The Layburnes and their world, circa 1620-1720: the English Catholic community and the House of Stuart
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This thesis concerns Catholics in north-western England in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, in particular the Layburne family of Cunswick, Cumbria. It examines their role in local society and at the courts of the Stuart queens in London and St Germains. It traces their growing commitment to the Jacobite cause and their hopes of thereby regaining positions of influence at court and in the country. The north-western Tory gentry's sympathy with their Catholic counterparts is contrasted with the treatment given to the Quakers in the same area. The latter were regarded as a danger to the fabric of society, representing an economic and political threat to the government. As an example of how integrated the Catholics were, the services in Kendal parish church were more Papist than non-conformist, even under the Protectorate. At the Restoration the Catholics continued to contribute to the upkeep of the church and were well-regarded in the area. The Layburnes occupied positions during the reign of James II, both in the north-west and at court. Bishop John Laybume acted as James II's Catholic bishop, and had also been involved in the Secret Treaty of Dover in 1670, under Charles II. during James II's reign bishop Layburne had organised the funding of Catholic chapels, clergy and education. This activity was discovered and used in the prosecution of Catholic gentry in the trials following the Lancashire Plot (1694). On acquittal, the Jacobites vigorously renewed their plotting in Lancashire. Planning for a Jacobite invasion reached its culmination in the 1715 Rising, only to end with the siege of Preston. Despite some executions and the forfeiture of estates, many Catholic Jacobite families survived the 1715 rising. Few rose in 1745 and many Catholic families, with the exception of the Layburnes, prospered and continue to this day.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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