North West Early Modern Seminar at Keele University

On Wednesday 29th October the North West Early Modern Seminar gathered at Keele University. We heard some excellent papers and exchanged results from recent research projects and papers. Ann Hughes (Keele University) shared the results from ongoing research into the financial records of the English civil war with some unexpected outcomes for the social and cultural implications of memory and remembrance in the seventeenth century. Sasha Handley (University of Manchester) discussed an intriguing eighteenth century bed sheet and the scientific experiments behind this ongoing research. We closed the papers of the ‘speed-daters’ with Rachel Winchcombe (University of Manchester) who explored the complexities of the ‘fantastical’ concept of El Dorado, with the suggestion that it was more grounded in science and reason than previously considered.

Allan Kennedy

Allan Kennedy (University of Manchester)

Simon Hill

Simon Hill (Liverpool John Moores University)

After a quick break we reconvened for two insightful twenty minute papers. Following on from his recent publication, Governing Gaeldom: The Scottish Highlands and the Restoration State, 1660-1688, Dr Allan Kennedy (University of Manchester) discussed the possibilities of court records from Argyllshire for a social history of Scottish crime. The preliminary research for the project pointed to a moderate and malleable rural judicial system which bucked the trend for a severe and bloody penal code in seventeenth century Scotland. Our second presenter, Simon Hill (Liverpool John Moores University), gave us an insight into his current doctoral research into the privateers of Liverpool in the American War of Independence. The presentation looked at the mechanics of privateering, its economic value to the local and national economy and the interaction between privateers and the state.

We closed the evening with drinks and further discussion in the pub. The next North West Early Modern Seminar will be held at the University of Huddersfield on the 11th March, 3pm. If you would like any information about the upcoming events of the seminar or would like to submit papers for future events please contact the secretary, Rachel Winchcombe at


John Rylands Seminar on Print and Materiality in the Early Modern World

The Print and Materiality Seminar, hosted by the John Rylands Library Manchester, has announced the new timetable for the academic year 2014/2015. The series features some excellent and intriguing papers, the full details of which can be found below.

john rylands

John Rylands Seminar on Print and Materiality

in the Early Modern World

2014/15 interdisciplinary seminar series

John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester

Thursday 9 October 2014, 5.00-7.00 pm

  • Dr Guyda Armstrong, Manchester, ‘Boccaccio and the Italian Novella Collection in English Translation in the Seventeenth Century’
  • Dr Benjamin Williams, Manchester, ‘Salonica, Venice and Manchester – Sixteenth-Century Sephardic Bible Exegesis in the John Rylands Library’
  • Dr Elizabeth Upper, John Rylands Research Institute, Manchester, Title TBA

Friday 7 November 2014, 3.30-5.00 pm (note different day and time)

  • Professor Peter Marshall, Warwick, Catholic Puritanism in Pre Reformation England’

Thursday 12 February 2015, 5.00-7.00 pm

  • Dr Sara Barker, Leeds, ‘Translation and Transmission: Exploring the pre-periodical news world’
  • Dr Stephen Pumfrey, Lancaster, ‘Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England: What can we learn from historical corpus linguistics?’
  • Michael Smith, Manchester, ‘Feeling, Print and Protestant Unity in Post-Restoration England’

Thursday 12 March 2015, 5.00-7.00 pm

  • Dr Georg Christ, Manchester, ‘Marino Sanuto’s Diaries and History: Managing Venetian news, print and historiography (early 16th to 21st C.)’
  • Dr Siobhan Talbott, Keele, ‘”By the accounts we have in the last publick news”: How information shaped behaviour in Franco-British commercial networks, c.1603-1763’
  • Dr Mark Towsey, Liverpool, ‘”Who did they think they were”: Reading history for self-fashioning in eighteenth-century Britain’

Sessions will be held in the Christie Room, John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester. The programme is supported by the John Rylands Research Institute. A group will go for drinks afterwards – all welcome! Convened by Dr Sasha Handley and Dr Jenny Spinks. Enquiries: Jenny Spinks:

The Woolcomber’s World, Part I: A life scribbled in the margins of almanacs

the many-headed monster

Brodie Waddell

On 8 August 1716, Joseph Bufton sat down to take stock of his little archive.

For about forty years, he had been filling the margins and blank pages of old almanacs with notes. He now had quite a collection and his terse list hints at their contents.

‘I reckon I have here 22 almanacks’, he wrote…

  • Seven volumes were ‘filled up chiefly with things taken out of other books’, including ‘out of a dictionary’.
  • Five were account books, some ‘of household stuff, &c.’, but others probably related to his work.
  • Three volumes were ‘out of Irish letters, &c.’, that is to say, copies of letters between Joseph and his brother John, who had removed to Ireland in 1678.
  • Two were ‘filled up with notes of sermons’ and ‘an account of funerall sermons’.
  • One was ‘filled chiefly with buriall and marriage’, chronicling the vital events of his family members…

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Leverhulme Trust at the University of Cambridge

Both a PhD studentship and research assistant position have been advertised at the University of Cambridge for work on a Leverhulme funded project researching medicine, consumption and science in early modern France. Full details of the studentship can be found here and details for the research assistant/associateship here

Print and Materiality Seminar

The final Print and Materiality Seminar for the 2013/14 programme will be taking place Wednesday 18 June at John Rylands Library, Manchester, from 2.00–5.00 pm. In a wide-ranging wrap-up program for the year, we will hear the following papers:

• Panel presentation, ‘Exhibiting Early Modern Prints in the John Rylands Library: A student perspective’
• Dr Edward Wouk (University of Manchester), ‘From Icon to Print’
• Caroline Checkley-Scott (John Rylands Library / University of Manchester), Julianne Simpson (John Rylands Library / University of Manchester) and Professor Stephen Milner (University of Manchester), ‘Venetian Vellum: Skin, Bone and the Aldine Press’
• Dr Naya Tsentourou (University of Manchester), ‘”The ghost of a linnen decency”: Fears of the material and the immaterial in Milton’s prose’

The session will be held in the Christie Room, John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester. As this is a longer session, afternoon tea will be provided during the break. A group will go for drinks afterwards afterwards – all welcome. For the annual programme, see:

The programme is supported by the John Rylands Research Institute and convened by Sasha Handley and Jenny Spinks. Enquiries: Jenny Spinks:

North West Seminar visits University of Liverpool

On the 14th May the North West Early Modern Seminar visited the University of Liverpool for an excellent discussion of current research projects. We opened the seminar with the five minute ‘speed-daters’ who all gave insightful introductions to their research. Rachel Winchcombe (University of Manchester) gave an introduction to her PhD research on the varying representations of America in early modern print culture in England, looking at the ways in which America had been understood and integrated into European thought. Margaret Bullet (University of Huddersfield) discussed John Harrison’s central role in the religious conflicts in Leeds in the early seventeenth-century and the appropriation of images of civil authority. Jessica Patterson’s project (University of Manchester), analysing the intellectual thought of John Zephaniah Holwell during the East India Trading Company, particularly his ‘deist’ readings of ancient Hindu texts, opened an exciting and enlightening debate. Greg Lynall (University of Liverpool) explored the imagery of thermal optical devices as a trope for the focusing of energies and powers in early modern satirical prints, introducing themes which resonated with Pauline Ellen Reid’s paper later in the day. Eva Krause Jørgensen (University of Aarhus/University of Liverpool) discussed the possibilities of the amalgamation of political discourse and economic theory as an approach to the intellectual history of political reform in Denmark. Matteo Salonia (University of Liverpool) concluded the series of five minute papers with an exploration of the role of private entrepreneurs in Genoese economic culture and empire building along the mediterranean.



Five minute ‘speed-daters’ from left to right Matteo Salonia, Greg Lynall, Rachel Winchcombe, Jessica Patterson, Eva Krause Jørgensen and Margaret Bullett.

After a coffee break we reconvened for two 20 minute papers. Pauline Ellen Reid (University of Georgia (Athens)/University of Liverpool) discussed the politics of visual arrangement in the work of Francis Quarles, looking at the imagery of prisms and the use of repetition, paradox, chiasmus and parallelisms in seventeenth century poetry. Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster University) then introduced her new research project ‘the semantics of belonging- with a focus on the notion of settlement’ which looked at kinship and the poor in parishes over the ‘long-eighteenth century’. The long term chronological approach adopted within the research offered an in-depth analysis of changing cultural attitudes and legal definitions of settlement and belonging. Following questions the discussion continued later over drinks.



Pauline Ellen Reid and Naomi Tadmor taking questions. 

The North West Seminar will be looking for contributions next academic year. To get involved email the secretary Michael Smith at and follow us on twitter @NWSeminar to hear first about future calls for papers.