Sources for local history
in ‘No historie so meete’
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Several factors militated against the wider use of parish registers as a source for local history. The limited timespan covered, and the dependence on the diligence of individual ministers for their compilation, limited their usefulness. The absence of modern referencing standards in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries means that a certain amount of detective work is required to identify the written sources used by local historians. While the subject of the sources used by local historians may seem somewhat dry and unexciting, it is essential to an understanding of what they wrote and why. The majority of local historians were more concerned with the martial exploits of the medieval gentry and their possession of land, rather than calculating how many sheep they owned or how many barrels their cellars held. The prevalence of coats of arms in everyday use is evidenced by a collection of Elizabethan Essex gentry wills.

‘No historie so meete’

Gentry culture and the development of local history in Elizabethan and early Stuart England


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