York Cause Papers Online
Readers with ancestors from the north of England can be in for a treat if they visit the Cause Papers database.
This searchable catalogue of over 14,000 sets of records relates to cases heard between 1300 and 1858 in the Church Courts of the diocese of York. Not all of the cases relate to people who lived in the diocese of York, as some concern appeals originating from other dioceses within the northern province of the Church of England. The extent of the Province of York can be seen on the map at the start of an article on the historical development of Church of England dioceses, which explains how the area of the diocese of York is now much smaller than during the era of the cause papers.
The disputes aired cover subjects such as defamation, immorality, marriage, wills and tithes. Much of the evidence recorded is of enormous value to family historians, providing details that are unlikely to survive elsewhere.
The online catalogue allows searches to be filtered by the names of people and places and factors such as the date and type of case. Brief details are given of the subject and participants in each case, with links to good quality scanned images of the original papers themselves.
The site is interactive, giving readers the opportunity to contribute their own abstract of the proceedings of a particular cause.
Useful links for understanding more about the database and how the church courts worked are:
- Cause Papers user guide
- Glossary of relevant terms
- Example case
- Information on where other records of ecclesiastical courts in the north can be found.
FFHS Archives Liaison