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).


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).


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.


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
British Red Cross
Fire Services National Benefit Fund
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)