Dr Mark Merry

Contact details

Dr Mark Merry
MA, PhD (Kent)
Lecturer in Urban History/Digital Projects and Training Officer
Institute of Historical Research
The Institute of Historical Research (IHR), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
+44 (0)20 7862 8750
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Communities, Classes, Races, Culture, Digital resources, Digitisation, Early Modern, History, Medieval History, Metropolitan history, Regional history
United Kingdom
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Mark has contributed to a number of research projects at the CMH, notably the predecessors to the current LitS project ‘People in Place: families, households and housing in early modern London’ (AHRC) and ‘Housing environments and health in early modern London 1550-1750’ (Wellcome Trust); and has worked as the Collections Officer for the Arts and Humanities Data Service: History, formerly based at the University of Essex.

His research interests are interdisciplinary, and are principally concerned with urban social and domestic groups in London, Bury St Edmunds and Warwick in the period 1450-1750. He also has an interest in the digitisation of historical sources, and acts as a consultant on a number of projects generating digital resources.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
05-Mar-2013 ’Specyall lover and preferrer of the polytike and common weale’: John Smyth and ideal citizenship in fifteenth-century Bury St Edmunds


Negotiating the political in northern European urban society, c.1400-1600, ed. S. Sweetinburgh (BREPOLS)

23-Sep-2012 ‘The poore lost a good Frend and the parish a good Neighbour’: the lives of the poor and their patrons in London’s eastern suburb, c. 1583 – c. 1678


(with P Baker), London and Beyond: Essays in Honour of Derek Keene (London, Institute of Historical Research)

15-Sep-2012 The Household Account Book of Sir Thomas Puckering of Warwick 1620: Living in London and the Midlands

Edited Book

(with C. Richardson), The Dugdale Society volume 45

01-Nov-2009 ‘For the house her self and one servant’: family and household in late seventeenth-century London

Journal articles

(with P. Baker) London Journal, November 2009.

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

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, 2008)

01-Nov-2003 Clothing, Culture and Identity in Early Modern England: Creating a New Tool for Research


(with C. Richardson and G. Murdock) Textile History Volume 34 Issue 2 (01 November 2003), pp. 229-234

06-Sep-2002 ”To fasten itt upon his successors, heirs and owners of that howse… so longe as the world standeth”: family identity and Romney Marshlands in early modern Kent


(with C. Richardson) in Romney Marsh: Coastal and Landscape Change Through the Ages, ed. A. Long, S. Hipkin and H. Clarke, Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph 56 (Oxford, 2002).

Publications available on SAS-space:

Date Details
Working Group II on Human Rights and Development Tools: Policy Briefs


AHRI members of COST Action IS0702 on the role of the EU in UN Human Rights reform have established since 2009 a specific Working Group II of researchers focused on the sub-topic of human rights and development tools, including a particular focus on EU and UN institutions.

The Human Rights Based Approach and Development Agendas: Bridging the Gap


A human rights-­‐based approach (HRBA) to development is a cross-­cutting approach that can strengthen existing development commitments by underpinning them with a universal standard of achievement for both process and outcome. The HRBA also has a legally-­binding basis that can help protect people from harms as they move towards the realisation of the right to development. This policy brief will give a summary of how the HRBA and current global development agendas are complementary and mutually reinforcing. It will also highlight some ways in which current global development agendas are being used to harm or ignore human rights.

Sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights in the Commonwealth: from history and law to developing activism and transnational dialogues


Conclusion: comparative analysis of decriminalisation and change across the Commonwealth


Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change.


Human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity are at last reaching the heart of global debates. Yet 78 states worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex sexual behaviour, and due to the legal legacies of the British Empire, 42 of these – more than half – are in the Commonwealth of Nations. In recent years many states have seen the emergence of new sexual nationalisms, leading to increased enforcement of colonial sodomy laws against men, new criminalisations of sex between women and discrimination against transgender people. "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change" challenges these developments as the first book to focus on experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) and all non-heterosexual people in the Commonwealth. The volume offers the most internationally extensive analysis to date of the global struggle for decriminalisation of same-sex sexual behaviour and relationships

Nov-2015 Introduction


Nov-2015 Notes on Contributors


Publications available on SAS-space

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Housing environments and health in early modern London 1550-1750

This project, undertaken in partnership with Birkbeck and the University of Cambridge, builds upon the work of the ‘People in Place: families, households and housing in early modern London’ project. Employing the People in Place research team, led by Professor Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck) and co-directed by Professor Matthew Davies (CMH) and Professor Richard Smith (Cambridge Group for the History of Population), it examines the extent to which environmental factors and the social characteristics of individual, family and locality determined the disease and mortality profile of the pre-industrial city.

The project tests the supposition that variation in mortality experience (infant, seasonal, epidemic, etc) across the early modern city correlates broadly with geographical variations in social and environmental character. Although such comparisons have usually taken place at ward- or parish-level, by drawing upon and enhancing the large database already compiled by the People in Place project - which contains a wide range of information on families, households, properties and buildings in three contrasting areas of the city (Cheapside, St Botolph Aldgate and Clerkenwell) – it is possible to identify a range of variations in mortality and social/environmental characteristics at the ‘micro-level’ of precinct, street and even clusters of houses. Utilising mapping techniques to illuminate and analyse health and mortality patterns within the populations of the selected areas, this ‘micro-geographical study’ sharpens and refines our understanding of the relationship between mortality and environment.

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.

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

Winner of the 2014 BSECS Prize for Digital Resources, Locating London´s Past has created an intuitive GIS interface that enables 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 makes these data and maps available within a Google Maps container, allowing for the analysis of the data with open source visualization tools. The interface is readily expandable to include additional data sets and maps (both modern and historic).

London and Middlesex Hearth Tax (1666): an analysis of the status and wealth of neighbourhoods and households on the eve of the Great Fire

 This collaborative project between the Centre for Hearth Tax Research (Roehampton), the CMH and Birkbeck, funded by the AHRC, aimed to edit, analyse and publish, in hard copy and online, the surviving portions of the London and Middlesex returns for Lady Day (25 March) 1666. Returns survive for several different dates, but this was deemed the best choice for editing and publication. Although incomplete, as are all other London returns, it covers most of the city, and it reveals a metropolis poised between two devastating events, the plague of 1665 (which was still afflicting parts of London in the spring of 1666) and the Fire of 2-6 September 1666, which destroyed the greater part of the city within the walls and much of the inner western suburb, making perhaps 75,000 Londoners homeless. Particular virtues of the 1666 returns are that many of them give the occupations as well as the names of householders, and are organised topographically so that the sequence of householders along a street can be reconstructed as in a street directory. However, quite a number of parish returns are missing for Lady Day 1666, so the project team also edited selected returns from 1662/3 in order to cover every parish in metropolitan London and rural Middlesex. The project also listed and in some cases transcribed all the relevant certificates for exemption from the tax – usually granted on grounds of poverty, and therefore contributing to the mapping of social values across the metropolis. London south of the river – almost all within the county of Surrey at this date – was not covered by this project, and as yet no full edition of the Surrey returns is planned.

People in Place: families, households and housing in early modern London, 1550-1720

 The research project originated in the desire to find a way of charting social change in the early modern metropolis, and the complexities of its social organisation and the dynamics of its 'modernisation'. Several approaches are possible, but an analysis of the family and how it changed over the period promised to provide useful insights. A tenfold increase in population size, and corresponding changes to the population's characteristics, such as their origins, age profile and sex ratios, as well as their skills and job opportunities, must have affected the size and shape of both family and household, and the relationships they encompassed. Likewise, given the changing physical environment, understanding where and how families and households actually lived, what spaces, privacy, and amenities they enjoyed, provides an important cross-bearing on the subject. Tracing changes in the structural characteristics (size, composition, duration, and residential patterns) of the London family and household over a long period, and examining relations within and between households, offers significant new information and understanding.

Records of London's Livery Companies Online

The Records of London's Livery Companies Online project is a partnership between the Centre for Metropolitan History, The Bowyers' Company, The Clothworkers' Company, The Drapers' Company, The Founders' Company, The Girdlers' Company, The Goldsmiths' Company, The Mercers' Company, The Musicians' Company, The Salters' Company and The Tallow Chandlers' Company. The aim of ROLLCO is to provide a fully searchable database of Livery Company membership over time. Searches can be made for individuals (and in the near future statistical 'trends') within the Companies' membership, with results available for downloading and saving.

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 2014
Until: 2017
Margins and marginality in Fifteenth Century London

 The research aims to examine the characteristics of the peripheral neighbourhoods of London in the long fifteenth century (c.1370-c.1520). The thesis will focus particularly on the areas clustered around the northern and eastern parts of London’s Roman walls, rather than the wealthier Western fringes which were part of London’s connection to the political capital Westminster. These were places away from the bustling commercial centres of Cheapside and the markets, whose marginal location makes them attractive subjects for neighbourhood study not just for their own sake but also as a way to explore issues of social and economic marginality in the city which represent a significant gap in the existing literature.

Professional Affiliations


Name Type Activity Start date End date
Passage: Writing about walking around London, 1500-1945 Formal partnership Research project, research training provision 2015
Women's Work in Rural England 1500-1700 Formal partnership Research project 2015
Early Modern Practitioners: The medical world of early modern England, Wales and Ireland, c.1500-1715 Formal partnership Research project, digital resource creation 2013
Methodologies for material culture: skills for study Formal partnership Research training provision 2013 2014
Locating London's Past Formal partnership Research, digital resource creation 2011 2011
Mapping London Research Digital resource creation, research training provision 2010
Life in the Suburbs Formal partnership Research 2008 2011
Records of London's Livery Companies Online Formal partnership Research, digital resource creation 2008
London and Middlesex Hearth Tax (1666) Formal partnership Research, digital resource creation 2007 2010
People in Place: families, households and housing in early modern London, 1550-1720 For Research 2003 2006
Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
27-Oct-2015 Passage Symposium

 The University of London’s Senate House Library will be hosting a symposium in connection with a new project to begin later this year being jointly run by the Centre for Metropolitan History at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House Library and the School of Advanced Study. The Passage project hopes to address a number of research questions arising from historical texts that describe or are structured around walking around London.

18-Apr-2013 Materialities of Urban Life in Early Modern Europe

This conference seeks to bring together scholars working on the materiality of urban life from a variety of different disciplinary perspectives, in order to debate the particular qualities of public, private, commercial, domestic and civic material cultures to be found in towns across Europe.

Knowledge transfer activities:

Designing databases for historical research

 This free module provides an introduction to designing databases for use in historical research. Through the use of a handbook, divided into chapters, it provides an overview of important concepts – both historical in nature and in terms of database design – that the historian will need to consider before embarking upon designing a database. The module also provides a number of starting points for overcoming certain design problems that specifically affect historians when they come to wrestle their sources into a database.

Databases for historians II: practical database tools

 The aim of this course is to develop the practical skills necessary for constructing and fully exploiting a database for use in historical research. Assuming a basic understanding of the conceptual issues in digitally managing information from historical sources, the course aims to introduce the tools and techniques required for improving the utility of the database from the data entry stage through to the generation and presentation of analysis.

Building and using databases for historical research

 The aim of this training course is to equip you with the skills required to build and use a relational database suited to historical research. Creating databases can be a relatively simple process, especially with today’s desktop software, which is geared to offering help at every stage; with a little bit of extra effort additional functionality can be built into the ‘database application’ which will enable it to form the most valuable and powerful of customised research tools. Entering data into the database can be a time-consuming endeavour, but if it is done correctly into a well-designed database then the potential improvements offered in terms of information management and analysis more than repays the effort. This course continues from the free online course Designing databases for historical research handbook.

Databases for historians I

 The aim of this course is to provide students with an introduction to database techniques appropriate for historical research, with the focus very much on the concepts of good database design and the creation of high-quality historical data. The course is taught through a mixture of formal lectures and 'hands-on' practical classes in which students are provided with practical guidance on the use of commercially-available database software packages. The module covers a broad range of skills and techniques, starting with data manipulation in terms of searching, sorting, and editing records, and introducing the main methods of modelling historical data for computer-based analysis. Methods of data collection and data entry are also discussed, together with the principles of coding. The remainder of the course considers the general presentation and publication of historical research findings in terms of the design, calculation and production of tables, charts basic figures, and associated graphics. The module does not require any previous specialist knowledge of computing or training in mathematics, though a working familiarity with Microsoft Windows is necessary and it would be advantageous for participants to take the IHR's free online course Designing Databases for Historical Research in advance of the start.

Methodologies for Material Culture II: Literary Culture

 This workshop is part of the AHRC Collaborative Skills Development Programme Methodologies for material culture, which aims to provide postgraduate students and early career researchers in the Arts and Humanities with training in the skills required in the study of material culture, concentrating particularly on the employment of digital technologies and methodologies across disciplinary boundaries. Introductory training will be delivered through a series of practical workshops to be held at the Institute of Historical Research, Museum of London, The London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent. The workshops will address the practical application of research methodologies and will be organised on the themes of Status, Power and Authority, Literary Culture, Warfare and Domestic Culture. The workshops will incorporate theoretical overviews employing early modern textual and visual sources, as well as practical hands-on sessions – both in terms of access to material objects as well as the use of technology (e.g. laser scanners).

Each free-to-attend workshop is designed around existing collections of objects, special library collections and digital collections at the respective institutions, and will include a two hour ‘masterclass’ to expose participants to the practical application of skills within an environment of unique collections. The workshops will be used to allow students and researchers to inform directly the development of more advanced, tailored training packages to be disseminated online.

Consultancy & Media
Available for consultancy:
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