School of History


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Professor Kenneth Fincham

Professor of Early Modern History

History (Rutherford N3.W1)

Kenneth Fincham is a historian who specialises in the politics, religion and culture of early modern Europe.

Kenneth Fincham's research centres on politics, religion and culture in early modern Britain. His first book, Prelate as Pastor (1990) rescued the Jacobean episcopate from accusations of negligence and indifference, demonstrated a variety of pastoral strategies to advance protestantism, and identified significant differences in churchmanship among the bishops. 

He has also written on James I as supreme governor, on aspects of Archbishop Laud’s government of the church, on early Stuart Oxford, and has edited Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the Early Stuart Church (2 vols, 1994-8).  Additionally he has edited two collections of essays, the first on The Early Stuart Church (1993) and the second, with Peter Lake, on Religious Politics in post-Reformation England (2006), a festschrift for Nicholas Tyacke - his former supervisor. 

With Tyacke he has written Altars Restored: the Changing Face of English Religious Worship c.1547-1700 (2007).  This examines the altar as a site of tension and conflict first between Catholics and protestant iconoclasts in the mid-sixteenth century, and then between Laudian advocates of the protestant altars and their puritan opponents in the mid-seventeenth century.  The book draws on surviving artefacts (communion tables, plate and stained glass, among much else) as well as documentary sources, demonstrates the laity as active exponents of change across this 150  year period, and re-assesses parochial worship, the impact of the Laudian reformation, and its enduring legacy after 1660.

He is one of three directors of the Clergy of the Church of England Database Project, funded by the AHRC, which provides a relational database of the careers of Anglican clergymen, schoolteachers and ecclesiastical patrons between 1540 and 1835.

Since 1992 he has been a convenor of ‘The Religious History of Britain’ seminar which meets fortnightly in term at the Institute of Historical Research in London.  He is also on the editorial board of the Boydell Press’s Studies in Modern British Religious History, which has published 29 monographs or collections of essays since its inception in 1999.  

He is past Secretary and Councillor of the Royal Historical Society, and formerly on the Council of the Church of England Record Society.

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  • [with Nicholas Tyacke] Altars Restored: the Changing Face of English Religious Worship 1547-c.1700, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • [with Peter Lake] ed. Religious Politics in Post-Reformation England, Woodbridge, 2006.
  • ed. Articles and Injunctions of the Early Stuart Church, Volume 2: 1625-42, Church of England Record Society, 5, Boydell Press, 1998.
  • ed. Articles and Injunctions of the Early Stuart Church, Volume 1: 1603-25, Church of England Record Society, 1, Boydell Press, 1994.
  • ed. The Early Stuart Church 1603-1642 , Basingstoke, 1993.
  • Prelate as Pastor: the Episcopate of James I, Oxford, 1990.

Articles and Essays

  • ‘The roles and influence of household chaplains, c.1600-c.1660’ in H. Adlington, T. Lockwood and G. Wright eds. Chaplains in Early Modern England (Manchester, 2013).
  • [with Stephen Taylor] ‘The restoration of the Church of England, 1660-2: ordination, reordination and conformity’, in S. Taylor and G. Tapsell eds. The Nature of the English Revolution Revised (Boydell & Brewer, 2013).
  • [with Arthur Burns and Stephen Taylor] ‘In and Out of the Archives: Reflections on the Diocesan Records of the Church of England since the Reformation’, in Du Papier a L'Archive: Du Privé au Publique: France et les Iles Britanniques, Deux Mémoires, ed. J-P. Genet (Paris: Sorbonne, 2011).
  • [with Stephen Taylor] ‘Vital Statistics: Episcopal Ordination and Ordinands in England, 1646-60’, English Historical Review, 126 (2011).
  • ‘The Hazards of the Jacobean Court’ in J. Shami, D. Flynn and M. Hester eds. The Oxford Handbook of John Donne (Oxford, 2010).
  • ‘Annual Accounts of the Church of England 1632-1639’ in M. Barber, S. Taylor and G. Sewell eds. From the Reformation to the Permissive Society (Church of England Record Society, 18, 2010)
  • [with Stephen Taylor] ‘Episcopalian Conformity and Nonconformity, 1646-60’ in J. McElligott and D.L. Smith (eds), Royalists and Royalism during the Interregnum (Manchester UP, 2010)
  • [with Nicholas Tyacke] ‘Religious Change and the Laity in England’ History Today 58 (June 2008)
  • ‘Material Evidence: the Religious Legacy of the Interregnum at St George Tombland, Norwich’ in K. Fincham and P. Lake eds. Religious Politics in Post-Reformation England (Woodbridge, 2006).
  • 11 entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (60 vols, Oxford, 2004) on George Abbot, Ralph Barlow, Thomas Dove, Nicholas Felton, Arthur Lake, Anthony Lapthorne, Richard Milbourne, Robert Snoden, William Swaddon, Giles Thomson and John Young.
  • [with Arthur Burns and Stephen Taylor] ‘Reconstructing Clerical Careers: the experience of the Clergy of the Church of England Database’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 55 (2004).
  • ‘“According to Ancient Custom”: the Return of Altars in the Restoration Church of England’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series, 13 (2003).
  • ‘The Restoration of Altars in the 1630s’, Historical Journal, 44 (2001).
  • [with Arthur Burns and Stephen Taylor] ‘The Historical Public and Academic Archival Research: the Experience of the Clergy of the Church of England Database’, Archives, 27 (2002).
  • ‘Clerical Conformity from Whitgift to Laud’ in P. Lake and M. Questier eds. Orthodoxy and Conformity in the English Church 1560-1642 (Woodbridge, 2000).
  • ‘William Laud and the Exercise of Caroline Ecclesiastical Patronage’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 51 (2000).
  • ‘Oxford and the Early Stuart Polity’ in N. Tyacke ed. The History of the University of Oxford, Volume 4.  Seventeenth-Century Oxford (Oxford, 1997).
  • [with Peter Lake] ‘Popularity, Prelacy and Puritanism in the 1630s: Joseph Hall explains himself’, English Historical Review, 111 (1996).
  • ‘Episcopal Government 1603-1640’ and [with Peter Lake], ‘The Ecclesiastical Policies of James I and Charles I’, both in Fincham ed. The Early Stuart Church 1603-1642 (Basingstoke, 1993).
  • ‘Prelacy and Politics: Archbishop Abbot’s Defence of Protestant Orthodoxy’ Historical Research, 61 (1988).
  • ed. [with Nicholas Cranfield] ‘John Howson’s Answers to Archbishop Abbot’s Accusations at his Trial before James I, 1615’, Camden Miscellany XXIX, Camden 4th series, 34 (London, 1987).
  • [with Peter Lake] ‘The Ecclesiastical Policy of King James I’ Journal of British Studies, 24 (1985).
  • ‘Personalities and Politics in Early Stuart England’ Historical Journal, 28 (1985).
  • ‘Ramifications of the Hampton Court Conference in the Dioceses, 1603-9’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 36 (1985).
  • ‘The Judges’ Decision on Ship-Money in February 1637: the Reaction of Kent’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 57 (1984).
  • ‘Contemporary Opinions of Thomas Weelkes’ Music and Letters, 62 (1981).


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  • Co-Convenor of 'The Religious History of Britain 1500-1800' Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, London
  • Co-Editor of 'Studies in Modern British Religious History' series published by the Boydell Press 9(26 vols published since 1998)
  • Research Consultant for the Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne, an AHRC-funded project led by Dr Peter McCullough
  • Committee Member, Canterbury Branch of the Historical Association
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School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

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Last Updated: 10/09/2014