Professor Matthew Davies

Contact details

Professor Matthew Davies
MA, DPhil (Oxon), FRHistS
Professor of Urban History and Director of the Centre for Metropolitan History
Institute of Historical Research
Institute of Historical Research (IHR) Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
020 7862 8698
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Early Modern, Medieval History, Metropolitan history
England, Europe
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Matthew works on the history of medieval and early modern London particularly the roles of the guilds, known as 'livery companies', in connection with trade and production, regulation (economic as well as moral) and religious culture. Other interests include the ways in which causes were promoted to the Crown and Parliament by the city's representatives and through corporate and individual lobbying, and he has recently been examining the development of historical ideas and narratives in late medieval and early modern London. He is currently researching a history of the city between 1300 and 1550, which will form part of a multi-volume history of London.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
05-Dec-2014 'City and Suburbs: London 1400-1700'


 in Evolução da Paisagem Urbana: Cidade e Periferia, ed. M. Do Carmo Ribiero and A. Sousa Melo

26-Jun-2014 The London and Middlesex Hearth Tax of 1666

Edited Book

 edited with V. Harding, J. Price and A. Wareham, British Records Society Hearth Tax Series, IX, 2 vols

01-Jan-2012 London and Beyond: essays in honour of Derek Keene

Edited Book

edited by Matthew Davies and James A. Galloway. 373pp. ISBN: 9781905165704

01-Jan-2012 'Crown, City and Guild in Late Medieval London'


in London and Beyond: essays in honour of Derek Keene, ed. Matthew Davies and James A. Galloway. 21pp. ISBN: 9781905165704

01-Jan-2011 “Monuments of Honour”: Clerks, Histories and Heroes in the London livery companies

in Parliament, Personalities and Power. Papers Presented to Linda S. Clark, ed. H. Kleineke, The Fifteenth Century, X (Woodbridge), pp. 145-65. ISBN 9781843836926

01-Jan-2008 London and the Kingdom: Essays in Honour of Caroline M. Barron

ed. with Andrew Prescott, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 16 (Donington) ISBN 9781900289917

01-Jan-2008 People in Place: Families, Households and Housing in Early Modern London

with V. Harding, P. Baker, M. Merry, O. Myhill, G. Newton and R. Smith (London) ISBN 9781905165223

01-Jan-2007 The Religious Houses of London and Middlesex

ed. with Caroline M. Barron (London) ISBN 9781905165124

01-Jan-2004 The History of the Merchant Taylors' Company

with Ann Saunders (Maney: Leeds) ISBN 1902653998

01-Jan-2004 'Lobbying Parliament: the London livery companies in the fifteenth century'

Parliamentary History, XXIII, pp. 136-48

01-Jan-2003 'Ellen Langwith, silkwoman of London'

with Caroline M. Barron, The Ricardian, 13, pp. 39-47

01-Jan-2002 'Governors and Governed: the Practice of Power in the Merchant Taylors' Company'

in Guilds, Society and Economy in London, 1450-1800, ed. I.A. Gadd and P. Wallis (Centre for Metropolitan History: London), pp. 67-83

01-Jan-2000 The Merchant Taylors' Company of London: Court Minutes 1486-1493

Paul Watkins: Stamford. ISBN 1900289369

01-Jan-1998 'Artisans, Guilds and Government in London'

in Daily Life in the Late Middle Ages, ed. R.H. Britnell (Sutton: Stroud), pp. 125-50. ISBN 0750915870

01-Jan-1995 'The Tailors of London: Corporate Charity in the Late-Medieval Town'

in Crown, Government and People in the Fifteenth Century, ed. R.E. Archer (Stroud: Sutton), pp. 161-90.

01-Jan-1994 Dame Thomasine Percyvale, "the Maid of Week" (d. 1512)

in Medieval London Widows 1300-1500, ed. C.M. Barron and A.F. Sutton (Hambledon: London), pp. 185-208

Publications available on SAS-space

Publications available in Senate House Libraries

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Layers of London: mapping the city's heritage

Life in the suburbs: health, domesticity and status in early modern London

This project investigates the character and development of London’s eastern suburb by examining the life of the inhabitants of the extra-mural parishes of St Botolph Aldgate and Holy Trinity Minories from c.1550-c.1700. Covering just under 80 acres running south from the parish of St Botolph Bishopsgate to the Thames, this area experienced a population explosion during the early modern period, from c.3,500 inhabitants in 1540, over 11,000 by 1650, to nearly 20,000 by 1700. The area offers a population with a unique range of social and economic experiences which allow the greatest possible scope for studying suburban living in early modern London. Moreover, it also offers an unprecedented array of sources, including parish registers, records of poor relief, numerous taxation and household listings, and the observations of the parish clerks of St Botolph.

Project details
Directors: Matthew Davies, M.A., D.Phil., Vanessa Harding, M.A., Ph.D., Professor Richard Smith, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., FBA
Researchers (CMH): Philip Baker, B.A., M.A.; Mark Latham, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.; (Cambridge): Gill Newton, B.A., M.A.
Database consultant (CMH): Mark Merry, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
Funded by: The Economic and Social Research Council (Grant Reference: RES-062-23-1260) (1 June 2008-31 May 2011)
Amount Awarded: £733,779.61

Locating London's past: a geo-referencing tool for mapping historical and archaeological evidence, 1660-1800

Locating London´s Past will create an intuitive GIS interface that will enable researchers to map and visualize textual and artefactual data relating to seventeenth and eighteenth-century London against a fully rasterised version of John Rocque´s 1746 map of London and the first accurate modern OS map (1869-80). More than this, it will make these data and maps available within a Google Maps container, allowing for the analysis of the data with open source visualization tools. The interface will be readily expandable to include additional data sets and maps (both modern and historic).

Project details
Principal investigators: Professor Robert Shoemaker (University of Sheffield), Professor Tim Hitchcock (University of Hertfordshire), Dr Matthew Davies (CMH)
Project Manager: Sharon Howard (University of Sheffield)
Technical Officer: Jamie McLaughlin (HRI Digital)
Funded by: JISC e-Content Programme 2011: Enriching via Collaboration (1 March 2011-30 September 2011)

Mapping London: a GIS platform for the history of early modern London

People, property and charity: the Clothworkers' Company 1500-1750

Beginning in October 2010, the ‘People, Property and Charity: the Clothworkers’ Company 1500-1750’ project, will provide the first detailed history of the benefactors, property acquisitions and other bequests of the Clothworkers’ Company in the City of London during the late medieval and early modern periods. Focusing specifically on the properties that came to the company through the bequests of several benefactors, the project aims to trace the company’s management of these properties and associated charities using the Company’s court orders, account books, bequest records, lease records, and benefactor wills.

Project details
Clothworkers' Company Fellow: Annaleigh Margey B.A., Ph.D
Director: Matthew Davies M.A., D.Phil., FRHistS
Funded by: The Clothworkers' Company (1 October 2010-30 September 2011)

ROLLCO - Records of London's Livery Companies Online

This project aims to create an online database of livery company membership records, from the period c.1500-1900. The focus is on those companies which still retain their records, with one of the aims being to reduce the pressure on archivists and the records themselves from members of the public and other enquirers. As well as a fully searchable online database containing the records of the participating companies, each company will have a comprehensive database of its own members which it can use for its own internal purposes.

The first phase of the project began in April 2008 with funding from the Clothworkers’ Company to enter all their apprenticeship and freedom records. Funding from the Drapers' Company for their phase of the project has now been secured and this is due to start imminently. It is hoped to move on to other companies in due course.

The database was designed and built by Dr Mark Merry, and the project is led by Dr Matthew Davies.

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
Mary Beale and her 'paynting room' in London 1655 to 1699

Helen Draper

The London Furniture Trade, c.1640 – 1730

Laurie Lindey

The reception and implementation of local and parliamentary legislation in England, 1422-c.1485

Dean Rowland

Social and cultural connections between the English and the Dutch in England, c.1660-c.1720

Catherine Wright

Margins and Marginality in Fifteenth-Century London'

 Charlotte Berry

Modern London and the Rules of Business: London Merchants and Institutions, c. 1500-1800

 Xu Yang

Past PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 2010
Until: 2014
Feeding London in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries: the city's response to crisis and the effects upon the poor

David Carmichael

From: 2005
Until: 2011
The role of London in the creation of a Quaker Transatlantic Community in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries

Jordan Landes

Netherlandish Painters and the Dutch Church of London, 1560-1580

 Hope Walker (Courtauld)

London and the Crown in the reign of Henry VII

 Samantha P. Harper

Available for doctoral supervision: Yes

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
Short-term Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C. research
British Record Society publication of documents
Historic Towns Atlas Trust Committee committee member
William J. Ringler Fellow, Huntington Library, San Marino CA research
Visiting Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München research and lecturing
London Metropolitan Archives, Academic Users' Forum Member
Records of Early English Drama Digital Advisory Committee member
Records of Early English Drama Executive Board Member
ESRC Peer Review College Member
English Heritage Member of the London Advisory Committee
HEA Subject Centre in History, Classics and Archaeology Member of History Advisory Panel
Royal Historical Society Fellow
The London Journal Chair, Editorial Board
Cultural and Social History Editorial Board
British Record Society publication of historical records


Name Type Activity Start date End date
Locating London's Past formal partnership research project 2011 2011
Mapping London research digital resource creation 2010
Life in the Suburbs formal partnership research project 2008 2011
Livery Companies' Membership records formal partnership research project 2008
Clothworkers' Property research website and publications 01-Oct-2010 30-Sep-2011
Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
19-Feb-2016 Cities and disasters: the experience of medieval and early modern London

 Paper delivered to a conference on 'Natural disaster studies and their issues in the Early Modern Metropolis', National Institute of Japanese Literature, Tokyo, Japan

28-Nov-2015 London before 1600: urban development, water and power

 Paper given to an international conference on 'Cities and Water', Nanjing, China

18-Nov-2015 Crafts and guilds in medieval London

 Lecture in the 'London Life and Times' series at the Victoria and Albert Museum

04-May-2015 The livery companies and the world

 Keynote lecture to conference on ‘Medieval London and the World’, London Society for Medieval Studies

26-Apr-2015 Crafts, skills and migration in late medieval London

 British Academy conference on ‘Aliens, Foreigners and Strangers in Medieval England'

05-Sep-2014 Free and unfree: migration, labour and the guilds in medieval London

 European Association of Urban Historians, Lisbon

21-Nov-2013 London and the kingdom: commerce, politics and power in the Late Middle Ages

 Keynote lecture given at 'Nova Lisboa Medieval III: Gentes, Espaços e Poderes', Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon

07-Nov-2013 Clerks, guilds and identity in late medieval London

 Paper given to a conference on 'Medieval Merchants and Money', Senate House

06-Jul-2013 The London Companies

 paper given to the Summer School in Local History, IHR

20-Jun-2013 Mapping Early Modern London

 Paper delivered to the Medieval and Tudor London Seminar, IHR, 20 June 2013

03-May-2013 City and suburbs: London 1400-1700

 Paper delivered to the Third International Colloquium on Urban Landscape: City and Suburbs, Braga, Portugal

11-Nov-2012 ‘”Writying, making and engrocyng”’: London guilds and their written records in the later middle ages’

 North American Conference on British Studies, Montreal. Canada

27-Apr-2012 Guilds, history and identity in London, 1300-1700

Paper delivered to an international workshop‘Families, Associations and Urban Communities, 1350-1600: Towards a Comparative Perspective’, European University Institute, 27-28 April 2012

01-Jan-2011 Mapping early modern London: new digital maps and tools

Special lecture delivered at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, University of Toronto, November 2011

01-Jan-2011 ‘London and the kingdom: themes in city history, 1300-1700’

paper given to a research seminar at the Center for Advanced Studies, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, June

01-Jan-2011 'The London Companies'

paper given to a symposium/day school on Medieval Guilds, University of Oxford, May

01-Jan-2010 ‘“Most profitable for prentices”: Heroes and Histories in the London Livery Companies’

paper given to the North American Conference of British Historians, Baltimore MD, November

01-Jan-2010 ‘Urban history and the study of metropolitan London’

paper given to the Centre for Urban History's 25th anniversary conference, Leicester, July

01-Jan-2009 ‘Invention and reinvention: guilds, history and image in late medieval London’

paper given to the Late Medieval Seminar, IHR, October

01-Jan-2009 ‘Clerks, archives and history: guilds in medieval and early modern London’

paper given at 'Cities', the 78th Anglo-American Conference, IHR, July

01-Jan-2009 Merchants and Heroes: London history in the time of John Stow

Gresham College lecture, delivered 29 April 2009. Video and audio podcasts available to download

Consultancy & Media
Available for consultancy:
Media experience:
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