Research Themes

I will be exploring a number of themes.


  • data re-mixing and re-use
  • the application of digital humanities, corpus linguistics, ‘big data’, etc, methods to early modern administrative archival records


  • The uses and language of petitions
  • Women in petitions/as petitioners

Often discussion of early modern petitions focuses on pauper petitions and letters (notwithstanding debate about how far they represent authentic “voices” of the poor) as sources for plebeian agency. But petitions could equally be used against the interests of the very poor. The largest single group of petitions is from parishes appealing against pauper removals under the settlement laws - and usually those petitions will be accompanied by copies of pauper examinations. And so I’m interested in exploring those connections and the many uses of petitions.


  • Marriages and irregular unions
  • The welfare of poor children and young people
  • Sickness and old age

Settlement, bastardy and vagrancy examinations contain biographical fragments of the lives of the 18th-century poor. They are fragments because the magistrates who conducted them were interested only in specific pieces of information that were legally relevant. But they are nonetheless often richly detailed fragments documenting important aspects of people’s lives and experiences: where they were born, work, marriage, family formation, deaths and desertions.

Coroners Inquests

  • Sudden and violent death in 18th-century London

Old Bailey Voices

  • Defendants’ voices in the Old Bailey 1750-1900

Work in Progress

Where can you find out what I’ve been doing? Alongside the release of open data, my aim is for all the outputs of the project to be as openly accessible as possible. This includes blogging, data visualisations, presentations and, eventually, more formal publications.