Catalogue description DIOCESE OF LONDON

This record is held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London

Details of DL
Reference: DL

Archives include the records of the Consistory Court of London mainly testamentary and matrimonial; Bishops Transcripts for parishes in the Diocese of London and also within the former counties of London and Middlesex; records from the Archdeaconries of Middlesex, Hampstead and Hackney; and Tithe records from the Diocesan Registry including tithe maps and apportionments

Date: 1467 - 1970

The records are arranged as follows:


County of London DL


Archdeaconry of Hampstead DL/AH


Archdeaconry of Hackney DL/AHY


Archdeaconry of Middlesex DL/AM


Consistory Court of London DL/C


Rural Deaneries DL/DRD


County of Middlesex DL/DRO


Tithe DL/TI

Related material:

For further records see Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, London which holds the Commissary Court of London probate records, records of the Archdeaconry of London, various diocesan administrative archives and modern Registry papers

Held by: London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Church of England, Diocese of London

Physical description: 8 collections
Access conditions:


Custodial history:

The probate court records of the diocese of London, including wills, administrations and inventories were held at Saint Paul's Cathedral by the 18th century. Between 1861 and 1863 these records were transferred to Somerset House under the Court of Probate Acts 1857 and 1858, by which time they had suffered heavy losses most of which were likely to have occurred before their removal to Saint Paul's Cathedral.


In the 1950s it was decided to split the probate records between the Guildhall Library and the London County Record Office later London Metropolitan Archives. The Commissary Court of London and Archdeaconry Court of London probate records were sent to Guildhall and the Consistory Court of London and Archdeaconry of Middlesex to the County Record Office.

Administrative / biographical background:



The diocese of London was first established in the Roman period, the first known bishop being Bishop Resitiutus who attended a Council in Arles in 314. London reverted to paganism following the Saxon invasions and the diocese was reconstituted in 604 with the first Saint Paul's as its Cathedral. The medieval diocese continued its jurisdiction over the area established in the 7th century: namely the City of London and the ancient counties of Essex and Middlesex and the greater part of Hertfordshire, and diocese lay entirely north of the Thames River.


The area served by the diocese remained unchanged until the 19th century, apart from a short period between 1540, when the diocese of Westminster, founded by Henry VIII, was taken out of the diocese of London covering Westminster, the county of Middlesex with the exception of Fulham, and 1550 when the appointed Bishop Thirlby resigned and the bishopric reverted back to London.


The administration of the diocese was originally split into the Archdeaconry of London and Archdeaconry of Middlesex. In 1708 there were 5 churches and chapels subject to the archdeacon of London, 52 subject to the archdeacon of Middlesex, 14 subject to the bishop directly and 4 subject to the Archbishop of Canterbury and outside the jurisdiction of the diocese of London.


The growth of population in the 19th and 20th centuries demanded rearrangements of the boundaries of the diocese. Up until 1845 the diocese comprised of most parishes in Middlesex except part of Stanwell which lay in the diocese of Oxford, the City of London parishes excluding the thirteen parishes in the peculiar of the Arches, a substantial number of parishes in Hertfordshire and four parishes in Buckinghamshire namely Aston Abbots, Grandborough, Little Horwood, and Winslow.


The abolition of the Peculiar jurisdictions of the Archbishop of Canterbury the ecclesiastical units within the Middlesex area which were exempt from the administrative control of the diocese in 1845 added the thirteen parishes in the City of London, some parishes in Middlesex, and those in the Deanery of Croydon in the ancient county of Surrey Barnes, Mortlake, Newington, Putney, Walworth and Wimbledon. The diocese retained nine Essex parishes Barking, Chingford, East and West Ham, Little Ilford, Low Leyton, Walthamstow, Wanstead and Woodford. The rest of Essex was temporarily transferred to the see of Rochester and the parishes in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire were removed from the diocese. At the same time parishes in the ancient county of Kent Charlton, Deptford, Eltham, Greenwich, Lee, Lewisham, Plumstead and Woolwich just south of the Thames were brought into the diocese.


Under the London Diocese Act 1863 and Diocese of Saint Albans Act 1875, provisions were made for the removal of Essex, Kent and Surrey parishes. In 1877 Surrey and Kent parishes were transferred to the diocese of Rochester, and then Surrey parishes to the diocese of Southwark in 1905.


The appointment of Suffragan bishops was also revived in the 19th century with officials holding the titles of Bishop of Stepney, Islington and Kensington.


Further reorganisations were designed to link the ecclesiastical boundaries with that of county administration. In 1912 the Archdeaconry of Hampstead was carved out of the Archdeaconry of Middlesex. In 1914 the diocese had 6 rural deaneries of Ealing, Hammersmith, Hampton, Hornsey, Uxbridge and Willesden. In 1951 parishes East of the City of London formed the Archdeaconry of Hackney. By 1964 the diocese of London consisted of the archdeaconries of London, Middlesex, Hampstead and Hackney with a total of 28 deaneries and 500 parishes.


In 2001 the diocese was made up of five areas, Edmonton, Kensington, London, Stepney and Willesden, 4 of which had an Area Bishop, to whom the Bishop of London delegated responsibilities. It covered 277 square miles and 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the Thames, from Staines in the West to the Isle of Dogs in the East serving a population of 3.5 million people.

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