Patterns of progress and social mobility in some Northamptonshire families circa 1460 to 1560.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:14 authored by Dorothy Ann. Rice
The aim of this thesis is to add to the growing body of knowledge about the effects of local and national events on the survival and fortunes of individual families and to explore the contribution of these families to the political scene. The dates, circa 1460 to 1560, were chosen partly because this was a.period of change and partly because it is a relatively neglected period; bridging as it does the Medieval and Early Modern divide. The first part explores the financial and political fortunes of ten families. All of them came to be residents of Northamptonshire during this period but this is not a closed county study, a consideration of their activities on a broader front is crucial to the arguments presented. Similarly they were all members of either the upper gentry or lower nobility, but this is not a study of one class or the other. Movement up and down the social scale is an important feature under consideration. The second part of the thesis uses the family evidence to explore behaviour patterns and relationships and attempts to draw conclusions on routes to success and the impact of outside factors. The multi-faceted approach adopted by most of the families makes these questions very complex. Law and sheep farming emerge as very significant features overall, but political allegiance is a more elusive issue. An examination of power structures reveals the extent to which the Crown was willing to overlook past behaviour if a family retained the confidence of its peers. The final question concerns the operation of these families as part of a broader 'county community'. The conclusion must be that while they did form local networks, these were not necessarily confined by county boundaries.