CORDIS - EU research results

Meredith Hanmer

Final Report Summary - MEREDITH HANMER (Meredith Hanmer)

The project investigated the life and career of Meredith Hanmer (c.1545 – 1604), an Anglican divine of Welsh descent whose fascinating track record as a translator, polemicist, converter of Turks and historian still awaits targeted attention. Hanmer is apparently a lesser figure of Elizabethan England, yet the archives suggest a fascinating track-record, and an intellectual profile engaged with fundamental aspects of early modern culture. Hanmer's eventful career in England and Ireland bridged national and cultural divides against the backdrop of war, religious reform, experiment, and debate. Hanmer witnessed the arrival of the first Jesuit mission in England; he campaigned as an army preacher with the most acclaimed soldiers of his day; was a chaplain to the elites, and exchanged papers with illustrious ministers, antiquaries and intellectuals. Through archival research, historical enquiry and textual analysis the project aims to fill a research vacuum by reconstructing the details of Hanmer's life, connections and his place in post-Reformation England and Ireland, towards the production of an accurate and historically timely biography.
In line with the project objectives, the research charted English and Irish archives for the collection, assessment and classification of documentary evidence and personal papers. The materials consulted included State Papers, records of the Exchequer, parish records, Act books, muniment books and ecclesiastical records, legal and administrative papers, wills, testamentary records personal notes and letters. Archives preserving materials produced by or connected to Hanmer have been located in London, Oxford, Shropshire, Kent, and Dublin. The material retrieved is rich in cultural, political and social implications that have required a multidisciplinary approach and fostered connections across the fields of archival research, administrative history, Church history, palaeography and literature.
The research project charted archives in England and Ireland to retrieve, collect and assess information on Hanmer’s origins, education and preferment. The financial contribution made it possible to travel to several archives and follow Hanmer’s itineraries from native North Shropshire to Oxford, London, Dublin and Southern Ireland to Cork and Youghal. A re-examination of the early sources of Hanmer’s life has suggested that his date of birth ought to be reconsidered. New evidence has been found of a complex network of political and intellectual connections. Research has brought to light contradictory accounts of Hanmer's appointments. The study of records in the archives has made it possible to situate Hanmer's career in patterns of career building in the Elizabethan Church in the 1570s and 1580s. The research was published in international peer reviewed journals and disseminated at conferences and research seminars.
Through archival research, historical enquiry and textual analysis the project aims to fill a research vacuum by producing an accurate and historically timely biography. For a minor figure Hanmer was strangely everywhere, and his apparent marginality is in fact what makes him such an interesting gateway into the Elizabethan world. Although Hanmer has been treated in a piecemeal manner, his name dots histories of the book, of literature, of the church and religion. His appearance in the Dictionary of National Biography and in the Dictionary of Irish Biography foregrounds his relevance across national boundaries. His published works were all engaged with key aspects of the Reformation and examination of Hanmer's religious outlook will lead to a fuller understanding of spirituality, religion and confessionalisation in post-Reformation England and Ireland.

The project at the Centre of Early Modern and Medieval Studies, University of Sussex:

The project at the Society for Renaissance Studies website: