Puritanism in north-west England

A regional study of the diocese of Chester to 1642

Author:
R. C. Richardson
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When originally published in 1972 this book – chiefly thematic in approach and based on the author’s doctoral thesis - was hailed as the first regional study and micro analysis of the development of English Puritanism to appear in print. Leading scholars like Patrick Collinson welcomed its appearance. Internal contrasts within the huge, sprawling diocese of Chester and its large parishes are drawn out as are comparisons with the religious situation in other parts of the country. The ways in which, for much of the period under review, Puritanism in this region was actively supported, and not persecuted, by the authorities is a key distinctive feature which receives careful attention. So do the activism of puritan laity and gender dynamics. Puritan clergy provide only part of the story which is documented in these pages though often it is most conspicuous (not least because clergy tend to be the principal narrators). There is much here on women’s distinctive roles and contributions within households and congregations and as patrons. Analysis is offered of the reading habits of puritan clergy and laymen as a major example of the ways in which puritans in this region were closely connected with the wider world. Contributions made to Puritanism in this diocese by clergy from outside it are also assessed. The ways in which individual and corporate patronage was brought to bear in favour of Puritanism receives a whole chapter of its own. Tensions and conflicts between puritans and Roman Catholics in the North West are carefully reviewed in what was in effect a frontier region.

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