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Dr Brodie Waddell

BA and MA (Victoria), PhD (Warwick)
Lecturer in Early Modern History

Contact Details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 3.10
28 Russell Square



  • I joined the department in 2012, after completing post-doctoral fellowships at York and Cambridge. My research focuses on English history from c.1550 to c.1750, especially social and economic life. I teach, supervise and research with my colleagues in early modern history at Birkbeck and beyond.

Research and teaching

  • Introduction
  • How did how ordinary people respond to the challenges they faced in an era of rapid social, political and economic change? This is the question at the heart of my research agenda, but the approaches that I have adopted to answer it have included a wide variety of different methods and have ranged across several centuries of English history.

    My current research focuses on the pratice of petitioning, one of the most common ways for people without official political power to push the authorities to act. This project is funded by grants from the AHRC and the Economic History Society, which has enabled me to draw on thousands of surviving petitions to local and central government from c.1570 to c.1800. It shows how these written requests and complaints became a crucial mode of communication between the ‘rulers’ and the ‘ruled’. People at all levels of society – from noblemen to paupers – used petitions to make their voices heard.

    In my other research, I have explored many more facets of early modern history, as outlined below. Although some of this work is still on-going, many of the results can be found in the articles, chapter and book listed under my publications.

  • Research interests
  • My research interests span a variety of aspects of England, c.1550-1750, including:

    • petitions and supplications
    • writing practices among middling and labouring people
    • the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688
    • charity, welfare and the poor law
    • religious attitudes to economic issues
    • craft guilds and local government
    • land management and common resources
    • protest, riot and rebellion
    • ballads, pamphlets and other printed ‘popular culture’

    Research project

    I am the Principal Investigator on 'The Power of Petitioning in Seventeenth-Century England' (2019-20), with Jason Peacey of UCL (Co-I) and Sharon Howard of Birkbeck (Postdoctoral Research Associate). This project is funded by an AHRC Research Grant, AH/S0001654/1.


  • My main teaching includes:

    MA and PhD supervision

    I am happy to supervise research on most aspects of British history, c.1500-1800, especially the social, economic and cultural history of early modern England. I have supervised MA dissertations on English workhouses and pauper apprenticeship, 1598-1723; female artists in 17th-century London; regulating the marketplaces of London and Exeter, c.1600-1650; the role of customs officers in 18th-century England; and many others.

    I currently supervise three doctoral students:


Professional membership

    • Royal Historical Society
    • Economic History Society
    • Social History Society
    • History & Policy Network
    • Warwick Network for Parish Research
    • Victoria County History Project

Current activities