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    Writing history from below: chronicling and record-keeping in Early Modern England

    Waddell, Brodie (2018) Writing history from below: chronicling and record-keeping in Early Modern England. History Workshop Journal 85 (1), pp. 239-264. ISSN 1363-3554.

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    Over the course of the early modern period, a remarkable number of people below the ranks of the gentry and clergy produced manuscript chronicles, registers and historical miscellanies. This article examines several of these ‘lay’ historians, particularly Joseph Bufton (1651-1718), a tradesman from Coggeshall in Essex who filled more than twenty volumes of notebooks. It shows that these relatively lowly writers created a ‘usable past’ by anchoring their texts in the social and economic realities of their own local communities. They recorded both the ‘merry England’ of seasonal festivity and the perennial struggle to earn a living in often difficult circumstances. Alongside this, some drew on the widening circulation of printed and oral news to chronicle national political and religious events, usually from a distinctly local perspective. The histories and archives that they preserved for posterity often served a practical purpose by providing evidence of parochial affairs, extraordinary weather or local customs. Yet they also helped to reinforce the social bonds that tied together their communities – whether based on neighbourhood, denomination or occupation – by recording a shared past for their members.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication following peer review. The version of record is available online at the link above.
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Brodie Waddell
    Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2018 08:56
    Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 02:25


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