ISHR Seminar – Dr Valerie Wallace

The next ISHR seminar will be on Thursday 10 November, when Dr Valerie Wallace of Victoria University of Wellington will present: ‘The Scottish Disruption and the politics of colonial Auckland.’

Dr Valerie Wallace is the ISHR Visiting Research Fellow for 2016-17. A graduate of Glasgow University, she has taught at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, since 2012. Her current book project, entitled Empire of Dissent: Scottish Presbyterianism and Reform Politics in the British World, 1820-1850, aims to transform our understanding of colonial radicalism by documenting the explosive but uncharted influence of Scottish Presbyterian political ideas.

Dr Valerie Wallace

Dr Valerie Wallace

Her paper considers for the first time the forgotten works of Samuel Mcdonald Martin (1805?-1848). Martin was a troublesome migrant from the Isle of Skye and a thorn in the sides of successive governors in colonial Auckland. Valerie’s paper contends that Martin’s religious ideas underpinned his critique of crown colony government.


The seminar will be held in the New Seminar Room, St John’s House, 71 South Street, St Andrews at 5.30pm. Drinks and nibbles will be served from 5.15pm.

ISHR seminar – Ms Katy Jack

Our next seminar will be on Thursday 27 October (Week 7) when the presenter will be Ms Katy Jack, a doctoral research student at the University of Stirling. Katy will present ”Usurpations [and] infringements”: The Earldom of Mar in the 15th Century.

In his description of the particulars of Queen Mary’s restoration of the earldom of Mar to the Erskine family in 1565, Alexander Sinclair Lord Lindsay, earl of Crawford and Balcarres, wrote that throughout the fifteenth century, ‘by new creations’ the honor and dignity of Earl of Mar was conferred by the kings of Scotland upon princes of the royal family. ‘These creations’, he argues ‘were all usurpations or infringements against the Erskine rights of succession’. This paper seeks to contextualize these infringements by discussing the earldom of Mar in the fifteenth century, focussing on the legality of Erskine claims to Mar, the reception of these claims (both by Mar locals and the Scottish crown), and the behaviour of the Stewart kings towards the would-be earls.

The seminar will be held in the New Seminar Room, St John’s House, 71 South Street, St Andrews at 5.30pm. Drinks and nibbles will be served from 5.15pm.

Elizabeth Melville and the Poetics of Desire in Early Modern Britain

Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross (c.1578-c.1640), was the first Scotswoman to see her poetry printed. This lecture situates her writing in the context of her Calvinist life and milieu, focusing particularly on the renunciation of earthly desire in her Puritanical vision, Ane Godlie Dreame (1603), and her sonnets. Ane Godlie Dreame is newly identified as the culmination of the dream-vision in Scotland, while the sonnets can be understood afresh as inflecting English love poetry towards a distinctively Scottish anti-amatory poetics. Ultimately, as her publication history also attests, Lady Culross was a poet of far greater significance than has previously been recognised.

Dr Kylie Murray, University of Cambridge
The 2016 British Academy Chatterton Lecture
Wednesday 12th October, 5.15pm, The Lawson Lecture Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English

ISHR Seminar – Dr Michelle Brock

The next ISHR seminar will take place on Thursday 13 October (Week 5).  A joint seminar with Reformation Studies, the speaker will be Dr Michelle Brock of Washington and Lee University, who will present ‘”The people readily obeyed the minister”: Life and worship in a covenanting town, 1638-1660’.

The seminar will be held in the New Seminar Room, St John’s House, 71 South Street, St Andrews at 5.30pm.  Drinks and nibbles will served from 5.15pm.

In late summer, 1647, the plague struck Ayr, a royal burgh in southwest Scotland. This was not the first time the disease had afflicted the town, nor was this the worst its people had seen of the scourge. In fact, plague might have come and gone with the usual, resigned response—prevention and quarantine, fasting and prayer— typical of communities familiar with such afflictions. Instead, the comparatively minor episode was parlayed by minister William Adair into a week-long, mass confession revolving around a series of dramatic meetings and sermons. While historians such as Leigh Eric Schmidt and David Underdown have detailed similarly intense moments of repentance and revival in the British world, history has given little more than a footnote to the episode at Ayr, or to Adair, a dogmatic covenanter who served as minister there for a remarkable four decades. This paper explores the events of and surrounding the outbreak of plague in 1647 to suggest new insights into life, worship, and the power of the pulpit in covenanting Scotland.

Michelle D. Brock is Assistant Professor of British History at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, USA. This term, she is also a research fellow with ISHR and Reformation Studies at St. Andrews. She is the author of Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, ca. 1560-1700 (St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Ashgate, 2016), and is working on a new project on sermons and sermon-going in early modern Scotland.