Personal profile

Research interests

My research interests lie in early modern environmental history, with a focus on histories of water and flooding. I am engaged in several projects related to these interests:

Early modern flooding

I am currently writing up my research into early modern flooding as a monograph titled: Troubled Waters: Flooding, Environment and Politics in Early Modern England. The book asks ‘how did people understand, prepare for, mitigate against and utilize flooding?’ Using the rich but neglected records of Commissions of Sewers, along with more familiar local and national manuscript sources, evidence from print culture and information from the historical environment record, this project sheds new light on how early modern people experienced flooding during an age of climatic, legal and social upheaval.

Internal Drainage Boards

I am co-investigator on an AHRC-funded project on the history of Internal Drainage Boards (c.1720-2018), working with Prof. Greg Bankoff (Hull), Dr Leona Skelton (Northumbria) and Dr Jane Rowling (Hull). We are exploring how Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) have shaped the land and flood-scapes of England since the eighteenth century, and the extent to which they have fostered community resilience. The project is policy-oriented, and we are working with a number of stakeholders, including the Environment Agency and the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA). The full project title is 'Local Governance and Community Resilience: How Internal Drainage Boards and Communities Managed Flooding in England'.

Environment and emotion

Together with colleagues at the University of Manchester Embodied Emotions Research Group, I am researching the intersections of environment and emotion in the early modern period. Our group hosted a two-day workshop, 'Environment, Emotion and Early Modernity' in 2018, and together with Prof. Sasha Handley (Manchester), I am co-editing a special issue of Environment and History featuring some of the papers. My contribution explores the emotional contexts of human-pigeon relationships during the decline and eventual extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.

PhD and MPhil supervision

I am interested in supervising students working on any area of early modern environmental history and early modern historical geography broadly defined. Previous theses I have co-supervised to completion include:

  • Adams, Owen, 'The Skimmington Riots in the Forest of Dean, 1631-32: a contextual case study' (University of Bristol, MPhil thesis, 2021). 
  • Chamberlin, Hanna Steyne, 'A Runs Through It: A multidisciplinary investigation of the impacts of the Thames Embankment construction at Chelsea, 1850-1891' (University of Manchester, PhD thesis, 2022).
  • Hickey, Roy, 'Radical religion and the background to the development of the Quaker movement in the area of Pendle, the Ribble Valley, Craven, Westmorland and the Yorkshire Dales c1570 to 1652' (University of Manchester, PhD thesis, 2020).
  • Merrill-Glover, Aneurin (Nye), 'Mosslands in Early Modern Lancashire: Carbon, Community, 
    and Conservation (1650-1850) (University of Manchester, PhD thesis, 2023).

I currently supervise:

  • Adams, Owen, 'Forging associations with Forest Iron (1560-1680)' (University of Bristol, PhD).

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Centre for Environmental Humanities
  • Cabot Institute Water Research


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