Levy, Jacqueline Susan (1983)
Perceptions and beliefs: The Harleys of Brampton Bryan and the origins and outbreak of the first civil war.
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The Harleys were the only major Herefordshire gentry family to give their committed support to Parliament in 1642. The personal papers of both Sir Robert Harley and his wife, Lady Brilliana, allow a detailed study of the modes of thought which led the Harleys to oppose the King. The Harleys were guided primarily by their religious beliefs. They were puritans, who hoped that the Long Parliament would undertake sweeping Church reforms, and they perceived the war as a struggle by the godly for true religion.
The Harleys' stand in the 1640s was directly linked to their anti-pathy towards Arminianism. Sir Robert's fear that the Arminians would subvert the State and Church to Catholicism is evident in his speeches in the 1628 Parliament. By 1641 the Harleys believed that only the abolition of episcopacy could rid the Church of Arminian and Catholic influences.
Before 1640 the Harleys' puritanism had not entailed overt political opposition to the Crown, as is illustrated by Sir Robert's parliamentary career in the 1620s and by his achievement of court office in 1626. The Harleys were also accepted within the official and social networks of the Herefordshire gentry community". Thus in 1640 Sir Robert was returned as senior knight of the shire to both the Short and the Long Parliaments.
After 1640 the Harleys became increasingly isolated from the most influential Herefordshire gentry, many of whom would be either committed Royalists or moderates in 1642. The Harley papers illustrate how differing long-term perceptions and beliefs combined with immediate issues to split the county "gentry community" in 1642. Although the Harleys were genuinely concerned by county interests, their puritanism involved them in an alternative set of loyalties, which were stronger than their loyalties either to the local "gentry community" or to the county community.
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Institution: University of London, Bedford College (United Kingdom).