North West Seminar at Liverpool Hope University

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.MWEMS 25 Nov 2015


North West Early Modern Seminar at the University of Huddersfield

In March the North West Early Modern Seminar travelled to Huddersfield where we heard some excellent papers and shared current research projects. Professor Jessica Malay (University of Huddersfield) gave an insight into the life of Katehrine Hampson, an independent genteel woman of the seventeenth century. Using wills and printed texts Professor Malay pieced together the social networks of Katherine Hampson beyond the nuclear family, with some important ramifications for the social role of unmarried women in early modern England. Dr Benjamin Williams (John Rylands Research Institute) talked us through the different expositing texts and commentaries in the Rabbinic Bible. His close analysis of annotations on the Bible held at the John Rylands Library made for an exciting discussion of the translation of particular words such as ‘hell’ and ‘damnation’ from Greek texts.


Professor Jessica Malay and Dr Benjamin Wiliams


A copy of the Rabbinic Bible held at the John Rylands Library

After a cake filled break we heard from our five minute ‘speed daters’. Rebecca Walker (University of Huddersfield) discussed her ongoing research project on the ideals of household hospitality. Dr Fiona Pogson (Liverpool Hope University) shared some recent research finds for the accounts of Thomas Wentworh, earl of Strafford. We also heard from Hannah Robb (University of Manchester) on her PhD project looking into the sociability of credit in the fifteenth century and Richard Leese (University of Huddersfield) who shared an interesting interdisciplinary research project on the archaeology of sieges in the English Civil War.


Our five minute ‘speed-daters’ taking questions

We followed the seminar with drinks, food and further discussion. Information on the next North West Early Modern Seminar will be posted here on the blog and twitter feed @NWSeminar. 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

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