Ph.D. Candidate in History, Boston College
M.A. in History, Central Michigan University, 2010
B.A. with Honours in History, University of Strathclyde, 2009
In 2016-17, I will be completing my doctoral dissertation in History thanks to a Dissertation Fellowship generously awarded by the Morrissey Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Boston College. My research investigates the British Empire’s legal and political consolidation in the early modern world, and in particular how the commercial, national, and religious identities of its subjects shaped this process.
My dissertation-in-progress, entitled Covenants and Commerce: Scottish Networks and the Making of the British Atlantic World, explores the Empire’s transformation from a diffuse, polyglot collection of subject realms in the mid-seventeenth century into a bureaucratic, centralized, imperial state by the mid-eighteenth through the experiences of Scottish Presbyterians within it. In the decades before the Treaty of Union of 1707 that created the United Kingdom, Scots were considered legal and political outsiders within England’s overseas empire. Nevertheless, they lived and worked inside it in considerable numbers and claimed they had every right to do so on account of their status as white, Protestant, English-speaking subjects of the Stuart monarchy. My project traces their initial exclusion under King Charles II in 1661 and their subsequent efforts to remain included, in spite of laws like the Navigation Acts, throughout the later seventeenth century. They leveraged commercial and religious relationships with Englishmen who were not inclined to show absolute fealty to their sovereign, as well as connections to the Crown’s Dutch and French rivals, to become wealthy merchants and influential ministers in the Atlantic World.
I conclude in Covenants and Commerce that Scottish efforts to evade and undermine English laws, whether successfully or not, exposed legal and political fault-lines in the nascent British Empire that motivated the Restoration monarchy - and after the Glorious Revolution, the English Parliament under William and Mary – to seek greater central control over their colonies and joint-stock companies worldwide. The Scots were, ironically, crucial to the success of this English imperial endeavor, first as scapegoats to blame for undermining the Empire’s security against its French rivals during the 1690s. When this approach proved so successful in pushing the Scots out that they instead actively challenged English colonial interests through their settlement on the Darien isthmus in 1698, the English government then pivoted to absorbing the Scots into its colonial empire in an effort to deploy them at the forefront of its efforts to grow the worldwide and now fully British Empire in the eighteenth century at the expense of France.
I have taught classes in both Atlantic and World History, with particular emphases on economic, immigration, imperial, and religious history in the early modern era. In 2015-2016, I received the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award from the Center for Teaching Excellence at Boston College in recognition of my graduate teaching. My dissertation research has been funded by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the North American Conference on British Studies, the Strathmartine Trust, and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and I have been invited to speak on my dissertation-in-progress at the Massachusetts Historical Society and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. I am a contributing editor to the Colonial America digital manuscript series, published by Adam Matthew in 2015.