BA (York), PhD (London), FRHistS
Bill Sheils is a Professor Emeritus in History. Bill began his career with the Victoria County History before coming to York as an archivist at the Borthwick Institute in 1973. He worked as an archivist on the post-medieval collections there until 1988 when he transferred to the Department of Economics and Related Studies, teaching nineteenth- and twentieth-century social and economic history, until 1999 when he joined the History Department. Since then he has picked up where he began, teaching early modern religious and social history with an emphasis on Britain.
Bill was elected to serve as President of the Ecclesiastical History Society for the session 2008-9, and chose for his conference theme 'God's Bounty: The Churches and the Natural World', proceedings of which were published in 2010 as volume 46 in the series Studies in Church History.
Bill has recently been the recipient of a festschrift volume from former students and colleagues, entitled Getting Along? Religious Identities and Confessional Relations in Early Modern England - Essays in Honour of Professor W. J. Sheils (St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Ashgate, 2012). The book was edited by Adam Morton and Nadine Lewycky.
Bill Sheils has a long standing interest in the social history of the English Reformation and of religion between 1500 and 1800. He has worked on both nonconformity and recusancy, particularly in the north of England where his interests in agrarian and landscape history also impinge on his work. Editorial work has always featured largely in his scholarly activity. He has been editor of Borthwick Papers 1974-2000, Studies in Church History 1981-1990, the Church of England Record Society 1990-1995, and as associate editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004, and he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History.
Religion and society in post Reformation Britain c.1500-1850, with special reference to nonconformist experience and to the impact of law on human relations.
Agrarian and landscape history since the 16th century, with particular reference to the impact on the environment of ownership and tenure and of population.
Urban spaces and their social and public uses, as part of the Atlas of Historic Towns project with York Archaeological Trust.
Current research interests include those mentioned above and work on the posthumous reputation of Sir Thomas More. Much of his own work and that of research students has involved extensive use of the archive resources at the Borthwick Institute for Archives and the holdings of York Minster Library. He would welcome research students with interests in any of the fields mentioned above.
He was recently awarded a Resource Enhancement
Scheme grant of £349,898 by the AHRC to run from October 2006 until March
2009 for a project on The Records of Central Government Taxation in
England and Wales: The Clerical Taxes, 1173-1664. His Co-applicant was Dr
Rosemary Hayes, a visiting fellow in the department, and there were two
research assistants, Dr Maureen Jurkowski and Ms Helen Watt,
based at The National Archives. The database for the project can be accessed at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/e179.
An international conference took place in London during March
2009. This project will be completed by a current Leverhulme award of £101,690 to cover the dioceses of the Northern Province.