Aspects of the government and society of County Durham 1558-1642

J. Tillbrook, M.
(1981) Aspects of the government and society of County Durham 1558-1642. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis was conceived with the aim of examining in depth the nature of a county society during the early modern period. Durham was chosen for two main reasons. Firstly, I felt that the county about which I was best equipped to write was my own. Secondly, because of its peculiar palatinate jurisdiction, it offered many administrative contrasts with other counties. The nature of the interaction between local jurisdiction and national demands is one of the main themes of the thesis. I have also attempted to analyse in depth the main components of the county's administrative system. Given the nature of the palatinate, it was natural that the Church should feature extensively in this work. However, I have attempted to restrict my treatment of ecclesiastical matters to aspects which have not received extensive coverage elsewhere. Thus, special emphasis has been given to the establishment of : Arminianism in Durham whereas, on the other hand, I hays not treated Roman Catholic recusancy separately. The form of the thesis has, to a large extent, been determined by the nature of the available evidence. Apart from the more obvious state papers and Exchequer records, the sources I consulted most extensively in the Public Record Office were those relating to the Palatinate of Durham. This created problems. Many of the important palatinate records have been destroyed. Much of what remains is trivial, while the bulk of the remaining records ensured that these sources, few of which have been cited in previous works, were sampled rather than subjected to thorough examination. Most of the other doc~~ents consulted were institutional, produced largely on behalf of organs of local government and the church, the former being more plentiful towards the end of the chosen period. Unfortunately, however, few private papers from county Durham in this period have stITvived. I have not suggested that Durham is in any way either typical or unique. In national terms its significance was limited. Nevertheless, the nature of the relationship between palatinate and government highlighted the shortcomings and conservatism of much early modern government. In administrativi terms the operation of the lieutenancy and shrievalty offered lessons which central government did not heed. I have also attempted to show, within the context of greater indifference to organised religion than has usually been allowed for during this period, that Durham, having been one of the first counties to experience a Calvinist-dominated hierarchy, was also the first area to witness the disintegration of the Calvinist consensus, with profound consequences for religion both locally and nationally. In terms of landownership and social structure, the county enjoyed few really wealthy members of the gentry, the distinction between the lower gentry and the rest of society was by no means clear and social categories beneath the level of the gentry were determined more by wealth and income than by forms of tenure.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2023 09:57
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2023 10:03
DOI: 10.17638/03175885
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