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Undertaking research for this book enabled me to combine my interest in early modern religious, social, and women’s history and to benefit from the experience and expertise of some of the leading figures in those fields. I am most directly indebted to Peter Marshall for his willingness to believe that some Elizabethan clergy wives were indeed retrievable, for his advice on locating them, and for his guidance in telling their stories; his erudition, patience, and encouragement have proved invaluable. I am also particularly grateful to Steve Hindle for his suggestion that clergy wives between 1560 and 1700 were a suitable subject for an MA dissertation and for his continued support and involvement during his time at Warwick. While pursuing the background reading for that dissertation, I first became aware that the wives of the Elizabethan parish clergy were the source of much speculation but unknown as individuals. Both Eric Carlson and Michelle Wolfe were kind enough to discuss ideas, suggest possible lines of enquiry, and make material available to me during the early stages of my doctoral research; I thank them for their generosity. I am also most grateful to Bernard Capp and Andrew Foster for offering such a wealth of insightful observations and suggestions on my initial version of the text. Any errors are, of course, entirely of my own making.

During the ‘York’s Archbishops’ Registers Revealed’ project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, I was particularly fortunate to attend the Summer Institute held at the University of York. This proved as enlightening and rewarding as it was enjoyable, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of Gary Brannan, the tutors, and staff at the Borthwick Institute for Archives. In visiting archives and record offices across various dioceses and counties, the many individuals who have offered me their assistance are too numerous to mention by name. I therefore extend a general thank you to the staff at the Hampshire Record Office; Lincolnshire Archives; London Metropolitan Archives; Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland Record Office; the Manuscripts and Special Collections, University of Nottingham; Nottinghamshire Archives; Norfolk Record Office; Northamptonshire Record Office; the Oxford History Centre; the National Archives; Somerset Heritage Centre; Dr Williams’s Library and Worcestershire Record Office (now the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service). I am appreciative of the patience and knowledge shown by all those who have responded to my countless enquiries and requests.

My family has demonstrated considerable forbearance in sharing their lives with so many early modern ministers’ wives and in allowing me to talk about them at length. My daughters, Claire and Helen, have offered constant encouragement and I have much appreciated Claire’s professional guidance and expertise. Although my husband Ken may well have regretted persuading me to return to academic study, I am so glad that he did. Throughout, he has been willing to plan excursions to incorporate archival visits and has shown unremitting acceptance of the considerable time spent in research and writing.