The collection consists of 82 sermons written for Sundays, religious holidays, and as inducements into the religious profession. Only one sermon is dated (1788) although the watermarks on the paper run as late as 1826. The sermons are of varying length but generally run about 12 pages long. For a list of titles of the sermons see the following container list. The text of the sermons contain many corrections and revisions and appear to be intended for delivery rather than for publication although two, item 66 and item 70 in the container list appear exactly as printed in Archers published work Sermons on various Moral and Religious Subjects for All the Sundays and some of the Principal Festivals of the Year, London, 1817. The sermons reveal to the scholar the style and content of a popular English Catholic priest during the period of Roman Catholic persecution in England. Lacking dates the collection remains in the same order in which it was received. The scholar will have to decide if the order is significant.
James Archer was born in London, England to Peter and Bridget Lahey Archer on 17 November 1751. He was employed in a Public House called the Ship where English Catholics fearing persecution met secretly to worship. Discovered there by Bishop Richard Challoner, he was sent to study at Douai in 1769. Archer was ordained and in 1870 returned to London where he was appointed Vicar-general. Renown for his oratorical skill, he was considered the most popular Roman Catholic priest of his time.
Several editions of his sermons were published between 1788 and 1832 and reprinted after his death. He wrote widely on a variety of topics including religious persecution, marriage, spirituality and the religious profession. In recognition of his achievements the Pope granted him a Doctor of Divinity degree. James Archer died on August 1832 at the age of 82 just as a new era of religious tolerance was dawning.