Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group: Reading Group


Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group: Reading Group

12.30-2 pm, Tuesday 16th February 2016

Room 112, School of Arts, Gordon Square

A Life Scribbled in the Margins: The World of Joseph Bufton of Coggeshall, 1650-1718

Brodie Waddell, Lecturer in Early Modern History at Birkbeck

 Joseph Bufton was an inconsequential tradesman who lived a rather ordinary life in later Stuart Essex. However, unlike almost all of his contemporaries, he left a substantial collection of writings to posterity, comprising eleven volumes of notes, memorandum, extracts and even some poetry. He used the blank pages and margins of printed almanacs to chronicle his family, his trade, his community, his religion and his nation. Dr. Brodie Waddell will introduce Bufton and attempt to show why we should care about this obscure individual. What is the value of such a microhistory?

 Dr. Waddell researches early modern English history, focusing on social relations, economic life and popular culture. His book is entitled God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720 (Boydell, 2012), and his most recent article is ‘The Politics of Economic Distress in the Aftermath of the Glorious Revolution, 1689-1702’, English Historical Review (April 2015).

In preparation for the reading group, please take a look at the selection of extracts from two of Bufton’s notebooks printed in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on Manuscripts in Various Collections, Vol. VIII (1912), pp. 569-92. Digital images of the original three of the volumes are available at: Alternatively, please contact Kate Retford for a copy.

Image: Joseph Bufton’s diary,

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