Church and People in Interregnum Britain


Edited By Fiona McCall


In 1645, as the First Civil War approached its end, a second Reformation took place which created profound dislocations in religion and in British society. The Church was disestablished, and godly puritan practices promoted in parish churches and everyday life.  Some clergy and parishioners embraced change;  others were horrified, experiencing these as times of madness and trouble. Historians continue to debate the extent of the social disruption that resulted, and the impact of godly ideals. 

With an introduction from Professor Bernard Capp, pre-eminent social historian of the period, this collection of essays assesses interregnum religious practice at ground level, based on a sophisticated understanding of the complex and unique pattern of record-keeping and survival from the period. Each chapter takes an original approach, using a specific local or institutional case study or previously under-examined source from England, Scotland or Wales. In the process, we see how ever-evolving national initiatives met local spaces, local traditions and individual personal agendas. We see the tensions produced by the emergence of religious plurality in a society still yearning for social conformity under a uniform practice of religion, the forces for inclusion and exclusion, of acceptance of or estrangement from godly religion.

Dr Fiona McCall is senior lecturer in early modern history at the University of Portsmouth.

Church and People in Interregnum Britain appears in New Historical Perspectives, an Open Access monograph series for Early Career Scholars from the Royal Historical Society and Institute of Historical Research.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Stability and flux: the Church in the Interregnum
    Bernard Capp
  • The administration of the Interregnum church
  • 1. What happened in English and Welsh parishes c.1642–62?: a research agenda
    Andrew Foster
  • 2. ‘Soe good and godly a worke’: the surveys of ecclesiastical livings and parochial reform during the English Revolution
    Alex Craven
  • 3. The ecclesiastical patronage of Oliver Cromwell, c.1654–60
    Rebecca Warren
  • The clergy of the Commonwealth
  • 4. The impact of the landscape on the clergy of seventeenth-century Dorset
    Trixie Gadd
  • 5. The clergy of Sussex: the impact of change, 1635–65
    Helen M. Whittle
  • Enforcing godly ideals
  • 6. ‘Breaching the laws of God and man’: secular prosecutions of religious offences in the interregnum parish, 1645–60
    Fiona McCall
  • Traditionalist religion: patterns of persistence and resistance
  • 7. Scandalous Ayr: parish-level continuities in 1650s Scotland
    Alfred Johnson
  • 8. Malignant parties: loyalist religion in southern England
    Rosalind Johnson
  • 9. ‘God’s vigilant watchmen’: the words of episcopalian clergy in Wales, 1646–60
    Sarah Ward Clavier
  • Remembering godly rule
  • 10. ‘A crack’d mirror’: reflections on ‘godly rule’ in Warwickshire in 1662
    Maureen Harris
  • Index


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June 23, 2021

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