The Clergy of the Church of England Database, a project funded by the AHRB, began work in 1999 with the aim of constructing a relational database covering all clerical careers in the Church of England between 1540 and 1835. This article outlines the methodology and scope of the project before discussing some of the intellectual problems posed by the task of constructing a database that reflects the complexities of an irrational, pre-bureaucratic organisation. It also offers an insight into the potential of the completed database as a tool for investigating the largest profession of the early modern period.
1 Versions of this paper have been given at seminars and conferences at Edinburgh, the German Historical Institute in London, Lampeter, Oxford and Cumberland Lodge. We are grateful to the organisers of these events for their invitations to speak and to the participants for their many valuable comments and observations.