Margaret McGlynn

- Professor
- Vice Provost, Academic Planning, Policy and Faculty 

image of Margaret McGlynn
PhD, University of Toronto, 1998
Office: Lawson Hall 1206
Office Hours: On leave July 2024 - June 2025

Research Interests

Professor McGlynn's current research interests all deal with the relationship between the Church and the law in late medieval and early Tudor England.

Teaching Philosophy

The greatest value in history as a discipline is that it requires us to analyze our source materials rigorously, while engaging empathetically with our subjects, and communicating our arguments with clarity and, hopefully, grace. We certainly don’t have to agree with the viewpoints or actions of our subjects, but we do have to understand them, in their terms as well as ours, and we have to be able to explain them to others. To be able to fulfil those objectives is no mean feat, and provides a tremendous training for many academic and non-academic fields, as well as a good basis for a broad engagement with the increasingly small world in which we live.

Major Research Project

The Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Lives of the ex-Religious. 

Between 1536 and 1540 every monastery in England was dissolved (for a mixture of religious, political and economic motives which are still disputed and too complicated to go into here). The occupants of the monasteries were thus forced to leave the institutions in which they had expected to spend the rest of their lives, and construct new futures for themselves. Many (though not all) had pensions from the Crown, which were a form of compensation for their stake in the dissolved house. The pensions varied according to the wealth of the house and the status of the individual within the house. Some pensions were quite generous, while others were meagre.

The process of building a new life was complicated by a number of factors. There was probably some emotional and psychological turmoil from the dissolution itself - monasticism had been part of the English landscape for a millenium, and the process was fairly quick and seems to have been quite unexpected – though this leaves little trace in the records. The legal status of the ex-religious was ambiguous; many of the monks did not go through the formal procedure of getting capacities which would allow them to function as secular priests. This, of course, was not an option for the nuns, or for those monks who had not been ordained. Their rights to hold property were unclear, and their rights to marry changed over the period. Furthermore, it is not at all clear how the secular world received them, from parents or siblings who had thought that they were well-provided for, to neighbours who might see them as the vestiges of an abhorrent system, the victims of a political scheme or simply men and women of religion who were awkwardly ambiguous in the secular world.

My study begins with the financial records of the ex-religious of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. I chose these counties mainly because of their Augmentations receiver, George Wright. In the 1540s he was responsible for the payment of the ex-religious pensions and he kept unusually detailed notes which allow us to begin the process of following the ex-religious into their new lives. I am also, however, looking at a variety of other sources, including, but not limited to, bishops’ registers, wills, visitation records, surrenders and augmentations records.

Select Publications


  • The King's Felons: Church, State and Criminal Confinement in Early Tudor England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023.
  • The Rights and Liberties of the English Church: Readings from the pre-Reformation Inns of Court. London: Selden Society, 2016.
  • K.R. Bartlett & Margaret McGlynn ed. The Renaissance and Reformation in Northern Europe.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.
  • The Royal Prerogative and the Learning of the Inns of Court. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Refereed Journal Publications

  • “From Written Record to Bureaucratic Mind: Imagining a Criminal Record.”  Past and Present 250 (2021): 55-86.  
  • “Ecclesiastical Prisons and Royal Authority in the Reign of Henry VII.”  Journal of Ecclesiastical History 70.4 (2019): 750-66.
  • "Memory, Orality and Life Records: Proofs of Age in Tudor England.” In Sixteenth Century Journal 40 (2009): 679-97.
  • "Of good name and fame in the countrey’: Standards of conduct for Henry VII’s financial officials.” In Historical Research 82 (2009): 547-59.
  • "The Payment of Pensions to the ex-Religious of Tudor Bedfordshire." In Midland History (2007): 41-67.
  • “Idiots, Lunatics and the Royal Prerogative in Early Tudor England.” In Journal of Legal History 26 (2005): 1-20

Chapters in Books

  • “From Magna Carta to the Abridgements: The Naturalization of Benefit of Clergy.”  Challenges to Authority and the Recognition of Rights: From Magna Carta to Modernity ed. Catharine MacMillan and Charlotte Smith, 37-54.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  • “Idiosyncratic Books and Common Learning: Readings on Statutes at the Inns of Court.” The Oxford Handbook to English Law and Literature, 1500–1625 ed. Lorna Hutson, 41-60. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. [volume won the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference Bainton Reference Prize for 2017]
  • “From Charter to Common Law: The Rights and Liberties of the pre-Reformation Church.” Religion, Magna Carta and the Rule of Law ed. Robin Griffith-Jones and Mark Hill QC, 53-69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Professional Service

Selden Society

  • I am the Canadian Secretary for the Selden Society, the only learned society and publisher devoted entirely to English legal history. To learn more about the Society, please visit I am happy to answer questions and enquiries from current and potential Canadian members.

Conferences Organized

  • “Law and Governance in pre-Modern Britain.” UWO, October 23-24 2015.
  • “Law and Governance in pre-Modern Britain.” UWO, October 14-15 2011.
    This conference is held at Western every second year, with an alternating focus on the medieval/early modern period and on the 18th-20th centuries. For more information on past conferences see