I was born in Cardiff and educated in South Wales. My first experience of Oxford was as an undergraduate at Lincoln College, reading for a B. A. in Modern History. I then transferred to Brasenose College to take an M. Phil. and D. Phil. in early modern history, completing the latter in 1991. London then beckoned and I spent four years at the History of Parliament Trust, followed by three years at the Centre of Metropolitan History, a department within the University of London. In 1998 I returned to Lincoln, and live near Oxford with my wife Christina, daughter Ella and son Sam.
At undergraduate level, I teach a wide range of courses, broadly within the period 1500-1800. I principally concentrate on political and social history, although I do cover economic and cultural topics as well. At Lincoln I currently teach our first-year undergraduates for Historiography (Gibbon), British History 1685-1830, and the Haiti and Louisiana paper. For second and third years I also teach Disciplines of History; European History 1680-1848, and a number of specialist options, including the further subjects on eighteenth-century London, and on the Age of Jefferson. For several of these courses I give lectures or supervise classes at a university-wide level.
My research interests broadly rest with the political and social development of the English state from 1650 to 1750. Having studied the English civil war as an undergraduate, I was interested to see how the state managed to overcome the bitter factionalism of the 1640s and 1650s, at both a national and local level. My doctoral thesis concentrated on a leading provincial town, and allowed me to explore the relationship between politics at the centre and at the periphery. My work suggested that "national" historians have perhaps underestimated the impact which local and regional circumstances could have on political developments in this period, and that the very notion of "politics" needs to be expanded to encompass the significance of social and economic factors in determining allegance. In order to probe these issues further I undertook a study of the English merchant from 1660-1720, so that I could measure the responsiveness of the English state to contemporary commercial and political change. I then pursued these themes by focusing on the City of London and have since widened my interests to incorporate Britain's imperial experience. Historians, led by Lincoln's Paul Langford, have viewed Georgian Britain as a "polite and commercial people", and I hope that my research will help us understand how that came about.
Politics and Society in Great Yarmouth 1660-1722 (Oxford University Press, 1996)
The Politics of Trade: The Overseas Merchant in State and Society (Oxford University Press, 2001)
Emporium of the World: The Merchants of London (Hambledon Continuum, 2007)
William Beckford: First Prime Minister of the London Empire (2013)
Work in Progress
The social and cultural worlds of the London private banker, 1660-1820