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Recusant history and after

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2015

John Bossy*
Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK


It is now fifty-six years since I wrote my first piece for Recusant History, and I am happy to have survived to welcome its reincarnation. Since its foundation in 1951 as an addendum to Gillow’s Biographical Dictionary of English Catholics it has had an honourable career, getting into print a number of essential contributions to the history of Catholics in England, mainly between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. It has been a companion to the distinguished bibliographical work of Anthony Allison, David Rogers and Tom Birrell. It was a creation of laymen, which is to say that it was an attempt to transcend the efforts of a period when this history had been largely a monopoly of the clergy, and ran the risk of degenerating into feuds between rival sections of that body. This lay input was much strengthened by the effect of the 1944 Education Act, which produced numbers of students keen to make a mark in the field. In view of their education, they did not necessarily alter the terms in which questions were put, and when the modest journal was launched a degree of hegemony in the Catholic Record Society was being exercised by the Jesuit side, which ought to have but failed to put out the letters and papers of Robert Persons. It had an invitation to wider thoughts in the philo-Jesuit lectures on the Counter-Reformation of the Cambridge academic Outram Evennett, delivered also in 1951.1 As these were not published until 1968 the invitation was muffled, but something of it was in the atmosphere.

Research Article
© Trustees of the Catholic Record Society 2015. Published by Cambridge University Press 

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1 Evennett, H. Outram, The Spirit of the Counter Reformation, ed. John Bossy (with a postscript by myself) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968)Google Scholar: note my pugnacious introductory paragraph, p.1. It was not entirely wrong; but it was a pity I did not include a lecture on mysticism, which Evennett had excluded because it did not reach a sharp conclusion; it would have given some balance.

2 Recusant History (hereafter RH) 19 (1989): 355–8.

3 RH 7(1964): 148–211; RH 16 (1982): 111–145; RH 18(1987): 329–401; RH 20 (1990): 164–206.

4 RH 7(1964): 156.

5 RH 5(1959): 2–16; RH 8 (1965): 80–122.

6 Evennett, The Spirit of the Counter Reformation, Postscript, 139–142; John Bossy, The English Catholic Community (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1975, vere 1976), 12–76; ‘The Heart of Robert Persons’, in The Reckoned Expense, Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits: Essays in Celebration of the First Centenary of Campion Hall, Oxford (1896–1996), ed. Thomas M. McCoog (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 1996), 141–158.

7 Rowlands, Marie, ‘Catholics in Staffordshire from the Revolution to the Relief Acts’ (Birmingham University M.A. Thesis, 1965)Google Scholar; Catholic Record Society, Monograph Series 5 (1999).

8 Bossy, John, ‘The Character of Elizabethan Catholicism’, Past and Present 21 (1962):3959 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Christopher Haigh, ‘From Monopoly to Minority: Catholicism in Early Modern England’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series 31 (1981), 129–47; The English Reformation Revised (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 176–208, and elsewhere.

9 Aveling, J.C.H., The Handle and the Axe: The Catholic Recusants from Reformation to Emancipation (London: Blond and Briggs, 1976)Google Scholar; Bossy, The English Catholic Community.

10 Walsham, Alexandra, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1993)Google Scholar.

11 Rose, Elliot, Cases of Conscience: Alternatives Open to Recusant and Puritans Under Elizabeth I and James I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 1113 Google Scholar, 230–50.

12 H. C. Porter (Harry Culverwell), Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958).

13 Rose, , Cases of Conscience, 4, 234237 Google Scholar, 241, 242–50.

14 Aveling, J.C.H., Post Reformation Catholicism in East Yorkshire 1559–1790 (York: East Yorkshire Local History Society, 1960)Google Scholar; The Catholic Recusants of the West Riding of Yorkshire 1558–1790, Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society 10 (Leeds, 1963); Northern Catholics: The Catholic Recusants of the North Riding of Yorkshire (London: Chapman, 1966); Catholic Recusancy in the City of York, 1558–1791, Catholic Record Society, Monograph Series 2 (1970); ‘The Marriages of Catholic Recusants, 1559–1642’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 14 (1963): 68–83; Miscellanea Recusant Records, ed. C. Talbot, Catholic Record Society Record Series 53 (1961).

15 Aveling, , The Handle and the Axe, 162 Google Scholar; Walsham, , Church Papists, 78 Google Scholar.

16 P. J. Holmes, Elizabethan Casuistry, Catholic Record Society, Records Series 76 (1981), 2–3 and passim.

17 Holmes, P.J.. Resistance and Compromise: The Political Thought of the Elizabethan Catholics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 124125 Google Scholar.

18 Holmes, Elizabethan Casuistry, e.g., 74–7; Resistance and Compromise, 103; Walsham, , Church Papists, 66 Google Scholar, cf. Holmes, , Elizabethan Casuistry, 49 Google Scholar.

19 Geoffrey de C Parmiter, Edmund Plowden: An Elizabethan Recusant Lawyer, Catholic Record Society Monograph Series 4 (1987), 105–8, 130.

20 Duffy, Eamon, The Stripping of the Altars (London: Yale University Press, 1992), 586 Google Scholar; see example in Duffy, Eamon, The Voices of Morebath (London: Yale University Press, 2001)Google Scholar, 175 ff; Scarisbrick, J.J., The Reformation and the English People (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984)Google Scholar 160.

21 Questier, Michael, Conversion, Politics and Religion in England 1580–1625 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)Google Scholar, 137 ff and index under ‘conversion’, ‘evangelical’; Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael, The Antichrist’s Lewd Hat (London: Yale University Press, 2002), 231255 Google Scholar and Dillon, Anne, The Construction of Martyrdom in the English Catholic Community, 1558–1603 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002)Google Scholar; Questier, Michael, ‘Elizabeth and the Catholics’ in Ethan Shagan, ed. Catholics and the Protestant Nation: Religious Politics and Identity in Early Modern England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005), 6994 Google Scholar at 89 and passim; Questier, Conversion, Politics and Religion, 106.

22 Bossy, , ‘The Character of Elizabethan Catholicism’, 45 Google Scholar.

23 Lake and Questier, The Antichrist’s Lewd Hat, 265–69.

24 Questier, Michael, Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England: Politics, Aristocratic Patronage and Religion, c. 1550–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 274277 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

25 Ibid., 68–73, 161–4, 207–235.

26 Bossy, , The English Catholic Community, 153160 Google Scholar.

27 RH 5(1959): 2–16; Adams, Simon, Leicester and the Court: Essays on Elizabethan Politics (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002)Google Scholar, 6, 59, 61.

28 John Bossy, in Image, Text and Church, 1380–1600, Essays for Margaret Aston, eds. Linda Clark, Maureen Jurkowski and Colin Richmond (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2009), 239–258; ‘English Catholics and the French Marriage’, RH 5 (1959–60), 2–16 at 9; Collinson, Patrick, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (London: Cape, 1967), 198200 Google Scholar; Doran, Susan, Monarchy and Matrimony: The Courtships of Elizabeth I (London: Routledge, 1991), 173174 Google Scholar.

29 Albert Loomie, ‘A Catholic Petition to the Earl of Essex’, RH 7 (1963), 33–42; I take Howard to be behind this.

30 Peck, Linda Levy, Northampton: Patronage and Policy at the Court of James I (London: Allen and Unwin, 1982)Google Scholar.