Andrew Hopper

  • Tuesday 4 June 2019
  • 5.30pm-6.30pm
  • Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1

The Human Costs of the British Civil Wars

The British Civil Wars were a time of terrible conflict that brought enormous human costs. In England and Wales alone, a greater proportion of the population died than were killed in the two World Wars. For those who survived, tens of thousands suffered from horrific injuries whilst widows, children and other dependents faced daily struggles as a result of bereavement. Much historical attention has been paid to the causes and political consequences of these wars, but this lecture will rather highlight their impact upon its participants. It will examine how wounded soldiers and war widows negotiated with a variety of authorities in order to secure welfare provision and recognition of their suffering and losses.

The Civil Wars represent a landmark moment in the history of military welfare. Soon after their outbreak, on 24 October 1642, the Long Parliament acknowledged their duty of care not just to soldiers wounded in their service, but also to the widows and orphans of their war dead. A rate was collected in every county across England and Wales to provide money to those who petitioned for relief. Claimants could direct petitions detailing their wounds or bereavement to justices of the peace at quarter sessions’ courts. Many supported their cases with certificates from commanders or military surgeons. Tens of thousands of them became regular recipients of state pensions, payments to which they were entitled by parliamentary ordinance. Royalist soldiers and war widows were denied such care until the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, after which they came forward in vast numbers to displace their parliamentarian counterparts. A centralised pension scheme that included war widows would not be seen in Britain again for over two centuries. 

This inaugural lecture will showcase the activities and achievements of ‘Conflict, Welfare and Memory during and after the English Civil Wars’, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded collaborative project led by the University of Leicester to digitise these pension records on a free website The powerful testimonies in these petitions will enable us to illuminate: how ordinary men and women looked back on the Civil Wars, the sort of medical care that was available to the wounded, how claimants negotiated with the authorities for financial relief, and how well welfare systems coped under the enormous strain. It will conclude with what these Civil-War experiences might teach us about welfare provision to our armed services’ personnel and their families today.

Professor Andrew Hopper

andy hopper and wheelchair 400.jpg
Professor Andrew Hopper with the wheelchair of Sir Thomas Fairfax, the architect of the New Model Army and parliamentarian commander-in-chief during the English Civil Wars (1645-50), with thanks to Tom Fairfax and the National Civil War Centre, Newark Museum.

Andrew Hopper is Professor of English Local History in the Centre for English Local History at the University of Leicester. After obtaining his doctorate on the extent of support for Parliament in Civil-War Yorkshire at the University of York, he completed two postdoctoral research fellowships: ‘Virtual Norfolk’ at the University of East Anglia (2000-2003), and ‘The High Court of Chivalry 1634-40’ at the University of Birmingham (2003-2006). Andrew came to Leicester as a ‘New Blood’ Lecturer in 2006. He has served Leicester since as Admissions Tutor for History and Director of the Centre for English Local History. He has enjoyed an active role in curriculum development, delivering teaching of undergraduates and postgraduates within the School of History Politics and International Relations. He sits on the Executive Committee of the Victoria County History of Leicestershire and was Principal Investigator for its successful Heritage Lottery-funded Charnwood Roots Project (2013-2017).

Andrew is best known for his two monographs 'Black Tom': Sir Thomas Fairfax and the English Revolution (Manchester University Press, 2007) and Turncoats and Renegadoes: Changing Sides in the English Civil Wars (Oxford University Press, 2012). He is the author or editor of ten books, and the author of 14 articles in academic journals and 8 chapters in edited collections. He is currently working on his third monograph Widowhood and Bereavement in the English Civil Wars, under contract with Oxford University Press.

Andrew is currently the Principal Investigator of the ‘Conflict, Welfare and Memory during and after the English Civil Wars, 1642-1710’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2017-2021). He is also a patron of the Naseby Battlefield Project, and Academic Director of the National Civil War Centre, where he was co-curator of the ‘Battle-Scarred’ exhibition from 2016 to 2018.

Share this page:

Time and place

Please check the start time and location of any lecture you want to attend as these vary.

Campus maps


If you have any queries about any of these events, please contact