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date: 22 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The standard portrait of the justices of the peace of early modern England is that of gentry, landed provincials, conducting their counties’ local government and so personifying ‘self-government at the king’s command.’ This essay disputes that depiction. First, it argues that it was not until relatively late in the early modern era that local gentry determined the persona of the county bench. Second, it argues that it was not until the later seventeenth century that the early modern state sufficiently differentiated its functions so as to create ‘local government.’ In so doing, it created a sphere of government fit for provincial rulers.

Keywords: Justice of Peace, gentry, local government, county, quarter sessions

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