James Kelly

Adjunct Associate Professor

Areas of expertise 

History of Catholicism; Early Modern British and Irish History

Courses taught

From Persecution to Emancipation: English Catholicism c.1530–1850


James Kelly is Sweeting Associate Professor in the History of Catholicism at Durham University and is a faculty member at Notre Dame London as part of the relationship between Durham University and the University of Notre Dame.


After completing his PhD at King's College, London, he was a member of the AHRC-funded ‘Who Were the Nuns?’ project and Project Manager of its AHRC-funded follow-on initiative, both at Queen Mary, University of London. He is Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded 'Monks in Motion' project, which is investigating the experience of the English and Welsh Benedictines in exile, c.1553-1800.

Kelly’s interests are in post-Reformation Catholic history in Europe, with a particular focus on Britain and Ireland. The experience of the British and Irish Catholic communities at home and in exile is the main focus of his research.

He leads the History of Catholicism research strand within Durham University's Centre for Catholic Studies. In this role, Kelly acts as conference director of the biennial Early Modern British and Irish Catholicism conference, which is organized jointly by Durham University and the University of Notre Dame. He is joint series editor of the five-volume project, The Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism. In addition, he is one of the co-editors of the book series, 'Catholicisms, c.1450-c.1800', published by Durham University IMEMS Press.

Select Works

Catholic Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

British and Irish Religious Orders in Europe, 1560-1800: Conventuals, Mendicants and Monastics in Motion, with Cormac Begadon (Durham University IMEMS Press, 2022).


English Convents in Catholic Europe, c.1600–1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Northern European Reformations: Transnational Perspectives, with Henning Laugerud and Salvador Ryan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).


Jesuit Intellectual and Physical Exchange between England and Mainland Europe, c. 1580 – 1789: ‘The World is our House’?, with Hannah Thomas (Brill, 2019).

Early Modern English Catholicism: Identity, Memory and Counter-Reformation, c. 1570–1800, with Susan Royal (Brill, 2017).

Treasures of Ushaw College: Durham’s Hidden Gem (Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers, 2015).

The English Convents in Exile, 1600–1800: Communities, Culture and Identity, with Caroline Bowden (Ashgate, 2013).

Volume V: Convent Management (Pickering & Chatto, 2013).  Part of six volume sources and editorial series, The English Convents in Exile, 1600–1800 (Pickering & Chatto, 2012–13).