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Atlantic, early America, Caribbean, Jamaica, empire, religion, revolution, Quakers, naval history, Military history, conquest, pirates, maroons.
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About Me

I am a historian of early America and the English Atlantic world. I focus on the seventeenth century, primarily, but have worked earlier and later as well (1580-183). My most recent book, The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire (2017), centers on the mid-17th century conquest of what was once a Spanish island (owned by the descendants of Christopher Columbus). My research for that project has led me to treat much of the scholarship on Caribbean piracy with some skepticism, since I find that scholars tend to throw every raider into the pirate category without much thought.

Taken as a whole, much of my work considers questions of religion and empire.  I have an abiding interest in the early Quakers; they were not only the subject of my first research project but they are also a topic I return to regularly.  I teach about witchcraft (and am currently thinking about fictional representations of Salem and other witches).

For a few years, I brought my expertise in early America to a wider public by blogging for the Huffington Post. My pieces usually tried to illuminate current events and debates by explaining historical precedent. I am regularly struck by the way that our public discussion of history bears little relationship to the past, but is instead based on misconceptions if not outright political calculations. I consider one aspect of my responsibility as a historian to be correcting those errors.

Recent Publications

“Why Atlantic Piracy?” in The Golden Age of Piracy: The Rise, Fall, and Enduring Popularity of Pirates, edited by David Head (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018)

The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017.

“State Formation from the Vantage of Early English Jamaica: The Neglect of Edward Doyley,” Journal of British Studies 56 (July 2017): 1-23.

“The Jamaica Maroons and the Dangers of Categorical Thinking,” Common-Place 17:4 (Summer 2017):

Interview with Daniel Livesay, for New Books in Caribbean Studies podcast, 11 August 2017

Author Q&A (accompanying review of English Conquest of Jamaica), the Junto: A Blog of early American History (8 August 2017)

“Imperial Designs,” History Today 67:6 (June 2017): 8-11.

Editor and co-author, Forum, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change, and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker, Journal of World History 26:1 (2016): 141-80.

“George Whitefield and Empire,” in George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy, edited by Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones, 82-97. Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Rats and Robbery in 17th century Jamaica” blog for Huntington Verso:

The Early English Caribbean, with co-editor Sharon V. Salinger, 4 volumes. London: Pickering & Chatto Publishers, 2015.

“The Conventionality of the Notorious John Perrot,” in Early Quakers and their Theological Thinking, 1647-1723, edited by Stephen W. Angell and Pink Dandelion, 173-89. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

“Early English Jamaica without pirates,” William and Mary Quarterly 3d series, 71 (2014): 321-60.

 “Cruelty and Religious Justifications for Conquest in the mid-Seventeenth-Century English Atlantic,” in Empires of God: Religious Encounters in the Early Modern Atlantic World, edited by Linda Gregerson and Susan Juster, 37-57, 265-70. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009; paperback edition, 2011.


Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Atlantic, Caribbean, North America
Expertise by Chronology
Pre-17th century, 17th century, 18th century
Expertise by Topic
American Founding Era, Colonialism, Military, Rebellion & Revolution, Religion