fonds CFS - Records of the Christian Faith Society

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Christian Faith Society


  • 1682-1954 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.34 cubic metres

17 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Christian Faith Society originated in 1691 from a charitable bequest made by the natural philosopher Robert Boyle (1627-1691). Boyle had served as Governor of the Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England from 1662 and in his will he left money to be used for ‘the advancement of the Christian Religion among infidels in Virginia.’
In keeping with his wishes an estate was purchased in 1694 in Brafferton, Yorkshire, and its income was initially remitted to the William and Mary College in Virginia where it was used to fund an Indian School, housed from 1723 in The Brafferton, a purpose built house which is today the second oldest in the college.

This income ceased to be paid during the American War of Independence and when, in the years afterward, the college once again claimed the rents of the estate, together with the accumulated arrears, the trustees of the charity brought a suit against the college in Chancery. The suit was decided in favour of the charity and its trustees were permitted to find an alternative use for the income of the Brafferton estate.

As a result the charity was reconstituted in 1794 as The Society for the Conversion and Religious Instruction and Education of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands. It received its Royal Charter in the same year and Bielby Porteus, Bishop of London, became its first President. The Society consisted of certain ex-officio members, namely, the Bishop of London, the Deans of St. Paul's and Westminster, and parochial clergy of London and Westminster, the President of the Board of Trade, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Lord Mayor and three senior Aldermen: to these were added four West India Merchants or Planters, residing in London or its vicinity, and provision was expressly made in the charter for supplying the places of those merchants, when they might die or resign, by some other West India merchants or planters.

In 1836, following the abolition of slavery, the Society was renamed The Society for Advancing the Christian Faith in the British West-India Islands, and elsewhere, in the Dioceses of Jamaica, and of the Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands, and in the Mauritius. It received its second Royal Charter in 1836 and a further supplemental Royal Charter was granted in 1962.

As of 2015 the Society is still a registered charity under the name The Society for Advancing the Christian Faith, although it is also commonly known as the Christian Faith Society. It contributes towards training and religious instruction for clergy and laity in Anglican dioceses in the West Indies and the Indian Ocean.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was transferred to the Borthwick Institute from Lambeth Palace Library in 1975.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers principally concerning the Brafferton estate, including enrolment of bargain and sale of the manor and advowson of Brafferton in trust for propagation of the gospel in Virginia, 1695, lease and release of manor and advowson of Brafferton, 1794, accounts and rentals, 1787-1882, 1902-1954, valuations, 1811, surveys, 1815, 1818, 1827, and letters and correspondence, 1788-1927; plan of Brafferton, 1869; correspondence and deeds relating to Brafferton Church, 1831-41, 1923; deeds and other papers relating to Brafferton Rectory, 1682-1856; papers relating to Brafferton School, c.1818; correspondence, leases and other papers relating to the Pillmoor estate and the division of Pillmoor Common, 1824, 1850-54, 1870-74; deeds and other papers relating to lands at Pillmoor in possession or occupation of Sir William Payne Gallway, 1853-1895; papers relating to the enclosure of Raskelf common, 1836; papers relating to property at Appletreewick, 1820, 1821; letters of appeal and articles of agreement concerning the supply of timber from Brafferton to the College of William and Mary, Virginia, 1773-1775; papers relating to a case in Chancery concerning the Brafferton estate, 1788-1791; papers relating to the wider activity of the Society, including a list of governors, n.d., draft minutes of committee meeting, 1808, draft report on the affairs of the society, c.1830, report on repairs to the missionary residence in Antigua, 1814, letter concerning payments to bishops in the West Indies, 1842.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

For related material held by the Borthwick Institute, see the parish records of Brafferton which include a map of estate in Brafferton of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves in the West Indies, 1796.

The Papers of the Christian Faith Society, 1642-1972, are held at Lambeth Palace Library and contain the bulk of the Society's administrative records. They include charters and related legal documents, 1691-1835; minutes, 1794-1956; correspondence and papers, 1642-1849; and financial accounts and subscriptions, 1793-1972.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 01.05.15.




Accession area