The political history of the parlimentary boroughs of Kent, 1642-1662.
The progress of the English Revolution at a local level
has already been charted in the case of several counties; events
in London have been and are being subjected to close scrutiny.
The provincial towns have received less attention from historians.
To contemporaries, however, not merely the capital but towns in
general, and especially boroughs entitled to return members to the
House of Commons, were factious, refractory and potentially
revolutionary. It is the aim of thi8 study to examine the reactions
of a group of eight parliamentary boroughs to the issues of the
period, to determine the effects of the political upheaval upon
their ruling bodies and upon their relationship with the central
authority, and to indicate some of the pressures and tensions to
which they were subjected. Something of the extent and character
of the revolution that took place in English government and society
during the 1640's and 1650's can be seen from the history of these
towns: so can the limits both of that revolution and. of its
attempted reversal at the end of our period. Control of these
boroughs was important to successive governments and some determined
attempts were made to ensure co-operation from their rulers. Yet,
despite some surface conformity, the Corporations remained essentially
independent in their attitudes to and application of government
policy. Their local governors acted empirically and were conscious
of interests shared with those whom they ruled: directives from
the centre, even the laws themselves, were modified in application
according to local circumstances • efficient and uniform admiri1atration
was hampered by such behaviour, but so was tyranny. Moreover
in their determined pursuit of local privilege and local interests,
the townsmen mastered sophisticated political and legal techniques
with which to defend themselves in an age when their walls no longer
protected them from attack.