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A web of crosses and mercies interlaced: breakdown and consolidation of family patterns amongst loyalist Anglicans under the pressures of Civil War

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Pattern and order were a theme close to the heart of orthodox churchmen of the early-mid seventeenth century. For clerical families, as exemplars for the rest of society, but also as a relatively new phenomenon in need of social acceptance, it was particularly important to demonstrate conformity to patriarchal expectations. Sons were given the same name as their father and often followed them into the church, even into the same living; clerical families intermarried extensively. Clergy promoted ideals of family discipline, and saw chastisement and control of children as a religious imperative and an act of love.

Loyalist discourse and propaganda testify to their degree of anxiety when the social order they had spent so much effort establishing and promoting was threatened during the years of civil war. For loyalist clerical families such fears were justified: as a result of the clerical ejections which accompanied parliamentary success in the wars they probably suffered as much social dislocation as any other group. The experiences during the times they termed the ‘troubles’ became anchoring events for their outlook on the world, as well as having practical implications for the way they would be able to conduct the rest of their lives. This chapter considers the ways in which loyalist family structures and patterns changed under the circumstances of war. For those able to salvage sufficient means out of the ‘shipwreck’ of family fortunes, change could bring opportunity, as those who might having followed unquestioning in the clerical footsteps of their fathers instead preferred alternative careers in medicine, science and the arts. Also to be considered is the degree to which the observed loosening of moral behaviour after the Restoration was simply a straightforward counter-reaction to the puritan discipline of the 1640s and 1650s, or whether civil war trauma and the stress it placed on children might also have played its part in undermining previous social assumptions. Expectations of compliance with family expectations of marriage partner, for example, might be increased by the financial pressures on loyalists, or reduced by the loosening of control wrought by frequent parental absences.

Using the documents in the Bodleian Library’s John Walker archive and other loyalist sources, this chapter will develop case studies of particular loyalist clerical families, to demonstrate that the outcomes for clerical families were highly variable, depending on initial family wealth, status and social networks, locality, and the fortunes of fate and war. In the worst cases, as a result of religious differences, legal disputes, parental absence, exile and death, family breakdown ensued. For others, although the years following the civil wars were challenging, group loyalties and identities were ultimately strengthened by such experiences, with existing family patterns reinforced and consolidated.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildhood, Youth and Religious Minorities in Early Modern Europe
EditorsTali Berner, Lucy Underwood
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-29199-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-29198-3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2019

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Childhood
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

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