The political relationship between central government and the local administration in Yorkshire, 1678-90
The long decade from 1678 to 1690 was one of the most turbulent in the history of early modern England. In this thesis the politics of the period is re-evaluated with the help of source material deriving specifically from Yorkshire. Its primary focus is the complex relationship between central government and its agents on the one hand and a wide range of local administrators, activists and commentators on the other. The thesis employs a broadly chronological (as opposed to a thematic) framework, and places particular emphasis on three structural devices - a close analysis of the workings of central and local institutions of all kinds; potted biographies of hundreds of men, many of them relatively modest; together with a strong grounding in the national politics of the day. As well as using public records held in the great London repositories, it draws widely on material produced by the municipal corporations, the ridings and other political institutions in Yorkshire, without overlooking less formal documentation such as letters and diaries. Much of the local material has never been used before. Indeed some of it is identified here for the first time. A great many events, half-known and unknown, have been disinterred while researching the thesis. Some of them had a national and not just a local resonance, and these have been picked out for closer scrutiny. As a result, a number of historical orthodoxies have been challenged and reassessed. There is, for example, a radical (and much more positive) reappraisal of James II's longer-term prospects. Several unexamined assumptions have also been disposed of - for instance, that parliamentary boroughs were by definition chartered boroughs. But most important of all, this is the first fullscale study of the national politics of the period to be written from a regional standpoint. As such, it makes a distinct contribution to the historiography of late seventeenth century England.