Dr Jonathan Healey

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Jonathan Healey is a social historian and an early modernist, specialising in English history under the Tudors and Stuarts. He was an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, studied for a Master's at the University of Reading, before returning to Magdalen to study for a DPhil. Before coming to OUDCE in 2012 he held posts at the Universities of Hertfordshire and Cambridge, and St Hilda's and St Catherine's College Oxford. 

His first book, The First Century of Welfare: Poverty and Poor Relief in Lancashire, c. 1620-1730 came out in 2014. It looks at the lives of the seventeenth century poor through the words of their petitions for relief, giving an unusually vivid picture of life in the formative period of the 'Old Poor Law', the first national system of poor relief anywhere in the world. In addition to his work on poverty, Jonathan has published articles on the history of famine, on eighteenth century epidemics, and on the history of farming in the Lake District. 

Jonathan's current research project involves trying to understand the nature of the English state, as it was experienced in local communities in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This work, based on a close reading of legal documentation from the period, also draws inspiration from modern anthropological work on what we have come to call the state. After this, he hopes to work on his next big project, a history of English engagement in south-east Asia in the seventeenth century. 

He is very keen to share the best historical research with the wider public. In 2012 he was picked as one of BBC Radio 3's 'New Generation Thinkers', and he has made frequent contributions to Radio 3's Free Thinking show since. He writes a historical blog, 'The Social Historian', which combines research, ideas, satire, and Tudor insults. He spends far too much of his time on Twitter.