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The Canterbury and York Society

The Canterbury and York Society 


The Canterbury and York Society is a national record society whose purpose is to publish records of the medieval English Church. Founded in 1904, with the Archbishops of York and Canterbury as its patrons, the Society has since published over a hundred volumes concerned with church records from the middle ages. These include the registers of official business kept by Archbishops and Bishops.



Through its publishing programme, engagement with scholars at home and abroad, collaborations with national and local record societies and repositories, and an annual lecture, the Society helps bring the medieval records of the two provinces to ever wider audiences. Its printed editions make the original records more accessible and shine a new light on important sources and topics of study. Once the preserve of the church historian, now archaeologists, family and local historians, and those interested in social, economic and political history, have recourse to the wealth of information contained in the documents of one of our most ancient institutions – the Church. These records are made accessible, often in English summary, through the scholarship of the Society’s editors and members.


Archbishop Melton’s Register

The Society recently published an instalment of the Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York from 1317 to 1340, relating to his official business in the East Riding. Besides the routine work of overseeing the ordination of his clergy and their appointment to benefices, the register shows Archbishop Melton exercising his wider jurisdiction in matters of faith and morality. He demanded the return of stolen wool on behalf of a merchant whose ship had been wrecked in the Humber, addressed the shortcomings of the monks of Meaux Abbey – whom he forbade from visiting nuns (especially those at Swine Priory), excommunicated thieves who stole his swans near Beverley, and warned the canons of Bridlington about conversing with the local notables in ways which could prejudice the free election of their prior.


Meetings and future work

The Society’s annual general meeting alternates between the northern province (York) and the southern, and includes an open lecture on an aspect of medieval church history. Professor Chris Woolgar recently gave an address on the possessions of English and Welsh bishops in the Middle Ages to accompany the publication of the Society’s volume on the Testamentary records of the English and Welsh episcopate, 1200-1413. The Society has an exciting programme of future works, including volumes on the supplications made from England and Wales that appear in the Vatican Archives’ registers of the Papal Penitentiary: the highest office in the medieval Church concerned with sin and matters of conscience.

If you would like to know more about the Society, its publications and work, please visit: