Jennifer Wells (Brown) Mellon Dissertation Fellow

Prelude to empire: state-building in Cromwellian Ireland and Scotland, 1649–1660

Jennifer Wells is a doctoral candidate in the department of history at Brown University. Her dissertation examines the expansion of the English state in Ireland and Scotland under Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarian regime, with a particular focus on how the legal, commercial, religious and educational policies imposed in those countries following their conquests in 1649-51 often mirrored contemporary and future English imperial initiatives in the Caribbean, North America and North Africa. Tracing the lives and careers of various actors who both implemented and encountered these measures further links the domestic and imperial spheres, forcing scholars to reconsider the origins of the English empire and its deep ties to archipelagic state formation. Prior to commencing her doctoral studies, Jennifer obtained a Juris Doctor at the University of California, specialising in international law. She continues to research and publish on a variety of legal and historical subjects, including international law, legal history, political violence, imperial history, and early modern British and Irish history. 


  • ‘English Law, Irish Trials and Cromwellian Quest for Legitimacy and Power in the 1650s', Past & Present (forthcoming, 2014). 
  • ‘Proceedings at the High Court of Justice at Dublin and Cork, 1652-54, part II’, Archivium Hibernicum, 67 (forthcoming, 2014).
  • ‘Proceedings at the High Court of Justice at Dublin and Cork, 1652–1654, part I’, Archivium Hibernicum, 66 (2013), pp. 63-260.
  • The Westphalia Effect: The Puritan, the Jesuit and the law in the colonisation of Ireland and Brazil, 1648–63’, Irish Historical Studies (forthcoming, 2016).
  • ‘Clashing Kingdoms, Hidden Agendas: the battle to extradite Kwok-a-Sing and British legal imperialism in nineteenth-century China’, University of Pennsylvania East Asian Law Review, 7:1 (2011), pp. 161-193.
  • In Vino Veritas: Greed, Grapes, and Lawsuits in the Napa Valley’, West-Northwest Journal of
  • Environmental Law and Policy, 16:2 (2010), pp. 515-540.
  • ‘The Maryland Designe: Catholics, Manors, Protestants, and Power in the NewWorld’, The Colorado Historian, Spring 2007.
  • ‘A Call to Arms: Ireland’s Long Road to Freedom’, The Colorado Historian, Spring 2006.