This work describes how the county of Rutland was governed in the unsettled times of the seventeenth century. At that time, many tasks of government were almost exclusively undertaken at a local level. Fortunately many Rutland Justices of the Peace papers and Lieutenancy archives survive from this period, enabling us to illustrate how Rutland’s ruling elite approached their responsibilities. These included managing criminal law and the poor, handling an outbreak of plague in Oakham in 1642, maintaining the county militia, impressing men for national service, ensuring that local markets operated freely, and organising taxation, both local and national.
Into this established local environment stepped the royal government of Charles I. His increased use of prerogative powers placed new demands, both civil and ecclesiastical, on the county authorities. His subsequent decision to dispense with Parliament removed the traditional route for counties to express grievance. The clash between these two sources of power, local and national, eventually broke out into civil war. Although the majority of Rutland’s major landholders supported the king, its parliamentary minority was able to control the county through outside military support. Examples of the war’s impact on Rutland include a belated rush to secure the county’s munitions stored at Oakham and an individual hurriedly burying a substantial hoard of coins at Ryhall. With the war came large demands for money, for goods to supply the garrisons at Burley and Rockingham, and for the billeting of soldiers, with each faction exacting penalties on their opponents.
Once the fighting was over, local bureaucracy slipped back into well-oiled routines – and was soon chasing up pre-war back taxes. Likewise, the restoration of the monarchy saw little change apart from royalists taking control, but with some members of the magistrates’ bench of the Interregnum transitioning into the new order. At the same time security concerns changed from suppression of royalists to that of religious dissent.
The county is fortunate that many hundreds of Rutland individuals are listed in the various taxation, military, voting, poor and other records which form the basis of Ian’s study. Their details are available online as a supplement to the book because they form an immensely valuable resource for local and family historians. This will be found at www.rutlandhistory.org/governanceofrutland.
130pp, 25 illustrations, 25 tables, appendixes, indexes. ISBN 978 0 907464 63 1
Supplied by: Rutland Local History & Record Society
Product Ref: RLH-63