Religious and Social Change in the West Riding of Yorkshire 1550-1700
: A Study of Almondbury and the Surrounding Parishes

  • Alexander Taylor

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The West Riding locality of Almondbury experienced major religious and social changes during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These changes saw the emergence of new rapidly ascending gentry families such as the Kayes of Woodsome and Ramsdens of Longley. Along with the Beaumonts of Whitley, through conformity to the established Church, these families asserted their dominance over the local area and enjoyed major success along the way. This masters addresses three key themes. Firstly, it explores the nature of religious change in the locality and argues that this change was atypical of religious change in Yorkshire. Much of the research on the county as a whole has evidenced that Catholic survivalism was a defining feature. In the locality of Almondbury however, due to its geographical position and the makeup of local society, religious change took on a tone of Protestant conformity. Secondly, this thesis argues that the local conformist gentry shared a commonality of priorities. These priorities centred around wealth, authority and religion. Interestingly, the religious and social upheaval of the period brought new opportunities and ways in which the local gentry could advance these priorities. Finally, the conformist nature of religious reform in the locality is examined further to demonstrate that this conformity was conservative conformity and retained several pre-Reformation elements of religion. This conformity was also a defining feature of the social circle which encompassed the local gentry and clergy and dominated local affairs. This final theme also explores how the conformist gentry continued to use local religion and the church building to advance their priorities during this period. Ultimately, this masters demonstrates that no uniform theme of religious change can be applied to the whole of Yorkshire and how, when the local gentry of a locality were predominantly conformists, religious change could go in a notably different direction.
Date of Award19 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSarah Bastow (Main Supervisor) & Rebecca Gill (Co-Supervisor)

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