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Research

As of April 2016, this page will no longer be updated.

Themes

Early modern flooding

My current research explores the financial costs of defending marshland from flooding in early modern England. Focusing on coastal south Lincolnshire, I am using financial accounts of flood defence expenditure to understand the specific environmental conditions and opportunity costs faced by early modern coastal communities. The exploitation of extensive coastal marshes and fertile reclaimed land required organized, communal flood defence strategies. By tracing levels of investment in flood defences across the early modern period, the project will assess the impact of flood risk on social and economic development. This research will be based at the IHR and the University of Exeter.

My previous research focussed more generally on interactions between people and water in early modern England. In my PhD thesis, I explored the ways in which floods and the memory and expectation of floods shaped social, cultural and political life in local communities. Looking at how communities managed every day flooding and coped catastrophic floods, my thesis argued that flooding could both strengthen and test local communities and their institutions. Looking in particular at parochial organisation and Commissions of Sewers, my thesis demonstrated the social, cultural and political importance of flooding in rural communities. It focussed in particular on the Severn Estuary Levels in Gloucestershire and South Holland in Lincolnshire. Some of this research has been published in The Journal of Historical Geography, where it was 'highly commended' in the journal's 2015 article prize..

Urban fires

Prior to researching flooding, I studied English urban fires in the period 1580-1640. Using the records of local administrative bodies assembled in the wake of significant blazes, alongside popular literature representations of fires, I looked at how 'great' town fires were represented and experienced. Popular literature evidence showed that printers and burnt towns used the popular press for their own financial ends in the wake of catastrophe, as printers sought to capitalise on the latest 'wonder', and towns sought charitable donations. Administrative records showed how money received by towns was rarely sufficient to cover even the most meagre losses, and that structural vulnerabilities, such as age or marital status, determined individuals' ability to recover. This research has been published in Historical Research.

Counterfeit Egyptians

I also have an interest in the history of 'counterfeit Egyptians' in the early modern period. I have researched how the Tudor state defined and pursued 'Egyptians', looking at the construction and implementation of punitive legislation. This research moved away from previous studies that have looked at literary representations of 'Egyptians', focussing instead on the actions of state agents. This research won the Marian Madison Gypsy Lore Society Young Scholar's Prize in Romani Studies, and is due to be published in Romani Studies.

The Clergy and the Elizabethan religious settlement

As a Graduate Student Associate on the Early Modern Conversions Project, I worked with Professor Peter Marshall researching clerical conformity and the Elizabethan Settlement. This project used the Clergy of the Church of England Database, Connected Histories, and other resources to analyse the reception of the Elizabethan religious settlement by the parish clergy. We were able to revise upwards the number of clergymen who refused to conform to the Settlement, challenging the historical orthodoxy set by Henry Gee in the late 1890s. This research has been published in The Historical Journal.

Conferences Organised

Conference Papers