Thomas Denton’s Perambulation: two counties, three kingdoms, and four nations history?

Euan David McArthur*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article uses a late seventeenth-century county survey as a key to understand conceptions of county, national, and international identity. Previous historians of ‘Britain’ and its composite nations have insufficiently attended to the interaction between these elements. Thomas Denton’s Perambulation of Cumberland, with additions on Westmorland, the Isle of Man, and Ireland, contains a wealth of evidence as to how a Cumbrian, English, and British subject integrated these elements in this period. In addition to showing the assimilation of subjects within and across these boundaries, it equally reveals their differentiation and exclusion. Denton impugns English political and religious opponents, deals uneasily with Scottish and Manx otherness, and firmly scorns the Irish. National distinctions are, ultimately, less assured than negotiable. It is argued that intensive focus of this kind alerts us to exchanges of ideas and identities within an individual, rather than seeing identity groups as necessarily in opposed camps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-167
Number of pages23
JournalNorthern History
Issue number2
Early online date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • British history
  • Historiography
  • English history
  • Scottish history
  • Irish history
  • Restoration


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