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Dr Brodie Waddell

  • Overview



    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.


    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Director of Education (History, Classics and Archaeology)

    Professional activities

    Editor, Cultural and Social History

  • Research


    Research interests

    • 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 overview

    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 in my research interests list. While the specific topics range widely, my work has focused on England, c.1550-1750.

    Research Centres and Institutes

    • Steering Committee, Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

    Research projects

    The Power of Petitioning in Seventeenth-Century England.

    Poverty, Taxation and Regulation: Petitions to Local magistrates in Eighteenth-Century England.

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni since 2013-14



    Teaching modules

    • Crime, Poverty and Protest in England and Beyond, 1500-1800 (SSHC350S6)
    • Research Skills for Historians (SSHC386Z7)
    • Exploring the Past (SSHC407S5)
    • The Early Modern World, 1500-1800: Reformations and Revolutions (SSHC413S4)
    • To See the World in a Grain of Sand: Reading and Writing Microhistories (SSHC428S7)
  • Publications




    Book Section

    • Waddell, Brodie (2016) Economic life. In: Sangha, L. and Willis, J. (eds.) Understanding Early Modern Primary Sources. Routledge Guides to Using Historical Sources. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. pp. 224-239. ISBN 9781138823648.
    • Waddell, Brodie (2010) Neighbours and strangers: the locality in later Stuart economic culture. In: Williamson, F. (ed.) Locating Agency: Space, Power and Popular Politics. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 103-132. ISBN 9781443814485.
  • Business and community

    Business and community


    Academic leader, 'Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners', U3A Shared Learning Project, 2019-20