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Ruth Barbour

I started my part time PhD in October 2012 researching:

‘The Middling Sort of Catholic’ in Eighteenth-Century Warwickshire.

Background to Research

Post-Reformation Warwickshire remained a relative stronghold of Catholicism in Southern England. In some parishes, according to the 1676 Compton religious census, as much as twenty per cent of the adult male population adhered to the 'old' faith. Various 'returns of papists' made by Church of England incumbents to their bishops (notably in 1705/06 and 1767) allow us to identify individual Catholics (men, women and children) and their position in society.

This study seeks to investigate these returns in depth and then to focus on certain strongly-Catholic parishes and utilise other sources such as Catholic records, estate records, land tax and wills to set individual Catholics in the wider context of seventeenth and eighteenth century Warwickshire.

The strength of the Warwickshire Catholic community in the period between the Reformation and Catholic Emancipation has perhaps been underestimated. A number of Catholic gentry had substantial estates .

The best known of these are now both National Trust properties:

Baddesley Clinton (Ferrers) 

Coughton Court (Throckmorton)

However a number of other parishes located in a belt across the middle of the county remained relative Catholic strongholds. These include Budbrook, Rowington, Solihull, Wappenbury and Wootton Wawen.

Two areas of particular interest are:

Brailes, in the far south of the county - in 1767, 130 residents were listed as being papists and the Catholic chapel was opened in 1726.

Edgbaston at the northern extremity of the county was home for much of the eighteenth century to a Catholic school - in 1767 three of the boys were listed as Irish and another two were Spanish.

My particular interest is the 'common sort' of Catholic - those below the level of gentry.


Catholic Warwick (Warwick, 2009) Archdiocese of Birmingham Historical Commission Series

Copies available from

Church of St Mary Immaculate, 45 West Street, Warwick, CV34 6AB

Journal Papers

'John Whittingham: Coventry Nurseryman, Diarist, Catholic Apologist and Political Activist' in Warwickshire History, Vol XVI: 1 2014 pp. 8 - 25

‘Pinpointing Catholics in Eighteenth-Century Warwickshire’ , Midland Catholic History, No 24: 2017, pp 24 – 42.


Tenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research: Parish Studies Today University of Warwick, 25-27 May 2012'Eighteenth-century Warwickshire Catholics: Dangerous "Other" or Friendly Neighbours'

Parish network conference 2012

University of Warwick Postgraduate Conference 31 May 2013

‘Catholics in the deanery of Warwick 1670 -1820: How many, where and who?’ -

Catholic Record Society Conference, 29 July 2014

'Catholic Convert and Apologist: John Whittingham 18th Century Coventry Nurseryman.'

European Reformation Research Group, 9 September 2014:

'The Return of Papists for the Diocese of Worcester 1705/06'

Thirteenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research, 16 May 2015

'Church Memorial Tablets: Reflections of Secular Power? Memorials to Catholics in Warwickshire Parish Churches.'

Catholic Record Society, 20 July 2015

'John Hardman, senior, (1766 -1844) from seigneurial Catholicism in Lancashire to non-conformist Birmingham.'

Early Modern Seminar, University of Warwick, 24 November 2016

'Who were the Catholics in eighteenth-Century Warwickshire (and what do we know about them)?'

Cultures of Exclusion in the Early Modern World: Enemies and Strangers 1600-1800, University of Warwick, 19 May 2017

'Brailes, Warwickshire: "Mouth of Hell" or an Example of Neighbourliness?'

History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick, 1 June 2017

'Who Were the Catholics in Eighteenth-Century Warwickshire?'

Catholic Record Society, 26 July 2017

'Identifying eighteenth-century Warwickshire Catholics below the level of gentry'.

History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick, 1 June 2018

'Getting Close to Eighteenth-Century Warwickshire Catholics'.


Kenilworth Family History Society, 14 May 2014

'In Pursuit of John Whittingham; Eighteenth-Century Coventry Catholic: Convert, Nurseryman, Diarist and 'Old Fashion Farmer'.

Kineton Local History Society, 18 September 2015

'Brailes: An Eighteenth-Century Catholic Hotspot.'

Catholic Family History Society, 3 October 2015

'The Middling Sort of Catholic in Eighteenth-Century Warwickshire.'

Brailes Mechanical and Craft Society, 5 September 2016

'Brailes, An Eighteenth-Century Catholic Hotspot.'

Greyfriars Arts and Recreation Society, Coventry, 7 October 2016

'John Whittingham of Coventry:Eighteenth-Century Pioneer Nurseryman, Social Campaigner and Catholic Convert.'

St Francis Guild, Kineton, 20 November, 2016

'Brailes: An Eighteenth-Century Catholic Hotspot.'

Long Compton Local History Society, 14 March 2018

'Brailes: An Eighteenth-Century Catholic Hotspot.'

Other Activities


Secretary, Warwickshire Local History Society 2015 -

The county local history society founded in 1965 - promotes interest in the history of county by means of:

five winter evening lecture meetings

three summer excursions

Christmas social at a 'historic' venue

Twice yearly journal, Warwickshire History

Occasional half or full day seminars

Secretary, Open University History Society 2009 -

Membership is drawn from past and present OU history students.

Activities include:

Annual weekend

Visits - in recent years these have included the National Archives, British Library, Bodleian Library, Imperial War Museum (North), Walking Tour of Chester, Gladstone Pottery Museum Stoke and RAF Museum Cosford.

Journal Open History

And in my spare time -

My three golden retrievers keep me exercised

As does my involvement in organising dog shows - particularly the second largest British dog show held at the NEC, Birmingham in December

I'm interested in the history of dog showing and breeding. My MA dissertation (University of Leicester 2008) was on 'Nineteenth-Century Warwickshire Gundogs' Some of the earliest modern style dog shows were held in Birmingham (the oldest dog show society - founded 1860) is a Birmingham society and the founder of the Kennel Club (1873) S E Shirley was a Warwickshire landowner (Ettington Park)

I have put this research largely on hold, but would like to focus on John Henry Walsh, sometime surgeon of Worcester, editor of the Field for 30 years, instigator of the Wimbledon Tennis Championship and prime in the development of dog shows and working competitions for gundogs.

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Ruth Barbour

Department of History

Room 3.47


Professor Beat Kümin