Friends and Neighbours in Early Modern England: Biblical Translations and Social Norms

  • Naomi Tadmor


‘Neighbourhood’ was a key concept in early modern England. Most people lived their entire lives in small communities, where human interaction took place first and foremost among neighbours. When people moved away — as they often did in their youth or later in life — they were only likely to find themselves once more living in local communities, surrounded by new yet structurally similar sets of neighbours and neighbourly relationships. Indeed, neighbourliness was a crucial norm.1 Neighbours were to live in peace and avoid conflict and strife. Clergymen were to extol among their neighbours and parishioners ‘charity in loving walking and neighbourly accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences’.2 In the Elizabethan parish of Swallowfield, Berkshire, neighbours even got together to draw articles which were to guide them in living ‘in good love & lykinge one another’. They promised ‘th[a]t non of us shall disdayne one another, nor seeke to hynder one another nether by woordes nor deedes, But rather to be helpers, assisters & councellors of one another, And all o[u]r doyinges to be good, honest, lovynge and iuste’.3 Neighbours joined by love were thus depicted like a strong bundle of sticks which cannot be broken if bound together fast.4


Seventeenth Century Early Modern Period Hebrew Word Public Worship Hebrew Language 
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© Naomi Tadmor 2005

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  • Naomi Tadmor

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