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On 20 October 2020 Dr Eilish Gregory will be answering questions on her paper: ‘Catholic forfeitures during the English Revolution: Parliament and the role of sequestration agents’. The paper is available to download now.


From the reign of Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century, Catholics who refused to conform to the Church of England faced the sequestration of a significant portion of their personal or real estates, returnable only upon payment of a fine based on the value of the forfeited property. By the civil war, sequestration had become a well-organised administrative system, in which Catholics were presented by county committees and paid their fines to the Exchequer. However, the civil war caused a substantive overhaul of the system, with sequestration extended to political delinquents who fought for Charles I.  Catholics now found themselves vulnerable for religious and political reasons if deemed to have supported the Royalist cause. 

This paper examines how gentry Catholics used sequestration agents between 1642 and 1660 to help prevent the permanent loss of their forfeited estates. Agents appeared in sequestration ordinances in the middle of the first civil war as mediators for local sequestration committees when estates were forfeited. By the 1650s, however, they were integral to protecting the estates of Catholic gentry and other political delinquents by purchasing forfeited properties themselves. The paper will focus on the activities of two major sequestration agents, Gilbert Crouch and future historian John Rushworth, who purchased substantial Catholic estates, showing how both landowners and agents adapted to the changing legislation of the period. It will also examine how political threats to the Protectorate in 1655 prompted Parliament and the major-generals to investigate suspect forfeited land purchases, and how the new system established the important role of agents in the long-term.

Dr Eilish Gregory is a research assistant for the Royal Historical Society and a sessional lecturer at the University of Reading. She is the author of the chapter 'Catherine of Braganza's Relationship with her Catholic Household' in the edited collection Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Political Agency, Myth-Making, and Patronage, eds. Valerie Schutte and Estelle Paranque (Routledge, 2018), and continues to work on Catherine of Braganza as queen dowager in 1680s England.


The seminar will take the form of a question and answer session based on a pre-circulated paper. 


If you have any further questions, or you have not received a copy of the paper ahead of the seminar, please contact the conveners at seminar@histparl.ac.uk. If you are unable to attend but would like to submit a question for Eilish please contact seminar@histparl.ac.uk.