subfonds YDA/1 - Administration of York Province

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Administration of York Province


  • 1460-{ongoing] (Creation)

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Approximately 10 cubic metres

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The Church of England is divided into two provinces, Canterbury and York, each under an Archbishop who has personal authority and jurisdiction as the metropolitan bishop (ie the bishop over a group of sees or dioceses) and is styled ‘primate’ (or ‘first bishop’). The Archbishop of Canterbury heads the larger of the two provinces and is acknowledged as the senior archbishop and is termed the ‘Primate of All England’ while the Archbishop of York is the ‘Primate of England’.

In his provincial role, the Archbishop of York plays a prominent part within the provincial and national gatherings of the Church of England. He presides over the Upper House of the Convocation of York. The Convocations of York and of Canterbury originated in the provincial synods of the medieval church and in medieval times they met to establish the clergy’s tax contribution to the sovereign. However, they dwindled to purely formal meetings in the eighteenth century, in effect being in abeyance until their revival in the mid nineteenth century. In 1919 the National Assembly of the Church of England (the Church Assembly) was formed as a deliberative and legislative assembly, with power to pass Measures, which, with the assent of the sovereign, became part of statute law. Convocation sat alongside the Church Assembly, however, and remained responsible for making Canon Law. In 1970 the Church Assembly was abolished and replaced by a General Synod, of which the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are the Joint Presidents. This is a deliberative and legislative body which considers and deals with issues concerning the Church of England, debates matters of national or international importance, formulates new forms of worship, approves the church’s annual budget and has the power to pass Measures or Canons or Acts of Synod or other regulations. With the establishment of the General Synod, Convocations lost most of their powers, though they still exist and retain some residual rights.

The duties of the Archbishop of York in his provincial role include superintendence of all ecclesiastical matters in the province including metropolitan jurisdiction to correct the defects of other bishops. He has the right to hold metropolitan visitations (though this right is exercised rarely in modern times). He confirms the election of every bishop and is the chief consecrator at the consecration of every bishop. When a bishopric is vacant, the archbishop exercises sede vacante jurisdiction, providing for the ecclesiastical administration of the diocese during the vacancy. The archbishop gives permission to any minister ordained overseas to officiate within the province. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York grant and endorse faculties under Canon C4, paragraph 3A, for the ordination of divorced persons. Both archbishops have courts exercising appellate jurisdiction, and in the Province of York this is called the Chancery Court.

Records in this section include material relating to the Convocation of York (1460-ongoing), the National Church Assembly (1925-1970) and the General Synod (1970-ongoing); files and papers relating to the provincial duties of the Archbishop, such as the confirmation of bishops within the Province of York (1560-ongoing) and the granting of permissions to overseas clergy to minister within the province (1865-ongoing); sede vacante and other provincial business within individual dioceses (1707-ongoing); and granting of faculties under Canon C4 for ordination of divorced persons (1992-ongoing).


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

This is part of the new arrangement of the York Diocesan Archive which is currently being prepared.
The new arrangement draws on the earlier arrangements of 1973 and 2003-2005 but will also incorporate some reorganisation, based on a comprehensive survey and inventory of the archive, and much new cataloguing.

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Language of material

  • English
  • Latin

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Finding aids

Until the new arrangement of the York Diocesan Archive is complete, the online finding aids to series level on the Archives Hub, should be consulted. These reflect the 1973 arrangement as modified in 2003-2005.

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Related units of description

There are other records elsewhere in the York Diocesan Archive which reflect the Archbishop’s provincial functions but which are less easy to separate physically from the records of his diocesan functions. They include the following material: Archbishops’ Registers in YDA/2, Archiepiscopal Courts in YDA/5, Archiepiscopal Visitation in YDA/6, Archiepiscopal Records from Bishopthorpe Palace in YDA/4 and Probate in YDA/11.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by K. Webb April 2016




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