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Dr Polly Ha

The Trinity Long Room Hub was delighted to welcome back Dr Polly Ha for the second term of her Visiting Research Fellowship.

Dr McConnel is a Transnational Access Fellow whose fellowship was funded by the CENDARI project (Collaborative European Digital Archive Infrastructure). CENDARI is a 4-year, European Commission-funded project led by Trinity College Dublin, in partnership with 13 institutions across 7 countries, to facilitate access to archives and resources related to medieval and modern European history for the benefit of researchers everywhere.


Polly Ha is currently a Lecturer in Early Modern British History at the University of East Anglia.  She studied history at Yale University and the University of Cambridge and is the author of English Presbyterianism, 1590-1640 (Stanford University Press) and co-editor with Patrick Collinson of The Reception of European Reformation in Britain (Oxford University Press). 


During her fellowship, Dr Ha was working on a critical edition of manuscripts on Pre-Revolutionary Puritanism for Oxford University Press on religious independence and on Puritan plots in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Puritans were zealous Protestant activists who emerged as some of the most radical thinkers in post Reformation England.  From their first appearance, Puritans were suspected of political sedition. This suspicion was later confirmed to some minds by those Puritans who opposed the crown during the English civil wars. The official suppression of leading Puritans from the 1590s was followed by nearly a half century of silence until their public resurgence in the mid-seventeenth century.

As part of her Trinity Long Room Hub Fellowship, Dr Ha is explored hitherto unrecognized and unpublished manuscripts in the Trinity College Library which are revealing an entirely new trajectory for the development of Puritanism.  The manuscripts themselves represent the 'hidden' archive of Walter Travers, the second Provost of Trinity College Dublin and a leading Elizabethan Puritan ideologue.  Some of these manuscripts are actually written in cipher and reveal Travers’s covert operations and connections to the heart of the English government.  They also provide a point of access to underground debates among Puritans following their suppression by the English crown.  This provides new insight into the transformation of Puritan identity well before the revolutionary circumstances of the seventeenth century.  For these clandestine debates reveal the birth of radical claims to religious independence several decades before the concept was supposed to have existed. Religious independence had a crucial impact in the early modern period with implications well beyond the seventeenth century.

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