Date range: 1815 to present.
The Christian Brethren Archive is the largest collection in the world relating to a group of independent Christian congregations often referred to as the Plymouth Brethren, Christian Brethren, or simply Brethren.
The Brethren see themselves as returning to a tradition of worship as practised in the New Testament, before the creation of formal churches and denominations.
The Brethren movement, which originated in the early nineteenth century, split in two in 1848 and the two wings are often referred to as the ‘Open Brethren’ and the ‘Exclusive Brethren’.
The archive contains some 7,000 manuscript items, in addition to printed materials, relating to individual Brethren and Brethren assemblies.
The former include papers of:
- John Nelson Darby (1800–82)
- Benjamin Wills Newton (1807–99) and his circle
- Piero Guicciardini (1808–86)
- Teodorico Pietrocola Rossetti (1825–83)
- James Harvey McNairn
- George Henry Lang (1874–1958)
- Harold St John (1876–1957)
- Ransome Wallace Cooper (1881–1979)
- Joseph Barnes Watson (1884–1955)
- Dorothy Isaac, concerning missionary work in the Belgian Congo (1921–24)
The archive also holds papers relating to the missionary activities in India of Handley Bird (1865–1938) and William Thompson (b. 1921), and the itinerant preaching in Canada and North America of Leonard Sheldrake (1885–1952).
Institutional records relate to Brethren assemblies in: Bramhall, Carlisle, Eccles, Grosmont, Hereford, Leominster, London, Ludlow, Ross-on-Wye, Sheffield, Stafford and Stretford, as well as extensive papers relating to Brethren activity in Scotland.
There are records relating to the Devonshire Conferences of 1906 and 1907 (which discussed the terms of fellowship between gatherings of ‘Open’ and ‘Exclusive’ Brethren), the Christian Brethren Research Fellowship for 1962–81, and the Swanwick conferences of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
There also are extensive documents relating to the Partnership organization, along with the missionary records of the Echoes of Service agency.
- Papers of John Nelson Darby
- Echoes of Service Archive
- Christian Brethren Printed Collection
- several catalogues are available online via ELGAR
- online handlists and card catalogues
- See also David Brady, ‘The Christian Brethren Archive in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester’, in Lorenza Giorgi and Massimo Rubboli (eds), Piero Guicciardini, 1808–1886: un riformatore religioso nell’ Europa dell’ ottocento (Firenza, 1988). Location
- David Brady, 'The Christian Brethren Archive in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester', in Lorenza Giorgi and Massimo Rubboli (eds), Piero Guicciardini, 1808-1886: un riformatore religioso nell' Europa dell' ottocento (Firenza, 1988) and the Library's publication The Christian Brethren Archive in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.
Enquiries about the Christian Brethren Archive should be directed to Lianne Smith, Christian Brethren Archivist.