Life in an English Town in the Seventeenth Century

The town is Dorchester; the time the beginning of the seventeenth century. Two hundred years before Hardy disguised it as Casterbridge, Dorchester was a typical English country town, of middling size and unremarkable achievements. But on 6 August 1613 much of it was destroyed in a great conflagration, which its inhabitants regarded as a 'fire from heaven', and which was the catalyst for the events described in this book.

Over the next twenty years, a time of increasing political and religious turmoil all over Europe, Dorchester became the most religiously radical town in the kingdom, deeply involved, emotionally, with the fortunes of the Protestants in the Thirty Years War, and horrified by the Stuart flirtation with Spain. It was, after all, barely a generation since the defeat of the Great Armada.

David Underdown traces the way in which the tolerant, paternalist Elizabethan town oligarchy was quickly replaced by a group of men who had a vision of a godly community in which power was to be exercised according to religious commitment rather than wealth or rank. They succeeded, briefly, in making Dorchester a place that could boast systems of education and of assisting the sick and needy nearly three hundred years in advance of their time.  The town achieved the highest rate of charitable giving in the country. It had ties of blood as well as faith with many of those who sailed to establish similarly godly communities in New England.

But the author's gaze is never focused narrowly on the local: he skillfully sets the story of Dorchester in the context both of national events and of what was going on overseas. This parallel vision of the crisis that led to the English Civil War and of the incidence of the war itself opens fresh perspectives. The book's most remarkable achievement, however, is the re-creation, with an intimacy unique for an English community so distant from our own, of the lives of those who do not usually make it into the history books:

Matthew Chubb, the hub of the old order, and his friend Roger Pouncey, 'godfather to the unruly and unregenerate of the town', on the one hand, the great pastor John White and the diarist William Whiteway on the other. They stride, fully rounded characters, from one end of the book to the other. Even further down the social scale we glimpse the daily lives of the ordinary men and women of the town drinking and swearing, fornicating and repenting, triumphing over their neighbors or languishing in prison, striving to live up to the new ideals of their community or rejecting them with bitter anger and mocking laughter.

Above all, in its subtle exploration of human motives and aspirations, it shows again and again how nothing in history is simple, nothing is black and white. And it shows us, by the brilliant detail of its reconstruction, how much of the past we can recover when in the hands of a master historian.

The following list of people  has been extracted from the books index. To know more you need to buy the book

Buy the book from Hopton, Sir Ralph
Horsey, Sir George
Horsford, William
Hoskins, Elizabeth
Hoskins, Henry
Hoskins, John
Hoskins, Leonard
Hoskins, Richard
Humphries, Michael
Hunt, Richard
Huntley, George
Hussey, William
Hutton, Justice Sir Richard
Hutton, Robert
Hyatt, Thomas
Isack, Nicholas
Jacob, Christian
Jacob, William
Jefferies, Joan
Jefferies, Mary
Jefferies, Nicholas
Jenkins, Christopher
Jenkins, Cicely
Jenkins, George
Johnson, Christopher
Johnson, Richard
Joliffe, Humphrey
Joliffe, William
Jones, William
Jonson, Ben
Keate, Agnes
Keate, Katherine
Keate, Richard
Kethe, William
Keysar, Peter
Kiddle, Robert
King, John
Kirton, Francis
Knapton, Renaldo
Knewstub, Nicholas
Lake, Arthur
Lawrence, Christopher
Lawrence, Robert
Le Neve, Geoffrey
Leddoze, George
Lee, Susan
Leland, John
Levitt, William
Lewes, Elizabeth
Lilly, John
Limbury, Alice
Linnington, John
Linnington, Richard
Lockyer, Philip
Loder, Andrew
Loder, Constable William
Loder, Gilbert
Loder, John
Long, John
Losse, Dr. Frederick
Lougher, Mr.
Lovelace, Mary
Lovlace, William
Lucas, Thomas
Lugge, Elizabeth
Maber, Henry
Mainwaring, Roger
Martin, John
Martin, May
Martin, William
Masterton, Elizabeth
Mather, Richard
Maudit, Joan
Maunders, Katherine
Mellege, Matthias
Melmouth, William
Melville, Andrew
Membury, George
Merefield, Elizabeth
Merefield, Henry
Merefield, John
Michell, Joseph
Michell, Margaret
Miller, John
Miller, Leonard
Miller, Matthew
Miller, William
Mitchell, Margaret
Moore, Lazarus
Moreton, Sir George
Morey, Giles
Motier, Robert
Munden, William
Napper, Sir Nathaniel
Napper, Sir Richard
Nichols, Philip
Norrington, John
Norris, Thomas
North, Matthew
Northbrooke, John
Norton, John
Notting, Methuselah
Notting, Rebecca
Oaten, George
Paine, Charity
Paine, Honor
Palfrey, James
Palfrey, Jonas
Palmer, Ralph
Panchard, Josiah
Parkins, Eleanor
Parkins, John
Parkins, Joseph
Parkins, Julian
Parsons, William
Pascowe, John
Paty, Joseph
Paty, Richard
Paty, William
Pedwin, Joan
Pedwin, John
Pedwin, Margaret
Penny, Anthony
Penny, Henry
Perkins, William
Perrin, Ralph
Perry, Humphrey
Phillips, Hugh
Philpot, Thomas
Pinney, John
Pitt, Richard
Pitt, William
Poole, Thomas
Porter, Joan
Porter, Nicholas
Pouncey, Grace
Pouncey, Henry
Pouncey, John
Pouncey, Lawrence
Pouncey, Margaret
Pouncey, Mary
Pouncey, Robert(c.1697)
Pouncey, Robert
Pouncey, Roger (the elder)
Pouncey, Roger (the younger)
Pouncey, Thomas (c.1697)
Pouncey, Thomas (the elder)
Pouncey, Thomas (the younger)
Pouncey, William
Pressley, Stephen
Preston, John
Purchase, Aquila
Purchase, Joseph
Purchase, Nicholas
Purchase, Oliver
Purchase, Thomas
Pym, John Reade, Henry
Reason, Gilbert
Reeve, Gabriel
Reyner, Samual
Richardson, Margaret
Rideout, John
Righton, Amy
Righton, Lawrence (the elder)
Righton, Lawrence (the younger)
Robinson, (Widow)
Rockwell, Joseph
Rockwell, William
Rogers, Richard
Rolle, John
Rulizius, John Nicholas
Russell, John
Russell, Richard
Ryall, John
Sampson, Robert
Samways, Anne
Samways, Jasper
Saunders, Hester
Saunders, Thomas
Savage, Mary
Savage, Richard
Savage, William
Scolvile, Richard
Scrope, Gervase
Scrope, Sir Adrian
Seward, John (the elder)
Seward, John (the younger)
Seward, Joseph
Seward, Thomas
Short, Robert
Shory, Richard
Smith, Adam
Smith, Anne
Smith, Edmund
Smith, Henry
Smith, Mary
Snook, Robert
Sotherton, Nowell
South, Thomas
Sparrow, Thomas
Spearing, Benjamin
Spearing, Goodman
Spicer, John
Spring, Martin
Squibb, Thomas
Stafford, Lawrence
Stagge, James
Standish, John
Stansby, Philip
Stibbs, John
Stillard, Rebecca
Stone, Nicholas
Strangways, SirJohn
Streate, Edward
Strode, Lady
Strode, Sir Richard
Strode, William
Strong, Thomas
Stubbes, Philip
Swaffield, Joseph
Swaffield, Matthew
Swarfridge, Jonas
Swift, Thomas
Symes, Henry
Symes, Nicholas
Symes, William
Symonds, (Constable)
Symonds, John
Symonds, William
Tanner, Thomas
Taylor, Joseph
Templeman, Abraham
Terrin, John
Terry, Josiah
Terry, Margaret
Tewxbury, Edward
Tewxbury, Mary
Thompson, Hugh
Thompson, John
Thornhurst, Thomas
Toomes, Margaret
Torrington, John
Trask, Peter
Trayford, James
Trayte, Jane
Treamor, James
Trenchard, Sir George
Trenchard, Sir Thomas
Tucker, Christian
Turner, Roger
Twisse, William
Underwood, Joseph
Uphill, Christian
Uphill, William
Upsall, Nicholas
Vawter, Nicholas
Veale, Mary
Veale, Richard
Wade, John
Wade, William
Walbridge, Eleanor
Walbridge, Robert
Walbridge, Thomas
Walden, Thomas
Walker, Clement
Waller, Sir William
Wallis, (Captain)
Walpole, Sir Robert
Ward, Stephen
Warman, Robert
Watts, John
Watts, William
Way, Benjamin
Way, Christopher
Way, George
Way, Robert
Way, William
West, John
Whetstone, John
Whiffen, Gilbert
White, George
White, John
White, William
Whiteway, Eleanor
Whiteway, John
Whiteway, William (the elder)
Whiteway, William (the younger)
Whitlock, Ralph
Whittle, John
Whittle, Joseph
Whittle, Thomas
Wier, Joan
Wier, John
Wier, Millicent
Wier, Walter
Williams, Daubeny
Williams, John (b1480)
Williams, John (c1479)
Williams, John of Fryer Mayne
Williams, Major John
Williams, Richard
Williams, Robert
Williams, Sir John
Willoughby, Elizabeth
Wills, Peter
Wilson, John
Wilson, William
Wine, Richard
Wither, Anthony
Wood, Christopher
Wood, Mary
Woodcock, Henry
Woodman, William
Wythiman, Ann Yeate, John
Yeomans, Joyce
Yokeney, James
Adyn, John
Adyn, Margery
Adyn, Robert
Adyn, William
Allambridge, George
Allambridge, John
Allen, Alice
Allen, Edward
Anstey, Emmanuel
Anthony, William
Archbold, Edward
Archbold, William
Armstrong, Elizabeth
Arnold, Ralph
Arnold, William
Ashe, Agnes
Ashley, Sir Francis
Atkins, Richard
Aubrey, John
Auden, Margaret
Baily, Clement
Baily, Susannah
Baker, (chandler)
Baker, Hugh
Bale, Gifford
Ball, John
Bampfield, Francis
Bancroft, Richard
Bankes, Mary
Bankes, Sir John
Barber, John
Barfoot, Mathew
Barker, Richard
Barnes, Anthony
Barter, Margaret
Barter, William
Bartlett, George
Bartlett, Joan
Bascombe, Dorothy
Bastwick, John
Beale, Robert
Bedford, Elizabeth
Bedford, Stephen
Benfield, (widow)
Benn, William
Bennett, Matthew
Benvenewe, Edmund
Bernard, Nathaniel
Bernard, Richard
Bestland, Henry
Biles, Alexander
Biles, William
Bingham, Cicely
Bishop, Henry
Blachford, John
Blachford, Richard
Blachford, Thomas
Blake, James
Bond, Denis
Bond, Elias
Bond, Samuel
Bonger, John
Bonger, Matthew
Bower, Nathaniel
Bradford, Honor
Bradish, Dr. William
Bragg, Edward
Bragg, Matthew
Brewer, Jasper
Bridges, Henry (Contable)
Brine, Clement
Brine, George
Brine, John
Browne, Melchisadek
Browne, Ruth
Browne, Sir John
Buck, Roger
Buckler, Edmund
Buckler, Margaret
Budden, Alice
Bull, Albion
Bull, Elizabeth
Burges, Cornelius
Burges, John
Burton, Henry
Bury, (Mrs)
Bury, Richard
Bushrod, Henry
Bushrod, John
Bushrod, Richard
Bushrod, Samuel
Butler, Anne
Butler, Gabriel
Butler, Matthew
Butler, Richard
Butler, William
Cake, Ralph
Calvin, John
Camden, William
Cardrow, Robert
Carelton, Guy
Carelton, Sir Dudley
Cave, Joseph
Cecil, Sir Edward
Chaldecote, Anne
Chaldecote, Francis
Channon, William
Chapman, Edward
Chapman, John
Chappell, Henry
Cheeke, Margaret
Cheeke, Robert
Cheeke, William
Chimney, John
Christmas, Richard
Chubb, John
Chubb, Margaret
Chubb, Matthew (the elder)
Chubb, Matthew (the younger)
Chubb, William
Churchill, Francis
Churchill, John
Churchill, Joshua
Churchill, Richard
Churchill, Thomas
Churchill, William (bookseller)
Churchill, William (Sheriff)
Clap, Roger
Clarke, George
Clarke, William
Clench, Thomas
Cline, George
Cobb, John
Coish, Sarah
Coke, Bishop George
Coke, John
Coker, Robert
Cole, George
Cole, John
Colliford, John
Colliford, Mary
Colliford, Michael
Colson, Jasper
Conduit, John
Constantine, William
Cooke, Basil
Cooke, Elizabeth
Cooke, Patroclus
Cooke, William
Coombes, Anthony
Cooper, Anthony Ashley
Cooth, John
Corbin, Hannah
Cornish, Rebecca
Counter, Alice
Counter, Hugh
Counter, John
Cox, Nicholas
Cox, Richard
Cox, William
Crabb, Robert
Criummell, John
Cromelholme, Samuel
Croome, Sarah
Croome, William
Croucher, Joan
Croucher, Thomas
Cuffe, Joseph
Cuffe, Robert
Daniell, John
Dare, Joseph
Dashwood, Edmund
Dashwood, Edward
Dashwood, John
Daw, John
Day, Nicholas
Derby, Benjamin
Derby, Joseph
Derby, Lawrence
Derby, Matthew
Derby, William
Devenish, Benjamin
Devenish, Hugh
Devenish, Thomas
Dowle, William
Dowrage, Jane
Dowrage, John
Dowrage, Mary
Dry, William
Dury, John
Dyer, George
Edmonds, Christopher
Edwards, Henry
Edwards, John
Edwards, Julian
Edwards, Mary
Eliot, Philip
Eliot, Sir John
English, John
Everard, Richard
Eyres, Joseph
Facy, John
Feaver, Urith
Fitzjames, Robert
Follett, Henry
Fooke, Andrew
Fooke, Michael
Fooke, Robert
Fooke, William
Foote, Robert
Ford, Joseph
Ford, Thomas
Foxe, John
Foy, Giles
Foy, Thomas
Freke, John
Freke, Sir Thomas
Fry, Elias
Fry, Mary
Fryer, Sir Thomas
Galpin, Bernard (the elder)
Galpin, Bernard (the younger)
Galpin, Eleanor
Galpin, Hannah
Galpin, John
Galton, Thomas
Gape, John
Gardner, Emma
Garret, Giles
Gauntlett, Morris
Gawler, Em
Gaylard, John
George, Robert
Gerard, Thomas
Gifford, Hannah
Gifford, Robert
Gill, Thomas
Gillett, Robert
Glover, Henry
Gollop, Henry
Gollop, Maximillian
Gollop, Thomas
Goodfellow, Katherine
Goodfellow, Margery
Goring, George
Gosling, Will
Gough, Richard
Gould, Christpher
Gould, James (the elder)
Gould, James (the younger)
Gould, Joan
Gould, John
Gould, Katherine
Gould, Margery
Gould, Nicholas
Gower, Stanley
Grant, Winter
Gray, Joseph
Green, Hugh
Greene, Henry
Grey, Angell
Greybard, John
Grindham, Nathaniel
Grindham, Thomas
Guy, Joseph
Haggard, Cassandra
Haggard, Hugh
Haggard, Jane
Haggard, Joan
Haggard, Margaret
Haggard, Mary
Haggard, Matthew
Haggard, Walter
Hall, Robert
Hall, Thomas
Hammond, George
Hancock, Sarah
Hanham, William
Hardy, Thomas
Hardy, Thomas
Hardy, William
Harris, Elizabeth
Harris, Samson
Hasselbury, Simon
Hasselbury, William
Hastings, Henry
Haydon, John
Haydon, Roger
Haydon, William
Hayne, Margery
Hellier, Nicholas
Henley, John
Hewett, Walter
Hill, Edward
Hill, John
Hillard, George
Hillgrove, Thomasine
Hobbes, Henry
Hollard, Agnes
Holles, Denzil
Holles, Sir Francis
Holman, William
Hooper, Bartholomew
Hooper, John
Hooper, Thomas
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