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The 1596 ‘Swallowfield Articles’ were first described by Patrick Collinson in 1989. He thought they had been drawn up by a ‘town meeting’ of Swallowfield parish, ‘geographically part of Berkshire but …administratively a detached portion of Wiltshire’. Both Patrick Collinson and Steve Hindle, who published a transcription of the articles in 1999, thought them a remarkably ambitious scheme of social regulation. This paper shows that the articles were not the product of a Swallowfield town meeting, identifies a bitter local feud as a probable principal reason for their drafting, and assesses their possible effects.

Ralph Houlbrooke is emeritus professor of early modern history at the University of Reading.

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