Catholic Apostolic Church

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Catholic Apostolic Church

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

c 1831-


The Catholic Apostolic Church was established in England in the early 1830s, with the aim of restoring the office of the twelve apostles in anticipation of the imminent second coming of Christ, and preaching the gifts of the Spirit. From Scottish Presbyterian origins, an elaborate liturgy was developed based largely on Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic models, with an increasing trend towards the ceremonial.

Its early founders and leaders included a wealthy London banker and politician, Henry Drummond (1786–1860), the first apostle, John Bate Cardale (1802–1877), and the preacher Edward Irving (1792-1834) after whom members of the church are often but unjustifiably called Irvingites. Members were instituted by "sealing" or laying on of hands, by an apostle, the highest order in a fourfold ministry of apostles, prophets (to expound and exhort), evangelists (to declare the truths of the gospel) and pastors (to minister to the flock.) Each congregation was presided over by an "angel in charge".

The peak of the Church's popularity in Yorkshire was around the 1880s-1890s, with meetings also held in Skipton, Shipley, Hebden Bridge, Heckmondwike and Sowerby Bridge. In 1896 nearly £600 was spent on extensions and improvements to the church in Bradford and in 1907 a new vestry was also built there. In 1898, a congregation of 300 took communion at the annual apostolic visitation, and even in 1930-1931 lay attendance topped 100.

However, ordinations to the priesthood ceased with the death of the last apostle in 1901 and thereafter congregations disintegrated and membership slowly dwindled. The formerly independent congregations became dependencies once more, firstly of Bradford, in 1914, before Bradford itself was placed under the care of the Angel in Charge of Manchester in 1927. The Bradford diary of services shows monthly meetings with an average of 35 attendees continuing until November 1959.

By 2014 only one congregation remained active in the British Isles.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

Created by Justine Winstanley-Brown, September 2008.
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