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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is primarily concerned with how devotional texts were used within lay (that is, non-clerical) households. As the household was frequently identified as ‘a little commonwealth’ such ‘private’ devotions had ‘political’ connotations, especially during a period in which officially sanctioned religious practices were continually shifting. This chapter focuses on how these changes impacted upon the devotions of three quite distinct seventeenth-century households: the controversial community established at Little Gidding by Nicholas Ferrar; the Presbyterian practice of Nehemiah Wallington’s household in Eastcheap; and, finally, the experience of Anne, Lady Halkett (née Murray) who solidly maintained her commitment to the Church of England whatever household she inhabited (whether in England or Scotland). While the differences between them are numerous, collectively these cases bear witness to the material ways in which early modern household devotions were a political minefield.

Keywords: public, private, family, household, politics, Book of Common Prayer, gender, devotion, reading

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