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Nineteenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research

'Parish, Power & Politics'

WEBINAR ON 7-8 May 2021

Parishes have always been about more than religion. Aspects like the election of representatives, allocation of pews or administration of funds moved communal concerns well into the political sphere. We know much about processes of social and confessional differentiation, but what exactly were the power relations in parish communities? How did localities negotiate their dealings with manorial lords, city councils and state authorities? To which extent were parishes instrumentalized for secular purposes like local government or even resistance?

De Wael Beggars 1629

Cornelis de Wael, 'Beggars at the church door' (1629).
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum.

The 19th Warwick Symposium on Parish Research took the form of a webinar with over 100 attendees on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 May 2021. Proceedings were co-organized by Beat Kümin (Warwick) & Marjolein Schepers (IAS Fernandes Fellow/VUB), with the help of Warwick research students Daniel Gettings & Maria Tauber.

Friday 7 May 2021

5.45 pm - Welcome & Introduction

Snell Keynote

6 pm - KEYNOTE ADDRESS, Chair: Marjolein Schepers (VUB/IAS Warwick)

'Parishes, pandemics and paths to take: post-Covid historical options'

Keith Snell (Emeritus Professor of Rural and Cultural History, Leicester)

Video recording openly accessible on our YouTube channel

Autocaptions Transcript



Poor relief has developed as a parish-based institution, centred on the local community. But who was involved in decision-making processes on the local level? How was relief organised, e.g. income and distribution practices? How did parish politics relate to other levels of governance on an urban, regional or state level? And how were power relations represented in more formal or more informal forms of relief? This panel features proposals on the local politics of poor relief in different areas and time periods.

7 - 8.30 pm - PANEL 1: Local Politics of Poor Relief, Chair: Marjolein Schepers

  • Anthea Jones (Cheltenham) - ‘A grass-roots examination of the annals of the poor in one parish and one year’
  • Steven King (Nottingham Trent) - 'Remembering the parish and its ways: Memory as currency in the negotiation of poor relief'
  • Samantha Williams (Cambridge) - 'The "unruly infected"? Authority, order and the impact of plague on everyday life in Cambridge, 1625'
  • Gabi Wüthrich (Zürich) - 'From local to global: Public education and poor relief strategy during an early modern famine'
Saturday 8 May 2021

How was belonging to the parish constructed? Local communities had different levels of belonging, differing between natives, residents and elites. But which factors contributed to belonging? How did it relate to local xenophobia or notions of alienness and othering? And how was belonging negotiated or attributed? These two panels will include papers on locals, strangers and the forging of communities.

9.45 - 11.30 am (all UK time) - PANEL 2: Strangers & Locals, Chair: Heather Falvey (Oxford)

  • Michela Berti (Pesaro) & Emilie Corswarem (Liège): 'Music and sense of belonging. Liturgical, musical and ceremonial practices of National Churches of Rome in the early modern period'
  • Germán Jiménez Montes (Groningen): 'Foreign identity and categories of belonging in sixteenth-century Seville'
  • Tamara Scheer (Vienna/Rome): 'Arbitrariness of exclusion and inclusion: The German Roman-Catholic parish in Rome and its politics of belonging (1859-1915)'
  • Hannah Reeve (Newcastle): 'Migration and belonging in the long eighteenth century'
  • Maik Schmerbauch (Berlin/Frankfurt a.M.): 'German military parishes as an important part of Catholic military welfare and public defense policy'

11.40 am - 13.10 pm - PANEL 3: Negotiating Community, Chair: Jeremy Boulton (Newcastle)

  • Alice Blackwood (Oxford): 'Residency and representation in the politics of the English parish, 1540-1660'
  • Robert W. Daniel (Warwick): 'Parish poor and church labour in early seventeenth-century Wandsworth'
  • Prisca M. Greenhow (Leicester): 'Who "truly belonged" to the parish of Mattishall in Norfolk?'
  • Katharina Simon (Marburg): 'In or out? - Negotiating belonging in early modern petitions'

13.10 - 13.45 - LUNCH BREAK


The themes of the final three panels emerged from our general call for papers.

13.45 - 15.15 - PANEL 4: Patronage & Paternalism, Chair: Andrew Foster (Kent)

  • Alan MacDonald (Dundee): 'Funding the cure of souls in Scotland's parishes c.1100-c.1620: Appropriation, Reformation and revocation'
  • Cristóvão Mata (Coimbra): 'Seigneurial patronage and ecclesiastical prosopography: The padroado privilege of the House of Aveiro (16-18th Centuries)'
  • Emma Marshall (York): 'The parochial politics of gentry healthcare practices in early modern England'
  • Linda Robertson (Dundee): 'The post-Restoration exercise of power through ecclesiastical patronage in western Sussex'

 15.20 - 16.50 pm - PANEL 5: People & Politics, Chair: Christopher Langley (Newman)

  • Sarah Boote Powell (Warwick): 'Petticoat parishioners: Female agency and parish polls in 1830s Coventry and Northampton'
  • Mary O'Connor (Oxford): 'Parish vestries and popular politics in early nineteenth-century England'
  • Maria Tauber (Warwick): 'Mary Clarke’s “parliament of women” – Representing the MP in the parish'

17.00 - 18.30 - PANEL 6: Parish Governance, Chair: Per Seesko (Rigsarkivet, Copenhagen)

  • Tom Bervoets (Brussel): 'Conflicting interests: The legal struggle for parish governance in rural Brabant, 1715-85'
  • Spike Gibbs (LSE): 'State ‘incorporation’, parish and manor: Churchwardens and manorial officeholders at Worfield, 1327-1648'
  • Ralph Houlbrooke (Reading): 'Trouble in Swallowfield'
  • Stephen Pierpont (UCL) & Peter M. Solar (Bruxelles/Oxford): 'The poor rate, the land tax and the evolution of local tax administration during the seventeenth century'


18.30-19.10 pm - Concluding Discussion and Outlook on ZOOM, with a comment by John Craig (Simon Fraser)

Zoom Discussion 

Symposium Poster

#PaSymp21 Tweets

 Two complementary Symposium Reports
- for My-Parish by Daniel Gettings on the H-Soz-Kult platform (December 2021)
- for BALH by Gill Draper for Local History News 140 (Summer 2021)
For further information & selected session recordings please contact and/or

We look forward to 'seeing' you again at our 20th Anniversary Symposium
'Writing the Parish' on 7 May 2022 !


We gratefully acknowledge the support of Warwick's:

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