Cheshunt college
Cheshunt College, Herts. (n.d.)
Photograph courtesy of the Trustees of Dr Williams’s Library

Welcome to the Database and Encyclopedia 1660-1860


The Database and Encyclopedia is a major digital resource for the study of the dissenting academies in the British Isles from 1660 to 1860. When complete it will contain historical accounts of individual academies, biographical articles about leading tutors, and biographical data for thousands of students educated at the academies over two centuries. It also provides the most comprehensive guide to archival sources for the study of dissenting academies ever created. Academy history articles provide authoritative institutional histories based on primary sources. Tutor biographies give comprehensive accounts of many major figures in the religious and intellectual history of Britain. For the period before 1730, the Database and Encyclopedia has drawn heavily on Mark Burden, A Biographical Dictionary of Tutors at the Dissenters’ Private Academies, 1660–1729.

The whole resource forms an indispensable guide to the subject for researchers working in the areas of religious, intellectual, political, social, educational, and literary history.

The database was created by Inga Jones and Simon Dixon, with the technical assistance of Dmitri Iourinski, and under the direction of Isabel Rivers and David Wykes, and it contains contributions from leading scholars with specialist knowledge of the history of Protestant dissent in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. Help has been given by many scholars, librarians, and archivists whose contributions are recognised on the Acknowledgements page. Since the launch of the database in 2011 new content has been added regularly by Inga Jones, Isabel Rivers, David Wykes, and Mark Burden, and Dmitri Iourinski has added a number of new search facilities.

Citations should take the form Dissenting Academies Online: Database and Encyclopedia, Citations of academy histories and tutor biographies should follow the byline at the foot of the cited article.


Starting points:

  • To start reading Encyclopedia entries follow the links to Tutor biographies and Academy histories from the Resources menu. Among the published articles are histories of New College, Hackney, Findern and Derby Academy, and Coward College. Biographies are available for John Dalton, Joseph Priestley, William Vint, and many others.

  • Use the Browse links and Quick search box to find information about c.220 academies, c.700 tutors, and c.11,000 students. Famous academy students include Thomas Malthus, Isaac Watts, and William Hazlitt.

  • Use Advanced search to find out how many academies there were in a particular county, the number of students who entered the ministry or other professions, and to perform a variety of detailed queries.