Society, Religion and Culture in Seventeenth-Century Nottinghamshire

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Early Modern Nottinghamshire was a vibrant county, and within its borders men and women were at the heart of the nation’s culture, religion and politics. Nottinghamshire people created credit networks to support each other’s economic activity and protested at non-parliamentary taxation in the 1630s. While some of the county’s ministers discussed the nature of the Church of England at the beginning of the seventeenth century, a few decades later county men and women took advantage of the fall of the Church in the mid-seventeenth century, building upon the traditions of their fellow countrymen and women who had left the county for the United Provinces and America earlier in the century. Nottinghamshire’s aristocracy and gentry were at the centre of the nation’s cultural world, as authors and playwrights themselves and as spectators and consumers of the written and performed works of some of the greatest names in English literature. The county had its darker side, too, with the courts dealing with cases of theft, slander and infanticide. There were others, too, men and women who practised healing and divinations, leaving themselves open to accusations of witchcraft. The essays in this book deal with the wide range of Nottinghamshire people who contributed to the history and culture of this very central Midlands county.


“Thirty years ago, the seventeenth century meant the Civil Wars of the 1640s ... The need to refocus our thoughts about the seventeenth century coincided with a broader understanding that we should not assume we understood the nature of the community ... Crime, credit, witchcraft, and nonconformity figure prominently in this new book of essays written by past and present students and staff at Nottingham Trent University, and in so doing they help to reconstruct the social world of the early seventeenth century ... the editor has provided many new insights and much new information on the state of seventeenth-century Nottinghamshire ... in this way, we can begin to get a sense of the provincial world of civil war England.” – (from the Preface) John Beckett, Professor of English Regional History, University of Nottingham

“There is a need for this book and it will be widely read, by those with an interest in the local of Nottinghamshire as well as academic historians and students. Given Nottinghamshire’s importance in English history, it is a surprisingly understudied county ... There have been some fine monographs ... but the Victoria County History for the shire only runs to two volumes published a long time ago, and there is no other overview of the county’s history. This volume will then help to fill a gap. It will also showcase the work being done by some exciting younger historians ...” – Dr. Richard Cust, Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies, University of Birmingham

“This collection of essays fills a gap in Nottinghamshire’s history by looking at the seventeenth century from the point of view of the county community and its preoccupations. Thus, we have contributions on such themes as religion, culture and crime as well as an overview of the social and political circumstances which nudged the shire to the brink of civil war in 1642 ... The book will become an essential handbook for all those interested in Nottinghamshire’s past, and, in a wider context, it will contribute to our understanding of the origins and impact of the English Civil War. The contributors are to be congratulated on producing a well-informed and eminently readable set of papers.” – Dr. David Marcombe, Centre for Local History, University of Nottingham

Table of Contents

List of Tables
1. Introduction
2. Out of Interest: Credit Networks in Early Modern Nottinghamshire
3. ‘Thou Art a Verie Baggadge’: Female Sexuality and Crime
4. ‘Sorry Rogues and Sorcery’ – Early Modern Witchcraft Trials in Nottinghamshire
5. The Literary Contexts of William Cavendish and His Family
6. Nottinghamshire and the High Road to Civil War, 1625-1643
7. Richard Bernard: Reluctant Separatist, Apocalyptic Enthusiast, Faithful Shepard?
8. ‘When Women Preach and Cobblers Pray’: The Religious Experience of Nottinghamshire, 1640-1662

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