PUBLICATION: Agent to the English Convents

Mannock Strickland (1683-1744): Agent to English Convents in Flanders. Letters and Accounts from Exile

Edited by Richard G. Williams

The publication of this volume is an important event in the historiography of post-Reformation English convents because it makes available, for the first time, an entirely unique collection of financial data on the practical functioning of communities of English nuns in the eighteenth century. Mannock Strickland was a rare example of a Catholic lawyer in eighteenth-century England, who acted at no charge as an agent for a number of convents, dealing in each case with the Procuratrix (the nun whose job it was to keep the community afloat financially). This volume contains documents relating to Strickland’s dealings with the Augustinian Canonesses of St Monica’s, Louvain, the Dominican nuns at Brussels (known as the ‘Spellikens’ or ‘Pin House’), and the Benedictine Dames of Brussels and Dunkirk. In all other cases, financial documents of religious houses were lost of destroyed at the French Revolution, but data relating to these houses was preserved by Strickland in England and later passed to Michael Blount of Mapledurham, Oxfordshire, an obsessive hoarder.

The documents are of three kinds: letters exchanged between Mannock Strickland and the Procuratrices, cash days books of the convents, and abstracts of bills of exchange. There is also an appendix detailing an unsuccessful attempt to revive the faltering financial fortunes of the English Carthusian monks at Nieuport organised by Strickland. This volume shows as never before the inner economic workings of the convents, revealing the precarious nature of the nuns’ hand-to-mouth existence, and its unique perspective will inform scholarship on English female monasticism for decades to come.

The volume will be distributed among all CRS members. To purchase copies as a non-member and for further information, see the Boydell & Brewer webpage.