School of History


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Professor Grayson Ditchfield

Emeritus Professor


Grayson Ditchfield is a historian who specialises in the political and religious history of eighteenth-century Britain.

Professor Ditchfield is a specialist in the political and religious history of eighteenth-century Britain. His PhD is from Cambridge University and he is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

His published work has focused upon the significance of religious issues in Parliament, and in particular those which involved toleration and civil equality for religious minorities, and upon developments within Protestant Dissent, notably the emergence of Unitarianism. It has also taken account of movements for political and ecclesiastical reform; the career of Samuel Johnson; and, more generally, the nature of monarchical and parliamentary authority between c.1750-c.1800, with particular reference to the reign of George III. His current research involves the history of Parliament; changes and continuities in religious thought in the later eighteenth century, with particular reference to Unitarianism and Anglican Latitudinarianism; Dissenting education; and reform movements. His research plans include further articles on the connections between theological and political radicalism in the age of the American and French Revolutions; and the second and final volume of his edition of The Letters of Theophilus Lindsey. The first volume of this edition, covering the years 1747 to 1788, was published in November 2007. He is involved in a major project for a forthcoming book on the history of Dissenting Academies, to be published by Cambridge University Press; and is contracted to edit the letters of Francis Blackburne (1705-1787), Archdeacon of Cleveland, for the Church of England Record Society.

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Books and Editions

Chapters in Books

  • 'Sermons in the Age of the American and French Revolutions', in Keith A. Francis and William Gibson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the British Sermon 1689-1901 (Oxford, 2012)
  • 'A Christian Whig: Lord Shelburne and the Latitudinarian Tradition', in Nigel Aston and Clarissa Campbell Orr (eds.), An Enlightenment Statesman in Whig Britain: Lord Shelburne in Context, 1737 - 1805 (Boydell, 2011)
  • 'Varieties of Heterodoxy: the Career of Edward Evanson (1731-1805)', in Robert D Cornwell and William Gibson (eds.) Religion, Politics and Dissent, 1660-1832. Essays in Honour of James E. Bradley (Ashgate, 2010)
  • 'Joseph Priestley and the Complexities of Latitudinarianism in the 1770s', in Isabel Rivers and David Wykes (eds.), Joseph Priestley: Scientist, Philosopher and Theologian (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2008)
  • 'English Rational Dissent and Sunday Schools', in Stephen Orchard and John H.Y. Briggs (eds), The Sunday School Movement. Studies in the Growth and Decline of Sunday Schools (Paternoster, Milton Keynes and Waynesboro, GA, July 2007)
  • 'Sir George Pretyman-Tomline: Ecclesiastical Politician and Theological Polemicist', in William Gibson and Robert G. Ingram (eds), Religious Identities in Britain, 1660-1832 (Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, U.K. and Burlington, Vermont: February 2005)
  • 'Divine Right Theory and its Critics in Eighteenth-century England', in John M. Court (ed.), Biblical Interpretation. The Meanings of Scripture - Past and Present (T & T Clark International, London and New York: December 2003)
  • 'Church, Parliament and National Identity, c.1770-c.1830', in Julian Hoppit (ed.), Parliaments, Nations and Identities in Britain and Ireland, 1660-1850 (Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York: June 2003)
  • 'Methodism and the Evangelical Revival', in H.T. Dickinson (ed.), A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain (Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, 2002)
  • 'The Changing Nature of English Anti-clericalism, c.1750-c.1800', in Nigel Aston and Matthew Cragoe (eds), Anticlericalism in Britain c.1500-1914, (Sutton Publishing: Stroud, 2000)
  • 'English Rational Dissent and Philanthropy, c.1760-c.1810' in Hugh Cunningham and Joanna Innes (eds), Charity, Philanthropy and Reform. From the 1690s to 1850 (Macmillan Press, Basingstoke, 1998)
  • 'Lord Thurlow', in R.W. Davis (ed.), Lords of Parliament. Studies, 1714-1914 (Stanford University Press, Stanford, Ca., 1995)


  • 'A neglected Archbishop of Canterbury? Frederick Cornwallis (1768-1783)', Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. CXXXII (2012)
  • 'Unitarianism after the French Revolution', Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society, Vol. 25, no.1 (April, 2011)
  • 'Hannah Lindsey and her Circle: the female element in early English Unitarianism', Enlightenment and Dissent, No. 26 (2010)
  • 'A Unitarian Saint? Theophilus Lindsey 1808-2008', in Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society, Vol. 24, no. 2, May 2008
  • 'The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade' (Login required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on-line edition, Oxford University Press, May 2007
  • 'Feathers Tavern Petitioners, 1771-1774' (Login required), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on-line edition, Oxford University Press, January 2006
  • '"How narrow will the Limits of this Toleration appear?" Dissenting Petitions to Parliament, 1772-1773', in Parliament and Dissent, eds Stephen Taylor and David Wykes, Parliamentary History, vol. 24, special issue, Edinburgh University Press, July 2005
  • '"The Preceptor of Nations": Joseph Priestley and Theophilus Lindsey', Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society, vol. 23, no. 2, April 2004
  • '"That most useful part of all History, a Picture of Human Minds": Horace Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George III', Parliamentary History, Vol. 21, no. 2, 2002
  • (With Peter B. Godfrey), 'The Unitarian Archives at Essex Hall', in Archives. The Journal of the British Records Association, vol. XXVI, no. 104, April 2001, pp. 58-70.
  • '"Incompatible with the very Name of Christian": English Catholics and Unitarians in the Age of Milner', Recusant History, Vol. 25, no. 1, May 2000
  • 'Ecclesiastical Legislation during the Ministry of the Younger Pitt, 1783-1801', Parliamentary History, Vol. 19, no. 1, March 2000
  • '"All Truth, all righteous Things": The Correspondence of Sylas Neville and Caleb Fleming, 1769-1776', Enlightenment and Dissent, No. 18, 1999
  • 'The House of Lords and the Impeachment of Warren Hastings', Parliamentary History, Vol. 13, part 2, November 1994


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  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Trustee, Dr Williams's Trust and Library, London
  • Member, Advisory Committee of the Centre for Dissenting Studies (Dr Williams's Library and Queen Mary College, London)
  • Member, editorial board of Enlightenment and Dissent
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School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

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Last Updated: 15/08/2014