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Seventeenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research

Parish Petition


University of Warwick
Humanities Building
Saturday 18 May 2019

Co-organized by Beat Kümin (Warwick/U.K.)
and Malin Lennartsson (Linnaeus/Sweden)


Our annual one-day symposium explored the different ways in which locals and non-residents got involved in parish affairs, for example by attending masses or sermons, serving as officeholders, paying for additional clergy or furnishings, challenging liturgical innovations, making presentations or taking collective initiatives – as in this 1771 petition by three parishes to the Swedish diet. More generally, the meeting also considered how local communities helped to shape larger historical processes and government structures at given times.


Co-organized with Prof. Malin Lennartsson (Linnaeus University, Växjö), the Symposium placed a particular emphasis on Scandinavia, with four papers dedicated to Sweden and Finland. However, for comparative purposes, papers on England and Scotland were also featured. Speakers included doctoral students, early career researchers and senior scholars.



Beat Kümin (Warwick): Welcome & Introduction


PANEL 1 – OFFICERS & POLITICS, chaired by Andrew Foster (Kent)

Dave Postles (Hertfordshire): Parish office-holding: some sceptical reflections [abstract]

Donald Spaeth (Glasgow): Parish politics and the names of parish officers – What lay beneath the ideal of neighbourliness? [abstract]


PANEL 2 – DUTIES & TENSIONS, chaired by Bernard Capp (Warwick)

Helen Gair (Nottingham Trent): Parish participation and the church court – Kirk session discipline in sixteenth-century Perth [abstract]

John Morgan (Manchester): Participation in water management in early modern English parishes [abstract]



PANEL 3 – PARISH ENGAGEMENT IN EARLY MODERN SCANDINAVIA, chaired by Elizabeth Tingle (De Montfort)

Malin Lennartsson (Linnaeus): Swedish parish records in comparative perspective [abstract]

Miia Kuha (Jyväskylä): Negotiating parish affairs in court – Encounters of parishioners and authorities in late seventeenth-century Eastern Finland [abstract]
Arja Rantanen (National Archives of Finland/Jyväskylä): Parish scribes, local administration and political culture [abstract]

Ella Viitaniemi (Tampere): Active middle men, enlightened reformers? The agency of deans in the late eighteenth-century Swedish realm / Western Finland [abstract]

Scandinavian Speakers

Ella Viitaniemi, Arja Rantanen, Malin Lennartsson and Miia Kuha
joined us to present their work on Swedish and Finnish parishes. Pic: BK.


PANEL 4 – POVERTY & CHARITY, chaired by Chris Langley (Newman)

Joe Chick (Warwick): Chronic relief – Parishioners and poverty in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Reading [abstract]

Marion Hardy: ’Heaven is the reward of charity’ – Benefactors and their parish charities [abstract]



Comments by Bernard Capp, Andrew Foster, Beat Kümin, Chris Langley & Elizabeth Tingle,
followed by general discussion

Comments & Discussion


Symposium Report by Bethany Marsh (Nottingham): online at H/SOZ/KULT and in WORD format

Shorter version in the HRC magazine Spectrum 2 (2019), 30


We gratefully acknowledge support from the Humanities Research Centre


Cover Image
Petition of three parishes submitted to the Swedish imperial diet by
their delegate Lars Torbjörnsson in 1771-72. Stockholm, Riksarkivet.
[Further details]


My-Parish Logo


For information contact:
Beat Kümin (History).














Panel 1

Panel 1

Panel 2

Panel 2




'Parish Participation' discussions














Hardy M

Panel 4