parish location only, and will not be transcribed or indexed by the NLI.

“The images will be in black and white, and will be of the microfilms of the original registers,” explained Ms. Kerrigan. “There will not be transcripts or indexes for the images. However, the nationwide network of local family history centres holds indexes and transcripts of parish registers for their local areas. So those who access our new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with the relevant local family history centre.”

The NLI is planning an official launch event for the new online resource on 8th July. Further details will be available in the coming weeks.


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