The Catholic Archdicese of Birmingham Archives

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A - ‘A’ Series of Historical Documents

Dates: 1619-1829

Number of records in this collection: 1586


This collection of papers deals with various aspects of the Roman Catholic Church in England during the period 1619-1829. The early papers reveal the reactions of the Catholic Community to the situation created by the series of statutes passed following the Elizabethan settlement of religion which rendered unlawful the open practice of Roman Catholicism in England. The papers also contain material relating to the administration of secular clergy funds during the seventeenth century, before the appointment of Vicars Apostolic. In the eighteenth century the collection contains a considerable volume of correspondence dealing with the attempts to subordinate the Regular Clergy to episcopal authority; the origin of the disagreement being traced to the differing viewpoints of the Jesuit missionaries and the secular clergy. The records contain much material relating to finance especially the origin and maintenance of the Common Purse Fund and the Five Counties Fund in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the late eighteenth century and first quarter of the nineteenth century the collection contains material relating to the Catholic Committee's attempt to find a formula which would be agreeable to both the Church and the Government, to enable the ordinary Catholic to enter public life, which was still barred to him after the Relief Act of 1778. The reactions of the Vicars Apostolic to these attempts are contained. On the question of correspondence with Rome, there survives a collection of letters from two of the agents of the Vicars Apostolic in Rome. These show the Roman attitude to the English situation and also give a candid and delightful view of Rome and its chief personalities at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. In the early documents there appears little evidence of any contact between the English Government and the Roman Catholic body but this did change under Bishop Stonor and his successors.

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