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PhD: History

Thesis Title: Archetypes and Individuals: Reconstructing the Users of the Westminster Staple Court, 1485-1532.


Thesis Description:

This thesis seeks to explore and identify the defining social, cultural and economic characteristics, both on a collective and an individual scale, of 3,593 business people who made use of the statute staple court at Westminster between the years 1485 and 1532. It engages with important debates surrounding status, categorisation, social transition, careerism and also the ways in which we, as historians, attempt to measure such concepts. 

It has been argued that the later fifteenth century was a formative period in the emergence of a new entrepreneurial stratum of English society comprising wealthy peasants, propertied yeomen, minor gentry and merchant clothiers who went on to dominate English business in the Early Modern period.  Little is known about these people, beyond their well-established role as leaseholders of seigneurial demesnes. This research analyses for the first time the business and credit relationships of these people using the certificates sent to Chancery by creditors suing defaulting debtors between 1485 and 1532.

This research exploits a clear historiographical gap as the certificates of statute staple have been rarely studied. Pamela Nightingale has used debt certificates, but never later than the 1450s and only in her discussions about the English money supply. No one has ever used them to explore the people behind the commercial transactions, thereby rendering an incomplete picture of credit networks. Craig Muldrew’s work on credit culture does acknowledge the social component of debt transactions, such as the importance of reputation, but his analysis is focused almost entirely upon the 17th century. Therefore research into the social aspects of early Tudor debt relationships is urgently needed to fill these historiographical lacunae, something this project will rectify.

The certificates are contained at the National Archives and number approximately 2,500 documents which have not been translated, calendared, or even used before, providing a unique opportunity for original research. Cross-referencing with other sources, such as the 1524/5 lay subsidy and the 1522/3 muster rolls, as well as appropriate testamentary records and property deeds, will enhance the reconstruction of these individuals.

The impact of this research is twofold. Prosopographic reconstruction of these individuals will directly impact upon ideas about the development of the ‘middle class’. As such this research will have a significant influence upon the fields of later Medieval English economic and social history and the potential to reshape our understanding of this important developing stratum of society. Secondly, an understanding of the process by which entrepreneurs gain influence and power in pre-industrial societies can communicate much to economists and social scientists studying the modern world.







Supervisors and Institutions:

Dr. Richard Goddard (University of Nottingham) and Dr. Robert Lutton (University of Nottingham)




  • H. Ingram, 'In Pursuit of "Yeomanliness": Investigating the Yeomen Users of the Westminster Statute Staple Court, 1485-1532', Medieval Prosopography, 35 (forthcoming, 2020).
  • H. Ingram, ''Pottes of Tryacle' and 'Bokes of Physike': The Fifteenth-Century Disease Management Practices of Three Gentry Families', Social History of Medicine (forthcoming, 2019).
  • H. Ingram, 'Crisis and Conscious Property Management: Reconstructing the Warwickshire Land Market, 1284-1345', Midland History, 40, 2 (2015), pp. 181-200.


Papers Presented:

  • 'Gold, Rings and Other Shiny Things: Personal Possessions in Late Medieval London Wills', Leeds International Medieval Congress 2018, University of Leeds, 3rd July 2018.
  • 'Possessional Identity in the Wills of London Artisans', Postgraduate Medieval Research Seminars, University of Nottingham, 15th May 2018.
  • 'The Archetypal Midlander?: A Prosopographical Study of Late Medieval Provincial Businessmen', Midland History Postgraduate Conference, University of Worcester, 11th November 2017.
  • 'Boats, Goats and Dragons: Prosopography and Commercial Consciousness', Medieval Midlands Postgraduate Conference, De Montfort University, 27th-28th April 2017.
  • 'The Cross-Temporal Implications of the Emergence of an English Middle Class', M3C Research Festival, Nottingham Trent University, 12th May 2016 (Poster Presentation).
  • 'Epidemiological Empowerment: Women and Disease Management in Late Medieval England', Power and Society in the Medieval World Conference, University of Nottingham, 13th April 2016.
  • 'A Medieval Balancing Act: the Warwickshire Land Market, 1284-1345', British Conference for Undergraduate Research 2015, Winchester University, 20th-21st April 2015.

Delegate and Training Activities:

  • Two-Day Mental Health First Aider Training Course, De Montfort University, 17th-18th July 2018.
  • Women in Academia Mentoring Group, University of Nottingham, 2018.
  • Diversity in Teaching and Learning Course, Online Short Course at the University of Nottingham, completed 30th January 2018.
  • Associate Teacher’s Programme (ATP), University of Nottingham, February 2018-June 2018.
  • PGR History Teacher Training Series, East Midlands Centre for History Teaching and Learning, September 2016-June 2017.
  • Sowing the Seeds V: Measuring the Medieval Economy Conference, University of Cambridge, 31st March 2016.
  • Postgraduate Archival Skills Training: Medieval Skills and Methodology Workshop: Level 2, The National Archives, 12th-13th January 2016.
  • Introduction to Microsoft Access, Database training course at the University of Nottingham, 18-19th November 2015.
  • Making the Medieval Relevant Conference, University of Nottingham, 14th-15th November 2015.
  • Postgraduate Archival Skills Training Workshop Level 1: Medieval, The National Archives, 27th October 2015.
  • Borough Court Conference, University of Nottingham, July 2015.
  • Borough Court Workshop, University of Nottingham, 2nd July 2014.


Placements and Teaching:

  • Teaching Affiliate, Introduction to the Medieval World, University of Nottingham, October 2016-May 2017.
  • Six month archival training placement at the King’s Meadow Campus Archives, University of Nottingham, November 2014-April 2015.
  • Three month teaching placement at Hogarth Primary School, Nottingham, February 2012-April 2012.
  • Six month teaching placement at RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning, Coventry, September 2010-March 2011.


 Academic Prizes:

  • Judges’ Finalist and Runner-up in the Institute for Medieval Research Three Minute Thesis Competition 2015.
  • Winner of the Midlands History Essay Prize 2014 (awarded by Midlands History Journal).
  • Pauline Roberts Scholarship to study MA history (awarded by University of Nottingham).
  • W. R Fryer Prize for the best performance in finals examinations (awarded by University of Nottingham).
  • Robert Mellors Prize for the best dissertation on English local history (awarded by University of Nottingham).
  • A. C. Wood Prize for Medieval and Modern History (awarded by University of Nottingham). 
  • Moreton Prize for Classics (awarded by the King's High School for Girls).
  • Eastgate Prize for History (awarded by the King's High School for Girls).


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