Catalogue description Oxford Diocese

This record is held by Oxfordshire History Centre

Details of DIOC
Reference: DIOC
Title: Oxford Diocese

The collection contains administrative records including bishop's registers containing basic information about clergy ordinations and appointments from 1543; recusant returns containing lists of Protestants and Roman Catholic Non-conformists 1682-3, and (Roman-Catholics only) 1767 and 1780; returns of schools comprising of questionnaires of 1808 and 1815, giving number of pupils and subjects taught; and bishop's transcripts containing copies of parish register entries that were sent to the Diocesan Registrar by parishes from 1597 onwards.


The court papers date from the 16th century onwards and deal with the behaviour of the clergy; marriages, morals and religious beliefs of the laity, tithes (one-tenth of agricultural production made as a payment to the church from parishioners), wills, church fabric and parish customs. The main points of each case are summarised in libels or articles, which the defendant replied to in personal answers. Witnesses' statements were recorded in depositions and the stages of procedure are noted in the act book and the judge gave his verdict in a definitive sentence. Until 1773 the formulaic part of the documents tends to be in Latin, but the substance of the case is usually in English. There are also faculties, which had to be granted before alterations could be made to a church or parsonage, and marriage bonds, issued when a licence was granted.


The visitation records which were created from the late 16th century onwards from the visits made by the bishop and archdeacon, or their officials, to every parish on a regular basis, are useful sources of information on education, charities, church fabric and the moral and religious life of the parish. The records include clergy answers and churchwardens' presentments or reports on the state of morality in the parish.


The collection also contains memoranda and correspondence of the bishops and his officials from the 1680s onwards, of particular note are those of Bishop Wilberforce (1845-1868). He also kept scrapbooks containing photographs, watercolours, drawings and prints of clergy and churches in the diocese. The correspondence covers subjects like clergy behaviour, lay morality and non-conformity.


The earliest document is a 12th century manuscript found in the binding of the diocesan books (DIOC/4/A/1a).


Some of the records dating from before 1733 are in Latin.

Date: Circa 1100 - 2003



DIOC/1/A General


DIOC/1/A/1 Registers, 1544-1930 (records of institutions and ordinations etc).


DIOC/1/A/2 Act Books, 1777-1868 (records of institutions, ordinations, resignations and grants of licences in chronological order).


DIOC/1/A/3 Register of ordinations, confirmations and consecrations, 1812-1847.


DIOC/1/A/4 Subscriptions 1604-1967. Subscription Books 1604-1916 (subscriptions made by ordinands, instituted clergy, licensed curates, preachers, teachers, surgeons, midwives, in accordance with Canons 36 and 37 of 1604 and clerical subscription Act 1865 and Incumbents declarations and oaths 1856-1967.)


DIOC/1/A/5 Ordination candidates' declarations and oaths, 1917-1968.


DIOC/1/B Relating to the Clergy


DIOC/1/B/1 Ordination papers, 1767-1940


DIOC/1/B/1/A Lists of ordination candidates 1776-1912.


DIOC/1/B/1/B Ordination candidates papers 1766-1940.


DIOC/1/B/1/C Misc. additional papers 1827-1939 (correspondence, reordination candidates, examination questions for candidates, marks given).


DIOC/1/B/2 Papers relating to the licensing of curates, preachers and chaplains nominations 1642-1924, commissions, curates licences.


DIOC/1/B/3 Letters testimonial, c. 1790-1825, incumbents letters testimonial 1768-1914, 1919-1927.


DIOC/1/B/4 Presentation deeds, 1559-1863


DIOC/1/B/4/A Deeds arranged by parish, 1559-1863.


DIOC/1/B/4/B Deeds arranged in chronological order and 1845-9 in chronological order by archdeaconry. Berkshire 1836-1849, Buckingham 1845-9.


DIOC/1/B/5 Institution bonds; to save the bishop harmless given by clergy on institution to livings 1615-1758.


DIOC/1/B/6 Mandates for induction to benefices, strays from archdeaconry records 1737-40 and single mandates 1678, 1779, 1780 and 1790. Mandate to install and archdeacon of Oxford 1830.


DIOC/1/B/7 Resignation deeds, 1609-1949


DIOC/1/B/7/A Alphabetically by benefices, 1609-1856.


DIOC/1/B/7/B Chronologically 1623-1854.


DIOC/1/B/7/C Deeds on printed forms, arranged chronologically 1858-1949 (some information on persons for retiring incumbents 1871 onwards).


DIOC/1/B/8 Sequestration papers, 17th-20th centuries


DIOC/1/B/8/A Sequestration Bonds, 1663-1845.


DIOC/1/B/8/B Sequestrations issued on vacancies, arranged chronologically 1846-1956.


DIOC/1/B/8/C Penal sequestration papers, arranged chronologically c. 1722-1914.


DIOC/1/B/9 Non Residence Papers, 1801-1896


DIOC/1/B/9/A Notifications of absence received from clergy legally exempt from residence, 1812-1830.


DIOC/1/B/9/B Petitions for licences for non residence, 1812-1835.


DIOC/1/B/9/C Licences of non residence, 1806-1835.


DIOC/1/B/9/D Lists of returns of non residents, 1801-1815.


DIOC/1/B/9/E Misc. Papers (prosecutions, statutes, notifications etc) 1813-1896.


DIOC/1/B/10 Parochial Returns, 1814-1827 (Questionnaire concerning church services, incumbents residence, curate's stipends; used for compilation of the diocesan returns of non residence).


DIOC/1/C Relating to Benefices


DIOC/1/C/1 Orders in Council, 1836-1915 and one loose order 1952 re. Stanton Harcourt, Stratfield Mortimer and Mortimer West End. Also bound copies of plans of estates at Aylesbury, Burford, Cropredy and Cuddesden.


DIOC/1/C/2 Benefice Papers, 1633-1856


DIOC/1/C/2/A Terriers 1662-1856, series I alphabetical order 1803-1806, series II Oxford Archdeaconry 1805 and 1855, and Berkshire archdeaconry and Buckingham archdeaconry mainly 1855 (pre. 1805 see archdeaconry lists).


DIOC/1/C/2/B Mortgages, 1787; papers concerning mortgages of benefices made under Act of 1776 to borrow money for repairing, altering or building parsonage houses, 1787-1849.


DIOC/1/C/2/C Augmentations, 1750-1847 (deeds conveying property from impropriated rectories under Augmentation of Benefices Act 1831 to Augment vicarages of curacies).


DIOC/1/C/2/D Exchanges of Glebe, 1690-1849 (between incumbents and private person).


DIOC/1/C/2/E Purchases and Gifts, 1819-1849 (deeds conveying glebe or houses to benefices).


DIOC/1/C/2/F Miscellaneous papers, 1633-1847 (endowments of benefices).


DIOC/1/C/3 Papers relating to valuations of livings and Queen Anne's Bounty, 1675-1827.


DIOC/1/C/4 Delapidations papers 1888-1923


DIOC/1/C/5 Benefice papers, geographic 1850-


DIOC/1/D Relating to Churches


DIOC/1/D/1 Returns to places of worship, 1810 (answers of clergy to a circular letter from Bishop of Oxford asking for particulars of Anglican and non conformist places of worship, and of seating capacity of the former, and a copy of summary returns sent to the Archbishop).


DIOC/1/D/2 Papers relating to dissenting places of worship, 1731-1852


DIOC/1/D/2/A Certificates of buildings intended for use by dissenters as places of worship sent to Bishop for registration, 1731-1852.


DIOC/1/D/2/B Papers relating to the certificates c.1820-1852.


DIOC/1/D/3 Printed detailed statement of parish's or churches therein brought within the Church Building Acts, concerning the division and assignment of parishes, 1818-1847.


DIOC/1/E Relating to Laity


DIOC/1/E/2 Returns of schools, 1808, 1815 (answers to questionnaire).


DIOC/1/E/3 Miscellaneous papers relating to schools 1808-1918 (re.Oxford Blue Coat School, Oxford Grey Coat School, Free School Eynsham, Henley United Charity School, Bishop Moss's School Wheatley, Inspections of various schools, sunday schools).


DIOC/1/E/4 Confirmation papers, 1745, 1828, 1873-4, 1889-1938.


DIOC/1/E/5 Returns of recusants, 1682-1780.


DIOC/1/E/6 Lists of parish registers, 1813 (return by clergy giving particulars, numbers and dates of their registers and places where they were kept).


DIOC/1/E/7 Oxford Diocesan transcripts of parish registers, 17th - 20th centuries (see separate handlist) Oxon, Berkshire and Buckingham archdeaconry.




DIOC/2/A Court Act Books


DIOC/2/A/1 Act Books wholly or partly diocesan.


DIOC/2/A/1/A Proceedings in cases instituted at the mere office of the Judge


DIOC/2/A/1/B Proceedings in instance cases and cases of office prompted by a third party


DIOC/2/A/1/C Proceedings in both office and instance cases and minutes other court businesses


DIOC/2/A/2 Archidiaconal Act Books.


DIOC/2/A/2/A Proceedings in instance cases and cases of office promoted by a third party


DIOC/2/A/3 Court and Visitation books for peculiar jurisdictions


DIOC/2/B Deposition Books


DIOC/2/B/1 Volumes wholly or partly diocesan


DIOC/2/B/2 Archidiaconal volumes


DIOC/2/D Faculty and consectation papers, 1615-1953


DIOC/2/D/1 Registers, 1737-1948.


DIOC/2/D/2 Original papers, 1615-1949.


DIOC/2/D/3 Lists, 1830-1953.


DIOC/2/F Marriage Papers, 1608-1954 ie. marriage bonds, allegations and affidavits.


DIOC/2/F/1 Diocesan series, 1634-1954.


DIOC/2/F/2 Archidiaconal series, 1618-1856, 1930-1932, with register of marriage licences, 1918-1942.


DIOC/2/F/3 Peculiar licences


DIOC/2/G Miscellaneous probate records (strays from consistory probate records), 1564-1826 - inventories, renuncions of executorship and original wills, some for persons outside Oxon.




DIOC/3/B Visitation call books, 1630-1869 (lists of clergy summoned to visitations and notes of their appearance).


DIOC/3/C Churchwarden's presentments and answers to visitation enquiries, 1784-1970.


DIOC/3/D Clergy answers, 1738-1936.


DIOC/3/E Rural dean's returns, 1832-1936 (returns made by rural deans to the Bishops of Oxford after visiting their deaneries, relating to the state of church fabric, of churchyards, of glebe, and of glebe houses).




DIOC/4/A Diocese books, c.1685-1888 (some information re.clergy's visitation).


DIOC/4/B Miscellaneous memoranda by or compiled for the Bishops of Oxford, c.1679-1814.


DIOC/4/C Memorandum book of the registrar, J.M. Davenport, 1859-1895.


DIOC/4/F Episcopal Correspondence, 1666-1854 (mainly letters to the Bishops of Oxford on parish affairs, includes petitions to the Bishop, with some drafts and copies of letters from Bishops).




DIOC/5/A Registers of deeds, 1606-1869.


DIOC/5/B Original deeds


DIOC/5/B/1 Documents relating to the endowments of the see in general, c.1545-1925.


Deeds, mainly leases, relating to individual properties outside Cuddesden with Wheatley.


Ancient endowments of the see


DIOC/5/B/2 Ambrosden Rectory, 1610-1903.


DIOC/5/B/3 Banbury portion, 1740-1851 (portion of tithes and land in Banbury, Bodicote and Adderbury formerly belonging to Eynsham Abbey).


DIOC/5/B/4 Banbury Rectory and Prebend, 1773-1863.


DIOC/5/B/5 Bray Rectory, 1776-1861.


DIOC/5/B/6 Burford with Fulbrook Rectory, c.1675-1841.


DIOC/5/B/7 Cropredy portion, 1745-1851 (a portion of tithes in Cropredy formerly belonging to Eynsham Abbey).


DIOC/5/B/8 Cropredy Prebend, 1750-1841.


DIOC/5/B/9 Culham Rectory, 1745-1860.


DIOC/5/B/10 Hook Norton Manor and Rectory, c.1767-1893.


DIOC/5/B/11 Orton on the Hill with Twycross Rectory (Leics.) c.1623-1864.


DIOC/5/B/12 Oxford, Oatlands Meadow in St.Thomas, 1831.


DIOC/5/B/13 Sibbertoft (Northants) Rectory, 1614-1858


DIOC/5/B/14 Stanton Harcourt Rectory, 1685-1849.


DIOC/5/B/15 Stewkley Rectory (Bucks), c.1678-1828.


DIOC/5/B/16 Stowood (lands leased Bishop of Oxford by Crown).


DIOC/5/B/17 Welford Rectory (Northants), 1614-1876.


Properties alloted to the see in 1877


DIOC/5/B/18 Aylesbury, 1884-1940.


DIOC/5/B/19 Burford, Signett Hill Farm, 1873-1889.


DIOC/5/B/20 Cropredy, Little Bourton Farm, 1882-1883


DIOC/5/B/21 Tithe Rent charge documents.


DIOC/5/B/22-23-24 Cuddesden with Wheatley papers (land and tithes in Cuddesden, c.1585-1920, land in Wheatley Windmill Field (Mining Right), c.1814-1889.


DIOC/5/C Surveys, Rentals and Accounts, includes a Diocese of Oxford Estate Book, 1831 listing properties of the Bishop outside Cuddesden, c.1650-1874.


DIOC/5/D Legal proceedings; lawsuits concerning Cuddesden vicarage before its annexation to the see, 1607-1632 and lawsuits concerning the Bishops' properties.


DIOC/5/E Estate correspondence, 1679-1878.


DIOC/5/F Miscellanea, mainly papers relating to properties of individual bishops in a private capacity.




DIOC/6/A Papers relating to peculiar jurisdiction, 1742-1801.


DIOC/6/B Order of the Garter, 1782-1937.


DIOC/6/C Militia Papers, 1794-1807 (strayed into collection through diocesan officials James, Robert and Baker Morrell who were acting as Treasurers of the Oxfordshire Militia). Mainly accounts between Oxfordshire Treasurers and other County Treasurers, and demands by County and Borough Treasurers and other officials for re-imbursements for payments made in their areas to the dependants of men serving with the Oxfordshire Militia, with related correspondence.


DIOC/6/D Records of the Diocesan Church Building Society, 1847-1888 (Society established in 1847 to increase church accommodation and the number of parsonage houses in the diocese).


DIOC/6/E Solicitors' papers relating to parliamentary enclosure, 1757-1857. (including for Oxon. Blewbury, Somerton, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Marsh and Toot Baldon, Charlton on Otmoor.)


DIOC/6/F Files of Messrs. Markby's solicitors acting for Oxford Diocese.


DIOC/6/F/1 General Correspondence, 1932-1968.


DIOC/6/F/2 Files relating to the constitution, proceedures, finances and premises of the Board and the Trustees, 1916-1968.


DIOC/6/F/3 Files relating to bequests for general diocesan purposes, 1920-1967.


DIOC/6/F/4 Files relating to other non-parochial matters, 1917-1966.


DIOC/7 Records of diocesan institutions concerned with education, 1839-1980


DIOC/7/A Minutes, 1872-1976


DIOC/7/B Accounts, 1907-72


DIOC/7/C Printed reports, 1839, 1910-13, 1938-52


DIOC/7/D Correspondence, 1927-80


DIOC/7/D/1 General, 1927-66


DIOC/7/D/2 Correspondence files relating to aided schools, c. 1950-80


DIOC/7/D/3 Correspondence files relating to closed schools, 1949-83


DIOC/7/E Papers relating to Bernewode Secondary School, 1936-82


DIOC/7/F Papers relating to diocesan inspection of schools, 1853-4, 1897-1972


DIOC/7/G Returns to a 'Church schools trust deed inquiry', 1902


DIOC/7/H Other papers


a Executive committee memoranda, 1966-71


b Other Sunday Schools Association papers, 1909-19


c Printed miscellanea









Related material:

For records of the Archdeaconry of Oxford see ARCH also held at Oxfordshire Record Office. For collections of the other two archdeaconries in the diocese of Oxford (since 1836 and 1845) see Berkshire Record Office for the records of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire and see the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies for records of the Archdeaconry of Buckingham.

Held by: Oxfordshire History Centre, not available at The National Archives
Language: English, Latin

Diocese of Oxford

Physical description: 65 Series
Immediate source of acquisition:

Transferred from the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and the Oxford Diocesan Registry.


Future deposits are expected.

Unpublished finding aids:

The indexes to the diocesan collections include:


Oxfordshire Parochial index (two manuscript volumes) of terriers, pre-1850 faculty papers, churchwardens' presentments, subscription books and certificates of dissenting meeting houses and arranged by parish.


'Parochiae' (a manuscript index of visitation returns/clergy answers, correspondence, and returns of schools and recusants, also arranged by parish).


There is also an index to 'loose' diocesan papers for each parish in the diocese from about 1850 onwards. It relates mainly to faculties, mortgages, orders in council, conveyances and consecration deeds, with two index volumes for each archdeaconry


'Episcopat' (an index arranged by subject; includes some correspondence)


Canon Oldfield's 'Clerus' (an index to bishop's registers containing ordinations, institutions, resignations, curates' licences and subscription books, 1542-1615, in alphabetical order arranged by name of clergyman). There is also a list of incumbents and curates arranged by parish.


Indexes of Marriage Bonds and Allegations: three sets of indexes for diocesan, archdeaconry and peculiar courts, 1634-1856. The diocesan and peculiar indexes give most of the details of bride and groom found in the original document, the archdeaconry index is a name index only.


Person name indexes to the wills: printed indexes to probate records of the bishop and archdeacon's courts, 1516-1732 (2 volumes) and 1733-1857, with the peculiar courts, 1547-1856 (1 volume).

Administrative / biographical background:

Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII created six sees including the see of Oxford. The diocese of Oxford was founded in 1542, created from the Archdeaconry of Oxford, one of the 8 archdeaconries carved out of the vast area covered by the diocese of Lincoln which stretched from the Humber to the River Thames. In 1547 Edward VI granted additional rectories and advowsons to the bishopric. King Charles I granted Bishop Bancroft and his successors a pension of £100 per annum and a licence to unite the vicarage of Cuddesdon to the rectory. Bishop Bancroft built a palace at Cuddesdon which was burned down in the Rebellion, and rebuilt by Bishop Fell after the Restoration 1660 Oxford is the cathedral city of the Anglican Diocese of Oxford and Christ Church Cathedral was erected by Henry VIII. The archdeaconries of Berkshire, including the county of Berkshire and parts of Wiltshire (formerly in the diocese of Salisbury) and Buckingham (formerly in the diocese of Lincoln) were added in 1836 and 1845 respectively.


In 2003, the diocese of Oxford covered the three counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire and had nearly 830 church buildings, more than any other diocese in the Church of England. Many of the Bishop's responsibilities are designated to the three Area Bishops of Dorchester, Reading and Buckingham.


The Diocese has the following Deaneries (groups of parishes):


ARCHDEACONRY OF BERKSHIRE (under the Area Bishop of Reading)
















Vale of White Horse






ARCHDEACONRY OF BUCKINGHAM (under the Area Bishop of Buckingham)








Burnham and Slough




Milton Keynes










ARCHDEACONRY OF OXFORD (under the Area Bishop of Dorchester)


Aston and Cuddesdon


Bicester and Islip


Chipping Norton














The priorities for work in the diocese in 2003 were personal spirituality, Christian generosity, the integration of faith and work, Clergy development, sharing the faith, solidarity between those in need, work with children and young people, and working together.

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