Personal profile


Leanne is a Senior Lecturer in History, specialising in women's and gender history, across the long eighteenth-century. Her research interests include the family and its relationships, the life-cycle, religion (with an emphasis on Presbyterianism and Dissenting traditions) and migration. 

Current Projects:

Sexuality & Social Control: Irish Presbyterians in the Atlantic World, 1717-1830.

This project explores the relationship between sexuality, religion and migration. It focuses on Presbyterians and investigates the ways that Presbyterian sexuality was policed in Ireland and North America, between the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries. 

Salacious stories of stolen trysts in backrooms, fields and forests; misbehaving ministers riding on horseback, seducing the wives of their church members; and promiscuous Presbyterian youths sneaking around behind the backs of their elders form the basis of this research. What did Presbyterian women and men in past centuries get up to under the sheets? At what point did sexual activity become illicit? How different were Presbyterian communities in Ireland and North America? In tracing this aspect of Presbyterian life, this project asks what we can learn about the family by placing sex and sexuality at the core of our research.

This project is funded by a number of awarding bodies, including:

  • British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant Scheme
  • Research Fellowship from the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia
  • Women's History Association of Ireland, Anna Parnell Travel Grant
  • R.J. Hunter Bursary from the Royal Irish Academy

Follow the project on Twitter for tales of Presbyterian Sex, Scandal & Sin @PPresbyterians

Promiscuous Presbyterians has been touring around via zoom this past year. You can watch Leanne's popular public history talk for the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland here or listen to her recent talk at the Early Modern History Seminar at Trinity College, Dublin on Spotify podcasts here


2. RIFNET: Reconstituting the Irish Family Research Network

Leanne is co-PI of RIFNET, a major international research collaboration that aims to reconfigure meanings of family in an Irish context. Funded by the ESRC and IRC, RIFNET aims to tell the story of Irish families that sit outside of what we perceive as the ‘traditional’ norm. We are interested in capturing the messy realities of Irish family life and we aim to create a more inclusive picture of what it means (and has always meant) to be part of “the family” in Ireland. Leanne co-leads the project with Dr Maeve O'Riordan (UCC) and includes collaborations with researchers across 7 different institutions, as well as museum and heritage professionals. 

Folow the project here: and see our work here RIFNET - Reconstituting the Irish Family Research Network


Previous Projects:

Leanne has published widely on the family, sex and marriage in Ireland. She has published in journals that include, Analecta Hibernica, Women's History Review, Journal of Family History, Irish Economic and Social History, Irish Historical Studies, English Historical Review, Gender & History, and Cultural and Social History.  She is currently the co-Director of the Perceptions of Pregnancy Researchers' network with Dr. Jennifer Evans.

Leanne completed her Ph.D. at Queen's University, Belfast in 2015, entitled 'Love, Life and the Family in the Ulster Presbyterian community, 1780-1844'. Before joining the University of Hertfordshire, she worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher on an AHRC-funded project entitled 'Bad Bridget: Criminal and Deviant Irish Women in North America, 1838-1918', held jointly between Ulster University and Queen's University, Belfast.



Research interests

Leanne is interested in the following broad areas:

  • The History of the Family and its Relationships
  • The Household
  • Religion and the Family, particularly the Presbyterian community
  • Women's History
  • Gender History
  • Irish History
  • Long Eighteenth-century, c. 1680-1850

Teaching specialisms

Leanne currently teaches on the following modules:

*Research-led teaching

Global Gender History, 1550-1850*

Hearth and Heart. Family Life in the Long Eighteenth-Century*

Crime and Society in England, 1550-1750.

Sinners, Scoundrels & Deviants. Non-Conformity in the Atlantic World*

Migration of Beliefs and Traditions (MA Folklore)

Previous teaching:

The Fight for Rights: Freedom and Oppression, 1790s -1990s

Doing History. Investigating the Historians Craft.

Nation and Identity: Newly Independent States in Interwar Europe, 1918-39

Postcards from the Empire. Experiences of British Imperialism.

Migrants and Minorities, c. 1688-1850.

How the Victorians Saw the World Abroad.

Money-Makers, Murderers, Medics & Mothers. Women's Lives in the Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Centuries (MA History)

Education/Academic qualification

History, Ph.D., Love, life and the family in the Ulster Presbyterian community, 1780-1844, Queen's University Belfast


Award Date: 20 May 2015

Irish History, MA Irish History, with Distinction, Discipline in the Ulster Presbyterian community, 1720-1800, Queen's University Belfast


Award Date: 19 Nov 2010

History, BA History, First-Class Honours, Attitudes of the Irish Presbyterian church to marriage, 1700-1780, Queen's University Belfast


Award Date: 24 Jun 2009

External positions

Web Coordinator and Newsletter Editor, International Federation for Research in Women's History

21 Sept 2020 → …

Co-Director, Perceptions of Pregnancy Researchers' Network

Jan 2018 → …


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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