‘WANTED a BOY to make himself generally useful.’

In the 19th century the front page of newspapers was not the place for lurid headlines and large photographs designed to catch the eye. It was a serious place where births, marriages and deaths were announced; timetables for ferries listed; ‘superior’ accommodation, government tenders and everything from grain, newly milled flour and candles to ladies’ … Continue reading ‘WANTED a BOY to make himself generally useful.’

Early Modern Women – Sabine Johnson (c1521-1597?)

There is no known portrait of Sabine Saunders.This portrait is of Jane Pemberton (1518–1602) whose life bears some similarities to Sabine's, She was the daughter of Christopher Pemberton, a Northamptonshire gentleman and married Nicholas Small, a London cloth merchant, probably in about 1540.Hans Holbein c1540 / Public domain Sabine Saunders was the daughter of Thomas … Continue reading Early Modern Women – Sabine Johnson (c1521-1597?)

Dramatis Personae – The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

I have been savouring The Mirror and the Light for about a month now and, like most people, when I think of Thomas Cromwell I think of Mark Rylance although I know he looks nothing like Cromwell. Apart from the major players, I have no idea what many of the other characters looked like. So … Continue reading Dramatis Personae – The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

‘To have and to hold from this day forward’ – The Celebration of Marriage in Early Modern England

The final step on the road to marriage in the 16th century was, as it is now, the marriage service itself. At its most basic, all that was needed to create a marriage was a mutual promise to marry followed by consummation.(1) Unfortunately for many women, this was often not enough to ensure that the … Continue reading ‘To have and to hold from this day forward’ – The Celebration of Marriage in Early Modern England

Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England

A far more succinct version of this post was published by The Coffee Pot Book Club on 9 March 2020. ‘The early-modern European witch-hunts were neither orchestrated massacres nor spontaneous pogroms. Alleged witches were not rounded up at night and summarily killed extra-judicially or lynched as the victims of mob justice. They were executed after trial and … Continue reading Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England

Meandering through Cyberspace in February 2020

The internet has dramatically enlarged our access to a wealth of information. Most days I spend some time online looking for items related to those things the interest me most - reading, writing and history. Without fail, every time, I find something new and interesting. So, here, I'd like to share a few of the … Continue reading Meandering through Cyberspace in February 2020

Norwich Castle – Palace and Prison

Norwich Castle’s square keep has dominated the centre of Norwich for centuries. It has dominated my thinking, too, for at least four years since I visited it in 2016. It could almost be said that I have obsessed over, particularly, the arrangement of the interior of the castle as a section of my latest novel, … Continue reading Norwich Castle – Palace and Prison

‘A good portion makes hir the better’ – Dowry and Jointure in 16th Century England

Even after finding a woman to his liking and convincing her, and her family, to accept his suit, there were still potential stumbling blocks in the way of a man intent on marriage. Before the betrothal, there were financial matters to be settled – dowry, jointure and how the couple were to fund their future … Continue reading ‘A good portion makes hir the better’ – Dowry and Jointure in 16th Century England

‘In time meet and convenient’ – Betrothal in Early Modern England

Once a man had settled on the qualities he wanted in a spouse, and with the help of family and friends had sought such a woman out, courted her and secured not only her own agreement but that of her family, the next step to be taken on the path to marriage was betrothal. Betrothal … Continue reading ‘In time meet and convenient’ – Betrothal in Early Modern England

Book Review – Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context by Gregory J Durston

Despite years of cool-headed scholarship over several decades, the idea still persists in the popular imagination that during the period known as the 'witch craze' millions of women were rounded up and burned at the stake often for nothing more than their skill with herbal remedies. While thousands of women, and men, believed to be … Continue reading Book Review – Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context by Gregory J Durston