Tag Archives: Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies

Tessa Whitehouse – The Textual Culture of English Protestant Dissent 1720-1800

It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce the publication on 17 December 2015 of Tessa Whitehouse’s book The Textual Culture of English Protestant Dissent 1720-1800 (Oxford University Press).

Cover for 9780198717843Publisher’s note: ‘Religious dissenters and their literary and social heritage are the principal subjects of this book. At its heart is a group of English men whose activities were local, transcontinental and circum-Atlantic. Drawing on letters, lecture notes, manuscript accounts of academies, and a range of printed texts and paratexts The Textual Culture of English Protestant Dissent 1720-1800 explores the connections between dissent, education, and publishing in the eighteenth century. By considering Isaac Watts and Philip Doddridge in relation to their mentors, students, friends, and readers it emphasizes the importance they and their associates attached to personal relationships in their private interactions and in print. It argues that this contributed to a distinctive literary style as well as particular modes of textual production for moderate, orthodox dissenters which reached beyond their own community to address and influence global discourses about education, enlightenment, and history. The book’s focus on ‘textual culture’ foregrounds relationships between forms as well as considering texts as they existed in one form or another. In examining textual culture, this book emphasises adaptation, transformation, fluidity and communality: it approaches the human relationships that make texts (including friendships, reading communities, intellectual exchange and business arrangements) with as much care as the content of the texts themselves. The book demonstrates that models of family and social authorship among Romantic-era dissenters advanced by Michelle Levy, Daniel White and Felicity James were rooted in the domestic culture at earlier academies and in the example of members of the Watts-Doddridge circle.’

Seminar in Dissenting Studies

Seminar in Dissenting Studies, the Lecture Hall, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR. All are welcome.

 Wednesday 14 January 2015 5.15 to 6.45 pm

 Felicity James (Leicester), ‘Writing the Lives of Dissent: Community, Biography, and Historiography in Late Eighteenth-Century Rational Dissent’

Can we use the term ‘community’ in relation to a disparate religious group such as Rational Dissenters – lacking a unifying creed, drawn from a range of backgrounds and often professing different and sometimes contradictory theological beliefs? This talk explores the ways in which Dissenters may have nourished a collective identity, particularly through their life-writing practices. Through biography, autobiography, familial memoir, and conversion narratives, I argue, they sought to construct a story of Dissent and a sense of community across time and place. The paper will discuss specific examples including the MS biography of Theophilus Lindsey, written by his wife, and some narratives surrounding Essex Street Chapel. In particular, I want to think about how Lindsey’s story of secession and exile might shed further light on the complicated narratives of Dissenting culture in the late eighteenth century, and the development of a Unitarian identity through the nineteenth century.

Felicity James teaches eighteenth and nineteenth century literature at the University of Leicester; her research focuses on sociability, friendship and creative exchange amongst writers, and, most recently, on life-writing. Her publications include Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s (Palgrave, 2008) and Religious Dissent and the Aikin-Barbauld Circle, 1740 to 1860 (Cambridge, 2011) co-edited with Prof. Ian Inkster, which arose from a day conference at Dr Williams’ Library. She is working on a monograph on life-writing by women connected with Rational Dissent, and is also one of the editors of the new Collected Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, to be published by OUP in 2018. She will be speaking at Community and its Limits, 1745-1832 at Leeds, 4-6 September 2015, and is organising a conference Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Biography, to be held in Leicester on 18 September 2015, which would welcome papers on any aspect of collaborative/community life-writing in the period, and particularly those with a focus on religious Dissent.

Speaker’s email: fj21@le.ac.uk

Webpage: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/people/felicityjames

For more information about the Seminar in Dissenting Studies contact James Vigus (j.vigus@qmul.ac.uk) or see:


1662 Revisited

We are delighted to announce the publication of:

N. H. Keeble (ed), ‘Settling the Peace of the Church’: 1662 Revisited (Oxford University Press, 2014).

1662 revisited

Table of contents:

Notes on Contributors
List of Abbreviations
David Wykes and Isabel Rivers: Preface
N. H. Keeble: Introduction: Attempting Uniformity
1: Jacqueline Rose: The Debate over Authority: Adiaphora, the Civil Magistrate, and the Settlement of Religion
2: Paul Seaward: ‘Circumstantial temporary concessions’: Clarendon, Comprehension, and Uniformity
3: Michael Davies: ‘The silencing of God’s dear Ministers’: John Bunyan and his Church in 1662
4: Robert Armstrong: The Bishops of Ireland and the Beasts at Ephesus: Reconstruction, Conformity, and the Presbyterian Knot, 1660-62
5: Alasdair Raffe: Presbyterian Politics and the Restoration of Scottish Episcopacy, 1660-62
6: Cory Cotter: Going Dutch: Beyond Black Bartholomew’s Day
7: Owen Stanwood: Crisis and Opportunity: the Restoration Church Settlement and New England
8: N. H. Keeble: The Nonconformist Narrative of the Bartholomeans
9: Mark Burden: John Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy and Church of England Responses to the Ejections of 1660-62

To order through Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies with a 20% discount, use this page.

Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies 2015 Conference

Dissent and the Representation of War

The eleventh annual one-day conference of the Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies will take place on

Saturday 16 May 2015, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square WC1H 0AR


Brycchan Carey (Kingston University)
Mary-Ann Constantine (University of Wales)
Stephen Conway (UCL)
Rémy Duthille (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)
Karen Racine (University of Guelph)

For more information, see http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/events/c2015.html

For Dissenters in the First World War, see also below, the Friends of Dr WIlliams’s Library Annual Lecture on 13 November 2014, http://fodwllectures.wordpress.com

Dissenting Studies Seminar Series

The 2015 programme is available from the website of Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/events/current.html.

The seminar meets monthly on Wednesdays from January to July (excepting May) from 5.15 to 6.45 pm in the Lecture Hall, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR. All are welcome.

1. 14 January 2015
‘Writing the Lives of Dissent: Community, Biography, and Historiography in Late Eighteenth-Century Rational Dissent’
Felicity James (Leicester)

2. 11 February 2015
‘Dissenting Gospels: Edward Harwood’s A Liberal Translation of the New Testament
Anthony Ossa-Richardson (Queen Mary)

3. 11 March 2015
‘John Wood Oman, the Prophet of Westminster’
Fleur Houston (Macclesfield)

4. 22 April 2015
‘Dissenters at the polls in Ireland, 1692-1760’
David Hayton (Queen’s University Belfast)

5. 17 June 2015
‘Mary Hays and Henry Crabb Robinson: Reconstructing a “Female Biography”’
Timothy Whelan (Georgia Southern)

 6. 8 July 2015
‘Dissenting lives in dissenting records: reading the manuscript Church books’
Anne Dunan-Page (Aix-Marseilles)

Dissenting Studies Seminar Series

Seminar in Dissenting Studies, the Lecture Hall, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AR. All are welcome. Those with an interest in Dr Williams’s Library and its collections and in the history of Protestant dissent are especially invited to attend.

Wednesday 2 July 2014 5.15 to 6.45 pm

Graham Jefcoate (Nijmegen and Chiang Mai), ‘The Tribulations of Johann Christoph Haberkorn: An Eighteenth-Century London Printer and his Dealings with Pietists and Moravians’

 In March 1771 Friedrich Wilhelm Pasche, a Lutheran clergyman in London, met Mr. Metcalf, an attorney, to discuss the matter of the “Haberkornian debt”. Johann Christoph Haberkorn, a printer formerly of Grafton Street, Soho, owed money for goods he had received on credit many years before. In this lecture we shall trace the background of the “Haberkornian debt” through the printer’s dealings with German Lutheran Pietists and Moravians in mid-eighteenth-century London.

Although Haberkorn’s account books have not been preserved, a range of archival sources, including the correspondence of London’s Pietist clergy, enables us to reconstruct the sequence of events in outline. The sources also provide a (perhaps unexpected) insight into the role of the clergy within London’s large German-speaking community. The narrative that emerges may also challenge some preconceived ideas about foreign communities in eighteenth-century England. At the centre of that narrative is Haberkorn himself, a significant figure in the contemporary book trade but also an individual profoundly affected by the religious thinking and the confessional conflicts of his time.

Graham Jefcoate (1951) studied English Literature at Cambridge and Library Science at University College London. With a background in rare books cataloguing and curatorship, he has held senior positions at the British Library and Berlin State Library. From 2004 he worked in the Netherlands where he was Director of the Nijmegen University Library until he took early retirement in October 2011. He has published widely in the fields of Anglo-German bibliography, book trade history, library history, library management and innovation. Since retirement he has been writing and lecturing on heritage collections and on various aspects of the Anglo-German relationship in the eighteenth century. His monograph on German printers, booksellers and publishers in eighteenth-century London is due to be published in November 2014.

Speaker’s email: g.p.jefcoate.70@cantab.net

Book forthcoming with De Gruyter Verlag:


For more information about the Seminar in Dissenting Studies contact James Vigus (j.vigus@qmul.ac.uk) or see


Dissenting Studies Seminar Series

Dr Tessa Whitehouse (Queen Mary) will speak at the Seminar for Dissenting Studies on ‘Family, Memory and Materiality in Nonconformist Life-Writings of the Long Eighteenth Century’, Wednesday 11 June 2014, 5.15-6.45pm, Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square, London.

All are welcome to attend. Tessa’s abstract is below, and further information about the seminar series can be found at:


Life writing encompasses a diversity of purposes, forms and repositories, making it a challenging subject for literary historians of religion. For religious dissenters, collective and individual records were crucial to sustaining their traditions and understanding their place in national history. This paper will pursue two related questions: why was biography so important for dissenters in the eighteenth century, and what was the role of women in the production of nonconformist culture? It will do so by investigating the material circumstances of production, preservation and dissemination of life writings as well as their form and content. It will concentrate on the activities of Mercy Doddridge and Jane Attwater and the exemplary memory of Elizabeth Rowe for dissenting women writers, asking how an author’s confessional identity might find its way into the structure and content of her writing, and with what literary effect. The relationship between the archival practices of familial and religious communities over time and individuals’ writings will also be a central aspect of this paper.

Dissent and the Hanoverian Succession

‘Dissent and the Hanoverian Succession’, The tenth annual one-day conference of the Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies (a collaboration between the School of English and Drama, Queen Mary, University of London, and Dr Williams’s Library) will take place on:

Saturday 10 May 2014

Dr Williams’s Library, 14 Gordon Square WC1H 0AR

See the complete programme on the Centre’s website, http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/events/c2014.html

Dissenting Studies Seminar Series

The programme of the Dissenting Studies Seminar Series (January to July 2014) has been published. You can find it on the website of the Dr William’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/events/current.html.

The series starts on Wednesday 8 January 2014  (5.15 to 6.45 pm, 14 Gordon Square), with a paper by Jane Giscombe (Dr Williams’s Library) entitled ‘Henry Crabb Robinson and the Dissenters: His Reading in Colchester 1790-95’.

Dissenting Experience, Experiencing Dissent: Registration

There are still a few places left for the first of our conferences at Dr Williams’s Library on Saturday 9 November 2013. You can download the complete programme here.

Speakers are: Michael Davies, Crawford Gribben, Ann Hughes, N. H. Keeble, Kathleen Lynch, Chad van Dixhoorn, and Elliot Vernon.

© Trustees of Dr Williams's Library
© Trustees of Dr Williams’s Library

These three one-day conferences, a partnership between the Aix-Marseille Research Centre on the English-Speaking World and Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies will take place in early November, in 2013, 2014, and 2015. They  will explore the religious and social experiences of Independent and Baptist churches and their members during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although the focus will remain primarily on what could be termed the ‘gathered churches’, the conferences will also offer opportunities to explore other aspects of the experience of dissent: from, for example, the perspective of Presbyterians and Quakers. This year is on “Ministers and their congregations”, while we’ll look at the “Variety of dissenting expression” next year with speakers on Church records, diaries, poetry, letters and entring books.

To register, send an e-mail to Anne Page with your title, affiliation, postal address and dietary requirements:  anne.page@univ-amu.frRegistration is free and a buffet lunch will be served at the Library.