AbstractThis thesis demonstrates that the experiences of Protestant dissenters in the period from c. 1640-c. 1740 were of significant importance in the religious history of Hampshire. Modern scholarship has overlooked the value of Hampshire as a case study of Protestant nonconformity in the period, and this thesis therefore represents a major contribution to an understanding of provincial dissent in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The thesis demonstrates the extent of dissatisfaction with the national church in the period 1640 to 1660. This period also saw the rise of radical religious groups, whose success in the county is examined. After the Restoration, persecution of dissenters became widespread, with occurrences often influenced by national events and legislation. But a close examination of the Hampshire evidence shows variations in the persecution of dissent across the county, due to local factors.
Hampshire’s dissenters represented a significant minority in the population of the county, but no previous study has demonstrated how the distribution of dissent varied throughout the county. The distribution appears to have been influenced by many factors, but, in Hampshire as elsewhere, dissent was strong in towns, increasingly so in the eighteenth century. Previous studies of the social status of dissenters have not encompassed Hampshire, so this study makes an important contribution to existing analyses of social status by examining the evidence to demonstrate that the county’s dissenters were of the ‘middling sort’, but that this status did broaden in the years following Toleration.
The experience of Hampshire dissenters after the Toleration Act has not been the subject of extensive study. This thesis examines unused sources to show how far the county’s dissenters were affected by external challenges from the Anglican church and by internal controversies. The conclusion is that Hampshire’s overall experience of dissent was influenced in some respects by national events, but at the same time not inevitably swayed by them.
|Date of Award||28 Oct 2013|
|Supervisor||Liz Stuart (Supervisor), Jean Morrin (Supervisor) & Colin Haydon (Supervisor)|