Dr Kevin Linch

Dr Kevin Linch


My historical specialism is Britain in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, focused on Britain's armed forces in this period and their interaction with wider social and cultural trends. My first book, Britain and Wellington's Army, was published in 2011 and based on the AHRC-funded PhD I took at Leeds. It explored how Britain was able to meet the manpower demands of British Army in the Napoleonic Wars without introducing conscription, and since then I have continued to explore the changing nature of warfare in the period and the impact this had nationally and locally.

I came to Leeds in 1993 as the first person in my family to go to University, and graduated with a BA (Hons) in History in 1996. During my undergraduate degree I was able to further my interest in the Napoleonic Wars period by taking modules in 18th century literature and politics, America in the colonial period, Europe during the Enlightenment and Revolutionary Era, and a special subject on the French Revolution. My undergraduate dissertation combined all of these interests into a study of the response of East Sussex to the invasion crisis of 1803–1805, which won the Le Patourel prize for the best piece of original research.

Having looked into Britain during the Napoleonic War, I realised that there was much more to do on this subject so I stayed on at Leeds and undertook an MA by Research on the part-time military forces in the West Riding of Yorkshire between 1793 and 1814, and then moved onto a PhD study of the recruitment of the British Army during the Peninsular War period, funded by the AHRC. After that, I held various teaching posts around the University both in and out of the School, until securing my current role in 2004.

Research interests

My research focuses on reinvigorating the history of warfare and the soldier in Britain in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century and reintegrating their history into wider scholarship and themes relevant to the period. 

I'm particularly interested in the development of new military forces in the United Kingdom - such as the militia, part-time volunteers, yeomanry, and fencibles - and how the experience of being involved in these forces shaped and was shaped by communities and society. It is not widely appreciated that at its peak as many as 1 in 4 men were in some kind of military service, a level of mobilisation comparable to the First World War. This work was particularly furthered when I was awarded the AHRC-funded 'Soldiers and Soldiering in Britain, 1740–1815' project. I am the series editor for Boydell & Brewer's Britain's Soldiers series.

Alongside this, I have an interest in archives and archival practices / theory, working with them to develop projects that help the public engage with their records. I'm a keen advocate of their importance for society, culture, and heritage.

Previous research projects

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD History
  • MA History (by research)
  • BA History (Hons)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow, Royal Historical Society
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Councillor, Army Records Society
  • Society for Army Historical Research

Student education

I'm a keen advocate for research-led and research-based teaching. Generally, my teaching at all levels of study builds on themes related to my research, including:

  • Military history and relationship between government, society, and the armed forces
  • The history of British 'identity' in this period
  • British history during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
  • The Peninsular War, 1807–1814
  • Local armed forces in the eighteenth century, such as fencibles, militia, yeomanry, and volunteers

Additionally, I have been involved in a number of roles and projects that have focused on student education and the curriculum, including LeedsforLife, the Leeds Curriculum, and Discovery Themes.

Undergraduate teaching

At undergraduate level, I teach the changing nature of warfare across Europe in the period between 1740 and 1840, particuarly looking at the experience of war and the growth of the state. This culminates in a specialised module for final year students exploring the impact of war on Britons in the eighteenth century. Related to this, I also supervise final year projects.

Postgrauduate teaching

My teaching at postgraduate level focuses around two themes: Britain during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and engaging student in archival practice and experiences.

Research students

I find working with research students particularly fulfilling, and have supervised several projects over the last few years, including:


  • Mark Shearwood, The Catholic 'other' in the army of James II and William III, 1685-90 (2022)
  • Samuel Ellis, "Neither the hills nor rivers will osbstruct": Revisiting Anglo-Nepalese encounters in the late eighteenth century (2019)
  • Matthew Cheetham, The growing professionalism of the Naval Shore Establishment, 1778–1811 (2018)
  • Nathatai Manadee, European influences at the genesis of the continental army and the United States armed services in the late Eighteenth to early Nineteenth centuries (2018)
  • Matthew Cheetham, The growing professionalism of the Naval Shore Establishment, 1778–1811 (2018)
  • Linda Danil,"Mercenary" masculinities: Private military contractors, gender identity, and the laws of war in the contemporary period (co-supervised with the Centre for Gender Studies) (2016)
  • Danielle Coombs, The domestic economy of British soldiers; military society, criminality and perception c.1740–1830 (2015)
  • Juliette Reboul, French emigration to the British Isles from 1789: cultural transfers and identity discourse on the longue duree (2015). This has been published with PalgraveMacMillan.
  • Andrew Bamford, The British Army on campaign, 1808–1815: manpower, cohesion and effectiveness (2009). This has been subsequently published as Sickness, Suffering, and the Sword: The British Regiment on Campaign, 1805-1815 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2013)

MA by research

  • Freddie Lyon, Media representations and public perception of the war against Revolutionary France in Britain (2015)
  • Matthew Cheetham, The way back from defeat: Britain during the aftermath of the American Revolutionary Wars (2011)
  • Danielle Coombs, Soldiers and women - female agency in desertion from the British Army c. 1740–1815 (2010)
  • Paul Dawson, French Mounted Troops in 1813: a logistical re-assessment (2010)

I am also available to supervise students through the Distance Learning PhD.

Research groups and institutes

  • War Studies
  • Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>