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Why did people go to war in 1642?

Case study 1: 1637-39 – Source 7

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Report to Archbishop Laud from informers, 31 May 1639

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/422/113)

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SP16/422/113; report for Archbishop Laud, 1639

What is this source?

This is a report to William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, from some of his informers.


What's the background to this source?

Throughout the 1630s Charles I and William Laud tried to bring changes to the organisation of the church and to the way people worshipped in church. As a result, Laud made many enemies.


It's worth knowing that...

Laud and Charles tried to increase the power of the church in England and Scotland. They also wanted everyone to worship in the same way. Both of these things alarmed many Protestants, particularly the hard-line Protestants known as Puritans. On the other hand, many approved of Laud’s policies. They just disliked the way he clamped down on free speech and treated his critics badly.


Your turn: What can we learn from this source?

  1. What did James Machison think of Archbishop Laud?
  2. Is it possible to say whether many people felt the same way?
  3. How do you think Machison would have felt if he had seen this report?
  4. What does this source tell us about the attitude of the government towards the people at the time?
  5. Does this source give us any clues about why the kingdom went to war in 1642?