In November the North West Early Modern Seminar was hosted by Liverpool Hope University where we enjoyed a series of excellent papers and presentations on current research projects. John Appleby (Liverpool Hope University) explored the ways in which the notorious pirate John Callice was able to benefit from networks of assistance and lack of action by local authorities, and the problems posed by this form of organised crime for the Elizabethan government. Dr Appleby drew attention to the fascinating image of the redeemed pirate, at times both useful to Callice and acceptable to ministers seeking to draw on his considerable knowledge. Dr Jenni Hyde (University of Manchester) stepped in at short notice and discussed the use by mid-Tudor ballad composers of simple, memorable tunes in familiar musical forms which could be reworded to suit a particular topical issue, demonstrating her point by leading her audience in song! She explored the range of subjects that were addressed in both surviving manuscript and print collections, and balladeers’ use of ambiguous words – and the potential consequences, in the context of the Henrician treason legislation, of being willing to explain them to an audience.
We heard from our ‘speed-daters’ after a short break, beginning with Dr Nicholas Seager (University of Keele) who discussed his current work editing the surviving correspondence of Daniel Defoe, talking us through the range of subject matter and the associated editorial challenges. Michael Smith (University of Manchester) explored an aspect of his doctoral research on late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century Protestantism, focusing on the motives of the SPCK in circulating work by the non-conformist theologian, Jean Le Clerc. Dr James Mawdesley (Liverpool Hope University) closed our proceedings by exploring the significance of the probable links between Richard Mather of Boston and clergy in Bury in the establishment of Presbyterianism in Lancashire in the 1640s.
We continued discussions over drinks and a meal.