Professor Henry French


BA, PhD Cantab., FRHistS


Extension: 4184

Telephone: 01392 724184

I am interested in the following research subjects:

  • The identity and composition of the ‘middle sort of people’ in provincial England 1620-1750. I have published a number of articles on this subject in Past & Present, Social History and Historical Journal, and have written a monograph study, published by Oxford University Press in July 2007.
  • (in association with Prof. R.W. Hoyle, of the University of Reading) land ownership in Essex and Lancashire, concentrating particularly on the decline of the small farmer, 1500-1800. We have published several articles on this theme, including one in Economic History Review in 2004, and have published a monograph on the land market in the Essex village of Earls Colne, 1500-1750, with Manchester U.P. in March 2007.
  • My new area of research interest is in long-term processes of change in notions of masculinity among the landed elite in England, between the later seventeenth and early twentieth centuries, and I have recently been awarded an AHRC standard research grant to pursue this research, which will result in a monograph authored with Dr. Mark Rothery (Exeter), to be published by Oxford University Press in March 2012.
  • Urban common field agriculture and the effects of enclosure 1550-1800, on which I have written two articles in the Agricultural History Review 2001 & 2003; I have also published a chapter on urban commons in R. W. Hoyle (ed.), Custom, Improvement and the Landscape in Early Modern Britain (Ashgate, 2011). I aided in the identification of at least 160 urban common lands as part of my consultancy work for English Heritage on their Town Commons project.
  • Research into the politics of the small, pocket-borough of Clitheroe, in the period 1660 to 1780, which has been published in Northern History.
  • Research into poor relief payments and their effects on the household economy of families, particularly in Terling, Essex in the later eighteenth century. This will be published in S. Hindle, A. Shepard & J. Walter (eds), Remaking English Society: Social Relations and Social Change in Early Modern England (Boydell & Brewer, 2012).
  • The Hearth Tax and distribution of wealth in Essex 1662-85, to be published in the British Record Society Hearth Tax Series.

My undergraduate teaching includes modules on:

  • HIH 1521 Marriage & The Family, 1500-1800 - [Sources & Skills] module on the experience of marriage and family life in early modern England.
  • HIH 2203A Crime and Society in England, 1500-1800 [Option] - on the relationship between types of crime and society in early modern England, particularly the link between ordinary people and the legal process, and crime in popular literature.
  • HIH3618 Power Elites [Comparative] - on the origins; social, economic, political, religious and cultural bases; development over time and power struggles within European nobilities from the 9th century through to the 20th century.
  • HIH 3137-8 [Special Subject] Life in an English Village, Earls Colne, 1450-1750 - an in depth look at life in an Essex village using a large collection of electronic sources, allowing detailed insights into the experience of daily life in the past.