This study, first published in 1989, examines the social relationships and moral standards within the diocese of Chester throughout the seventeenth century. Using Church Court records as his main body of evidence, John Addy examines over 10 000 cases of moral offences, including fornication, brawling in church, drunkenness, adultery and concubinage, to form a picture of the moral conduct of the Stuart laity and clergy. One of the main methods by which the Church attempted to enforce strict moral standards, the records arising from the ecclesiastical courts reveal that those codes of conduct once applied to a medieval Catholic society were increasingly being shunned by a society with expanding capitalist attitudes. An important contribution to the historiography of early modern English society, this title will be of great value to undergraduate and postgraduate students with an interest in seventeenth-century attitudes towards morality and conduct.

part |2 pages

Part 1: The Diocese

chapter 1|4 pages

The Structure of the Diocese

chapter 2|6 pages

The Administration of the Diocese

part |2 pages

Part 2: Sin and the Clergy and Parish Officers

chapter 3|5 pages


chapter 4|26 pages

Sin and the Clergy

chapter 5|36 pages

Sin and the Churchwardens

chapter 6|19 pages

Sin and the School Masters and Readers

part |2 pages

Part 3: Sin and the Laity

chapter 7|10 pages


chapter 8|14 pages

Defamation and Sexual Slander

chapter 9|32 pages

Fornication, Adultery, and Bastardy

part |2 pages

Part 4: Matrimonial Problems

chapter 10|8 pages

Child Marriages

chapter 11|9 pages

Matrimonial Contracts and Disputes

chapter 12|19 pages

Clandestine Marriages and Divorce

part |2 pages

Part 5: Society and the Church Courts

chapter 13|12 pages

The Attitudes of Society

chapter 14|5 pages

The Decline of the Courts