Sunday, 5 August 2007

Church and chapel people, 18th and 19th centuries

What is it like to be the seventh child in a family of four boys and four girls, such as I am? Well, it has meant a lot of fun, much love, disappointments and sadnesses. But others might agree with me that having several brothers and sisters can also produce difficulty in establishing one`s own identity and a certain amount of sibling rivalry, although these aspects are hard to recognize or to admit within the family. A few years ago I achieved a long-held ambition to gain a university degree and, to my surprise, eventually found myself studying for a PhD. I discovered that I really enjoyed writing my assignments, research projects and then, finally, producing my thesis. This has now been published as a book entitled

GLORIOUS HOPE: Women and Evangelical Religion in Kent and Northamptonshire, 1800-1850

published in 2004, price £15.50 (including postage and packing).

S0, if you are interested in WOMEN`S HISTORY, especially their connections with church and chapel life, I think you would find that I take you into domestic and cultural worlds vividly described by those involved in them. For me, the journey of discovery has been very exciting.

If you would like a copy, please contact me at
Compton Towers Publishing
102 Northampton Road

Glorious Hope is an in-depth study of the local history of women and, inevitably, their menfolk, during the Evangelical revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is based on primary sources never before used in the writing of religious history. These include personal letters, hymns by a young lacemaker and many other documents, all placed in the local context yet related to what was happening nationally. Gender discrimination and class divisions are highlighted. One chapter uses original material taken from the Annual Reports of the activities of The Church Missionary Society, and The British and Foreign Bible Society, which were administered by men but relied on the assistance of local women as collectors and Bible ladies for their success. Such documents are not easily found.
I have had good reviews in the Church Times, the Local Historian and the Journal of the Historical Society of the Presbyterian Church of Wales. Glorious Hope is also now being read overseas.

You can find out much more on my website:
which has now been updated (14 September) and errors that had appeared (through, so the registration agent told me, their change of service provider) have been corrected.
In October 2005, my article, `An Introduction to the Life, Hymns and Poetry of a Northamptonshire Lacemaker, Eliza Westbury, 1808-1828` was printed in Bulletin 245, Vol. 17, No. 12, of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

At the request of the editor of the Baptist Quarterly, the same article was reprinted in Vol. 41, October 2006, edition of that periodical.

I have recently entered the 18th- and 19th-century man`s world by writing a 6,000-word paper entitled:

`"When Jesus claims the sinner`s heart": John Newton (1725-1807), from infidel to Olney hymn writer`

This was produced to mark the bicentenary of the death of John Newton, former employee in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which was abolished two hundred years ago last February. My paper takes a somewhat different approach to Newton`s life before he was ordained, his evangelical conversion and his Olney Hymns. It was enthusiastically received at a recent conference.

To know more and perhaps purchase a copy, please email me:

My academic details are:

BA (Hons) in history from the Open University (1996)
Ph.D. from Leicester University Centre for English Local History (2002)

I am a professional researcher of local history, so if you think I can help you, please contact me.

I can also share information from a ledger kept by a Northamptonshire firm of millwrights,
engineers and ironfounders in the late nineteenth century. How would the local millers have managed without them? Millers are the romantic figures of novels - their millwrights never seem to be mentioned.

As someone new to blogging, I`ll be glad to have my first replies! Please, make one of them YOURS.