Background

For the first 18 years of my life, I lived on a council estate in a Midlands city. After returning from WWII (8th Army), my dad worked down the pits at Snibston Colliery, then on building sites as a labourer, and finally inside in a factory. I was awarded a place at the University of Oxford in 1967 and graduated in 1970. I married Suella Fogg in the summer of 1970 whilst I was working as a labourer at the Greene King Brewery in Bury St Edmunds. (I've also worked in a pie bakery and shoe warehouse as vacation jobs). I subsequently spent a year as an archive trainee at the Bodleian Library. From 1971 to 1988, I held various posts in archive offices. Whilst I was employed as an archivist, I began and completed a Ph.D. thesis on a medieval topic. Then I changed career, appointed as Marc Fitch Research Fellow at the University of Leicester. In 2005, I took early retirement, but received a University Fellowship in association with the School of English, although I renounced that status in 2010. Since 2013, I have been an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire, to which I have made benefactions to support historical research (other than staff research funds) and to the general student support fund (acknowledged as a De Havilland Fellow).

Archaeology

Whilst I was an undergraduate, I became interested in prehistoric archaeology. I was involved in excavations of Upper Palaeolithic sites at Badger Hole, Somerset (summer 1968), Hengistbury Head, Hampshire (Easter 1969), and Creswell Crags, Derbyshire (summer 1969).

Undergraduate

At Oxford, I focused on early-modern history, taking two papers on early-modern Europe, the Further Subject on English economic and social history, and British History II, with a greater interest in Hobbes and Rousseau in the Pol. Thought paper. For some reason which still escapes me, I decided to take Medieval Economy and Society for the Special Subject, perhaps because the other options were too political and constitutional.

Charities

I sponsor and belong to these charities and action groups.
Centrepoint (triple-room sponsor)
YMCARooms (double-room sponsor)
Marie Curie Cancer Care
Guide Dogs for the Blind
LendwithCare
SumofUs
British Red Cross
Fire Services National Benefit Fund
Scope
Crisis (and social bond)
38 Degrees
The People's Assembly.
I am a community member of Unite and participated for the marches against austerity and for a better future in London on four occasions between 2010 and 2017 and for the NHS in 2018. I have also acted on behalf of UKUncut against tax avoidance. I also attended two demonstrations against the removal of EMA. I marched with the Jarrow NHS march for the leg between Nottingham and Loughborough. In 2016 I undertook a sponsored walk from Loughborough to Leicester to raise funds for Centrepoint on the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow March. The following year, I walked from County Hall, West Bridgford, to Loughborough Town Hall to demonstrate against Tory cuts to the NHS and with sponsorship for The People's Assembly by a few friends.

Recent publications

  • A Town in its Parish: Loughborough, Origins to c.1640 (2015)
  • Microcynicon: Aspects of Early-modern England (2014)
  • Social Dramas: Literature and Language in Early-modern England(2010), including 'Flatcaps, fashioning and civility', repr. from Literature and History 17 (2008), pp. 1-13
  • Missed Opportunities? Religious Houses and the Laity in the English 'High Middle Ages' (2009), including:
    'Religious houses and the laity in eleventh- to thirteenth-century England: an overview', repr. from The Haskins Society Journal 12 (2003), pp. 1-13;
    'Lamps, lights and layfolk: 'popular' devotion before the Black Death', repr. from The Journal of Medieval History 25 (1999), pp. 97-114;
    'Monastic burials of non-patronal lay benefactors', repr. from The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 47 (1996), pp. 620-37;
    'Small gifts, but big rewards: the symbolism of some gifts to the religious', repr. from The Journal of Medieval History 27 (2001), pp. 23-42;
    'Pittances and pittancers', repr. from M. Prestwich et al., ed., Thirteenth Century England (2003), pp. 175-86;
    'The Austin Canons in English towns', repr. from Historical Research 66 (1993), pp. 1-20;
    'Gifts in frankalmoign, warranty of land, and feudal society', repr. from The Cambridge Law Journal 50 (1991), pp. 330-46;
    'Heads of religious houses as administrators', repr. from M. Ormrod, ed., England in the Thirteenth Century (Harlaxton Medieval Studies) (1991), pp. 37-50;
    'Seeking the language of warranty of land in twelfth-century England', repr. from The Journal of the Society of Archivists 20 (1999), pp. 209-22;
    'Tenure in frankalmoign and knight service in twelfth-century England: interpretation of the charters', repr. from The Journal of the Society of Archivists 13 (1992), pp. 18-28;
    'Choosing witnesses in twelfth-century England', repr. from The Irish Jurist n.s. 23 (1988), pp. 330-46.
  • Social Geographies in England (1200-1640) (2007), including:
    'Migration and mobility in a less mature economy: English internal migration, c.1200-1350', repr. from Social History 25 (2000), pp. 285-99;
    'The pattern of rural migration in a Midlands county: Leicestershire, c.1270-1350', repr. from Continuity and Change 7 (1992), pp. 139-61;
    'Movers and prayers: the medieval English Church and movement of people', repr. from P. Hordern, ed., Harlaxton Medieval Studies XV (New Series) Proceedings of the 2003 Harlaxton Symposium: Freedom of Movement in the Middle Ages (2005), pp. 249-66;
    'Penance and the market place: a Reformation dialogue with the medieval Church, c.1250-c.1600', repr. from The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 54 (2003), pp. 441-68;
    'Micro-spaces: church porches in pre-modern England', repr. from The Journal of Historical Geography 33 (2007), pp. 749-69;
    'Surviving lone motherhood in early-modern England', repr. from The Seventeenth Century 21 (2006), pp. 160-83;
    'Personal pledging: medieval "reciprocity" or "symbolic capital"?', repr. from The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 26 (1996), pp. 419-35;
    'The market place as space in early-modern England', repr. from Social History 29 (2004), pp. 41-58.
  • The North Through its Names: A Phenomenology of Medieval and Early-Modern Northern England (2007);
  • Social Proprieties: Social Relations in Early-Modern England (1500-1680) (2006)
  • Naming the People of England, c.1100-1350 (2006);
  • ed. with Joel Rosenthal, Studies on the Personal Name in Later Medieval England and Wales (2006)