One of the first tasks of William Lloyd as Bishop of St Asaph was to issue directions to all incumbents in the diocese regarding the compilation of a Notitia of each parish (SA/MISC/535). In a letter to his chancellor, John Edwards of Llanymynech, dated 9 April 1681, the bishop mentions a synod to be held at St Asaph in the following June. He requests that his chancellor issue a process to the clergy of the diocese informing them of his intention, and also to send an encyclical letter to all incumbents:
'to desire everyone of them to consider maturely beforehand what things are amiss in the Church, and how every fault may be mended, and what as well may be improved; and everyone to bring what he has to suggest, and withall to give me a notitia of his own parish, I mean a roll of the names of all housekeepers, which may be easily made by transcribing the poor's rate, and adding to it the names of them that take alms, and the names of those few that neither pay nor receive. It will be no great trouble for each of them to make me such a roll.'
(This letter is to be found among the records of the Lloyd-Baker family held in the Gloucestershire Record Office).
The notitiae were taken either to a Synod ot Convocation held in July 1681. Similar instructions to those in 1681 must have been issued to clergy in subsequent years for compiling similar returns in connection with Convocations or Episcopal Visitations after 1681 (Milwyn Griffiths, 'Parochial Notitiae for the Diocese of St Asaph, 1681-7', in Montgomeryshire Collections, vol. 59, 1965-6, pp 161-2).
The directions issued in 1681 give details of the form in which the information was to be entered: in three columns, the names of 'housekeepers' (heads of household), the number of souls in each family, and the ages of all those in the household under the age of 18. The incumbents were also instructed to list the names of all Catholic recusants and of those under excommunication in each parish, as well as details of money given for charitable causes. The instructions also set out other information which was to be supplied and 'produced'. There is some variation, but this is the general format to be found in the returns.
Returns have survived for the vast majority of parishes in the diocese as it was then (the Deaneries of Cyfeiliog and Mawddwy were transferred to the diocese of Bangor in 1859 in exchange for the Deaneries of Dyffryn Clwyd and Kinmerch). Those parishes for which returns have not survived (or were never completed) are shown after the list of parishes below.
The returns date from between 1681 and 1687. Those completed in 1681 do not normally contain any indication of the date, and it is therefore presumed that this was the year in question. Returns made after 1681 do not necessarily follow the format requested for the initial series. Some state specifically where the returns were exhibited, e.g. Betws Gwerful Goch (exhibited at a Convocation held at St Asaph, 13 July 1681), Garthbeibio (exhibited at the Bishop's Triennial Visitation, 6 August 1685), and Betws-yn-Rhos (exhibited at a Convocation held at St Asaph, 7 July 1686).
In 1912, the Notitiae were studied and an abstract of the figures made: this has been included as an addendum to the main series (SA/MISC/1492-1495). However, subsequent examination of the returns show that some of the information given in the abstract is incorrect, and the index to the digitised images should therefore be consulted. This also needs to be referred to in order to confirm any reference which may have been made to the Notitiae in published works, e.g. the transcriptions of the returns in Montgomeryshire Collections, vols 59-63, 65-66, 68-70, 73-74, 76-80, and 84.
This series of records was part of the first deposit of Church in Wales records made to the Library in 1944, and are listed in Volume II of A Schedule of the Church in Wales Records deposited by the Representative Body of the Church in Wales, the Diocese of St Asaph (1954).
The lists below contain links to the relevant pages for the individual Deaneries/parishes.
There were no returns from the parishes of Llanramon, Wrexham, and Merchwiel.
There were no returns from the parishes of Carno, Penegoes and Llanbrynmair.
There were no returns from the parish of Llanycil.
There were no returns from the parishes of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, Llanarmon Mynydd Mawr and Sychtyn.
There were no returns from the parishes of Pennant and Llandysilio.
There were no returns from the parishes of Abergele, Llanefydd, Eglwys Fach, Llanrwst and Pentre Voelas.
There were no returns from the parishes of St Asaph and Nannerch.
There were no returns from the following parishes: Abergele, Carno, Eglwys Fach, Llanarmon, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, Llanarmon Mynydd Mawr, Llanbrynmair, Llandysilio, Llanefydd, Llanrwst, Llanycil, Merchwiel, Nannerch, Penegoes, Pennant, Pentre Voelas, St Asaph, Sychtyn, Wrexham.