The History of Independence

The Independence Project brings the history of independent freedom to the public by sharing insights from an international team of experts, featuring the earliest debates on the topic in the English-speaking world, and providing access to additional content and events. The project, which is directed by Polly Ha, is funded by the AHRC and is based at the University of East Anglia in collaboration with The Jefferson Foundation and the Library of Trinity College Dublin. Further information is available on the project website, which includes blog posts and an online exhibition.

New England Beginnings – Francis J. Bremer

‘New England Beginnings’ is a partnership to encourage and promote activities that commemorate the cultures that shaped early New England.  The activities focused on are designed to 1) tell the stories of the region in the seventeenth century to a wide, general public audience and 2) enhance accessibility of resources for future scholarship in the field. The partnership is coordinated by Francis J. Bremer Professor Emeritus of History, Millersville University. A full list of partners and related events is available on the ‘New England Beginnings’ blog.

InvenCaP Blog – The Church Records of White’s Alley, London – (2) – Disciplinary Cases and the Interpretation of Non-Attendance Figures

By Mark Burden

In recent times, historians have quite correctly expressed reservations about the wide–spread assumption that a family’s non–attendance at a parish church might indicate their support for dissent. However, little attention has been paid to the opposite premise: that increasing levels of non–attendance at a dissenting church might indicate a falling–off of support for that church. It is certainly the case that non–attendance figures, whether relating to the Church of England or a dissenting congregation, should not always be interpreted in relation to national political events. In the absence of traceable links between those events and the figures themselves, and in response to the danger of making a category error by comparing numbers and events, it might seem safer to desist from attributing any such connections. Yet for many scholars, perhaps particularly those with a background in literary studies, it is equally counter-intuitive to deny any link between church attendance and political ideas, given the obvious point that people’s actions are affected by their beliefs. For scholars adopting this alternative set of assumptions, it would hardly be surprising if church books, which were conceived primarily as practical documents, did not attribute declining attendance to political events and ideas; yet to rule out any such connections is to overlook a number of important factors. Firstly, to be a dissenter in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century was, by definition, to be at the centre of a number of political arguments and events, and to be very much aware of the fact. While not impossible, it would have been extremely difficult to be a covenanted member of a Congregational or Baptist church and not to have recognised that to do so was to participate in an organisation in competition with the state church. Furthermore, for researchers who think of politics not only in terms of legislature and executive but in terms of people (polis as well as polity), there are further reasons for viewing church attendance figures as political: informed by the debates which sometimes simmered and sometimes raged about them, a dissenter’s decision to stop attending chapel – whatever the trigger might be – was in and of itself a political act.

In this blog, I would like to explore the issue of non–attendance by analysing the disciplinary cases brought by the White’s Alley General Baptist Church in London against its members, 1681-1714. A brief history of the church and its ministers is provided in my previous blog. The reason for using this church to comment upon church attendance and discipline is primarily pragmatic: the church books contain an almost unparalleled level of detail relating to proceedings against recalcitrant members for the period under question. They also enable us to distinguish between the number of cases opened against church members, and the number of times they were cited in the minutes. By ‘case’ I mean the complete set of proceedings against a member for a particular misdemeanour or group of connected misdemeanours. By ‘citation’ I mean an entry in the church book recording either the misdemeanour, the church’s action, or some combination of the two. Thus it is possible to be cited many times for the same misdemeanour, and all of the citations collectively constitute one case. It will therefore be noted that the term ‘citation’ is used rather differently in this blog than in most accounts of seventeenth-century dissent, where it refers to the accused being summoned to appear in front of the quarter sessions, manorial, or church courts. In its conventional usage, then, the term implies that the accused was considered by officialdom to be too much of a dissenter; in this blog, the term carries the implication that the White’s Alley church considered the accused to be too little of a dissenter, in that they were insufficiently Godly. The following analysis consists of two elements: a discussion of reasons for the fluctuations in the number of disciplinary citations, and an account of the disciplinary cases brought against women.

Continue reading InvenCaP Blog – The Church Records of White’s Alley, London – (2) – Disciplinary Cases and the Interpretation of Non-Attendance Figures

InvenCaP Blog – The Church Records of White’s Alley, London – (3) – Appendix: Table of Disciplinary Cases

Please click on the link below to view a pdf table summarising the contents of approximately 900 disciplinary citations at White’s Alley Baptist Church, 1681-1714:

White’s Alley – Disciplinary Cases – Appendix

The table has been compiled by Mark Burden and is designed to accompany the two previous blog posts on ‘Principles and Practices’ and ‘The Interpretation of Non-Attendance Figures’.

Citation: This pdf is not to be reproduced in any form. If the information contained in the pdf is used for research purposes, it should be cited in the following manner: Mark Burden, ‘The Church Books of White’s Alley – (3) – Appendix: Table of Disciplinary Cases’ (2016),

Albrecht Burkardt (dir.) – L’Economie des Dévotions

Ce livre cherche à élucider les rapports qu’entretiennent, à l’époque moderne, les activités économiques et les pratiques dévotionnelles. Il s’agit de deux sphères volontiers séparées, avec en arrière-plan, des a priori d’incompatibilité, voire des aversions traditionnelles qui n’ont pas épargné l’historiographie. Et pourtant il est évident que, dans les sociétés d’Ancien Régime, le champ des pratiques de piété a constitué un facteur économique d’importance majeure.

  • L’économie des lieux de dévotions
  • Dévotions et commerce :conjonctures et logiques distributives
  • Dévotion et commerce :coexistence, conflits, accommodements
  • Réseaux commerciaux et dévotions des acteurs de l’échange
  • Zaytoun, août2007

Philippe Moulis (ed.) – L’Unigenitus en Frontière de Catholicité

L'UNIGENITUS EN FRONTIÈRE DE CATHOLICITÉProtégé de Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet et précepteur du comte de Toulouse, fils de Louis XIV, Pierre de Langle est nommé, en 1698, évéque de Boulogne-sur-Mer. Proche des Noailles, l’évêque boulonnais s’oppose à la bulle Unigenitus, fulminée le 8 septembre 1713, qui condamnait 101 propositions extraites des Réflexions morales de Pasquier Quesnel. Au cœur du réseau international janséniste, le corpus de 366 lettres, écrites entre 1711 et 1724, rassemblées dans cet ouvrage, dévoile le cheminement de la pensée des prélats jansénistes qui mène à l’appel des quatre évêques en 1717 et permet de mieux comprendre ce que fut la «querelle de la bulle Unigenitus » dans le royaume de France et en Europe du Nord.

Philippe Moulis, docteur en histoire moderne, est chercheur associé au centre Pléiade de l’Université de Paris 13. Il a écrit de nombreux articles sur le jansénisme aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Il est membre de la Société des Amis de Port-Royal et collabore régulièrement aux Chroniques de Port-Royal.