Consuming Clergymen: Religion, Masculinity, and Objects c.1603–1830
Ben’s project seeks to understand Anglican and Nonconformist clergymen’s attitude to domestic life, material goods, and consumer behaviour in England across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In doing so, Ben hopes to emphasise the impact that men’s professional and denominational identities had on their domestic arrangements, material culture, and spending. The project centres religion and professional identity – often overlooked categories of masculine experience – in histories of early modern masculinities and consumerism.
By examining the personal documents, including diaries and correspondence, and financial documents, including bills, receipts, and accounts books, of early modern clergymen at the JRRIL, Ben’s project examines both what possessions clergymen had and also their attitudes to shopping, fashion, material goods, and consumerism. The project aims to examine clergymen as a professional grouping, one that comes from a variety of social ranks and therefore also contribute to histories of all-male subgroups that have emerged in recent years on the army and navy. It considers clergymen’s consumer and material lives and how it was influenced by lifestage, marital status, profession, rank, and location.