Christopher C Webb



I am Keeper of Archives at the Borthwick, where I have worked in various capacities since 1980.

My areas of professional interest and responsibility are broad and always expanding. I was lucky to have the opportunity to apply for the funding and help to design the building that now houses the Borthwick Institute.

Since taking over responsibility for the Borthwick's development I have tried to broaden our collections and interests: the Borthwick looks after records management, information policy, Freedom of Information and Data Protection for the University; we have a growing interest in digital archives; a large music performance archive with particular strengths in operatic performance from the 1940s onwards; growing literary and dramatic collections; and environmental and horticultural collections.

I enjoy teaching early modern palaeography to postgraduates and archivally-related matters to students in a range of departments.

I studied History in Durham and then took an Archive Diploma at Liverpool.

After joining the Borthwick I researched the Dean and Chapter of York in the 17 th century for an MA.



MA University of York
Diploma in Archive Administration University of Liverpool
BA University of Durham


Selected publications

Churchwardens' accounts of St. Michael, Spurriergate, York, 1518 - 1548 University of York, Borthwick Texts and Calendars, 1997, vol. 20 pt. 1 and 2

Reading the past: sixteenth and seventeenth century English handwriting, facsimiles, transcripts & reading notes University of York 2001 (with Philippa Hoskin and Sara Slinn)

'Cathedral Patronage; York Minster 1625-1677' in M.C. Cross (ed) Patronage and Recruitment in the early Stuart Church Borthwick Studies in History vol 2, (1996), pp. 148-67

'The obit of Robert Dale, Shipman of York, 1503' in The Church in medieval York, records edited in honour of Professor Barrie Dobson University of York, 1999

'A census of York clergy? York and the clerical subsidy of 1525' in Diana Wood (ed.) Life and thought in the northern church c 110 – c 1700: essays in honour of Claire Cross, Studies in Church History, Subsidia 12, Boydell and Brewer, 1999

'Vermin, Churchwardens and Support for the Parish Poor' in Valerie Hitchman and Andrew Foster (eds.), Views from the Parish: Churchwardens' Accounts c. 1500-c.1800 (Cambridge, 2015); Teasdale MD, van Doorn NL, Fiddyment S, Webb CC, O'Connor T, Hofreiter M, Collins MJ, Bradley DG, Paging through history: parchment as a reservoir of ancient DNA for next generation sequencing Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370, 2015:

External activities


I am Honorary Editor of the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society Records Series and a previous editor (now an Editorial Board member) of the Journal of the Society of Archivists, the UK professional journal for archivists and conservators.

I'm a member of the National Cataloguing Grants Scheme Panel, the Higher Education Archives Programme steering group and Archives for Yorkshire. I’m a trustee of Music Preserved and the Rowntree Society.

I've served on many national and regional bodies, including the Arts Council's Designation Panel, The National Archives Strategy Group, ARA Council and the Specialist Repositories Group committee, and MLA Yorkshire.

I've acted as a consultant and expert witness in several major legal disputes and as external examiner for the Archives MSc at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. I am currently an external examiner for the Masters in Archives course at University College Dublin.

I've appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes over the years.


  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

  • Registered Member of the Society of Archivists



My research interests centre on the late medieval and early modern church and city as exemplified by York. I'm also interested in environmental history, partly as a result of having worked on the Yorkshire River Derwent navigation dispute (Ian Carstairs The Yorkshire River Derwent: Moments in Time), and have delivered papers on the interpretation of the evidence arising from the Tudor ‘Vermin’ Acts (Roger Lovegrove, Silent Fields). I have further interests in rights of way.

Current projects include digitising archives (focusing on the parish registers, bishops’ transcripts and archbishops registers); historic parchment as a source of DNA; and the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Commissions for the Northern Province in 1560, preparing an edition of the first Act Book for the Commission for the Northern Province.