RepositoryLambeth Palace Library
Alt Ref NoCOMM
Extent19 series
TitleCommonwealth Records
DescriptionRecords of ecclesiastical administration during the Commonwealth period, including parochial surveys, and surveys of the former episcopal and capitular estates, records of appointment of clergy and augmentation of benefices. Largely 1640s-1650s.
COMM.I Presentation deeds and institution papers, 1643-1646
COMM.II Presentation deeds and institution papers, 1650-1659
COMM.III Registers of presentations and approvals of ministers, 1654-1660
COMM.IV Trustees Minute Books, 1654-1659
COMM.V Day Books, 1652-1660
COMM.VIa Augmentation Order Books, 1650-1660
COMM.VIb Lists and tables of augmentations, 1655-1659
COMM.VII Augmentations approved or ordered by the Protector and Council, 1653-1659
COMM.VIII Records of the Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel in the North and Wales, 1650-1653
COMM.IX Charities and pensions, 1651-1659
COMM.Xa Papers relating to receivers and general administration, 1654-1660
COMM.Xb Commissions addressed to receivers, 1650-1651, 1660
COMM.XIa Leases of tithes, rentals and lists, 1650-1660
COMM.XIb Leases of tithes, originals granted before the Commonwealth, 1560-1647
COMM.XIc Leases of tithes, originals granted by the Trustees, 1650-1659
COMM.XIIa Copies of surveys, 1647-1657
COMM.XIIb Original surveys, 1655-1657
COMM.XIIc Registers of the union and division of parishes, 1655-1659

COMM Add: Additional Commonwealth Records concerning the sale of former episcopal and capitular estates during the Commonwealth.
FindingAidsMain catalogue data based on J. Houston 'Catalogue of ecclesiastical records of the Commonwealth 1643-1660 in the Lambeth Palace Library' (1968) (published). (This was also published on microfilm by World Microfilms. Copy at LPL: MS Film 1217b.)
Descriptions available on the National Archives Discovery site <> as well as the Library catalogue.
The information in square brackets was inserted from other sources to fill in a gap in the original.
Place names: wherever possible the modern spelling has been substituted. In cases where it has been impossible to trace the modern spelling the name has been quoted in inverted commas.
Surnames: the original spelling of surnames has been followed. Christian names have been modernised throughout.
The MSS numbers have been noted in the descriptions of the volumes COMM III-XIa. A note has also been made of the contemporary serial numbers written in the front cover of each volume where the original binding has survived.

Finding aids for COMM I and COMM II:
Many of the volumes have their own indexes, as noted in the descriptions. Catalogue records have also been based on a general index of places (Augmentation books) drawn up by S.W. Kershaw (1888). (This is a manuscript index, referenced LR/F/46b.) This index, which uses the MSS numbers, does not cover all the volumes, for example the minute books (MSS 1003, 1009, 1010, 1012, 1021, 1021A-E) most of which are repeated more fully in other volumes, and the lists and tables used for reference (MSS 981, 982, 992, 1002, 1007, 1013, 1019, 1020, 1021F) which were extracted from the order books. The following are the volumes indexed by Kershaw: MSS 966-972, 974, 977, 979 (part only), 983-991, 993-1001, 1004-1006, 1008, 1012 (part only), 1014-1018.

Catalogue records also based on a card index of the places in the remaining order books (MSS 973, 975, 976, 978, 979); now part of COMM VIa.

There are no general indexes of persons, but it has been noted where such indexes occur in the volumes themselves.
See also MSS 1643-77: various indexes by Claude Jenkins to persons and places in the Commonwealth records.

Catalogue of Additional Commonwealth Records: Comm Add (typescript).

MS. 1054. A printed copy of John Ecton, 'Liber valorum et decimarum', 1711, annotated by Henry Hall, Lambeth Librarian 1742-57, probably to serve as an index to the surveys in COMM XIIa.
CreatorNameTrustees for the Maintenance of Preaching Ministers
AdminHistoryIntroduction: The administration of the Church during the Commonwealth

The Puritan Revolution affected the government of the Church as radically as that of the State. At first an attempt was made to administer through the old machinery, in conjunction with various new committees which were set up by Parliament. When this more moderate scheme proved ineffective the Church was disestablished, and the governing hierarchy of bishops, and deans and chapters was destroyed. Further committees were set up to fill the vacuum and at once assumed more importance than their predecessors, although the onus of the church administration still lay with Parliament. The final stage was reached when the Lord Protector and the Council assumed ultimate control over church affairs and sought to administer through a few well defined and well coordinated committees.

The very first of the new bodies was the Committee for Scandalous Ministers, set up by Parliament in 1640 to purge the Church of all unsatisfactory and `delinquent' clergy (12 December 1640, W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, pp 177-179). The commissioners dealt only with the religion and morals of the clergy, and did not interfere with patronage or patrimony. This body was succeeded in 1642 by the Committee for Plundered Ministers whose work was mainly restricted to the relief of ministers deprived by the royalists (31 December 1642, Journals of the House of Commons, ii, p 909). The general administration remained in the hands of the bishops, and deans and chapters, and the usual diocesan officials. Neither of the new committees had any regular income of its own and had to depend on the sequestrations of the deprived ministers, augmented by the proceeds from the lands which were confiscated from the bishops impeached in 1643-44 (W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, pp 204-206). The need for undivided control over church finance as well as over the ministry led to the complete destruction of the old system.

After the disestablishment of the Church in 1646, and again in 1649, Parliament ordered the sale of all lands belonging to bishops and deans and chapters, the proceeds of which, with first fruits and tenths, were to be used for the maintenance of ministers, and the upkeep of the universities and of ecclesiastical charities. In 1649 this money was vested in thirteen Trustees for the Maintenance of Preaching Ministers (6 January 1649, W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, pp 214-215) who, until 1654, augmented the clergy's salaries at the request of the Committee for Plundered Ministers, and the short lived Committee for the Reformation of the Universities (24 June 1650 - 21 April 1652, W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, pp 218-219). In 1654, when Cromwell assumed the direction of church affairs, the powers of these two committees were vested in the Trustees (2 September 1654, W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, p 230). Until the Restoration this body continued to administer the revenues of the Church, under the direct control of the Lord Protector and the Council.

The activities of the Trustees for the Maintenance of Preaching Ministers were largely financial. One of the causes of the inadequacy of the ministry was the poverty of a large number of livings where the income had failed to keep up with the rise in prices since the Reformation. The only remedy had been for one minister to hold several livings in plurality in order to augment his salary. This was the position the Trustees were set up to rectify. The revenues of lay rectors could not be used unless the holder were a convicted royalist, so the Trustees had to depend on the impropriations of lands and tithes in the hands of the bishops, and deans and chapters, in order to augment clerical salaries. In 1649, as few ecclesiastical properties had actually been sold, it was decided that the remainder should be leased to laymen to produce an estimated annual income of at least £20,000 (W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, p 215.). The rents from these leases were collected by `receivers' who paid the augmentations authorised by the Trustees. The receivers were also entrusted with negotiating leases and other financial business arising in their districts. The revenue from the leases was supplemented by a further estimated £20,000 a year from first fruits and tenths (W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, p 215.), received by Lawrence Steele, Treasurer to the Trustees. These sums were used to augment the clergy's salaries, that is to increase the income raised from endowments and other sources, such as sequestrations. Augmentations were not to be the only remedy against pluralists and an attempt was made to equalise the sizes and incomes of individual parishes by uniting small ones and dividing large ones. To this end nation wide parochial surveys were made in 1649-50 and 1655-56 (Ordinances for the union and division of parishes, 6 June 1649 and 2 September 1654, W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, p 249-252.) and the resulting recommendations were carried out on the authorisation of the Protector and Council. Copies of these surveys, and those of the lands of bishops, and deans and chapters (W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, p 249 n 2.), were used by the Trustees as the chief source of information for their financial administration.

The supervision and control of the clergy to whom the Trustees' augmentations were paid was in the hands of two bodies set up in 1654 to succeed the Committee for Plundered Ministers, the Committee for Scandalous Ministers, and the Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales and the North (W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, pp 226-230.) Cromwell set up local committees for the Ejection of Scandalous Ministers (22 August 1654, W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, p 247.) and clergy ejected and sequestered by these committees were not to be eligible for augmentations, although the Trustees were to provide for their wives and children. All new ministers had to be accepted by the Committee for the Approbation of Public Preachers, or `triers' (20 March 1654, W. Shaw, History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth, 2 vols, London 1900 ii, p 284.), before they were eligible for augmentations. The registers of these approvals were kept by the Trustees.
CustodialHistoryMain series originally numbered in the manuscript sequence as MSS 902-22, 944-50, 966-1021, and renumbered in the 1960s.

Correlation of the manuscript numbers with the new references: MS 902 COMM. XIIa/1; MS 903 COMM.XIIa/2; MS 904 COMM.XIIa/3; MS 905 COMM.XIIa/4; MS 906 COMM.XIIa/5; MS 907 COMM.XIIa/6; MS 908 COMM.XIIa/7; MS 909 COMM.XIIa/8; MS 910 COMM.XIIa/9; MS 911 COMM.XIIa/10; MS 912 COMM.XIIa/11; MS 913 COMM.XIIa/12; MS 914 COMM.XIIa/13; MS 915 COMM.XIIa/14; MS 916 COMM.XIIa/15; MS 917 COMM.XIIa/16; MS 918 COMM.XIIa/17; MS 919 COMM.XIIa/18; MS 920 COMM.XIIa/19; MS 921 COMM.XIIa/20; MS 922 COMM.XIIa/21; MS 922A COMM.XIIa/22; MS 922B COMM.XIIa/23; MS 922C COMM.XIIa/24; MS 944-947 COMM.II; MS 947-950 COMM.XIb & c; MS 966 COMM.VII/1; MS 967 COMM.IX/2; MS 968 COMM.III/1; MS 969 COMM.IX/1; MS 970 COMM.VIa/13; MS 971 COMM.VIa/12; MS 972 COMM.VIa/7; MS 973 COMM.VIa/6; MS 974 COMM.V/5; MS 975 COMM.VIa/5; MS 976 COMM.VIa/3; MS 977 COMM.VII/2; MS 978 COMM.VIa/2; MS 979 COMM.VIa/1; MS 980 COMM.V/6; MS 981 COMM.VIb/1; MS 982 COMM.XIa/3; MS 983 COMM.III/2; MS 984 COMM.XIa/1; MS 985 COMM.IV/10; MS 986 COMM.VIa/4; MS 987 COMM.VIa/10; MS 988 COMM.Xa/1; MS 989 COMM.V/7; MS 990 COMM.XIIc/3; MS 991 COMM.XIIc/2; MS 992 COMM.VIb/3; MS 993 COMM.VIa/8; MS 994 COMM.VIb/2; MS 995 COMM.VIa/9; MS 996 COMM.III/4; MS 996a COMM.III/5; MS 997 COMM.III/3; MS 998 COMM.III/6; MS 999 COMM.III/7; MS 1000 COMM.XIIc/1; MS 1001 COMM.XIIc/4; MS 1002 COMM.XIa/2; MS 1003 COMM.IV/11; MS 1004 COMM.VIa/11; MS 1005 COMM.V/2; MS 1006 COMM.VIII/1; MS 1007 COMM.VIII/2; MS 1008 COMM.V/4; MS 1009 COMM.IV/1; MS 1010 COMM.IV/2; MS 1011 COMM.Xa/3; MS 1012 COMM.IV/9; MS 1013 COMM.XIa/4; MS 1014 COMM.Xa/2; MS 1015 COMM.VII/4; MS 1016 COMM.VII/3; MS 1017 COMM.V/3; MS 1018 COMM.XIa/5; MS 1019 COMM.V/1; MS 1020 COMM.XIa/6; MS 1021 COMM.IV/3; MS 1021A COMM.IV/4; MS 1021B COMM.IV/5; MS 1021C COMM.IV/6; MS 1021D COMM.IV/7; MS 1021E COMM.IV/8; MS 1021F COMM.IX/3; MS 1800 COMM.XIIc/5

Some Commonwealth records (Parliamentary Surveys, Augmentations of Livings, Presentations to Benefices, Leases) noted in H.J. Todd, A catalogue of the archiepiscopal manuscripts in the library at Lambeth Palace (1812), pp. 268-269.

See Commissioners on the Public Records 1837: Report of Mr. Hunter, a Sub-Commissioner, on the Nature of the Parliamentary Surveys, 'Report', App. R.3b, pp. 392-413.
AcquisitionIn 1661 Parliament decreed that Philip Nye, the chief of the `triers', and all others having custody of records relating to the administration of the Church, should transfer them to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Journals of the House of Commons, viii, p 248.). With a few exceptions, the records of the Trustees and the committees who worked with them, were deposited in Lambeth Palace Library and constitute the series described in this catalogue.

Additional Commonwealth records on permanent loan (COMM Add.):
COMM Add 1-14 on deposit from St Paul's Cathedral Library to the Guildhall Library, and transferred to LPL in July 1983.
COMM Add 15 deposited by the Faculty Office, 1986.
COMM Add 16 purchased at Sotheby's, 20 June 1990 lot 40.
CopiesMicropublication of the Commonwealth Records available from World Microfilms Publications. Copies of the microfilm may be available in other libraries.

Copies are also available from the British Library Microform Research Collections:

Lambeth Palace Library microfilm: MS Film 1184-1217b.
RelatedMaterialRelated papers in LAMBETH PALACE LIBRARY

MSS. 1104, 1105a, 1105b. Papers of the Trustees for the Maintenance of Preaching Ministers.
MS 1104. This volume relates to the granting and payment of augmentations by the Trustees. The first item is a statement of the powers of the Trustees in 1650. This is followed by proposals for the better payment of augmentations, and resolutions by the Committee for the Reform of the Universities for the payment of staff and incidental charges. These are followed by original orders for augmentations as registered in the order books (COMM. VIa). These orders are signed by the Trustees, or John Phelps, clerk to the Trustees, and are often endorsed with the receipt of the grantee. At the end of the volume are miscellaneous vouchers and receipts for augmentations, and at the front a subject index by Ducarel.
MS 1105a and MS 1105b.These volumes contains receivers' vouchers, receipts, and rentals of impropriate tithes, with accounts of arrears. There is also a commission from Charles II for certain persons to collect arrears due from church lands, except those pardoned under the act of indemnity and oblivion. The papers are arranged roughly by diocese, and there is a subject index by Ducarel.

MS 1027. A volume of papers relating to sequestered livings, mainly in Wales and dating from 1650 to 1662. These are chiefly constables' returns to the inquiry into sequestered livings, ordered by Charles II in 1662. Besides these returns are bonds, and charges against those who wrongfully received or kept the rents of sequestered livings. There is a subject index at the front of the volume by A.C. Ducarel.

Arc. L. 40.2/E16 (formerly at Sion College): Augmentation order Book of the Committee for the Reform of the Universities, 1650-1652 (as in COMM VI/a)

Related papers in other repositories
MS Rawlinson D.711
A list of subscriptions to the oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth, ordered by Parliament on 11 Oct 1649. Those who subscribed include ministers, members of the Assembly of Divines, councillors at law and solicitors 13 Feb 1650 - 31 Dec 1650
MSS Bodley 322-329
Registers of orders for augmentations issued by the Committee for Plundered Ministers (see COMM.VIa). These are the records of augmentations made before the Trustees became the sole Authority
MS 322 26 July 1645 - 22 April 1646
MS 323 7 May 1646 - 26 Nov 1646
MS 324 1 Oct 1646 - 21 April 1647
MS 325 Oct 1647 - March 1649
MS 326 April 1649 - Dec 1649
MS 327 Jan 1650 - Dec 1650
MS 328 Jan 1651 - Dec 1651
MS 329 Jan 1653 - April 1653

MS Add. 15669. Plundered Ministers' Order Book, 18 Oct 1643 - 16 Dec 1645. At the front are a few general orders by the Commons, then follow orders for sequestrations and for payment of ministers out of sequestrations, and recommendations of ministers to the Assembly of Divines to fill sequestered livings. There are also orders relating to petitions and disputes concerning the payment of fifths to the wives of sequestered ministers. The entries are in chronological order, and there is an index of places
MS Add. 15670. Plundered Ministers' Order Book, 6 Jan 1646 - 17 Jan 1647. As above
MS Add. 15671. Plundered Ministers' Order Book, 1 May 1647 - 29 Oct 1647. As above
MS Add. 14415. Copy of a survey of lands in Chester, belonging to the Dean &
Chapter of Chester
MS Lansdowne 459. Tabulated list of parochial surveys, extracted from the copies in Lambeth Palace Library. The entries are in the same order as the originals and relate to the following counties: Lancashire, Dorset, Derby, West Riding of Yorkshire, Gloucester, Huntingdon, Hertford, Rutland, Essex, Cambridge, Wiltshire, Nottingham, Buckingham, Worcester, Devon, the Isle of Wight and Middlesex. At the end is a list of parishes in Kent, with details of the values of the livings
State Papers 22/1. Plundered Ministers' Order Book for the payment of augmentations out of sequestrations, 3 Dec 1645 - 24 March 1647
The entries are in chronological order
S.P. 22/2, part 1. Plundered Ministers' Order Book, 27 Nov 1645 - 27 Dec 1650
This is a register of orders for the payment of augmentations and arrears, addressed to the county commissioners for sequestrations. The entries are in chronological order
S.P. 22/2, part 2. Plundered Ministers' Order Book, 9 Jan 1651 - 8 April 1653. As above
S.P. 23/22. Order Book of the Committee for Compounding, 6 Oct 1652 - 4 Sept 1655
These are orders for payments out of sequestrations issued as a result of orders made by the Committee for Plundered Ministers, the Committee for the Approval of Public Preachers, and the Trustees for the Maintenance of Preaching Ministers
S.P. 28/289. Accounts of the Committee for the Sale of Bishops' Lands, 1649-1659
S.P. 28/290. Accounts of the Trustees for Maintenance, 1653-1659
This is a large parchment roll, with the yearly accounts of receipts and out payments. With this are the account books of Lawrence Steele, Treasurer to the Trustees, for the years 1654, 1655, 1656, and 1659
S.P. 28/205-218. Particulars of sequestered livings, with their values, and the amount paid out of them.
Arranged by county.
S.P. 28/347-348. Orders and papers of the Committee for Compounding and Managing Sequestrations.
S.P. 28/291. Papers relating to recusant sequestrations.
In this series (S.P. 28) there are other miscellaneous papers relating to the church during the Commonwealth.
The parochial surveys for 1650 are the originals of those in this library, but the series is not complete.
Chancery 94/1. Parochial surveys, with commissions, oaths, and returns for the following counties: Berkshire, 1655 (14 hundreds), Buckingham, 1650 (5 hundreds), Cheshire, 1656 (Macclesfield & Chelford), Essex, 1650 (5 hundreds), Gloucester, 1650 (complete), Hertford, 1657 (1 hundred), Huntingdon, 1650 (3 hundreds), Lancashire, 1650 (7 hundreds), Lincolnshire, 1657 (2 parishes)
C. 94/2. Parochial surveys:
Dorset, 1650 (complete)
C. 94/3. Parochial surveys:
Middlesex, 1650 (7 hundreds),
Norfolk, 1656-57 (4 hundreds),
Northumberland, 1650 (2 hundreds),
Oxfordshire, 1656 (oaths of jurors only),
Westmorland, 1656-57 (2 hundreds),
Wiltshire, 1650 (9 hundreds),
Yorkshire ER, 1650 (11 hundreds)
C. 47/21/15. Parochial surveys:
Derby, 1650 (1 hundred),
Wiltshire, 1650 (4 hundreds, see also bundle 19),
Cambridge, 1650 (10 hundreds)
C. 47/21/17. Parochial surveys:
Hampshire, 1657 (7 parishes)
C. 47/21/18. Parochial survey:
Abingdon, Berks
C. 47/21/19. Lists of parishes in each county, drawn up in answer to a writ issued by the Lord Protector, 1657.
Also parochial surveys:
Wiltshire, 1650 (2 hundreds),
Surrey, 1658 (1 hundred)
PublnNoteSelected list of Commonwealth records in print

Augmentation books
E.A. Fry, 'The Augmentation books in Lambeth Palace Library', Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, vol XXXVI, 1915, pp 48-107; these are extracts relating to Dorset alone.
W. Shaw, 'History of the English Church during the Civil Wars and under the Commonwealth', 2 vols, London 1900; refers to the records in Lambeth and quotes from many of them.

'Lancashire and Cheshire Church Surveys', 1649-1655 ed. H. Fishwick. (Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society, 2 vols, 1879)
H. Smith, 'The Ecclesiastical History of Essex under the Long Parliament and the Commonwealth', Colchester, n.d., pp 233-321
T.S. Willan, 'Parliamentary Surveys of the North Riding of Yorkshire', The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, vol XXXI, p 281
E.J. Bodington, 'Church Survey in Wiltshire, 1649-1650', Wiltshire Magazine, vol XL, pp 253-272, and vol XLI, pp 1-39, 105-124
'Parliamentary Survey of the Lands of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester', ed. Thomas Cave and R.A. Wilson (Worcester Historical Society, 1924)
A. Ridley Bax, 'Parliamentary Survey of Church Lands in Surrey, 1649-1658', Collections of the Surrey Archaeological Society, 1902

'Surrey Archaeological Collections' vol. 12 (1895) pp. 29-51: article by S. W. Kershaw on Lambeth manor, including Commonwealth Survey of Lambeth, pp. 35-45.
'Minutes of the Committee for the Relief of Plundered Ministers, and of the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers, relating to Lancashire and Cheshire, 1643-1660 ...', ed. W. A. Shaw, 2 vols. 1893-6 (Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society vols, 28, 34) [H5107.C5]
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