Clive D. Field, Universities of Birmingham and Manchester
Select Bibliography of the Religious History of Modern Britain
Church of England
New Religious Movements
Recent Publications on the 1851 Religious Census of England and Wales
Contemporary Regional Studies of Religion as Social Capital in England and Wales
Church of England Clergy Visitation Returns of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Primary Sources: Editions of Returns
Primary Sources: Editions of Specula
Secondary Sources: Visitation Process
Secondary Sources: Use of Returns
Abraham Hume’s Contribution to Religious Statistics and Sociology
Local Censuses of Church Attendance in Great Britain, 1881-82
Newman Demographic Survey and Pastoral Research Centre
John Highet’s Contribution to Scottish Religious Statistics
Local Censuses of Church Attendance in Great Britain, 1901-12
This essay summarizes the development of religious statistics in Great Britain from the seventeenth century to the present day. In particular, it describes, in very broad and succinct terms, the contributions which have been made to the quantification of religion by the state, faith communities and other agencies. A few reflections on future needs and prospects are also offered.
This review does not aspire to be comprehensive, in the sense of covering all the sources or all the collecting bodies. Neither does it attempt to discuss methodological and interpretative issues in any depth, nor to present the actual primary data (some of which will be found elsewhere on this website).
The text is designed to be used in conjunction with the database on this website, where additional bibliographical and methodological information will be found on the overwhelming majority of the individual sources which are mentioned here. For this reason, endnotes in each section have been kept to a minimum. To avoid encumbering the overview with excessive detail, a few topics calling for extended treatment, and which do not lend themselves to inclusion in the database, are dealt with in appendices.
It is naturally impossible to divorce the statistics of British religion from the ecclesiastical and faith context which gave rise to them. Although some key facts and dates are mentioned in passing, a full religious history of Britain is beyond the scope of this introduction. Some suggestions for background reading are made in Appendix 1, but it has not been possible to list there works on the history of particular Free Church denominations.