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Age and Authority

For discussion:

1. ‘Because individual lives were more integrated with familial goals, many decisions now considered “individual”, such as choice of occupation, leaving home, or getting married, were in fact part of collective familial strategies.’ Was this true of English family life in this period?

2. Have historians of the family in early modern England devoted too much attention to alleged shifts in the emotional intensity of family reltionships and too little to the enduring realities of the power of husbands and fathers?

3. Is it possible to talk of a ‘youth culture’ in early modern England’?

Introductory Surveys:

Houlbrooke, Ralph. The English Family, 1450-1700 (London, 1984), chs.6-7.

Sharpe, J.A. Early Modern England: A Social History, 1550-1760 (London, 1984), pp.69-77

Wrightson, K.E. English Society, 1580-1680 (London, 1982), pp.66-120.

Detailed Studies:

Smith, S.R. ‘The London Apprentices as Seventeenth-Century Adolescents’, Past & Present 61 (1973), 149-61.

Thomas, Keith. ‘Age and Authority in Early Modern England’, Proceedings of the British Academy 62 (1976), 205-48.

Brigden, Susan. ‘Youth and the English Reformation’, Past & Present (1982), 37-67.

Lindley, Keith. ‘Riot Prevention and Control in Early Stuart London’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5th ser. 33 (1983), 109-26

Pollock, Linda. Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations From 1500 to 1900 (Cambridge, 1983).

Amussen, S.D. ‘Gender, Family and the Social Order, 1560-1725’, in Anthony Fletcher and John Stevenson (eds), Order and Disorder in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1985), pp.196-217.

Clark, Peter. ‘A Crisis Contained?’ The Condition of English Towns in the 1590s’, in Peter Clark (ed.), The European Crisis of the 1590s (London, 1985), pp.44-66.

Green, Ian. ‘“For Children in Yeeres and Children in Understanding”: The Emergence of the English Catechism Under Elizabeth and the Early Stuarts’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 37 (1986),

Wall, Richard. ‘Leaving Home and the Process of Household Formation in Pre-Industrial England’, Continuity & Change 2:1 (1987), 77-101.

Ben-Amos, Ilana Krausman. ‘Service and the Coming of Age of Young Men in Seventeenth-Century England’, Continuity & Change 3:1 (1988), 41-64.

Friedeberg, Robert von. ‘Reformation of Manners and the Social Composition of Offenders in an East Anglian Cloth Village: Earls Colne, Essex, 1531-1642’, Journal of British Studies 29 (October 1990), 347-85.

Archer, Ian. The Pursuit of Stability: Social Relations in Elizabethan London (Cambridge, 1991).

Pelling, Margaret, & Smith, Richard M. (eds.). Life, Death and the Elderly: Historical Perspectives (London, 1991).

Pelling, Margaret. ‘Apprenticeship, Health and Social Cohesion in Early Modern London’, History Workshop Journal 37 (Spring 1994), 33-56.

Walsham, Alexandra. ‘“Out of the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings”: Prophecy, Puritanism and Childhood in Elizabethan Suffolk’, in Diana Wood (ed.), The Church and Children (Studies in Church History 31, Oxford, 1994), pp.285-99.

Ben-Amos, Ilana Krausman. Adolescence and Youth in Early Modern England (New Haven, 1994).

Purkiss, Diana. ‘Women’s Stories of Witchcraft in Early Modern England: The House, the Body, the Child’, Gender & History 7:3 (November 1995), 408-32.

Sharpe, J.A. ‘Disruption in the Well-Ordered Household: Age, Authority and Possessed Young People’, in Paul Griffiths, Adam Fox & Steve Hindle (eds), The Experience of Authority in Early Modern England (London, 1996), pp.187-213.

Griffiths, Paul. ‘Masterless Young People in Norwich, 1560-1645’, in Paul Griffiths, Adam Fox & Steve Hindle (eds), The Experience of Authority in Early Modern England (London, 1996), pp.146-87.

Fox, Adam. ‘Custom, Memory and the Authority of Writing’, in Paul Griffiths, Adam Fox & Steve Hindle (eds), The Experience of Authority in Early Modern England (London & New York, 1996), pp.89-116.

Griffiths, Paul. Youth and Authority (Oxford, 1996).

Botelho, Lyn, & Thane, Pat (eds). Women and Ageing in British Society Since 1500 (London, 2001), chs.1 (Schen), 2 (Pelling), 3 (Botelho), 5 (Froide).

Shepard, Alexandra. Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England (Oxford, 2003), chs.4 & 8.

Ingram, Martin. ‘Child Sexual Abuse in Early Modern England’, in Michael Braddick and John Walter (eds), Negotiating Power in Early Modern Society: Order, Hierarchy and Subordination in Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2001), pp.63-84.

Hindle, Steve. ‘“Waste” Children?: Pauper Apprenticeship under the Elizabethan Poor Laws, c.1598-1697’, in

Penny Lane, Neil Raven and Keith Snell (eds), Women, Work and Wages in England, c.1600-1850 (Woodbridge, 2004), pp.15-46.


1. On old age: Botelho & Thane (2001); Shepard (2003: ch.8).

2. On youth: Griffiths (1996), Shepard (2003: ch.4), Hindle (2004).