This book aims to revisit the county study as a way into understanding the dynamics of the English civil war during the 1640s. It explores gentry culture and the extent to which early Stuart Cheshire could be said to be a ‘county community’. It investigates the responses of the county’s governing elite and puritan religious establishment to highly polarising interventions by the central government and Laudian ecclesiastical authorities during Charles I’s Personal Rule. The second half of the book provides a rich and detailed analysis of the petitioning movements and side-taking in Cheshire during 1641-42. This important contribution to understanding the local origins and outbreak of civil war in England will be of interest to all students and scholars studying the English Revolution.
The ‘county community’ in later medieval England enjoyed a brief but influential vogue during the 1980s, lasting roughly from Nigel Saul’s Knights and Esquires (published in 1981), a study of the Gloucestershire gentry in the fourteenth century, to Simon Payling’s Political Society in Lancastrian England (published in 1991), a study (despite its title) of the Nottinghamshire gentry in the first half of the fifteenth. This vogue was partly the consequence of a kind of intellectual overspill from the early modern period, then suffering from a glut of such
considering the agency and authority of specific localities, or indeed their impact on the wider political landscape. The risk is that historians fail to question persistent assumptions and ideas about the pervasiveness of localism and fail to consider the degree to which the early modern period witnessed the emergence of something much closer to a shared political landscape. This is not to say that such issues have not been addressed. From debates about the ‘county community’ and ‘state formation’ to work on ‘negotiating power’ and ‘mobilisation’, it has become clear that
This chapter is concerned with a rich vein of poor law spending: on cash allowances, drugs, payments in kind and headings such as apprenticeship. In most county communities, cash allowances grew in importance over time, both because it was more convenient for officials to give such allowances and then let the poor buy their own medical care and because the poor increasingly requested such allowances. Nonetheless, there is a clear sense that many officers continued to be active in purchasing drugs, devices, false limbs and food for the sick.
Part I conclusion - C heshire has emerged from the above analysis as a county almost ideally suited to the production of county consciousness. And sure enough, both in the prevalence of such talk and in the ways in which the gentry conducted their social relations and political and cultural lives, the notion of the county community, and the distinctive notion of Cheshireness that went with it, appears to have played a central role. The county’s past history and heritage, as well as its geographical situation and current institutional structure and economic
local as well as national government and how well it worked. It is argued in this book that in most ways the local end of the war effort worked much better than it has usually been given credit for. A re-examination of these issues changes our picture of the period significantly and has relevance for ongoing debates concerning the nature of relations between the centre and the localities, the political culture of early modern local society and questions of localism and the county community, and the capability – even viability – of the English state, as we will see
Introduction - T his book is an attempt to revisit the county study as a viable unit through which to analyse the politics of early modern England. After a period of something approaching dominance, for entirely explicable historiographic reasons this is a genre that has fallen out of favour since the 1990s. The rise and fall of the county study was tied to the fortunes of ‘localism’ as a key interpretative concept in the writing of early Stuart political history. The notion of localism and the connected idea of the ‘county community’ were first fully
conscious identity did it have? These were difficult questions to answer and, in an article in 1994, Carpenter pressed them against those who adhered to the notion of a county community. What evidence was there for such? Neither the meetings of the county court nor the quarter sessions showed the county acting as a corporate entity. The elite gentry families may have led and identified with the county, but their interests generally ranged far wider. In any case a true county community should embrace the numerous lesser families, whose solidarities were with their
, the questions posed by the political crises of the later 1630s and early 1640s subjected the norms and assumptions that had hitherto governed gentry politics in Cheshire to a sort of stress test. The notion of the county community outlined in Part I as the unit whose integrity was to be preserved and interests protected, and of local politics as a struggle over who got to speak for Cheshire, to whom – and, indeed, over what it was appropriate to say and do in the county’s name – remained at the centre of events and argument. As the divisions became greater, the
accounts, led by S. R. Gardiner’s magisterial History of the Great Civil War (1886–93).7 Alongside these national narratives antiquarian studies chronicled the conflict in the provinces.8 In the 2 Introduction 1960s these local histories metamorphosed into something more ambitious when Alan Everitt and others sought to explain the causes and conduct of the conflict in terms of gentry-led county communities and their relationship with the centre.9 Clive Holmes and Ann Hughes, who famously provided a corrective to the county community model, were no less concerned with