Catholicism and anti-Catholicism in Cheshire during the Long Reformation, c.1560 – c.1720

Barlow, John Howard (2022). Catholicism and anti-Catholicism in Cheshire during the Long Reformation, c.1560 – c.1720. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis is a county study of Catholicism in Cheshire during the Long Reformation period – notionally 1560-1720, when Catholicism was a proscribed minority faith whose practice could attract significant penalties. It remained proscribed for a further century after this period, but was penalised somewhat more routinely than hitherto, and in that sense the 1720s marks a break point in the history of anti-Catholic persecution and thus a natural end point for this study. This revival of the county study genre, in vogue in the 1960s and early 1970s but subsequently historiographically less fashionable, seeks to interrogate the low-level evidence of early modern English Catholicism in the context of the substantial body of literature on the subject that has been produced over the last thirty years.
Firstly, it will demonstrate the limited impact of anti-Catholic initiatives in Cheshire over the period. It will show that only a small minority of Catholics were penalised: initially, during the mid-late Elizabethan years, by imprisonment, when no alternative punishment proved operable; and latterly, through distraint of property. There were, however, peaks and troughs in this trajectory, most noticeably in the post-Civil War period.
Secondly, it will show how significant the alternatives to the traditional model of gentry-centred recusant Catholicism were: the different forms of Catholicism (recusant and church papist, seigneurially and plebeian led) that flourished in the county. They show that Catholicism there was stronger than previous generations of historians have acknowledged.
Lastly, it will differentiate the degree of confessional co-existence with the wider community – limited integration in matters of faith and family life, but rather more integrated in matters of everyday life which touched on neither of these areas. It will also demonstrate engagement with the principal national issues of the era – the Civil War, the Popish Plot, and Jacobitism.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain


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