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Justin Colson

Justin Colson is Senior Lecturer in Urban and Digital History and Deputy Director of the IHR's Centre for the History of People, Place and Community.

Justin is an historian of towns and cities, specialising in London during the late medieval and early modern periods, and uses digital and spatial techniques to study societies and cultures more broadly across time and place.

Institute Roles

Justin Colson moved to the IHR in 2022, having previously worked as a lecturer at the University of Essex, and earlier as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Exeter. Justin has responsibilities at the Institute including Layers of London, digital projects, and research training and teaching. He is also co-convenor of the IHR’s People, Place and Community Seminar and the Digital History Seminar.

He is a tutor on the MA in History, Place & Community, for which he convenes the Layers of London: Deep Mapping London's History, London Summer School, and Placement modules.

Research Interests

Justin’s research explores urban life and communities through a range of social, economic, and cultural lenses. Having completed a PhD thesis on London neighbourhoods in the fifteenth century, he specialises on the history of London between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, but also explores towns and cities throughout Britain and Europe across the medieval and early modern periods, and beyond.

Spatial approaches and methods are integral to Justin’s work, and he makes extensive use of digital tools including Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Social Network Analysis (SNA). He uses these techniques not only to explore previously invisible patterns amongst the records of pre-modern lives, but also to communicate the place of the past in new and exciting ways.  

Justin is also reviews editor for Urban History, a council member of the London Record Society, and a member of the steering committee of the Pre-Modern Towns Group.



Justin Colson, Neighbourhood, Commerce and Sociability in Late Medieval London (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022)

Edited Collections

Cities and Solidarities: Urban Communities in Pre-Modern Europe, ed. by Justin Colson and Arie van Steensel (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).


Justin Colson, ‘Reinterpreting Space: Mapping People and Relationships in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Cities using GIS(Opens in new window)’, Urban History, 47.3 (2020), 384-400.

Patrick Wallis, Justin Colson, and David Chilosi, ‘Structural Change and Economic Growth in the British Economy before the Industrial Revolution, 1500-1800(Opens in new window)’, Journal of Economic History, 78.3 (2018), 862–903.

Justin Colson and Robert Ralley, ‘Medical Practice, Urban Politics and Patronage: The London “Commonalitie” of Physicians and Surgeons of the 1420s(Opens in new window)’, English Historical Review, 130:546 (2015) 1102-31.

Justin Colson, ‘Commerce, Clusters and Community: A Re-evaluation of the Occupational Geography of London, c.1400-c.1550(Opens in new window)’, Economic History Review, 69:1 (2015) 104-130 

Justin Colson, ‘Alien Communities and Alien Fraternities in Later Medieval London)’, London Journal, 35:2 (2010), 111-43 

Book Chapters

Justin Colson, ‘A Portrait of a Late Medieval London Pub: The Star Inn, Bridge Street’, in Medieval Londoners: Essays to Mark the 80th Birthday of Caroline M. Barron, ed. by Elizabeth A. New and Christian Steer (London: Institute of Historical Research, 2019).

Justin Colson, ‘Late Medieval London Parish Administration and the Cursus Honorum: Oligarchy or Community?’, in The Urban Church in Late Medieval England. Essays in Honour of Clive Burgess: Proceedings of the 2017 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. by David Harry and Christian Steer, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 29 (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2019), pp. 157–78.

Justin Colson, ‘Reassessing Power and Governance in Late Medieval Cities: Institutions and the Cursus Honorum’, in Simon Gunn and Tom Hulme (eds.), Powers of the City: New Approaches to Governance and Rule in Urban Europe since 1500, series ‘A New History of Urban Europe Since 1500’, general eds. Simon Gunn and Bert de Munck, (Routledge, 2019) 

Justin Colson, ‘Preserving Merchant Identities: London Companies Merging and Dividing, c.1450-1550’, in Medieval Merchants and Money: Essays in Celebration of the work of Professor James L. Bolton, ed. Matthew Davies and Martin Allen (London: IHR, 2016) 

Justin Colson, ‘London’s Forgotten Company? Fishmongers, their Trade and their Networks in Later Medieval London’, in The Medieval Merchant: Proceedings of the 29th Harlaxton Medieval Symposium, ed. Caroline M. Barron and Anne. F Sutton, pp.20-40 (Donnington: Shaun Tyas, 2014)