The records contain dates of the appointment to their parish and you can search for your ancestors by name.
The distinctions between the various lower ranks of Anglican professional are less clear to many a modern researcher in these more secular times. The following definitions may therefore help:
Incumbent: An incumbent is normally the parish priest and is one with legal possession of the church and assets.
Rector: A rector is a parish priest distinguished from vicars by receiving directly the monies of the church, as opposed to being paid a salary by a superior.
Parson: A parson is an incumbent who usually lives in a rectory or parsonage owned by the church.
Curate: A curate is literally one who has been invested with care for souls but has come to mean an assistant priest or deacon.
Vicar: Traditionally a vicar was a parish priest who received a salary and was the assistant to a rector. The term is derived from the word vicarious as a vicar was one who acted on their employer’s behalf.
Clerk in holy orders: Clerk in holy orders is a generic description of any member of the Anglican clergy, indeed clergy is an abbreviation of the term. The term therefore can be applied to a Bishop and to a porter.
An increase in the regulation of many professions and bodies occurred in the 19th century and the Anglican Church was one such example. The first clerical directory to be published was The Clerical Guide for 1817 which listed incumbents but not curates and was arranged by parish with a name index. The Clergy List was first published in 1842 then subsequently in 1845, 1848-50 and then annually from 1852-1917. This contained both incumbents and curates and was arranged by both parish and name. From 1858 these were joined by Crockford’s Clerical Directory which exists to this day, now also available as an online subscription listing. The Clergy List was absorbed by Crockford’s in 1917.
The List held here provides details of each member of the Anglican clergy in England, Wales, Ireland and the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1896 complete with dates of the appointment to their parish.
Many records pertaining to the Anglican Clergy are held at Lambeth Palace Library. A new resource for genealogists with ancestors who were clergymen can be found at http://www.theclergydatabase.org.uk/ - its aim is ‘to create a relational database documenting the careers of all Church of England clergymen between 1540 and 1835’.