Andrew Foster

Postgraduate Research Student 

Thesis Title

Home away from heresy: English and Irish nuns in exile in the seventeenth century. 


I did a combined English and History degree at the University of York, where I earned a 2:1 BA, and I completed a Master's degree in History at the University of Liverpool (Pass with Distinction). My MA dissertation was on the Reformation in Ireland during the sixteenth century, which has inspired my PhD research topic on the Counter-Reformation in Ireland and Catholic communities in exile.

Outside of my studies I primarily work on writing fiction. I am currently working on a horror novel, which I aim to be publishing by the end of 2021.

Research Interests

My thesis concerns the comparative study of English and Irish female religious communities in the seventeenth century, primarily but not exclusively in exile. It focuses specifically on the case studies of English and Irish communities that began in exile, such as the Poor Clares at Gravelines and the Benedictines at Brussels, and the parallel developments and histories of their members. Some thrived as an exile community and remained in exile, while others did not and returned to their homeland, like the Irish Poor Clares in 1629.

The reasons for the comparative study are due to the often shared histories of these two communities (For instance the Irish Poor Clares who returned to Ireland began their religious careers in the English Gravelines convent), as well as a goal of more closely integrating the histories of Irish and English nuns into the broader debate about the Counter-Reformation in Europe.

Research Funding

Institute of Irish Studies