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National Library of Wales
Welsh Church Commission, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 WELCHCION

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Welsh Church Commission Papers

Short Title: Welsh Church Commission, papers

Creation date(s): 1283-1960 [accumulated 1914-1960]

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 18.055 cubic metres (1080 boxes, 137 volumes, 20 box files, 4 drawers)

Name of creator(s): Welsh Church Commission


Administrative/Biographical history: The Welsh Church Commission was created by the Welsh Church Act 1914 as a transitional body to oversee the disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales and the transfer of some of its assets to the Representative Body of the Church in Wales and the sale and transfer of others. The Welsh Church (Temporalities) Act 1919 (also called the Amending Act) clarified areas of doubt relating to the treatment of some of the assets, and fixed the date of disestablishment as 1920. The Commission remained active until 1960. Its first chairman was Sir Alfred Watson KBE (1870-1936). The work of the Commission was complex, since it involved bringing together all property and sources of income relating to the Church of England in Wales, previously administered by the Dioceses of Bangor, Llandaff, St Asaph and St Davids [the Dioceses of Monmouth and Swansea and Brecon were created in 1921], the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England (created 1836), and the commissioners of Queen Anne's Bounty (created 1704). These included: tithe rent-charges; income from glebe lands; and miscellaneous property including manorial rights, charitable trusts, and land for churches and burial grounds. All records relating to church property were transferred to the Commission, effectively consolidating records previously held by dioceses, ECE, QAB and others, including John Francis and Son, mineral agents, at a time when the need to retain manorial court records and title deeds for legal purposes was being relaxed. In addition, the Commission administered and transferred and sold properties, generating further records. On the expenditure side, the Commission paid compensation to all office holders whose rights were extinguished by the Act (and also lay patrons who had the right of presentation), and took on responsibility for clergy and their pensions. Following the realisation of assets, the Commission transferred property to the Representative Body of the Church in Wales to fund its activities, and distributed the remainder (£3.4 million) to County Councils, the University of Wales, and the National Library of Wales. The treatment of the tithe rent-charge proved most problematic, partly because it was politically-charged (much of the impetus for disestablishment had come from nonconformists who saw the tithe as a tax to support an irrelevant foreign institution) and partly because the tithe system was being reformed over the course of the Commission's work, and was abolished by the Tithe Act 1936. The Commission had to resolve the treatment of 24 parishes along the England-Wales border that either lay partly in both countries or fell within English dioceses; it did so by consulting the parishioners.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers of, and acquired by, the Welsh Church Commission, 1283-1960, including records of the Commission, 1914-1960; records relating to border parishes, 1914-1915; accounts, 1920-1958; papers relating to Sir Alfred Watson, 1916-1941; records concerning compensation to lay holders of freehold offices, 1915-1931; records relating to burial grounds, 1934-1947; records relating to the destination of records, 1914-1960; records relating to parish lands, 1844-1946; manorial records and court books, 1842-1925; transfer of documents, 1822-1947; deeds of properties, 1566-1929; and rentals and surveys, 1919-1947.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: The material is arranged into classes, and then generally by Church in Wales diocese and alphabetically by parish. The classes comprise: accounts and auditing; accounts; actuarial work; transfer and custody of documents; HM Inspector of Taxes; investments; inland revenue; legal proceedings; papers from the offices of John Francis and Son; monthly statements of account; opinions of counsel; office receipts; privy council; parliamentary matters; receivership and glebe agents; registers and schedules; rentals and surveys; certificates for the redemption of land tax; tax assessment; HM treasury; warrant of appointment of the WCC; Welsh Church Commission: annual reports, accounts, etc.; miscellaneous correspondence with the Representative Body of the Church in Wales; general files relating to the Represetative Body; papers relating to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England; transfer and disposal of property; parishes and parochial matters; diocesian matters; tithe rent-charge and redemeptions; manorial papers; maps and plans; Brecon and Abergwili Colleges and Collegiate Churches; charities; and miscellaneous.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: Hard copies of the catalogues are available at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue can be accessed online. Further lists of individual deposits, produced when accessioned, are now held as part of the archive. An index to placenames is available in the first volume of the catalogue.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records donated to the National Library of Wales have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: The main archive was deposited by the Welsh Church Commission, 1932-1947, later converted into a donation. A further donation, from the Keeper of Public Records, P.R.O., in 1984.


Related material: Maps are in NLW, Map Collections. Records of church property donated to the University of Wales are held in NLW, Univerity of Wales Archives.


Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds

Archivist's note: Compiled by Martin Locock and Annette Strauch for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Welsh Church Commission Records.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2 and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: October 2003

Charities | Wales
Church and state | Wales
Church in Wales | Establishment and disestablishment
Church in Wales | Finance
Church of England | Establishment and disestablishment | Wales
Land value taxation | Wales
Manorial courts | Wales
Manors | Wales
Tithes | Wales
Wales | Boundaries
Wales | Church history
Welsh Church Commission | Archives

Personal names

Corporate names
Church in Wales | Representative Body
Welsh Church Commission

Wales ()

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