Peter Walker

Peter Walker

Email: pww2104@columbia.edu
Field: Modern Western Europe
Advisor: Christopher Brown
Year: 2010


I work on the history of Britain and the British empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I
am particularly interested in religious pluralism; religious toleration; religion, national identity, and 
nation-building; and the relationship between church and state. 

I am currently writing my dissertation, The Church Militant: The American Émigré Clergy and the Making of the British Counterrevolution, 1763-92. The project studies the loyalist Church of England clergy who emigrated from the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolution, and traces their influence in Britain. Most of the loyalist clergy were missionaries in colonies where Anglicans were in the minority. This unusual and politically marginal group had an outsized impact on the reconstruction of the Church of England. During the rebellion, they insisted that they were persecuted for their loyalty to Church and King, a claim that secured them tremendous moral authority as refugees and émigrés. As writers, advisors to the bishops, and missionaries to Britain’s remaining imperial possessions, they remembered the Revolution as a rebellion against the Church of England, and lobbied for a closer alliance between Church and State throughout the British empire. Their activities laid the foundations for Britain’s conservative reaction to the French Revolution after 1789.  The project is funded by a Mellon / ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for 2015-16. It has also been supported by the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and the Lewis Walpole Library. 

Before coming to Columbia I studied at the University of Oxford, where I received by BA in 2008 and my MPhil (with distinction) in 2010.