Politics and society in Northamptonshire 1649-1714
This thesis is intended to illustrate political and social developments in Northamptonshire between the execution of Charles I and the death of Queen Anne. Chapter I outlines the physical and human geography of the county. In so doing it drays attention to the regional variety to be found in the patterns of settlement, agriculture, industry and poverty but asserts that the county did have an overall identity in the seventeenth century. Chapter II examines the gentry community: their number, distribution, period of settlement and wealth. It makes the case that the county community best expressed its identity through the political and administrative institutions of local government. Chapter III covers the years 1649-59. It examines the changing composition of the Commission of the Peace in these years and the failure to reach a political settlement in the county. It also attempts to trace the emergence of radical dissent at this time. Chapter IV narrates the political developments that led up to the Restoration and examines the more accommodating settlement of the Commission of the Peace, and the importance the government laid on the militia. Chapter V examines local elections and electioneering methods between 1661 and 1678 and analyses two manuscript poll-books for Northampton and Peterborough. Chapter VI examines Catholicism in Northamptonshire and the effects of the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis. It goes on to trace the conflict between whig and Tory interests, the attempts by the governments of Charles II and James II to subdue the independence of the county community and the events of the Revolution of 1688. Chapter VII covers the Revolution Settlement in some detail and then goes on to examine the effect party politics had on Northamptonshire gentry families, on the Commission of the Peace and on the electorate between 1695-1714.