English Roman Catholic Database 1607-1840 to be Published

A mob protesting the 1778 Roman Catholic Relief Act sets fire to Newgate Prison, London, in 1780. Credits: Getty

A new database, to be released for purchase, and later to be published online has been created by the Catholic Family History Society. The database lists approximately 275,000 English Roman Catholics who lived between 1607 and 1840. The Margaret Higgins Database was compiled by Brother Rory Higgins FSC, an Australian monk, and was named after his mother.

During the Reformation, Anglicanism became the official British faith. Catholics were no longer looked upon with favor. On the 22nd of May, 1767, the House of Lords asked that bishops of England and Wales instruct their parish clergy to “correct and complete lists as can be obtained of the papists or reputed papists, distinguishing their parishes, sexes, ages and occupations and how long they have been there resident”. Is seems that clergy took this to mean that they were to include Catholics and suspected Catholics in their records from then on. It’s thought that more than half of the English Catholics were included in the “Returns of Papists” which were submitted to Parliament. The new database includes these records as well as other lists and published materials listing those of the Roman Catholic faith.

This database will be of importance to those of us with English Catholic ancestry. I look forward to its upcoming release.

For more information, read the article posted at the Who Do You Think You Are? website.

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for the heads-up.

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