Skip to main content

Fire under the Ashes

An Atlantic History of the English Revolution

In Fire under the Ashes, John Donoghue recovers the lasting significance of the radical ideas of the English Revolution, exploring their wider Atlantic history through a case study of Coleman Street Ward, London. Located in the crowded center of seventeenth-century London, Coleman Street Ward was a hotbed of political, social, and religious unrest. There among diverse and contentious groups of puritans a tumultuous republican underground evolved as the political means to a more perfect Protestant Reformation. But while Coleman Street has long been recognized as a crucial location of the English Revolution, its importance to events across the Atlantic has yet to be explored.

Prominent merchant revolutionaries from Coleman Street led England’s imperial expansion by investing deeply in the slave trade and projects of colonial conquest. Opposing them were other Coleman Street puritans, who having crossed and re-crossed the ocean as colonists and revolutionaries, circulated new ideas about the liberty of body and soul that they defined against England’s emergent, political economy of empire. These transatlantic radicals promoted social justice as the cornerstone of a republican liberty opposed to both political tyranny and economic slavery—and their efforts, Donoghue argues, provided the ideological foundations for the abolitionist movement that swept the Atlantic more than a century later.

392 pages | 9 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2013

History: American History

Religion: Christianity


“Donoghue’s excellent book is transatlantic history at its best: The author gives a gripping account of the political, economic, social, and religious dimensions of the English Revolution in virtually all parts of the English Atlantic world. . . . With its gripping way of storytelling, impressive body of annotations, and truly transatlantic scope, Fire under the Ashes is a fascinating read for anyone interested in Puritanism, the English Revolution, or colonial America.”

European Journal of American Studies

“Donoghue has mastered an impressive range of sources and writes with verve and passion. Perhaps his greatest contribution is not in explaining the origins or course of the English Revolution but in confronting readers with the injustice upon which the Atlantic world rested.”

Journal of American History

“Compelling. . . . Donoghue presents an empirically-rich work of passion and insight into the paradoxes of the English Revolution and its legacies.”

Canadian Journal of History

"John Donoghue is a gifted writer with an impressive ability to re-create the poignancy and drama of the Atlantic world of the seventeenth century. Essential reading for historians of England and the Atlantic world, Fire under the Ashes integrates religious, political, and labor history in a pathbreaking reinterpretation of the revolutionary Atlantic."

Alison Games | author of The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion, 1560-1660

“In Fire under the Ashes, John Donoghue demonstrates the Atlantic dimensions of the English Revolution and the complex intersections of religious and political thought that grew out of Atlantic involvements.  Fire under the Ashes transforms our understanding of how political transformation came to England and the meaning of these events for participants.”

Karen Ordahl Kupperman, author of The Atlantic in World History

In Fire under the Ashes, John Donoghue leads his readers from the radical puritan communities of London’s Coleman Street Ward to the New England colonies and back again to paint a portrait of an English world reimagining itself. Donoghue’s bold, important reinterpretation of the Atlantic of the early 1600s offers precise evidence and far-reaching implications for how the movement of people, ideas, and goods shaped the religious, political, and imperial thoughts of a world in flux.”

Matthew Taylor Raffety, author of The Republic Afloat: Law, Honor, and Citizenship in Maritime America

“Donogue’s engaging monograph explores the connections between Coleman Street Ward in London and the revolutionary English Atlantic. Donogue gives a voice to a number of members within this group and presents a superb demonstration of how local and global forces interacted. . . . this book does offer an interesting and visceral account of a radical Atlantic world.”

Europe & the Wider World

Table of Contents

Part I
1          Reformation Work
2          Colonization and Its Discontents: The English Atlantic before the English Revolution
3          “To Engage You All to Rise Up in Your Might”: The Outbreak of the English Revolution
4          “Monsters,” “Savages,” and “Turbulent Carriages”: The Revolutionary Atlantic in Motion
Part II
5          “An Arrow against All Tyrants”: Popular Republicanism and the English Revolution
6          “That Crimson Stream of Blood”: The Imperial Turn of the English Revolution
7          “The Axe Is Laid to the Root”: Freedom against Slavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press