Political and religious reactions in the Medway towns of Rochester and Chatham during the English Revolution, 1640-1660

PhD Thesis

Clement, C. 2013. Political and religious reactions in the Medway towns of Rochester and Chatham during the English Revolution, 1640-1660. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University History and American Studies
AuthorsClement, C.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

Studies of the political reactions of both the ‘county’ community and various provincial towns during the English Civil War have been tackled over the past fifty years. However no individual modern study has been undertaken of a Kent town or city for this period; neither has an examination of the relationship between two neighbouring strategic towns. This thesis intends to examine the relationship between the cathedral city of Rochester and adjacent dockyard town of Chatham in Kent from 1640 to 1660, which were both vital strategically to maintain the Parliamentarian stranglehold over the county.

There is much debate in recent historiography whether those below the gentry had access to and participated in the current ideological debates. This study explores the political and religious reactions of Rochester and Chatham inhabitants to the upheaval of the English Revolution with the contention that those below the gentry were both able to understand the wider discussions and participate in them. The townsfolk were both articulate and able to couch their responses and concerns within a wider ideological framework. They expressed their opinion to central government by a variety of means, exploiting whatever weaponry was at hand. Local people’s reactions and allegiance did not standstill, but shifted with the changing circumstances of civil war.

Current research has demonstrated that the religious radicalism of the English Revolution created both diversity and conflict; particularly in the county of Kent. Yet no detailed study of the impact of religious radicalism upon a local community has so far been attempted. Part of this thesis investigates the effect that a proliferation of different religious groups had upon the Medway Towns of Rochester and Chatham. Whilst some people embraced the new sects and ideas circulating, others felt threatened by the changes taking place and responded by attacking these radical beliefs and preachers. Religious diversity was to a degree tolerated, but when it threatened the perceived social order the authorities were quick to act and prevent the spread of ‘erroneous’ ideas.

Publication process dates
Deposited14 Jan 2014
Output statusUnpublished
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