Sons of the Clergy

On Tuesday 7th May at 5.00pm in St. Paul’s Cathedral, the annual Festival of The Clergy Support Trust (Formerly known as The Corporation of The Son’s of the Clergy) will take place.Screenshot 2024 02 17 181341

This will be the 369th Festival. It is one of those unique City occasions where a large number of Livery Companies come together to show their support for this ancient charity. This year the three choirs of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral and Durham Cathedral will provide some uplifting music with the sermon given by The Archbishop of Wales The Most Reverend Andrew John.

The history of this charity goes back to the 17th century and The Commonwealth of England following the civil war and the trial and execution of King Charles I in 1649.

Persecution of the clergy who had remained loyal to the Crown and the traditional form of religious service was widespread, with many being deprived of their livings by Oliver Cromwell.

By 1655 The Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy was founded by a group of merchants in the City of London and a group of sons of clergymen (hence the name) who wanted to help destitute clergy and their families. They met for the first time at Old St Paul’s Cathedral for a service of worship followed by a dinner at Merchant Taylors’ Hall on 8 November 1655. This was the first ever ‘Festival’ of the Corporation.  Following the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 and the failure of the Protectorate under his son Richard, the son of Charles I is restored to the throne as King Charles II in May 1660. The Church is re-established, although not all sequestered clergy are readmitted to their livings. On 1 July 1678 Charles II granted the charity a Royal Charter. It introduced the ‘Court of Assistants’ to oversee the administration of the ‘Charity for Releefe of the Poor Widdowes and Children of Clergymen’ (although the charity became commonly known as The Sons of the Clergy).

The need to support members of the clergy and their families in the 21st Century is just as great now as it was then, if not more so. In March 2019 the charity changed its working name to Clergy Support Trust. The change came in response to overwhelming feedback from the charity’s beneficiaries, many of whom said they were confused by the old name, which suggested that we only supported clergy sons, or serving male clergy.


Festival of the Sons of the Clergy featured in The Illustrated London News – 1854

The charity greatly values the historic support by the Worshipful Companies and Guilds. We are delighted to celebrate this support each year at our Festival Service at St Paul’s Cathedral. Many Livery members support the charity today by becoming Stewards of the Festival or Governors of the charity. The Lord Mayor of the City of London show their support through an ex officio role as Honorary President of the charity.

Court Assistant, John Simpson