52 Ancestors: Week 31 and 32- Finding Clergy Records

Grey Nuns Convent Chapel Entrance, Montreal, Quebec

In order to get caught up on the 52 ancestors posts, I decided to combine the week 31 theme \”Brother\” with week 32\’s theme \”Sister\”. Due to my maternal Catholic side, when I hear either brother or sister, my first thought is those who joined religious orders. So I decided to highlight some sources for finding ancestors who dedicated their life to the church or synagogue. This is just a sampling of what can be found when you start digging. I\’ve used the general search term \”clergy\”, but use several different terms when looking for your specific ancestor.

Secular Archives
These can be a great resource for finding more unusual sources for ancestors who were members of the clergy. Here\’s a few examples of what I found at some provincial/territorial archives:

  • When I used the search term \”clergy\” on The Rooms\’ website, it gave me 253 results. Among the results are biographies, church histories, and photographs.
  • The Archives of Manitoba has a collection called Winnipeg Past and Present Oral History Project. In this collection are oral histories of over 200 people. Among the list of people I found several Reverends.
  • The Nova Scotia Archives has among their collection the Charles and John Inglis fonds. Charles and his son John were both reverends. This collection contains documents relating to the lives of both men. Those with ancestors who were ministers in Nova Scotia would want to look at the registers in the collection. These registers have the names that both men ordained to the Church of England, and the parishes they served.
  • Memory BC is a portal to find record collections at various archives around the province. When I used the search term \”clergy\”, I received 136 hits for records relating to both British Columbia and the Yukon
Religious Archives
There\’s nothing like getting it from the horse\’s mouth, so to speak. The trick is to find out which Archive would hold the information in the area you are interested in. You\’ll have to find out which regional diocese would hold the records of your area of research.

Other Websites

  • Project Canterbury has a page of resources relating to Anglican Church History in Canada. They have divided the resources available by province, as well as sections devoted to individuals who were involved in the Anglican Church. 
  • Peel\’s Prairie Provinces has several digitized texts relating mainly to the missionary work in the Canadian West. A search using \”clergy\” yielded 687 results.
  • Canadiana has an extensive amount of records relating to the clergy. A quick search gave over 13,000 hits among their monographs, 1393 Government Publications, and over 29,000 results under their Serials: Periodicals, Annuals and Newspapers collection.
  • A search of The Dictionary of Canadian Biography using \”clergy\” resulted in 891 biographies that had the word \”clergy\” in them.
  • A search using \”clergy\” on The Canadian Encyclopedia\’s website resulted in 208 articles relating to the clergy in Canada. 
  • The Canada Gazette would be a good place to search for documents as well. For here, you\’ll want to be more specific with your search terms, otherwise you will be inundated with results that will be too general for what you need. When I used \”clergy\” I got results such as proclamations saying that a member of the clergy cold be a witness to a document. If you decide to use your ancestor\’s name, make sure you put the whole name in quotation marks, such as \”Charles Inglis\”. This will filter out pages that have a Charles ? and a ?  Inglis listed on the same page.

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