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Academic Staff

Dr Justin Colson

Staff positionLecturer
Telephone01206 872287
Academic support hoursSpring 2018: On leave

I studied history at Royal Holloway, University of London, where I completed my PhD in 2011. I subsequently held research positions at the Institute of Historical Research and at the University of Exeter. I held the Economic History Society Power Fellowship in 2011-12. I am currently reviews editor for the journal Urban History.

Current research

My research focuses upon the identities and networks of working people in England between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, spanning the traditional division between pre- and post-Reformation history. I make extensive use of digital history techniques, especially Geographic Information Systems and digital spatial analysis, and digital prosopography and Social Network Analysis, including the analysis of ‘big data’.

My PhD studied social relations and social networks within one neighbourhood of the City of London throughout the fifteenth century to highlight the overlapping and inseparable nature of local institutions such as parishes and guilds, and importance of informal social relationships such as neighbourliness. The thesis has formed the basis for a monograph, Neighbourhood, Commerce and Sociability in Late Medieval London, which places the story of the neighbourhood in a much wider context using a ‘big data’ analysis of London’s late medieval occupational landscape, while also framing it around the life of the chronicler and haberdasher, Richard Arnold, to weave together the international, national, local and personal. I am also working to produce a new annotated edition of Arnold’s unique chronicle and merchant manual, which was printed in 1502 and contains the first published English translation of Magna Carta, amongst innumerable other pieces of information ‘useful for Londoners to know’.

In other work on occupational identity I have explored quantitative analyses of London’s occupational geography, and more recently conducted large scale analysis of indexes to testaments from 1400 to 1850 to examine the prevalence of will making, and to trace the growth of professions such as medicine in relation to the overall occupational landscape. Within the field of medical history I have also published papers on early attempts at medical regulation in fifteenth century London, and apprenticeship within Barber-Surgeons’ Guilds throughout early modern Britain.

Research interests
  • The social practices of trade and occupational identity in late medieval and early modern England and North-western Europe
  • Diet, health, and the role of professional medicine in early modern communities
  • The history of mapping and cartography, travel and transport
  • The use of digital research methods within early modern history


Journal Papers & Chapters in Books


  • Review Essay: Online Databases for Late Medieval and Early Modern Social and Economic History: England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 and Overland Trade Project, People, Places and Commodities 1430-1540, Reviews in History 
  • Mark Brayshay, ‘Land Travel and Communications in Tudor and Stewart England: Achieving a Joined-up Realm’, Economic History Review, (October 2015)
  • Keith Lilley (ed.), ‘Mapping Medieval Geographies: Geographical Encounters in the Latin West and Beyond 300-1600’, Reviews in History (2015)  
  • David Grummitt, ‘A Short History of the Wars of the Roses’, The Ricardian, XXIV, (2014)
  • Christopher Dyer, ‘A Country Merchant, 1495-1520: Trading and Farming at the End of the Middle Ages’, Reviews in History, review 1339 (2012) 
  • Marie-Hélène Rousseau, ‘Saving the Souls of Medieval London: Perpetual Chantries at St Paul's Cathedral, c.1200-1548’, Urban History (vol. 39:3, 2012)
  • David Bowsher, Tony Dyson, Nick Holder, Isca Howell, ‘The London Guildhall: an Archaeological History of a Neighbourhood from Early Medieval to Modern Times’, Reviews in History, review 766, (2009)  
  • ‘London and the Kingdom: Essays in Honour of Caroline M. Barron’, ed. Matthew Davies and Andrew Prescott, The Ricardian, XIX (2009)

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