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The Church and Social Discipline

For discussion:

1. Did the expansion in activity in the ecclesiastical courts between 1530 and 1640 owe more to religious changes than to the other social and economic changes of the period?

2. Was puritanism a necessary precondition for a greater enforcement of moral behaviour on the poor?

3. ‘A puritane is such a one as loves God with all his soule but hates his neighbour with all his heart’. Does this early-seventeenth century view help explain the reformation of manners?

4. Was there more at stake in slander litigation than the urge to defend a materially-damaged reputation?

Introductory Surveys:

Ingram, Martin. Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Cambridge, 1987), intro. & ch.1

Underdown, David. Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England, 1603-1660 (Oxford, 1985), chs.2-3.

Wrightson, K.E. English Society, 1580-1680 (London, 1982), pp.183-221.

Detailed Studies:

Hill, Christopher. Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (1964), ch.8.

Marchant, R.A. The Church Under the Law: Justice, Administration and Discipline in the Diocese of York, 1560-1640 (Cambridge, 1969).

Haigh, Christopher. ‘Slander and the Church Courts in the Sixteenth Century’, Transactions of the Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society 78 (1975), 1-13

Curtis, T.C., & Speck, W.A. ‘The Societies for the Reformation of Manners: A Case Study in the Theory and Practice of Moral reform’, Literature & History 3 (1976), 45-64.

Ingram, Martin. ‘Communities and Courts: Law and Disorder in Early-Seventeenth-Century Wiltshire’, in J.S. Cockburn (ed.), Crime in England, 1550-1800 (London, 1977), pp.110-34.

Sharpe, J.A. Defamation and Sexual Slander in Early Modern England: The Church Courts at York (University of York Borthwick Paper no.58, 1980).

Rushton, Peter. ‘Women, Witchcraft, and Slander in Early Modern England: Cases from the Church Courts of Durham, 1560-1675’, Northern History 18 (1982), 116-32.

Ingram, Martin. ‘Religion, Communities and Moral Discipline in Late Sixteenth- and Early-Seventeenth-Century England: Case Studies’, in K. von Greyerz (ed.), Religion and Society in Early Modern Europe (London, 1984), pp.177-93.

Collinson, Patrick. ‘Cranbrook and the Fletchers: Popular and Unpopular Religion in the Kentish Weald’, in P. Collinson, Godly People: Essays in English Protestantism and Puritanism (London, 1984), pp.399-428.

Spufford, Margaret. ‘Puritanism and Social Control?’, in Anthony Fletcher & John Stevenson (eds), Order and Disorder in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1985), pp.41-58.

Duffy, Eamon. ‘The Godly and the Multitude in Stuart England’, The Seventeenth Century 1 (1986), 31-49.

McIntosh, Marjorie K. ‘Local Change and Community Control in England, 1465-1500’, Huntingdon Library Quarterly 49 (1986), 219-42.

Ingram, Martin. Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Cambridge, 1987).

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.

Gowing, Laura. ‘Gender and the Language of Insult in Early Modern London’, History Workshop Journal 35 (Spring 1993), 1-21.

Gowing, Laura. ‘Language, Power and the Law: Women’s Slander Litigation in Early Modern London’, in Jenny Kermode & garthine Walker (eds), Women, Crime and the Courts in Early Modern England (London, 1994), pp.26-47.

Hindle, Steve. ‘The Shaming of Maragret Knowsley: Gossip, Gender and the Experience of Authority in Early Modern England’, Continuity & Change 9:3 (1994), 391-419.

Wrightson, Keith & Levine, David. Poverty & Piety in an English Village: Terling, 1525-1700 (2nd. ed., Oxford, 1995), chs.5-7 (& esp. postscript).

Ingram, Martin. ‘Reformation of Manners in Early Modern England’, in Paul Griffiths, Adam Fox & Steve Hindle (eds), The Experience of Authority in Early Modern England (London, 1996), pp.47-88.

Ingram, Martin. ‘Puritans and the Church Courts, 1560-1640’, in Christopher Durston & Jacqueline Eales (eds), The Culture of English Puritanism, 1560-1700 (London, 1996), pp.58-91.

Gowing, Laura. Domestic Dangers: Women, Words and Sex in Early Modern London (Oxford, 1996).

Davenport, Edwin. ‘Elizabethan England’s Other Reformation of Manners’, English Literary History 63:2 (1996), 255-78.

McIntosh, Marjorie. Controlling Misbehaviour in England, 1370-1600 (Cambridge, 1998).

Seaver, Paul et al. ‘Symposium: Controlling (Mis)behaviour’, Journal of British Studies 37 (July 1998), 231-305.

Hindle, Steve. The State and Social Change in Early Modern England, c.1550-1640 (London, 2000), pp.176-203.

Capp, Bernard. ‘Republican Reformation: Family, Community and the State in Interregnum Middlesex, 1649-60’, in Helen Berry & Elizabeth Foyster (eds), The Family in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2007), pp.40-66.


1. On puritanism: Wrightson & Levine (1979/95); Ingram (1984); Spufford (1985).

2. On the pre-history of moral regulation: McIntosh (1998); Seaver (1998).