Skip to main content

Full text of "How They Lived ( Volume III 1700-1815 )"

See other formats


Volume III 



Volume III 1700- 




Historians generally write about 
political crises or of Llie growth of 
the parliamentary institutions or the 

Civil Service. Here the interests of 
more ordinary people have a turn. 
Matters which are for most of us, and 
for most of the time, more important 
find spare here, for it is hard to find 
among the usual histories anything 
detailed about such fundamental 
topics as food and beds. 

How They Lived is a collection of 
interesting passages from writers who 
were describing 'at first hand' what 
they knew from their own experience. 
The passages selected arc chosen to 
reveal details of many aspects of life. 
It resembles They Saw It Happen, but 
the arrangement is by topic not by 

In this volume Professor Briggs 
begins with the most common of all 
experience — birth and death — and 
ends with the great transformations 
which ushered in modern industrial 

flic illustration on the front of the 
jacket is a reproduction of 'Chairing 
the Member' by William Hogarth, 

reproduced by permission of the 
Sir John Soane's Museum. 

The illustration on the back of the 

jacket is the reverse of a copper 
token of John Wilkinson, 1787, 
photographed by courtesy of the 
Ashmolean Museum. 

This book is to b" returned on or before 
the la- ■ - « 





3 DEC 1996 

45.r. mi 



An Anthology of original documents written 
between ijoo and i8ij 

Compiled by 

Professor Asa Briggs 


© Basil Blackwell 1969 
631 07390 6 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 





LiBRAftiF-S \ 






A Family Record; Bearing a Child; Patterns of 
Life and Death; Two Christenings; An Under- 
taker's Advertisement; An Undertaker's Bill; 
Royal Funerals; A Pauper Funeral; The Death 
of a Criminal; The Death of a Dog; The Death 
of Cattle; Epitaphs; Theories about Numbers; 
Facts about Numbers. . 


Printed in Great Britain by Aldcn and Mowbray Ltd 

at the Alden Press, Oxford 

and bound at Kemp Hall Bindery 



Perspectives; Measurement; The Rhythm of the 
Seasons; The Days of the Week; Good and Bad 
Times; The Weather; Calamities; Watches and 
Clocks; Changing the Calendar; Keeping ;a 
Diary; Advice about Time; Factory Time. 





London; The Countiyj"Watcring Places; Ports 
and Harbours; Old Towns; New Towns; Indus- 
trial Communities; Industrial Districts. 53 


Village Bounds; Points of Contact; The Lure of 
London; London Traffic; Travel by Road; 
Modes of Travel ; Speed of Travel ; On the Road ; 
Moving Goods; How Techniques Travelled; 
How News Travelled; At Home and Abroad. 81 



Social Survey; The Traditional Social System; 
'The Great'; Primogeniture; Marriage Strategy; 
The Gentry; Village Society; Merchants; The 
Professions; Domestic Servants; Industrialists; 
Craftsmen, Mechanics and Labourers; Paupers; 
Outsiders; New Views of Society. 1 13 


Work on the Land; Open Fields; Enclosures; 
Estate Work; Buildings and Repairs; Expert 
Work; Genteel Work; House Work; Manufac- 
turing; Women's Work; Child Labour; 
Incentives. ! 84. 


Diversions; Country Sports; Games; Town 
Pleasures; Coffee Houses; Clubs; Theatres; 
Pleasure Gardens; Popular Entertainments; 
Gambling; At the Spa; At the Seaside. 215 


Advice on Manners; The Rough and the Smooth ; 
Fashion; Dress; The Social Round; Manners, 
Table and General; Shopping; Service; Love and 
Marriage; Babies; Children; The Improvement 
of Manners. 243 


Standards of Living; Bread; Potatoes; Other 
Foods; Food Riots; Banquets and Feasts; Cooks 
and Recipes; Bills of Fare; Institutional Eating; 
Tea; Gin; Ale and Wine. 279 


Sir Roger de Covcrley at Church ; Bishops ; Parish 
Priests; Church Maintenance; Methodism; 
Preaching to the Poor; Critics of Methodism; 
Evangelicalism; Preaching to the Rich; Christ- 
ianity and Social Order; Dissenters; Roman 






Education — For and Against; Charity Schools; 
Grammar Schools, Public Schools; Curricula; 
Too Much Latin?; Method: Too Many Punish- 
ments?; Schoolmasters; Home Education; 
Universities; Dissenting Academics; Women's 
Education ; Adult Education. 340 


Insecurity; Country Crime; London Crime; 
Highwaymen; Gangs; Trials; Punishments; 
Tyburn; Prison Life; Prison Building; Penal 
Reform ; The Bill of Crime. 368 


Recruitment; Officers and Men; Service; Fight- 
ing in Britain; Fighting in Europe; Fighting for 
Empire; The Hazards and Prizes of Service; 
Mutiny; Soldiers and Civilians; News of War 
and Peace. 395 

Buildings and Taste; Gardens and Landscapes; 
Painting; Collectors; The Exotic and the Gothic; 
Music; Patronage; Artists and Writers; Societies; 
Philosophy; Science; Medicine. 422 


The Constitution; Influence; Elections; Patron- 
age; The Monarchy; Parliament; Politicians; 
Public Opinion; Taxation; Riot; Social Politics; 
Urban Politics. 465 



List of Plates 


1. The Foundling Hospital, London. Victoria and Albert Museum. 
An Epitaph. Rev. C. T. Spurting. 

2. Eighteenth-century watches. Country Life. 

3. A Time Recorder from Wedgewood's Etruria Factory. A. Finer 
and G. Savage: 'Selected Letters of Josiali Wedgewood', Evelyn, 
Adams & Mackay Ltd. 

4. London — Charing Cross. T. Malton: 'Picturesque Tours Through 
the Cities of London and Westminster''. The London Museum. 

5. A Place in the Country. Giles Jacob: 'The Country Gentleman's 
Fade Mecum', G. K. Fussell. 

6. Nottingham as it was. J. Blackner: 'History of Nottingham' , 1815. 
The Bodleian Library. 

Bath as it still is. The Royal Crescent. J. Allan Cash. 

7. A Parochial Perambulation. 'Popular Pastimes', 1816. Sherwood, 
Neeley and Jones. 

Inn Yard with Stage Coach. The British Museum. 

8. High Degree. Mercier painting of Viscount Tyrconnel and Family. 
Lord Brownlow. 

9. 'The Honest English Farmer's Wife'. Victoria and Albert Museum. 
'The City 'Prentice at his Master's Door'. Victoria and Albert 

1 0. Proper Dress for an Industrious Woman. " The Hymns as used in 
the Magdalen College', c.1730. G. K. Fussed. 

'The Fashionable Mamma*. By Gillray. The British Museum. 

11. In Ihe Country. Richard Bradley : 'The Country Housewife', 1736. 
G. K. Fussell. 

12. At the Plough. Trowell-Ellis : 'The Farmer's Imtructor', 1747. 
The Bodleian Library. 

13. Spinning and Weaving. Walker: 'Costume of Torkshire', 1814. 
G. K. Fussell. 



14. A Settlement Order. Removal order from Hadleigh to Coggeshall, 
1767. Essex Record Office. 

15. May Fair. Archives Department, Westminster City Libraries. 
Cock Fighting. 'Popular Pastimes'', 1816. Sherwood, Neeley and 

16. Bear Baiting, 'Italian Theatre". A, Van Assen : ' The Busy World', 
1793. The Trustees of Sir John Soane's Afuseum. 

1 7. A Theatre Ticket. Design by Hogarth for Fielding's ' The Mock 
Doctor'. The British Museum, 

Sadler's Wells. By Rowtandson,from T. C. Pugin: 'The Microcosm 
of London', 1809, The Bodleian Library. 

18. Farmer and Man, 'The Compleat Farmer', 1793. G. K. Fussell. 

19. A Coffee House. 1740. Douce Prints W. 1.2. The Bodleian Library. 
'Selling a Wife'. "Popular Pastimes', 1816. Sherwood, Neeley and 

20. Advice for the Young. 

21. A Gentleman's Kitchen. From a contemporary cookery book. 
G. K. Fussell. 

22. An Election Entertainment. By Hogarth. The Trustees of Sir 
John Soane's Museum. 

23. The Sermon. Victoria and Albert Museum. 

24. St. Paul's, Sheffield. J. Hunter; 'History and Topography of the 
Parish of Sheffield', 1869. The Bodleian Library. 

A Quaker Meeting. Library of the Society of Friends. 

25. 'Pious Tuition'. Victoria and Albert Museum. 

26. The Story of James Hall. Archives Department, City of Westminster 

27. 'Free Choice' as seen by Gill ray. The Mansell Collection. 
The Press Gang. By Gittray, The British Museum. 

28. Waterloo. The British Museum. 

29. Sculpture. The Sculpture Gallery at Ince Blundell. Country Life. 
Books. Tlie Library, Wobnrn Abbey. Country Life. 

30. The Royal Academy. Exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1789. 

31. An Experiment. Victoria and Albert Museum. 

32. The House of Commons. By Rowlandson, from T, C. Pugin: 
'The Microcosm of London', 1809, The Bodleian Library. 

Politics in the Street. 'The Battle of Temple Bar'. Print in The 
Guildhall Library. 


Like the previous volumes in this series, this anthology is 
concerned with how people lived, worked and thought. It 
should be supplemented by They Saw it Happen, which deals 
with reactions to particular historical events, and Who's Who 
in History, which deals widi the lives and achievements of 
particular people. 

The period chosen for this volume is of strategic importance 
in modern history. The invention of steam power in the 1770s 
revolutionized human relations, and by 1815, when the volume 
ends, it was clear to contemporaries that industrialism was a 
fait accompli. Increased material wealth, unequally distributed, 
was associated with new factories, new towns and cities, and 
new ways both of thinking and of feeling. In the French 
traveller Misson's Memoirs and Observations in kis Travels over 
England (1719), a voluble and eloquent survey, the only 
comment under the heading 'manufactures' is 'The French 
Refugees have brought several good Manufactures into 
England'. By 1815 it was generally recognized that Britain had 
established a manufacturing ascendancy which was one of 
its greatest assets. Indeed, British techniques were already 
spreading outside the country like the ideas of the French 
Revolution, and though the term 'industrial revolution' had 
not been coined, the conception behind it was commonplace. 

At first, the great change had encouraged optimism. Man 
could control Nature and harness new forms of power to 
achieve unprecedented progress. Already by 1815, however, the 
contradictions of progress were also manifest. Scientific and 
technical advance carried with it new forms of social conflict 
and new problems of adaptation and organization. There was 
a clash, sometimes violent, between the pull of tradition and 
the pressure of innovation. Big changes were not to come until 
the 1830s when the political reforms of 1832 ('the Great 


fori; WORD 

Reform Bill'), the first major official attempt to intervene in 
the management of factories in 1 833 (the Factory Act) , and 
the new Poor Law of 1834, which sought to free the labour 
market by introducing workhouses throughout the country 
and adding a new stigma to pauperism, revealed the response 
of politicians to some of these changes. Yet it was during the 
1820s that the first changes took place and the debate about 
change deepened, and it was before 1815 that both 'middle- 
class' and 'working-class' protests against the economic and 
political 'system* began to multiply. The language used was 
often new also, although there were no sharp breaks. 

The last part of this book, therefore, is concerned with the 
drama of these great changes and some of their immediate 
social implications: the continuing sequence of social and 
political change will provide the subject matter of the next 
volume. Much the bigger part of the book, however, deals with 
the decades before the advent of steam, with a 'traditional' 
society in which elegance and squalor coexisted; in which the 
rights of property were sacrosanct, yet in which there was 
serious endemic crime; in which the law was venerated, yet 
in which were large areas of tolerated licence in behaviour; 
in which traditional values propped up the social system, yet 
'enlightened' ideas were always challenging it; in which most 
people lived in villages, yet in which the raw life of turbulent, 
unfashionable London attracted at least as much contemporary 
attention as the fashions of polite metropolitan society. 

It is a curiously neglected period, although particular 
aspects of it — for example, the structure of aristocratic and 
landed politics or the role of politicians like Walpole — have 
been studied with meticulous, scholarly care. Recently, 
however, both professional historians and the general public 
have begun to look at its social history afresh. Tom Jones (in 
strictly twcnticth-ccntury mould) was an unqualified success 
as a film: Culloden was one of television's best historical recon- 
structions. The 'Brcchtian' element in the eighteenth century 
seems to appeal to mid-twentieth-century tastes, just as the 
elegance and the polish appealed to the early twentieth-century 
rebels against Victorianism. As for the professional historians, 
they have begun to attempt to formulate and to answer leading 


questions — to explain, for instance, why there was a 'take-off' 
into industrialism ; to show how the behaviour of eighteenth- 
century crowds or 'mobs' differed from those of nineteenth- 
century trade unions or labour movements; to analyse in what 
ways eighteenth-century family life or village life was grounded 
in attitudes and habits quite different from those of Victorian 
city life; and, even more generally, and still very sketchily, to 
discuss when and for what reasons people altered their basic 
approaches to time, to place, to work, to play, to order, and, 
above all, to scale. 

Social history is directly concerned with big questions of 
this kind. Some start with demography — problems of numbers, 
of birth and death rates, of family size and composition, of the 
impact of disease, and the frameworks both of the social and 
the legal order. The eighteenth century is particularly interest- 
ing in this context, because it was the prelude to the great 
modern upthrust of population. Other questions about the 
eighteenth century concern quality not quantity, in so far as 
the two can be separated. How did people view their own ways 
of life, their sense of community, their appreciation of the past 
and their anticipation of the future ? To study the answers they 
gave, it is necessary to turn from statistical to literary evidence, 
and to pay detailed attention to the words they used (including 
the new words they coined) to describe their own condition 
and prospects. 

Given this approach, social history forces the student of 
history to speculate rather than to escape. It depends on 
analysis, the kind of analysis that is stimulated by the exercise 
of imagination. At the same time, the best way of starting to 
deal with the big questions is often to consider the small detail 
of particular instances— for example, to trace changing ways 
of life in one village through its parish registers and its field 
maps, its tax records and, where they exist, the diaries of its 
inhabitants, above all through its buildings and its surrounding 
landscape. Yet to carry out successfully such local exploration, 
it is useful to know something about more general bearings, 
and for this reason alone one of the main purposes of this book 
is to provide a sense of historical perspective. The extracts 
chosen are sometimes neither full nor representative — where 



they break off, they often deserve to be continued— yet, taken 
together, they offer an introduction to the study of a society 
which, for all the neglect of historians, is far better documented 
than the society described in previous volumes of How They 


Interpretations of that society tend to vary according to the 
angle as well as the style of approach. If you go back to the 
eighteenth century from the nineteenth, you look for the 
beginnings of those dynamic forces which became dominant 
in Queen Victoria's reign— urbanism, industrialism, radi- 
calism, evangelicalism. If you go forward from the seventeenth 
century, you tend to begin by contrasting seventeenth-century 
conflict with eighteenth-century balance. In fact, the pattern 
of the century does not quite permit this division of the spoils. 
The early years of the eighteenth century, the first to be 
covered in this volume, were years of lively activity in eco- 
nomics, in politics and in society. There was a sense of move- 
ment rather than of balance. Britain's participation in European 
wars, the growth, sometimes hectic, of commerce, the fierce 
party politics of Queen Anne's reign and the emergence of 
new, often uncomfortable, elements in society, many of which 
were cogently described by Daniel Defoe, suggested that the 
shape of the eighteenth century might be very different from 
what it proved to be. There was nothing 'balanced' about the 
South Sea Bubble, though the failure of this enterprise, which 
was borne aloft on a European wave of confidence, brought 
this precocious period to a close. The gap comes between the 
'commercial revolution' and the 'industrial revolution', and 
it is a gap characterized by a failure of inventiveness and 
enterprise, even of nerve, just when inventiveness and enter- 
prise might have produced results. Politics in the age of 
Walpole and in the middle years of the century were less 
interesting than they had been earlier or than they were to be 
later, when war and peace provided big issues in the reign of 
William III or in the age of the American War of Independence. 
At the same time, the last years of the period should not be 
seen simply as a prelude to the nineteenth century. The debates 
on population and on poverty preceded the industrial revolu- 
tion, as did the 'financial revolution'. So too did the 'Enlighten- 



ment' and the emergence of 'political economy'. And many of 
the most discontented groups in the late eighteenth and early 
nineteenth century looked backward, like Cobbctt, rather than 
forward, pleading for recovery of that which was lost — 
"freedom', prosperity, 'rights', even happiness. John Dyer's 
poem The Fleece (1757) is a good half-way house book — full of 
pride in Britain's commerce and industry, yet linking with the 
commerce and industry of the eighteenth century not the 
nineteenth-century cotton industry but the great wool trade 
with its origins in the middle ages. Dyer could appreciate the 
significance of modern inventions, yet he could also ask 'What 
needful art is new?', and talk of a golden age which had been, 
not which was to come. 

The word 'debates' is a clue word to the period. There were 
sharp differences of opinion in the eighteenth century — for 
example, about how much wages labourers should be paid, 
about the 'progress' or shortcomings of manners, about 
'rational' and 'vital' religion, about literary and artistic taste. 
An eighteenth-century counterpart to G. M. Young's Victorian 
England, Portrait of an Age would bring out the light and the 
shade, the subtle shifts between one generation, and another, 
the relationship between debate and chronology in the story of 
all these and other subjects. Any serious student of the period 
is struck at once by its richness and its variety. You cannot 
understand the period if you concentrate on Defoe without 
understanding Swift, or Adam Smith without looking also at 
Cobbett. Such a student is also struck by the temptations the 
period offers to new exploration, not least because life was lived 
at so many different levels. Much thinking was cosmopolitan, 
like fashion, yet a large part of social history was intensely 
localized, like government itself. At its quietest the mood of 
the period is well caught in an account by Thomas Dale, 
parish constable of Little Gransden, of his duties in 1750, 
'We have no Popish recusants, no common drunkards; our 
Hues and Cries have been pursued; watch and ward kept; 
we have not been remiss in apprehending vagrants; we have 
no unlicensed ale houses or inns ; we have no unlawful weights 
or measures ; we have no new erected cottages or inmates ; we 
have no young persons idle out of service ; we have no ingrossers 



of corn, no forestallers of markets ; our town stock is employed 
for the relief of the poor; we have no profane swearers or 
cursers; we have no riots, routs or unlawful assemblies.' 

Happy the parish with no history! At this point the century 
stands still. Yet this was only one point of calm. At many times 
during the eighteenth century, most English villages were 
troubled by the kind of people and the kind of problems 
Little Gransden lacked. The century saw sharp fluctuations of 
fortune from year to year and sharp changes of fortune from 
place to place. Throughout the century also there was enough 
foreign war to provide excitement at the margins of the British 
Empire — in places very different from Little Gransden — and 
there were enough alarms about the stability of the Hanoverian 
succession to ruffle years other than the famous 1745. The 
century began and ended in the midst of widely ranging wars 
which seemed to contemporaries to involve something more 
than simple struggles for power. As for that struggle, it was 
seldom stilled. Foreign commerce itself was already a complex 
factor in British domestic history. Moreover, alongside Thomas 
Dale's comments we must place Dr. John Brown's An Estimate 
of the Manners and Principles of the Times, published seven years 
later and running into several editions, with its complaint that 
'honour' was being converted into 'vanity' and its warning, 
repeated so frequently since — not least during the twentieth 
century — that Britain was passing through an 'important and 
alarming crisis' from which it might not recover. 

The arrangement of chapters in this volume is directly 
related first to my over-all view of the demands of social 
history as a serious subject and second to my own interpretation 
of the shape of the century. Although the eighteenth century is 
characterized by the richness of its life and the diversity of 
its experience, the book begins with the simplest and most 
basic of social facts, those relating to birth and death. Chapters 
follow on 'time' and 'place' and 'communication', chapters 
which set the limits of eighteenth-century attitudes. A chapter 
on 'the ranks of society' provides an introduction to the com- 
plex and changing social system of the century, and it is 
followed by ancillary chapters on 'work', 'play' and 'manners 



and styles*. 'Religion' and 'education' clearly go together, and 
both influenced attitudes towards 'crime and punishment'. 
'Food and drink' and 'medicine' also look complementary, 
although contemporaries were not fully aware of all the links 
between them, and the all-too-brief section on medicine is 
reserved for the chapter on the arts and sciences. 'Going to war' 
could be — and sometimes has been— a book in itself, rather 
than a chapter, and so too could be 'the pursuit of arts and 
science', a big subject necessarily dealt with somewhat cursorily. 
The chapter on 'economic and social change' is concerned with 
the prelude to the nineteenth century. Again it could be doub- 
led in size to advantage, but the themes running through it will 
all be dealt with more fully in the next volume. The last chapter 
deals with 'politics in a changing society*, not because poli- 
ticians should have the last word, but because politics registered, 
as it always does, economic and social changes, albeit slowly 
and inconsistently, and social history with the politics left out 
is not really social history at all. 

The illustrations throughout the volume are as important 
in their way as the text: they remind us that much of social 
history is not abstract and that the art of seeing is a necessary 
quality in the social historian. The brief bibliographical note 
is not designed to be comprehensive, but it refers to books, 
some of which themselves contain valuable bibliographies. It 
is likely that the number of important books on the period will 
increase substantially during the next few years. In the mean- 
time, it should be emphasized that the arrangement described 
above is not intended to place social facts in such neat and tidy 
categories that there is no need for a great deal of cross reference. 
Some of the extracts included in particular chapters might 
have been included just as appropriately in others. Society 
itself is always richer than its historians. There are also coinci- 
dental links, bringing in particular people or particular places. 
The best use of this book is to follow up those extracts which 
seem particularly interesting and to read the whole source 
from which they are taken. It is also valuable to add to the 
anthology other extracts which deal with the same or related 
themes. In this way historical study can push over into historical 
research in school, home or university. 


Guide to Further Reading 

J. H. Plumb's England in the Eigkleentk Century (Penguin, 
1950) is the best general introduction to the period. See also 
M. D. George, England in Transition (1953 cdn.), E. N. 
Williams, Life in Georgian England (1962) and D. Jarrett, 
Britain 1688-1815 (1965). Bigger books include A. S. Turber- 
ville (ed.), Johnson's England, 2 vols. (1933), D. Marshall, 
England in the Eighteenth Century (1962), J. S. Watson, The 
Reign of George III (I960), and Asa Briggs, The Age of 
Improvement (1959), 

Two volumes in the Historical Documents scries cover this 
period. The first, edited by B. D. Horn and M. Ransome is 
concerned with the years 1714-83; the second, edited by 
A. Aspinall and E. A. Smith deals with the years 1783-1832. 

For the structure of politics, sec J. H. Plumb, The Growth of 
Political Stability in England, 1675-1925 (1967), L. B. Namier, 
The Struclure of Politics at the Accession of George III, 2 vols. (rev. 
edn. 1957) and England in the Age of the American Revolution (1930) ; 
also, L. B. Namier and J. Brooke, The House of Commons, 1754- 
90, 2 vols, (1964), especially the introduction by Brooke. For 
other aspects of politics, sec J. H. Plumb, Sir Robert Walpole, 
2 vols. (1956, 1960), I. R. Christie, The End of Lord North's 
Ministry (1958), R. Pares, George III and the Politicians (1953), 
A. Foord, His Majesty's Opposition, 1714-1830 (1964), S. 
Maccoby, English Radicalism, 1762-1785 (1935), E. P. Thomp- 
son, The Making of the English Working Class (1963) and G. 
Rude, Wilkes and Liberty (1962). 

For the economic background, see T. S. Ashton, The 
Industrial Revolution (1948), An Economic History of England: The 
Eighteenth Century (1955) and Economic Fluctuations in England, 
1700-1800 (1959). See also G. Wilson, England's Apprenticeship, 
1603-1776 (1965), C. Hill, Reformation to Industrial Revolution 
(1967), P. G, M. Dickson, The Financial Revolution in England 



(1967), and J. CarsweU, The South Sea Bubble (I960). For 
aspects of social history, see J, B. Botsford, English Society in the 
Eighteenth Century (1924), R.J. Mitchell and M. D. R. Leys, A 
History of the English People (1950), M. D. George, London Life in 
the Eighteenth Century (1925), S. and B. Webb, English Local 
Government, especially the volumes on The Old Poor Law (1927) 
and Tlie History of Liquor Licensing in England (1903), N. 
Sykes, Church and State in England in the XVIIItk Century (1934), 
D. Marshall, English People in the Eighteenth Century (1956), 
G. M.Jones, The Charity School Movement (1938), M. J. Quirdan, 
Victorian Prelude (1941), J. D. Chambers, Nottinghamshire in the 
Eighteenth Century (1932) and Sir Francis Hill, Georgian Lincoln 
(1966), the best of recent local histories concerned specifically 
with the eighteenth century. For statistics, see P. Deanc and 
W. A. Cole, British Economic Growth, 1688-1959 (1962). 

For art, literature, science and culture, see inter alia C. 
Hussey, The Picturesque (1927), J. Butt, The Augustan Age (1950), 
J. Lees Milne, The Age of Adam (1947), E. K. Waterhouse, 
English Painting, 1530-1760 (1953), J. Summerson, Architecture 
in Britain 1530-1830 (1953), K. Clark, The Gothic Revival 
(Penguin edn. 1966), J. Klingender, Art and the Industrial 
Revolution (1946), A. Wolf, A History of Science, Technology and 
Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century (1938), I. Watt, The Rise of 
the Novel (Penguin edn. 1963), and B. Willey, The Eighteenth 
Century Background (1940). 


The author wishes to thank in particular Clifford Musgrave 
and the staff of Brighton Public Library; B. S. Page, Dennis 
Cox and the staffs of the Libraries of the University of Leeds 
and the University of Sussex; Edmund Dell, formerly East 
Sussex County Archivist and the staff of the Records Office at 
Lewes; John Mitchell, Curator of the Kirkstall Museum, 
Leeds; E. W. Aubrook, Director of the Tolson Memorial 
Museum, Huddersfield ; F. G. Emmison, Essex County 
Archivist, whose admirable publications are invaluable to 
social historians; W. E. Tate, helpful at every point, of the 
University of Leeds; E. P. Thompson of the University of 
Warwick; David Daiches and Hellmut Pappe of the University 
of Sussex; and, above all, Irina Stickland, without whose work 
and advice this volume could never have been completed. 

The author and the publisher wish to thank the following 
for permission to reproduce copyright material, full details of 
which arc given elsewhere. 

The Savernake Archives, in the possession of the Marquess 
of Ailesbury for an extract from correspondence between Lord 
Bruce and Mr Beechcr, 

George Allen & Unwin Ltd, for extracts from The Englishman 
and the Sea by C. Lloyd, and Equitable Assurances by M. E. 

Allied Ironfounders and Arthur Raistrick for an extract 
from Dynasty of Ironfounders. 

Dr James Andrews for extracts from the 1934, 1935, 1936, 
1937, editions of Volumes II, III, and IV of the Torrington 

T. Burke and B. T. Batsford Ltd for an extract from Travel 
in England. 

The Bedfordshire Historical Record Society for extracts from 
Volume XLVII of Some Bedfordshire Diaries. 




Ernest Benn Ltd for extracts from Verney Letters of the Eight- 
eenth Century, edited by Lady Verney. 

Cambridge University Press for extracts from Tate: The 
Parish Chest; Balderston: Collected belters of Goldsmith; Hill: 
Georgian Lincoln, and The Charity School Movement, 1930, 44-45. 

The Marquess of Anglesey and Jonathan Gape for an 
extract from One Leg, and Gladys Scott Thompson for an 
extract from Letters of a Grandmother. 

Cassell and Go Ltd for an extract from Dr Viper: The 
Querulotts Life of Philip Thicknesse edited by Philip Gosse. 

The Clarendon Press, Oxford for extracts from Volumes 1 
and 2 ot Johnson's England, ed. Turberville; Wilkes & Liberty, by 
Rude; English Men & Manners, ed. Turberville; and Vols. Ill 
and XIV of The Letters of Horace Walpole, ed. Toynbee. 

Country Life for an extract from their issue of October 25th 1924. 

Cresset Press Ltd for extracts from The Journey ofCelia Fiennes, 
ed. C. Morris. 

J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd and E. P. Dutton & Go Inc, New 
York for extracts from the Everyman Library texts of Pope's 
Collected Poems; Smith: The Wealth' of Nations; Defoe's Tour 
Through England and Wales; Wesley's Journal, and Cobbett's 
Rural Rides. 

The Economic History Review for an extract from an article by 
Peter Mathias in their issue of 1957, 

Epworth Press for an extract from Sermons on Several Occasions 
by John Wesley. 

Essex Record Office for extracts from their publications; 
A. C. Edwards: English History from Essex Sources 1550-1750 
(out of print) and A. F. J. Brown: English History from Essex 
Sources 1750-1900 (out of print). 

Faber & Faber Ltd for extracts from The Autobiography of 
William Cobbelt, edited by W. Rcistel and English Husbandry by 
Robert Trow-Smith. 

Her Majesty's Stationery Office for extracts from Sir Lewis 
Namier & J. Brooke: Tke House of Commons, 1754-90, Volume I, 
and Mss. of the Duke of Rutland, Volume III, 

Abey Heywood & Son Ltd for extracts from Samuel Bam- 
ford's Early Days and Passages in the Life of a Radical. 

The House of Commons for extracts from their Journals. 


XXI 11 

Lincoln Record Society for an extract from the Banks 
Family Letters edited by J. F. W. Hill. 

Liverpool University Press for extracts from Portsmouth Point 
by G. N. Parkinson. 

Longmans, Green & Co Ltd for an extract from Tlu Town 
Labourer by J. L. & B. Hammond. 

Macmillan & Co Ltd for extracts from The Prose Works of 
William Wordsworth, Volume II edited by L. Knight; Sir Francis 
Burdett and His Times by M. W. Patterson ; and Diary and Letters 
of Fanny Burney by Charlotte Barratt. 

Manchester University Press for extracts from The Slrutts 
and the Arkwrights by R. S. Fitton and A. P. Wadsworth, and 
Samuel Oldknow and the Arkwrights by G. Unwin. 

John Murray for extracts from Wellington's Men by W. H. 
Fitchett; An Eighteenth Century Correspondence by Dickens & 
Stanton ; Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by the Earl of Bess- 
borough; and Lord Hervey and His Friends. 

Oxford University Press for extracts from E. Hughes: North 
Country Life in the Eighteenth Century; J. J. Boswell: The Life of 
Samuel Johnson ; J, Woodforde : The Diary of a Country Parson ; 
Josiah Tucker: A Selection from his Economic and Political Writings; 
A. E, Musson: Tke Typographical Association, and Horace 
Walpole: Correspondence, Volume I. 

H. Pelling and Penguin Books for an extract from A History 
of British Trade Unionism. 

The Royal Society for extracts from their Philosophical 

Martin Seeker & Warburg for extracts from History of Football 
by M. Marples. 

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and M. D. 
George for extracts from English Social Life in the Eighteenth 

Salop County Council for an extract from Shropshire Parish 
Documents 189. 

Sussex Archaelogical Society for extracts from their Col- 
lections, Volumes VI, IX and XXV. 

East Sussex Records Office, and J. D. Bickersteth, Ashburn- 
ham Place, Battle, Sussex for extracts from the Ashburnham 



The author and publisher have made every effort to clear all 
copyright material but in spite of their efforts, it has been im- 
possible to trace the holders of some of the extracts. In the event 
of any unforeseen infringements, they express their regrets, and 
would welcome any information which would remedy such 
oversight in future editions. 


Birth and Death 

Why is the Herse with Scutcheons blazon 'd round, 
And with the nodding Plume of Ostrich crown'd ? 
No, the Dead know it not, nor profit gain: 
It only serves to prove the Living vain. 
How short is Life ! how frail is human Trust ! 
Is all this Pomp for laying Dust to Dust? 

(John Gay, Trivia, 1716) 

To learn how to die, is beyond all doubt the most important 
lesson of life; it is the great busitws of living. . , . We are always on 
the confines of eternity; but when, to appearance, we are arrived 
on the very verge of it, what folly it is still to cling to earth, instead 
of striving to mount to heaven. 

(J. Hanway, A Journal of Eight Days' Journey, 1757) 

Dec. 12, 1756. This day, died Mary Shoesmith, a child-maid, at 

the Rev. Mr. Porter's, after about ten days' illness. This girl 

was cut off in the prime of youth, not being seventeen. Oh ! 

let mankind consider that no age or sex is exempt from death ! 

What is it that makes men so humble at the approach of 

death ? Only their vices. 

{Diary of Thomas Turner, tradesman of East Hoathly, Sussex) 
Dec. 29, 1782. — I saw 10 graves open in Halifax Churchyard, 

9 of them for children, and was informed that 1 1 children 

had been interred in the above yard in four weeks which died 

of the small pox. 
Jan. 1 9, 1 783. — I saw 1 1 open graves in Halifax Churchyard, 

8 or 9 of them for children. 

(Diary of Cornelius Ashworth) 


Source: Some Bedfordshire Diaries (Bedfordshire Historical Records 
Society, 1959), pp. 35-7. 


Two loose pages of entries made alternately by Edmond and 
Christian Williamson of Husbome Crawley have as their terse 
title 'An Account of the birth of my Children by my second Wife'. 
The document was edited by F. J, Manning. 


March 29. My wife fell into labour and a little after 9 in the 
morning was delivered of a son. Present; aunt Taylor, 
cousin White, sister Smith, cousin Clarkson, widow Hern' 
Mrs. Howe, midwife, Mr[s,] Wallis, nurse, Mrs, Holms' 
Eleanor Hobbs, servants. 

April 4. He was baptised by Doctor Battle by the name of 
John. . . . 
16. The child died about 1 o'clock in the morning. 


Sept. 17. My said wife was delivered of a son just before 4 in 
the morning. Present: Mrs. Thomas Molyneux's lady and 
maid, Mrs. Mann, midwife, Margaret Williamson, nurse, 
Susan Nuthall, servant. 

Oct. 4. He was baptised by Mr. Trabeck by the name of 
Talbot after my grandmother's name. Sir John Talbot 
and John Pulteney esquire were gossips, with my sister 
Smith godmother. . . . 

June 9. About 8 at night my said wife began her labour. 

10. Half an hour after I in the morning was brought to 
bed of a son. Present: Mrs. Molyneux, Mrs. Bissct, Mrs. 
Mann, midwife, Nurse Williamson, Susan Nuthall and 
Betty Ginger, servants. 

30. Baptised by Mr. Mompcsson of Mansfield by the name 
of Edmond. . . . 

March 7. My said wife was brought to bed of a daughter 10 
minutes before 6 in the morning. Present: Mrs. Molyneux, 
Mrs. Mann, midwife, Nurse Williamson, Mary Evans, 
Mary Cole and Mary Wheeler, servants. 
29. Was baptised by Dr. Mandivel, Chancellor of Lincoln, 
by the name of Christian, 



March 9. My wife was delivered of a daughter at 7 at night. 
Present: aunt Taylor, Mrs. Molyneux, Mrs. Oliver, Mrs. 
Man, midwife, Mary Smith, nurse, Jane Kensey, and 
Mary Wheeler, servants. 

31. Was baptised by Mr. Widmore, the Reader of St. 
Margaret's, by the name of Elizanna. . . . Registered in 
St. Margaret's, Westminster, as all the rest were. 

April 27, Died, was buried in the new chapel yard in the 


Jan, 21. (C.W.) I was brought to bed of a son about 2 in the 
morning. Mrs. Man, midwife, nurse Chatty, dry-nurse, 
present; Mrs, Taylor, Mrs. White and Mrs. Molyneux, 
Jane Beadle; servants: Mary Wells, Jane Griffith, Edmond 
Kinward. He was baptised by Mr. Widmore, Reader of 
St. Margaret's, Westminster, by the name of Francis. . . . 


Feb. 21. (C.W.) I was brought to bed of a son between 6 and 
7 in the evening. Mrs. Man, midwife, nurse Chatty, 
dry-nurse; present: aunt Taylor, Mrs, Molyneux and 
Jane Beadle; servants: Rebecca Shippy, Betty Hall and 
Mathew Dowect. 

March 7. He was baptised by Mr. Widmore, Reader of St. 
Margaret's, Westminster, by the name of William. . . . 

[N.d.] Died and buried at Hadley. 

June. (E.W.) My wife brought to bed of a daughter, but the 

child did not live a minute. 
July 21. My wife died and was buried at Isleworth. 
Sept. 9. [Francis] died of the smallpox at Nurse Ward's in 

Hampstead, and was buried at Hadley. 


(a) Source: Letter from Sir George Lyttelton to Sanderson Miller, 
Feb, 1 752, quoted in L. Dickins and M, Stanton (eds.), An Eighteenth 
Century Correspondence (1910), pp. 186-7. 


I congratulate you and condole with Mrs. Miller on her 
being with child again. I know you think an Enerease of your 
Family an Enerease of your Blessings, but the poor little 
Woman who brings you those Blessings has a great deal of 
trouble and pain to confer them on you, and you are bound in 
Return to read to her every Night. My Wife is well and not a 

(b) Source: Diary of Thomas Turner of East Hoathly, printed in 
Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. VI (1859). 

27 Jan. 1762. The wife of Tho. Davy was this day delivered of 
a girl, after being married only six months: two people 
whom I should the least have suspected of being guilty 
of so indiscreet an act. But what can be said of this passion? 
— how careful should we be of ourselves in this particular, 
when we daily see people of the strictest value apparently 
guilty of it? 


By modern standards eighteenth-century mortality rates were 
high, particularly for young children. Of total burials recorded in 
London in 1739 slighUy more than a half were of children under 
eleven, and almost four out often were of children below the age 
of three. When Dr. Johnson consoled Boswell on the loss of a child 
he added that 'to keep three out of four is more than your share'. 
Yet during the late eighteenth century the death rale declined 
while the birth rate remained high. The extracts which follow 
draw attention (a) to the plight of eighteenth-century foundlings 
(b) to the social background of mortality rates (c) to the growing 
interest in the collection of relevant statistics about the chances of 
life and death (d) to the attempt to cover risks through insurance 
(e) the personal experience of death in a family which was 
comfortably placed. 

(a) Source: Memorial to the Government, 1739, drawn up by 
Thomas Coram, a sea captain, and signed by a number of 'ladies of 
rank', urging the setting up of a Foundling Hospital. 

No expedient lias yet been found for preventing the murder 
of poor miserable infants at their birth, or suppressing the 


inhuman custom of exposing newly-born infants to perish in 
the streets; or the putting of such unhappy foundlings to wicked 
and barbarous nurses, who undertake to bring them up for a 
small and trifling sum of money, do often suffer them to starve 
for want of due sustenance or care, or if permitted to live 
either turn them into the streets to beg or steal, or hire them 
out to loose persons by whom they are trained up in that 
infamous way of living and sometimes are blinded or maimed 
and distorted in their limbs in order to move pity or compassion, 
and thereby become fitter instruments of gain to those vile 
merciless wretches. 

(b) Source: G. Grabbe, The Parish Register (1807). Crabbe describes 
a vestry meeting held to deal with a foundling. 

Then by what name th' unwelcome guest to call 

Was long a question, and it posed them all; 

For he who lent it to a babe unknown 

Censorious men might take it for his own: 

They look'd about, they gravely spoke to all, 

And not one Richard answered to the call. 

Next they inquir'd the day, when, passing by, 

Th' unlucky peasant heard the stranger's cry: 

This known, — how food and raiment they might give, 

Was next debated — for the rogue would live; 

At last, with all their words and work content, 

Back to their homes the prudent vestry went, 

And Rickard Monday to the workhouse sent. 

(c) A Note made by the Vicar of Cardington, Bedfordshire, on the 
pattern of births and deaths in his parish between 1780 and 1800. 
Quoted in W. E. Tate, The Parish CItest (1960), p. 80. 

It is hard to say, how many lives these cities have lost, or 
how many they yet lose annually, by the poverty, filth and 
vice of parents, which no public institutions in this land of 
freedom can boast of, yet by being closely built, and many 
living in confined places, and many too much congregated. . . . 
We must not be surprized, that so great a proportion as 20232 
in 43101, or near 47% die under 2 years of age: this appears 
by an account now before me of 1756, 1757, and 1758. . . . 


Baptisms total 482. Burials total 503. Hence there appears 
a diminution of Population particularly if it be considered 
that some Dissenters from the Established Church are buried 
at the Meetinghouse & are not registered : but a Consideration 
must be had to the number of Children interred unbaptized, 
which increases the Proportion of Burials to that of Baptisms, 
in a greater ratio than that of Burials to Births. These two 
circumstances being considered, I doubt not but that there 
has been an increase in Population for the last 21 Years, tho' 
the average number of Burials exceeds that of Baptisms. 

(d) Source: An early eighteen th-century advertisement, quoted in 
J. Ash ton, Social Life in lite Reign of Queen Anne (1883), p. 38. 

This is to give Notice, that the Office of Society for Burials, by 
mutual Contribution of a Halfpenny or Farthing towards a 
Burial, erected upon Wapping Wall, is now removed into 
Katherine Wheel Alley in White Chappel . . . where sub- 
scriptions are taken to complcat the number, as also at the 
Ram in Crucifix Lane in Barnaby Street, Southwark; to which 
places notice is to be given of the death of any Member . . . 
and this Thursday about 7 o'clock Evening will be buried by 
the Undertakers the Corpse of J. S,, a Glover over against the 
Sun Brewhouse, in Golden Lane; as also a Child from the 
Corner of Scorn Alley in Bishopsgate Street. . . . 

(e) Source: A Short Account of the Society for Equitable Assurances 
on Lives and Survivorships (1762), quoted in M. E. Ogborn, 
Equitable Assurances (1962), pp. 47-8. 

These considerations induced a number of gentlemen, in 
the beginning of the year 1756, to form a design of establishing 
a Society for equitable assurances upon lives, with a view to 
the sole benefit of the Persons Assured, whose interest hath 
been all along considered as wholly distinct from, not to say 
incompatible with, that of the Assurers; a society, in which 
the assured being at the same time mutually assurers one to 
the other, the interest of one might be the interest of both; 
in which a life might be assured for a single year, a certain 
number of years, or for the whole continuance of life; and in 
which the premiums of assurance should be no more than 
adequate to the chance of death attending the age of the fife 


to be assured, and to the time the assurance was to continue. 
The design was received with approbation, and, with un- 
wearied diligence and application, pursued through numerous 
difficulties and obstacles, for the space of almost seven years. 
During this time other less comprehensive societies, upon 
plans, indeed, something different from this, yet originally 
derived from this, sprung up and flourished. The promoters, 
however, of this design, having by perseverence surmounted all 
obstructions, are at length arrived (at least in this respect) at 
the completion of all their endeavours for the public good, the 
establishment of a society for equitable assurances on 


(f) Source: Letter of 13 Feb. 1705, printed in J. J. Cariwright (ed.), 
Tlte Wenlworlh Papers, 1705-1739 (1883), p. 40. 

My dearest dear childe . . . 
The other day Peter brought his youngist son to se me which 
is the fynest of all his far beyand Will. I fancy it lyke dear 
Paul; it has your skin and very brisk gray eye and a luvly 
culloar, and very plump round faic, its fyner much then the 
girlc, whoe Bell has geven a very fyne coat to, it being her 
God Daughter. Its time for you to thinck of a Wife, for this 
will be Peter's fifth childe. I am very sorry for poor Major 
Larranc. I hear he is condemd to be shott to death, about a 
conspcrccy to delever up Giblctor [Gibraltar to the Spaniards] 
with sixteen more offecers all to dye; he was a frcind of poor 
dear Paul's, [the writer's son] soe I am hartely sorry for him. 
We have fyne summer wether now, its said to be very sickly. 
1 thanck God we are all well. Fubs [the writer's pet dog] is 
in sum trouble, for yesterday she parted with her last little one , 
but it is as great a trouble to Pug [the writer's pet monkey] for 
she was infenit fond of it, and soe was the puppy of her. . . . 


(a) Source: The Earl of Bessborough (ed.), Extracts from the Corre- 
spondence ofGeorgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1955), p. 62. 

Wimbledon, Tuesday the 12th (Aug. 1783), 
. . . On Saturday we had the christening. D sl angelic Bess 



To 2 Porters with Staves Coverd with silk 

Scarves & Cloaks 
To 2 Hatbands & 2 Pr of Gloves for Do 
To 3 Cloakes 3 Hatbands 3 Pr of Gloves the 

To 6 Men in Black to Bear the Body & attend 

as Hearse Pages with Caps & Truncheons 
To Silk favours & 6 Pr of Gloves for Do 
To a Hatband & a Pr of Gloves for the Men 

that attended the Funerall 
Paid for Turnpikes 
Paid for Beer for Men 
Gave the Grave Digger 
Attendance at Funerall 
A Man fetching Company 





1 1 










1 1 


Source; C. Morris (ed.). The Journeys ofCelia Fiennes (1947 edn.), 
pp. 294-6, 

This Abby alsoe is the place where the sollemnityes of .the 
Kings interrments and coronations are performed, of which 
I shall give a perticular: at the Death of a Prince, which I have 
been a mournfull spectator or hearer of two of the most 
renowned that ever was, King William and Queen Marys, 1 
the Queen dying before the King he omitted noe ceremony 
of respect to her memory and remains, which lay in State 
in Whitehall in a bed of purple velvet all open, the cannopy 
the same with rich gold fring, the middle being the armes of 
England curiously painted and gilt, the head piece embroyder'd 
richly with a crown and cyphers of her name, a cusheon of 
purple velvet at the head on which was the Imperiall Crown 
and Scepter and Globe, and at the feete another such a 
cusheon with the Sword and Gauntlets, on the corps which 
was rowled in lead, and over it a coffin cover'd with purple 
velvet with the crown, and gilt in moldings very curious ; a 

1 Mary died in Dec. 1694 and William III in March 1702. 


I I 

pall on all of a very rich tissue of gold and silver, ruffled 
round about with purple velvet which hung down on the 
ground . , . this in a roome hung with purple velvet, full 
of large wax tapers, and at the 4 corners of the bed stood 
4 of the Ladyes of the Bed Chamber — Countesses — with 
vailes. . . . 

The anty chamber hung with purple cloth, and there 
attended four of the Maids of Honnour, all in vailes, and the 
Gentlemen of the Bed Chamber; pages [in] another roome 
all in black, the staires all below the same. The Queen dyeing 
while the Parliament sate, the King gave mourning to them 
(500) and cloakes, which attended thus : their Speaker haveing 
his traine bore up, then the Lord Major the same, and attended 
by the Aldermen and officers all in black, and the Judges; 
then the officers of the Houshold, then the Guards, then the 
Gentleman Master of the Horse led the Queens led horse 
cover'd up with purple velvet; next came the open chariot 
made as the bed was . . . [and] supported by six of the first 
Dukes of the Rcalmc that were not in office ; this chariot was 
drawn by the Queens own 6 horses covered up with purple 
velvet and at the head and feete was laid the emblems of her 
dignity . . , after which the Dutchess of Summerset, as chief 
mourner walked being supported by these Lords, the Lord 
President of the Councill and the Lord Privy Scale, she haveing 
a vaile over her face, and her traine of 6 yards length . . . 
[and] after [her] two and two the Ladies followed and Lords, 
all long traines according to their ranke, the Bishops likewise, 
all on foote on black cloth strained on boards, from Whitehall 
to Westminster Abby where was a sermon, in which tyme 
the body of the Queen was reposed in a masulium [mauso- 
leum] in form of a bed with black velvet and silver fringe 
round. , . . 

Then after the service of burial which is done with solemn 
and mournfull musick and singing, the sound of a drum 
unbraced, the breakcing of all the white staves of those that 
were the officers of the Queen, and flinging in the keys of the 
rest of the offices devoted by that badge into the tomb ; they 
seale it up and soe returne in same order they went. 



















Source: A. F. J. Brown (ed.), English History from Essex Sources 
vol. I (1952), p. 112. The list of funeral expenses is taken from the 
Great Bentley Vestry Minutes, 1756. 

for a quert of ould bear and a pint of gin for the 

widow orsbin 
for going for Mr hunt to the wid orsbin 
for fetching the nurs from wivener to the widow 

for a pint of wine and pearl barley and harts horn 

for the widow orsbin 
for the Coffin for the widow orsbin 
for Carring of the widow orsbin to the ground 

in a tumbril 
to the minister 

for the affedavc [affidavit of burial in wool] 
to the sexton 
for bear at the bering of the Widow orsbin 


Source.- C. Morris (ed.), The Journeys of Celia Fiennes, pp. 310-11. 
(For crime, see below, pp. 368.) 

The manner of Criminalls punishment after Condemnation: 
which if it be for fellony or treason their condemnation of the 
first is to be hanged, and they are drawn in a cart from their 
prisons . . . with their coffin tyed to them and halters about 
their necks, there is alsoe a Divine with them that is allwayes 
appointed to be with them in the prison to prepare them for 
their death by makeing them sencible of their crimes and all 
their sins, and to confess and repent of them; these do accom- 
pany them to the place of execution which is generally through 
the Citty to a place appoynted for it called Tiburn [Tyburn] l 
there after they have prayed and spoken to the people the 
Minister does exhort them to repent and to forgive all the 
world, the Executioner then desires him to pardon him, and 

1 For Tyburn, see below, pp. 381-3. 


so the halter is put on and he is cast off, being hung on a 
gibbet till dead, then cut down and buried unless it be for 
murder; then usually his body is hung up in chaines at a cross 
high road in view of all, to deterre others. 

For high treason they are drawn in a sledge to their execu- 
tion without any coffine, for their condemnation when hang'd 
to be taken down before quite dead and to be opened; they 
take out their heart and say, this is the heart of a traytor, and 
so his body is cutt in quarters and hung up on the top of the 
great gates of the City, which are the places of their prison, 
some gate houses for debtors, others for fellons and traytors, , . . 


Source: Letter of 16 Nov. 1708, printed in J. J, Cartwright (ed,), 
The Wentworth Papers, p. 64. (For Fubs, see above, p, 7.) 

My dearist and best of children . . . 

I have a moste dismall story to tell you, God forgiv me for 
it. I cannot help being more than I ought concerned. I shall 
never Iov anything of that kynde a quarter soe well again. 
I had rether lost a hundred pd., nay all the rest of my doms 
I would have geven to have saved poor charming Fubs, never 
poor wretch had a harder death. As it leved soe it dyed, full 
of lov leening its head in my bosom, never offered to snap at 
any body in its horrid torter but nussle its head to us and 
Ioock earnestly upon me and Sue, whoe cryed for thre days 
as if it had been for a childe or husband . . . Sure of all its 
kynd thear never was such a one nor never can be, soe many 
good quail etys, soe much senc and good nature and cleenly 
and not one fait; but few human creeturs had more senc 
then that had. ... I could write a quier of paper in her 
commendations. I have buiryed her in this garden, and thear 
is a stoan layd at her head. . . . 


The seriousness of losses of cattle in a primarily agricultural 
economy was plain to all writers of the eighteenth century. 



Source: John Milner's account of cattle distemper, printed in 
E. Hughes, North Country Life in the Eighteenth Century, 1700-1750 
(1952), pp. 148-50. 

The distemper first appeared in August 1714 at Islington 
and as soon as the Lords Justices had notice of it, the Lord 
Chancellor by their directions ordered four Justices to take 
an account of the stocks of all the Cowkeepers in or near the 
place who had any infected cows or calves and also to agree 
with them for all their cows and calves which were or should 
be taken ill. 

This was done at 40*/- a cow and 10 s /- a calf. On receiving 
information that the Distemper was chiefly propagated by the 
selling of infected calves, the Justices bought and killed all the 
calves, sick and well; they also appointed a slaughterman at 
5 s /- a day and proper surveyors who every day visited each 
cowherd, killing every cow as soon as it was taken ill, burying 
them ten foot deep with unslaked lime and covering them well 
with earth to prevent infectious steames. They also every week 
checked the accounts of the cowkeepers' stocks to prevent their 
buying in new cattle or old cows of small value which practices 
tended to increase the Distemper. 


Eighteenth-century epitaphs, both in their content and their 
style, illustrate the attitude of contemporaries to the problems of 
this chapter perhaps more vividly than any other source. 

(a) Source: Alexander Pope, Collected Poems (Everyman edn., 1924), 
p. 120. (For Wordsworth's comments on this epitaph, see below, 
p. 17.) 

On Mrs. Corbet who Died of a Cancer in her Breast. 
Here rests a woman, good without pretence, 
Bless'd with plain reason, and with sober sence : 
No conquests she, but o'er herself, desired ; 
Nor arts essay' d, but not to be admir'd. 
Passion and Pride were to her soul unknown, 
Convinced that Virtue only is our own ; 
So unaffected, so composed a mind; 



So firm, yet soft ; so strong, yet so refined ; 
Heaven as its purest gold, by tortures tried ! 
The saint sustain'd it, but the woman died. 

(b) Source: Epitaph of 1772 in Extant Epitaphs, Gathered by a Com- 
mercial in Spare Moments (1870), p. 38. 

Like a tender Rose Tree was my spouse to me, 
Her offspring Pluckt, too long deprived of life is she, 
Three went before, Her Life went with the Six, 
I stay with the Three Our Sorrows for to mix, 
Till Christ our only hope our Joys doth Fix. 

(c) Source; William Hone, The Table Book (1827). 

To the memory of my four wives, who all died within the 
space of ten years, but more pertickJer to the last, mrs. sally 
horne, who has left me and four dear children: she was a 
good, sober, and clean soul, and may I soon go to her — 
a.d. 1732. 

Dear wives, if you and I shall all go to heaven, 
The Lord be blest, for then we shall be even. 

william joy horne, Carpenter. 

(d) Source: William Hone, The Every-day Book (1827), vol. II, 
col. 390. Epitaph on an Actor. 


To the memory of 


who was engaged, 21st of Dec, 1741, to play a comic cast of 
characters, in this great theatre — the World ; for many of which he 
was prompted by nature to excel. 

The season being ended, his benefit over, the charges all paid, 
and his account closed, he made his exit in the tragedy of 
Death, on the 1 7th of March, 1 798, in full assurance of being 
called once more to rehearsal; where he hopes to find his 
forfeits all cleared, his cast of parts bettered, and his situation 
made agreeable, by him who paid the great stock-debt, for 
the love he bore to performers in general. 

(e) Source: Epitaph on a young smuggler caught by an excise 



officer, printed in Sussex Archaeological Collections (1857), vol. IX, 
p. 195. 

Sacred to the Memory of Daniel Scales, who was unfortu- 
nately shot, on Thursday evening, Nov. 7th, 1796. 
Alas! swift flew the fatal lead, 
Which pierced through the young man's head. 
He instant fell, resigned his breath, 
And closed his languid eyes in death. 
All you who do this stone draw near, 
Oh! pray let fall the pitying tear. 
From this sad instance may we all 
Prepare to meet Jehovah's call. 

(f) Source : O. Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World (1762), Letter 

It was formerly the custom here, when men of distinction 
died, for their surviving acquaintance to throw a slight present 
into the grave. . . . This custom, however, is almost discon- 
tinued, and nothing but verses are now lavished on such 
occasions, an oblation which they suppose may be interned 
with the dead, without any injury to the living. Upon the 
death of the great, therefore, the poets and undertakers are 
sure of employment. While one provides the long cloak, black 
sash and mourning coach, the other produces the pastoral or 
elegy, the monody or the apotheosis, 

(g) Source: L. Knight (ed.), The Prose Works of William Wordsworth 
(1896), vol. II, 'Upon Epitaphs', pp. 134, 146-7, 165-6. 

As, then both in cities and villages, the dead are deposited 
in close connection with our places of worship, with us the 
composition of an epitaph naturally turns, still more than 
among the nations of antiquity, upon the most serious and 

solemn affections of the human mind ; upon departed worth 

upon personal or social sorrow and admiration upon religion, 
individual and social— upon time and upon eternity. Without 
being so far lulled as to imagine I saw in a village church-yard 
the eye or central point of a rural Arcadia, I have felt that 
with all the vague and general expressions of love, gratitude 
and praise, with which it is usually crowded, it is a far more 
faithful representation of homely life as existing among a 


community . . . than any report which might be made by a 
rigorous observer. . . . The epitaph on Mrs. Corbet [quoted 
on p. 14] may be the best of Pope's Epitaphs; but if the 
standard which we have just fixed is a just one, it cannot be 
approved of. First, it must be observed, that in the epitaphs of 
this Writer the true impulse is wanting .... Dr. Johnson, 
making an exception of the verse 'Convinced that virtue only 
is our own' praises this epitaph for 'containing nothing taken 
from common places'. Now in fact, as may be deduced from 
the principles of this discourse, it is not only no fault but a 
primary requisite in an epitaph that it shall contain thoughts 
and feelings which are in their substance commonplace, and 
even trite. It is grounded upon the universal intellectual 
property of man — sensations which all men have left and feel 
in some degree daily and hourly. 


There was a protracted eighteenth-century debate about the 
size of the population, and the influence on society of rising and 
falling birth and death rates. The most influential book, Thomas 
Malthus's Essay on Population was published in 1798 and went 
through many editions. Malthus's theories were a direct answer 
to those who believed in perpetual progress, for he pointed to the 
horrors of increasing population — hunger, poverty and death — 
if 'moral restraint' were not exercised within the family. His theories 
were sharply contested, and were often unpopular. 

(a) Source: T. Mai thus, An Essay on Population (1798), pp. 18 ff. 

Population, when unchecked, goes on doubling itself every 
twenty-five years, or increases in a geometrical ratio. 

Let us now take any spot of earth, this island for instance, 
and see in what ratio the subsistence it affords can be supposed 
to increase. We will begin with it under its present state of 

If I allow that by the best possible policy, by breaking up 
more land, and by great encouragements to agriculture, the 
produce of this island may be doubled in the first twenty-five 
years, I think it will be allowing as much as any person can 
well demand. 



In the next twenty-five years, it is impossible to suppose 
that the produce could be quadrupled. It would be contrary 
to all our knowledge of the qualities of land. The very utmost 
that we can conceive, is, that the increase in the second twenty- 
five years might equal the present produce. Let us then take 
this for our rule, though certainly far beyond the truth; and 
allow that^ by great exertion, the whole produce of the island 
might be increased every twenty-five years, by a quantity of 
subsistence equal to what it at present produces. The most 
enthusiastic speculator cannot suppose a greater increase than 
the island like a garden. 

Yet this ratio of increase is evidently arithmetical. 

It may be fairly said, therefore, that the means of subsistence 
increase in an arithmetical ratio. . . . 

(b) Source: 1809 edition of ibid., pp. 6 Iff. 

In the former edition of this essay, I observed, that, as from 
the laws of nature it appeared, that some check to population 
must exist, it was better that this check should arise from a 
foresight of the difficulties attending a family, and the fear of 
dependent poverty, than from the actual presence of want 
and sickness. This idea will admit of being pursued further, and 
I am inclined to think, that, from the prevailing opinions 
respecting population, which undoubtedly originated in 
barbarous ages, and have been continued and circulated by 
that part of every community, which may be supposed to be 
interested in their support, we have been prevented from 
attending to the clear dictates of reason and nature on this 
subject. . . , 

In the history of every epidemick it has almost invariably 
been observed, that the lower classes of people, whose food 
was poor and insufficient, and who lived crowded together, in 
small and dirty houses, were the principal victims. In what 
other manner can nature point out to us, that if we increase 
too fast for the means of subsistence, so as to render it necessary 
for a considerable part of the society to live in this miserable 
manner, we have offended against one of her laws. This law 
she has declared exactly in the same manner, as she declares 
that intemperance in eating and drinking will be followed by ill 


health ; and that, however grateful it may be to us at the moment 
to indulge in these passions to excess, this indulgence will ulti- 
mately produce unhappiness. It is as much a law of nature that 
repletion is bad for the human frame, as that eating and drinking, 
unattended with this consequence, is good for it. . . . 

After the desire for food, the most powerful and general of 
our desires, is the passion between the sexes, taken in an 
enlarged sense. Of the happiness spread over human life by 
this passion, very few are unconscious, . , , 

The fecundity of the human species is, in some respects, a 
distinct consideration from the passion between the sexes, as it 
evidently depends more upon the power of women in bearing 
children, than upon the strength or weakness of this passion. 
It is, however, a law, exactly similar in its great features to all 
the other laws of nature. It is strong and general, and apparently 
would not admit of any very considerable diminution, without 
being inadequate to its object; the evils arising from it are 
incidental to these necessary qualities of strength and generality ; 
and these evils are capable of being greatly mitigated, and 
rendered comparatively light by human energy and virtue. 
We cannot but conceive, that it is an object of the Creator, 
that the earth should be replenished, at least to a considerable 
degree; and it appears to me clear, that this could not be 
affected, without a tendency in population to increase faster 
than food; and as with the perfect law of increase, the peopling 
of the earth does not proceed very rapidly, we have undoubtedly 
some reason to believe, that his law is not too powerful for 
its apparent object. ... It is of the very utmost importance to 
the happiness of mankind, that they should not increase too 
fast; but it does not appear that the object to be accomplished, 
would admit of any very considerable diminution in the desire 
of marriage. It is clearly the duty of each individual not to 
marry till he has prospect of supporting his children; but it 
is at the same time to be wished, that he should retain un- 
diminished his desire for marriage, in order that he may exert 
himself to realize this prospect, and be stimulated to make 
provision for the support of greater numbers. 

It is evidently therefore, regulation and direction that is 
required with regard to the principle of population, not 



diminution or alteration. And if moral restraint be the only 
virtuous mode of avoiding the incidental evils arising from 
this principle, our obligation to practise it will evidently rest 
exactly upon the same foundation, as our obligation to practise 
any of the other virtues, the foundation of utility. 


The first decennial public Census was taken in 1801— an earlier 
attempt to introduce one had been turned down by Parliament 
in 1753— and since then the amount and variety of demographic 
and social information collected has greatly increased. Earlier 
estimates were based mainly on parish registers subject to wide 
margins of error, and even the Censuses of 1801 and 1811 omitted 
a significant proportion (as much as 5 per cent) of the population. 
Between 1801 and 1811 English population, according to Census 
information, increased by 17$ per cent. The distribution of popu- 
lation by counties in 1801— by order of size— is set out below. 
During the eighteenth century the population of East Anglia had 
declined, while that of Tyneside, Yorkshire and Lancashire had 
increased. Surrey and Middlesex grew with the growth of London 
(see below, p. 54), while the population of the West Country, the 
South and the East Midlands had remained relatively static. 

Yorkshire 858,892 

Devon 343,001 
Kent 307,624 

Somerset 273,750 
Norfolk 273,371 
Surrey 269,049 

Stafford 239,153 
Essex 226,437 

Suffolk 210,431 

Lincoln 208,557 
Warwick 208,190 
Shropshire 197,639 
Chester 191,751 
Cornwall 188,269 
Wiltshire 185,107 
Derby 161,142 
Durham 160,861 
Sussex 159,311 


Worcester 139,333 


Leicester 130,081 

Dorset 115,319 

Oxford 109,620 
Berkshire 109,215 

Hertford 97,577 
Cambridge 89,346 
Hereford 89,191 
Bedford 63,393 

Monmouth 45,582 
Westmorland 41,617 
Huntingdon 37,568 
Rutland 16,356 



'Tis with our judgements as our watches, none 
Go just alike, yet each believe his own. 

(Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism, 1711) 

She went, to plain-work and to purling brooks, 

Old-fashion'd halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks, 

She went from op'ra, park, assembly, play, 

To morning walks, and pray'rs three hours a day; 

To part her time 'twixt reading and Bohea, 

To muse, and spill her solitary Tea, 

Or o'er cold coffee trifle with the spoon, 

Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon; 

Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire, 

Hum half a tune, tell stories to the squire; 

Up to her godly garret after sev'n, 

There starve and pray, for that's the way to heav'n. 

(Alexander Pope, Epistle to Miss Blount, 1717) 

Mr, Pratt. My table clock stops and will not go and when it did 
go the hand for the day of the month goes from 12 at noon to 
12 at noon again, whereas it should go from 12 at night to 12 at 
night again. I must desire you to come over on purpose to rectifie 
it as soon as possible . . . P.S. Pray bring your toolls and come 
early enough to mend my mother's repeating watch, 

(Letter from Henry Purefoy to a Clockmaker, 1 746) 

I resigned myself to the common ideas of this place [Lincoln] 
such as bells ringing, clocks striking, men drinking, women talking, 
and children dancing eternally. . . . 

(Letter from Mary Yorke, 19 Jan. 1771) 

Whilst the engine runs the people must work — men, women, 
and children are yoked together with iron and steam. The animal 
machine — breakable in the best case, subject to a thousand sources 




of suffering — is chained fast to the iron machine, which knows no 

suffering and no weariness, 

(J. P. Kay, Moral and Physical Conditions of the 
Operatives — employed in the Cotton Manufacture in 

Manchester, 1832) 


A very old man still alive at the beginning of the period had 
spanned great changes, 

(a) Source: Report in Daily Courant, 9 April 1706. 

This Day died [at Northampton] John Bales of this Town, 
Button Maker aged 130 and some Weeks; he liv'd in the 
Reigns of Queen Elizabeth, King James the First, King Charles 
the First, Oliver, King Charles the Second, King James the 
Second, King William the Third, and Queen Anne. 

(b) Some old men lived through most of the period covered in 
this volume. 

Source; Report in the Monthly Intelligencer, Feb. 1815. 

Died at Caversham, Oxon in his 102d. year, Mr. H. Cottrell, 
late of Burgfield, Berks. 

(c) Some old men who died much later could recall the changes 
described in this volume. Adam Luecock of Coal brookd ale, a 
centre of the early industrial revolution, died in 1831, aged 107. 

Source: J. Randall, History of Madeley (1880), pp. 287ff. 

At local festivals ... he was brought to crown the presiden- 
tial chair. Old Adam — a name truly suggestive of the past and 
well fitted for a village sage — was widely known. He was a 
specimen of archaeology in himself— the solitary link of a 
patriarchal chain that had fallen one by one — he the only 
one remaining. Old age sat as fittingly on him ... as autumn 
bloom upon mellow fruit. . . . While lingering, or waiting, 
rather, upon the verge of another world he liked to live again 
the active past, and to amuse himself by talking of scenes 

with which he had been associated 'We used', he said, 

*to bring the mine for the Dale on pack-horses. ... We used 
also, to take minerals on horseback all the way to Leighton, 
where there was plenty of wood and charcoal, and water to 

time 23 

blow the bellows. Strings of horses, the first having a bell to 
tell of their coming, used to go; they called them 'Crickers* — 
and a very pretty sight it was to see them winding through 
upland, wood and meadow, the little bells tinkling as they 
went. . . . Pedlars and packhorses were the means of loco- 
motion and the medium of news in my day; and if we travelled, 
it was in the four-wheeled covered waggon, over roads with 
three or four feet ruts, Lord, sir, I remember, in good old 
George the Third's time, when turnpike gates were first put 
up, there was a great outcry against them. . , . ' 

(d) By the middle of the nineteenth century most of the issues 
raised in this book and the ways of life associated with them had 
passed into history. For ordinary people the industrial revolution 
and the coming of railways, the greatest of all the transport changes, 
were the great divide. Walter Bagehot, the essayist, put the general 
question into historical perspective. 

Source; W, Bagehot, 'Bolingbroke as a Statesman* (1863), printed 
in Biographical Studies (1881). 

Who now reads Bolingbroke? was asked sixty years ago. 
Who now knows anything about him? we may ask now. 
Professed students of our history or of our literature may have 
special knowledge; but out of the general mass of educated 
men, how many could give an intelligible account of his 
career? How many could describe even vaguely his character 
as a statesman ? Our grandfathers and their fathers quarrelled 
for two generations as to the peace of Utrecht, but only an 
odd person here and there could now give an account of its 
provisions. The most cultivated lady would not mind asking, 
'The Peace of Utrecht! yes — what was that?' . . . So is history 
unmade. Even now, the dust of forgetfulncss is falling over the 
Congress of Vienna [1815] . . . and in another fifty years 
'Vienna' will be as 'Utrecht', and Wellington be no more than 


(a) For provincial men and women, the pattern of time would 
usually be expressed in terms of births and deaths, particularly those 


within the local community. The following data refer to the parish 
of Eastry in Kent. 

so_uik.e 2 (at 



Eastry Court) 


the Five Bells) 

1688. William III 


1702. Anne 


1698. Druc- 

1693. Michael 





1714. George I 

1707. John Cost 


1727. George II 

1723. Isaac 
Bargrave born 

1744. Isaac 

1747. Culpeper 

1753. Samuel 

1733. William 



1760. George 111 

1757. Richard 


1772. Richard 

1771. William 


Harvey 6 



1800. Isaac 

1806. Widow 




died. Suc- 

ceeded by 





1820. George IV 

1825. Robert 

1821. George 

1822. John 





{to 1841) 

1830. William IV 


1 To the old Christian festivals there bad been added each year the celebration 
of the Restoration of Charles II on May 29 and the martyrdom of Charles I on 
30 January, On Nov. 5 — to quote the Prayer Book — 'the happy arrival of King 
William ... for the delivery of the church and Nation' was celebrated along 
with the deliverance from Guy Fawkcs. 

1 The Bargrave family, descendants of Isaac Bargravcj Dean or Canterbury 
(1625-43), took up the lease of Eastry Court from the Ncvinsons in 1647. They 
remained at Eastry until 1858. 

3 To complete the perspectives, there were five Vicars of Eastry between 1590 
and 1698 and five between 1841 and 1923. 

4 Drue-Astley Cressener presented the paten and chalice which arc still used in 

TIME 25 

(b) An important new development was the rise of the newspaper 
press offering readers a regular flow of news. London led the way 
in the late seventeenth century. There was no country newspaper 
in existence in 1 700 ; by 1 760 1 30 had been started and the news- 
paper had become an institution. In addition to news of events 
they provided useful information about meetings, prices, trade 
returns and bills of mortality, not to speak of advertisements. 

Source: Article in the British Mercury, 2 Aug. 1712. 

About 1695 the press was again set to work, and such a 
furious itch of novelty has ever since been the epidemical 
distemper, that it has proved fatal to many families, the 
meanest of shopkeepers and handicrafts spending whole days 
in coffee-houses to hear news and talk politics, whilst their 
wives and children wanted bread at home, and, their business 
being neglected, they were themselves thrust into gaols or 
forced to take sanctuary in the army. Hence sprang that 
inundation of Postmen, Postboys, Evening Posts, Supplements, 
Daily Corrants and Protestant Post Boys, amounting to twenty-one 
every week, besides many more which have not survived to 
this time, and besides the Gazette, which has the sanction of 
public authority. 

(c) Source: G. Crabbe, The Newspaper (1785). 

I sing of news, and all those vapid sheets 

The rattling hawker vends through gaping streets ; 

Whate'er their name, whate'er the time they fly; 

Damp from the press, to charm the reader's eye: 

For, soon as morning dawns with roseate hue, 

The Herald of the morn arises too; 

Post after post succeeds, and all day long, 

Eastry Church. Among his comments in the Parish Register we read, 'Astlcy 
Cressener Vicar, Inducted . . . 1698 among the Savages of Eastry, who used my 
Good Predecessor almost as 111 as my Self, but Death in a link- time gave him a 
Happy Deliverance*. 

* Robert took the name and arms of Bargrave only after Isaac's death. He was 
the husband of Isaac Bargrave's neice, and was previously called Tournay. 

6 Harvey came from a prosperous Eastry family who lived in one of the fine 
local houses which vied with Eastry Court. One of these was built by the Boteler 
family in 1710. Harvey's brother John was Mayor of Sandwich in 1774. He died 
of wounds received on the Glorious First of June, 1794. 



Gazettes and Ledgers swarm, a noisy throng. 
When evening comes, she comes with at! her train 
Of Ledgers, Chronicles, and Posts again. . . . 

(d) In the middle of the century there were fuller chronicles of 
events as well as newspapers and reviews. The Annual Register first 
appeared in 1759. 

Source: Preface to the Annual Register (1759). 

Not confined to a monthly publication, we have an oppor- 
tunity of examining with care the products of the year, and of 
selecting what may appear most particularly deserving of 
notice: we have from the same cause the advantage of order; 
we are better able to rank the several kinds under their proper 
heads . . . [Yet] we find it very difficult to trace the true 
causes of events, which time only can draw from obscurity. 
It is hard to find a connection between the facts upon whose 
authenticity we may depend; and in the mass of materials of 
a dubious authority, it is equally hard to know what ought 
to be chosen to make out such a connection. 

(e) For a sophisticated conception of the passage of time, see 
Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749) which deliberately plays with 
the time sequence of events and philosophises about the subject. 

Source: H. Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, Book. II, Ch. I. 

Though we have properly enough entitled this our work, a 
history, and not a life; nor an apology for a life, as is more in 
fashion; yet we intend in it rather to pursue the method of 
those writers, who profess to disclose the revolutions of coun- 
tries, than to imitate the painful and voluminous historian, 
who, to preserve the regularity of his series, thinks himself 
obliged to fill up as much paper with the detail of months and 
years in which nothing remarkable happened, as he employs 
upon those notable areas when the greatest scenes have been 
transacted on the human stage. 

Such histories as these do, in reality, very much resemble a 
newspaper, which consists of just the same number of words, 
whether there be any news in it or not. They may likewise be 
compared to a stage coach, which performs constantly the 
same course, empty as well as full. The writer, indeed, seems 


to think himself obliged to keep even pace with time, whose 
amenuensis he is. . . . 

Now it is our purpose, in the ensuing pages, to pursue a 
contrary method. When any extraordinary scene presents 
itself (as we trust will often be the case), we shall spare no 
pains nor paper to open it at large to our reader; but if whole 
years should pass without producing anything worthy his 
notice, we shall not be afraid of a chasm in our history; but 
shall hasten on to matters of consequence, and leave such 
periods of time totally unobserved. . . . 

My reader then is not to be surprized, if, in the course of 
this work, he shall find some chapters very short, and others 
altogether as long; some that contain only the time of a single 
day, and others that comprise years; in a word, if my history 
sometimes seems to stand still, and sometimes to fly. . . . 


Witiiin each year, time was still measured by the changes of the 
seasons. Before the advent of 'time-tables' (it was not until the 
coming of railways in the nineteenth century that this term became 
common), work and play were closely attuned to seasonal rhythms. 
Many outdoor occupations were busiest in the summer and autumn, 
with the harvest providing a climax. Even in domestic industry 
there tended to be seasonal variations, with the calendar in- 
fluencing business demand and work patterns. There were also 
special food dishes to make for each season, such as tansy pudding, 
simnel cakes and hopper cake. 

(a) Source: Letter from Lord Ashburnham, 15 Oct. 1706, in the 
Ashburnham Papers, East Sussex County Record Office. 

The season of the year being now well advane'd for the 
cutting of underwood in Coppices and Workemen's wages 
more moderate than after Christmas I think it may not be 
amisse to discourse Mr. Kirrell the Charcoale man concerning 
his taking the ayre in Sussex ... & negotiate a treaty of Sale 
with him in order to a bargain, and his using the present 
proper season to cutt the Wood. 

(b) Source: The Gentleman's Magazine (1738), pp. 465-7. 



I am now in the country, and at that Season of the Year in 
which Parish Feasts abound I hear of one every Sunday kept 
in some Village or other of the Neighbourhood, and see great 
Numbers of both Sexes in their Holiday Cloaths constantly 
flocking thither, to partake of the Entertainment of their 
Friends and Relations, or to divert themselves with the rural 
Games and athlctick Exercises. 

(c) Ibid. (1816), Part II, pp. 408-9. This passage shows the sur- 
vival in Devonshire of harvest practices which already by 1816 
were felt to belong to an archaic society. 

The reaping and harvesting of the wheat in the county of 
Devon is attended with so heavy an expence, and with practices 
of so very disorderly a nature, as to call for the strongest mark 
of disapprobation, and their immediate discontinuance, . . , 
The wheat being ready to cut down, notice is given in the 
neighbourhood that a reaping is to be performed on a particu- 
lar day, when on the morning of the day appointed, a gang 
consisting of an indefinite number of men and women assemble 
at the field, and the reaping commences after breakfast, which 
is seldom over till between eight and nine o'clock. This com- 
pany is open for additional hands to drop in, at any time 
before the twelfth hour, to partake of the frolick of the day. 
By eleven or twelve o'clock the ale and cider lias so much 
warmed and elevated their spirits, that their noisy jokes and 
ribaldry are heard to a considerable distance, and often serve 
to draw auxiliary force within the accustomed time. The dinner, 
consisting of the best meat and vegetables, is carried into the 
field between twelve and one o'clock; this is distributed with 
copious draughts of ale and eider; and by two o'clock the 
pastime of cutting and binding the wheat is resumed, and 
continued without other interruption than the squabbles of 
the party, until about five o'clock, when what is called the 
drinkings are taken into the field, and under the shade of a 
hedge row or a large tree, the panniers are examined, and 
buns, cakes, and all such articles are found as the confectionary 
skill of the farmer's wife could produce for gratifying the 
appetites of her customary guests at this season. After the 
drinkings are over, which generally consume from half to 

TIME 29 

three quarters of an hour (and even longer if such can be spared 
from the completion of the field) the amusement of the wheat- 
harvest is continued with such exertions as draw the reaping 
and binding of the field together with the close of the evening: 
this done, a small sheaf is bound up and set upon the top of 
one of the ridges, when the reapers retiring to a certain 
distance, each throws his rcap-hook at the sheaf until one 
more fortunate, or less inebriated than the rest, strikes it down. 
This achievement is accompanied with the utmost stretch 
and power of the voices of the company, uttering words very 
indistinctly, but somewhat to this purpose — ( we* ha in! we - ha 
in!' concluding with a horrid yell resembling the war-whoop 
of the Indian savages, which noise and tumult continue for 
about half an hour, when the company retire to the farm-house 
to supper; which being over, large portions of ale and cider 
enable them to carouse and vociferate until two or three 
o'clock in the morning. ... It must be observed, that the 
labourers thus employed in reaping, receive no wages; but in 
lieu thereof they have an invitation to the farmer's house, to 
partake of a harvest froHc, and at Christmas also, during the 
whole of which time, and which seldom continues less than 
four or five days, the house is kept open night and day to the 
guests, whose behaviour during the time may be assimilated 
to the frolics of a bear-garden. 

(d) Source: Samuel Bamford, Early Days (1893 edn., ed. by H. 
Dunckley), pp. 121-9, gives an account of seasonal influences on 
industrial work in the North of England in the late eighteenth 

. . . Most of the pastimes and diversions which I shall 
describe are no longer practised — some of them not even 
known — by the youthful population of our manufacturing 
districts at the present day. Thus we are enabled distinctly to 
perceive the great change which, in a few years, has taken 
place in the tastes and habits of the working classes. . . . 

Some two or three weeks before Christmas it was the custom 
in families to apportion to each boy or girl weaver a certain 
quantity of work, which was to be done ere his or her holidays 
commenced. An extra quantity was generally undertaken to 
be performed, and the conditions of the performance were 


such indulgences and gratuities as were agreeable to the 
working parties. In most families a peck or a strike of malt 
would be brewed; spiced bread or potato custard would be 
made, and probably an extra piece of beef, and some good old 
cheese would be laid in store, not to be touched until the work 
was done. The work then went on merrily. Play hours were 
nearly given up, and whole nights would be spent at the loom, 
the weavers occasionally striking up a hymn or Christmas 
carol in chorus. , . . Before Christmas we frequendy sung to 
keep ourselves from sleep, and we chorused 'Christians, awake' 
when we ourselves were almost gone to sleep. . . . Christmas 
holidays always commenced on the first Monday after New 
Year's Day. By that day every one was expected to have his 
work finished. That being done, the cuts were next carefully 
picked and plated, and made up for the warehouse, and they 
having been despatched, the loom-house was swept and put 
in order; the house was cleaned, the furniture rubbed, and the 
holidays then commenced. The ale was tapped, the currant- 
loaf was sliced out, and lad and lass went to play as each liked 
best; the boys generally at football, and both boys and girls 
at sliding when there was ice on the ground. ... At this 
season also it was the custom for the sexton of the church, and 
the ringers to go from house to house wishing their neighbours 
'a merry Christmas', when they were generally invited to sit 
down, and were presented with a jug of ale and a present in 
money. . . . 

At Shrove-tide we always had a holiday on Tuesday, when 
we went to each other's houses to turn our pancakes, and 
'stang' such as incurred the penalty by not having eaten their 
cake before the next cake was ready. The person to be stanged 
was placed on a pole, and being held on each side, was carried 
by others to middin and there deposited, amid the laughter and 
jokes of all present. . . . 

Midlent Sunday, with us called 'Cymbalin Sunday', was 
another of our feasts, when it was customary to eat cymbalin 
cake, and drink mulled ale. ... A cymbalin is not merely 
round spiced cake . . . but let the maker raise a lump in the 
middle, like the ball of a cymbal, and turn up the edges like 
those of the instrument. . . . 

time 31 

Easter was a more important holiday time at Middleton. 
On Good Friday children took little baskets neatly trimmed 
with moss, and went 'a peace-egging', and received at some 
places eggs, at some places spiced loaf, and at others half- 
pennies, which they carried home to their mothers, who 
would feel proud that their children had been so much 
respected. On Easter Monday, companies of young men 
grotesquely dressed, led up by a fiddler, and with one or two 
in female attire, would go from house to house on the same 
errand. ... At some places they would dance, at others they 
would recite quaint verses, and at the houses of the more 
sedate inhabitants, they would merely request a 'peace-egg'. 
Money or ale would in general be presented to them, which 
they afterwards divided and spent. Meantime the holiday 
having fairly commenced, all work was abandoned, good 
eating, good drinking, and new clothing were the order of the 
day. Men thronged to the ale-houses, and ... on Tuesday 
night, some unlucky fellow who had got so far intoxicated as 
not to be able to take care of himself, would be selected to fill 
the post of lord mayor for the year ensuing. . . . On Easter 
Wednesday, what was called 'The White Apron Fair' was 
held at Middleton. It was merely an occasion for the wives 
and mothers, with their children, and also for the young 
marriagable damsels, to walk out to display their finery and 
to get conducted by their husbands, or their sweethearts, to 
the ale-house, where they generally finished by a dance. . . . 

The night of the 1st of May was 'Mischief-neet', when, as 
'there is a time for all things', any one having a grudge against 
a neighbour was at liberty to indulge it, provided he kept his 
own counsel. On such occasions it was lawful to throw a 
neighbour's gate off the angles, to pull up his fence, to trample 
his garden, to upset a cart that might be found at hand, to 
set catUe astray, or to perform any other freak. . . . The 
morning after 'mischief-neet' was generally prolific of gossip 
and some laughter, as it generally became known by breakfast- 
time what 'lumber' farmer So-and-so had had done. . . . 

The feast of Whitsuntide was not attended by any particular 
local customs, except the relics of old 'Whitsun ales', which 
consisted in what were termed 'main brews' of ale ; a number 


clubbing to purchase malt which was brewed by one selected 
from the party. . . . But the 'Rush-bearing' was the great feast 
of the year, and was held on the anniversary of the dedication 
of the church. At Middleton it is held on the third Saturday 
in August. . . . From tradition, as well as from custom itself, 
we may conclude that at first it was a simple offering towards 
making the church floor comfortable during the winter 
services . . . [yet] a rivalry as to which hamlet could bring 
forth the neatest formed and the most finely decorated load of 
rushes would ensue. . . . Music, dancing and personal finery 
would accompany and keep pace with the increasing display 
[and] the feast would become a spectacle for all the surrounding 

Sunday was . . . the great day for hospitality. Relations 
living at a distance, old friends and acquaintances, being 
generally invited to the wakes, considerable numbers of well- 
dressed people would be seen in the forenoon entering the 
town from all quarters. Then, the very best dinner which could 
be provided was set out, the ale was tapped, and the guests 
were helped with a profusion of whatever the host could 
command. It was a duty at the wakes to be hospitable, and 
he who at that time was not liberal according to his means, 
was set down as a very mean person. . . . Monday was the day 
for hard drinking and for settling such disputes and determining 
such battles as had not come off on Saturday. Tuesday was 
again a drinking day, with occasional race-running and more 
batdes at night. Wednesday would be spent in similar manner. 
On Thursday the dregs of the wakes-keepers only would be 
seen staggering about. On Friday a few of the dregs of the 
dregs might be met with; Saturday was woful, and on Sunday 
all would be over, and sobered people going to church or 
chapel again, would make good resolutions against a repetition 
of their week's folly. And thus would have passed away the 
great feast of 'The Wakes'. From this time, as days began to 
shorten fast, candles were lighted up in the loom-houses, and 
what was called 'wakin-time' commenced — not so termed from 
the keeping of the wakes, but from the lighting up the waking 
with candles. . . . 

The next holiday was the Fifth of November, the anniversary 

time 33 

of the discovery of Gunpowder Plot. Most people ceased from 
working in the afternoon, and the children went from house 
to house begging coal to make a bonfire. ... In addition to 
these contributions gates and fences suffered, and whatever 
timber was obtainable from woods and plantations was con- 
sidered fair game 'for King George's sake'. At night the country 
would be lighted up by bonfires . , . tharcake and toffy were 
distributed to the younger members of families, whilst the 
elder clubbed their pence and at night had 'a joynin' in some 
convenient dwelling. The lord of the manor made the young 
men a present of a good two-horse load of coal, with which a 
huge fire was lighted on The Bank near the church, and kept 
burning all night and most of the day following. . . . Such 
were the principal games, pastimes, and observances of the 
rural population of Middleton and its vicinity when I was a 
youth. . . . 


The concept of a regular working week with standard regular 
holidays belongs to the period after the industrial revolution. It 
was not only at the time of the wakes that labour slackened off. 
London journeymen, for example, downed tools on the eight 
hanging days at Tyburn (see below, pp. 381). Saint Monday was 
an idle day for many groups of workers. As part of the same system 
there were periods of incessant toil. In the third extract Adam 
Smith, the economist, ventured on the view that heavy work was 
a reason for the 'idleness': other writers related the 'idleness' to 
the workers' conception of 'independence'. Francis Place, the 
London tailor, speaks for himself in the fourth extract. 
(a) Source: J. Houghton, Collection of Letters (1783 edn.), p. 177. 

When the framework knitters or makers of silk stockings had 
a great price for their work, they have often been observ'd 
seldom to work on Mondays or Tuesdays but to spend most 
of their time at the ale-house or nine-pins. . . . The weavers, 
'tis common with them to be drunk on Monday, have their 
headache on Tuesday, and their tools out of order on Wednes- 
day. As for the shoemakers, they'll rather be hanged than not 
remember St. Crispin on Monday . . . and it commonly 



holds as long as they have a penny of money or pennyworth of 

(b) Source: Note by the Steward of Norton, Lines., in July 1765, 
from the Dashwood Papers, quoted in Sir Francis Hill, Georgian 
Lincoln (1966), p. 54-. 

These two feasts at (Potter) Hanworth and Dunston have 
so turned our labourers' heads from work, that we have not 

been able to get all our hay mown last week This last 

week has been our horse race, which has been another help to 
keep our heads turned from minding business, and this week 
is our Assize. I hope when they are all over we shall fall to 
business again. 

Source: Evidence of Cornelius Bancroft, a Gloucestershire 
weaver, in Parliamentary Papers (1802-3), VII, p. 87. 

We could work fourteen or fifteen hours a Day; in Winter 
we work as much by the Candle as by Daylight; I have worked 
from five to seven at Night in Winter, and from four to nine in 

(d) Source: Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776: Everyman 
edn., 1910), vol. I, p. 73. 

Some workmen . . . when they can earn in four days what 
will maintain them through the week will be idle the other 
three. . . . Workmen, on the contrary, when they are liberally 
paid by the piece, are very apt to overwork themselves, and 
to ruin their health and constitution in a few years. A carpenter 
in London, and in some other places, is not supposed to last 
in his utmost vigour above eight years Excessive appli- 
cation during four days of the week is frequently the real 
cause of die idleness of the other three, so much and so loudly 
complained of. Great labour, either of mind or body, continued 
for several days together, is in most men naturally followed by 
a great desire of relaxation, which, if not restrained by force 
or by some strong necessity, is almost irresistible. It is the call 
of nature, which requires to be relieved by some indulgence, 
sometimes of ease only, but sometimes, too, of dissipation and 
diversion. If it is not complied with, the consequences are often 
dangerous. ... If masters would always listen to the dictates 


of reason and humanity, they have frequently occasion rather 
to moderate than to animate the application of many of their 


Fluctuations of experience were stored in the memory and 
recalled, often in Biblical fashion, in terms of good and lean years. 
The fortunes of farmers and workers — directly related to each 
other — were subject to sharp vicissitudes. Professor T. S. Ash ton 
has traced the pattern of fluctuations in his Economic Fluctuations 
in England, 1700-1800 (1959). There were also long-term trends, 
like the more or less continuing agricultural depression from 1730 
to 1750. 

(a) Source : Note by Henry Liddell in 1711, quoted in E. Hughes, 
North Country Life in the Eighteenth Century (1952), p. 158. 

Now on the best land security no money can be had; credit 
is so sunk. 

(b) Source : Letter of Matthew Ridley relating to the same part of 
the country, the North East, in 1744, quoted in ibid., p. 247, 

We have had so terrible a summer for the Coal Trade that 
we are all put to great difficulties to raise cash to carry on our 
works . . . my staith is full of your coals, nor have I made a 
shilling of the Colliery this year, this is the case with everybody. 

(c) Source: Note in the Diary of Thomas Turner, 7 Dec. 1763. 

The year 1763 was marked by a financial crisis of continental 
origin. It was the year of the Peace of Paris which followed the 
War of the Spanish Succession. 

I think since I have lived at Hoathly I never knew trade so 
dull, or money so scarce, the whole neighbourhood being 
almost reduced to poverty. 

(d) Source : Anon. An Answer to Sir John Dalrymple's Pamphlet upon 
the Exportation of Wool (1782). 

The 1780s were years of great industrial expansion, recorded 
in every index of industrial growth. Yet there was depression in 
many parts of the country in 1780 and 1781. 


What, too, is the condition of the great body of the poor, 
employed in the several branches of this [woollen] manufacture? 
Deplorable beyond expression. Some quite destitute of em- 
ployment, others half-employed, and almost all obliged to fly 
(where else can they fly?) to the landed interest for at least 

partial support It is a fact (I speak it from knowledge) 

that many parishes, at this instant, pay the carriage of wool, to 
and from the spinning houses, at the distance of twenty, thirty, 
and even forty miles, for the sake of obtaining some employ- 
ment for their poor. 

(e) Good times could be good. Source: Letter of S. and W. Sake, 
London merchants, to Samuel Oldknow, the muslin manufacturer, 
23 May 1786, quoted in G. Unwin, Samuel Oldknow and the Ark- 
wrights (1924), pp. 63-4. 

We want as many Spotted Muslins & Fancy Muslins as 

you can make the finer the better You must give a look 

to Invention, Industry you have in abundance. Send by the 
Coach every day what you can. This month & the next are of 
the utmost consequence to you & to us. We expect to hear 
from you as often as possible & as the Sun shines let us make 
the Hay. 


People talked and wrote a great deal about the weather, for in 
the country seasonal patterns varied in their effects according to 
the weather, thereby direcdy influencing the harvest and through 
the harvest all sectors of the eighteenth-century economy. Some 
trades, like building, were also directly affected by it. Periods of 
particularly bad weather, like 1708-10, 1725-29 and 1739-42 
affected both employment and population. Weather, however, 
was extremely localized, and the variety added to the interest. 

(a) The Wind. 

Source: Note for 19 April 1715 in the Diary of Thomas Marchant, 
a Sussex yeoman, living at Hurstpierpoint, printed in Sussex 
Archaeological Collections (1873), vol. XXV. 

Ned Penfold went part of the way to Lewes, but the wind 

TIME 37 

was so high it blew him off his horse. So he came back again. 
[In the same year the vane and one-third of the spire of 
Wakefield Church in Yorkshire were blown down. Twelve 
years earlier in 1703 it was estimated that a 'storm of wind' 
in London killed several people, injured 200, and did £2 
million of damage.] 

(b) The Rain. 

Source: Dr. Hans Sloane, 'An Account of a Storm of Rain that 
fell at Denbigh in Wales', printed in Philosophical Transactions of 
the Royal Society (1706), vol. XXV. 

Tuesday the 16th of July 1706, about 8 o'clock in the morn- 
ing, it began to rain in and about Denbigh, which continued 
incessantly for 30 hours, but not very violently till about 
3 or 4 o'clock on Wednesday morning, when it rained somewhat 
faster, attended with a terrible noise like thunder, with some 
flashes of lightning, and a boisterous wind. About break of day 
the rain and wind began to abate of their violence, lessening 
gradually till about 1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when it 
quite ceased, and the air became clear and somewhat calm. 
On the Tuesday the wind blew south west, but on the Wed- 
nesday it was come to the north west. 

The effects of this great storm were dismal, for it caused the 
overflowing of all the rivers in Denbighshire, Flintshire, and 
Merionethshire, &c which spoiled a great deal of corn, and 
took off all the hay that was mowed, near the banks of the 
rivers, which was carried by the stream in such vast quantities 
down to the bridges that it choked the arches and inlets, so 
as to break down about a dozen large bridges. Great oaks and 
other large trees were rooted up and swept away, with several 
quickset hedges, and some quillets, by the side of the river 
Elwy were so covered with sand and gravel, that the owners 
cannot well tell whereabouts their hedges and landmarks 
stood; and the same river had altered its course in some places, 
so as to rob the landlords on one side of some acres, and be- 
stowed as much on the opposite side. Two or three rivulets 
that conveyed water to some mills have been so choked up 
with stones and gravel, as to make it hardly worth the expence 
of clearing. 


(c) Drought. 

Source: J. Harland (ed.), Autobiography of William Slout of Lancaster 
1675-1752 (1851), p. 102. 

1723. The summer was exceedingly droughty so that the 
people were straitened to keep their cattle alive, and especially 
for water; and the corn was burnt up, little hay got, and no 
sale of cattle, nor fodder to subsist them in winter. . » , 

fd) Hail. 

Source: Note for 13 April 1728 in the Diary of Thomas Marchant. 

The storm on Saturday proved to be very great, especially 
the hail, which was prodigious; many of the stones were as 
big, and some bigger than hen's eggs. The windows of some 
houses about here were almost all broken. The corn was much 

(e) Frost and Snow. 

Source: A contemporary pamphlet, Contentment in God, quoted by 
T. H. Baker, Records of the Seasons (1883), pp. 189-90. 

An unheard of frost seized with extraordinary severity on the 
world and the elements [in 1739], so that it is scarcely possible 
to number or relate the many strange occurrences that took 
place through its violence. Men felt so oppressed that days 
passed by unheeded. One would and could hardly speak; 
one sat and thought, yet could not think; if anyone spoke a 
word it was with a hard, set face. Many hens and ducks, even 
the cattle in the stalls, died of cold ; the trees split asunder. 
Not only beer but wine in cellars froze. Deeply sunken wells 
were covered with impenetrable ice. Crows and other birds 
fell to the ground frozen in their flight. No bread was eaten, 
for it was as cold and hard as a stone. In May no sign of 
verdure was yet to be seen; it was still cold in July, and vege- 
tation was then still further hindered by drought. The harvest 
was not over till late in the autumn, and by the middle of 
October the frost returned before the fruit in the gardens had 
had time to ripen. 

(f) Ice. 

Source: Extracts from the Leeds Parish Church Registers. 

TIME 39 

Jan. 1739. A sheep was roasted whole upon the ice in the 
river . . . 

Feb. 1739. The frost broke when the ice in the river was 
fifteen inches thick in some places. . . . 

May 1740. On the 5th of this month was a great snow. 

(g) Mild Weather in Winter. 

Source: Note for II Feb. 1759, the Diary of Thomas Turner. 

This I believe is as mild a time, considering the season of 
the year, as hath been known in the memory of man — every- 
thing having the appearance, and carrying with it the face of 
April rather than of February (the bloom of the trees only 
excepted) ; the meadows now are as verdant as sometimes they 
are in May, the birds chirping their melodious harmony, and 
the foot-walks dry and pleasant. 

(h) Hot Weather in Summer, 

Source: Mrs. P. J. Toynbee (ed.), The Letters of Horace Walpole 
(1903), vol. Ill, p. 4. Letter of 2 Aug. 1750. 

While I was there [in Essex] we had eight of the hottest days 
that were ever felt; they say, some degrees beyond the hottest 
in the East Indies, and that the Thames was more so than the 
hot well at Bristol. The guards died on their posts at Versailles ; 
and here a Captain Halyburton . . . went mad with the excess 
of it 

(i) There was a growing interest in the collection of data about the 

Source: T. Barker, Extract of a Register of the Barometer, 
Thermometer and Rain, at Lyndon, Rutland, printed in Philo- 
sophical Transactions of the Royal Society (1775), vol. LXV, pp. 200-1, 

In the seventeen months from May 1773 to September 1774 
there fell 55.890 inches of rain, which is 3.288 inches each 
month; and in the three years 1772, 1773, and 1774, there 
came 93.258 inches; that is, 31.046 inches each year. The 
year began very severe with a sharp frost, which was not out 
of the ground for seven weeks together. . . . After the frost it 
was windy and wet for near a month till above a week in 
March. , . . There was at times a good deal of fine weather in 
summer, yet mixed with a great deal of wet it was a great 



grass year, and a cool summer. The hay time and beginning 
of harvest were showery, yet more hindering than hurting; 
but the latter part of harvest in September was exceeding 
bad indeed. No grain could be carried for three weeks together; 
for it rained every day, and in great quantities, I never 
measured so wet a month before. . . . The weather setded just at 
the beginning of October, which was a very fine month, almost 
like summer; and it was not till then that the harvest could be 
finished. The wheat seed-time was good, and the rest of the year 
favourable upon the whole; though a frost at the end of Novem- 
ber and beginning of December was earlier than usual, attended 
with snow, and threatened a severe winter; yet it grew mild again 
afterward, was in general fair, and the ground continued toler- 
ably diy, and a few frosty days concluded the year. 

(j) Barker watched the weather like a scientist. Dorothy Words- 
worth, the poet's sister, watched it as an artist. 

Source : The Diary of Dorothy Wordsworth, 3 1 Jan. 1 798. 

Set forward to Stowey at half-past five. A violent storm in 
the wood; sheltered under the hollies. When we left home the 
moon immensely large, the sky scattered over with clouds. 
These soon closed in, contracting the dimensions of the moon 
without concealing her. The sound of the pattering shower, 
the gusts of wind, very grand. Left the wood when nothing 
remained of the storm but the driving wind and a few scattering 
drops of rain. Presently all clear, Venus first showing herself 
between the struggling clouds; afterwards Jupiter appeared. 
The hawthorn hedges, black and pointed, glittering with 
millions of diamond drops; the hollies shining with broader 
patches of light. The road to the village of Holford glittered 
like another stream. On our return the wind high — a violent 
storm of rain and hail at the Castle of Comfort. All the heavens 
seemed in one perpetual motion when the rain ceased; the 
moon appearing, now half veiled, and now retired behind 
heavy clouds, the stars still moving, the roads very dirty. 


There was a high degree of risk in the eighteenth-century 
environment, natural and man-made. Earthquakes brought out 

time 4 1 

the drama and encouraged the search for 'lessons'. At sea gales 
were the main danger: in the towns fire was the great danger. 
Calamities— and epidemics — served as landmarks in men's 

(a) Source: Letter from Dover, 6 Sept. 1785, quoted in The Annual 
Register (1785), p. 240. 

This morning has been a shocking scene of distress, from the 
consequence of the high wind, which blew quite a tempest. 
I never saw the sea so much agitated. Several vessels attempted 
the harbour without effect; at last, an English cutter came in 
quite under water, but safe. A few minutes after, seeing the 
cutter safe, a French vessel, with six men on board, made the 
same attempt, and here a most dreadful scene appeared. After 
being in an instant buried by the waves she rose again, with 
the loss of a man washed overboard. In a short time another 
swell quite swallowed her up. Her unfortunate crew did not 
appear for some time, but at last were perceived floating on a 
part of the wreck. In this situation they floated from the pier- 
head, till they came opposite York-house, sometimes in view, 
and at others buried by the rising waves. Though the sea rolled 
mountains high, four English sailors had the temerity to strip 
themselves, and ventured their lives to save two of them, who 
still continued on the rafters of the vessel, and picked them 
up safe. In doing this, they overset the boat, which turned 
them bottom upwards; but fortunately a violent sea drove 
them all on shore together, so that only four of the crew perished. 

{b} R. Thoresby, Account of an Earthquake in the North of 
England, reprinted in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 
of London (1809), p. 104. 

This earthquake was felt at Hull, on Tuesday, the 28th of 
December 1703, about 3 or 4 minutes after 5 in the evening. 
It lifted up chairs and tables, and made the pewter-dishes and 
windows rattle, shook whole houses, and threw down part of a 
chimney. The shock came and went suddenly, and was attended 
with a noise like wind, though there was then a perfect calm. . . . 
It was still more violent at Lincoln, where also it raised up 
the chairs people sat on, &c. It was felt pretty much at Selby, 
as also near Navenby; where the sudden noise seemed to be 


like the rumbling of two or three coaches driving furiously, 
and shaking the chairs on which people sat; and even the 
very stones were seen to move. 

(c) Letter from Lady Wentworthj 4 March 1712, printed in J. J. 
Cartwright (ed)., The Wentworlh Papers, pp. 275-6. 

Thear was a dredfull fyer the other day in Albemal Street, 
Sir William Windom's hous burnt down; the Duke of Ormon 
stopt it from going farder, he worked as hard as any of the 
ordenary men and gave many ginneys about to incurradg the 
men to work hard. A made ran baerfoot and in her smock to 
Nothumbarlin hous with the strong box of jewels and most of 
the plate, and al his writings ar saved, yet he has lost abov 
twenty thoussand pd. Twoe poor maids jumpt out of the 
windoe, and beat thear brains out; one was very prety, and 
was put out only to improve her, a ritch groser's daughter in 
the sety. They ar much more concerned for their sarvents than 
for al the other lossis, 

(d) Source: J, Macky, A Journey Through England in Familiar Letters 
to a Gentleman from Abroad (1732 edn,), p. 52. 

On the 4th of June this Year (1731) about Noon, a Fire 
broke out at a Tallow Chandler's here [Blandford], which 
burnt with such Violence that it consum'd the whole Town 
(except about twenty-six Houses) together with the Church: 
the Consternation of the People was so great, and the Fire so 
quick, that few of them saved any of their Goods; the Small-pox 
being rife here, added to the Misfortune; for many sick of that 
Distemper were carry'd into the Fields, where they soon 
expir'd : Near three hundred Houses are laid in Ashes, and the 
Town is in such Confusion that 'tis difficult to find a Road 
through it. 

(e) Epidemics were not the least of the calamities. Facts relating 
to them are set out in C. Creighton, History of Epidemics (new edn., 

Typhus, described below, was not suppressed until the 'soap and 
water' revolution of the nineteenth century. 

Source ; Dr. Stranger, Remarks on the Necessity and Means of Suppress- 
ing Contagious Fever in the Metropolis (1802), p. 32. 

TIME 43 

When the fever has depopulated a building by death and 
terror, poverty and ignorance bring new inhabitants who 
sicken and die or linger and relapse, and after being carried to 
the workhouse or the grave, leave the same pestilential apart- 
ment to their ill-fated successors. From these pest-houses 
concentrated contagion pours into the adjacent courts and 
alleys. ... It is disseminated through the neighbourhood by 
the frequent intercourse of the needy, who repeat . . . their 
visits in endeavours to supply each daily want, who are fre- 
quently reduced to beg, borrow, or pawn one article to enable 
them to buy another. . . . Through a medium of pawnbrokers, 
old-clothes men, rag shops, and by contact in a variety of ways, 
the poison is communicated where least suspected. 


Measurement of time by watches, clocks and chronometers began 
to be common in the eighteenth century, with London and the 
big towns leading the way. Watchmakers were highly skilled 
craftsmen, and as early as 1 701 the London watch-making industry 
was taken by a writer as an example of the division of labour. 
The makers of the first clocks, like Henry Bridges, had an inter- 
national reputation, and James Cox regularly exhibited his 
models. Watchmakers and clockmakers later contributed to the 
pool of skilled mechanics in the industrial revolution. 'Working 
like clockwork' became a common expression. 

(a) Source: M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations in His Travels over 
England (1719), pp. 36-7. 

There are now a great many large Clocks in London, so that 
you have little Advantage by them in your Houses; but the 
Art is so common here, and so much in Vogue, that almost 
every Body has a Watch, and but few private Families are 
without a Pendulum, 

(b) Source: A General Description of All Trades (1747), quoted 
in M. D. George, London Life in the Eighteenth Century (1925), 
pp. 174-5. 

The work of watchmaking [has been brought] to such an 
exactiness that no hand can imitate it. The movement-maker 
forges his wheels and turns them to the just dimensions, sends 


them to the cutter, and has them cut at a trifling expense. 
He has nothing to do when he takes them from the cutter but 
to finish them and turn the corners of the teeth. The pinions 
made of steel are drawn at the mill so that the watchmaker 
has only to file down the points and fix them to the proper 
wheels. The springs are made by a tradesman who does nothing 
else, and the chains by another. These last are frequently made 
by women. . . . There are workmen who make nothing else 
but the caps and studs for watches. The watchmaker puts his 
name on the plate and is esteemed the maker, though he has 
not made in his shop the smallest wheel belonging to it. 

(c) Source: J. Smeaton, 'Observations on the Graduation of 
Astronomical Instruments' in Philosophical Translations of the Royal 
Society (1786), vol. LXXVI, pp. 3ff. 

In the autumn of the year 1741, I was first introduced to the 
acquaintance of that then eminent artist, Mr. Henry Hindley, 
of York, clock-maker. He immediately entered with mc into 
the greatest freedom of communication, which founded a 
friendship that lasted till his death, which did not happen till 
the year 1771, at the age of 70. On the first interview, he 
showed me, not only his general set of tools, but his engine, 
at that time furnished with a dividing plate, with a great 
variety of numbers for cutting the teeth of clock wheels, and 
also, for more nice and curious purposes, furnished with a 
wheel of about 1 3 inches diameter, very stout and strong, and 
cut into 360 teeth; to which was applied an endless screw, 
adapted to it. The threads of this screw were not formed on 
a cylindric surface, but on a solid whose sides were terminated 
by arches of circles. The whole length contained 15 threads; 
and as every thread, on the side next the wheel, pointed 
towards the centre, the whole 15 were in contact together; and 
had been so ground with the wheel, that, to my great astonish- 
ment, I found the screw would turn round with the utmost 
freedom, interlocked with the teeth of the wheel, and would 
draw the wheel round without any shake or sticking, or the 
least sensation of inequality. How long this engine might have 
been made before this first interview, I cannot now exactly 
ascertain: I believe not more than about a couple of yean; 



but this I well remember, that he then showed me an instru- 
ment intended for astronomical purposes, which must have 
been produced from the engine, and which of itself must have 
taken some time in making. 

(d) Epitaph in the Churchyard at Lydford, Devon. 

Here lies, in a horizontal position, the outside case of George 
Routleigh, Watchmaker, whose abilities in that line were an 
honour to his profession. Integrity was the Mainspring, and 
Prudence the Regulator, of all the actions of his life. Humane, 
generous and liberal, his hand never stopped until he had 
relieved distress; so nicely regulated were all his movements 
that he never went wrong except when set a-going by people 
who did not know his Key. Even then, he was easily set right 
again, He had the art of disposing his Time so well that his 
Hours glided away in one continued round of Pleasure and 
Delight, till an unlucky moment put a Period to his Existence. He 
departed this hfe November 14th 1802, aged 57, wound up in hope 
of being taken in hand by his Maker, and of being thoroughly 
Cleaned, Repaired, and Set a-going in the World to come. 


One important event in the recording of time is associated with 
the year 1751. In that year the old style of reckoning (O.S.) gave 
way to the New Style (N.S.) of the Gregorian Calendar which 
was already in use on the Continent. There was considerable 
popular resistance to the bill proposing the change which was 
introduced by Lord Chesterfield. 'Give us back our eleven days' 
was a popular cry. There was some misunderstanding of what the 
terms O.S. and N.S. meant (see the second extract) and even for 
educated people it took some time to get used to N.S. just as it 
takes time to get used to a new currency. 

(a) Source; Letter of Lord Chesterfield to his Son, 18 March 
O.S. 1751, printed in C. Strachey (ed.), The Letters of ike Earl 
of Chesterfield to his Son (1901), vol. II, p. 129. 

My dear friend : I acquainted you in a former letter, that 
I had brought a bill into the House of Lords for correcting and 
reforming our present calendar, which is the Julian; and for 


adopting the Gregorian. I will now give you a more particular 
account of the affair. ... It was notorious, that the Julian 
calendar was erroneous, and had overcharged the solar year 
with eleven days. Pope Gregory the Thirteenth corrected this 
error [in 1582]; his reformed calendar was immediately 
received by all the Catholic powers of Europe, and afterwards 
adopted by all the Protestant ones, except Russia, Sweden, and 
England. It was not, in my opinion, very honourable for 
England to remain in a gross and avowed error, especially in 
such company ; the inconveniency of it was likewise felt by all 
those who had foreign correspondences, whether political or 
mercantile. I determined, therefore, to attempt the reformation; 
I consulted the best lawyers and the most skilful astronomers, 
and we cooked up a bill for that purpose. But then my difficulty 
began: I was to bring in this bill, which was necessarily com- 
posed of law jargon and astronomical calculations, to both of 
which I am an utter stranger. However, it was absolutely 
necessary to make die House of Lords think that I knew 
something of the matter; and also to make them believe that 
they knew something of it themselves, which they do not. . . , 
I gave them, therefore, only an historical account of calendars, 
from the Egyptian down to the Gregorian, amusing them now 
and then with little episodes. , . . 

(b) Lord Macclesfield, one of Chesterfield's co-sponsors, was 
elected President of the Royal Society in 1752. When his son 
contested an election in Oxford in 1754, his opponents strongly 
attacked the change of calendar. Popular ignorance is satirized in 
the following extract. 

Source: A Letter in The Sussex Weekly Advertiser or Lewes Journal, 
16 Oct. 1752 N.S., reprinted from The Whitehall Evening Post. 


The following is a genuine Dialogue that passed here 
between a substantial Farmer and his Son, on Saturday Aug. 
29, 1752, being Market Day, your inserting of which will 
greatly please Numbers of your Readers in this Town and 
Son. Have you heard, Father, when all the old Styles are 

to be changed ? 
Father. Aye, Jan, they say next Week. 

time 47 

Son. Are these new Styles as they talk of, to be used all 
over England ? 

Father. Aye, they say so, and in all the King's Dominions too. 

Son. I fancy, Father, whoever has the making of them all 
will have a rare Job of it, as they say the King is to 
pay for them. But I wonder we have not heard of 
somebody's being about them all this while. 

Father, Why Jan, I am surprised thou shoulds't be such a 
Dunce ; did not I explain the whole Affair to thee but 
the other Day. Why, lad, these New Styles are all to 
come from abroad ; they were made there a hundred 
and seventy years ago, and have been used there ever 
since, and are now bringing over Sea to be used by us. 

Son. Aye, Father, what you say may be very true, but 
Parson Trout says it is all Nonsense to call them 
New Styles, when they have been used so many 
Years abroad ; however he says they will be of great 
Service to us for all that. 

Father. What do you tell me of Parson Trout for, don't I under- 
stand as well as Parson Trout that it is Nonsense to call 
them New Styles ■ Why there is Farmer Jonathan's 
Styles were all made New within these thirty years to 
my Knowledge, and now they are all as rotten as a 
Pear. He'll be glad of the Alteration I'll warrant him. 

Son. Aye, Father, so I told the Parson, that Styles would 
not last so many years with us, but I find he knows 
very little of the Matter. 

Father. When Parson Trout says of the New Styles being of 
great Service to us, is nothing at all to the Purpose, 
for every Body knows that all the Styles round us 
are now very good, except the little one at the Bottom 
of our Mead, and all the Neighbours get over them 
very well, without boggling in the least; and let me 
tell thee, Jan, for all the fine Things the Parson says 
about them, I doubt very much whether we shall be 
able to get over these New Styles a bit Better than we 
have hitherto done over the old ones. 
Here some Persons coming in to Bargain for Corn; 
the Dialogue ended. 

4 8 



Calendar reform was a national undertaking: keeping a diary 
was a personal matter, which also involved special concern for 
time. The publishers of diaries were anxious to show that personal 
diaries had more than a spiritual significance; they were useful as 
records of transactions and engagements. Farm and gardening 
calendars were also beginning to be produced in considerable 
numbers in the late 1760s and 1770s, for example, J. Garton, The 
Practical Gardener ami Gentleman's Directory for Every Month of the 
Tear (1769). 

Source; The Daily Journal or the Gentleman 7 s, Merchant's and Trades- 
man's Complete Annual Account-Book for the Pocket or Desk (1782 edn), 
p. 2. 

The use and design of this Memorandum-Book, as has been 
in the preceding years observed, wants no explanation to 
many . . , but as we find by experience (and continue to 
mention it with gratitude and pleasure) that we have annually 
a number of new purchasers, it is still necessary for their 
information to observe. 

That every two pages in it (one on the right hand, the other 
on the left) one for the appointments, memorandums, and business 
of one entire week .... The other for cash receipts and pay- 
ments. As for example of one day, 

JANUARY, 1st Month, has xxxi Days 

Account of Monies 




Of Mr. Punctual, On 





Of J. Ready, On Account 


To Dr. Richardson, his 

Bill in full 




To Mr. Fitzroy, to balance 


his Account 




Expended on my Journey 


to Bath, out 14 days 




TIME 49 

... As these books may be considered as the annals of a 
man's life, and may be of use, even after his decease, they 
ought by all means to be preserved, to have recourse to, when 
occasion arises, to consult or prove any receipt or disboursement, 
memorandum, account, time or occurrence. 


It is interesting to trace the growing emphasis on punctuality 
in the late eighteenth century, along with a greater stress on the 
virtues of using time wisely. Letters to stewards began to express 
this emphasis early in the century before new industrialists were 
forced to recognize the place of hooter and clock in the organi- 
zation of factory discipline. John Wesley, the Methodist leader, 
made much of the need to make 'proper use of time' : 'Remember', 
said Benjamin Franklin, 'that time is money.' The first two ex- 
tracts which follow relate to rural Sussex and the attitudes of a 

(a) Source : Letter of Lord Ashburnham to his son, 20 April 1 706. 
East Sussex County Records Office, Ashburnham Papers, 4447, p. 45. 

Pray my Deare to be very steddy in holding fast to keeping 
order and method and a very perfect account in writing dayly 
and hourly if need be of the House expences and of all other 
occurrences whatsoever in money matters and of things 
relating to the management of the Estate, of which allsoe a 
Memorandum book ought to be exactly kept and of bargains 
allsoe, made with all manner of people whatsoever and keep 
your pockett book steddy. 

(b) Source; Letter of Lord Ashburnham to his Steward at Ampthill, 
21 Aug. 1705. Ashburnham Papers, 4446, p. 229. 

Remember to carry upp Dung, Mould, Lyme, Marie &c. 
for the upper Hopp ground now the weather is fitting and putt 
not off the good day with delays. . . . Carriage now is the word 
and ought to be the Deed, Winter will come, Laziness, Lying 
and excuses beginn to be out of fashion and ever were with wise 
and honest people, therefore use the time present, the past is 
noe more, and the future may not be in our power. Earlye 



in the morning is the time, the Day is short, and would be 
well employ'd ; the Nights for rest and good hours before Sun 
Sett, observ'd in all matters of proceedings throughout in ye 
family. If servants and dayes men would perform as i say, and 
as justice and reason require, all would goe well on every side, 

(c) Source: John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions (1881 edn.}, 
pp. 708-9. 

In this sermon on 'The Use of Money' Wesley himself makes it 
clear why Methodism as a religious system was well adapted to a 
period of economic growth. More important, however, than the 
formal system was the 'inner compulsion' which inspired 'the 
people called Methodists'. In another sermon he spoke of 'that 
invaluable talent of time with which God entrusts us from moment 
to moment'. (For the religious significance of Methodism, see 
below, p. 321.) 

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might? 
Do it as soon as possible : no delay ! No putting off from day 
to day, or from hour to hour! Never leave anything till to- 
morrow, which you can do to-day. And do it as well as 
possible. Do not sleep or yawn over it: put your whole strength 
to the work. Spare no pains. Let nothing be done by halves, 
or in a slight and careless manner. Let nothing in your business 
be left undone, if it can be done by labour or patience. 

Gain all you can, by common sense, by using in your business 
all the understanding which God has given you. It is amazing 
to observe, how few do this; how men run on in the same dull 
track with their forefathers. But whatever they do who know 
not God, this is no rule for you. It is a shame for a Christian 
not to improve upon them in whatever he takes in hand. You 
should be continually learning, from the experience of others, 
or from your own experience, reading, and reflection, to do 
everything you have to do better to-day than you did yesterday. 


To run factories effectively a new code of industrial discipline 
had to be established. It depended on careful training in work 
habits, long hours (very long hours during the early industrial 

TIME 5' 

revolution), a working week which was not too frequently broken 
into by holidays, prudence, and 'diligence'. Employers' notions of 
how to enforce codes of behaviour were often crude, but they 
involved transformations in social attitudes. Time acquired a new 
coercive power behind it, as the following extracts show, 

(a) Source; Evidence of R. Cookson, a hosier, before the Committee 

on the Woollen Manufacture of England in Parliamentary Papers 

I found the utmost distaste on the part of the men, to any 
regular hours or regular habits. . . . The men themselves were 
considerably dissatisfied, because they could not go in and out 
as they pleased, and have what holidays they pleased, and go on 
just as they had been used to do; and were subject, during 
after-hours, to the ill-natured observations of other workmen, 
to such an extent as completely to disgust them with the whole 
system. . . . 

(b) Source: Wedgwood Manuscripts, E. 19114-26, p. 27, where 
Wedgwood is describing the duties of the 'Clerk of the Manu- 
factory.' He also used a factory bell in his Bell Works, and a kind 
of clocking-in system. 

The duty of the Clerk of the Manufactory is to be at the 
works the first in the morning, & settle the people to their 
business as they come in — to encourage those who come 
regularly to their time, letting them know that their regularity 
is properly noticed, & distinguishing them by repeated marks 
of approbation, from the less orderly part of the work people 
by presents or other marks suitable to their age etc. Those who come 
later than the hour appointed should be noticed, and if after 
repeated marks of disapprobation they do not come in due 
time, an account of the time they are deficient in should be 
taken, & so muck of their wages stopt as the time comes to. . . . 

(c) In some factories there were elaborate works rules and in- 
structions. The following list of fines to be imposed on 'disorderly' 
workers relates to a cotton mill at Tyldesley, near Manchester, 
where spinners worked in a temperature of 80° or more. 

Source: J. L. and B. Hammond, The Town Labourer, 1760-1832 
(1917), pp. 19-20. 


S. d. 

Any spinner found with his window open .... 10 

Any spinner found dirty at his work ...... 10 

Any spinner found washing himself 10 

Any spinner leaving his oil can out of its place ... 10 

Any spinner slipping with his gas lighted .... 20 

Any spinner putting his gas out too soon .... 10 
Any spinner spinning with gaslight too long in the 

morning 2 

Any spinner heard whistling 10 

Any spinner being five minutes after last bell rings . 1 
Any spinner going further than the roving-room door 

when fetching rovings 10 

Any spinner being sick and cannot find another spinner 

to give satisfaction must pay for steam per day . 6 



In travelling thro' England, a luxuriance of subjects presents 
itself to our view. Wherever we come, and which way soever we 
look, we see something new, something significant, something well 
worth the traveller's stay, and the writer's care. . . . The fate of 
things gives a new face to things, produces changes in low life, and 
innumerable incidents; plants and supplants families, raises and 
sinks towns, removes manufactures and trades; great towns decay, 
and small towns rise; new towns, new palaces, new seats are built 
every day; great rivers and good harbours dry up, and grow useless; 
again, new ports are open'd, brooks are made rivers, small rivers 
navigable ports and harbours are made where none were before, 
and the like. ... In a word, new matter offers to new observation, 
and they who write next, may perhaps find as much room for 
enlarging upon us, as we do upon these who have gone before. 

(Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through England and Wales, 1 724) 

Heavens ! what a goodly Prospect spreads around, 
Of Hills, and Dales, and Woods, and Lawns, and Spires, 
And glittering Towns, and gilded Streams, till 
The stretching Landscape into Smoke decays. 

(James Thomson, Summer, 1 727) 

The plan I have laid down for continuing my Tour through 
England, is to travel as different a rout as I can from that of the 
former journies ; so that they may in general include as many and 
as various tracts of country as possible : by this means the whole 
kingdom will be travelled, and the conclusions drawn from the 
particulars of the journies, come nearer to the exact averages of 
the whole nation. 

(Arthur Youno, The Farmer's Tour Through England, 1771) 

Cides and towns, the various haunts of men 
Require the pencil, they defy the pen. 

(George Crabbe, The Borough, 1810) 





Although England was a small country in terms of area, there 
were wide local variations in economic life, social structure, culture 
and even language. London was by far the biggest place, with an 
estimated population of 674,000 in 1700. In itself it was a city of 
contrasts, of dark alleys and elegant squares, of polite and civilized 
society and of rough and turbulent vitality. By 1800 its population 
had risen to nearly 900,000. 

(a) Source; C. Morris (ed.), The Journeys of Celia Fiemies (1949), 
pp. 283-5. 

It cannot be thought amiss here to add some remarke on 
the metropolis of England, London, whose scituation [is] on so 
noble a river as the Thames, this is very comodious for shipps, 
which did come up just to the bridge, but from carelessness the 
river is choaked up that obliges the shipps to come to an anchor 
at Blackwall ; all along this river are severall docks for building 
shipps of the biggest burden. . . . London joyned with West- 
minster, which are two great cittyes but now with building so 
joyned it makes up but one vast building with all its subburbs, 
and has in the walls ninety-seven parishes, without the walls 
16 parishes, 15 subburbs, Surrey, Middlesex, 7 parishes in 
Westminster. London is the Citty properly for trade, West- 
minster for the Court. 

(b) Two different Londons were described by a foreign observer 
in the 1780s. 

Source: J. W. von Archenholtz, A Picture of England (1797), p. 119. 

The east end, especially along the shores of the Thames, 
consists of old houses, the streets there are narrow, dark and 
ill-paved; inhabited by sailors and other workmen who are 
employed in the construction of ships and by a great part of 
the Jews. The contrast between this and the West end is 
astonishing: the houses here are mostly new and elegant; 
the squares are superb, the streets straight and open. . . . If all 
London were as well built, there would be nothing in the 
world to compare with it. 

(c) The beautiful squares were often developed by the landed 



aristocracy, whose urban properties provided them with substantial 
and increasing wealth. The income of the Bedford (Russell) 
family from their London property more than doubled between the 
1730s and the 1770s. In the East End, however, and on the fringe 
of the West, there was a Brechtian world, rough, raw and squalid. 

Source: J. Han way, Citizen's Monitor (1780), p, xvi. 

One of our detachments visited Chick Lane, Field Lane, 
Black Boy Alley and some other such places. . . . These places 
constitute a separate town or district calculated for the re- 
ception of the darkest and most dangerous enemies to society. 
. . . The houses arc divided from top to bottom, and into 
many apartments, some having two, others three, others four 
doors, opening into different alleys. . . . The owners . . . make 
no secret of their being let for the entertainment of thieve s. 1 

(d) Beyond Central London were the distant suburbs, long since 
swallowed up in the great mass or 'Wen', as William Cobbett was 
to call it. 

Source: Note by the Earl of Cork in The Connoisseur, 12 Sept. 1754. 

A London tradesman is as well acquainted with Turnham- 
grcen or Kentish-town, as Fleet Street, or Cheapside, and talks 
as familiarly of Richmond or Hampton-Court as of the 'Change 
or the Custom-house. . . . [In the outer suburbs there are] 
elegant rural mansions, which at once shew the opulence and 
the taste of our principal merchants, mechanics and artificers. 
In these dusty retreats, where the want of London smoke is 
supplied by the smoke of Virginia tobacco, our chief citizens 
are accustomed to pass the end and the beginning of every 
week. Their boxes {as they are modestly called) are generally 
built in a row, to resemble as much as possible the streets in 
London. ... A little artificial fountain, spouting water some- 
times to the amazing height of four feet ... is one of the most 
exquisite ornaments in [their] gardens. There are besides (if 
the spot of ground allows sufficient space for them) very 
curious statues of Harlequin, Scaramouch, Pierrot, and 
Columbine, which serve to remind their wives and daughters 
of what they have seen at the playhouse. 

I went last Sunday, in compliance with a most pressing 
invitation from a friend, to spend a whole day with him at one 



of these little seats, which he had fitted up for his retirement 
once a week from business. It is pleasantly situated about three 
miles from London, on the side of a public road, from which it 
is separated by a dry ditch, over which is a little bridge, 
consisting of two narrow planks, leading to the house. The hedge 
on the other side of the road cuts off all prospect whatsoever, 
except from the garrets, from whence indeed you have a 
beautiful vista of two men hanging in chains on Kennington- 
common, with a distant view of St. Paul's cupola enveloped 
in a cloud of smoke. . . , 

(e) The growth of London amazed and frightened contemporaries. 

Source; Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771). 

London is literally new to me ; in its streets, houses, and even 
in its situation. . . . But notwithstanding these improvements, 
the capital is become an over-grown monster; which, like a 
despotical head, will in time leave the body and extremities 
without nourishment and support. 

(f) Source: Horace Walpole, Letter to the Miss Mary Berry, 
8 June 1791, printed in P. Toynbee (ed.), The Letters of Horace 
Walpole (1904), vol. XIV, p. 447. 

There will soon be one street from London to Brentford; 
ay, and from London to every village ten miles round! Lord 
Camden has just let ground at Kentish Town for building 
fourteen hundred houses — nor do I wonder; London is, I am 
certain, much fuller than ever I saw it, I have twice this spring 
been going to stop my coach in Piccadilly, to inquire what was 
the matter, thinking there was a mob — not at all; it was only 
passengers. Nor is there any complaint of depopulation from 
the country: Bath shoots out into new crescents, circuses, 
squares every year: Birmingham, Manchester, Hull and 
Liverpool would serve any king in Europe for a capital, and 
would make the Empress of Russia's mouth water. . . . 

(g) Some problems were common both to old London and new. 
A foreign visitor noted the smoke. 

Source: P. Grosley, A Tour to London, New Observations on England 
and its Inhabitants (1772), pp. 43. 

place 57 

Notwithstanding the breadth and regularity of its streets, 
notwithstanding the free circulation of air, new London is as 
much buried in dirt as the old. 

If we add to the inconveniency of the dirt, the smoke, which, 
being mixed with a constant fog, covers London, and wraps 
it up intkely, we shall find in this city, all those particulars 
which offended Horace most in that of Rome. 

This smoke is occasioned, during the winter, which lasts 
about eight months, by the sea coals made use of in kitchens, 
apartments, and even the halls of grand houses; and by coals 
burnt in glass houses, in houses where earthen ware is manu- 
factured ; in blacksmiths' and gunsmiths' shops', in dyers' yards, 
&c. all which trades and manufactures arc established in the 
very heart of London, and upon both banks of the Thames. . . . 
The inconveniences of the smoke gain ground every day: if 
the increase of London proceeds as far as it may, the inhabitants 
must at last bid adieu to all hopes of ever seeing the sun. 


As the population of London grew, so did that of the provinces. 
By 1 760 the population of England and Wales which had stood at 
about 5J million at the beginning of the eighteenth century had 
risen to over 6J million. In 1801 it was nearly 9 million. For the 
appearance of the country, and the 'personality' of particular 
places, there is a vast mass of travel literature and of detailed 
topographical description. Since landed property was the basis of 
eighteenth-century society, most of this description begins with the 
great landed estates, social as much as economic units; and since 
these estates were historical products, like the great houses in the 
midst of them, a time dimension enters into the study of place. 

(a) Source: J. Macky, A Journey Through England (1732), p. 121. 

Kent is a large and noble Province ; it gives Title of Duke 
to the Chief of the Family of de Grays, who . . . have neither 
Interest nor Estate here. There are abundance of Nobility 
that reside in this County: Tufton, Earl of Thanet, hath a 
noble Seat, and as great an Estate; Finch, Earl of Winchelsea: 
Sackville, Earl of Dorset, who was Governor of the Cinque-Ports, 



and Constable of Dover-Castle, but just removed from that 
Employment as I passed there, it then being given to the Duke 
of Ormond; Sidney, Earl of Leicester : Villiers, Earl of Jersey; 
the Lord Rockingham, who has a vast Estate; Roper, Lord 
Teynham, and an infinite Number of other fine Gentry. 

(b) Source: J. Hanway, A Journal of Eight Days' Journey (1757), 
pp. 6 Iff. 

Let us now contemplate the charms of this world. After 
church we went to Wilton, the seat of the earl of Pembroke, 
which is distant from Salisbury three miles. . . . This palace, 
for so wc may call it, contains a collection of the richest 
statues, busts, antiques or relieves, of any nobleman in England ; 
or perhaps of any man in the world. The lower apartments are 
so crowded, that they appear like so many shops or magazines 
of marble merchandise. . . . [Yet] let us hasten from the works 
of men, to the more glorious works of god! We may here 
contemplate the beautiful lawns on the south-east side of the 
house, and the bright streams which water them. Over this 
river is a palladian bridge of exquisite architecture, much 
admired by all connoisseurs. Above this, to the southward, 
you must not forget that noble rising ground, to the summit 
of which is about a quarter of a mile. Here stands a very large 
equestrian statue, in lead, of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor. 
. . . From this eminence there is a view of the valley below, 
and part of Salisbury, which looks very rural, the cathedral, 
as well as other parts of the city being embowered with trees. 

(c) County life for the propertied revolved round the relationships 
between a number of landed families. (For social structure in the 
country see below, pp. 116.) There was variety, however, even in 
agricultural counties, with market towns, villages and landscape 
changing from one part of the county to another. 

Source: Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through England and Wales (Every- 
man edn. 1928), vol. II, pp. 112-14. 

It is remarkable of Bedfordshire, that tho' a great part of 
the county lies on the north side of the Ouse , . . yet there is 
not one market town in all that side of the Ouse, but Bedford 
only . , . , a large, populous, and thriving town, and a pleasant 

place 59 

well-built place; it has five parish churches, a very fine stone 
bridge over the Ouse, and the High Street, (especially) is a 
very handsome fair street, and very well-built; and tho' the 
town is not upon any of the great roads in England, yet it is 
full of very good inns, and many of them. 

Here is the best market for all sorts of provisions, that is to 
be seen at any country town in all these parts of England; 
and this occasions, that tho' it is far from London, yet the 
higglers or carriers buy great quantities of provisions here for 
London markets; also here is a very good trade down the 
river to Lynn. 

Here is also a great corn market, and great quantities of 
corn are bought here, and carry'd down by barges and other 
boats to Lynn, where it is again shipp'd, and carry'd by sea 
to Holland: The soil hereabouts is exceeding rich and fertile, 
and particularly produces great quantities of the best wheat in 

Indeed the whole product of this county is corn, that is to 
say, wheat and malt for London ; for here are very few manu- 
factures, except that of straw-hats and bone-lace, of which 
by itself: There are but ten market towns in the whole country, 
and yet 'tis not a small county neither: The towns are, 


Ampthill, Potton, 
Sheffbrd, Tuddington, 
Luton, Wooburn. 

The last of these was almost demolish'd by a terrible fire, 
which happen'd here just before my writing this account; but 
as this town has the good luck to belong to a noble family 
particularly eminent for being good landlords; that is to say, 
bountiful and munificent to their poor tenants, I mean the 
ducal house of Bedford. 

The duke's house, call'd Wooburn Abbey, is just by the 
town, a good old house, but very ancient, spacious and con- 
venient rather than fine, but exceedingly pleasant by its 
situation; and for the great quantity of beach woods which 
surround the parks and cover the hills, and also for great 
woods of oak too, as rich and valuable, as they are great and 



magnificent : The very situation of this house to promise itself 
another Burleigh or Chatsworth. 

(d) Bedfordshire was providing wheat and manufactured goods for 
London. The main agricultural producing area, however, was 
East Anglta. 
Source: Defoe, vol. I, pp. 59-60. 

This county of Suffolk is particularly famous for furnishing 
the city of London and all the counties round with turkeys; 
and 'tis thought, there are more turkeys bred in this county, 
and the part of Norfolk that adjoins to it, than in all the rest of 
England, especially for sale; tho' this may be reckon 'd, as I 
say above, but a trifling thing to take notice of in these remarks; 
yet, as I have hinted, that I shall observe, how London is in 
general supplied with all its provisions from the whole body 
of the nation, and how every part of the island is engaged in 
some degree or other of that supply ; On this account I could 
not omit it; nor will it be found so inconsiderable an article 
as some may imagin, if this be true which I receiv'd an account 
of from a person living on the place, (viz.) That they have 
counted 300 droves of turkeys (for they drive them all in 
droves on foot) pass in one season over Stratford-Bridge on 
the River Stour, which parts Suffolk from Essex, about six 
miles from Colchester on the road from Ipswich to London. 

For the further supplies of the markets of London with 
poultry, of which these counties particularly abound: They 
have within these few years found it practicable to make the 
geese travel on foot too, as well as the turkeys; and a pro- 
digious number are brought up to London in droves from the 
farthest parts of Norfolk; even from the fenn-counlry, about 
Lynn, Downham, Wisbich, and the Washes; as also from all 
the east-side of Norfolk and Suffolk, of whom 'tis very frequent 
now to meet droves, with a thousand, sometimes two thousand 
in a drove: They begin to drive them generally in August, by 
which time the harvest is almost over, and the geese may feed 
in the stubbles as they go. Thus they hold on to the end of 
October, when the roads begin to be too stiff and deep for 
their broad feet and short leggs to march in. . . . 

In this part, which we call High-Suffolk, there are not so 
many families of gentry or nobility plac'd, as in the other 



side of the country: But 'tis observ'd that tho' their seats are 
not so frequent here, their estates are; and the pleasure of 
West Suffolk is much of it supported by the wealth of High- 
Suffolk; for the richness of the lands, and application of the 
people to all kinds of improvement, is scarce credible; also the 
farmers are so very considerable, and their farms and dayries 
so large, that 'tis very frequent for a farmer to have a thousand 
pounds stock upon his farm in cows only. 


One of the developments outside London in the eighteenth 
century which most interested both English and foreign commen- 
tators was the growth of spas and watering places. 

The most famous of watering places was Bath, although there 
were other spas, like Scarborough or Buxton, in many parts of the 
country. Brighton emerged as a new kind of holiday resort 
after Dr. Richard Russell had successfully advocated the merits 
of sea water for drinking. Its merits for bathing were canvassed 
later, with royal approval. The Prince Regent first visited Brighton 
in 1783. Between then and 1830 it increased in size from 3,500 to 
over 20,000. 

Source: J. Macky, A Journey Through England (1732), pp. 137-40. 

The Bath lies very low; is but a small City, but very com- 
pact; and one can hardly imagine it could accommodate near 
the Company that frequents it, at least three Parts of the Year. 
1 have been told of 8,000 Families there at a time, some for 
the Benefit of drinking its hot Waters, others for Bathing, and 
others for Diversion and Pleasure; of which I must say, it 
affords more than any public Place of that Kind in Europe. 

I told you in my former Letters that Epsom and Tunbndge 
does not allow visiting; the Companies there meet only on 
the Walks; but here Visits are received and returned, Assem- 
blies and Balls are given, and Parties at Play in most Houses 
every Night, to which one Mr, Nash hath for many Years 
contributed very much. This Gentleman is by Custom, a Sort 
of Master of Ceremonies of the Place ; he is not of any Birth, 
nor Estate, but by a good Address and Assurance ingratiates 



himself into the good Graces of the Ladies, and the best 
Company in the Place, and is Director of all their Parties of 
Pleasure. He wears good Cloaths, is always affluent of Money, 
plays very much; and whatever he may get in private, yet in 
publick he always seems to lose. The Town have been for 
many Years so sensible of the Service he docs them, that they 
ring the Bells generally at his Arrival in Town, and, 'tis 
thought, pay him a yearly Contribution for his Support. 

In the Morning early, the Company of both Sexes meet 
at the Pump, in a great Hall inrailed, to drink the Waters; 
and saunter about till Prayer-time, or divert themselves by 
looking on those that are bathing in the Bath. Most of the 
Company go to Church in the Morning in Diskabilee, and 
then go home to dress for the Walks before Dinner. The Walks 
are behind the Church, spacious and well shaded, planted 
round with Shops filled with every thing that contributes to 
Pleasure; and at the End, a noble Room for Gaming; from 
whence there are hanging Stairs to a pretty Garden, for every 
body that pays for the Time they stay, to walk in. 

I have often wonder'd, that the Physicians of these Places 
prescribe Gaming to their Patients, in order to keep their 
Minds free from Business and Thought, that their Waters on 
an undisturbed Mind may have the greater Effect; when 
indeed one cross Throw at Play must sowre a Man's Blood 
more than Ten Glasses of Water will sweeten. . . . 

The King and Queen's Baths, which have a Communication 
with one another, are the Baths where People of common 
Rank go into promiscuously; and indeed every body, except 
the first Quality. 

When you enter the Bath, the Water seems very warm ; and 
the Heat much increases as you go into the Queen's Bath, 

where the great Spring rises The Smoak and Slime of 

the Waters, the promiscuous Multitude of the People in the 
Bath, with nothing but their Heads and Hands above Water, 
with the Height of the Walls that inviron the Bath, gave me 
a lively Idea of several Pictures I had seen of Angela's in Italy, 
of Purgatory, with Heads and Hands uplifted in the midst 
of Smoke, just as they are here. This Bath is 25 Foot long and 
24 broad; but is frequented only by the Common People. 

place 63 

The Cross Bath (so call'd from a curious Cross formerly 
erected in it) is very gentle, and but moderately warm. On the 
Sides of it are 16 Stone Seats, and at the Ends Galleries for 
the Musick and Spectators, under which are Two Slips, one 
for the Gentlemen, and the other for the Ladies, the Men with 
all Decency keeping on the one Side, and Women on the other. 
This is the smallest Bath, being but 24 Feet and a Half long, 
and half as broad ; but 'tis the most frequented of any by the 
People of the first Quality. . . . 

(b) Bath continued to flourish and to grow throughout the century. 

Source : E, D. Clarke, A Tour Through the South of England, Wales, and 
Part of Ireland Made During the Summer of 1791 (1793), pp. 135-46. 

Its numerous visitants were dispersed when we arrived. Its 
parades were empty, and its throng removed. But although 
the season was over, for pleasure and dissipation, we had the 
more leisure to contemplate. Its edifices, its public rooms, its 
baths, its streets, are beyond anything the world can parallel 
of a similar nature. . , . The buildings in Bath have a degree 
of elegance which no other city can boast. This is owing to the 
great plenty of stone which is found in the neighbourhood, 
with which the chief part of the city is built. . . . 

An ingenious author observes that it far exceeds London in 
regularity of building, and in being proportionably a much 
finer city. . . . The Crescent, an elegant semicircular range of 
buildings, would, if Bath could boast no other edifice worth 
our attention, claim a particular share of attention. . . . There 
is, to use an expression of Gray's, something so rus-in-urbe-isk 
in die whole of it, that I would chuse a house in that edifice, 
when compared with one in the Circus. . . . Bath may be 
said to afford a universal scope for everything that is desirable. 
The man of pleasure may be here satiated with amusement ; 
the philosopher may analyze its salubrious springs; the anti- 
quarian may pursue his researches till he wearies himself with 
conjecture ; the man of letters, will find ample repositories of 
genius; the poet, endless subjects to exercise his wit; the painter, 
may delineate the features of beauty . . . and, last of all, the 
dejected invalid may restore to its wonted tenour the shattered 
system of a broken constitution, and, by rousing his debilitated 


nerves to their accustomed tone, revive his health and renovate 
his spirits. 

(e) Dr. A. Relhan, A Short History of Brighthelmslon, with Remarks 
on its Air and an Analysis of its Waters (1761), pp. 3 Iff. 

The town (June 1761) at present consists of six principal 
streets, many lanes, and some spaces surrounded with houses, 
called by the inhabitants squares. . . . The town improves 
daily, as the inhabitants, encouraged by the late great resort 
of company, seem disposed to spend the whole of what they 
acquire, in erecting new buildings, or improving the old ones. 
Here are two public rooms, the one convenient, the other not 
only so, but elegant, not excelled perhaps by any in England, 
that of York excepted. 

The endemial or popular disorders of temperate people being 
the product of air and diet, the best proof of the healthfulness 
of the air of any place is deduced from the customary longevity 
of the inhabitants, and the rate of the Bills of Mortality. . . . 
In London there is annually a death in every 32 persons, 
which is nearly two to one in favour of Brighton. 

With regard to the sea water at this place, it appears by 
experiments that in Summer (weather tolerably dry) there are 
in every pint of it, at least five drachms and fifteen grains of 
defecated salt . . . about five of bittern . . . and six grains of 
white calcarious earth. This proportion of clean contents . , . 
is as great, or perhaps greater, than is to be found in the sea 
water of any other port in England. 


The sea was a source of wealth far more than a source of pleasure, 
with English ports and harbours thriving and many big establish- 
ments employing large numbers of people in the naval centres. 

(a) Source: E. D. Clarke, A Tour Through the South of England, 
pp. 7-11. 

Portsmouth may, without impropriety, be called the key 
of England. Its noble haven, capable of containing a thousand 
sail of the line; its extensive fortifications, arranged and exe- 

place 65 

cuted by engineers of the first ability; the number of its inabi- 
tants, its dock-yards, its wonderful importance to Great-Britain, 
render it the admiration of Europe. The entrance to the 
harbour does not exceed, in breadth, that of the Thames at 
Westminster Bridge, a circumstance, which forms a consider- 
able addition to its strength. There is also such plenty of water 
within it, that a first rate man of war may always float in 
safety, and moreover ride secure from every wind that blows. 
The mouth of the harbour is defended by a . . . castle . . . 
fortified with a double moat, pallisadoes, ravelins, and a 
counterscarp, from which there are several advanced works, 
to cover the fort against the approach of an enemy. There is 
also on the same side a large platform, on which are placed 
pieces of ordnance; and on the opposite side, next Gosport, 
there is another platform, of twenty great guns, nearly level 
with the water. . . . 

This wonderful rendezvous of the royal navy, fortified on all 
sides, is a striking proof of the opulence and industry of 
Englishmen. . . . 

The dock yard contains such an astonishing quantity of 
every article necessary for the royal navy, and is placed in a 
style of such uncommon regularity that it exceeds imagination. 
There are seldom less than a thousand men employed within 
its walls, and sometimes double that number. These, in time 
of war, are all disciplined, and formed into a regiment, under 
the command of the Commissioner. . . . The dock, and other 
yards, now resemble a town, and may be said to form a 
corporation, there being large rows of dwellings, built at the 
public expence, for all the officers, who are obliged to reside 
on the spot. The rope-house, where the cables, &c. are made, 
is 870 feet long, and some of the cables are so large, that it 
requires above 80 men to work them. The labour is so excessive, 
that they can only continue it for four hours in the day. From 
one end of this remarkable room, it is not easy to discern the 
pigmies working at the other. . . . The smith's shop is a curious 
spectacle, and reminds one of Vulcan's laboratory, where we 
find a trio, performed by the Cyclops, upon the anvil in every 
corner. ... It is impossible to convey upon paper, any idea 
adequate to the appearance of the immense magazines, where 



ships are lifted in their docks, like infants in their cradles, and 
the most stupendous works conducted with all that ease, and 
ingenuity, so peculiar to the inhabitants of this country, 
(b) During the eighteenth century there was brisk economic 
development in the English ports of the West. Bristol, the second 
largest community in England (after London) in 1700, doubled 
its population between 1700 and 1750 to nearly 100,000; Liverpool 
grew from 6,000 to 35,000. African, American and West Indian 
trade, including the slave trade, was in the background of the picture. 

Source: D. Defoe, A Tour Through England and Wales, vol. II, 
pp. 255-7. 

I entered Lancashire at the remotest western point of that 
county, having been at West-Chester upon a particular 
occasion and from thence fcrry'd over . . . one of the wonders 
of Britain. . . . The town [of Liverpool] was, at my first visiting 
it, about the year 1680, a large, handsome, well built and 
encreasing or thriving town ; at my second visit, anno 1690, it was 
much bigger than at my first seeing it, and, by the report of the 
inhabitants, more than twice as big as it was twenty years 
before that; but, I think, I may safely say at this my third 
seeing it, for I was surpriz'd at the view, it was more than 
double what it was at the second; and, I am told, that it still 
visibly encreases both in wealth, people, business and buildings: 
What it may grow to in time, I know not. 

There are no fortifications either to landward or seaward, 
the inhabitants resting secure under the protection of the 
general peace. . . . 

The town has now an opulent, flourishing and .encreasing 
trade, not rivalling Bristol, in the trade to Virginia, and the 
English island colonies in America only, but is in a fair way to 
exceed and eclipse it, by encreasing every way in wealth and 
shipping. They trade round the whole island, send ships to 
Norway, to Hamburgh, and to the Baltick, as also to Holland 
and Flanders; so that, in a word, they are almost become like 
the Londoners, universal merchants. . . . 

The people of Liverpoole seem to have a different scene of 
commerce to act on from the city of Bristol, which to me is a 
particular advantage to both, namely, that though they may 
rival one another in their appearances, in their number of 

place 67 

shipping, and in several particulars, yet they need not interfere 
with one another's business, but either of them seem to have 
room enough to extend their trade, even at home and abroad, 
without clashing with one another. One has all the north, and 
the other all the south of Britain to correspond in. 


Inland, county towns and market towns were the main centres 
of population, some of them, like Exeter or Norwich, witfi both 
cathedrals and specialized industries. Each town had a restricted, 
though ritualized and stratified, local life. Living conditions in 
these towns were often dirty and insanitary, yet between 1 785 and 
1800 211 'improvement acts' were passed dealing with measures 
to improve the local environment. 

(a) Source: Letter from Charles Lyttelton, the Dean of Exeter, 1761, 
printed in L. Dickins and M. Stanton (eds.), An Eighteenth-Century 
Correspondence (1910), pp. 420-1. 

Having in a former letter promised to give you some account 
of this City where I have resided with great comfort and 
satisfaction for a number of years, I will now fulfil my promise 
in as concise a manner as possible. *Tis situated on rising 
ground so that from which ever way you approach it except on 
the east you have a steep ascent, which is an inconvenience 
both in going out as well as coming into the City, but this is 
amply made up for by the advantage of a free current of air 
the consequence of its high situation, which renders the City 
healthy, which from its close buildings and numerous Inhabi- 
tants confined in a narrow space would probably suffer greatly 
by infectious distempers, not to mention that every hard 
shower of rain performs the office of a scavenger incomparably 
well by the streets being very sloping, and 'tis lucky it does so, 
else such is the want of cleanliness among these people, that 
we should all be near poisoned by the filth and nastiness that 
every street abounds with. The Magistrates are very blameable 
in this respect for I have been assured that £10 per annum 
only is allowed for Scavengers throughout the whole City. I 
believe the number of Inhabitants both in City and Suburbs 
do not exceed 15,000. The High, or as is vulgarly called, the 



Fore Street is very long and spacious, but all the Houses are 
old and bad within as indeed they generally are over the whole 
City. The most remarkable Buildings, are the Cathedral, of 
which more hereafter, the Doorway at the top of the steps 
leading to the two Courts for the Assizes, within the Castle, 
which is round arched and decorated in the Saxon Style, and 
a large Building in Water Bear St. now used as a Warehouse, 
but which Tradition says was formerly the Guild Hall or Town 
House. . . . Provision of all kinds is exceeding good (except 
cheese and bacon) in this City and in greater plenty than is 
hardly to be met with in any other Town of the bigness in the 
Kingdom, but tho' so very plentifull is far from cheap. 

The Corporation or Chamber of Exon have a very good 
estate and keep up a very laudable Hospitality, the Mayor 
having a dinner of ten dishes at least almost every Monday 
throughout the year, to which all the principal Gentry, Clergy, 
Merchants and strangers that come to Exeter are invited in 
their turns, besides great and sumptious feasts on the election 
of the new Mayor and Sheriffs, which is indeed usual in other 
large Towns. 

(b) Social differences in Lincoln were described by a visiting 

Source: C. Dibdin, Observations on a Tour (1801), vol. I, p. 377. 

This city is composed of a high and a low town, which are 
perpetually at variance with each other. I cannot explain this 
better than by saying that if there were a play-house at Lincoln, 
it must be in one of the following predicaments. If it was 
situated on a hill it would be all boxes; if under the hill all 
gallery, and if in the midway all pit; and, therefore, as a 
play-house cannot subsist but by the union of boxes, pit and 
gallery, I should apprehend fortunes are not acquired by 
theatrical performances at Lincoln. 


Half-rural condidons existed even in new towns, like Bradford, 
where the urban environment was raw and tough. Bradford had a 
population of only 6,393 as late as 1801. 

place 69 

Source: Minutes of the Bradford Vestry, May and September 
1798, quoted in W. Cudworth, Historical Mtes on the Bradford 
Corporation (1881), pp. 8-9. 

May 1798. Whereas, the order made April 20 last, 1795, 
respecting the turning out of pigs to run at large in the streets 
and highways of the township of Bradford not having been 
sufficiently attended to by the township men: 

Resolved— That public notice be given by the cryer and by 
handbills that, from and after the 1 2th of May next, the 
owner of such pig or pigs as are found at large will be 
indicted for the same by the constable of the town. 
Resolved— That John Rawnsley be appointed to get the 
same cry'd and handbills drawn up, printed, and distributed 
accordingly, and pay one shilling for every pig so found at 
large to any person who shall take up and get the same 
Sept. 1798. The order made the 7 of May last respecting the 
turning out of piggs to run at large in the streets and highways 
within this township still continuing to be a very great nuisance: 
Ordered— That Robt. Wray, the beadle, with such assis- 
tance as lie may procure, be appointed to carry 
the order made as mentioned above into 


Many of the great industrial cities of the nineteenth century 
grew rapidly during the eighteenth century. Among them were 
Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. Already they were capitals 
of surrounding industrial regions. 

(a) Source: W. Thompson, Tour of England and Scotland (1788), 
pp. 11-19. 

May 19th. Leave Stratford. ... In the evening arrive at 
Birmingham; but this being unfortunately the time of their 
fair, we could not see any of the manufacturers at work. Visit 
Clay's manufactory for making tea-boards, buttons, and other 


articles pasted together and dried. Visit also Boulton's manu- 
factory for plated articles of all sorts of steel and iron-work. 
This town is very extensive, and a great part of it elegantly 
built. It contains upwards of one hundred thousand inhabitants; 
but the people are all diminutive in size, and sickly in their 
appearance, from their sedentary employment. In Birmingham 
there is one very elegant and spacious church, three chapels, 
and eight meeting-houses for Dissenters . . . but the great 
mass of the people give themselves very little concern about 
religious matters, seldom, if ever, going to church, and spending 
the Sundays in their ordinary working apparel, in low de- 
bauchery. What religion there is in Birmingham is to be found 
among the Dissenters. It is well known that there are many 
coiners of false money in Birmingham, a circumstance that is 
easily accounted for, from the nature of the business in which 
they have been accustomed to be employed. It may be added, 
that there is a great deal of trick and low cunning among the 
Birmingham manufacturers in general, though there are, no 
doubt, some exceptions, as well as profligacy of manners. This 
may be owing in part, to their want of early education ; for 
the moment that the children are fit for any kind of labour, 
instead of being sent to school, they are set to some sort of 
work or other: but it is probably more owing to their being 
constantly associated together both in their labouring and in 
their idle hours. It is remarkable, that society corrupts the 
manners of the vulgar as much as it sharpens their under- 

About fifty years ago, there were only three principal or 
leading streets in Birmingham, which at this day is so crouded, 
and at the same time so extensive a town; a circumstance 
which illustrates, in a very striking manner, the rapid increase 
of our manufactures and trade in steel and iron. 

The manufacturers of Birmingham who are generally 
accounted rich, are such as possess fortunes from five to fifteen 
thousand pounds. A few arc in possession of much larger capitals ; 
but in general, they may be said to be in easy and flourishing 
circumstances, rather than very rich or affluent. The number 
of carriages kept by private persons has been doubled within 
these ten years: so also has that of the women of the town. 

place 71 

These different species of luxury seem to have advanced in 
proportions pretty nearly equal. The people of Birmingham 
have often tried to establish a coffee-house; but found this 
impossible, even with the advantage of a subscription. They 
generally resort to ale-houses and taverns. According to the 
size of the place, there should be several coffee-houses, taking 
our standard in this matter, from London. But the genius of 
Birmingham is not that of coffee-houses. The labouring and 
poor people of Birmingham fare but hardly; their chief sus- 
tenance being bread and cheese, and ale for which they pay 
five-pence the quart, though this measure is not so large as a 
quart porter-pot. There is a porter brewery at Birmingham, 
the liquor produced by which is equal in strength to that 
brewed in London ; but far inferior in flavour. 

It is not above seventy years since there was any great 
variety of metal goods fabricated here. Coarse locks and 
hinges, with common metal buttons and buckles, formed 
before that period, the whole amount of the Birmingham 
manufactures. But now, these coarse articles are manufactured 
in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, and other small towns 
near Birmingham. The fine and fashionable goods are manu- 
factured in the town of Birmingham itself. In the country round 
about are nailers and woodscrew-makcrs, who work in their 
own cottages, and whose prices are so low, that they get but 
very little money by all their labour. The women and children, 
as well as the men, are employed in the manufacture of these 
articles. Sometimes the whole family will be occupied in one 
branch of business, which suits well enough, as the father of 
the family makes large nails, and the wife and children smaller 
ones, according to their strength. This division oflabour in the 
same family, if studied and practised in different kinds of 
British manufactures, might in this country, as in India, 
expedite business, and also improve the articles produced by it. 

The industry of the people in those parts is wonderful. They 
live here like the people of Spain and other hot countries, 
rising at three or four o'clock in the morning, going to rest for 
a few hours at noon, and afterwards working till nine or ten 
o'clock at night. 

It is exceedingly remarkable, and highly worthy of obser- 


vatkm, that industry in manufactures in the districts adjacent 
to Birmingham, is wholly confined to the barren parts of the 
country. This great town stands on the south-east extremity of 
a very barren region. . . . [On the] west, where the ground 
is fertile and well cultivated, there is scarcely a manufacturer 
to be found of any kind. 

(b) Foreigners were particularly amazed by what they saw. 

Source: B. Faujas de St. Fond, A Journey Through England and 
Scotland to the Hebrides in 1784 (1907 edn.), pp. 346-9. 

From the activity of its manufactures and its commerce, 
Birmingham is one of the most curious towns in England. If 
any one should wish to see in one comprehensive view, the 
most numerous and most varied industries, all combined in 
contributing to the arts of utility, of pleasure, and of luxury, 
it is hither that he must come. Here all the resources of industry, 
supported by the genius of invention, and by mechanical skill 
of every kind are directed towards the arts, and seem to be 
linked together to co-operate for their mutual perfection. 

I know that some travellers who have not given themselves 
the trouble to reflect on the importance and advantage of 
these kinds of manufactures in such a country as England, have 
disapproved of most of these industrial establishments. I know 
that even an Englishman who has only taken a hasty, I would 
almost say an inconsiderate view of these magnificent estab- 
lishments, William Gilpin, has said that it was difficult for the 
eye to be long pleased in the midst of so many frivolous arts, 
where a hundred men may be seen, whose labours are confined 
to the making of a tobacco box. But besides that this statement 
is exaggerated and ill-considered, its author has not deigned 
to cast his eyes over the vast works where steam-pumps are 
made, these astonishing machines, the perfecting of which does 
so much honour to the talents and knowledge of Mr. Watt ; 
over the manufactories in constant activity making sheet-copper 
for sheathing ships' bottoms ; over those of plate-tin and plate- 
iron, which make France tributary to England, nor over that 
varied and extensive hard-ware manufacture which employs 
to so much advantage more than thirty thousand hands, and 
compels all Europe, and a part of the New World, to supply 

place 73 

themselves from England, because all ironmongery is made 
here in greater perfection, with more economy and in greater 
abundance, than anywhere else. 

Once more, I say with pleasure, and it cannot be too often 
said to Frenchmen, that it is the abundance of coal which has 
performed this miracle and has created, in the midst of a 
barren desert, a town with forty thousand inhabitants, who live 
in comfort, and enjoy all the conveniences of life. 

Here a soil, once covered with the most barren and sombre 
heath, has been changed into groves of roses and lilacs, and 
turned into fertile and delightful gardens by Mr Boulton, 
associated with Mr Watt, in whose work more than a thousand 
hands arc engaged. 

(c) There was a less pleasant side to industrial expansion in urban 
centres, as this paper on Manchester shows. 

Source: Note on T. Percival, 'Observations on the State of 
Manchester and the Adjacent Places' in Philosophical Transactions 
of the Royal Society (1775), pp. 324-6. 

Great towns are in a peculiar degree fatal to children. Half 
of all that are born in London die under three, and in Man- 
chester under five years of age; whereas at Roy ton, a Manu- 
facturing township in the neighbourhood of Manchester, the 
number of children dying under the age of three years, is to 
the number of children born only as one to seven; and at 
Eastham, a parish in Cheshire, inhabited by farmers, the 
proportion is considerably less. 

It is a common but injurious practice in manufacturing 
countries, to confine children, before they have attained a 
sufficient degree of strength, to sedentary employments, in 
places where they breathe a putrid air, and are debarred the 
free use of their limbs. The effect of this confinement ... is 
either to cut them off early in life, or to render their consti- 
tutions feeble and sickly; but the love of money stifles the 
feelings of humanity, an even makes men blind to the very 
interest they so anxiously pursue. The same principle of 
sound policy which induces them to spare their horses and 
cattle, till they arrive at a due size and vigour, should determine 
them to grant a proportionable respite to their children. 




It was not until the development of steam power and the rise of 
the factory system that industry began to be concentrated in large 
urban centres. Such centres for the most part, were associated with 
trade rather than industrial production. For most of the eighteenth 
century industry was dispersed and decentralized. The use of water 
power encouraged such dispersal, often in bleak rural areas. The 
extracts which follow describe particular areas at different times 
during the century. 

(a) Source: D. Defoe, A Tour, vol. Ill, pp. 193-6. 

From Blackstone Edge to Haliifax [sic] is eight miles . . . 
and the nearer we came to Haliifax, we found the houses 
thicker, and the villages greater in every bottom; and not 
only so, but the sides of the hills which were very steep every 
way, were spread with houses, and that very thick; for the 
land being divided into small enclosures, that is to say, from 
two acres to six or seven acres each, seldom more; every three 
or four pieces of land had a house belonging to it. 

Then it was I began to perceive the reason and nature of 
the thing, and found that this division of the land into small 
pieces, and scattering of the dwellings, was occasioned by, and 
done for the convenience of the business which the people 
were generally employ'd in, and that, as I said before, though 
we saw no people stirring without doors, yet they were all 
full within; for, in short, this whole country, however moun- 
tainous, and that no sooner we were down one hill but we 
mounted another, is yet infinitely full of people ; those people all 
full of business ; not a beggar, not an idle person to be seen, 
except here and there an alms-house, where people antient, 
decrepid, and past labour, might perhaps be found; for it is 
observable, that the people here, however laborious, generally 
live to a great age, a certain testimony to the goodness and 
wholesomness of the country, which is, without doubt, as 
healthy as any part of England; nor is the health of the people 
lessen'd, but help'd and established by their being constantly 
employ'd, and, as we call it, their working hard; so that they 
find a double advantage by their being always in business. 

This business is the clothing trade, for the convenience of 

place 75 

which the houses are thus scattered and spread upon the sides 
of the hills, as above, even from the bottom to the top; the 
reason is this; such has been the bounty of nature to this 
otherwise frightful country, that two tilings essential to the 
business, as well as to the ease of the people are found here, 
and that in a situation which I never saw the like of in any part 
of England; and, I believe, the like is not to be seen so contrived 
in any part of the world; I mean coals and running water upon 
the tops of the highest fulls : this seems to have been directed 
by the wise hand of Providence for the very purpose which is 
now served by it, namely, the manufactures. . . . 

Having thus fire and water at every dwelling, there is no 
need to enquire why they dwell thus dispcrs'd upon the highest 
hills, the convenience of the manufactures requiring it. 
Among the manufacturers houses are likewise scattered an 
infinite number of cottages or small dwellings, in which dwell the 
workmen which are employed, the women and children of 
whom, are always busy carding, spinning, &c. so that no 
hands being unemploy'd, all can gain their bread, even from 
the youngest to the antient ; hardly any thing above four years 
old, but its hands are sufficient to it self. 

This is the reason also why we saw so few people without 
doors; but if we knock'd at the door of any of the master 
manufacturers, we presently saw a house full of lusty fellows, 
some at the dye-vat, some dressing the cloths, some in the 
loom, some one thing, some another, all hard at work, and 
full employed upon the manufacture, and all seeming to have 
sufficient business. 

I have dwelt so [much] upon this part [for] any one that 
desires a full understanding of the manner how the people of 
England are employed, and do subsist in these remoter parts 
where they are so numerous; for this is one of the most populous 
parts of Britain, London and the adjacent parts excepted. 

(b) The Potteries provide an example of another highly distinctive 
area. Josiah Wedgwood started work at Burslem in 1759: by 1800 
a local craft had developed into a national industry, serving an 
international market. 

Source; C. B. Andrews (ed.), The Torrington Diaries (1936), 
vol. HI, pp. 126-7. 


I was now, quite undetermin'd to my purpose, whether to 
Stafford, to Stone, or to the left to Bromley; the fall of my 
stick had detcrrnin'd me: but learning here, that the pottery 
country began in 2 or 3 miles, which is highly flourishing, and 
where in is much to observe, I was rcsolv'd to pass thro'it, tho' 
it threw me considerably out of my first intention. One of the 
young farmers attended me thro' the grounds till I enter' d the 
public road. At Lane End the population of the pottery 
commences, (where the roads are repair'd by the fragments, 
'broken in pieces like a potter's vesselF,) and continues a 
street of many miles ;— the men whiten'd with the powder, are 
supplied with coals to keep alive, the everlasting ovens, from 
every adjacent field ; hundreds of horses, and asses with pan- 
niers, are incessantly taking in their lading: thro' there I 
pass'd along, slowly in pleasant rumination; but wonder'd 
much at no market being establish'd for such a multitude. 

I now descended to the village of Stoke-upon-Trent, around 
which are numberless new buildings, and many pleasant villas 
for the principal merchants; and there is likewise a good inn 
building in this place: here I cross'd the Trent; and soon, 
many branches of navigation. These intersecting canals, with 
their passing boats, their bridges, the population, the pottery 
ovens, and the bustle of business, remind me of a Chinese 
picture, where the angler is momentarily interrupted by a boat. 
^ The late village of Handley, now a great town, upon the 
hill above, cuts a flaming figure from its new church, and 
newly-built houses. The village of Skelton, likewise, is swell'd 
into great bulk. 

Now I enquired for Etruria, the grand pottery establish'd by 
Mr Wedgwood; and putting up my horses at the adjacent inn, 
sent up my name and comp 13 to Mr W,, with a desire to view 
his manufactory: in the mean time, as the workmen were at 
dinner, and would be for about an hour, I saunter'd about 
Mr W.'s grounds; which are green, and pleasant, with some 
pretty plantations, views of navigation &c &c— The house 
seems to be good, and is built of staring red brick; as are many 
in the vicinage, belonging to the principal traders. I was now 
sheun about the several workshops of this great pottery, 
wherein are employ'd 300 men; but this is a dull observation 

place 77 

for any person who has seen China manufactories. The painting 
business — perform'd by females, is an hot, unwholesome, 
employ; the work to be painted is allways lifted up in the left 
hand. — Except some Irishmen, who were put in, purposely, 
for the intent of disertion, I did not find that any persons had 
attempted to carry oil" any secrets of the art. . . . 

After an hours inspection, hunger hasten'd me away; and 
I thought the mile to the town of Newcastle-under-Lirae, 
grieviously long; but as this was a large town, upon a very 
high road, I knew I should fare well. — 

The Roe Buck, the largest inn, is one of the most savage, 
dirty, ale houses I ever enter'd ( Traveller, beware The Roe Buck 
in Newcastle). 

(c) Tin and copper mines in Cornwall and Devon were a source 
of interest to all travellers. Cornish tin output reached its peak in 
the middle of the eighteenth century, 

Source : E. D. Clarke, Tour Through the South of England, pp. 90-6, 

Soon after my arrival at Truro, I visited some of the most 
considerable mines in its neighbourhood, and selecting that of 
Poldeis, which is the oldest, the largest, and I believe the 
deepest in England, went to the bottom of it. 

When you declare your intention to descending with the 
miners, the captain, as he is called, takes you into a room, and 
equips you in a woollen shirt, trowsers, night cap, and jacket. 
As for stockings, it is usual not to wear any, and agreeable to 
the advice of the experienced miner, we descended with our 
legs bare. They then tie old shoes to our feet, fit for the purpose, 
and having accommodated each person with a candle in his 
hand, and half a pound more suspended from his neck, he is 
declared compleatly equipped, and conducted to the mouth of 
the mine. It requires a good strong stomach, and a large 
portion of curiosity, to go through all this. For besides the 
fatigue and toil in the mine, the cloaths they give you are as 
greasy as sweat can make them, smell abominably, and are 
often stocked with a republic of creepers. Should any one be 
induced, hereafter, to explore there regions of darkness, I 
would advise him to prepare, at least, a woollen shirt, and a 
pair of trowsers, that he may avoid those unpleasant sensations 


which arise in every man's brest, when compelled to have 
recourse to a miner's wardrobe. 

These preliminaries being adjusted, we began to descend. 
A miner went first, to serve as a guide. Jeremy followed the 
miner. After Jeremy, came my companion and myself; and 
last of all the captain, giving us this comfortable assurance, 
'That if we made a slip, or a single false step, or looked either 
to one side or the other, we should be ground to atoms in the 
steam engine, or dashed to pieces in the mine.' The descent 
resembles a large well, with an emmense machine, for the 
purpose of draining the mine of water, continually in motion 
all the way down. Mr. Bolton, of Birmingham, receives annually 
some thousands from the county of Cornwall, for the use of 
them. , . . 

We continued to descend by ladders, which were from four 
to five fathoms in length, and being soon wet through, weak 
from want of proper respiration, and half stifled with the fumes 
of sulphur, began to hesitate whether we should proceed or 
not. Curiousity got die better of our fears, and we went on. 
Had I known what we should endure, I never could have 
attempted so much as I did. I had no idea of the difficulty 
and danger attending such an undertaking, and only wonder 
that accidents are not more frequent among the miners, who 
run up and down these slippery places like lamp-lighters, 
singing and whistling all the way. 

At about eighty fathoms depth we came to a vein of copper 
ore, where two sorry wretches were busied in the process of 
their miserable employment. With hardly room to move their 
bodies, in sulphureous air, wet to the skin, and buried in the 
solid rock, these poor devils live and work for a pittance 
barely sufficient to keep them alive; pecking out the hard ore 
by the glimmering of a small candle, whose scattered rays will 
hardly penetrate the thick darkness of the place. Those who 
live on earth in affluence, and are continually murmuring for 
additional comforts, would surely, if they saw these scenes, be 
happy with what they have. . . . Proceeding in our descent, 
we reached at length the bottom of the mine, and stood one 
hundred and thirty fathoms below the surface of the earth. 

Thus far we had seen a mine of copper, but in this place 


is contained a vein of tin also, and a communication is dug 
from the copper to the tin. Through this we crawled upon our 
hands and knees, sometimes sprawling upon our bellies, over 
wheel-barrows and stones, pick-axes and hammers. This we 
found was trifling, to that which we encountered afterwards, 
for we crossed over into a rapid stream whose waters rushed 
abundantly over us, as we crawled along in a space just 
sufficient to admit us upon all fours. . . . 

When the ore is dug, it is conveyed up in baskets, through 
perpendicular shafts, to the surface. The day we went down, 
it happened to be a holiday for the miners, of which they have 
many in the year, and of course very few were at work. These 
holidays they call grace days, by which they mean surface days, 
as they call the surface of the earth grace, graese, or perhaps 
grass. It is very difficult to understand what they say, and our 
captain, who kept bawling out his precaution all the way 
down, might as well have held his peace, since not one of us 
could comprehend a syllable of his jargon. 

Working our way in a direction from north to south, we 
came at last to the shafts of the tin mine. Here we saw, as 
before, two figures, that hardly wore the appearance of human 
beings, singing at their work. We found it exceedingly difficult 
to pay them a visit, as we had to descend by a single rope down 
a chasm, never broader than a chimney, until we reached the 
loade where the miners were employed. 

(d) Tyneside was a highly developed industrial area, and London 
was dependent upon it for its coal. There were seasonal variations 
in the price of coal until collier-ships from the Tyne began to make 
journeys to London all the year round after 1 760. The first 'railways' 
were developed in these pits. {See below, p. 107.) 

Source: B. F. de St. Fond, A Journey, pp. 136-9. 

The coal-mines, in the neighbourhood of Newcastle, are 
situated in so fortunate a position that the soil which covers 
them yields fine pasture that supports herds of horses. Under 
this fertile soil there is found a sandstone, of excellent quality 
for grind-stones. This second richness of the earth forms 
anotber extensive object of trade for the industry of the inhabi- 
tants of Newcastle: these stones have so great a reputation, 
that they are exported to all the ports in Europe. 



The first mine I visited belongs to a private individual ; it 
is situated about two miles from the town, and requires one 
hundred men to work it; thirty for the work above ground, 
and seventy in the pit: twenty horses live in this profound 
abyss, and drag the coal through the subterranean passages to 
the pit-bottom; four outside work the machine which raises 
die coal, and some more are employed in auxiliary labours. . . . 

At [a] depth of one hundred and two feet the coal is found. 
The seam is five feet thick in some places, and varies in others ; 
but in general it is easily wrought, and much of it is brought 
up in large blocks. This last circumstance is of considerable 
advantage, as such pieces are always easily transported, and 
are besides well suited for chamber-fires; which makes this 
coal sell at a higher price. . . . 

This mine has a large steam-engine for pumping out the 
water, and at the same time working a ventilator to purify 
the air. 



Nature has set up by her own unquestionable authority certain 
boundaries and fences to circumscribe the discontent of man : she 
has effected her purpose in the quietest and easiest manner, by 
laying him under almost insuperable obligations to work out his 
ease, and to sustain his suffering at home. . . . The whole circle 
of travellers may be reduced to the following heads: 

Idle Travellers, 
Inquisitive Travellers, 
Lying Travellers, 
Proud Travellers, 
Vain Travellers, 
Splenetic Travellers, 

Then follow : 

The Travellers of Necessity, 
The delinquent and felonious Traveller, 
The unfortunate and innocent Traveller, 
The simple Traveller, 

And last of all (if you please) the Sentimental Traveller (meaning 
thereby myself). . . . 

(Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey, 1 768) 

Most Foreigners that travel into England content themselves with 
seeing London, the two Universities, Windsor, and the other Royal 

(M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations, 1719) 

Our servant came up and said, 'Sir, there is no travelling today. 
Such a quantity of snow has fallen in the night that the roads 
are quite filled up.' I told him, 'At least we can walk twenty miles 
a day, with our horses in our hands.' So in the name of God we 
set out. We kept on, on foot or on horseback, till we came to the 
White Lion at Grantham. 

(John Wesley, Journal, 18 Feb. 1747) 




Conversation is a traffic; and if you enter into it without some 
stock of knowledge to balance the account proportionally betwixt 
you — the trade drops at once. 

(Laurence Sterne, Sermons of Mr. Torick, 1760) 


For the large number of Englishmen who lived in villages, life 
was bounded geographically within narrow limits. The following 
extracts bring out different aspects both of village community and 
of village 'isolation'. 

(a) Source: Note in the Parish Register of Turnworth, Dorset, 
1747, quoted by W. E. Tate in The Parish Chest (I960), p. 74. 

On Ascension Day after morning prayer at Turnworth 
Church, was made a publick Perambulation of y* bounds of 
y e parish of Turnworth by me Richd. Cobbe, Vicar, Wm. 
Northover, Churchwarden, Hemy Sillers and Richard Mullen, 
Overseers and others with 4 boys; beginning at Church Hatch 
and cutting a great T. on the most principal parts of the 
bounds. Whipping y e boys by way of remembrance, and 
stopping their cry with some half-pence; we returned to 
church again, which Perambulation and Processioning had 
not been made for five years last past. 

(b) Strangers were strangers, and until 1795 vagrants and beggars 
were sent back to their own parishes if they seemed likely to be a 
burden on the poor rate. 'Removal Orders' were made, and 'Bills 
of Charges' carefully kept. Yet despite the settlement laws, there 
was more migration than Adam Smith suggested when he wrote 
that 'it was often more difficult for a poor man to pass the artificial 
boundaries of a parish than the arm of the sea or a ridge of high 
mountains'. All coastal counties, for instance, provided sailors and 

Source: Removal Order, Shelford, Notts., printed in ibid., po. 

(i) The Examination 
County of Nottingham."! The Examination of Humphrey 
(to wit). f Foulds taken upon Oath before me, 


one of his majesty's Justices of the Peace in and for the said 
County, this seventh Day of April 1809 touching the Place of 
his Settlement. This Examinant, upon Oath, saith, That he is 
about the Age of Thirty Eight Years, and that he was born, as 
he hath been informed, and verily believes, in the Parish of 
Old Daulbey in the County of Leicester of Parents legally 
settled at Shelford in the County of Nottingham, That when 
about seventeen years of Age he was hired to Mr. Simpson of 
Saxelby in the County of Leicester aforesaid for one year and 
served him Two years, That at Martinmas following he was 
hired to Henry Ellis of Shelford in the County of Nottingham 
for one year and served him accordingly. That at Martinmas 
following was hired to Mr. John Cooper of Shelford aforesaid 
and served him Eighteen Months. That in the Month of 
December following he went to Work at Grantham Canal. 
That in the year 1800 he went to Great Grimsby in Lincolnshire 
and Married Fanny his now Wife which gave him a Vote for 
great Grimsby aforesaid, and there Rented a House, at one 
Pound ten shillings a year and paid Rates or Assessments about 
five Shillings a year, and lived there about five or she years. 
That he afterwards went to live at Boston, and Rented a 
Room and Paid Three Shillings a week for Thirty Nine Weeks, 
and remainder of the year Paid 2s. 6d. per week, and was then 
Removed by a Warrant of Removal to the Parish of Shelford 
aforesaid, . , . 

(ii) The Order 

The Borough and Parish of Boston \ Upon the Complaint of 
in the County of Lincoln J and the Churchwardens 

Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Boston aforesaid . . . 
in the said County of Lincoln unto us . . . that Humphrey 
Foulds and Frances his Wife and their three children namely 
Humphrey aged about six Years, Mary Ann aged about five 
years and Sarah aged about two years have come to inhabit 
in the said Parish of Boston, not having gained a legal Settle- 
ment there, nor produced any Certificate owning them to be 
settled elsewhere, and that the said Humphrey Foulds and 
Frances his wife and their said three children have become 
chargeable to the said Parish of Boston; we the said Justices . . . 


do therefore require you the said Churchwardens and Overseers 
of the Poor of the said Parish of Boston, or some, or one of you 
to convey the said Humphrey Foulds and Frances his Wife and 
their said three children from and out of the said Parish of 
Boston to said Parish of Shelford and them to deliver to the 
Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor there, or to some 
or one of them together with our Order or a true Copy 
thereof, at the same Time shewing to them the Original; and 
we do also hereby require you the said Churchwardens and 
Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish of Shelford to receive 
and provide for them as Inhabitants of your said Parish, 

(c) In village communities, like Padworth, Berkshire, specific 
reference was sometimes made by providers of harvest feasts as to 
whether the festival included people born outside the parish. 

Source: F. Turner (ed.), A Berkshire Balchelor , s Diary (1936). The 
diary was kept by Francis Prior, a gendeman farmer of Ufton, 
Berkshire. 1 

On Tuesday the 1 8th of October (1768) I that day finnish 

my Harvest Gave all the people that work'd at Cart that 

day their supper and plenty of Ale and I intend if please God 
I live till the next harvest and remain in the same mind I now 
am to provide on this Occasion a large Round of Beef. . . . 

Monday the 2nd of Novr, 1769 that day IdU'd ray bull 
which gave next day to the Parishioners of Padworth. 
No. 1. Win. Wise. 

2. Widow Saunders. . . . 

28. Thomas Faulkner. 

29. Thos. Hawkins. 

To my day men and not of the Parish 
John White the farm carter. 
John Crockford Shepherd, 
Edwd. Hill Thrasher. . . . 

(d) Some parts of the country were notorious for their isolation, 

1 [In 1784 "Prior had changed from his manuscript diary to a 
printed diary called 'The Daily Journal: or the Gentleman's, 
Merchant's and Tradesman's Complete Accompt Book, for the 
Pocket or Desk.' For the use of such diaries, see above, p. 48.] 


Wordsworth emphasized the isolation of the Lake District, for 
example, before it began to be fashionable to visit it and to admire 
the mountains and lakes. 

Source; W, Wordsworth, A Guide Through the District of the Lakes, 
written in 1810 and published in Knight (ed.), Prose Works, vol. II, 
p. 55. 

From the time of the erection of these houses till within the 
last sixty years the state of society, though no doubt slowly 
and gradually improving, underwent no material change. 
Corn was grown in these vales (through which no carriage- 
road had yet been made) sufficient upon each estate to furnish 
bread for each family, and no more. . . . Every family spun 
from its own flock the wool with which it was clothed. . . . 
They had, as I have said, their rural chapel, and of course 
their minister, in clothing or in manner of life in no way 
differing from themselves, except on the sabbath-day ; this 
was the sole distinguished individual among them; everything 
else, person and possession, exhibited a perfect equality, a 
community of shepherds and agriculturalists, proprietors for 
the most part of the lands which they occupied and culti- 
vated. . . , Till within the last sixty years there was no com- 
munication between any of these vales by carriage roads ; all 
bulky articles were transported on pack horses. 

(e) Even in more developed parts of the country Marriage Regis- 
ters reveal how many parishioners married spouses from their own 
or adjacent parishes within what may be regarded as the same 
'group of settlements'. The procedure for registering marriages was 
tightened up by Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1 753. After that date 
information becomes more comprehensive and is set out on printed 

Source; Sussex Archaeological Society, Sussex Marriage Licences, 
Deanery of South Mailing (1928), pp. 332-3. 

Mar. 27 Thomas Snatt of Uckfield, husbandman, & Mary 

Allingham of same. 
May 5 Richard Harland of Lindfield, taylor, & Hannah 

Allen of same. 









































Robert Moone of Mayfield, yeoman, & Elizabeth 

Relf of same. 
Solomon Gleed of Ashburnham, yeoman, & Sarah 

Mepham of Mayfield. 
Daniel Kenward of Lewes, collermaker, & Mary 

Tyler of the Cliffc, widow. 
John Drudge of Edburton & Jane Burstow of 

same, spinster. 
John Webb of Woodmancote & Jane Hards of 

Edburton, spinster. 
John Tompsett of Newtek & Jude Peirce of 

Isficld, widow. 
Edward Collins of the Cliffc, currier, & Sarah 

Palmer of same, spinster. 

John Sharp of Lewes, bricklayer, & Mary Palmer 

of the Cliffe, spinster. 
John Buckell of Lewes, barber, & Elizabeth 

Mackfarland of the Cliffe, spinster. 
Stephen Russell & Anne Piper of Wadhurst, 

Zachery Symms of Goudhurst, barber, & Anne 

Mate of Wadhurst, spinster. 
William Gill & Elizabeth Caley of Mayfield. 


Herbert Styles of the Cliffe, taylor, & Anne Hart 
of same, spinster. 

John Clark of Battell, labourer, & Mary Crow- 
hurst, spinster. 

John Tyman of Mayfield, yeoman, & Mary Moone 
of same, spinster, 

Jonathan Barrowcliffe of the Cliffe & Martha 
Hammond, spinster, 

Daniel Kenward of the Cliffe & Mary Wood of 
same, spinster. 

John Smith of Maresfield & Anne Price of Fram- 
field, widow. 

William King & Susan Backer of Isfield, 

communication 87 

Sept. 7 Arthur Pinion of Ringmer, husbandman, & Charity 

Townsbnd of Framfield. 
Sept. 10 John Stapley of Mayfield & Sarah Brown of 

Buxted, spinster. 
Sept. 15 John Hollands of Broadwater, yeoman, & Mary 

Gatland of South Mailing. 
Sept. 20 Richard Goodwyn of Bexhill & Elizabeth Day of 


(e) Local names figure prominently in the parish records. The 
following example relates to the Sussex name, Elphick. 

Source: Sussex Archaeological Society, Sussex Marriage Licences, 
Archdeaconry of Lewes (1928), pp. 140-1. 

Elphick, George, of Isfield, yeoman, bachelor, & Elizabeth 

Harriott of Tarringnevil, spinster. 14 Nov. 1801. 
Elphick, George, of S. John's under the Castle of Lewes, 

bachelor, aged 22 and upds., & Ann Kennard of 

S. Peter and S. Mary Westout, spinster, aged 20, and 

upds. 16 May 1814. 
Elphick, James, of Kingston near Lewes, husbandman, 

bachelor, aged 24 and upds., & Mary Ireland of 

same, spinster, aged 22 and upds. 27 Oct. 1777. 
Elphick, John, of Framfield, yeoman, bachelor, aged 21 and 

upds., & Elizabeth Winton of same, spinster, aged 21 

and upds. 13 Dec. 1805. 
Elphick, Richard, of S. Thomas in the Cliffe, labourer, 

bachelor, aged 22 and upds., & Jenny Lower of 

Arlington, spinster, aged 22 and upds. 13 April 1782. 
Elphick, Richard of Framfield, butcher, bachelor, aged 21 

and upds., & Harriot Richardson of Mayfield, spinster, 

aged 21 and upds. 
Elphick, Samuel, of Willingdon, servant bachelor, aged 20 

and upds,, with consent of Hannah Elphick of WilHng- 

don, widow, his mother, & Sarah Geering of Jevington, 

spinster, aged 22 and upds. 
Elphick, Walter, of Chiddingly, miller, bachelor, & Mary 

Olliver of Burwash, spinster (Chiddingly ch.). 9 Jan. 

Elphick, William, the younger, of Meeching otherwise 



Newhaven, yeoman, aged 24 and upds., & Mary Lamb 
of Wilmington, spinster, aged 25 and upds, 20 Aug, 

Elphick, William, of Framfield, yeoman, bachelor, aged 21 
and upds., & Susannah Gabby of same, spinster, aged 
21 and upds.: bondsmen, said W. E. and Thomas 
Pescodd of Southover near Lewes, cordwainer. 19 Jan. 
1774. [South Mailing] 

Elphick, William, of Herstmonceux, yeoman, bachelor, aged 
24 and upds,, & Mille Marshall of same, spinster, 
aged 21 and upds.: bondsmen, said W. E. and John 
Marshall of Herstmonceux, yeoman. 29 Apr, 1780. 

Elphick, William, of Framfield, yeoman, widower, & Elizabeth 
Hart of same, spinster, aged 19 and upds. 25 Aug. 
1780. [South Mailing] 

Elphick, William, of Westham, yeoman, bachelor, aged 20 
and upds., with consent of William Elphick of Westham, 
yeoman, & Ann Gorringe of same, spinster, aged 23 
and upds. 14 Sept. 1786. 

Elphick, William, of All Saints, Lewes, britchesmaker, 
bachelor, aged 25 and upds., & Jane Egers of same, 
spinster, aged 25 and upds. 1 Nov. 1791. 

Elphick, William, of Wcstfirle, labourer, bachelor, aged 23 
and upds,, & Mary Ann Reeves of same, spinster, aged 
21 and upds. 14 Dec. 1798. 

Elphick, William, of Friston, gent,, bachelor, aged 25 and 
upds., & Mary Armitage of Eastdean, spinster, aged 
21 and upds. 25 Oct. 1806. 


Market towns were the centres of districts, and people naturally 
gravitated towards them. In some counties, like Herefordshire or 
Leicestershire, there was a strong pull towards the centre: in others, 
like Oxfordshire, there was not. Assize towns and petty sessional 
divisions were known to most people. Other points of contact were 
the fair, a medieval institution, and the inn, which figures pro- 
minendy in almost all eighteenth-century novels, as a place where 
'strangers' and 'natives' met. 

communication 89 

(a) Source: D. Defoe, Tour, vol. I., pp. 80ff. 

Sturbridge Fair ... is not only the greatest in the nation, 
but in the world. . . . The shops are placed in rows like streets, 
whereof one is called Cheapside ; and here, as in several other 
streets, are all sorts of trades, who sell by retale, and who 
come principally from London with their goods; scarce any 
trades are omitted, goldsmiths, toyshops, brasicrs, turners, 
milleners, haberdashers, hatters, mercers, drapers, pewtrers, 
china-warehouses, and in word all trades that can be named 
in London; with coffee-houses, taverns, brandy shops, and 
eating houses, innumerable, and all in tents, and booths, as 
above .... To attend this fair, and the prodigious conflux of 
people, which comes to it, there are sometimes no less than 
fifty hackney coaches, which come from London, and ply 
night and morning to carry the people to and from Cambridge ; 
for there the gross of the people lodge ; nay, which is still more 
strange, there are wherries brought from London on waggons 
to plye upon the little river Cam, and to row people up and 
down from the town, and from the fair as occasion presents. 
It is not to be wondered at, if the town of Cambridge cannot 
receive, or entertain the numbers of people that come to this 
fair; not Cambridge only, but all the towns round are full; 
nay, the very barns, and stables are turned into inns, and made 
as fit as they .can be to lodge the meaner sort of people : As for 
the people in the Fair, they all universally eat, drink and sleep, 
in their booths, and tents, and the said booths are so inter- 
mingled with taverns, coffee-houses, drinking-houses, eating- 
houses, cook-shops, &c. and all in tents too; and so many 
butchers and higglers from all the neighbouring counties come 
into the fair every morning . . , that there's no want of any 
provisions of any kind. ... In a word, the fair is like a well 
fortyfy'd city, and there is the least disorder and confusion 
(I believe) that can be seen anywhere, with so great a con- 
course of people. 

(b) Source: C. P. Moritz, 'Travels Through Various Parts of 
England in 1782", reprinted in W. Mavor, The British Tourists; or 
Traveller's Pocket Companion (1798), pp. 104-7. 

At noon I got to Litchfield: an old-fashioned town, with 


narrow, dirty streets, where, for the first time, I saw round 
panes of glass in the windows. The place, to me, wore an 
unfriendly appearance: I therefore . . . went straight through, 
and only bought some bread at a baker's, which I took along 
with me. At night I reached Burton, where the famous Burton 
Ale is brewed. . . . The houses and everything else seemed to 
wear nearly as grand an appearance, as if I had been still in 
London. And yet the manners of some of its inhabitants were 
so thoroughly rustic, and rude, that I saw them actually 
pointing at me with their fingers, as a foreigner. ... In the 
afternoon I saw Derby, in the vale before me; and I was now 
a hundred and twenty-six miles from London. Derby is not 
a very considerable town; it was market day when I got 
there; and I was obliged to pass through a crowd of people; 
but there was here no such odious curiosity, nor offensive 
staring, as at Burton. Hereabout too, I took notice, that I 
began to be always civilly bowed to by the children of the 
villages through which I passed. 

(c) Source; C. B. Andrews (ed.), The Torrington Diaries (1938), 
vol. IV, pp. 100- 1. Lord Torrington is describing a tour in the 
Midlands in 1 789. His many accounts of inns are always vivid and 
evocative. (See also, above, p. 77.) 

A short Road back brought me, at 2 o'clock, to The George 
Inn, Silsoe, a tolerable Noon Stop, free from Noise, close to 
The Park, and with a neat Garden; where on a Seat in a 
yew-Bush, I enjoy'd the fragrance of a Sweet Briar Hedge, 
Sheltcr'd from the Rain; I but just Escaped. 

The Stable here is very good, and The People very Civil. — 
Unluckily, I was too late for their Eggs and Bacon, So was 
obliged to have a bad fry'd Beef-Steak; — but I brought good 
Sauce with me. . . . 

Wrest is a deserted Place ; No Residence, now, of Nobility ; 
or of expensive Housekeeping ! I made a longish, tedious Stay 
here; my Horse faring better than I did, in a good Stall, and 
with good Food; But my charge was very cheap, and the 
brown Bread excellent (white I allways discard), nor was the 
Sage-Cheese amiss. ... I allways think of Dinner for J an 
hour before my arrival at the Inn, which gives me an appetite, 


and an hurry for eating; and I never Eat with so much good 
will, as when I come in heated, and can have my meat 
quickly; for then both Body and Mind are instantly Refreshed, 
and Recover'd.— 



Horses — Hay and Corn 

Feeding — two Servants 


3 glasses B. and Water 


SI. 11 

I returned by Wrest-House, thro' the Park, thro' Shefford 
Town, and by the Meadows home. . . My Evening Pace was 
very Slow, but I often look'd behind me at the lowering weather, 
which ended in rain, just as I return'd to my Quarters. — It is 
really almost cold enough for a fire and my Landlord and 
Landlady have one in the Bar; where I went to hold con- 
versation; and then was obliged to light mine, and order an 
early hot supper ;— at an hour when a genteel London Dinner 
is finishing, and the Opera beginning! 


London, busy, turbulent and colourful, had an immense appeal 
to people from all parts of the country in the eighteenth century, 
although most provincials never visited it. 'When a man is tired 
of London, he is rired of life', exclaimed Dr. Johnson in 1777. 
Some of the immigrants quickly got caught up in the seamy side 
of London life, and for this reason guide-books and novels alike 
were full of warning advice both to girls and young men. Hogarth's 
Rake's Progress and Harlot's Progress were often played out in real life. 

(a) Source: P. Qpennell (ed.), John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman 
of Pleasure (1963), pp. 32-3. The book was first published in 1749. 

As I had nobody left alive in the village who had concern 
enough about what should become of me ... I soon came to 
a resolution of making this launch into the wide world, by 
repairing to London, in order to seek my fortune, a phrase 


which, bye the bye, has ruined more adventurers of both 
sexes, from the country than it ever made or advanced. Nor 
did Esther Davis a little comfort and inspirit me to centure 
with her, by piquing my childish curiosity with the fine sights 
that were to be seen in London: the Tombs, the Lions, the 
King, the Royal Family, the fine plays and Operas and, in 
short, all the diversions which fell within her sphere of life to 
come at ; the detail of which perfecdy turn'd the little head of 
me. Nor can I remember, without laughing, the innocent 
admiration, not without a spice of envy, with which we poor 
girls, whose church-going clothes did not rise above Dowlass 
shifts and stuff gowns, beheld Esther's scowered satin gowns, 
caps border'd with an inch of lace, taudry ribbons, and shoes 
belaced with silver: all of which we imagined grew in London 
and entered for a great deal into my determination of trying to 
come in for my share of them. . . . 

(b) Source: A Note in Brief Description of London and Westminster 
(1776), p. xxvii. 

A word of advice to such young women as may arrive 
strangers in town. . . . Immediately on their arrival . . . and 
sometimes sooner, even upon their road to it, there are mis- 
creants of both sexes on the watch to seduce the fresh country 
maiden, with infinite protestations of friendship, service, love 
and pity, to prostitution. , . . For this reason the very carriages 
which convey them are hunted and examined ; the inns where 
they alight are beset by those infernal hirelings who . . . put 
on the demure show of modesty and sanctity for their deception. 
If she applies to an office of intelligence, 'tis odds but that she 
falls into the hands of some procuress. 

(c) Source: Arthur Young, The Farmers' Letters to the People of 
England (1771 edn.), pp. 353-4. 

Young men and women in the country fix their eye on 
London as the last stage of their hope; they enter into service 
in the country for little else but to raise money enough to go 
to London, which was no easy matter when a stage coach was 
four or five days creeping an hundred miles; and the fare and 
the expenses ran high. But now! a country fellow one hundred 
miles from London jumps on to a coach-box in the morning 



and for eight or ten shillings gets to town by night, which 
makes a material difference; besides rendering the going up 
and down so easy that the numbers who have seen London 
are increased tenfold and of course ten times the boasts are 
sounded in the ears of country fools, to induce them to quit 
their clean healthy fields for a region of dirty, stink and noise. 
And the number of young women that fly thither is almost 


The bustle of London caught all its inhabitants in the same grip. 
It also easily turned into brawling. London had a reputation as 
a rough city. 

(a) Source: John Gay, Trivia (1716). 

Where the fair columns of St. Clement stand 

Whose straiten'd bounds encroach upon the Strand; 

Where the low penthouse bows the walker's head, 

And the rough pavement wounds the yielding tread. . . . 

Forth issuing from steep lanes, the colliers' steeds 

Drag the black load; another cart succeeds, 

Team follows team, crouds heap'd on crouds appear, 

And wait impatient, 'till the road grows clear. 

Now all the pavement sounds with trampling feet 

And the mbct hurry barricades the street. 

Entangled here, the waggon's lengthen'd team 

Cracks the tough harness; here a pond'rous beam 

Lies over-turn's athwart; for slaughter fed 

Here lowing bullocks raise their horned head. 

Now oaths grow loud, with coaches coaches jar, 

And the smart blow provoked the sturdy war; 

From the high box they whirl the thong around, 

And with the twining lash their shins resound. . , , 

(b) Source: J. J. Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1953 edn.), 
p. 608. The reference is to 2 April 1 775. 

I talked of the cheerfulness of Fleet-street, owing to the 
constant quick succession of people which we perceive passing 


through it. Johnson. 'Why, sir, Fleet-street has a very animated 
appearance; but I think the full tide of human existence is at 

(c) Source: P. Grosley, A Tour to London (1772), vol. I, p. 37. 

Except in the two or three streets which have very lately 
been well paved, the best hung and the richest coaches are in 
point of ease as bad as carts; whether this be owing to the 
tossing occasioned at every step by the inequality and in- 
stability of the pavement, or to the continual danger of being 
splashed if all the windows are not kept constantly up. . . . 
The heaviest [carriages] and those that move the most slowly, 
directing the march of each of the files, the best carriage in 
London, as soon as it finds itself engaged with others, is obliged 
to follow the way pointed out by the file it belongs to, that is 
to say, to suffer itself to be tossed and jogged about for a long 
time, whatever reason the driver may have to be expeditious. 
But the English do not seem to have that eagerness to arrive 
at their journey's end, so general amongst people of other 
countries. By these delays, they rate the time they are to be 
upon the road, and they are seen to perform this tedious task 
without inquietude or impatience. However, if there seems to 
be any likelihood of its exceeding the time computed, they quit 
their coach, and mix with the crowds in the foot-path. This 
happens every day to persons of the first rank; who upon these 
occasions would find it a vain thing to attempt to avail them- 
selves of their great names or exalted dignity to be exempted 
from observing this general rule. 


Travel to and from London for the Season or for duties in the 
country often posed difficult problems. So did local traffic. There 
is an immense literature on the stale of eighteenth-century roads. 
Complaints grew as the century went by. The first of the Turnpike 
Trusts, depending for their revenue on tolls, provoked many popular 
protests, largely on the grounds that they raised the price of food 
in the agricultural areas. Yet they led (though not universally) to 
genuine improvements in the communications system. Attempts 



were also made to regulate and restrict the amount and size of 
traffic on the roads. 

(a) Source: Letter from Ashburnham in the East Sussex Records 
Office, Ashburnham Papers, 841, 1697, p. 192. 

Nothing but the impossibility of passing with safety through 
the bad ways made worse by the present Season could have 
hindered my being with you at the Audit but not Six horses 
in the Town would undertake the journey upon any account 
soe that we are road bound at this time without a remedy. 

(b) Source: D. Defoe, A Tour, vol. II, pp. 179ff. 

The Reason of my taking this Notice of this Badness of the 
Roads, through all the Midland Counties, is this; that as these 
are Counties which drive a very great Trade with the City of 
London, and with one another, perhaps the greatest of any 
Counties in England, and that, by consequence, the Carriage 
is exceeding great, and also that all the Land Carriage of the 
Northern Counties necessarily goes through these Counties, so 
the Roads had been plow'd so deep, and Materials have been 
in some Places so difficult to be had for Repair of the Roads, 
that all the Surveyors Rates have been able to do nothing, 
nay, the very whole Country has not been able to repair 
them, . . . This necessarily brought the Country to bring these 
Things before the Parliament; and the Consequence has 
been, that Turn-pikes or Toll-bars have been set up on the 
several great Roads of England beginning at London, and pro- 
ceeding thro' almost all those dirty deep Roads, in the Midland 
Counties especially; at which Turnpikes, all Carriages, Droves 
of Cattle, and Travellers on Horseback are oblig'd to pay an 
easy Toll ; that is to say a Horse a Penny, a Coach three Pence, 
a Cart four Pence, at some six Pence to eight Pence, a Waggon 
six Pence, in some a Shilling, and the like; Cattle pay by the 
Score, or by the Head, in some Places more, in some less. . , . 
Several of these Turn-pikes and Tolls had been set up of late 
Years, and great Progress had been made in mending the most 
difficult Ways. ... It is incredible what Effect it has already 
had upon Trade in the Countries where it is more compleatly 
finished; even the Carriage of Goods is abated in some places; 
6d. per hundred Weight, in some places 12d. per hundred .... 


The Advantage to all other kinds of Travelling I omit here; 
such as the Safety and Ease to Gentlemen travelling up to 
London on all occasions, . . . Also the Riding Post, as well as 
the ordinary carrying of the Mails, or for the Gentlemen 
riding Post, when their Occasions require Speed. . . . 

(c) Defoe always noted road improvements. 

Source; Ibid., Appendix to the second volume. He is referring 
to the 'great north west road, the Watling-street Way". 

Upon this great road there are wonderful improvements 
made and making, which no traveller can miss the observation 
of, especially if he knew the condition these ways were formerly 
in; nor can my account of these counties be perfect, without 
taking notice of it; for certainly no publick edifice, almshouse, 
hospital, or nobleman's palace, can be of equal value to the 
country with this, no nor more an honour and ornament to it. . . . 

From Mims to St. Albans, [it] is so well mended, the work 
so well done, and the materials so good, so plentifully furnish'd, 
and so faithfully apply'd, that in short, if possible, it out-does 
the Essex road mention 'd before; for here the bottom is not 
only repair'd, but the narrow places are widen'd, hills levell'd, 
bottoms raised, and the ascents and descents made easy, to the 
inexpressible ease and advantage of travellers. 

(d) That the building of turnpikes did not always lead to the 
improvement optimistically forecast by Defoe is well illustrated in 
Young's wri tings. 

Source: A. Young, A Six Weeks' Tour through the Southern Counties 
of England and Wales (2nd edition, 1769), pp. 132-3. 

The road from Witney to North Leach [Oxfordshire/ 
Gloucestershire] is, I think, the worst turnpike I ever travelled 
in; so bad, that it is a scandal to the country. They mend and 
make with nothing but the stone which forms the under 
stratum all over the country, quite from Tetsford the other 
side of Oxford. This stone, which rises in vast flakes, would 
make an admirable foundation for a surface of gravel; but by 
using it alone, and in pieces as large as one's head, the road 
is rendered most execrable. I travelled it with a very low 
opinion of all the counties and places it leads to: for if they 


were inhabited by people of fortune and spirit, I should think 
they would never suffer such a barbarous method of mending 
their capital road to subsist. . . . 

(e) That improvement in Sussex was very slow can be illustrated 
both from Young and from John Burton, an Oxford scholar and 
clergyman, who journeyed into Sussex in 1751. 

Source : J. Burton, Sive Iter Surrense el Sussexiense { 1 752) 

Come now, my friend, I will set before you a sort of problem 
in Aristotle's fashion: — Why is it that the oxen, the swine, the 
women, and all other animals, are so long-legged in Sussex? 
May it be from the difficulty of pulling the feet out of so much 
mud by the stretch of the ankle, that the muscles get stretched, 
as it were, and the bones lengthened ? 

(f) Yet it was possible for Arthur Young in a more optimistic 
mood to extol road building as an instrument of greatly improved 
general communication. 

Source; The Annals of Agriculture (1789), vol. XI, p. 293. 

[The new road network ensured] a general impetus given to 
circulation; new people — new ideas — new exertions — fresh 
activity given to every branch of industry; people residing 
among good roads, who were never seen with bad ones, and 
all the animation and industry, which flow with a full tide 
through this kingdom, wherever there is free communication 
between the capital and the provinces. 


Eighteenth-century inns made sharp distinctions between foot 
travellers, waggon travellers, travellers on public coaches and 
those riding either in their own coaches or on horse back. The 
following extracts relate to different modes of travel and the different 
kinds of reception different categories of travellers got. 

(a) Source: M, Misson, Memoirs and Observations (1719), pp. 331-2. 

They have several Ways of travelling in England. The Post 
is under a good Regulation throughout, and the Horses are 
better than those in France. There are Coaches that go to all 


the great Towns by moderate Journies; and others, which 
they call Flying Coaches, that will travel twenty Leagues a Day 
and more; but these don't go to all Places. They have no 
Messagerie <k Chevaux; as in France; but you may hire Horses 
for what Time you please. The Sea and the Rivers also furnish 
their respective Conveniencies for Travelling; I say nothing 
of the Waggons? which are great Carts, cover'd in, that lumber 
along but very heavily ; only a few poor old Women make Use 
of this Vehicle. 

(b) Source: G. Farquhar, The Beaux r Stratagem (1707), Scene 1. 

Boniface: Chamberlain! Maid! Cherry! daughter Cherry! 
All asleep? All dead? 

Cherry: Here! Here! Why d'ye bawl so, father? D'ye think 
we have no ears ? 

Boniface: You deserve to have noncj you young minx. The 
company of the Warrington coach has stood in the hall this 
hour, and nobody to show them to their chambers. 

Cherry: And let 'em watt, father; there's neither red-coat in 
the coach nor footman behind it. 

Boniface: But they threaten to go to another inn to-night. 

Cherry: That they dare not, for fear the coachman should 
overturn them to-morrow. Coming! Coming! Here's the 
London coach arrived. . . . Very welcome, gentlemen. Cham- 
berlain, show the Lion and the Rose, 

(c) Source: T. Smollett, Roderick Random (1748), ch. XII. 

On the sixth day, while we were about to sit down to 
dinner, the innkeeper came and told us, that three gentlemen, 
just arrived, had ordered the victuals to be carried to their 
apartment, although he had informed them that they were 
bespoke by the passengers in the waggon. To which information 
they had replied, 'The passengers in the waggon might be 
damned — their betters must be served before them — they 
supposed it would be no hardship on such travellers to dine 
upon bread and cheese for one day.' This was a terrible dis- 
appointment to us all ; and we laid our heads together now to 
remedy it; when Miss Jenny observed that Captain Weazel, 
being by profession a soldier, ought in this case to protect and 



prevent us from being insulted. But the captain excused him- 
self, saying he would not for ah the world be known to have 
travelled in a waggon; swearing at the same time that, could 
he appear with honour, they should cat his sword sooner than 
his provision. Upon this declaration, Miss Jenny, snatching his 
weapon, drew it, and ran immediately into the kitchen, where 
she threatened to put the cook to death if he did not send the 
victuals into our chamber immediately. The noise she made 
brought the three strangers down, one of whom no sooner 
perceived her than he cried 'Ha! Jenny Ramper! what the 
devil brought thee hither?' 'My dear Jack Rattle!' replied 
she, running into his arms, 'is it you? Then Weazel may go 
to hell for a dinner — I shall dine with you.' They consented to 
this proposal with a great deal of joy; and we were on the 
point of being reduced to a very uncomfortable meal, when 
Joey, understanding the whole affair, entered the kitchen 
with a pitchfork in his hand, and swore he would be the death 
of any man who should pretend to seize the victuals prepared 
for the waggon. This menace had been likely to have produced 
fatal consequences; the three strangers drawing their swords, 
and being joined the servants, and we ranging ourselves on 
the side of Joey; when the landlord interposing, offered to 
part with his own dinner to keep the peace, which was accepted 
by the strangers ; and we sat down at table without any further 

(e) Buying a horse was an art in itself. Source: Letter of E. Poole to 
Sir William Lee, 20 March 1770, in the East Sussex County Records 

I beheve you have a thorough Idea of the sort of Horse I 
should like from the Description I think I have given you 
before, & that such a one is difficult to be met with, I am but 
too sensible. I should wish him a gay, airy, shewy Horse, with 
good points, as the Jockys term it, with sufficient Life and 
Spirit as to appear a little alive and yet perfectly gentle & free 
from all vicious Habits. I would have his movements perfectly 
good & easy to the rider, & whose paces are such as to get on 
on the Road with pleasure to Himself and Rider, for I detest a 
slow moving Horse that labours and cannot get on and who 



will be as long in going a dozen or 10 Miles as another Horse 
shall go 20 with pleasure: such a one I have been Master of for 
these 16 or 17 years, as good a Mare I believe as ever was 
rode, sure footed, with some fashion, & yet is the dullest, 
heavyest moving Creature on the Road that ever was crossed ; 
labours herself & it is really a labour to ride her, her movements 
are so rough and unpleasant ; & with all this, you cannot push 
her above four or between 4 and 5 miles an Hour for the Life 
of you ; & as a proof of this assertion, I scarsely ever traveld 
with any one on the Road in my Life that I could keep up 
with them ; whilst they were stealing on, & getting [sic] ground 
of me every hundred yards imperceptibly as it were. A Horse 
I think can scarsely have too much Spirit on the Road. 
(d) Source: C. P. Moritz, Travels (1798 ed.), p. 64, 74-5, 93. 

I dined below with the family. . . . They could not suffi- 
ciently admire my courage, in determining to travel on foot, 
although they could not help approving of the motive [to see 
as much as possible of England and Englishmen], At length, 
however, it came out, and they candidly owned, that I should 
not have been received into their house, had I not been 
introduced as I was. I was now confirmed in my suspicions, 
that, in England, any person undertaking so long a journey 
on foot, is sure to be looked upon, and considered as either a 
beggar, or a vagabond, or some necessitous wretch, which is 
a character not much more popular than that of a rogue, . . . 
With all my partiality for this country, it is impossible, even 
in theory, and much less so in practice, to approve of a system 
which confines all the pleasures and benefits of travel to the 
rich. A poor peripatetic is hardly allowed even the humble 
merit of being honest. 


The effects of distance should always be measured in terms of 
travel time. At the beginning of the eighteenth century a 'Flying 
Machine' could get from London to York in four days 'if God 
permits'. In the middle years of the century the quickest stage-coach 
journey from London to Edinburgh was said to take ten days in 



summer and twelve in winter. There were many signs of speeding- 
up on main routes in the 1 780s. Certain coaches began to suspend 
the practice of halting at inns for the night. The 'Stage Coach 
and Mail', a royal mail coach introduced in 1784, did the journey 
from London to Bath in sixteen hours. It was not undl the first 
thirty years of the nineteenth century, however, in the golden age 
of coaching, that 'Highflyers', 'Quicksilvers*, 'Comets' and the like 
generally speeded up road travel and at the same time reduced the 
arbitrary element in travel times. 

(a) Source: A York Coaching Notice of 1706, reproduced in T. 
Burke, Travel in England (1946), p. 56. 

York Four Days Stage-Coach 

Begins on Friday the 12th of April 1706 

All that are desirous to pass from London to York or from 
York to London or any other Place on that Road: Let them 
Repair to the Black Swan in Holbourn in London and to the 
Black Swan in Coney-Street in York. 

At both which Places they may be received in a Stage Coach 
every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which performs the whole 
Journey in Four Days {if God permits) . And sets forth at five in 
the Morning. And returns from York to Stamford in two days 
and from Stamford by Huntingdon to London in two days more. 
And the like Stages on their Return. Allowing each Passenger 
10 Weight, and all above 3d a Pound. . . . 

(b) Source: Advertisement from the Ipswich Journal, 14 Sept. 1754, 
reprinted in A. F. J. Brown (ed.), Englisk History from Essex Sources, 
vol. I, p. 61, 

Chelmsford Machine Fly sets out on Monday, Sept. 16, 
from the Coach and Horses at Chelmsford at Seven o'Clock 
in the Morning, to go every Day (except Sunday) to the 
Spread Eagle in Grace-church Street, and will be there at 
Twelve in the Forenoon; and returns the same Day at Two 
o'Clock in the Afternoon. Passengers will be detained no 
longer than to take fresh Horses at Rumford. . . . 

N.B. Any Person may be furnish'd with Coaches, Hearse, or 
Chariot, with able Horses, to any Part of England, at reasonable 

(c) Source: C. B. Andrews (ed.), The Torringlon Diaries (1936), 
vol. Ill, pp. 38-9. The year is 1792. 



I was thinking tonight of my own rapidity of riding, when 
compared with that of former horsemen ; some of whose feats 
I shall recount. ... I have taken some little trouble to find 
out the speed of former riders upon the road; not doubting 
but the strength of the men was equal to any modern exertion, 
and that the horses were infinitely better. When I repeat 
former ridings, the badness of the roads, the depth of wash-ways, 
and the steepness of the hill should be considered, — which are 
now generally done away; besides the distances being shorten'd ; 
for the road to Dover is made nearer by two miles, than it was 
50 years ago. . . . On the 1 7th of July 1720, Bernard Calvert, 
of Andover, rode from St. George's Church in Southwark to 
Dover; from there passed by Barge to Calice in France; and 
from there return'd back to St. George's Church the same day. 
— Setting out about 3 o'clock in the morning, and return'd 
at 8 o'clock in the evening, fresh and his tie. 

On Monday, April 29, 1 745, Mr. Cooper Thornhill, Master 
of the Bell Inn at Stilton in Huntingdonshire, set out from his 
house at 4 o'clock in the morning and came to the Queen's 
Arms opposite to Shoreditch Church in 3 hours, 52 minutes; 
and came back to London in 4 hours and 13 minutes; to a 
wager of 500 Guineas. He was allowed 15 hours to do it in, 
which is 213 miles, but perform'd it in 12 hours, 1 7 minutes. . . . 
This is deservedly reckon'd the greatest performance of its 
kind ever known. Several thousand Pounds were laid on this 
affair; and the roads for many miles lined with people to see 
him pass and repass. 


The high road was a place for adventure. Journeys could be 

tiring, but also dangerous, particularly to property. (See below, 
p. 374). There was also the problem of maintaining good relations 
with fellow travellers. The following extracts illustrate these themes, 
(a) Source: Poem attributed to J. Swift (1709). Swift is desc : bing 
a coach journey from Aldersgate to Chester. The coach left Alders- 
gate at three in the morning. 

Roused from sound sleep — thrice called — at length I rise, 
Yawning, stretch out my arm, half close my eyes ; 



By steps and lantern enter the machine, 

And take my place — how cordially — between 

Two aged matrons of excessive bulk, 

To mend the matter, too, of meaner folk; 

While in like mood, jammed in on t'other side, 

A bullying captain and a fair one ride, 

Foolish as fair, and in whose lap a boy — 

Our plague eternal, but her only joy. 

At last, the glorious number to complete, 

Steps in my landlord for that bodkin seat; 

When soon, by every hillock, rut and stone. 

Into each other's face by turns we're thrown. 

This grandma scolds, that coughs, the captain swears, 

The fair one screams and has a thousand fears ; 

While our plump landlord, trained in other lore, 

Slumbers at ease not yet ashamed to snore. . . . 

Sweet company! Next time, I do protest, sir, 

I'd walk to Dublin ere I'd ride to Chester, 
(b) Source: J. Woodforde, The Diary of a Country Parson (World 
Classics edn., 1949), pp. 87-9. 

Jan. 31. 1774. I got up this morning at half past six in order 
to go to Bath. The Porter's man called me at six, for which 
and carrying my Portmanteau to the Cross Inn I gave him . . . 
0. 1.0. To Frank Paynes Boy this morning gave 0. 6. I went 
to the Cross Inn at a little after seven and the Machine was 
gone, however, I took a Post-Chaise immediately from the 
Cross Inn and overtook the Machine at Enson about 5 miles 
from Oxon, and there got into it. 

For the Post Chaise pd. 0. 4. 0. 

Gave the Driver 0. 1. 0. 

There was one Passenger in it, a Gentleman of Exeter 
College, we stopped and breakfasted at Witney at the Bridge, 
and then I left the Gentleman as he came there only to meet 
some Company. 

For my Breakfast at Witney pd. 0. 1 . 0. 

At Witney the Machine took up a Poor Player, a young man 
who is in a consumption and going to his Friends at Bath — 
he looked dreadful bad. 



I dined at Burford by myself, pd. there 0, 4. 0. 
At Burford pd. the remaining part of 

the Fare 0. 10. 6. 

Dr. Bosworth of Oriel and a young lady came into the same 
room where I dined at Burford soon after I dined, as they 
were going to London in the Strand Water Machine thro 
Oxford. I was not long with them at the Inn at Burford as our 
Machine was just setting off. At Burford we took up with a 
young Farmer who was lame and going to try Bath Waters, 
and the Farmer's Sister a young Woman. The Farmer thinks 
his disorder to be Rheumatic. We got to Cirencester about 
5 this afternoon where we supped and slept. I supped in a 
Room by myself and spent the evening. 

Feb. 1 st, I got up this morning at half past five, got into the 
Machine about 6 and set off before breakfast for Bath. 

At Cirencester pd. 0. 3. 6, 

Gave the Chamber maid and Waiter 0. 1 . 6. 

At Tedbury we breakfasted pd. there 0. 1 . 0. 

We got to Petty France about 1 1 , where the Machine stays 
two or three Hours. And as I wanted to reach Ansford this 
evening, I took a Post-Chaise immediately at Petty France, 
and set forth for Bath. It snowed prodigiously all the way to 
Bath. , . . 

I got to Bath about 1 o'clock, there I took a fresh Chaise for 
Old Downe. 

Gave Petty France Driver 0. 1. 6. 

besides a dram upon the road. I got to Old Down between 
3 and 4 this afternoon where I stayed about a Quarter of an 
Hour, eat some Cold Rost Beef, drank a pint of Ale, and then 
got into a fresh Chaise for Ansford. ... I got to Ansford, I 
thank God safe and well this evening about 6 o'clock. 

(c) Source: H. Fielding, The History of the Adventures of Joseph 
Andrews (1742), Book I, ch. XII. 

Nothing remarkable happened on the road till their arrival 
at the inn . . . ; whither they came about two in the morning. 
The moon then shone very bright; and Joseph, making his 
friend a present of a pint of wine, and thanking him for the 



favour of his horse, notwithstanding all entreaties to the 
contrary, proceeded on his journey on foot. 

He had not gone above two miles . , . when he was met by 
two fellows in a narrow lane, and ordered to stand and deliver. 
He readily gave them all the money he had, which was some- 
what less than two pounds; and told them he hoped they 
would be so generous as to return him a few shillings, to defray 
his charges on his way home. 

One of the ruffians answered with an oath, 'Yes, we'll give 
you something presently; but first— "Strip," cried the other, 
'or I'll blow your brains to the devil.' Joseph, remembering 
that he had borrowed his coat and breeches of a friend, 
replied, he hoped they would not insist on his clothes, which 
were not worth much but consider the coldness of the night, 
'You are cold, are you, you rascal ?' said one of the robbers : 
'I'll warm you with a vengeance'; and, damning his eyes, 
snapped a pistol at his head; which he had no sooner done 
than the other levelled a blow at him with his stick, which 
Joseph, who was expert at cudgel-playing, caught with his, 
and returned the favour so successfully on his adversary, that 
he laid him sprawling at his feet, and at the same instant 
received a blow from behind, with the butt end of a pistol, 
from the other villain, which felled him to the ground, and 
totally deprived him of his senses. 


The movement of goods in the eighteenth century posed as many 
problems as the movement of people. At the beginning of the century 
by far the most important means of transport was shipping, either 
coastal or river. Surveys were made of the navigability of rivers and 
improvements often followed. Yet England was deficient in navig- 
able rivers, and from the middle of the century onwards increasing 
attention was paid to traffic by canal. There were spurts of canal 
building from the 1 760s to the end of the century. In each case 
there was a substantial fall in the urban price of coal and other 
commodities. The most advanced form of land transport was to be 
found in the North-Eastern mining areas and other districts like 
Coalbrookdale area in Shropshire where waggons were moved along 




(a) Source: Testimony of William Taylor, a surveyor, before 
Parliament (1755) in the course of supporting a bill to make the 
Sankey Brook navigable to Liverpool, Journals of the House of 
Commons, 17 Jan. 1755, 

Large Quantities of Coals are consumed in the Salt Works 
at Liverpoole, Dungeen, Northwich, and Winsford and by the 
Inhabitants of the aforesaid Towns and Places who have met 
great Complaints of the advanced Price which Coals have 
been sold for of late and of the short and uncertain Measure 
thereof; and that he apprehends such advanced Price is owing 
as well to the Difficulty of the Carriage as the Scarcity of the 

(b) Source: J. Campbell, A Political Survey of Britain (1774), pp. 

A Nobleman of the First Rank [The Duke of Bridgewater] 
formed a Design of making a Canal from Worsley to Man- 
chester in the County of Lancaster, for the carrying thither 
his Coals; which not being barely for his own but also for the 
publick Benefit, an Act of Parliament [was] passed [1759] to 
enable him to undertake this Work. . . . The Value of this 
Mode of Navigation came from thence to be better understood 
and the very extensive Uses to which it might be applied more 
clearly comprehended. . , . [It] very naturally excited a 
Spirit of Emulation in the Inhabitants of the adjacent Counties; 
the trading and manufacturing Part of which especially saw 
the Importance of this new Water-Carriage, they felt their 
own Wants, and after mature Consideration, conceived they 

might in the same Way be relieved By [new] Canals a 

Conjunction will be effected between the Severn and the 
Trent, and of both with the Mersey, so that consequently a 
Communication will be opened between the Ports of Bristol, 
Liverpool and Hull. A Scheme that would have been thought, 
and perhaps would have been found impracticable in the 
preceding Century, and which, all its Circumstances con- 
sidered, must appear astonishing to our Posterity. These 
prodigious Works, now in a Train of Execution, shew that we 
ought not to despair of Things of great national Utility, though 
they may long dwell in the Minds, or only float upon the 
Tongues of Men. 


(c) Source: Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (Everyman edn.), 
vol. I, pp. 167. 

Six or eight men ... by the help of water-carriage, can 
carry and bring back in the same time the same quantity of 
goods between London and Edinburgh, as fifty broad-wheeled 
waggons, attended by a hundred men, and drawn by four 
hundred horses. Upon two hundred tons of goods, therefore, 
carried by the cheapest land carriage from London to Edin- 
burgh, there must be charged the maintenance of a hundred 
men for three weeks, and both the maintenance, and what is 
nearly equal to the maintenance, the wear and tear of four 
hundred horses as well as of fifty great waggons. Whereas, 
upon the same quantity of goods carried by water, there is 
to be charged only the maintenance of six or eight men, and 
the wear and tear of a ship of two hundred tons burden, 
together with the value of the superior risk, or the difference 
of the insurance between land and water carriage. 

(b) Source : An Account by Abiah Darby of the work of her hus- 
band, Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale in Shropshire (c. 1775), 
printed in A. Raistrick, Dynasty of Ironfounders (1953), p. 174, (See 
also below, p. 147.) 

They used to carry their coal upon horse's backs, but he 
got roads made and laid with Sleepers and rails, as they have 
them in the North of England. And one waggon with three 
horses will bring as much as 20 horses used to bring on horse's 
backs. But this laying the road with wood begot a scarcity and 
raised the price of it, so that of late years, the laying of the rails 
of Cast Iron was substituted ; which altho expensive, answers 
well for ware and duration. We have in the different works, 
near 20 miles of this road, which costs upward of £800 a mile. 
That of Iron Wheels and axle-trees for these waggons was, 
I believe, my Husband's invention. 


New technical developments often took considerable time to 
travel from one part of the country to another. This was particularly 
true of agricultural improvements. Eighteenth-century farming 



books, which received wide publicity, particularly after 1760, did 
much to spread knowledge of new techniques. 

(a) Jethro Tull invented his drill in 1701, In 1804 Arthur Young 
noted that it was still not used in large parts of the tillage county 
of Hertfordshire. 

Source: Note in the Anttdls of Agriculture (1804), quoted in R. Trow 
Smith, English Husbandry (1951), p. 135. 

I passed through near one hundred miles in the county 
inquiring for drilled crops but neither seeing nor hearing of it. 

(b) Young summed up his own influence. 

Source: M. Betham-Edwards fed.), Autobiography of Arthur Toune 
(1898), pp. 53-5. 

It is necessary here to pause a little in order to examine the 
object and the effect of the three tours I made and published. 
. . . Writers confined to their closets, or, at most, to a single 
farm, could not describe what it was impossible for them to 
know; ... for a man to quit his farm and his fireside in order 
to examine the husbandry of a kingdom by travelling above 
four thousand miles through a country of no greater extent 
than England was certainly taking means sufficiently effective 
for laying a sure basis for the future improvement of the soil. 
To understand well the present state of cultivation is surely a 
necessary step prior to the proposals of improvement. This I 
effected; and in the opinion of some very able agriculturalists 
now living, the greatest of the subsequent improvements that 
have been made during the last forty years have, in a great 
measure, originated in the defects pointed out by me in the 
detail of these journeys. 


The advent of newspapers (see above, p. 25) led to a great speeding- 
up of the process of communication. By the end of the century 
many of the features of modern reporting had become established. 

(a) Source: Despatch quoted in the Bristol Post-Bqy, the earliest 
extant copy of a country newspaper, 12 Aug. 1704. 


Whitehall, August 10. This Afternoon arrived an Express 
with a Letter from his Grace the Duke of Marlborough to my 
Lady Duchess written on Horseback with a Lead Pencil. A 
Copy whereof follows : 

August 13 ns 
I have not time to say any more than to beg of you to present 
my Humble Duty to the Queen, and to let her Majesty know, 
That Her Army has had a glorious Victory : Monsieur Tallara 
and two other Generals are in my Coach and I am following 
the rest. The Bearer, my Aid de Camp, Colonel Parkes, will 
give her Majesty an Account of what has passed : I shall do it 
in a Day or two by another more at lage. [sic]. 


(b) 'Proposals for Printing . , . the Newcastle General Magazine' 
(1747), quoted in G. A. Cranfield, The Development of the Provincial 
Newspaper (1962), pp. 114-15. 

1. The distance of Newcastle from London rendering it im- 
practicable for any of the magazines, or other Monthly Perfor- 
mances, to arrive here at the soonest before the 13th, and 
frequently the 20th Days of the succeeding Month for which 
they are publish'd ; and the Carriers from the Northern Counties, 
and North Britain, not coming to this Town till the Week after 
their Arrival here, it frequently happens, that great Numbers 
of Country Readers never see any of these Pamphlets till near 
a Month after their Publication: by which Delay some Parts 
of their Contents are quite stale, and the rest less acceptable. 
This magazine is therefore designed to remove the said Incon- 
veniences as much as possible; for it will be circulated in the 
North a Week or ten Days sooner than any other Pamphlet of 
the kind. . . . 

VII. In each magazine will be inserted a regular and concise 
History of the most important Transactions of the Times, 
collected from the most authentick accounts; to be illustrated 
by plans of such Battles, Sieges, Sea Fights, etc., in which our 
Arms have had any Share, or in which this Nation is particu- 
larly interested. Done by the best Hands. 

(c) There was recognition later of the value of telegraphed signals. 
Source: Report in The Times, 15 Sept. 1794. 



The new mode of correspondence, by the help of which, 
the surrender of Quesnoy was known at Paris an hour after 
the entry of the French troops into that place, is a communi- 
cation by signals, which are repeated from distance, to distance, 
by machines, stationed four, or five, leagues asunder. This may 
explain the celerity with which communications are made. 

The telegraph, now brought into use by the French, appears 
to have been an invention of Dr. Hooper's, and published in 
his Rational Recreations, in 1774. 

(d) Also in 1794 there were improvements in the London postal 

Source: Report in The Times, 28 Feb. 1794. 

The new Penny Post Office is likely to prove such a very 
great accommodation to the public, that the only wonder is, 
it has been so long neglected. Instead of the number of de- 
liveries, and the hours of despatch varying in different parts 
of the town, as at present, there will be six deliveries each 
day in all parts of the town ; by which means a person living 
at Mary-le-Bonne may send letters to, or receive letters from, 
Limehouse, a distance of seven miles, five times a day. . . . 
Persons putting in letters by nine in the morning, at the distance 
of ten miles from the chief Penny Post Office, and later, at less 
distant parts, may receive answers from London the same 


There was much foreign travel for the aristocracy and the gentry, 
with the Grand Tour usually including France and Italy along 
with parts of Germany. The visit to the newly discovered ruins of 
Pompeii was particularly fashionable during the 1770s and 1780s, 
and directly influenced English tastes (see below, pp. 430), including 
Wedgwood's Etruria pottery. Other British travellers explored 
Northern and Eastern Europe and some the Eastern Mediterranean. 

(a) Source: S. Jenyns, The Fine Modem Gentleman (1746). 

Just broke from School, pert, impudent, and raw 
Expert in Latin, more expert in Tawl, 


I I I 

His honour posts o'er Italy and France, 

Measures St. Peter's dome, and learns to dance. 

Thence having quick thro' various countries flown, 

Glean'd all their follies, and expos'd his own, 

He back returns, a thing so strange all o'er, 

As never ages past produe'd before; 

A monster of such complicated worth, 

As no one single clime could e'er bring forth. 

Half atheist, papist, gamester, bubble rook, 

Half fiddler, coach man, dancer, groom and cook. 

(b) Not all travellers went abroad so young or returned quite in 
that mood. In 1718 Lady Mary WorUey Montagu, one of the most 
famous of all travellers and letter writers, returned to England 
after a long journey abroad. Her husband was Ambassador to 
Turkey and she was twenty-eight years old at the time. 

Source: Lord Wharncliffe (ed.), The Letters and Works of Lady 
Worthy Montagu (1837), vol. II, pp. 119/21. 

I arrived this morning at Dover, after being tossed a whole 
night in the packet boat, in so violent a manner that the 
master, considering the weakness of his vessel, thought it 
prudent to remove the mail, and gave us notice of the danger. 
We called a little fisher boat, which could hardly make up to 
us; while all the people on board us were crying to Heaven; 
and 'tis hard to imagine one's self in a scene of greater horror 
than on such an occasion; and yet, shall I own it to you? 
though I was not at all willing to be drowned, I could not 
forbear being entertained at the double distress of a fellow 
passenger, ... an English lady I had met at Calais, who 
desired me to let her go over with me in my cabin. She had 
bought a fine point-head, 1 which she was contriving to conceal 
from the custom-house officers. When the wind grew high, and 
our little vessel cracked, she fell very heartily to her prayers, 
and thought wholly of her soul. When it seemed to abate, she 
returned to the worldly care of her head-dress, and addressed 
herself to me : 

'Dear Madam, will you take care of this point? if it should 
be lost. — Ah, Lord, we shall all be lost! Lord have mercy on 
my soul ! — Pray, madam, take care of this head-dress.' 
1 A lace head-dress. 

I 12 


This easy transition of her soul to her head-dress, and the 
alternate agonies that both gave her, made it hard to determine 
which she thought of greatest value. But, however, the scene 
was not so diverting but I was glad to get rid of it, and be 
thrown into the little boat, though with some hazard of 
breaking my neck. 

It brought me safe hither; and I cannot help looking with 
partial eyes on my native land. That partiality was certainly 
given us by nature, to prevent rambling, the effect of an 
ambitious thirst after knowledge, which we are not formed to 
enjoy. All we get by it is a fruitless desire of mixing the different 
pleasures and conveniences which are given to different parts 
of the world, and cannot meet in any one of them. 

After having read all that is to be found in the languages 
I am mistress of, and having decayed my sight by midnight 
studies I envy the peace of mind of a ruddy milkmaid, who, 
undisturbed hears the sermon with humility every Sunday. 
And, after having seen part of Asia, and Africa, and almost 
made the tour of Europe, I think the honest English squire 
more happy, who verily believes the Greek wines less delicious 
than March beer; that the African fruits have not so fine a 
flavour as golden pippins; and the becafiguas 1 of Italy are not 
so well tasted as a rump of beef; and that, in short, there is 
no perfect enjoyment of this life out of Old England. I pray 
God I may think so for the rest of my life ; and, since I must 
be contented with our scanty allowance of daylight, that I may 
forget the enlivening sun of Constantinople. 

1 Small birds, a favourite table delicacy. 


The Ranks of Society 

There are seven groups in English society 

1 . The Great, who live profusely. 

2. The Rich, who live very plentifully. 

3. The middle Sort, who live well. 

4. The working Trades, who labour hard, but feel no Want. 

5. The Country People, Farmers, etc., who fare indifferently. 

6. The Poor, that fare hard. 

7. The Miserable, that really pinch and suffer Want. 

(Daniel Defoe, A Review of the Stale of the 

English Nation, 1709) 

I never see Lace and Embroidery upon the Back of a Beau but 
my Thoughts descend to the poor Fingers that have wrought it. . . . 
What would avail our large Estates and great Tracts of Land 
without their Labours. 

{Letter to the Northampton Mercury, 1739) 

How thankful, then, the poor should be that the very circum- 
stances in which they are placed have such a powerful tendency to 
cherish the divine spirit of dependence and subordination. 

(William Paley, Reasons for Contentment, 1 781 ) 

The crest of noble or illustrious ancestry, has sunk before the 
sudden accumulation of wealth in vulgar hands. . . . Elegance of 
manners . . . dignity of deportment , . . pride of virtue have given 
way to that tide of fortune, which has lifted the low, the illiterate 
and the unfeeling, into stations of which they were unworthy. 

(Henry Mackenzie in The Lounger, 1 786) 

When master and man were the terms, every one was in his place, 

and all were free. Now, in fact, it is an affair of masters and staves. 

(William Cobbett in The Political Register, 1821) 


Defoe's classification, one of several which he made, may be 
compared with the deservedly celebrated classification of Gregory 




King at the end of the seventeenth century and that of Patrick 
Colqohoun at the beginning of the nineteenth century. King's was 
the most complete social description made in pre-indus trial Europe, 
In the middle of the eighteenth century Joseph Massie made an 
estimate of social structure and income for the year 1 759-60. 

Source: P. Mathias, 'The Social Structure in the Eighteenth 
Century: A Calculation of Joseph Massie' in the Economic History 
Review (1957). 








or Expenses 


per family 



Temporal Lords 




Spiritual Lords 





















(These categories 




not distinguished 




individually in 




relation to their 




numbers or wealth) 




Clergy, superior 




Clergy, inferior 




Persons professing the Law 




Persons professing liberal 





Civil Officers 




Naval Officers 




Military Officers 




Common Soldiers 













or Expenses 
per family 
































Husbandmen (6s. per wk.) 




Labourers, country 5s. 




„ London, 9s. 




Manufacturers of Wool 

Silk etc., country 7s, 6d. 

per week 




Do. in London, 10s. fid. 




Manufacturers of Wood 

Iron, etc., country, 9s. 




Do, in London, 12s. 




Master Manufacturers 




» » 




» » 




>j j) 













































or Expenses 


per family 



Seamen, Fishermen 




Inn-keepers, Alesellcrs 




Ale-sellers, Cottagers 





Land was the basis of social and political power in eighteenth- 
century England (see above, p. 57), as it was in other parts of 
Europe, with the landed family rather than the individual acquiring 
independence and standing through the possession of land. Yet 
there were no legal barriers to the transfer of land from one social 
group to another, and merchants bought estates if and when they 
could acquire them through the restricted land market. The social 
system as a whole was based on strong and extensive family ties 
and on accepted conventions of hierarchy, with mutual obli- 
gations and many nuances and gradations of status, but contem- 
poraries allowed scope for individual advancement and recognized 
that society as a whole was changing (not necessarily for the better) 
even before the advent of industry. An old 'order' was being 
subverted by movement from within. 

(a) Source: B. R, 
(1927 edn.), p. 6. 

Hay don, painter and diarist, Autobiography 

Both by my father's and mother's sides I am well descended 
and connected; the families always residing on their own 
landed property. 

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book IV, 

(b) Source: 
ch. 9. 

M. Quesnai [a French economist], who was himself a 
physician, and a very speculative physician, seems to have . . . 


imagined that the political body would thrive and prosper 
only under a certain precise regimen, the exact regimen of 
perfect liberty and perfect justice. He seems not to have 
considered that, in the political body, the natural effort which 
every man is continually making to better his own condition 
is a principle of preservation capable of preventing and cor- 
recting, in many respects, the bad effects of a political economy, 
in some degree, both partial and oppressive. Such a political 
economy, though it no doubt retards more or less, is not 
always capable of stopping altogether the natural progress of 
a nation towards wealth and prosperity, and still less of making 
it go backwards. 

(c) Source: Article by H. Fielding in The Public Advertiser, 11 Sept. 

One known division of the people in this nation is into the 
nobility, the gentry and the commonalty. What alterations 
have happened among the two former of these I shall not at 
present inquire; but that the last, in their customs, manners, 
and habits are greatly changed from what they were, I think 
to make appear. If we look to the earliest ages, we shall find 
the condition of this third part to have been very low and 
mean. . . . The commonalty, by degree, shook off their 
vassalage, and became more and more independent of their 
superiors. . . . Nothing has wrought such an alteration in this 
order of people as the introduction of trade. This hath, indeed, 
given a new face to the whole nation, hath in a great measure 
subverted the former state of affairs, and hath almost totally 
changed the manners, customs and habits of the people, more 
especially of the lower sort. The narrowness of their fortune 
is changed into wealth; the simplicity of their manners into 
craft; their frugality into luxury; their humility into pride; 
and their subjection into equality. . . . Now to conceive that 
so great a change as this in the people should produce no 
change in the constitution is to discover, I think, as great 
ignorance as would appear in the physician who should assert 
that the whole state of the blood may be entirely altered from 
poor to rich, from cool to inflamed, without producing any 
alteration in the constitution of a man. 



(d) Source: H. Fielding, Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of 
Robbers (1751), p. 6. 

Thus while the Nobleman will emulate the Grandeur of a 
Prince; and the Gentleman will aspire to the proper State of 
the Nobleman; the Tradesman steps from behind his Counter 
into the vacant Place of the Gentleman. Nor doth the Con- 
fusion end here : It reaches the very Dregs of the People. 

(e) Source: J. Hanway, A Journal of Eight Days t Journey (1757), 
vol. II, p. 263. 

It seems to be one of the defects of the least imperfect form 
of government which has been hitherto devised, I mean our 
own, that the different ranks of people are too much con- 
founded: the lower classes, as I have had occasion to observe, 
press so hard on the heels of the higher, if some remedy is not 
speedily found, the lord will be in danger of becoming the valet 
of his gentleman. The noble who, through idleness, trusts his 
money, if not his secrets, with his servants, and consents to their 
raising contributions on his friends, must often see his footman with 
more money in his purse than himself; and I suppose 'tis the 
case sometimes, though not so often, with your handmaids. 

(f) Source: R. Price, Essay on the Population of England and Wales 
(1777), p. 6. 

The lower ranks of the people are altered in every respect 
for the worse, while tea, wheaten bread and other delicacies 
are necessaries which were formerly unknown to them. 


At the apex of the social pyramid were the landed aristocracy. 
There was a steady accumulation of fortunes and estates in the 
hands of the eighteenth -century nobility. At the end of the century 
there were some 400 great landlords, Burke's 'great oaks that 
shade a country'. {For their estates, see above, p. 57 and below, 
p. 194. For their manners, see below, p. 244. For their political 
role, see below, p. 468.) 

(a) Source; M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations (1719 edn,), 
pp. 193-201,216-17. 



That which is commonly called Nobility. ... is view'd 
under different Ideas by the several Nations of the World. . . . 
An English Nobleman is one Thing, a French another, a Venetian 
another, and so on. . . . France which is pleas'd to be ignorant 
of what they do in other Countries . . . give it [the title of 
Noble] to all her Gentlemen in general. . . . The Word Noble 
in English is confin'd to a more narrow Signification than it is 
in French. . . . They call nobody a Nobleman that is not cither 
Duke, or Marquess, or Earl or Viscount, or Baron: A Man 
cannot be call'd Noble without he has one of these Titles, and 
all that have them are Peers of the Kingdom, and Members 
of the Upper House of Parliament. . . . The Quality of Peer 
of England runs in the Blood of any Body that the King is 
pleased to honour with it; and this Quality is indivisible and 
unalienable. ... A Peer enjoys his Dignity solely, and without 
a Partner ; his eldest Son, or other Male Successor of his Blood, 
shall inherit it after him. . . . No Body in England has the title 
of Prince, but the Prince of Wales, and he himself must be 
created so by Letters Patents; the other Sons of England have 
the title of Dukes. . . . There are 19 Dukes, 3 Marquesses, 
72 Earls, 8 Vicounts, and 68 Barons. . . . They have divers 
great Privileges, among which one of the principal is, that they 
cannot, without very great Difficulty be fore'd to pay their 

(b) The system had many eloquent defenders before it was attacked 
by a minority of radical writers like Tom Paine late in the century. 
Social stratification as such was seldom called into question, 

Source: J. Boswell, London Journal, 1762-3 (1950 edn.), p. 320. 

Sir, I would no more deprive a nobleman of his respect than 
of his money. I consider myself as acting a part in the great 
system, and do to others as I would have them do to me. 
Sir, I would behave to a nobleman as I would expect he 
should behave to me were I a nobleman and he Sam Johnson. 
Sir, there is one Mrs. Macauley in this town, a great republican. 
I came to her one day and said I was quite a convert to her 
republican system, and thought mankind all upon a footing; 
and I begged that her footman might be allowed to dine with 
me. She has never liked me since. 




The system of titles and estates passing to eldest sons is called 
Primogeniture. It was the basis of the English social system, although 
it had voluble critics in the late eighteenth century, like Adam 

(a) Source: Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (Everyman edn.), 
vol. I, pp. 341 ff. 

The law of primogeniture [came into existence] for the same 
reason that it has generally taken place ... in monarchies. 
That the power, and consequently the security of the monarchy, 
may not be weakened by division, it must descend entire to one 
of the children. . . . Laws frequently continue in force long 
after the circumstances which first gave occasion to them, and 
which could alone render them reasonable, are no more. In 
the present state of Europe, the proprietor of a single acre of 
land is as perfectly secure of his possession as the proprietor of 
a hundred thousand. The right of primogeniture, however, 
still continues to be respected, and as of all institutions, it is the 
fittest to support the pride of family distinctions, it is still likely 
to endure for many centuries. In every other respect, nothing 
can be more contrary to the real interest of a numerous family 
than a right which, in order to enrich one, beggars all the rest 
of the children. Entails are the natural consequences of the 
law of primogeniture. . . , They are founded upon the most 
absurd of all suppositions, the supposition that every successive 
generation of men have not an equal right to the earth, and to 
all that it possesses; but that the property of the present 
generation should be restrained and regulated according to 
the fancy of those who died perhaps five hundred years ago. . . . 

Compare the present condition of [entailed] estates with the 
possessions of the small proprietors in their neighbourhood, 
and you will require no other argument to convince you how 
unfavourable such extensive property is to improvement. 

(b) Younger sons were often placed in a precarious position, and 
some of them went into the professions, the Church, the Law or 
Medicine, or even, it was said, into trade. The basic point was to 
secure them a 'competence'. Others, however, did much better. 

Source: Misson, op tit., p. 3, 



The difference is likewise great between the eldest Brother 
and the younger; the former not only succeeds to the Honour, 
but carries all the real and most of the personal Estate. It is 
therefore one thing to say, that a Lord has happen'd to put 
his younger Son to a Trade, and another thing to say, it is 
customary in England, for Lords to put their Children out to 

(c) Family influence counted for most, perhaps, in relation to 
getting younger sons into the Church. 

Source: R. L. Edgeworth, Essays on Professional Education (1812), 
p. 64, 

Church benefices may ... be considered a fund for the 
provision of the younger sons of our gentry and nobles; and in 
this point of view, it cannot surely be a matter of complaint 
to any of the higher and middle classes in the community, 
that the clergy enjoy a large portion of the riches of the state. 

(d) While some writers held that primogeniture assisted social 
mobility by placing second, third and later sons in different walks 
of life, others pointed to general defects of the system. 

Source: Anon., Observations on the Number and Misery of the Poor 
(1765), pp. 15-16. 

Land is held in England by various tenures; founded on 
absurd principles and obsolete usages . . . the most general 
entailment being from eldest son to eldest son. . . . The second 
son cannot inherit unless the first die without issue, or his issue 
be extinct. The third cannot inherit, until such failure of the 
first and the second; and so through the whole collateral line, 
daughters excluded, who, poor girls, have no other dependence 
than the casual personal provision their father may have made 
for them ; or an unportioned dependence on their lordly elder 
brother. ... All these excluded children, from pride of 
families from which they derive little but the honour of claiming 
kindred with them; whatever their slender means may be, 
emulate the rank of the elder branch. This induces a general 
extravagance and taste for luxury, which from this source 
becomes universally contagious. This must be upheld ; therefore 
fathers and brothers, that their children and relations may not 



disgrace them by sinking from their own rank, nor hang upon 
them for subsistence; are eternally gaping for places and 
pensions for them, which are shamefully multiplied to answer 
these laudable ends. 


Entail was one form of legal agreement which along with other 
types of family settlements, trusts and mortgages, made it possible 
for one family to hold land for long periods of time. 'New men' of 
wealth and power, therefore, might find it difficult to acquire 
landed estates on the land market. What could not be acquired on 
the land market might be acquired through the marriage market. 
The marriage system was essentially a property system. New families 
could enhance their standing through marriage with aristocratic 
families, while aristocratic families could replenish their fortunes. 
For example, the grand-daughter of Sir Josiah Childe, the enor- 
mously wealthy East India merchant, became Duchess of Bedford. 
'Arranged marriages' involving elaborate property settlements, 
including dowries, jointures, portions and trusts, were common in 
the eighteenth century. They kept lawyers fully and lucratively 
employed, but some of the arrangements put families 'at the mercy 
of birth and death rates'. A rapid series of successions or a large 
number of children could alter family history. 

(a) Source: Letter of 19 Jan. 1736, printed in J. W. F. Hill (ed.), 
Banks Family Letters (Lincolnshire Record Society, 1936), p. 176. 

Mr. Jo. Banks I hear has made his proposall to Miss Cassia. 
Lady Wray tells it so, they will be in town in a fortnight. 
Ten thousand down he desires, and twenty more at his death, 
which I think will just fetch him. We do nothing but marry 
and stuf ourselves with the turkey diet. 

(b) Source: Letter from Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough to her 
grand-daughter, the Duchess of Bedford, 29 June 1733, printed in 
G. Scott Thomson's, Letters of a Grandmotlier (1943), p. 89. 

If you think my Lord Carteret's daughter an agreeable 
woman, as everybody says now she is, your brother John might 
easily have obtained her before they thought of my Lord 
Weymouth, and I believe considering his debts and charges 


upon his estate, your brother is not a much worse match in 
fortune; besides the great difference in the two men. But I 
never heard the least word in this lady's commendations till 
she was disposed of. Her father is certainly a mighty agreeable 
man, and has better parts than almost anybody. But they 
don't hinder him from loving money as much as anybody that 
ever I knew. 

Whom your brother is destined for, I can't yet see. But if it 
were to an agreeable and valuable woman, I should never 
concern myself to have a great fortune with her. And at this 
time, though a younger brother, he has within some pounds 
three thousand pounds a year in hard money. And all but the 
thousand pounds a year, which is for joint lives, he can dispose 


The lesser landed interest was known in England as the gentry, 
larger, less exclusive and more diverse in origins than the aristocracy. 
The dividing lines between it and other social groups were difficult 
to draw, and it was frequently refreshed by new recruits from out- 
side. Closely associated with the conception of the gentry was the 
conception of 'the gentleman'. Some of the gentry were proud of 
their independence from the aristocracy. Yet 'independence' did 
not necessarily carry with it polish or dignity. Some 'squires' were 
rustic and uncultivated: others men of taste and fashion. Both 
types have made their way into literature. All members of the gentry 
were concerned about taxation, and most were drawn into local 
politics and administration. As justices of the peace, they were 
concerned with the management of local affairs as well as with the 
law, and so important was their role in this connection that the 
historian Maitland rightly pointed out that 'a history of the eight- 
eenth century which does not place the justice of the peace in the 
very foreground of the picture will be a caricature*. 

(a) Source: Le Blanc, Letters on the English and French Nations (1 747), 
p. 279. 

He [the country squire] is naturally a very dull animal; 
perhaps his food is the cause of it. He eats nothing but salt 
beef, cold mutton, cabbage, carrots and pudding; which last 



is his favourite dish; and that which is heaviest he likes best. 
His drink is ale, coarse Portuguese wines, and now and then a 
little of the strongest brandy. He drinks two favourite healths 
at his meals, which is perhaps the only rule that he observes; 
the first is to all honest fox hunters in Great Britain, protestant 
or catholic without exception; the title of hunter reconciles 
them all; the second bumper is confusion to the minister. 

(b) Source: Anon., A Utter to a Freeholder (1732), pp. 33-4, 

The Heads and Heirs of very ancient Families ... are 
obliged to five up to the nominal Value of their Estates, often 
beyond it, merely to support their Credit and Figure in their 
Counties. They have Parks and Mansion Houses, and a great 
Resort of Friends and Neighbours to them; which continually 
drains their scanty Revenues. They are obliged to serve 
expensive unprofitable Offices, to be High Sheriffs, Justices of 
Peace, Commissioners of Taxes &c. to their very great Burthen 
and Grievance. And when their Children are grown up, and 
their younger Sons are to be settled in the World and their 
Daughters disposed of in Marriage, then, when their Neces- 
sities are greatest, they have least Ability to bear them; they 
go out of the World with all their Affairs in Confusion, and 
leave their First-Born to inherit an insupportable Mortgage. 

(c) The following extract sets out a squire's own view of the arduous 
nature of his commitments. 

Source: Letter of Lord Fermanagh to Ralph Verney, 8 Jan. 1713, 
printed in Lady Verney (ed.), Verney Letters of the Eighteenth Century 
(1930), vol. I, p. 291. J 

'Dcare Ralph,— I have now 2 Tenants come to tell me, they 
will leave at Lady Day unless I will abate of the Rent, tho' the 
present Rents have been these 50 years and above. I am very 
glad Christmas is Ended, for we have had every day a vast 
number of people, but my servants say here were 400 people 
and I doe believe there were rather more last Tuesday, it has 
been a troublesome time; Every day with the noise of Either 
Drums, Trumpetts, Hautboys, Pipes or Fiddles, some days 
400 Guests, very few under 100, that besides the vast expense 
it has been very tiresome. I wish all your family a happy New 


Year. This last night a Fitt of the Gout tooke me in the Foot, 
which confines me to my Chaire for I can't goe about the 


Eighteenth-century landowners included not only peers and 
gentry but 'free-holders'. The pride of the group were the inde- 
pendent 'yeomen', though the term is imprecise and it is not easy 
to distinguish between owner-occupiers and tenant farmers, since 
many of the owner-occupiers also rented land. During the course 
of the century, as large estates were consolidated, the number of 
small owner-occupiers declined, and by 1 790 it has been estimated 
that three-quarters or more of English land was managed by 
tenants rather than by owners. Enclosure (see below, p. 190) was 
not the only cause of the decline in the number of small owner- 
occupiers, although it received most public attention. Lowest in 
degree in rural society were the cottagers, the hired farm labourers 
and the squatters on the village waste. In each village there were 
also a number of village craftsmen, such as thatchers, shoemakers, 
and, most numerous, blacksmiths. It is very difficult to generalize 
about the social structure of villages in different parts of the country, 
and much depended on the presence or absence of a squire and if 
there was a squire, on his personal qualities. For further details of 
landed society, see G. E. Mingay, English Landed Society in the 
Eighteenth Century (1962). 

(a) Source: C. Morris (ed.), The Journeys of Celia Fiennes (1947), 
pp. 137-7. 

Celia Fiennes is describing a visit to the border country of Sussex 
and Kent just before the beginning of the eighteenth century. 

Goodhurst [Goudhurst] stands on a great hill and is seen 
several miles ... its a pretty large place, old timber houses, 
but the extent of the parish is neare ten mile, they are a sort 
of yeomanly Gentry, about 2 or 3 or 400£ a year and eate and 
drink well and live comfortably and hospitably; the old proverb 
was a Yeoman of Kent with one years Rent could buy out the 
Gentlemen of Wales . . . and a Lord of the North Country, 
his Estate was so much better. 



(b) The tenant farmers, in the words of Oliver Goldsmjthj were 
'equal strangers to opulence and poverty'. All such judgements 
should be treated cautiously, particularly judgements of people of 
one social group on another. 

Source: O. Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), ch. IV. 

As they had all the conveniences of life within themselves, 
they very seldom visited the towns or cities in search of 
superfluities. Remote from the polite, they still retained the 
primeval simplicity of manners; and frugal by habit, they 
scarcely knew that temperance was a virtue. They wrought 
with cheerfulness on days of labour, but observed festivals as 
intervals of idleness and pleasure. They kept up the Christmas 
carol, sent true love-knots on Valentine morning, ate pancakes 
on Shrovetide, showed their wit on the 1st of April, and 
religiously cracked nuts on Michaelmas eve. 

(c) Much of the information about better-off people in the villages 
comes from inventories, records of the goods villagers left when they 
died, A study of 1,400 East Sussex inventories drawn up between 
1705 and 1722 provides a good glimpse of social structure. 41% 
showed assets valued between £10 and £59 and the same percen- 
tage assets valued over £100. 12% fell between £60 and £100. A 
third of the persons leaving inventories were 'yeomen', farmers 
and husbandmen. Of the three hundred persons whose occupations 
lay outside farming there were 23 blacksmiths, 23 carpenters, 
13 millers, 25 butchers and 5 victuallers. See E. M. Gardner, 
'East Sussex Inventories' in Sussex Notes and Queries (1959). The 
following extracts from an inventory of 1734 relate to Thomas 
Brown of Rotherfield, East Sussex, a husbandman. The inventory 
is in the East Sussex Record Office. 

Item: His Weareing Apparrel and Money in 


Two Payer of Andirons Two Firepans one Payer 
of Tongs one Payer of Potthangers one Payer 
of Bellis Three Spitts Two Iron Candelsticks 
Two Iron Dripingpans one old Grigiron one 
Chopingknife one old Cleavour one old Clock 
one old Wanning pan one Payer of Stylliards 

2 10 



one old Gunn Nyne Dishes of Pewter And A 
Pewter Tanker Two old Tables and Fine Old 
Joynd stools Fine old Chairs one Large Iron 
Skillet And one Small Brass Skillet one Old 
Iron kettle Three old Iron Porridgpotts one 
Old Settle And One old Buntinghutch And 
other Small Things 


One Table and Form and one Old Cubbard 


Fine Old Barrels Two Powderingtubbs One 
Longe Keeller Two Old Stalders one Wood- 
den Funnel and one Duz, of Glass Bottles 


One Featherbed and Bolster and Two Blanketts 
and Steddle and Matt 

One old Featherbed and Bolster one Pillow 
And Two Blanketts and Steddle and Matt 

One old Flockbed and Bolster and Two Blan- 
ketts and Steddle and Matt and one old 
Trunkelbed and Steddle and Matt and one 
old Trunkelbed and Bolster And one Blankett 
and Steddle 

One Joynd Chest and Fine old Boarded Chestes 
Two Old Trunks and one Old Box 


One old Flockbed and Bolster one Coverlet 

one Steddle and Matt and Curtains and 

Vallents and Curtain Rods 
Six Chairs one old Payer of Bellis and one Payer 

of Andirons one Boarded Chest and One old 

One Payer of fine Sheets Nyne Payer of Course 


4 18 6 

£ s. d. 


£ s. d. 

1 6 

2 10 
1 17 6 

1 5 

1 1 



Sheets Foure Tablecloaths and Two Pillow- 


For Two Old Waggens 
For One Old Timbertugg 
For Three Old Courts and One Old Plough 
For One Old Oxharrow and Five Small 
Horsharrows and Three old Ploughs And 
One Whibbletree 
For Six Yoakes Six Tyths and Two Chains 

And Foure Horsharncsses 
For foure Corn Sines and one Payer of old 
Swips and one Halfbushcll and Three Shalls 
Foure Old Prongs and one old Spad and 
One Old Radsaddle 
item: Two Matthooks one Shovel and Three 
Old Spades and one Hoppitcher And 
one Ax and Two Old Hanbills and Two 
Payer of Hedging Gloves 
13 Sacks And Two Old Mealcbaggs And 
Two Old Waggenrops 
For Old Hoppoles 
For one Hundred of New Hopps 
For one Sack of Cloverfeede 
For Old Iron 
For Book Debts 
For Desparate Debts 
For Things out of Sight and Forgott 



item : 

3 6 

5 5 

2 18 

2 3 

1 10 



1 5 


4 10 

2 8 


8 12 


4 15 


(d) The Sussex figures should be compared with figures from other 
parts of the country. Land ownership patterns varied also. In 
Wigston, a Leicestershire village, figures of land holdings show that 
by 1765 only 3 families in 10 owned or occupied any land. The 
following list excludes occupiers of less than 2 acres (another 40 
occupiers). It demonstrates, however, that 37% of the acreage of 
the parish was being farmed in large farms of 200 acres or more. 

Source: W. G. Hoskins, The Midland Peasant (1957), p. 218. 






Oliver Fox 


Patience Abbot 


Mr. Buszard 


Daniel Ward 


William Freer 


John Pawley 


Mrs. Holms 


Henry Johnson 


Luis Russell 


William Gibbons 


Richard Pochin 


William Richardson 


Thomas Coltman 


Widow Darker 


Mrs. Russell 


Thomas Langton 


Wm. Goodrich 


Thomas Hurst 


Armston Pochin 


Mr. Burgess 


Samuel Davenport 


Thomas Wilson 


Tithe and glebe 


Henry Branson 


John Dand 


Widow Langton 


John Astill 


Alban Aynge 


Thomas Blockley 


Widow Johnson 


James Bingley 


Joseph Johnson 


Thomas Johnson 


Thomas Goode 


John Johnson 


Thomas Horner 


John Freer 


Cornelius Darker 


Simeon Brewin 


John Phipps 


Francis Johnson 


Thomas Goodwin 


Richard Abbot 


George Boulter 


Mr. Clarke 


John Burdet 


Mr. Ragg 


Abram Hach 


Robert White 


Mr. Ragg 


William Brewin 


Joseph Langham 


Sarah Simons 


William Johnson 


William Langton 


Thomas Jackson 


William Coltman 


George Ross 


Richard Coltman 


John Cooper 


William Blaksley 


Richard Branson 


(e) Catalogues do not provide the only evidence. Crabbc, the 
Suffolk poet, has painted a convincing picture of the yeoman 
turned gentleman farmer. Compare the picture in Oliver Gold- 
smith's The Deserted Village (1770), with its account of a traditional 
society undermined by 'agricultural improvers'. 


Source: G. Crabbe, The Village (1783). 

Gwyn was a farmer, whom the farmers all, 
Who dwelt around, the Gentleman, would call; 
Whether in pure humility or pride, 
They only knew and they would not decide. 
Far different he from that dull plodding tribe, 
Whom it was his amusement to describe; 
Creatures no more enlivened than a clod, 
But treading still as their dull fathers trod; 
Who lived in times when not a man had seen 
Corn sown by drill, or threshed by a machine; 
He was of those whose skill assignes the prize 
For creatures fed in pen, or stall or sties; 
And who, in places where improvers meet, 
To fill the land with fatness had a seat; 
Who in large mansions live like petty Kings, 
And speak of farms but as amusing things 
Who plans encourage, and who journals keep 
And talk with lords about a breed of sheep. 

(f ) At the other end of the social scale were the cottagers and the 
squatters who often found life hard, were badly hit by enclosure 
(sec below, p. 193), and formed a large substratum of rural poor. 
Some of them were hired as cowmen, haymakers, threshers and 
hedgers for bigger farmers (hirings were social occasions with their 
own rituals) ; others left for the towns ; others were forced to subsist 
on the poor rate (see below, p. 163). During the early part of the 
century Defoe contrasted the rural labourer's lot with that of work- 
people in manufacturing areas. He called the agricultural counties 
'unemployed counties'. 

Source; D. Defoe, A Plan of the English Commerce (1728), pp. 89ff. 

Where the poor are full of work they are never empty of 
wages; they eat while the others starve, and have a tolerable 
plenty; while in the unemployed counties it goes hard with 
them. And whence is all this? Look to the lands, and conse- 
quently to the estates of the gentry, the manufacturing counties 
are calculated for business, the unemployed for pleasure; the 
first are thronged with villages and great towns, the last with 
parks and great forests; the first are stored with people, the 



last with game. . . . The reason of the thing answers for 
itself; a poor labouring man that goes abroad to his day's 
work and husbandry, hedging, ditching, threshing, earring, 
etc., and brings home to his wife his week's wages, suppose at 
eightpence to twelvepence a day or in some counties less, if 
he has a wife and three or four children to feed, and get little 
or nothing for themselves, must fare hard and live poorly: 
'tis easy to suppose it must be so, 

(g) Source; David Da vies, the Rector of Barkham, Bucks., The Case 
of the Labourers in Husbandry Staled and Considered (1795), p, 5, 

In visiting the labouring families of my parish, as my duty 
led me, I could not but observe with concern their mean and 
distressed condition. I found them in general but indifferently 
fed; badly clothed; some children without shoes and stockings; 
very few put to school; and most families in debt to little 
shopkeepers. In short there was scarcely any appearance of 
comfort about their dwellings, except that the children looked 
tolerably healthy. Yet I could not impute the wretchedness I 
saw either to sloth or wastefulness. For I knew that the farmers 
were careful that the men should not want employment; 
and had they been given to drinking, I am sure I should have 
heard enough of it. And I commonly found the women, when 
not working in the fields, well occupied at home; seldom 
indeed earning money; but baking their bread, washing and 
mending their garments, and rocking the cradle. 

(h) The growth of enclosure robbed the rural poor of many of 
their remaining rights {see below, p. 163). 

Source; Letter from Henry Purefoy to W. Hughes, a London 
attorney, 26 Oct. 1746, printed in G. Eland (ed.), Purefoy Letters 
(1931), vol. I, pp. 4-5. 

The poor people of Bidlesdon importune mee so strongly 
that I can't forbear writing to you to acquaint you that one 
Flowers of Bidlesdon detains from the Poor of the Parish 12 
of their 14 Cows Commons, w^ h Arthur, Lord Grey of Wilton 
ab! the year 1590 gave to seven ancient cottages of that parish, 
& to the Vicar of Bidlesdon hee gave a mare & colt and Bull 
common. The Vicar & poor folks occupiers of these 7 ancient 



cottages enjoyed these Commons ever since, till a few years 
ago Mf Sayer pulled down 6 of the ancient cottages & erected 
6 new ones in another place, & took 12 of the poor folk's 
commons from them, but was kind to them in other Respects 
in Lieu of it. Now when M! Sayer went beyond sea the poor 
people, having then no benefit from Mf Sayer, had their 
Cows Commons again & sett all of them but two to fflowers 
for 5s. a year apiece, for w= h fflowers paid them for (sic) till 
a year due last Michas, wf h hee says hee will not pay unlesse 
y e Law compells him to it. They are poor & not able to contest 
it at Law, & I hope it will be in your power to releive them, & 
fflowers to this day pays the Vicar for his mare & colt & bull 
common, & as the Vicars commons stand on the same foun- 
dation as to right & Title with the poor's Commons it is plain 
they have as good right to it as the Vicar, & as to the other 
Cows commons belonging to the House not pulled down Mf 
Sayer never took them from that house, but they enjoyed 
them all along to this day without Interruption. I desire you 
will lay this before Sf Robert Cotton in a proper light & your 
flavour & assistance will be a great Charity for I think it a 
pity the Poor should be deprived of their Right only because 
they are poor, & that any Charity should be abused. Your 
good offices in this affair will be esteemed a signal favour to 

Your unknown hie serv! 


At the pinnacle of urban life were the great London merchants 
with interests scattered throughout the world. 'Our merchants are 
Princes', wrote Defoe, 'greater, richer and more powerful than 
some sovereign Princes.' Many of them aspired to become country 
gendemen, and some succeeded. They were flattered by admirers 
who claimed that they were the true source of England's greatness. 
Mercantile wealth was associated not only with London, but in lesser 
degree with ports like Bristol and Liverpool. Throughout the 
provinces, however, there were lesser merchants, men of the 
'middling sort', some of them with limited ambitions, all with 
limited fortunes. 



Source: E. Young, The Merchant (1725). 

Are there, then, men of lofty brow, 
Who think trade mean, and seem to bow 
So far beneath the state of noble birth ? 
Alas these chiefs but little know 
Commerce how high, themselves so low : 
The sons of Nobles are the sons of Earth . , . 
Trade, Art's Mechanic, Nature's Stores 
Well weighs; to starry Science soars . . . 
Who studies Trade, he studies all. 

(b) Source: R. Campbell, The London Tradesman (1747), pp. 284ff. 

Commerce, the Sphere of the Merchant, extends itself to 
all the known World, and gives Life and Vigour to the whole 
Machine. . . . The Merchant draws his honest gain from the 
distant Poles, and every Shilling he returns more than he 
carried out, adds so much to the National Riches and Capital 
Stock of the Kingdom. Wherever he comes, wherever he lives, 
Wealth and Plenty follow him: the Poor is set to work, Manu- 
factures flourish, Poverty is banished, and Public Credit 
increases. . . , Before we were a Trading People, we . . . lived 
in a kind of Penury . . . but we no sooner became a Trading 
People, than the Arts and Sciences began to revive, and 
polished us out of our rustic Simplicity and Ignorance. . . . 
The Trade of Britain may be divided into Inland and Foreign: 
Inland Trade is the transporting of the Commodities of one 
Part of the Kingdom to another, and especially to the grand 
Mart of Trade, the City of London. . . . The Foreign Merchant 
exports the Goods of the Growth or Manufacture of this 
Kingdom to the proper Markets, and imports the Commodities 
of other Countries in Exchange, The Merchants are distingui- 
shed one from another either by the Goods they traffic in, 
or by the Countries wherewith they have the greatest Corres- 
pondence; Thus a Merchant dealing in Tobacco is termed a 
Tobacco-Merchant, or a Virginia Merchant. . . . The best way 
then to distinguish the several Classes of Merchants is to take 
a View of our Imports and Exports. We export to Jamaica 
[for example], and the rest of the Sugar Colonies, all manner 
of Materials for Wearing Apparel, Household Furniture of all 



Sorts, Cutlery and Haberdashery Wares, Watches, Jewels and 
Toys, East-India Goods of all sorts, some Frenck wines, English 
Malt Liquor, Linen Cloths of the Growth of Scotland, Ireland 
and Germany y and our Ships generally touch in Ireland, and take 
in Provisions such as Beef, Pork, and Butter. The Returns from 
thence are Rums, Sugars, Cottons, Indigo, some fine Woods, 
such as Mahogany, Lignum Vitte, &c, and some Dying Woods, 
particularly Logwood. . . , 

(c) Not everyone was so impressed by mercantile virtues. 

The South Sea Bubble, which reached its climax in 1 720, left a 
nasty taste. Legitimate trade and reckless speculation had been 
difficult to separate from each other. 

Source: Poem in The Weekly Journal or British Gazette, 13 May 1721. 

Go on, vile Traders, glory in your Sins, 

And grow profusely Rich, by Wicked Means . . . 

Impoverish Thousands by some Publick Fraud, 

And worship Interest as your only God; 

Though you may gain in Time, a South Sea Coach, 

And ride through London, loaded with Reproach, 

Become a proud Director, and at last, 

Be bound to render what you got so fast; 

Perhaps be punish'd when your All is lost; 

With Gallows, Pillory or Whipping-Post, 

Or if you have your Gold, be doom'd to float, 

To Hell, in this infernal Ferry-boat. 

(d) The traders were, of course, not the only people to blame. 
'Never was such a time to get money as now', one society lady had 
written enthusiastically in 1 720, when 'South Sea' was aH the talk 
and fashion. 

Source: Report in Applebee's Journal, 5 Aug. 1720. 

Our South-Sea Equipages increase every day; the City- 
ladies buy South-Sea jewels; hire South-Sea Maids; and take 
new country South-Sea Houses; the Gentlemen set up South- 
Sea Coaches, and buy South-Sea Estates, but they neither 
examine the Situation, the Nature or Quality of the Soil, or 
Price of the Purchase, 



(e) For a comment in retrospect, note the following extract from a 
speech in the House of Commons, 

Source: Report in The Gentleman's Magazine (1733), vol, 3, 
pp. 673-4. 

The many bad consequences of stock-jobbing are well-known, 
and it is high time to put an end to that infamous practice. 
It is a lottery, or rather a gaming-house, publicly set up in the 
middle of die city of London, in which the heads of our 
merchants and tradesmen are turned from getting a livelihood 
by the honest means of industry and frugality, and are enticed 
to become gamesters by the hope of getting an estate at once. 
It is not only a lottery, but one of the very worst sort, because 
it is always in the power of the principal managers to bestow 
the benefit tickets as they have a mind. The broker comes to 
the merchant and talks to him of the many fatigues and dangers, 
the great troubles and small profits that are in his way of trade ; 
and after having done all he can to put him out of conceit with 
his business, which is often too easily affectuated, he proposes 
to dig for him in the rich mine of Exchange Alley, and to 
get more for him in a day than he could get by his trade in a 
twelvemonth. Thus the merchant is persuaded. He engages; 
he goes on for some time; but never knows what he is a doing, 
till he is quite undone, 

(f) Until the last decades of the century the slave trade was one 
of the most successful 'legitimate' sources of income for the great 
merchants. It was described by Postlethwayt, for instance, as 'the 
first principle and foundation of all the rest, the mainspring of the 
machine which sets every wheel in motion'. West Indian planters 
were familiar figures in English eighteenth -century society. This 
is how one of them was briefly and conclusively described by a 

Source: R. Cumberland, The West Indian, A Comedy (1775). 

He's very rich, and that's sufficient. They say he has rum 
and sugar enough belonging to him, to make all the water in 
the Thames into punch. 

(g) Source: J, Matthews, A Voyage to Sierra-Leone on the Coast of 
Africa (1791). 


When the adventurer arrives upon the coast with a suitable 
cargo — which for this place consists of European and Indian 
cotton and linen goods, silk handkerchiefs, taffkics, coarse 
blue and red woollen cloths, scarlet cloth in grain, coarse and 
fine hats, worsted caps, guns, powder, shot, sabres, lead bars, 
iron bars, pewter basons, copper kettles and pans, iron pots, 
hardware of various kinds, earthen and glass ware, hair and 
gilt leather trunks, beads of various kinds, silver and gold 
rings and ornaments, paper, coarse and fine check, and linen 
ruffled shirts and caps, British and foreign spirits and tobacco — 
he dispatches his boats properly equipped to the different 
rivers. On their arrival at the place of trade they immediately 
apply to the head man of the town, inform him of their business, 
and request his protection; desiring he will either be himself 
their landlord, or appoint a respectable person, who becomes 
security for the person and goods of the stranger, and also for 
the recovery of all money lent, provided it is done with his 
knowledge and approbation. This business finished, and proper 
presents made {for nothing is done without) they proceed to 
trade either by lending their goods to the natives, who carry 
them up into the country, or by waiting till trade is brought 
to them. The former is the most expeditious way, when they 
fall into good hands; but the latter is always the safest. 

When the country people come down themselves to trade 
with the whites, they are obliged to apply to the inhabitants 
of the villages where the factories are kept, to serve as brokers 
and interpreters. 

When a slave is brought to be sold he is first carefully 
examined, to see that there is no blemish or defect in him; 
if approved, you then agree upon the price at so many bars, 
and give the dealer so many flints or stones to count with; 
die goods are then delivered to him piece by piece, for which he 
returns so many stones for each, agreeably to their denominated 
value; and they always take care to begin with those articles 
which they judge most essentially necessary. 

Exclusive of this method of dealing directly with the natives, 
transient ships, or those who only come for a small number, 
generally barter with the white traders resident on the coast, 
or with the factories established there, who take their whole 



cargo at once, and deliver them slaves, camwood, ivory, etc. 
according to their agreement, in a certain time. 

From the great number of slaves which are annually ex- 
ported, and which, from this place and the parts adjacent, 
including Sherbro' and the Riomoonas, amounts to about 
three thousand annually, one would be led to imagine the 
country would, in time, be depopulated; instead of which no 
diminution of their numbers is perceived; and, from every 
account we have been able to acquire from the natives them- 
selves, who travel into the interior country, it is extraordinarily 


Entry to the professions depended usually on family influence — 
examinations were usually perfunctory — but success depended on 
ability. The Master of the Rolls, Lord Kenyon (1732-1802), made 
£80,000 in 16 years through the practice of the law: Sir Henry 
Halford, the physician, earned an income of £10,000 a year for 
many years. (For doctors, see also below, pp. 458ff.) Such great 
men were to be distinguished from lesser professional folk, and they 
moved in the society of the great. 

(a) William Hickey, whose memoirs are well-known, described 
how he became an attorney in 1 775. 

Source: William Hickey, Memoirs {1913 edn.), vol. I, pp. 331-2. 

At the time appointed I attended, and in a terrible fright I 
was at the ordeal I imagined I had to pass through, and the 
probable loss I might be in at answering some of the many 
questions I understood would be put to me upon points of 
practice. Being conducted into his [the Judge's] parlour . . . 
in five minutes the Judge entered. We sat down, and he 
recommended his French rolls and muffins as of the best sort, 
but so predominant were my fears about the dreaded exami- 
nation that I had no inclination to eat. Breakfast being over, 
he asked me how I liked the Law, how long I had been out 
of my clerkship, and two or three other questions equally 
unimportant, when a servant entered to announce the carriage 
being at the door, whereupon he desired his clerk to be called, 


upon whose appearance he enquired whether Mr. Hickey's 
certificate was ready. The clerk having it and other papers in 
his hand, the Judge took it from him, and after perusal sub- 
scribed his name, and then said, 'Now, Mr. Hickey, if you will 
be so good as to accompany me to Westminster Half, I will 
get you sworn, and the business concluded.' I accordingly 
stepped into his coach which conveyed us to Westminster. . . . 
The Judge ordered the oaths to be administered to me, after 
which, and my subscribing my name to each, I was entered 
upon the Roll as an attorney, and making a respectful bow to 
the Bench and the Bar, I retired, most agreeably relieved from 
my apprehensions respecting the various interrogatories I had 
expected would be put to me on the subject of my qualifications. 

(b) Many writers treated professional men as parasites. 

Source: H. Fielding, Pasquin (1736). 

Religion, law, and physic, were designed 
By Heaven the greatest blessing on mankind ; 
But priests, and lawyers, and physicians made 
These general goods to each a private trade, 
With each they rob, with each they fill their purses, 
And turn our benefits into our curses. 

(c) Source; G, Peacock, Life of Tfwmas Young, M.D.,P.R.S. (1855), 
p. 216. 

I was dining at the Duke of Richmond's one day last winter, 
and there came in two notes, one from Sir W. Farquhar, and 
the other from Dr. Hunter, in answer to an enquiry whether 
or no His Grace might venture to cat fruit pies or strawberries. 
I trembled for the honour of the profession, and could not 
conceal my apprehensions from the company; luckily, however, 
they agreed tolerably well, the only difference of opinion being 
on the subject of the pie crust. 

(d) More humble provincial virtues are commemorated on many 
local tombstones. 

Source: A Tablet in Hulme Church, described in J. Crabtree, 
A Concise History of Halifax (1836), pp. 123-4. 

Near this place, in the grave of the late Richard Taylor, 


Esq. are deposited the remains of Joseph Hulme, m.d. who 
departed this fife on the 2nd day of February, 1806, aged 
92 years. He practised Physic in this town, with great success, 
about 63 years. To his patients he was very attentive and 
humane; to the poor, benevolent and charitable. He was 
ready in lending pecuniary assistance, to most who applied 
to him, but slow in calling in debts. He was a man of few 
words, yet affable and pleasant with his friends. From his 
medical abilities, his general knowledge, and gentle manners, 
he was much respected by all who knew him. He was a rare 
instance of temperance and sobriety, water being his common 
drink from lus youth, and for many years he never tasted 
animal food. This strict regimen did not prevent his taking 
much exercise, and undergoing great fatigue : for he was almost 
daily on horse-back, over the neighbouring hills, in every 
season and in all weather. Though so far advanced in life, 
yet his hand continued steady, and his judgement clear, so 
that he died not of old age, but of an acute disease: and in the 
blessed hope that he should not dwell for ever with corruption. 


There was a steadily increasing demand for domestic servants 
throughout the eighteenth century, with their conditions of em- 
ployment varying immensely from household to household and 
within each household according to rank in an elaborate occu- 
pational hierarchy. The greatest landlords might employ as many 
as thirty to forty manservants, and even the gentry might have 
'numerous establishments'. Lower down the social scale it was 
noted in Smollett's Humphrey Clinker (1771) how 'at present, every 
trader in any degree of credit, every broker and attorney, maintains 
a couple of footmen, a coachman, and a postillion'. 

(a) Source: An Article in the Westminster Journal, reprinted in The 
Gentleman's Magazine (1745), pp. 544-5. 

I have always thought of the great interest a nobleman, or 
gentleman of large estate, might always secure by only the 
proper choice of his domestics. Such a one cannot be without a 
great number of tenants, who might think their children 



honoured in the service of his lordship, and whose tenures 
would be a sort of security for the honesty and good behaviour 
of the servant. 

(b) Source: An article in The Gentleman's Magazine (1743), p. 433. 

When I see four or five able Fellows swinging behind a gilt 
Chariot, and reflect, that they have no other Business to do 
than what, perhaps, might be better undone; that they are . . . 
of so little Use to Society, that in the Course of their whole 
Lives not one of them adds a Shilling to the publick Stock, I am 
grieved to see Englishmen in such a Situation. 

(c) Source; R. Dodsley, Servitude (1728), p. 18. 

Next, as we're Servants, Masters at our Hands 
Expect Obedience to all just Commands; 
Which, if we rightly think is but their Due, 
Nor more than we in Reason ought to do. 
Purchas'd by annual Wages, Cloaths and Meat, 
Theirs is our Time, our Hands, our Head, our Feet : 
We think, design and act at their Command, 
And, as their Pleasure varies, walk or stand; 
Whilst we receive the covenanted Hire, 
Active Obedience justly they require. . . . 

(d) Source: Note on the recruitment of servants in the Morning Post, 
20 June 1777. 

Suppose ... a man gets one hundred pounds a year by 
trade . . . and that he has four or five sons, is it in his power 
to make mechanics or tradesmen of them all ? I will answer 
no; — the sums that must be given as apprentice fees with them 
would ruin him, was he to do it with more than one or two of 
them; the consequence is that he has no other resource than 
to make them servants, to get their living. 

(e) The Steward was the most important servant. He controlled 
domestic staff and regulated household economy. 

Source: G.Jacob, The Country Gentleman's Vademecum (1717), p. 45. 

[It is the Steward's duty] to take and state all Accompts, 
receive and pay all Monies, buy in the Provision for the 



Family, hire all Livery-men, buy all Liveries, pay all Wages, 
direct and keep in order all Livery-men (except the Coachman 
and Groom) to be at his Master's Elbow during Dinner, and 
receive all Orders from him relating to Government; to oversee 
and direct the Bailiff, Gardener, etc. in their Business; and 
also the Clerk of the Kitchen, Cook, Butler, etc. to whom he 
delivers the Provision, Wine, Beer, etc. who give him an 
Account of the spending it, Weekly or otherwise. 

(f) Letter from John Ashburnham to his Steward, 19 Jan. 1705. 

Source: East Sussex County Records Office, Ashburnham Papers, 
Letter Book, MSS. 846. 

I shall now soone be with you in Bedfordshire, if God permitt 
and therefore doe admonish you to gett the house in order for 
my Reception, that is ayred and cleane. I shall bring downe 
with me two freinds besides my son Jack soe that accom- 
modation must be found and the Beds extream dryc and 
wholesome. I expect to find the gardens in good Condition in 
every particular and the fontaines perfected. . . . Remember 
about getting inn a sufficient stock of Gates and Beanes for 
the service of the stables as you did the last yeare and lett me 
find you loose noe time in this soe necessary a worke. I thinke 
you send upp but very few sparagrasse. lett me know your 
proceedings in all manner of businesse. your freind John 

(g) In large and medium-sized households testimonials for other 
servants usually passed through the Steward's hands. 

Source: Letter from Blundell to Oldfield, 10 Dec. 1704, printed in 
Blundell's Diary and Letter Book, p. 26. 

Honoured Sir, 

Tho I have not the Honour to be Acquainted with you, yet 
I Presume to send these few Lines being your Stuard told me 
you were in want of a Chamber Maid. I am now Parting with 
mine. She is a Catholic and a brisk mettled Workwoman, 
gets up Linnen both fine and corse very well, rubs well and is 
a neat Cleanly Lass. I shall be glad to have your Speedy 
answer whether you will have her or noe, as if you will, please 
to let Her know what her Work must be and what Waiges. 


I think she will expect something above 40s. If I can be pro- 
vided at Christmass she will then be at liberty. 

(h) Servants did not always find themselves in a position where 
they were seeking employment, as the following two extracts show. 

Source: Letter quoted in Lady Mary Jennings, A Kentish Country 
House, or the Records of Hall House, Hawkhurst (1894), p. 73. 

Sir, I shall take your warning from this day. ... I see there 
is no such thing as pleasing you, I knew what business was 
before I came to you and more than what you have to do, and 
though I cant please you, I dont doubt but 1 shall please 
other people very well, I never had the uneasiness anywhere, 
as I have here, and 1 hope never shall again ; for you are never 
easy [MS. torn] let one do never so much for you, and you 
can get Mrs. Buck or any body else as may do your work better 
for I will not stay with you, to be found fault with for nothing; 
when I am in fault, I desire to be told of it, but not to be told 
of other peoples, Betty is too good a servant for you, you never 
had a better, nor will have again, she understands business, 
better than you can teach her; and I expect to be paid for the 
half year I have been without cloaths. . . . 

(i) Source: J. Mandcville, The Fable of the Bees (1723). 

... A parcel of Footmen are arriv'd to that Height of 
Insolence as to have enter'd into a Society together, and made 
Laws by which they oblige themselves not to serve for less than 
such a Sum, nor carry Burdens or any Bundle or Parcel above 
a certain Weight, not exceeding Two or Three Pounds, with 
other Regulations directly opposite to the Interest of those 
they Serve, and altogether destructive to the Use they were 
design'd for. If any of them be turn'd away for strictly adhering 
to the Orders of this Honourable Corporation, he is taken care 
of till another Service is provided for him, and there is no 
Money wanting at any time to commence and maintain a 
Law-suit against any Master that shall pretend to strike or 
offer any other Injury to his Gentleman Footman, contrary to 
the Statutes of their Society. 

(j) There was a sharp rise in servants' wages between 1763 and 
1791 as the following Essex extract shows. 


Source: Note in the Audley End Archives, printed in A. F. J. 
Brown, English History from Essex Sources, vol. II, p. 42. 




s. d. 


s. d. 

House Steward and Butler (Butler, 






Game Keeper 














Groom of Chambers 








House Keeper 





Kitchen Gardener 






Lady's Footman (Upper 







2nd Coachman (Upper 












Under Butler 





Lord's Footman (Upper 







Lady's Woman 





1st Laundry Maid 



Kitchen Maid 



Housemaid (Upper) 








2nd Laundry Maid 













Dairy Maid 



House Maid 





Pantry Boy 



House Maid 





Stillroom Maid 





(k) A special problem in domestic service is revealed in the following 


Source: Newspaper advertisement, quoted in M. D. George, 
London Life in lite Eighteenth Century (1925), pp, 136-7. 

Run away on Wed. the 28th ult., and stole money and 
goods from his master, John Lamb, Esq., an indentured black 
servant man about twenty-four years of age named William, 
of a brown or tawney complexion ; had on when he went off, 
a parson's greay coat, blue breeches, white Bath flannel 
waistcoat, yellow gilt shoe buckles, and a beaver hat with a 
white lining. 

Whoever apprehends him and brings him to his master at 
the Rookery House in Lewisham, Kent, shall have ten guineas 
reward and ten more on conviction in court of any persons 
harbouring or concealing him either on board ship or on shore. 

N.B. — He is also the property of his master, and has a burnt 
mark L.E. on one of his shoulders (1770). 


The word 'industry' was not used in its modern sense to denote 
a sector of economic life until the late eighteenth century. Industry 
was thought of as a human quality, not as a branch of business. 
Yet there was a growth of industrial activity in the eighteenth 
century preceding die spectacular developments of the 1780s (see 
below, pp. 203). Both the iron industry and the textiles industry 
saw significant new developments: the latter in particular — with 
its overseas connections — was the nursery of inventions. Fortunes 
could be made not only out of enterprise, but out of the exploitation 
of mineral rights. 

(a) Old forms of industrial organization survived into the eight- 
eenth century. For example, a company of framework knitters 
founded in 1657 continued to regulate the trade until the middle 
of the eighteenth century. Its code of regulations was re-drafted in 

Source: W. Felkin, A History of the Machine- Wrought Hosiery and 
Lace Manufactures (1867), pp. 75-8. 

1. The court of assistants shall yearly, on Midsummer day, 
choose out of the assistants, one master and two wardens. 


2. And at the same time choose three persons to audit the 
master and wardens' accounts. . . . 

3. The master and wardens shall, within one week, be sworn 
into their offices. 

4. The court shall as often as they think fit, admit such mem- 
bers as are free of the city and of the livery, to be assistants ; 
upon refusing to serve, to forfeit £10. 

5. And may admit into the livery, so many of the members 
of the company as they may think fit. . . . 

6. The court may elect two or more members to be their 
deputies, to rule and govern all persons exercising the trade 
of framework-knitting, according to the powers of the charter, 
within such district as may be assigned them apart from their 

7. The court may elect yearly, on the second Tuesday in 
April, two members as stewards, within forty miles of London, 
who shall provide a dinner on Midsummer day, for the master, 
wardens and assistants, at their own charge, or forfeit £6; 
such dinner not to exceed the value of £12. . . . 

8. The court may choose a clerk. . . . 

9. The company shall have a chest with three locks for the 
custody of their treasure; the keys of which shall be kept by 
the master and two wardens. 

10. Four quarterly courts shall be held every year, for every 
member that will attend, to hear the ordinances read. . . . 
Every member neglecting to appear, to forfeit for the first 
offence Is., the second 2s. } and for every other default 5s. 

11. It shall be lawful for the master and wardens, or any two 
of them, with two or more assistants, and atso for their sworn 
deputies, four times in every year or oftener, in the presence 
of a constable, to enter into shops, etc. to view, search, and 
prove all framework-knitted goods, frames, etc., and if found 
defective, to seize the same, and produce them at their hall 
of meeting on their next court day; to be fined at the discretion 
of the court, not exceeding 10s. Every person obstructing the 
master, etc. to be fined £5. The master on searching any house 
may demand 4d ; any person refusing to pay, to forfeit 3s. 4d. 

12. No member to hire frames, but of such as are members, 
on pain of paying 1 s, per week for every frame. 


13. No member shall teach and instruct any person in the art 
of frame-work-knittingj other than his male child, or children 
or apprentices, unless bound according to the ordinances of 
the company, upon forfeiture of £50 for every offence. 

14. No member shall retain an apprentice until, for trial of his 
skill, he shall have wrought in the presence of the master and 
wardens, or some persons appointed by them, a pair of silk 
stockings, and upon finishing thereof, if approved, he shall be 
allowed as a work-house keeper, upon pain of forfeiting £5. 

15. No person shall exercise the trade of frame- work-knitting, 
unless he shall have served seven years' apprenticeship, and 
shall first be admitted a member of the company ; and neglec- 
ting to be a member for three months, to forfeit 30s. for every 

16. No person shall employ an alien or foreigner, under penalty 
of £10 for every offence. 

1 7. Every member residing within forty miles of London, who 
shall be minded to take an apprentice, shall present him within 
one month at the hall; or, if at a greater distance, to the 
deputies to be bound by the clerk of the company, on pain of 
forfeiting 40s. Any member, free of the City of London, who 
shall cause an intended apprentice to be bound to a freeman 
of any other company, shall forfeit £5, 

18. No member shall turn over his apprentice, without license 
of the master and wardens, on pain of forfeiting 40s. for every 

19. No journeyman shall depart his service, without a month's 
warning, except for non-payment of wages, or by mutual 
agreement; and no master shall turn away such journeyman, 
without the like warning, and paying him what shall be due 
to him, under a penalty of £5. 

20. No journeyman shall work with any, but such as are 
members of the company, under a penalty of 20s. 

21. No master shall set any person on work but such as are 
members, except his male children or apprentices, under a 
penalty of £5. . . . 

22. The master and wardens, or any person appointed by 
them, shall receive of every member using the trade as a 
master, 6d. per quarter; and from every journeyman 3d. per 



quarter. Every member refusing to pay the same when 
demanded, to forfeit 6s. 8d. 

23. Every member shall contribute proportionably to the 
necessary expences of the company, upon pain of paying double 
what he shall be rated at for that purpose. 

24. Every member free of the City of London, who shall 
neglect to enrol his apprentices before the chamberlain, within 
one year after the binding, shall pay 20s. 

25. Widows, on being admitted members, may exercise the 
trade during widowhood. 

26. The court of assistants may moderate, or wholly remit, any 
penalties, provided such persons pay such sum, without suit 
at law. 

27. All fines and penalties to be sued for in the name of the 
company, by action of debt, in any of His Majesty's Courts of 

The following are fees paid to the company : 

Admittance 10s., clerk 2s. beadle Is. stamp 2s. total 15s. 

Apprentice bound 3s. stamp 3s., clerk 2s,, beadle Is., 

total 9s. 

Work-house keeper's proof piece 3s., clerk 2s., beadle Is., 

total 6s, 

Apprentice turned over, 3s. 6d. 

(b) This kind of corporate organization gave way in the eighteenth 
century to greater business individualism. A new kind of business 
enterprise was represented by Abraham Darby, who discovered 
how to smelt iron ore with coke instead of charcoal. 

Source: A letter written by Mrs. Abiah Darby (c. 1775) and 
reprinted in A, Raistrick, Dynasty of Ironfounders (1953), pp. 38-9. 

It was my Husband's Father, whose name he bore (Abraham 
Darby who was the first that set on foot the Brass Works at 
or near Bristol) that attempted to mould and cast Iron pots 
&c, in sand instead of Loam (as they were wont to do, which 
made it a tedious and more expensive process) in which he 
succeeded. This first attempt was tryed at an Air Furnace in 
Bristol. About the year 1709 he came into Shropshire to 
Coalbrookdale, and with other partners took a lease of the 
works, which only consisted of an Old Blast Furnace and some 


Forges. He here cast Iron Goods in sand out of the Blast 
Furnace that blow'd with wood charcoal; for it was not yet 
thought of to blow with Pit Coal. Sometime after he suggested 
the thought, that it might be practable to smelt the Iron from 
the ore in the Blast Furnace with Pit Coal; Upon this he first 
try'd with raw coal as it came out of the Mines, but it did not 
answer. He not discouraged, had the coal coak'd into Cynder, 
as is done for drying Malt, and it then succeeded to his satis- 
faction. But he found that only one sort of pit Coal would suit 
best for the purpose of making good Iron— These were 
beneficial discoveries, for the moulding and casting in sand 
instead of Loam was of great service, both in respect to expence 
and expedition. And if we may compare little things with great 
— as the invention of printing was to writing, so was the mould- 
ing and casting in sand to that of Loam. He then erected 
another Blast Furnace, and enlarged the Works. The discovery 
soon got abroad and became of great utility, 

(c) New industrialists came from many different sections of 
society — small tradesmen and mechanics, yeomen and even Oxford 
dons, as the following extracts show. 

Source: Letter of Thomas Ridgeway to the son of Richard 
Arkwright, the great textile entrepreneur (1799), printed in R. S. 
Fitton and A. P. Wadsworth (eds.), The Strutts and the Arkwrigkts 
(1958), pp. 61-2. Arkwright's business power also depended on the 
holding of strategic patents. 

My first knowledge of your Father, was about the year 1750 
when he came to reside in Bolton and was I think then about 
the Age of 18. He entred into the employment of one Edward 
Pollit, A peruke maker there, on whose death he remained 
with his widow for Sometime — He then married your Mother, 
and began business for himself; which he pursued with most 
indefatigable industry and with some success. He might now 
be considered in a comfortable situation; he had a decent 
House, a cleaner one could not be and his friends and acquain- 
tance always found in it a cordial reception from him. These 
were persons of no mean consideration in the town, but such 
as were in Superior Stations to himself. To these he recom- 
mended himself by his character for neatness, sobriety, 


industry, and good Sense. The Latter part of his time at 
Bolton was not so pleasant as it had been. He became neces- 
sitous in consequence of taking a public house, which did not 
answer his purpose and upon which he expended much money 
in alterations. He was obliged to leave the house and had a 
many interruptions caused by an inveterate asthma, which 
brought him very low in every sense of the word. Notwith- 
standing this, I believe there was only one Person to whom 
he owed Money, when he left the town, and his credit [was] 
otherwise good. His customers that had employed him in his 
business were generally of the better sort, he might probably 
have done better could he have Stooped to the vulgar, but 
his spirit was much superior to it, And always seemed to have 
something better in view. His genius for Mechanics was 
observed, it was perceived in his common conversation, which 
often turned on subjects of that kind, I well remember we had 
often great fun with a Clock he put up in his shop, which had 
all the appearance of being worked by the smoke of the chimney 
and we have caused a many to believe it was so; I have often 
seen him cut pasteboard into different shapes such as forming 
squares from oblongs without adding or diminishing, and a 
Hundred curious knackey things that one cannot find words 
to explain. He was always thought clever in his peruke making 
business and very capital in Bleeding & toothdrawing and 
allowed by all his acquaintance to be a very ingenious man. 

(d) Source: Letter from S. Salte to Samuel Oldknow, 5 Nov. 1787, 
printed in G. Unwin, A. Hulmc and G. Taylor, Samuel Oldknow 
and the Arkwrigkts (1924), pp. 99-100. Oldknow was a master 
spinner and Salte his London agent. Cartwright invented a power 

... It often happens both Hope and Expectation meet with 
cheats like common Mortals in their passage through Life. 
Mr Cartwright was once Professor of Poetry at Oxford & 
really was a good Poet himself. But it seems he has left the 
Barren Mountain of Parnassus & the fountain of Helicon, for 
other mountains & other Vales & Streams in Yorkshire & 
he has left them to work in the Wild large & open Field of 
Mechanics — be it so, and may his schemes prosper & fill his 



purse with Gold. You say not a word about the probability 
of success, likely to attend his weaving Invention. Can this 
new Automaton perform the wonders in weaving so Confi- 
dently & so flatteringly held out to the World. . . .? Mr. 
Arkwright was a happy Mechanic. In his Life time he has 
received the reward of his Ingenuity — It docs not happen so 
in general. We think Mr Cartwright will not be equally 

(e) Sake gave good advice to Oldknow about the best way to 
organize his enterprise. 

Source : Letter of 1 Dec. 1 786, printed in ibid., p. 83. 

How true it is, I know not, but there is an old proverb, that 
Fortune favors the Bold— This I know, that she generally favors 
the prudent & the wise. I think in your declining the late 
Conexion, you will in your own mind be much happier, in- 
dependence is seated there, & not in the regions of fancy 
& imagination. ... I apprehend Mr A[rkwright] to be what 
he has proved a Gentleman & I think he will assist you at any 
time in the pecuniary way. But pray above all do not involve 
yourself in too many Schemes, & too much business — it will 
defeat the very purpose you was born for, to live happy, & 
become independent. Drop the Chk Trade, & all the branches 
that a common Manufacturer can do better. Keep & confine 
yourself to the improvement of Muslins particularly. You will 
have rivals enough to contend with — & your Work must be 

(f) British manufacturers often prided themselves on the fact that 
their goods were sold not only to the rich but to a cross-section of 
society. They took pride also in salesmanship. 

Source: Dean Tucker, Instructions for Travellers (1758), printed in 
R. L. Schuyler (ed.), Josiah Tucker, A Selection from his Economic 
and Political Writings (1931), pp. 245ff. 

C\ Are the Men of England, those especially in the Toy, 
Jewellery, Cabinet, Furniture and Silk Trades chiefly adapted 
for high or middling Life and what Species of People make up 
the Bulk of the Customers? 

A. England, being a free Country, where Riches got by 



Trade are no Disgrace, and where Property is also safe against 
the Prerogative either of Princes or Nobles, and where every 
Person may make what Display he pleases of his Wealth . . . 
the Manufacturers of the Kingdom accommodate themselves, 
if I may so speak, to the Constitution of it ; That is they are 
more adapted to the Demands of Peasants and Mechanics . . . 
for Farmers, Freeholders, Tradesmen and Manufacturers in 
middling Life and for Wholesale Dealers, Merchants, and all 
Persons of Landed Estates, to appear in genteel Life ; than for 
the Magnificence of Palaces, or the Cabinets of Prices. Thus 
that is, according to the very Spirit of our Constitution, that 
the English of these several Denominations have better Con- 
veniences in their Houses, and appear to have more in Quantity 
of clean neat Furniture, and a greater Variety (such as Carpets, 
Screens, Window Curtains. . . . Bells polished Brass Locks, 
Fenders etc. Things hardly known among Persons abroad of 
such a Rank) than in any other Country in Europe,. Holland 

(g) The manufacturers had other responsibilities: these were well 
described by Robert Owen, who was to establish his reputation as 
the founder of co-operative socialism. He began work as a manu- 
facturer in Manchester in 1791. Later he moved to New Lanark. 

Source: R. Owen, Life (1857), p. 36. 

When I arrived at the mill ... I found myself at once in 
the midst of five hundred men women and children who were 
busily occupied with machinery much of which I had scarcely 
seen. ... I had to purchase the raw material — to make the 
machines, for the mill was not nearly filled with machinery — 
to manufacture the cotton into yarn — to sell it — and to keep 
the accounts — pay the wages — and in fact to take the whole 
responsibility for the first fine cotton spinning establishment 
by machinery that had ever been erected. ... I looked grave — 
inspected everything very minutely — examined the drawings 
and calculations of the machinery. ... I continued this silent 
inspection and superintendence day by day for six weeks saying 
merely yes or no to the questions of what was to be done or 
otherwise. . . . But by the end of that time I felt . . . ready 
to give directions in every department. 


(h) By the 1780s and 1790s the number of manufacturers had 
greatly increased (see below, pp. 203ff.) and Josiah Wedgwood and 
others were anxious that they should co-operate together and bring 
pressure to bear upon the government. The General Chamber of 
Manufacturers was set up in 1 785. 

Source : Sketch of a Plan of the General Chamber of Manufacturers of 
Great Britain in the Wedgwood Archives. 

The Manufacturers of Great Britain constitute a very large, 
if not a principal part of the community; and their industry, 
ingenuity and wealth, have contributed no small share towards 
raising this kingdom to the distinguished and envied rank which 
she bears amongst the European nations. But their importance 
to the state, and the relation which they bear to the rest of 
the community, have been perhaps misunderstood by some, 
who have considered them as a mere source of revenue, and 
by others, who have deemed them to be of little, if any advan- 
tage to the nation at large; neither has their importance to 
each other made an impression strong enough to induce them 
hitherto to act in concert, and there by to obtain that assis- 
tance, of which their respective situations have often stood in 
need, and which nothing but united counsels and exertions 
can afford. , . . Common danger having at length brought 
together a number of Manufacturers in various branches, and 
from various places, and these having felt the advantages 
resulting to each other from unreserved conferences, and 
mutual assistance, they are now persuaded, that the prosperity 
of the Manufacturers of this kingdom, and of course that of 
the kingdom itself, will be promoted by the formation of a 
general bond of union, whereby the influence and experience 
of the whole being collected at one common centre, they will 
be the better enabled to effect any useful purpose. 


Before the development of the factory system, there were many 
gradations among craftsmen and artisans. Working standards were 
established through apprenticeship and maintained by regulation. 
Yet 'domestic workers' in home industry were subject to many 


problems, including great hardship in lean years and "incessant 
toil' when times were good. The factory system produced a new 
kind of labour force and ultimately a new brand of working-class 
consciousness, {See below, p. 500.) 

(a) Source: Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book I, 
ch. X. 

The wages of labour vary with the ease of hardship, the 
cleanliness or dirtiness, the honourableness or dishonourable- 
ness of the employment. Thus in most places, take the year 
round, a journeyman tailor earns less than a journeyman 
weaver. His work is not always easier, but it is much cleaner. 
A journeyman blacksmith, though an artificer, seldom earns 
so much in twelve hours as a collier, who is only a labourer, 
does in eight, . , . Secondly, the wages of labour vary with 
the easiness and cheapness, or the difficulty and expense of 
learning the business. When any expensive machine is erected, 
the extraordinary work to be performed by it before it is worn 
out, it must be expected, will replace the capital laid out upon 
it. ... A man educated at the expense of much labour and 
time to any of these employments which require extraordinary 
dexterity and skill, may be compared to one of those expensive 
machines. . . . 

(b) Skilled labourers were anxious to protect their skills, and 
apprenticeship ceremonies were often highly ritualistic. 

Source: Note in The Craftsman, 24 May 1740, quoted in A. E. 
Musson, The Typographical Association (1954), p. 12. 

When a Boy is to be bound Apprentice, before he is admitted 
a Chappcl Ionian, it is necessary for him to be made a Cuz, or 
Deacon ; in the Performance of which there are a great many 
Ceremonies. The Chappellonians walk three Times round the 
Room, their right Arms being put thro' the Lappets of their 
Coats; the Boy who is to be made a Cuz carrying a wooden 
Sword before them. Then the Boy kneels and the Father of the 
Chapel, after exhorting him to be observant of his Business, and 
not to betray the Secrets of the Workmen, squeezes a Spungc 
of strong Beer over his Head, and gives him a Title, which is 
generally that of some Duke of some Place of the least Repu- 
tation near which he lives or did live before, . . . Whilst the 



Boy is upon his Knees, all the Chappellonians, with their right 
arms put through the Lappets of their Coats, as before, walk 
round him, singing the Cur's Anthem, which is done by 
adding all the Vowels to the Consonants in the following 

Ba-ba; Be-be; Bi-bi; Ba-be-bi; Bo-bo; Ba-be-bi-bo; Bu-bu; 

And so through the rest of the Consonants. 

(c) Attempts were also made to protect skilled wages. Colchester 
weavers, for example, asked Essex Quarter Sessions in 1749 to lay 
down wage rates. 

Source: Essex Quarter Sessions Bundle (1749) in the Essex County 
Record Office, printed in Brown (ed.), English History From Essex 
Sources, vol. II, p. 5. 

And your petitioners further shew unto your Worships that 
from the reign of Queen Elizabeth the woollen manufacture 
hath been largely carried on in the town of Colchester and 
many thousands of families creditably maintained thereby, and 
from that motive your petitioners have been induced to bring, 
teach and instruct their wives [and] children to employ their 
lifetime in weaving, spinning, combing, carding, beating and 
the several other branches necessary to that manufacture, so 
that at present there are by computation more than 3000 hands 
employed therein who are not able, on account of their habitual 
sedentary way of life, to maintain themselves or get their 
bread in any other way of business. That within these 20 years 
last past, by the death of several eminent haymakers and their 
policy in not taking of apprentices, the trade of haymaking 
is come into [the] hands of a few who . . . have by degrees so 
reduced our wages that we are not able to support ourselves 
and families with the wages they give us. And they have in 
that interval acquired to themselves large fortunes. 

That your petitioners humbly conceive that the aforesaid 
pretences and suggestions for lowering our wages ought to 
carry no weight, the same, or rather more, labour being 
required now than when they paid 15s. 6d per bay. Besides 
whatever the maker pays his workmen, he makes the Spaniard, 
the consumer, repay him double, and the lowering our wages 



is an additional profit to him only. For the Spaniard must have 
the sort of bay and no place but Colchester can furnish them 
with merchandise so good of the sort. 

(e) The following Colchester weaver's inventory of 1 744 should be 
compared with the rural inventories printed above {pp. 126-8). 

Source: St. Nicholas, Colchester, Overseers' Accounts, printed in 
ibid., p. 7. 

An Invatory of EHz. Finch's Goods Remov'd into the 
Workhouse Two Bedsteads 2 Beds 1 pair of Curtains 7 Sheets 
3 Blanketts 2 Coverlids 4 pillows 4 pair of Cases 2 Bolsters 
2 Pair of Drawers 3 Tables 1 Copper Saucepan and Cover 
1 small Boyler 1 Iron pot 1 Iron Kettle 2 Box Irons and 
heaters 2 Iron Candlesticks 1 Looking Glass 3 Jugs 1 pair 
Bellows 12 pictures 3 glass Ditto 1 pair Tongs Sifter poker and 
Fender 1 Frying pan 2 Chamber pots 1 Iron Tramell 3 
Basketts 2 Earthern pots 1 Wash tub 1 pail 2 Bowl dishes 
9 Glass Bottles 3 Dishes 16 plates 9 Basons 4 Tea pots 16 Cups 
and Saucers 2 Silver Spoons 3 Quart pots 1 Trunk 1 Sweeping 
Brush 3 pewter Measures half pint Quar r D° and \ quar r 
Ditto 1 Bird Cage 14 Gallon Cask 1 Bay Loom Quill wheel 
pedon Block and Blades. 

(f) As the century went by, statutory regulation of wages and 
hours of labour became exceptional, and bargaining procedures 
sometimes took over. As late as 1 770, however, an act was passed 
to fix the wages of London coal-heavers. Workers continued to ask 
for such protection in many pans of the country, and there was 
also bitter criticism of 'truck'-wages being paid not in cash but in 

Source: Charles Peard, The Woollen Labourer's Advocate (1733), 
pp. 3-6. 

. . . The Masters of the Woollen Manufactory of the Western 
Parts of this Kingdom , . . not only [reduce] their Labourers 
poor diminutive Wages by Abatements, but in compelling 
them by their Necessities to accept of their Woollen Manu- 
factories as Money for their Labour: that when sold, they 
receive but half their Charges for them; and not only Woollen, 
but Linnen, &c, and some Masters impose upon their Servants 
all manner of Hucstery Wares, which they esteem as Cash ; 


others obtrude Malt of a very bad Quality upon their Labourers 
at the Price of the best, and yet accounted as ready Money. 
There are others of these Masters who purchase Houses, 
when the Overtures of a cheap Bargain presents, and lets them 
to their Servants at a hard Rent. Others again impower their 
Labourers with Tickets of Credit, their Value to be received 
in Liquor, from such Publick-Houses as they supply with 
Malt; and what Payments they make with Cash is generally 
in Gold, which their Servants exchange for Silver at such 
Publick-Houses . . . and each of them are obliged to spend 
the Value of a pint of Liquor for drawing the Money, which 
is often a Snare to further expences ; And in the Season of the 
Year some Masters oblige their servants to make their Hay, 
without a reeompence; and some sell their cast-off Cloathes 
to their Servants at very exorbitant Prices. 

(g) Journeymen and masters were often at loggerheads with each 
other, and journeymen 'combined' together separately from their 
employers. In 1721 the London master tailors petitioned Parlia- 
ment against their journeymen. 

Source: The oudine of the pedtion is printed in H. Pelling, A 
History of British Trade Unionism (1963), p. 12. 

To the number of seven thousand [they had] lately entered 
into a combination to raise their wages and leave off working 
an hour sooner than they used to do; and for the better 
carrying on their design have subscribed their respective names 
in books prepared for that purpose, at the several houses of 
call or resort (being publick houses in and around London and 
Westminster) where they use and collect several considerable 
sums of money to defend any prosecutions against them. 

(h) For an example of strike activity in the West country in 1 776, 
the following account of evidence given to a House of Commons 
Committee is revealing. 

Source: Journal of the House of Commons, vol. XX, pp. 647-8. 

Mr. John Vowter . . . said, That the Weavers have many 
Clubs in several Places in the West of England, particularly 
at Exeter, where they make Bye-laws ; some of which he has 
seen; which Bye-laws are, among divers other things, to 


appoint Places of Meeting, fix their Officers, make Allowances 
to travelling Workmen and to ascertain their Wages: 

That several Weavers have brought home their Work, and 
durst not go on to serve their Masters, for fear of other Weavers 
of the Club, who have deterred them therefrom: And he 
believes, one of the Occasions of the late Riots, that have 
happened, has been, that the Masters have refused to raise 
the Workmen's Wages to what Price they pleased: 

That he was present at a great Mob in the Town ofCredilon, 
in Devonshire, consisting of Weavers, and others concerned in 
the Woollen Manufacture; who were headed by a Captain, 
who threatened their Masters, if they refused to raise their 
Wages; and carried about with them a Chain of Serge cut off 
from a Loom; and declaring they would do the like to the 
Pieces of Serge of the other Masters, who refused to comply 
with their Demands: That, when the Constables had seized 
some of the Ringleaders, and brought them before Two Justices 
of Peace, the Mob beset the House, insulted the Justices, 
threw Stones at them, and forced them to fly, and rescued the 
Prisoners: That at Callington, on another Riot, he has seen 
a Master carried about on a Coolstaff, for refusing to comply 
with their Demands ; and that others have been threatened with 
the like Usage: 

That most of the Masters do pay their Workmen in Money ; 
but some of them do pay by way of Truck; which is not so 
satisfactory; however, he believes, the Masters would all 
willingly be obliged to pay the Whole in Money. 

Mr. William Pike said, That he has seen the Weavers at 
their Clubs, where none but Weavers are admitted; and that 
they have their Ensigns and Flags hung out at the Door of 
their Meetings: 

That they go about, in Parties, to Looms; and demand 
Twelve Pence, or some other Sum of Money, towards support- 
ing such of their own Gangs as are now in Prison; and has 
seen several Looms cut within these Eight Months past, and 
the Work carried away for the Non-payment of the Money, 
and because some would work cheaper than others; and that 
Pieces of Serge are frequently cut on the Racks : 

That the Weavers complain of paying them in Truck; but 


believes, that is not the Cause of their Riots; for that they 
generally begin in the Spring, when there is the greatest Demand 
for Goods, and most Plenty of Work : 

That his own Weavers would willingly have worked for 
him at the Wages he gave; but that the Club threatened, if 
they did so, to pull them out of the House, and coolstaff them ; 
upon which, he was forced to pay them the Price demanded, 
to save his Work from being cut; and has known several that 
have been coolstaffed: 

That he is willing to pay his Workmen in Money; and, 
believes, all the other Masters would willingly be obliged to 
do the same. 

(i) Wilh the development of new inventions and the application 
to the textiles industry of water power and 'mill' production, 
advertisements for workers of the following kind began to appear 
in local papers. 

Source; Derby Mercury, 13 Dec. 1771. 

Cotton Mill, Cromford, 10th Dec. 1771. 
Wanted immediately, two Journeymen Clock-Makers, or 
others that understands Tooth and Pinion well : Also a Smith 
that can forge and file. — Likewise two Wood Turners that 
have been accustomed to Wheel-making, Spole-turning, &c. 
Weavers residing at the Mill, may have good Work, There is 
Employment at the above Place, for Women, Children, &c. 
and good Wages. 

n.b. A Quantity of Box Wood is wanted ; Any Persons whom 
the above may suit, will be treated with by Messrs. Arkwright 
and Co. at the Mill, or Mr. Strutt, in Derby. 

(j) Much was made of the improved conditions in some of the 
factories. There was, of course, a quite different side to the picture 
(for factory discipline, see above, pp. 50ff : for later conditions in 
factories, see below, pp. 207ff.). 

Source: A Ballad sung at the Cromford mill and printed in R. S. 
Fitton and A. P. Wadsworth, The Strutts and the Arkwrighls, p. 100. 

Tune: Roast Beef of Old England 
Ye num'rous Assembly that make up this Throng, 
Spare your Mirth for a Moment, and list to my Song, 



The Bounties let's sing, that our Master belong, 

At the Cotton Mills now at Cromford, 

The famous rcnown'd Cotton Mills, 

Our number wc count seven Hundred or more. 

All cloathed and fed from his bountiful Store, 

Then Envy don't flout us, nor say any's poor, &e. 

Ye know we all ranged in Order have been, 

Such a Sight in all Europe sure never was seen, 

While Thousands did view us to complete the Scene, &c. 

Likewise for to make our Procession more grand, 

We were led in the Front by a Musical Band, 

Who were paid from the Fund of that bountiful Hand, &c. 

Ye Hungry and Naked, all hither repair, 

No longer in Want don't remain in Despair, 

You'll meet with Employment, and each get a Share, &c. 

Ye Crafts and Mechanics, if ye will draw nigh, 

No longer ye need to lack an Employ, 

And each duly paid, which is a great Joy, &c. 

To our noble Master, a Bumper then fill, 
The matchless Inventor of this Cotton Mill, 
Each toss off his Glass with a hearty Good- will, 
With a Huzza for the Mills now at Cromford 
All join with a jovial Huzza. 

(k) The different kinds of organization of workers were summed up 
in an interesting official report of 1 806. 

Source: Select Committee of the House of Commons, Report on 
the State of the Woollen Manufacture of England (1806). 

It may be expedient for Your Committee to state that there 
arc three different modes of carrying on the woollen Manu- 
facture; that of the Master Clothier of the West of England, 
the Factory, and the Domestic system. 

In all the Western Counties as well as in the North, there 
are Factories, but the Master Clothier of the West of England, 
buys his Wool from the Importer, if it be foreign, or in the 
Fleece, or of the Woolstapler, if it be of Domestic growth; 
after which, in all the different processes through which it 
passes, he is under the necessity of employing as many distinct 



classes of persons; sometimes working in their own homes, 
sometimes in those of the Master Clothier, but none going 
out of their proper line. Each class of Workmen, however, 
acquires great skill in performing its particular operation. . . . 

In the Factory system, the Master Manufacturers, who 
sometimes possess a very great capital, employ in one or more 
Buildings or Factories, under their own or their Superinten- 
dent's inspection, a number of Workmen or fewer according 
to the extent of their Trade. Both in the system of the West 
of England Clothier and in the Factory system .... the work, 
generally speaking, is done by persons who have no property 
in the goods they manufacture. . . . 

In the . . . Domestic system, which is that of Yorkshire, the 
manufacture is conducted by a multitude of Master Manu- 
facturers, generally possessing a very small, and scarcely ever 
any great extent of Capital. They buy the Wool of the Dealer; 
and in their own houses, assisted by their wives and children, 
they dye it (when dyeing is necessary) and through all the 
different stages work it up into undressed Cloth. 

(1) It took time for the social consequences of assembling workers 
together in factories to be fully appreciated. 

Source: R, Guest, A Compendious History of the Cotton- Manufacture 
(1823), pp. 32ff. 

The progress of the Cotton Manufacture introduced great 
changes into the manners and habits of the people. The opera- 
tive workmen being thrown together in great numbers, had 
their faculties sharpened and improved by constant com- 
munication. Conversation wandered over a variety of topics 
not before essayed; the questions of Peace and War, which 
interested them importantly, inasmuch as they might produce 
a rise or fall of wages, became highly interesting, and this 
brought them into the vast field of politics and discussions on 
the character of their Government, and the men who composed 
it. . . . The facility with which the Weavers changed their 
masters, the constant effort to find out and obtain the largest 
remuneration for their labour, the excitement to ingenuity which 
the higher wages for Fine manufactures and skilful workmanship 
produced, and a conviction that they depended on their own 



exertions, produced in them ... a spirit of freedom and 

(m) This was only one side of the picture, however. Some workers 
felt that they lost their independence when they left their homes for 
the factories. Others saw new machinery as a threat to their 

Source : A Gloucestershire letter of 1 802, printed in D. M. Hunter, 
The West of England Woollen Industry under Protection and Free Trade 
(1910), p. 21. 

Wee Hear in Formed that you got Shear in mce sheens and 
if you Dont Pull them Down in a Forght Nights Time Wee will 
pull them Down for you Wee will you Damd infernold Dog. 
And Bee four Almighty God we will pull down all the Mills 
that heave Heany Shearing me Shens in We will cut out Hall 
your Damd Hearts as Do Keep them and We will meock the 
rest Heat them or else We will Searve them the Seam. 

(n) Opposition to the introduction of machinery reached its peak 
in the secret Luddite agitation of 1811 to 1812. Nottingham was 
a Luddite centre : so too was the West Riding of Yorkshire. 

Source: A copy of a letter sent to a Huddersfield manufacturer in 
the Home Office Papers, 1812. 

Sir, Information has just been given in, that you are a 
holder of those detestable Shearing Frames, and I was desired 
by my men to write to you, and to give you fair warning to 
pull them down. ... If they are not taken down by the end of 
next week, I shall detach one of my lieutenants with at least 
300 men to destroy them, and further more take notice that 
if you give us the trouble of coming thus far, we will increase 
your misfortune by burning your buildings down to ashes, and 
if you have the impudence to fire at any of my men, they have 
orders to murder you and burn all your Housing. You will 
have the goodness to go to your neighbours to inform them 
that the same Fate awaits them if their Frames are not taken 
down. . . . We will never lay down our arms till the House 
of Commons passes an act to put down all the machinery 
hurtfull to the Commonality and repeal that to the Frame 

1 62 


Breakers — but we petition no more, that wont do, fighting 
Signed by the General of the Army of Redrcsscrs, 

Ned Ludd, Clerk. 

(o) Despite attempts to put down workingmen's combinations to 
protect wages, there were many examples of what we would now 
call strike action. 

Source: Letter from the Rev. Charles Prescot and John Philips 
of Stockport to Lord Hawkesbury, 28 May 1808, in the Home Office 

As magistrates acting for this and the adjoining County of 
Lancaster, we think it a duty we owe to Government to 
acquaint your Lordship with the state of this town and 
neighbourhood, which, since the Bill, lately before the House 
of Commons for fixing the price of the labour of the cotton 
weavers, was thrown out, have been under continual alarm 
and terror, owing to great bodies of the weavers having 
assembled for the purpose of obliging the manufacturers to 
raise their wages, and in the meantime neither working 
themselves, nor suffering others to work, and of course their 
families starving. 


Below the craftsmen and artisans, there were large numbers of 
poor people throughout the eighteenth century who were compelled 
to rely for their livelihood on poor relief administered by the parish 
(see above, p. 82). Atdtudes towards both the poor and the poor 
law changed throughout the century and from place to place. They 
were often a matter of debate. The extracts which follow deal both 
with attitudes and procedures. They also show how some of the 
poor were 'recruited into industry'. 

(a) Source: Letter of Daniel Baker to R. Verney, 7 Jan. 1710, 
printed in Lady Verney (ed.), Verney Letters of the Eighteenth Century 
(1930), vol. I, p. 278. 

'. . , Peas never bore such a price as they doe now for a 
great many yeares; and also all other grain rises with us; 
especially Barley and Wheat, notwithstanding the late Act of 


Parliamt. which was made on the poor's behalf; for wheat with 
us is 1 2s. fid, a bushell, I mean old Wheat, and Barley is 35s. 
per qr., soe tis very hard with poor people and they are ready 
to famish, & so many Sessions have been harping upon it, 
I marvell no Act passes about erecting workhouses; or for the 
better employing soe many hands for the good of the Kingdom. 
Otherwise the nation must sink under the burthens & the 
Parishes will hardly be able to keep 'Em. In some places 
near us tis 4 shillings in the pound already as to their Rates. 
Not that God forbid I should speak this out of Envy, but I 
believe expedients might be found out for the Easing of one 
and the other, I do hope Sir you will escuse this tedious digres- 
sion which must partly help to fill up a letter, for otherwise wee 
have little or no news in the country. 

(b) Source: Memorandum of the Vestry, Bradford, Yorkshire, 1714, 
printed in W. Cudworth, Historical Noles on the Bradford Corporation 
(1887), p. 4. Overseers of the Poor were selected by Jusdces of the 
Peace from names submitted at the Easter Vestry. Some parishes 
had a rota system. 

We do order and agree that none of the poor persons in this 
town shall, for the future, be relieved by us or any other of the 
inhabitants of this town, at our or their respective houses, by 
way of alms. But that in lieu thereof a month's additional poor 
assess shall from henceforth be annually collected in this town 
by the Overseers of the Poor for the time being, whereof one 
twenty-sixth part shall, every fortnight be bestowed in oat- 
bread, to be by such overseers distributed every other Sunday, 
or Lord's Day, at the Parish Church of Bradford, immediately 
after divine service and sermon there in the morning, to and 
amongst such poor persons of this town as shall resort to the 
said church on those days to hear divine service there, or being 
impotent and unfit to repair to the said church shall send 
some other person thither on his, her, or their behalf. 

(c) Source: Note for 24 March 1763 in the Diary of Thomas Turner. 

I went to Jones's, there being a vestry holden there to make 
a poor rate. We staid till near one o'clock, quarreling and 
bickering about nothing. The design of our meeting was to 
have made a poor rate, every one to be assessed to the racked 



rent. But how do I blush to say, what artifice and deceit, 
cunning and knavery was used by some to conceal their rents. 
I look upon that man, be he who he will, that endeavours to 
evade the payment of his just share of taxes, to be a robbing 
every other member of the community that contributes his quota, 

(d) The amount spent on the poor varied considerably from year 
to year. It rose sharply late in the century and during the Napoleonic 

Source: Expenditure on the Poor at Wigston, Leicestershire, 

1735-55, as set out in W. G. Hoskins, The Midland Peasant (1957), 
p. 230. 


£57 7s. 





£77 5s. 



£74 1 3s. 



£75 6s. 



£59 9s. 



£57 Is. 



£71 5s. 





£75 18s. 





£91 14s. 



£52 2s. 



£73 18s. 



£94 2s. 



£107 6s. 



£81 12s. 



£91 13s. 



£65 5s. 



£95 3s. 


(e) Attitudes towards responsibilities towards the poor varied also. 
Some Overseers of the Poor paid particular attention to distress 
caused by ill-health or injury. 

Source: The Accounts of the Overseers of Bury, Lanes, 1707. 

It gives help to Susan Kaye to get help 

for her distemper £1 

It pd to one Whitworth the one half of 

the cure of Roger Greenall £1 13 s . 

It pd to Tho. Schofield about the birth 

of his child 1^ 

It given to six persons about the birth of 

their children 1709. 6d. 

It pd to John Shepherd in tymes in their 

sickness by order l s . Hd, 

It pd for physicks for Jonothon Schofield, 

and some other things before his death 3s. 4d. 


(f) Source: Note of 21 Nov. 1773 in the Minutes of the Mainstone 
Vestry, Shropshire, printed in Shropshire Parish Documents, p. 222. 

Agreed in pubfick Vestry held on this day in the Parish 
Church of Mainstone that John Jones a poor boy maintained 
by the parish is to be settled as here followeth, viz.: — that 
every householder shall keep this boy for half a year according 
to Lotts — first half year to be allowed fifteen shillings second 
half year twelve shillings and six pence and for every half year 
after two shillings and six pence less till he shall be able to gctt 
his living; only ye Parish to keep him in whole clothing and 
'reasonably to be alowd if ye boy shall be sick. 

(g) Many writers generalized about the poor. 

Source: J. Townsend, A Dissertation on the Poor Laws (1786). 

It seems to be a law of nature, that the poor should be to a 
certain degree improvident, that there may always be some to 
fulfil the most servile, the most sordid, and the most ignoble 
offices in the community. The stock of human happiness is 
thereby much increased, whilst the more delicate are not only 
relieved from drudgery, and freed from those occasional 
employments which would make them miserable, but are left 
at liberty, without interruption, to pursue those callings which 
arc suited to their various dispositions, and most useful to the 
State. As for the lowest of the poor, by custom they are recon- 
ciled to the meanest occupations, to the most laborious works, 
and to the most hazardous pursuits ; whilst the hope of their 
reward makes them cheerful in the midst of all their dangers 
and their toils. The fleets and armies of a state would soon be 
in want of soldiers and of sailors if sobriety and diligence 
universally prevailed: for what is it but distress and poverty 
which can prevail upon the lower classes of people to encounter 
all the horrors which await them on the tempestuous ocean, or 
in the field of battle ? Men who are easy in their circumstances 
are not among the foremost to engage in a seafaring or military 
life. There must be a degree of pressure, and that which is 
attended with the least violence will be the best. When hunger 
is either felt or feared, the desire of obtaining bread will 
quietly dispose the mind to undergo the greatest hardships, and 
will sweeten the severest labours. 


1 66 


(h) Source; William Blake, Songs of Experience (c. 1794). 

Is this a holy thing to see 

In a rich and fruitful land, 

Babes reduc'd to misery, 

Fed with cold and usurous hand? 

Is that trembling cry a song? 
Can it be a song of joy ? 
And so many children poor? 
It is a land of poverty ! 

And their sun does never shine, 
And their fields are bleak and bare, 
And their ways are fill'd with thorns: 
It is eternal winter there. 

(i) Source: G. Howlett, The Insufficiency of ike Causes to which the 
Increase of the Poor and of the Poofs Rates have been commonly Ascribed 
(1788), p. 118. 

Our general system of Poor Laws is a venerable pile, raised 
by the hands of skilful architects and stands a distinguished 
monument of the wisdom and humanity of the British Nation. 
Like every other edifice, it is liable, indeed, to the injuries of 
time and seasons, and must want occasional repairs and 
occasional improvements; but if pulled entirely down, we 
might stand a chance of either being buried in its ruins, or, 
at best, of never raising anything in its stead of equal grandeur, 
utility or beauty. 

(j) Source: Sir William Temple, Essay on Trade and Commerce (1770). 
p. 106. 

Our poor laws are at present a snare to the poor, and leave 
them loose to idleness, debauchery and insolence ; because they 
depend on these laws for support in necessity; and knowing 
that a justice of the peace will relieve them, they despise parish 
officers, insult the inhabitants, and do not feel themselves 
obliged to their benefactors for what they receive. It is upon the 
poor laws that the poor rely and not upon their own behaviour 
and conduct; and this tends to destroy all subordination as 
well as gratitude and mutual esteem. 

(k) Source: Sir F. M. Eden, State of the Poor (1 797), vol. I, pp. 667-8. 


It is impossible to provide a national fund for setting the 
Poor to work in any species of employment, without in some 
degree injuring those who are engaged in similar undertakings. 
If, for instance, a parish work-house undertakes the manufac- 
ture of mops, ropes, and sacking; those who before subsisted 
by means of these trades are sure to be the sufferers. Whether 
the mops are made by the private manufacturer, or by the 
parish children, no more will be sold than the Public have 
occasion for. The managers of the work-house, however, 
without being able to increase the demand, can generally 
obtain a preference and a certain sale for their goods, by 
selling them rather below the market price. The concern, 
though a losing one, is carried on by the contributions of the 
parishioners; and a poor industrious manufacturer will, per- 
haps, often have the mortification to reflect, that, in contri- 
buting his portion of Poor's Rate, he is helping the parish to 
undo him. . . . Projects, which, without increasing the demand 
for any article of consumption, interfere with established 
manufactures, and oblige the fair trader (whose capital is 
limited), to enter into competition with the parish, (whose 
capital can, upon any emergency, be recruited by an order of 
Justices), are, it may well be supposed, as injurious to the 
general interests of the community, as the monopolizing specu- 
lations of Governments in foreign commerce. 

(1) Source: A fascinating account of a particular ease given by 
Eden in ibid., vol. I, p. 579. 

Anne Hurst was born at Witley in Surrey: there she lived 
the whole period of a long life; and there she died. As soon as 
she was thought able to work, she went jnto service; there, 
before she was twenty she married James Strudwick ; who, like 
her own father, was a day-labourer. With this husband she 
lived a prolific, hard-working, contented life, somewhat more 
than fifty years. He worked more than threescore years on one 
farm; and his wages, summer and winter, were regularly a 
shilling a day. He never asked more; nor was ever offered less. 
They had between them seven children; and lived to see six 
daughters married, and three of them the mothers of sixteen 
children; all of whom were brought up, or are bringing up, to 



be day-labourers, Strudwick continued to work till within 
seven weeks of the day of his death: and at the age of fourscore, 
in 1787, he closed, in peace, a not inglorious life; for, to the 
day of his death, he never received a farthing in the way of 
parochial aid. His wife survived him about seven years; and 
though bent with age and infirmities, and little able to work, 
excepting as a weeder in a gentleman's garden, she also was 
too proud either to ask or receive any relief from her parish. 
For six or seven of the last years of her life, she received twenty 
shillings a year from the person who favoured me with this 
account, which he drew up from her own mouth. With all her 
virtue, and all her merit, she yet was not much liked in her 
neighbourhood : people in affluence thought her haughty ; and 
the Paupers of the parish, seeing, as they could not help seeing, 
that her life was a reproach to theirs, aggravated all her little 
failings. Yet, the worst thing they had to say of her was, that 
she was proud ; which, they said, was manifested by the manner 
in which she buried her husband. Resolute, as she owned she 
was, to have the funeral, and every thing that related to it, 
what she called decent, nothing could dissuade her from having 
handles to his coffin, and a plate on it, mentioning his age. She 
was also charged with having behaved herself crossly and 
peevishly towards one of her sons-in-law, who was a mason, 
and went regularly, every Saturday evening, to the ale-house, 
as he said, just to drink a pot of beer. James Strudwick, in all his 
life, as she often told this ungracious son-in-law, never spent 
five shillings in any idleness; luckily, (as she was sure to add) 
he had it not to spend. A more serious charge against her was, 
that, living to a great age, and but a little able to work, she 
grew to be seriously afraid, that, at last, she might become 
chargeable to the parish, (the heaviest, in her estimation, of 
all human calamities;) and that thus alarmed, she did suffer 
herself more than once, during the exacerbations of a fit of 
distempered despondency, peevishly (and, perhaps, petulantly,) 
to exclaim that God Almighty, by suffering her to remain so 
long upon earth, seemed actually to have forgotten her. — 
Such are the simple annals of Dame Strudwick. 

(m) Many overseers sent pauper children into industry. Indentures 
were drawn up. 


Source: Indenture in the Tibbitts Collection, Sheffield Public 

This Indenture made the Fourteenth Day of September in 
the Year of our Lord 1784 between John Lee, Michael Dent 
and John Gray Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor . . . 
and Thomas Wilson a poor Child of the said Township on the 
one Part, and Timothy Bolsover of the Township of Sheffield 
in the said Riding on the other Part, witnesseth, That the 
said Church-Wardens and Overseers of the Poor Have, by and 
with the Consent, Allowance, and Approbation of two of his 
Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said Riding put, placed, 
and bound the said Thomas Wilson as an Apprentice to and 
with the said Timothy Bolsover with him to dwell and remain 
from the Day of the Date hereof, until the said Apprentice 
shall attain the Age of Twenty one years according to the Form 
of the Statute in that Case made and provided. During all 
which said Term the said Apprentice his said Master well and 
truly shall serve, his Secrets shall keep, his Commands (being 
lawful and honest) at all Times willingly shall perform; and 
in all Things, as a good and faithfuly Servant, shall demean 
him, self towards his said Master and all his Family. And the 
said Timothy Bolsover for himself, his Executors, Adminis- 
trators and Assigns, doth Covenant, Promise and agree to 
and with the said Church-Wardens, Overseers, and his said 
Apprentice, that he will educate and bring him up in some 
honest and lawful Calling, and in the Fear of God ; and that 
he will find, provide for, and allow unto his said Apprentice 
sufficient wholesome, and competent Meat, Drink, Washing, 
Lodging, Apparel, and all other Necessaries meet for such an 
Apprentice, during all the said Term. 

In Witness whereof the said Parties to these Presents have 
hereunto interchangably set their Hands and Seals the Day 
and Year first above-written. 

(n) Opponents of the poor law extolled the virtues of charity. 

Source: J. Townsend, op. cit., pp. 107-8. 

To relieve the Poor by voluntary donations is not only the 
most wise, politic, and just: is not only most agreeable both 
to reason and to revelation; but it is most effectual in preventing 



misery, and most excellent in itself, as cherishing, instead of 
rancour, malice and contention, the opposite and most amiable 
affections of the human breast, pity, compassion, and benevo- 
lence in the rich, love, reverence, and gratitude in the poor. 
Nothing in nature can be more disgusting than a parish pay- 
table, attendant upon which, in the same objects of misery, are 
too often found combined, snuff, gin, rags, vermin, insolence, 
and abusive language; nor in nature can any thing be more 
beautiful than the mild complacency of benevolence, hastening 
to the humble cottage to relieve the wants of industry and 
virtue, to feed the hungry, to cloath the naked, and to sooth 
the sorrows of the widow with her tender orphans; nothing 
can be more pleasing, unless it be their sparkling eyes, their 
bursting tears, and their uplifted hands, the artless expressions 
of unfeigned gratitude for unexpected favours. Such scenes will 
frequently occur whenever men shall have power to dispose of 
their own property. When the poor are obliged to cultivate 
the friendship of the rich, the rich will never want inclination 
to relieve the distresses of the poor. 

(o) The following extract is one example out of a vast 'charity' 

Source: J. Crabtree, A Concise History of Halifax (1836), pp. 222-3. 

Frances Thornkill by will, dated July 31st, 1718, gave and 
bequeathed nine hundred pounds to be laid out to pious and 
charitable uses in the manner following; the sum of one hun- 
dred and fifty pounds, and the interest thereof, into the hands 
of the heir and chief of her family of Fixby, her nephew, 
Thomas Thornhill, Esq; to be the first trustee. And her will 
was, that his heirs, being the principals of her name and family 
of Fixby aforesaid, should successively for ever be trustees to 
see the said one hundred and fifty pounds laid out in a purchase, 
for building or making a proper habitation for teaching and 
improving ten poor girls in spinning wool, knitting, sewing, 
reading, and writing, and to be taught the catechism of the 
church of England, and private prayers for them every morning 
and night. And for the continuance of that her good intention 
for ever, she devised four hundred pounds, being further part 
of the said nine hundred pounds, to rest in the heir of Fixby's 


hands for the time being, whom she desired to consult with the 
minister of Elland for the time being, to chuse a proper master 
and dame to teach and instruct the said ten poor girls; the 
interest of which said sum of four hundred pounds to be annually 
laid out, and paid for the salaries of the said master and dame, 
and maintenance of the said poor girls, in such manner and 
proportion as the said heir of Fixby, or trustee for that her 
charity for the time being, should see proper and convenient. 
And the said testatrix's desire was that the said poor girls 
might, from time to time, be chosen out of the greatest objects 
of charity which should then be living in Fixby, and the town 
and parish of Elland, so as the said school may be preserved 
and kept up for ever for the purpose aforesaid; and that the 
heir and owner of Fixby for the time being, should take great 
care in his choice of a master and dame as aforesaid, for the 
good teaching and looking after these ten poor girls, so that 
they may have all necessaries provided for them, and that the 
said master might read unto them the prayers of the church 
of England every night after the girls gave over work. And 
the said testatrix also devised two hundred pounds more . . . 
to rest in the heir or owner of Fixby land for the time being, 
for ever, to the end that the minister of Elland, for the time 
being, might receive the interest thereof, as an augmentation 
for his better subsistence : and that in consideration of the said 
interest to be paid to the said minister, he should read every 
morning, in the church of Elland, the common prayers of the 
church of England at six o'clock in the morning in summer, 
and at eleven o'clock in the morning in winter, and the charity 
girls, with their master and dame, might attend and be present 
at the said times and hours of devotion : and in case the minister 
of Elland refused to attend and read prayers, according to this 
request and intent, then the said interest of the said two 
hundred pounds, designed for the minister aforesaid, should go 
to the said poor girls, for their better maintenance and sub- 
sistence. Also, her will and mind was, that that part of her will 
only that related to the charity school of Elland . . . should 
be read every Christmas day in the morning, between prayers 
and sermon, in the parish church of Elland. 
(p) The inadequacies of charity became apparent in particularly 




hard times when there was general distress. Many magistrates, 
after 1795, followed the pattern set out Speenhamland, Berkshire, 
of supplementing wages as food prices rose. The system had its 
critics from the start. 

Source: Sir F. M. Eden, The State of the Poor (1797), vol. I, pp. 

Instead of an advance in wages, proportion'd to the increased 
demand for labour, the labourer has received a considerable 
part of that portion of his employer's capital, which was 
destined for his maintenance, in the form of the Poor's Rate 
(the very worst that it could assume), instead of being paid it 
as the fair, well earned recompence of equivalent labour. This 
is a deplorable evil, which has fallen heaviest on the Poor 
than on the Rich; and it has been considerably aggravated 
by the very injudicious steps which have been adopted for 
administering relief to those whom the pressure of the late 
scarcity had incapacitated from supporting themselves and 
families, in the way to which they had been accustomed. 
Many instances might be adduced, of the ill-effects of the 
indiscriminating charity of individuals, and of the no less ill 
effects of the discriminating interference of magistrates and 
parish-officers. . . . The very great price of the necessaries of 
life, but more particularly of bread-corn during the whole of 
last year, produced numberless extraordinary demands for 
parochial assistance. In many parishes in the county of Berks, 
relief from the Poor's Rate was granted, not only to the infirm 
and impotent, but to the able-bodied and industrious, who 
had, very few of them, ever applied to the parish for relief; 
and then only during temporary illness or disability. There 
was no doubt, but that the circumstances of the times required 
an increase in the income of the labourers in husbandry. . . . 
But there existed a different of opinion, respecting the mode of 
making such increase. . . . 


No account of eighteenth -century society would be complete 
without reference to the 'outsiders'. Vagrants fell into this category. 



So too, although they were often locally tolerated, did smugglers 
and poachers. Smugglers were often organized on 'professional' 
lines. Gipsies formed a category of their own. 

(a) Source; Hertfordshire Quarter Sessions Book, vol. XV, Epiphany 
Session, 1786. 

[Special Order addressed to all Constables, instructing 
them to be more assiduous and severe in enforcing the Vagrancy 

And for the better information of such High Constables, 
Petty Constables, Headboroughs, and Peace Officers, they are 
to take Notice that all Persons going about as Alms-gatherers 
for Losses by Fire or other Casualties, or as Collectors for 
Gaols or Hospitals, or Fencers, or Bear Wards, or exhibiting 
Shews, or players of Interludes, Comedies, Tragedies, Operas, 
or Farces without Authority, or Minstrels, Jugglers, or Gypsies 
wandering in Form or Habit of Egyptians, or Persons telling 
Fortunes or using subtile Crafts to deceive the King's Subjects, 
or playing at unlawful Games, or that run away from their 
Families and leave them chargeable to their Parishes, and all 
Petty Chapmen and Pedlars not licensed, or Persons lying 
abroad or lodging in Outhouses and not giving a good Account 
of Themselves, or wandering and begging as Soldiers or 
Seafaring Men not having License so to do, or pretending to 
go to Work in Harvest and wandering abroad and begging, 
are deemed Vagrants by the Laws of this Realm. . . . This 
Court doth earnestly recommend to every acting Magistrate 
in this County to put the said Act strictly into Execution, 
first searching their Bundels and Parcels to see if they are 
able to pay for their Passing and, if they shall be found return- 
ing again, then treating them as incorrigible Rogues and 

(b) Source: G. Bridges, The Smugglers Defeated (1739), pp. 5-7. 

That having been bred from my Youth among the Clan- 
destine Exporters of Wool and Yarn from Ireland to France, 
whither he made Nine Voyages on that illicite Trade, which 
hath given me all the opportunities that could be desired, of 
discovering every Particular thereof. 
L He knows and is perfectly well acquainted with most of 



the Creeks and Harbours on the Coast, and most of the 
Private and By-Roads which are made up for that purpose. 

II. He knows the Names and Places of Abode of lots of the 
particular Men which are concerned in the Exportation, as 

III. As also the Names of some of the Merchants in France, 
to whom the Wool and Yarn is consigned, likewise some of 
the Insurers and their Correspondents in London; with almost 
every one's particular Address. 

IV. Also he knows most of the Estated Gentlemen and Magis- 
trates who have built Warehouses by the Sea Side, one of which 
is a Member of Parliament, and do receive the said Wool and 
Yarn into them, and Ship the same on Vessels bound to France 
for 4s. per Peck. 

V. The vciy Owners and Captains of the Vessels he knows 
also, who receive 20s, per Peck from Ireland to France. . . . 

VI. He knows also a Justice of the Peace, who kept two Ships 
constandy employed on the same illicite Trade. . . . 

VII. He also remembers and saw seven Vessels loaden in less 
than 24 Hours on that illicite Trade, besides what were loaden 
in other places out of his sight, and by Night in other Parts. 

VIII. Also he is well acquainted with Mr. China and Mr. 
Dawson, both Riding and Coast officers, who attempted a 
Seizure of the said Wool, but were obliged to fly in the jeopardy 
of their lives, when showers of Stones followed them, and one 
of their servants were stoned to Death. 

IX. Besides many other Things he knows along with these, 
which he names in a Schedule, ready to produce, when Time 
and proper Opportunities requires a further Discovery of 
Names and Places. 

(c) Source: Letter from Thomas Watterton, gamekeeper to Lord 
Irwin, 1 736, from the Temple Mwsam Archives, Leeds. 

My Lord, 

heare is such a number of Poachers & Coarsers in this 

Lordshipe. This winter, more than ever has bin since I new 

Temple newsam. These poachears noes that I can't Bussell 

amoungst them as I could a have don. This wicke Wm Moore, 


Halton, John Simpson of Rounder, David Sayner, Seacroft 
was in ye Liberty & kild a brace of Haers nevcrry one of them 
quallified. John Clark & two or three Cunterry with him killd 
a brace more ye last wick which Parsson Hopkins told me. As 
for Clark he never misses going 3 daies a wick either with 
Mr. Fran. Millncr, or sum cunterry fealows he surches all 
round the Park. . . . 

(d) Source: Chap Book, An Account of the Life and Death of Tobias 
Smith (1793), pp. 3-5. 

Tobias Smith was born at Southwell in Bedfordshire, in 
1773. His parents, James and Jemima Smith, are of that class 
of vagrants called Gipsies, who procure a wretched livelihood 
by selling small articles from place to place, fortune telling, 
fiddling, and such kind of loose and unlawful practices. 

His mother, it seems, had some education in her youth; 
she lived several years in service, and afterwards took up with 
a gypsy. Some of her younger children can read and repeat 
the Lord's prayer, creed, and ten commandments; but she 
complained that Tobias was of so untractable a disposition, 
that he would never learn one letter or prayer. 

The first thing Toby mentioned to me, as the cause of his 
misfortunes, was the unhappy state his father and mother 
lived in, quarrelling and fighting. His father, several times, 
turned him off, and forced him into other companies, where 
he was further corrupted, and persuaded to steal and plunder 
for a living. The first time I saw him was in the prison at 
Bedford, where he was committed in Nov. 1791, for stealing 
a mare out of a pasture at Staysden, the property of Mr. 
William Curtise, a farmer. He was tried at the Lent assizes 
1792, before Sir William Ashurst, and being found guilty, 
was condemned to be hanged; which was executed upon him 
April the third near Bedford. 

But as it pleased God to make him an object of his tender 
mercy, in so singular a manner, he repeatedly requested me, 
(and many others who visited him,) to make it public, for the 
information of gipsies, and as far as possible to reclaim alt 
ranks of offenders. 

His parents had sixteen children, eight of whom are still \ 


living, and wandering as vagabonds over the earth. Toby was 
rather low in stature, but one of the neatest, proportionate 
made men I ever saw. He was admired by all who knew him 
for his uncommon agility, in leaping, running, fighting, &c. 
From his infancy he never knew any other way of life, but 
wandering from place to place, fairs, feasts, races and other 
places of public concourse and diversions : he was early taught 
to play on the fiddle, for the purpose of getting money at 
those times when people are intoxicated. Many persons 
greatly hurt themselves and their families by falling a prey to 
such companies of depredators. 

Toby deeply lamented the unhappy disagreement between 
his parents. His father broke his mother's arm by beating her, 
had fractured the bone of her leg, and much injured her other- 
wise. He frequently left her with all her children, and took 
up with other women, and other gangs of gipsies. Sometimes 
he turned out his children to provide for themselves. . . . 

He [Toby] told me also of his breaking into his uncle's 
house at Great Stourton, as he was returning from Thrapstone 
fair, being very hungry, but only found a bottle of wine which 
he drank: this he acknowledged to his uncle, asked his pardon, 
and obtained forgiveness. Many other petty thefts he was 
guilty of too tedious to mention. Fighting was a practice he 
greatly delighted in and generally was victor; he was so nimble 
that he thought no men could ever hurt him, except on his 
arms by fencing. He challenged the great Mendoza, and 
believed he could have beat him, said he had beat several 
better men than the Jew. But he sorely lamented that he had 
been guilty of manslaughter twice, having so bruised his 
combatants that they never recovered of the blows he gave 
them. The temptation to steal horses continued with him, at 
times, for above two years, before he committed the crime. 
He had been drinking, it being a very rainy day, and by 
coming to Stagsdcn got very wet; as he was going by the 
pasture, he saw Mr. Curtis's mare and resolved to take her; 
he went to the White Horse, where he got more liquor. He 
left the public house a little after dark, muCh4ntOxicaterT, and 
went to the field, stole the mare, and rode her to Safron 
Walden in Essex, but had forgot the fair-day being the week 



before. He rode back to Potton, where he offered her to sale, 
but could not sell her. Being much afraid less he should be 
found out, he went to the pasture where he had left her, and 
stabbed her in two places with his knife. The account of her 
being killed in such a manner made a great rumour in the 
country. Many talked to him about her, as it was well known 
he had brought her to Potton, asking him whose she was, how 
he came by her, &c. He said he was so frightened he could not 
stir a step to run away; and having told many lies about the 
matter, he was entangled in his talk, and suspected that he 
had stole her. Being taken into custody, and brought before 
Sir Philip Monoux of Sandy, he confessed his crime, and was 
sent to Bedford prison. 


By the beginning of the nineteenth century, old ideas of society 
based on 'ranks, orders and degrees' were giving way to new views 
of society based on class. There was also a vigorous assertion of the 
values of self-help, coupled with warnings from social critics, tike 
Cobbett, that society was now becoming divided between 'masters' 
and 'slaves'. 

(a) Source: Robert Owen, Observations on the Effect of the Manu- 
facturing System (1815). 

Those who were engaged in the trade, manufactures, and 
commerce of this country thirty or forty years ago formed but 
a very insignificant portion of the knowledge, wealth, influence 
or population of the Empire. Prior to that period, Britain was 
essentially agricultural. But, from that time to the present, 
the home and foreign trade have increased in a manner so 
rapid and extraordinary as to have raised commerce to an 
importance, which it never previously attained in any country 
possessing so much political power and influence. . . . This 
change has been owing chiefly to the mechanical inventions 
which introduced the cotton trade into this country. . . , The 
wants which this trade created for various materials requisite 
to forward its multiplied operations, caused an extraordinary 
demand for almost all the manufactures previously established, 


and also for human labour, . , . Hitherto, legislators have 
appeared to regard manufactures only in one point of view, 
as a source of national wealth, . , , Yet the political and moral 
effects . , . well deserve to occupy the best faculties of the 
greatest and wisest statesmen. The general diffusion of manu- 
factures throughout a country generates a new character in its 
inhabitants, and as this character is formed upon a principle 
quite unfavourable to individual or general happiness, it will 
produce the most lamentable and permanent evils, unless its 
tendency be counteracted by legislative interference and 
direction. . . , This alteration is still in rapid progress, and ere 
long, the comparatively happy simplicity of the agricultural 
peasant will be wholly lost among us, . . . The employer [now] 
regards the employed as mere instruments of gain, while these 
acquire a gross ferocity of character, which, if legislative 
measures shall not be fully devised to prevent its increase, and 
ameliorate the condition of this class, will sooner or later 
plunge the country into formidable and perhaps inextricable 
state of danger. 

(b) Source: P. Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Wealth, Power s and 
Resources of the British Empire (1814), ch. IV. 

It becomes an interesting object to discover ... in what 
manner and in what proportions . . . property is divided 
among the various classes of society. . . . With a view to this 
object [a] Table , . , has been constructed, It may be con- 
sidered as a map of civil society, exhibiting in one view the 
proportions of created wealth which is allotted annually to 
every class of the community, from the Sovereign in regular 

gradation down to the pauper It will, through this medium, 

be discovered what classes of the community by their labour in 
different pursuits tend to increase the national capital, and what 

other classes diminish it [The Table] shews the distinction 

between the productive and unproductive labourers, according 
to their different pursuits in society. ... It distinguishes the 
useful from the noxious members of the body politics. . . . 

The population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and 
Ireland including the army and navy, admits of the following division 
into classes, viz. 


1st. The Royal Family, the Lords 
Spiritual and Temporal, the 
Great Officers of State, and all 
above the degree of a Baronet, 
with their families . 


2d. Baronets, Knights, Country "1 
Gentlemen, and others having > 

large incomes, with their families J 


3d. Dignified Clergy, Persons hold- 
ing considerable employments in 
the State, elevated situations in 
the Law, eminent Practitioners 
in Physic, considerable Mer- 
chants, Manufacturers upon a 
large scale, and Bankers of the 
first order, with their families . 

Carried forward 


4th. Persons holding inferior situa- 
tions in Church and State, 
respectable Clergymen of differ- 
ent persuasions, Practitioners in 
Law and Physic, Teachers of 
Youth of the superior order, 
respectable Freeholders, Ship 
Owners, Merchants and Manu- 
facturers of the second class, 
Warehousemen and respectable 
Shopkeepers, Artists, respectable 
Builders, Mechanics, and Per- 
sons living on moderate incomes, 
with their families . 

Heads of 












233,650 1,168,250 

Heads of 



6th. Working Mechanics, Artisans, 
Handicrafts, Agricultural Lab- 
ourers, and others who subsist 
by labour in various employ- 
ments, with their families 
Menial Servants 


7th. Paupers and their families, "* 
Vagrants, Gipsies, Rogues, 
Vagabonds, and idle and dis- 
orderly persons, supported by 
criminal delinquency 


Officers of the Army, Navy, and 
Marines, including all Officers 
on half-pay and superannuated, 
with their families . 

Non-commissioned Officers in the 
Army, Navy, and Marines, Sol- 
diers, Seamen, and Marines, 
including Pensioners of the Army, 
Navy, &c, and their families . 


► 2,126,095 




5th, Lesser Freeholders, Shop- * 
keepers of the second order, 
Inn-keepers, Publicans, and 

Persons engaged in miscellan- y 564,799 2,798,475 
eous occupations or living on 
moderate incomes, with their 
families .... 


387,100 1,828,170 



► 10,500 


► 120,000 






. . , There is however another and, perhaps, a more interest- 
ing statistical view of this important and curious subject, as 
it relates to the productive and unproductive labourers in the 
United Kingdom, which it may be useful to explain, — as a 
means of more fully elucidating the state of society, which, 
in this country, differs in many respects from every other 
civilized nation, and will account for its superiority in arts and 
arms (when its population is considered) to every nation in 
the world. 

It has been already shewn, that in this as indeed in all other 
kingdoms, states, and empires, the communities, of which they 
are composed, consist of productive and unproductive labourers. 
In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as far 
as approximating facts could be obtained, they seem to admit 
of the following classification. 

1 6,129,142 £107,246,795 

Productive Labourers, by whose exertions a new 
Property is created every year. 

Families. Persons. Income. 

Mines, &c. 


Shipping, Trade, 
Fisheries, &c. 

X 1,302,15 

Fine Arts 

► 1,506,774 7,071,989 183,908,352 

5,000 25,000 1,400,000 

2,813,925 13,226,131 £292,555,147 

Unproductive Labourers, whose exertions do not 
create any new Property. 

Families, Persons. Income. 




416,835 £58,923,590 

1 82 

State and 












Total . 


Families. Persons. Income. 

152,000 1,056,000 34,036,280 


281,500 17,580,000 

45,319 567,937 17,555,355 

387,100 1,548,400 9,871,000 

687,856 3,870,672 £137,966,225 

Thus it would appear, that more than |th part of the whole 
community are unproductive labourers, and that these 
labourers receive from the aggregate labour of the productive 
class about |d part of the new property created annually. But 
it does not follow, as has been already observed, that a very 
great proportion of these unproductive labourers are not 
highly useful in their different stations in society. On the 
contrary, with a few exceptions, in addition to the benefits 
derived from personal exertions, they eminentiy tend to 
promote, invigorate, and render more productive the labour 
of the creating classes. 

Such is the structure of civil society, that the classes, whose 
minds are enlarged and their intellects and faculties improved 
by a superior education, are indispensably necessary as master- 
springs in the great machine; not only for the purpose of giving 
energy to the efforts of the productive labourers by means of 
capital furnished by every member of the community possessing 
real or personal property, from which they derive an income, 
but from the skill and superior knowledge of those who give 
employment to the labouring classes in agriculture, manu- 
factures, trade, commerce, and navigation, and other objects 


of productive industry. But this is not the only advantage 
resulting from the labour of the higher and middling classes 
of the community; particularly in the British dominions, where 
they are called upon as legislators, judges, magistrates, jurors, 
managers of the poor, and peace-officers, to execute the func- 
tions which arc required for the purpose of preserving the 
harmony and order, which are necessary to the existence of 
civil society. . . . 



Shah tone, 

Saturday, Septemb' y e 23 d 1738 
Master Parker 
This is the third day you have been from my worke, tho you 
promised faithfully you would never leave it till you had finished 
it; if you don't come on Monday next I will set somebody else to 
worke upon it. I think you are a very unworthy man to neglect it 
so this fine weather & am 

Your freind to serve you 
Henry Purefoy 
(from the Purefoy Letters) 

Use all possible diligence in your calling, . . . Every business will 
afford some employment sufficient for every day and every hour. 

(John Wesley, Sermon L) 

If a person can get sufficient in four days to support himself for 
seven days, he will keep holiday the other three; that is, he will live 
in riot and debauchery. 

(J. Powell, A View of Red Grievances, 1772) 

Is not the creation of wants the likeliest way to produce industry 
in a people ? 

(Bishop Berkeley, 1 755) 

The hours of work are from seven to twelve, and from one to 
between five and six. Even in summer when at day-work, the 
labourer is frequently seen on his way home with his tools upon his 
back thus early in the evening. This does not arise so much from 
absolute idleness, as the custom of the country, the day's work 
being generally admitted to consist of a certain stint or portion of 

{Charles Vancouver, General View of the Agriculture of Devon, 





The Foundling Hospital, London 

Hwc when\ ha me* ffcrab. and Tc\y<? 

m try gran efr creed*/ \xk>rm<?s 
my Body Cat Titer* yew m*y wa.4 
-y Name Compteat 

'hotnas Keeues J ^ J 

An Epitaph 





Eighteenth-century Watches 

A Time Recorder from Wedgwood's Etruria Factory 





A Place in the Country 



Nottingham as it was 



A Parochial Perambulation 

Bath as it still is 

Inn Yard with Stage Coach 
























In the Country 

PI.ATR 12 



E It IP? XI 


:4 >i v 3 

■ / ;f 




: i fa: 



Spinning and Weaving 



(He. 3«.) 


X ///nyr/ff 1 To tbt Church Ifardtu aid Ovtr/ar, t/rhe Poor of lU 

// W m \ > T "^ ifWir</&tp4 intbe 

lV& *fmdfa,«/L ..aid to tk ChuA Warden and Over- 

fctrtif th^eer of ' tbtftniJdfi - ■»] farwofii t/c . 

_ E in thi (rt*t,fi,'>y rA/t"c > 

. -. ,. - ~and to each and tvirj of /bet/, . ,X - 

UE T- J It'll. 

silyi Judical 


fi'ON the Complaint of the Chinch WjtJcnj 
poor efihe .AtwV/£ V'T^ 

in me Hid („,„/» oX tniW'ffi a 

arc hercuntoTec injl^cjls affil*«, Ixui- two of I 
ofthc Peace in ida fcr the (ltd A™ 'z ~<&*'"J 
awl wreof IB of the Quotum, that . X. — 

i // 




come to inhibit in the &&/***>&■ of Wmtf £"***■ 

_ _aot tuning gained j legal Scuicrncnl there/ nor- ■ 

Ke»Tucia7» Certificate ownine "***, - -».-«> be failed el fc- 

where, and 'that tbe (aid YrT*,f t/s>*s"Ai - - - 

_ _ _ _ /,< likdv to be chargeable 10 the Qid 

>*W/ of Ma./frij *• We ,1k raid 

'jufticea upondw, Proof made hereof aa well upon the Examination 
efihcfaid ///hit t'-'r *t€'/-f - ------ ..upon Oath, 

aa olbcrmfe, and liltewife upon due Confident™ bad ol tbe Pre- 

' miiea, da adjudge tbe fame tu be irue -, and wedo likewife adjudge, 

thai the lawful BctlleOKtlt of J/01 ,lhc (naff/fif /fro'"/* - 

a in the faidyi-i .'*»£ -Jir (Wf^ "*C • in the faid 

A„,.& £ of ?/**£*/• Wedo therefore 

muiieiou the faid Churdnwatden; a/id Ojcriceri of the Poof or the 

fvA/U-r^A of J/,i,//^!r/, - - or feme, or 

one of you, to convey the Hid ^//i/d/i/if^v jr — .*• 

ft™ ajHl out of youi (aid />* > /,«f , --rf •*»«*»'>* 

!othcfod/*'.. 1 > -of faw"'«« ' • - - ■T' lnll ^ k - 
lodclrwr to the Chmchwaidens and Otfcrfeere of the Poor there, nr 
to feme, or one of ihcm, together with thii our Ordcr.or • true Copy 
thereof : And we do alfo hereby require youlhc (aid Churd-warikna 
aod Overfeed of the Poor of the fiitfy*«v."«^ - »f(J««-f»«'i 
roitociKind proiide for «#ii - - - -« InrJHtani*uf your 

JsaiitJt . - -Chjn under our Handa and Sella the tf»o»r'/K 
T)aj of \Je<*trt&i _ in ihe Y«r of our Lord One ThDufand 
Seven Huirdrcd and Silly ifAt'fti ,^^^^^^^^^^- 

ScU bj J. COLES 101! Son, SiatuDm, io Ktrt Street. 

A Settlement Order 



May Fair 

Cock Fighting 



Bear Baiting 

'Italian Theatre* 




Agriculture was England's greatest industry in the eighteenth 
century. There were many different kinds of farm work, with mixed 
farms predominant. There were also many new methods in use on 
the most enlightened farms. 

(a) Source: Jethro Tull, Horse Hoeing Husbandry (1731). Tull, whose 
role as an agricultural pioneer has often been over-estimated, set 
out his views on tilling, i.e. ploughing and hoeing. 

Tillage is breaking and dividing the ground by spade, 
plough, hoe, or other instruments, which divide by a sort of 
attrition (or contusion), as dung does by fermentation. 

By dung we are limited to the quantity of it we can procure, 
which in most places is too scanty. 

But by tillage we can enlarge our field of subterranean 
pasture without limitation, though the external surface of it 
be confined within narrow bounds. . . . 

Hoeing is the breaking or dividing the soil by tillage, whilst 
the corn or other plants are growing thereon. 

It differs from common tillage (which is always performed 
before the corn or plants are sown or planted) in the times of 
performing it; it is much more beneficial, and it is performed 
by different instruments. . . . 

The earth is so unjust to plants, her own offspring, as to shut 
up her stores in proportion to their wants; that is, to give them 
less nourishment when they have need of more ; therefore man, 
for whose use they are chiefly designed, ought to bring in his 
reasonable aid for their relief, and force open her magazines 
with the hoe, which will thence procure them at all times 
provisions in abundance, and also free them from intruders; 
I mean, their spurious kindred, the weeds, that robbed them 
of their too scanty allowance. 

(b) Young in his tours was always looking for signs of genuine 

Source: Arthur Young, The Farmer's Tour through the East of 
England (1771). 

At Longford in this neighbourhood, the seat of Wenman 
Cooke, esq; I had the uncommon satisfaction of seeing a team 


1 86 


of oxen in harness. That gentleman, who is one of the most 
spirited farmers in Derbyshire, is the first who has drawn them 
in this manner; he uses sixteen; and finds that they draw with 
much greater power than in yoaks, the method in which he 
first tried them; they move much faster, and are more handy 
and convenient; he executes all his ploughing and home 
carting with them, at much less expence than the same could 
be performed by horses, or the oxen in yoaks : a striking proof 
of this, is his ploughing as much land in a day with 3 oxen, as 
the farmers do with 4 or 5 horses ; a disproportion so amazingly 
great that it decides the points at once, and in the clearest 

The drivers assured me that they worked much better than 
yoaked, drawed a greater weight, and were far more easily 
managed. One great benefit of this method, exclusive of the 
increased power, is the placing them in a single line instead 
of a double one, which in some sorts of ploughing is extremely 
useful: Indeed, in general, the nearer the team is to the weight, 
the greater its power; but this is not the case with oxen yoaked, 
owing merely to that aukward untoward way of drawing ; for 
it is well known to all ox drivers, that the beasts cannot exert 
their full force, from the inequality between the couples, as it 
is common for one beast to make its fellow draw all; an 
inconvenience totally removed in Mr. Cooke's method. 

I cannot but earnestly recommend this very great improve- 
ment to all who are desirous of working oxen ; and particularly 
to those who imagine, but falsely, that they cannot move as 
fast as horses; that they cannot draw an equal weight — and 
that in ploughing they trample the land more. All which 
ideas, however true they might be in respect to the yoaks, are 
undoubted mistakes if applied to the harnessed beasts. — Mr. 
Cooke deserves much of his country for the introduction of so 
excellent a method. 

(c) There were many different kinds of agricultural work. 

Source: C. B.Andrews (ed.), The Torrington Diaries (1937), vol. IV, 
p. 154. 

The Twilight now came on, and our Road lay thro Hop 
Grounds, where every creature (even at that hour) was em- 

work 187 

ploy'd in Picking Hops, with their whole Families; For the 
little Children in their Cradles (a pleasant and novel sight) 
were strew'd, dispcrsedly amid the Hop Gardens: — The 
Twinkling Lights aided the Imagination and made me fancy 
it like a scene in a Pantomime Dance. . . . 


The village pattern of open fields, with individual villagers 
holding arable strips and farming them for their families, was 
destroyed in many parts of the country as the process of enclosure 
accelerated {see above, p. 130, below, pp. 190ff). Sometimes 
where the fields survived, there were formal rules of organization. 

(a) Source: Rules and Orders of the Manor of Shalstone, Bucks, 
12 March 1750, printed in G. Eland (ed.), Purefoy Letters, vol. II, 
Appendix A. 

Rules & Orders at this Court [Baron] made and agreed by the 
Homage for the better Regulation and Good Government of 
the Fields within the said Manor. 

First It is ordered That no Person shall keep or depasture 
more than two Cows or horned Beasts, or two Horses 
or Mares for or in respect of one yard land, on pain to 
Forfeit for every Offence 3" 41 

Also it is order'd that no Person shall keep more than three 
Ewes and Lambs or five dry Sheep for or in respect 
of one yard land in Summer and eight Sheep for or 
in respect thereof in Winter, when the least or Middle 
field lyes fallow, and only four Couples or six dry sheep 
in Summer & Eight sheep in Winter for or in respect 
of one yard land when the biggest or East and West 
fields lye fallow, And that the Stint thereof be made 
on or before the Five and Twentieth day of March in 
every year. On pain for each offence 3! 4 1 ? 

Also that the Lott ground in the Common fields shall be lotted 
yearly on or before the twentieth day of May and that 
the same shall not be Mowed (except only between 

1 88 


Allhallowtide and Candlemas) but Flit with Horses, 
[i.e. horses moved there] upon pain for every offence 


Also that a good and efficient Bull shall be found & provided 
yearly untill the next Court is held for the service of 
the Common herd by the occupiers of Four of the Farms 
of the open Afield Land, , , . 

Also that every cow put or turned into the Common or Cow- 
pasture shall be Tipped or Nubbed [i.e. knobled] on 
both Horns at or before the age of 2 years & if any 
Tipp or Nubb come off to be putt on again within 
3 days upon pain for every offence ¥i 

Also that no Person shall Fork or Tye any Cow before the 
Common Herd in the open field or Cow pasture. Upon 
pain to forfeit for every offence 3! 4? 

Also That no Person shall suffer any Colt of a month old or 
upwards to go lo[o]se in the Comon Fields till after the 
same fields are ridd of Corn and Grain. Upon Pain for 
every offence 3* 4 1 ? 

Also That no person shall Bait or Tye any Cattle upon his 
own ground or elsewhere so as to Prejudice of Trespass 

on his Neighbour till the Harvest is inned. Upon pain 
for every offence 3! 4^ 

Also That no person shall suffer his Swine Hogg or Pigg to 
go or be turned into the Common fields till Harvest is 
ended, or at anytime to go unringed there. Upon pain 
for every offence 3* 4 d 

Also That no person shall mow his ground in the Open 
Field above or more than Once in any one year. On 
pain for every offence 3» 4 d . 

Also That no Horse Common shall be Let or Set to any 
Foreigner or persons not Inhabitant of Shalstone. On 
pain for every offence 10! 

Also That the Fieldsmen shall find a Mole catcher yearly 
to be employed in the Open fields and Cow pasture, and 
that his Wages shall be paid by the Commoners 

work 189 

proportionably on Easter Tuesday in every year, On 
pain Each Fieldsman or Commoner making default 
herein 3! 4"? 

Also That every occupier shall Plough his ground in the 
Open field not further than where it hath constantly 
or antiently been ploughed or should of right be 
ploughed, and shall on or before the Twentieth day of 
May next lay down for Greensward what ground 
thereof hath been ploughed otherwise with Grass seed 
as the Jury shall mete out. On pain for each default 20 1 . 

Also That the ffieldsmen shall yearly make a Rate or Levy 
equal in proportion to and upon each yard land in the 
Open field to reimburse the Charges of repairs of the 
Cowpasture Hedges and their other charges & expenses 
in their said office and the respective owners or occupiers 
of these Lands shall pay the same. On pain in default of 

20 ? 

Also That every Fieldsman and Hayward do take due care 
that the Orders aforesaid be duly observed and kept, 
And in case of their Refusal or Neglect therein shall 
forfeit and pay for each offence. 3* 4? 

Also That the Lord of this Manor his heirs and Assigns with 
the Consent and Approbation of the Majority of the 
said Jury or Homage then living in Shalstone shall and 
may before another Court create and make a new 
hayward and ffieldsmen or Jurymen or any of them in 
case of Death or removal of the present Hayward or 
ffieldsmen or turn them out for Neglect, 

Also That the Fieldsmen or in their default the Lord of this 
Manor or his Bailiff or other person he shall appoint 
shall and may have power till the next Court to distrain 
the goods and Chattels of every Defaulter of keeping 
the said Orders and to sell the said Goods in like 
manner as goods distrained for rent to satisfy and pay 
the penalties. . . . 

Also That all the Penalties of the Breach of the aforesaid 
Orders shall be equally divided between the lord of the 

i go 


said Manor and the ffieldsmen, viz'.. One moiety 
thereof to the Lord and the other to the ffieldsmen. 

Fieldsmen chosen 

Hayward chosen 
Mole catcher 


John Franklin 

Aron Gibbs 
William Harburd 
John Mumford 

In witness whereof we the Jury have herewith sett our hands: 
John Franklin Aaron Gibbes The mark of 

The mark of Wi Sinnell (?) X 

X John Boorton William Scott 

William May Richard Boorton 


There is a vast contemporary literature on enclosure, a term 
which covers both the reallocation of arable strips to form compact 
individual holdings and the taking in of waste land. Enclosure 
could take place either after private agreement between neighbours 
or by act of parliament. At every stage in the process there was the 
possibility of injustice and exploitation. Economic progress and 
social hardship often seemed to go hand in hand. 

(a) Source: A private agreement between the copyhold tenants of 
the Manors of Little Baddow Hall and Middle Mead Essex (1773) 
and the lord of the manors, printed in Brown (ed.), Essex History 
from English Sources, vol. II, p. 29. 

At a General Court Baron ... it was agreed between 
Viscount Barrington Lord of the said Manors and the greater 
part of the tenants: that the commons and waste grounds 
belonging to the Manors shall be inclosed and apportioned . . . ; 
that a part of High Common about 80 acres shall be allotted 
to the Lord and that other part of High Common shall be 
allotted for the use of the poor of Litde Baddow and that the 
residue of High Common about 57 acres and the lower common 
called Wickey Green about 20 acres and all other pieces of 
waste ground belonging to the Manors shall be allotted unto 
each of the tenants in equal proportions . . , and shall be 



inclosed by each of them at their own expense, . . . Further 
agreed that the Bailiff of the Manors and Richard Sorrcll 
farmer shall be appointed to allot the commons and waste, 
and the tenants covenant to take up and be admitted to their 
several proportions at the next court by the yearly rent of 
3 pence per acre and pay a fine of 1 shilling an acre on every 
death or alienation. 

[Sixteen signatures, 4 by mark, and signature of the lord of 
the manors.] 

(b) Source: Note on 3 Feb. in the Journal of the House of Commons 
(1766), vol. XXX. 

Mr. Chalmley presented to the House, according to Order, 
a Bill for inclosing and dividing the Common Waste Grounds, 
Open Fields, Open Meadows, Grounds and Ings, within the 
Parish of Stillington, in the County of York : And the same was 
received; and read the First Time. Resolved, That the Bill to 
read a Second Time. 

(c) Source: W. Marshall, The Rural Economy of Yorkshire (1788) 
vol I, pp. 48ff. 

There has no doubt been a time (and not perhaps many 
centuries past) when the entire country lay open. ... In the 
present century [however], more especially within the last 
fifty years, inclosure has made a rapid progress. . . . The 
garden is the highest state of cultivation; open fields and 
pastures the lowest; separate inclosurcs a middle state which 
seems to be well adapted to the present population of this 
country. Be that as it may, the spirit of inclosure continues to 
be such, that in half a century or more an open field, or an 
undivided common may be rare, and the remembrance of 
them will of course soon wear away. 

(d) Source: Anon., An Inquiry into Bills of Inclosure (1780), pp. 22ff. 

If it appears, that no reason can defend, no advantage can 
justify the injury committed by inclosing bills, for even large 
sandy wastes and wide boggy moors, which are so beneficial 
to the community, what then shall we say, when the same 
objection equally applies to those for the inclosure of small 



circumscribed commons; by which therefore, the same private 
injustice is committed, without the alleviation of any public 
benefit? For no one advantage is conferred by them, which 
may not be obtained by rating the commons, without them. 
Nay further, where not only no additional benefit accrues, 
but even certain and considerable detriment, and that, not 
only arising from the cause I have already assigned, but from 
another, I shall now mention. For where all the commons in 
a parish are entirely inclosed, and distributed into several small 
allotments, all who are skilled in rural affairs will acknowledge, 
that sheep, that valuable animal to the farmer, and that 
inexhaustible source of wealth to the public, can not thrive. 
It being a position generally admitted; that sheep require at 
least, a fenceless scope of fifty acres, for their due, and proper 
range. This is a circumstance, of the utmost moment to the 
community; which in the late frequent paroxysms of rage for 
the indiscriminate inclosing of commons has been entirely 
neglected, or overlooked. ... At the time the rage of inclosing 
first spread its fury, and scattered its pestilence about the 
nation, great and inestimable advantages accrued from the 
growth of corn, both to individuals and to the public. The 
profits resulting from this, were then so great and so immediate, 
to landlord as well as tenant, that every other species of 
produce was not only diminished, but as it were sacrificed, to 
the design of reaping the superior advantages, resulting from 
the increase of this commodity. For this purpose, the farmer 
converted every nook and corner of his land into arable; — 
and even the cottager forsook his one little ewe lamb, and 
turned his scanty orchard into tillage. For this likewise, the 
farmer could then brook, without murmuring, the loss of 
pasture upon the common almost wholly without recompence; 
because he received an accession of land for his plough, which 
he at that time thought, that even gold could not buy too dear. 
But what is the case now of many of those very farmers, 
who once thought thus ? The wisest of them, are so far from 
wishing for an addition of arable land, that they are re-con- 
verting part of their present, into pasture. The richest amongst 
them, are bowed down by the burthen of a rent lain upon 
them by the former high price of corn, which on account of 



the diminished value of that commodity, they now know not 
how to bear. As to the rest, — call but for any of the country 
news-papers, — look at the numerous advertisements for the 
sale of farming stocks and implements of husbandry, and — in 
them — you will read their history. Most of them, are no longer 
able to occupy, either arable or pasture land. Some of them, 
are working as hired servants, in those very fields, of which 
they were before the masters. Others, instead of beholding, as 
formerly, the smiles of plenty and of chearfulness at home ; — 
are ruminating upon their own, and the distress of their wives 
and litde ones, amidst the horrors of a jail. 

Is this then the time, for . . . men, nay for those who call 
themselves gentlemen, — rapaciously to seize from their 
tenants, the benefit of the commons they had before leased to 
them, and thus render their little morsel still more bitter? 
Can they wear the garb of humanity, and instead of lightening 
the burden, which more prosperous times lay upon their 
fellow-creatures, add now still greater weight to tbeir afflic- 
tions? Heaven and earth forbid it! Both piety and humanity 
revolt at the idea! . . . 

(e) Source: Arthur Young, Annals of Agriculture (1804), vol. XLII, 
p. 27. The reference is to Maulden, Cambridgeshire, enclosed in 1 779. 

The common very extensive. I conversed with a farmer, and 
several cottagers: one of them said, inclosing would ruin 
England; it was worse than ten wars: Why, my friend, what 
have you lost by it? / kept four cows before the parish was inclosed, 
and now I do not keep so much as a goose. And you ask me what I 
lose by it! Their accounts of advantages, especially when they 
are gone, are not to be credited. 

(f) Young attempted a balance sheet. 

Source: Note in Ibid., pp. 38-40. The reference is to Eaton, 
Bedfordshire, enclosed in 1796, 

Before a great deal of old pasture land was constantly 
mowed ; now, that is turned to pasturage by means of mowing 
clover and tares, which yields four times as much: and this 
proves a great advantage to those grounds. . . . 

Farms. — The open field farmers were generally very poor 



and backward, and many against the inclosure; but are now 
converted, and admit the benefit of the measure. . . . 

Sheep. — Every man might have had a flock, and many had 
flocks; but some of the little farmers none. Mr. W. had only 
200 sheep before; now he has dipt 500. . . . 

Cows, — The farmers never kept more than for their own 
use: they do the same now; but the cottagers' cows arc lessened: 
they have, however, allotments in lieu, . . . 

The persons who were most affected and hurt, were higlers 
—fish, gingerbread, apples, carting for hire, etc.: these kept 
horses, and turned without any right on the commons: these 
men have been hurt, and these only; and they complain, but 
with no right to do it. Now they hire bits of land, and feed 
better. . , . 

General advantage. On the whole, the measure has been 
very beneficial to every party: the land produces more corn; 
the farmers are coming into better circumstances; the rent is 
raised; the poor are better employed; and every thing ad- 
vancing; and an emulation raised which must do good. 


(a) Source.' Notes in BlundeU's Diary and Letter Book, pp. 115-6. 
(For Blundcll, see above, p. 141 ,} Squire and workmen were 
associated in common tasks, working side by side, as the following 
brief extracts show. 

Philip Syer began to lay a Cundit across ye way between ye 
Long Garden and ye Bleaching-Ground. I helped to carry a 
Great many of ye Stones. ... I was most of ye Afternoone in 
ye Next North Hey, helping ye Workmen up with two great 
Roots of trees out of ye new Moss pits. ... I helped to Winnow 
some of yc worst wheat with ye Fann. ... I was in ye Winter 
Heys with my Workfolk. There was a great thunder Shower 
and all or most of us took Shelter. Thence I went to see John 
and Jane Bryanson who were ill. ... I went betymes in ye 
Morning to my Burners in ye Winter Heys and after Dinner 
I stayed with them till Night and gave them a Sillibube. I had 



32 Hands working for me at my Water-Cours. ... I went to 
them in ye Morning and brought them some strong Drink and 
Biskett, and went againe after dinner and brought some more 
strong Drink. ... I was most of ye Afternoone with my 
Burners in ye Winter Heyes. I sent them two large Pailcs of 
Whey which was very acceptable. 

(b) Source: Letter from Lord Irwin to Robert Hopkinson, Attorney 
or Wakefield, 10 June 1736, in the TempU Mwsam Papers, Leeds. 
This letter shows what factors had to be taken into account when a 
small estate changed hands. 

I intend being down towards the end of the summer, but 
in the meantime would you look after everything and do whats 
necessary as if I was there, and if any particular instructions 
may be wanting you'l write to me at Hills. As soon as you 
receive this you must pay all the servants their wages due 
from the late Lord . . . those that I would have continued in 
my service are my old friend Arthur Copperwaite, the groom, 
the 2 housemaids, the gardener and the old woman to look 
after the poultry. As I don't know what land my Lord had in 
his hands, but suppose he had some, I take it for granted that 
a husbandman will be wanting. ... I would have the gardener 
lay in the house and charge him to take the best care possible 
of all the Plantations and of the gardens and you will allow 
him what help you think requisite by way of day labourers 
or otherwise. Take the keys of all the cellars into your possession 
and let no one under any pretence have them but when you 
are with them. You'll keep the servants at board wages or 
otherwise as you think best. If you have an opportunity of 
going to Leeds yourself make my compliments to Mr. and Mrs. 
Milner and family and tell them that if there is anything in 
the gardens that they have not, they will oblige mc in sending 
for it, for they are heartily welcome to it. . . . My Lady desires 
that for the present you would remove all the plate to yours 
or your father's house till further orders. . , . Give the keeper 
a strict charge that he preserves the game in as full a manner 
as ever he did in the late Lords time, for shooting is my 
diversion and let him send me a true state of his deer and what 
he can spare this year. . . . Let all the spaniels be taken care 


of and let the keeper take care to air them. My service to your 
father. If he or you think it worth your while to have anything 
out of the garden you may. Keep my letters on a file, . . . 


The immense amount of building in the late seventeenth and 
first half of the eighteenth century was mainly associated with the 
life of the great and small estates, although in the second half of the 
eighteenth century urban, commercial and industrial building began 
to assume great significance. Landed proprietors were often keenly 
interested in building problems, which somcdmes involved large 
initial oudays on new structures as well as costs of adaptation and 
improvement of older structures which were difficult to predict. 
Acdve supervision was usually necessary. The noble houses in 
Horace Walpole's phrase were 'dispersed like great rarity plums in 
a vast pudding of country'; in the first industrial buildings a 
'funcdonal tradition' was perpetuated. 

(a) Source; Letter from the Duchess of Marlborough to her grand- 
daughter, the Duchess of Bedford, 2 April 1732, printed in G. Scott 
Thomson (ed.), Letters of a Grandmother (1943). 

I am come at this moment from Cheam. . . . The house was 
full of workmen. . . . What is doing to the house will make it 
mighty convenient and large enough, and though there is no 
great beauty in the situation of the house, considering 'tis within 
half a mile of the finest downs and best air in England and 
within two hours driving from London, I think it is a very 
pleasing habitation. And when you have quite finished it, I 
am sure you will like it better than anything that is done now 
by such as call themselves architects. I observed that the bricks 
were extremely good, better than I have seen anywhere, except 
those at Marlborough House. ... I think the stables stand in 
a mighty proper place, will hold as many horses and all that 
belongs to them as can ever be of any use to you. And I like 
the walls extremely. I never saw any before of that sort, and 
though I think they look as well as is necessary for that use, 
they told me they did not cost so much as brick walls. To 
conclude, I think there is sense and reason in this place. 

work 197 

(b) Source: Letter from Colonel Liddell to William Cotesworth, 
4 March 1718, printed in E. Hughes, North Country Life in the 
Eighteenth Century (1952), pp. 26-7, The house described is Park 
House, Gateshead. 

Ventured to the Parke yesterday morning tho' the wind was 
so high it had almost blown off my head. See the worst plas- 
tering my eyes ever beheld and, what is worse, I doubt there 
can be no cure for it. I ordered Grey to be discharged and 
Wm Teward to go on with that work. I would advise you to 
latt and plaster to your boards first which will keep all dry and 
warm and the joints of the boards close and not only so but will 
take off a great deal of noise and the charge will not be above 
15s/- a room, I have ordered them to do one after this manner 
but to do no further without your directions. 

The timber in the Rooms over the one which was the kitchen 
is extremely mean so that I have ordered them to put one new 
baulk there to support the partition which is to be betwixt 
Madam's room and the other. They tell me you have given 
orders for a sash window to be put in the North Gavell end 
over the brew house. We have, one and all, agreed to suspend 
it till further orders. The wall is very mean, being much shaken 
and has a great weight upon it so that it will be very hazardous. 
That room will not want light so that without you have any 
perticular reason for it, think it advisable to run no risque. 
Besides, if you build a kitchen where the brew house now is, as 
probably you will, then that window will be stopt up. I design 
to step over now and then tho' perhaps you will not thank me 
for it, but I will do my best. 

(c) The minimum cost of building a country mansion during the 
first half of the century was between £3,000 and £4,000, although 
some houses might cost thirty times as much. Public building, 
however, was often carefully costed. Hertfordshire Quarter Sessions 
decided in January 1769 to build a new Shire Hall by Michaelmas 
1770. It was to cost £4,950, and to include an Assembly Room 
costing £550. 

Source: W. Le Hardy (ed.) Hertfordshire County Records (1935), vol. 
VIII, Quarter Sessions Book, vol. 12, 9 Jan. 1769. 

The said Committee, having produced to this Court several 

173 13 2 
19 10 


propositions for the Strength and Ornament of the Building, 
have rejected those which appeared to be merely Ornamental 
and have returned the following Articles to the consideration 
of the Justices at the next Quarter Sessions: — 

£ s. d. 
If His Majesty's Justices . . . chuse to have a 

Stone Cornice and Blocking Course to go 

round the Building instead of Wood, the 

Difference will be 
If it should be thought proper to put Stone 

Sills to all the Windows of the House instead 

of Lead, the Difference will be 
And if the Justices chuse to have Stone Steps 

and Landings to the Great Stairs, with an 

Iron Rail and a Wainscot Hand Rail, 

instead of Wood Steps, Landings, String, 

and Balustrade, the Difference will be 
If the said Justices incline to have Stone Plinths 

and Capings to the piers front of the Cora 

Market, the additional Expense will be 
... if in front of the Hall, the additional 

Expense will be 

(d) Source: Advertisement for the sale of an early industrial building 
in Aris's Birmingham Gazette, 14 April 1777, 

Iron Works 
To be sold. New Mills and Mackenay Forges in the Parish 
of Duffield and County of Derby, most beautifully and con- 
veniently situated upon each side the River Derwent; con- 
sisting of two Iron Forges; Hammersman's Forge with a 
Scrap Furnace, and divers Workmen's Houses, Gardens, and 
a spacious Yard, lying on the East Side of the River, Also 
a Slitting and Rowling Mill, for Iron and Copper, and a 
Through adjoining, with a large Building, used as a Paper or 
Tin Mill, a large Warehouse, an handsome Dwelling-House, 
with necessary Conveniences; several Workmen's Houses and 
other Buildings, with Gardens, Orchard, and Croft, most 








work 1 99 

delightfully situated on the Side of the River, and worked by 
Wears made at vast Labour and Expence, and executed with 
great Judgment. The Situation of these Works, with the con- 
stant Power of the Water, and all their Conveniences renders 
them capable of being vasdy improved, and altered or changed 
to any other Purpose or Business whatever, where a continual 
Supply of Water is necessary. . . . 

(e) Source: Letter from Sir Robert Williams to Michael Hughes, 
1 Feb. 1 805, printed in T. C. Barker and J. R. Harris, A Merseyside 
Town in the Industrial Revolution (1954), p. 152. 

I have never altered my opinion on the point that you have 
acted wisely in building when you can, for a thousand reasons 
— and now my good Sir allow me to give you my poor advice, 
of all things make your new house snug and comfortable, 
instead of attending to great uniformity in the building, a good 
water closet contiguous to your Bed Chambers — and one out 
of your house, your rooms high, but small as you please — 
Carpets to take up in your bedrooms and dressing rooms; and 
good fire-places — these are luxuries that all the World like. 

(f) Owner occupiers who built their own houses often did better 
than people who bought houses designed by speculative builders. 

Source: Report on the Mecklenburgh Square Estate, London, 
begun in 1807, printed in J. Summerson, Georgian London (1945), 
p. 152. The houses in this estate provided urban accommodation 
of a carefully graded kind for all classes. 

The State and General conduct of the Buildings are much 
upon a par with the state and general conduct of Buildings 
erected by speculators in various parts of the metropolis and 
its vicinity. Those who build for their own occupation may 
reasonably expect such Buildings as we fear it is not practicable 
to obtain from speculative Builders for however prudent or 
desirable it may be to restrain and regulate the conduct of 
the work by Agreements founded on the most minute de- 
scription of the dimensions and quality of every part of the 
Building yet experience has shewn that such restrictions would 
materially impede the letting of the ground. 



While much eighteenth-century estate work could be carried out 
by domestic staff, experts sometimes had to be employed. 

(a) Source: Notes in Blundell's Diary and Letter Book, p. 122. Notice 
how the millwrights who were summoned to repair Blundell's mill 
worked as a family team. 

Dec. 3rd 1710. I sent for my Miller for ye Mill Rights, my 
Mill having suffered great damage in ye Sales and Shalft this 
last Night by ye Winde. 

Dec. 5th. Rich Dauber came to repair ye great Loss I have 
suffered in my Mill. 

Dec. 6th. Henry Dauber ye Mill Right and his Nephew 
James came to mend my Mill, and yc two Sawyers Richard and 
Joseph came to do ye Sawing Work for it. I helped Henry 
Dauber to see whether I had any Tree growing about ye 
House proper for a Mill Shaft. 

Dec. 7th. I felled an Oak Tree between ye New Orchard & 
the new Grounds for a Mill Shaft. 

Dec. 11th. Charles Howerd brought me Home two Fir 
Ballks for my Mill from Thomas Hurst. 

Dec. 21st. I put up a new Mill Shaft. 

Dec. 23rd. I paid off ye Sawers, and ye Mill Rights went 

Jan. 9th 1711. My Mill was set a-going, it being ye first 
Time it went since it was so ill Brocken. 

(b) Source: Letter from Edward Purefoy to Zachary Jordan, 30 
March 1736, printed in Purefoy Letters, vol. I, p. 45. 

Master Zachary/ 

I can't find by the people of Shalstone what your other 
name is, I understand by them you make their ploughs. I 
desire you will make mee a very good plough & bring it over 
as soon as possible you can. If you come soon in the morning 
you may do something to a plough that I have already. 


Your freind to serve you 
ffoi 7 E. P. 

Goodman Zachary a 

ploughmaker at Helmdon 





At the opposite end of the scale to expert work was work carried 
on by wives and daughters to while away time in leisurely house- 
holds. It ranged from needlework (and in the late eighteenth 
century the making of samplers) to keeping a diary. 

(a) Source; Letter from Isabella Ingram to Mrs. Charles Ingram, 
26 Sept. 1 758, in the Temple Newsam Papers, Leeds. 

I work comme quatre and to be sure my chair is beautiful 
(I mean a little bit of the back that is done) tea green and 
purple, all my own ingenious conceit and I really think (tho' 
comparisons arc odious) they will be much handsomer than 
Gobelin Tapestry, but I am modest and therefore shall say no 
more about it. 

(b) The governess, Miss Wee ton, filled seven quarto volumes 
between 1805 and 1825 with copies of letters she had sent and letters 
she had received. 

Source: Note in E. Hall (ed.). Miss Weeton, Journal of a Governess 
(1936), p. xiii. 

It has been a great amusement during many a solitary hour 
when I had no other employ, when I should only have been 
engaged in some fine tedious piece of needlework or other. 


In the household of the propertied, big or small, 'real' housework 
was carried out by domestic servants. (See also, above, p, 139.) 

(a) Source: Instructions to a house maid in T. Balston (ed.), The 
Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman 1776-1800 (1956), pp. 17ff. 

To use as little soap as possible (if any) in scowering rooms. 
All the rooms to be dry scrubbed with white sand. 

To take the papers off the tops of the beds twice a year. 

To whisk all the window curtains every Saturday. Shake 
mats, carpets, etc, every Saturday. To use a painter's brush to 
all the ledges, window frames and furniture, and then the 
duster. Never to use a hard brush to any mahogany carving 
that has been neglected and the dust suffered to settle in it. 



To keep a small mop in the cupboard in the Water Closet, 
and use warm water every day to keep the inside clean. In 
frosty weather not to pour it too hot, only just warm. . . . 

To rise on Tuesday morning to wash her own things and the 
dusters, and help wash stockings. To iron her own things of an 
evening. To mend the towels and her Master's common 
stockings of an evening. 

To work in [the] Storeroom every day after her house work 
is finished, except Saturday, when every thing must be looked 
to that wants doing weekly. Housemaid folds with the Laundry- 
maid every Wednesday. 

To take turns of going to Church every other Sunday with 
the Laundrymaid. 

Never to dust pictures, nor the frames or anything that has 
a gilt edge. . . . 

To force back all the window shutters: otherwise they get 
warped, and will not go into their place, which makes a room 
look very bad indeed. To sweep the steps in front of the house 
every morning when necessary. 

When a floor cloth wants washing, not to use a brush or 
soapsuds, but a soft linen and some fresh milk and water. A 
steel should be used round the hearth and in all dirty corners. 

Venetian blinds. When let down, to pull the longest string 
to turn or close them quite. Otherwise the sun will come 
through the laths. 

(b) Things did not always run smoothly in the domestic work of a 

Source; Letter from Lady Fermanagh to her husband, 1 Dec. 
1710, printed in The Vemey Letters, p. 284. 

. . . The Keeper is such a dredfull fellow that for my part 
I can't imrnagin what the maids will doe with him, for he 
went in the Beer Seller and he is more drunk than yesterday, 
for above three hours with small Beare, as there won't be a drop 
left when I goe away; & because the Cooke lock'd the Seller 
Doore in the afternoon, as I order'd her, Roberts being gon 
out, he nail'd up all the Larders & the Cook's Chamber doore, 
& indeed you never saw so strange a fellow in your life, & 
the gardener is as bad; I really think the maid would not stay 

work 203 

behind, only that I tell her she will be in towne in a little 
while. I think you would doe well to write to Mr, Challoner 
strictly what you would have don about the House; that he 
himself must not be out on your business if the Keeper is out 
late or comes in drunk, that he must be keep't out of the 
House and Mr. Challoner should take care about the Gardener, 
& let you know how he goes on. 


Manufacturing, assisted by technical invention, became an 
increasingly important national activity as the century went by. 
(See above, p. 144.) Conditions of work (size of establishment; 
use of machines, patterns of human relations) varied from place 
to place. 

(a) Dean Tucker looked at the manufacturing distribution of work 
thirty years after Defoe. 

Source: Dean Tucker, Instructions to Travellers (1758). 

In many Provinces of the Kingdom, particularly Stafford- 
shire, Lancashire, and certain districts of Yorkshire, with the 
Towns of Manchester, Norwich, and some others, the Labour . . . 
is very properly proportioned ... so that no Time shall be 
wasted in passing the goods to be manufactured from Hand to 
Hand, and that no unnecessary Strength should be employed. 
For an instance of both Kinds, take one among a Thousand 
at Birmingham, viz. When a Man stamps a metal Button by 
means of an Engine, a Child stands by him to place the Button 
in readiness to receive the Stamp, and to remove it when 
received, and then to place another. By these Means the 
Operator can stamp at least double the Number, which he 
could otherwise have done, had he been obliged to have 
stopped each Time to have shifted the Buttons: And as his 
Gettings may be from 14d to 18d and the Child's from a Penny 
to 2d. per Day for doing the same Quantity of Work, which 
must have required double the Sum, had the Man alone been 
employed; this single Circumstance saves alone 80, or even 
100 per cent at the same Time that it trains up Children to an 
Habit of Industry, almost as soon as they can speak. And hence 



it is that the Bijoux d'Angteterre, or the Birmingham Toys, are 
rendered so cheap as to astonish all Europe; and that the Roman 
Catholic countries are supplied with such vast Quantities of 
Crucifixes, Agnus Dei's, &c from England. . . . The good 
Effects of this Proportioning of Labour to different Strengths 
and Sexes is still more extensive than at first appears. For in 
Birmingham the Numbers of poor Women on the Pay-Bill, 
compared to those of Poor Men, are hardly three to two, 
whereas in Bristol, the Numbers are upwards of four to one; 
and in many parts of London, it is still worse: So great is the 
Difference, and such is the Expensiveness and heavy Burdens 
of a Wrong Conduct even in this Respect; not to mention that 
Prostitution and Debauchery seem to be an unavoidable 
Consequence in the Female Sex of Poverty and Idleness, when 
they are young; and when they grow old, what Refuge can 
they have, if they do not soon rot with their Diseases, but the 
Parish pay. . . , 

(b) A Yorkshire ballad gives a close-up account of the variety 
of family jobs involved in domestic manufacture. A clothier tells 
the members of his household what to do while he is away buying 

Source: The manuscript of the ballad is in the Leeds Reference 
Library, and parts of it have been quoted by H. Heaton in Yorkshire 

Woollen and Worsted Industry (1920), pp. 344-6. 

Master: Lads, work hard I pray, 

Cloth mun be pearked [examined for faults] 

next Market day. 
And Tom mun go to-morn to twi' spinners, 
And Will mun seek about for t' singers; 
And Jack, to-morn by time be rising, 
And go to t' sizing mill for sizing. 
And get you web and warping done 
That ye may get it into t' loom. 
Joe, go give my horse some corn, 
For I design for t' Wolds to-morn. 
So mind and clean my boots and shoon, 
For I'll be up i' t' morn right soon! 
Mary — there's wool — tak thee and dye it. . . . 

work 205 

[His wife protests] 

Mistress: So thou's setting me my wark, 

I think I'd more need mend thy sark. [Shirt] 

Prithie, who mun sit at bobbin wheel ? 

And ne'er a cake at top o' th' creel ! 

And me to bake, and swing, to blend, 

And milk and barns to school to send, 

And dumplings for the lads to mak, 

And yeast to seek, and 'syk as that ! 

And washing up, morn, noon and neet, 

And bowls to scald, and milk to fleet, 

And barns to fetch again at neet. 

Master: When thou begin thou's never done! 
Bessie and thee mun get up soon, 
And stir about and get all done; 
For all things mun aside be laid, 
When we want help about our trade. 

(c) Domestic work encouraged feelings of 'independence', but 
there was often a big gulf between master clothier and worker 
(see above, p. 156). Bitterness b expressed in a contemporary ballad. 

Source: Lines put into a clothier's mouth from The Clothier's 
Delight, or the Rich Man's Joy, printed in J. Burnley, History of Wool 
and Woolcombing (1883), pp. 161-3. 

We'll make the poor weavers work at a low rate, 

We'll find fault where there is none, and so we will bate ; 

If trading goes dead, we will presently show it, 

But if it grows good, they shall never know it ; 

We'll tell them that cloth beyond sea will not go. 

We are not whether we keep clothing or no . . . 

By poor people's labour we full up our purse 

Although we do get it with many a curse. 

(d) Machinery could take some of the drudgery out of work. (Yet 
for its harmful effects, see also below, p. 212.) 

Source: J, Kennedy, 'Observations on the Rise and Progress of 
the Cotton Trade in Great Britain' in Memorials of the Manchester 
Literary and Philosophical Society (1819), p. 130. 

In the year 1797 a new machine for cleaning cotton was 



constructed by Mr. Snodgrass, and first used at Johnston near 
Paisley by Messrs. Houston and Co. Tliis is called a scutching 
or blowing machine. Its merits were but little known till 1808 
or 1809, when it was introduced into Manchester. It is now 
generally adopted for cleaning cotton. The labor of that 
operation, formerly performed by women, in a most fatiguing 
manner, and always considered as degrading ; has been reduced 
by this machine to about one twentieth of what it used to be. 

(e) The real transformation in manufacturing came with the 
development of steam power. Thomas Newcomen had built the 
first steam engine in 1712, but it was James Watt, who joined 
Matthew Boulton of Birmingham in 1775, who introduced the 
strategic new techniques. Boulton and Watt's order book is a guide 
to the spread of the 'industrial revolution'. The following letter 
from Samuel Walker, a progressive ironfounder of Rotherham, 
Yorkshire, is typical of many they received. 

Source: Letter of 15 May 1781, printed in A. H. John, The 
Walker Family (1951), pp. 56ff. 

of S. Yorkshire, Rotherham, May 15th, 1781. 

We have some works upon a river, wh. in general supplies 
us well with water; but in dry seasons we are much retarded 
for want of water. In order to make up this defect in some 
measure, we are intending to build a fire engine, cither in the 
old or common manner, or under the sanction of your patent. 
We should therefore be glad to know on what terms we can be 
permitted to go on under the latter. We have coal of our own 
getting laid down at the Work at about 2|d. cwt. and are 
thinking of a cylinder with 36 or 43 in. diamr., and eight foot 
stroke, and supposee we may work the engine 3 to 6 months 
in the year, according as the seasons are wet or dry. — Quere, 
on what terms we can be permited to go on with either of 
the above cylinders, as to time, & sum, or what sum in hand 
you will give us a commission to go on without further 

We hope you will be moderate in your demands, which 
may be a means of introducing your engines into this country, 
& without which I imagine you can not expect any thing 

WORK 207 

scarce from this neighbourhood. Your reply as soon as you can 

will oblige Gentn. 

Your etc. 

n.b. We can have small coal which is got very near to us laid 

down at our works at about 1 £d cwt. 

(f) Backed by power, machinery could also do much that men 
could not easily do. 

Source: Note added by W. Brown rigg to J. Dal ton, Descriptive 
Poem to Two Ladies at their Returning from Viewing the Mines near 
Whitehaven (1754). 

It appears from pretty exact calculation that it would 
require about 550 men, or a power equal to that of 1 10 horses, 
to work the pumps of one of the largest fire engines now in 
use. . . . And that as much water may be raised by an engine 
of this size kept constantly at work, as can be drawn up by 
2,250 men with rollers and buckets, after the manner now 
daily practised in many mines. ... So great is the power of 
the air in one of these engines. 

(g) By the end of the century not everyone agreed with Defoe's 
assessment of the relative merits of work in the country and in 

Source: C, B. Andrews (ed.), The Torrington Diaries (1935), 
vol. II, p. 118. The passage comes from an account of 'a tour of 
the North* in 1792. 

Oh ! That the wastes of this land were culdvated ; and that 
the property of the land was properly sub-divided for the 
support, and encouragement of the honest kind ; and that it 
were not thought usefull, (nor necessary,) that vicious unwhole- 
some trades should be encouraged to the immense gain of a 
few, by the loss of the lives of thousands. — Amidst all the crew 
of artisans, you may search in vain for healthy looks; — -for, 
alas! they are all sqalid from unwholesome toil, and relaxing 
debauchery. — At Liverpool the importation of wheat from 
America is very great; for this great cotton trade cannot 
support itself; consequently as their husbandry keeps pace 
with our manufactories, who, think ye, will last longest; the 



ground work, or the cotton work? — The one fix'd as the Globe ; 
the other as precarious as the wind: — The one rearing hardy 
honesty: the other supporting enervating debauchery — . Now 
were five hundred of either of such men to come to combat ; 
what could the sons of the shuttle perform against the followers 
of the plough ? Why — they would fall before the latter. — 


As some of the extracts quoted above reveal, women were em- 
ployed in the eighteenth century not only on farms and estates or 
as domestic servants but in a wide variety of industrial occupations, 
sometimes alongside men and children, often within their own 
family, at other times in groups of their own under separate super- 
vision. Conditions were sometimes appalling and the work 
dangerous. Sometimes too, as extract (e) shows, attempts were 
made during times of trade depression to exclude women from 
'the better classes of work'. 

(a) Source: D. Davies, Care of Labourers in Husbandry (1787). 

These [Gloucestershire] women commonly begin the world 
with an infant, and are mere nurses for ten or twelve years 
after marriage, being always either with child, or having a 
child at the breast, consequently incapable of doing much other 
work besides the necessary business of the families, such as 
baking, washing, and the like. ... If in the summer they are 
able to go to harvest work, they must pay some person a 
shilling a week out of their earnings for looking after their 
Their earnings would be 

Bean or pease setting for 3 weeks at 7d a day 10s. 6d. 

Fruit picking for 2 weeks at 4d. 4s. 

Haymaking for 2 weeks at 4d 4s. 

Gleaning, or leasing 6 bushels at 5s. 6d, pr. 

bushel £1 13s. 

(b) Source: W. Hutton, History of Birmingham (1783 edn.), p, 84. 
When I first approached Birmingham, from Walsall in 



1741, I was surprised at the prodigious number of blacksmiths' 
shops upon the road; and could not conceive how a country, 
though populous, could support so many people of the same 
occupation. In some of these shops I observed one or more 
females, stripped of their upper garments, and not overcharged 
with the lower, wielding the hammer with all the grace of their 
sex. The beauties of their faces were rather eclipsed by the 
smut of the anvil. . . . Struck with the novelty, I inquired 
'Whether the ladies in this country shod horses?' and was 
answered with a smile, 'They are nailers'. 

(c) Source: C, B. Andrews (ed.) The Torrington Diaries, vol. II, p. 59. 

Turning to the right over mossy commons with much 
fatigue to ourselves, and horses, arrived at 12 o'clock at the 
Ecton Mines [Derbyshire], the most valuable property of the 
Duke of Devonshire. — Our horses were led forward by T. B. 
to the village of Warsell, where dinner was to be provided for 
us. — One of the managers of the mine conducted us up the 
shaft to the water engine, which drains the mine; and a dirty 
and tedious walk it was; the manager, a miner, P — and 
myself, with each a lighted candle in our hands. In this infernal 
region one cart of ore passed by us. At the water engine we 
were stunn'd by the noise, and astonish'd at the body of 
water; one river flowing above, and one below us. Next, we 
were carried to the smeltings of the copper, and lead, saw 
several sittings, and the many children employ'd in the laborious 
pounding of the stone, by which hand work they may gain 6d. 
per day. The women wash the ore. In the several branches 
are employ'd many hundred labourers. 

(d) Source: R. Ayton, Voyage Round Great Britain (1813), vol. II, 
p. 155. Although this account is late in time, it refers to conditions 
at Whitehaven, Cumberland, which were not new. 

We were frequently interrupted in our march by the horses 
proceeding in this manner with their cargoes to the shaft, and 
always driven by girls, all of the same description, ragged and 
beastly in their appearance, and with a shameless indecency 
in their behaviour, which awe-struck as one was by the gloom 
and loneliness around one, had something quite frightful in it, 



and gave the place the character of a hell. All the people whom 
we met with were distinguished by an extraordinary wretched- 
ness; immoderate labour and a noxious atmosphere had 
marked their countenances with signs of disease and decay; 
they were mostly half-naked, blackened all over with dirt, and 
altogether so miserably disfigured and abused, that they looked 
like a race fallen from the common rank of men and doomed, 
as in a kind of purgatory, to wear away their lives in these 
dismal shades. 

(e) Source: A List of Prices in Branches of the Spitalftelds Weaving 
Manufacture (1769), quoted in M. D. George, London Life in the 
Eighteenth Century (1925), p. 182. Note how dilution of labour in 
war-time was expressly permitted. 

No woman or girl to be employed in making any kind of 
work except such works as are herein fixed and settled at 5£d 
per ell . . . or under for the making and those not to excell 
half an ell in width. . , . And no woman or girl is to be cm- 
ployed in making any sort of handkerchief of above the usual 
or settled price of is. 6d. per dozen for the making thereof 
provided always . . . that in case it shall hereafter happen 
that the Kingdom of Great Britain shall engage in war . . . 
that then every manufacturer shall be at liberty to employ 
women or girls in the making of any sort of works as they 
shall think most fit and convenient without any restraint 
whatsoever. . . . 

(f) Some women had a reasonable degree of independence in their 
work, and some widows tried to continue in their late husbands' 

Source : Notice in the Newcastle Courant, 13 Feb. 1779. 

M. Hawthorn, Widow of the late John Hawthorn, Watch- 
maker of this town, tenders her grateful thanks to the friends 
of her late husband; and begs to acquaint them and the public, 
that she will carry on the said Business (having engaged able 
workmen therein) and hopes for the continuance of their 
favours, which she will at all times studiously endeavour to 

Jewelry, Trinkets, Watches, Music and Musical Instruments. 




Child labour was taken for granted within this economic and 
social system: it was supported even by moral arguments. An 
American visitor to Halifax in 1777 spoke of child labour which 
'not only keeps their little minds from vice . . . but takes a heavy 
burden from their poor parents'. [See also Defoe's view, above, 
p, 75.] Apprenticeship was the most highly organized system of 
dealing with child labour: it sometimes involved very fierce disci- 
pline, particularly for pauper apprentices (see above, p. 169). 

(a) Source: Note in the Annual Register (1775). 

Every design which tends to promote the commercial interest 
of a country is worthy of observation ; but that, which at the 
same time that it strengthens the hands of industry, advances 
the temporal and eternal welfare of our fellow-creatures in an 
especial manner merits attention. . . . The employing of 
female infants, especially those of the poor, from five years old 
and upwards, will introduce an early familiar habit of industry 
among the most indigent of the community, and lay a foun- 
dation for preserving them from those dangers and misfortunes 
to which — from their sex and situations, they are so peculiarly 

(b) Source: Anon., Enquiry into the Causes of the Increase of the Poor 
(1738), p. 43. 

A most unhappy practice prevails in most places to appren- 
tice poor children, no matter to what master provided he lives 
out of the parish ; if the child serves the first forty days we are 
rid of him for ever. The master may be a tiger in cruelty ; he 
may beat, abuse, strip naked, starve, or do what he will to the 
poor innocent lad. ... I knew a poor old weaver . . . who 
some time ago took a poor apprentice from another parish; 
he covenanted, as is usual, to teach him his trade, to provide 
and allow him meat, drink, apparel, etc. to save harmless and 
indemnify the parish whence he took him, and to give him 
two good new suits of wearing apparel at the end of his 
apprenticeship. This master had several times been convicted 
of theft, and had then actually left off his trade through 
weakness and old age, and as soon as the money he had with 



the boy was spent threw himself, apprentice and all, upon the 

(c) Source: W. Radcliffe, Origin of the New System of Manufacture 

My Mother taught me (while too young to weave) to earn 
my bread by carding and spinning cotton, winding linen or 
cotton weft for my father and elder brothers at the loom, 
until I became of sufficient age and strength for my father to 
put me on to a loom. 

(d) Samuel Crompton, the inventor of the mule, recollected how 
his mother helped him to prepare cotton when he was a child. 

Source; G. T. French, The Life and Times of Samuel Crompton, 

I recollect that soon after I was able to walk I was employed 
in the cotton manufacture. My mother used to bat the cotton 
wool on a wire riddle. It was then put into a deep brown mug 
with a strong ley of soap suds. My mother then tucked up my 
petticoats about my waist, and put me into the tub to tread 
upon the cotton at the bottom. When a second riddleful was 
batted, I was lifted out, it was placed in the mug, and I again 
trod it down. This process was continued until the mug became 
so full that I could no longer safely stand in it, when a chair 
was placed besides it and I held on by the back. When the mug 
was quite full the soap suds were pored olf, and each separate 
dollop of wool well squeezed to free it of moisture. They were 
then placed on the bread rack under the beams of the Kitchen 
loft to dry. My mother and my grand-mother carded the wool 
by hand, taking one of the dollops at a time or the single hand 
cards. When carded, they were put aside in separate parcels 
ready for spinning. 

(e) The place of child labour in the new factory system was 
satirized by Robert Southey, the poet and essayist. 

Source: R. Southey, Letters from England (1807). 

Mr.— remarked that nothing could be so beneficial to a 
country as manufactures. 'You see these children, sir,' said he. 
'In most parts of England poor children are a burthen to their 



parents and to the parish; here the parish, which would else 
have to support them, is rid of all expense; they get their 
bread almost as soon as they can run about, and by the time 
they are seven or eight years old bring in money. There is no 
idleness among us: — they come at five in the morning; we 
allow them half an hour for breakfast, and an hour for dinner ; 
they leave work at six, and another set relieves them for the 
night; the wheels never stand still.' I was looking, while he 
spoke, at the unnatural dexterity with which the fingers of these 
little creatures were playing in the machinery, half giddy 
myself with the noise and the endless motion; and when he 
told me there was no rest in these walls, day or night, I thought 
that if Dante had peopled one of his hells with children, here 
was a scene worthy to have supplied him with new images of 


Some account has been given previously of eighteenth-century 
conceptions of business and industrial discipline (see above, p. 50). 
There was a running debate in the eighteenth century as to whether 
high or low wages provided the more adequate incentive to work. 

(a) Source: J. Smith, Memoirs of Wool (1747), vol. II, p. 308. 

It is a fact well known . . . that scarcity, to a certain degree, 
promotes industry, and that the manufacturer who can subsist 
on three days' work will be idle and drunken the remainder of 
the week. . . . We can fairly aver that a reduction of wages 
in the woollen manufacture would be a national blessing and 
advantage, and no real injury to the poor. By this means we 
might keep our trade, uphold our rents, and reform the people 
into the bargain. 

(b) There are many concrete examples of this philosophy. Yet 
there were other writers who were concerned about low wages. 
The following comes from Melksham, Wiltshire. 

Source: Letter from an anonymous "Englishman' to Lord Harring- 
ton (1738 or 1739) in the Public Record Office, SP 36/47, folio 37. 

Most of [the discontent] proceeds from the Contrivances and 
Pride of the Clothiers, as living in luxury, neglecting their 



Business, trusting Servants with the care of their Affairs; and 
beating down the Wages of the Poor, & paying them in bread, 
cheese, meat, linnen, & Woolen Gloth and so forth att a price 
att least one third more than the real value, . . . The poor 
workman is starved into frenzy & then is guilty of rash decisions 
by which he forfeits his life to the Law (if a Lunatick can 
forfeit it). 

(c) Adam Smith took the same point of view. 

Source: The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book I, ch. VIII. 

The liberal reward of labour as it encourages the propa- 
gation, so it increases the industry of the common people. The 
wages of labour are the encouragement of industry, which, 
like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the 
encouragement it receives. A plentiful subsistence increases the 
bodily strength of the labourer, and the comfortable hope of 
bettering his condition, and of ending his days in ease and 
plenty, animates him to exert that strength to the utmost. 
Where wages are high, accordingly, we shall always find the 
workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious than where 
they are low: in England, for example, than in Scotland; 
in the neighbourhood of great towns than in remote country 

(d) Source: Select Committee of the House of Commons, Report on 
Ih State of the Woollen Manufacture of England (1806). 

An evil in itself abundantly sufficient to accomplish the ruin, 
not only of any particular branch of Trade, but even of the 
whole commercial greatness of our country is the progressive 
rise of Wages. 



28 June 1763. In the even, Joseph Fuller and myself plaid a 
game of cricket with Mr. Geo. Bannister and James Fuller, for 
half a crown's worth of punch, which we won very easy, but it 
being hot and drinking a pretty deal of punch, it got into my head, 
so that I came home not sober. 

(from the Diary of Thomas Turner, 28 June 1 763) 

That disease of indolence, which you and my other companions 
used to laugh at, grows stronger and stronger upon me ; my symp- 
toms, indeed, are mortal; for I begin now to lose the power of 
struggling against the malady, sometimes to shut my ears against 
self-admonition, and admit of it as a lawful indulgence. 

(Letter in The Mirror, 1 March 1 779) 

Boswell : But if we could have pleasure always, should not we 
be happy ? The greatest part of men would compound for pleasure. 

Johnson: Supposing we could have pleasure always, an intel- 
lectual man would not compound for it. The greatest part of men 
would compound, because the greatest part of men are gross. 

(Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1 778} 

In the estimation of many people, the Duke of Dorset is the most 
extraordinarily accomplished nobleman we have — at cricket, 
tennis and billiards his Grace has hardly any equal. 

(Whitehall Evening Post, 8 July 1783) 

The amusements of the people have changed with their character. 
Athletic exercises of Quoits, Wresding, Foot-ball, Prison bars and 
Shooting with the Long-bow are becoming obsolete and almost 
forgotten; and it is to be regretted that the present pursuits and 
pleasures of the labouring class are of a more effeminate cast. 
They arc now Pigeon-fanciers, Canary-breeders and Tulip-growers. 
(Richard Guest, A Compendious History of the 
Cotton-Manufacture, 1823) 





Rough sports remained favourite pastimes of the British through- 
out the century, although increasing order and regulation were 
apparent. The Jockey Club, for instance, which regulated racing, 
was founded in 1750. 

(a) Source: M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations (1719), pp. 304ff. 
Besides the Sports and Diversions common to most other 
European Nations, as Tennis, Billiards, Chess, Tick-Tack, 
Dancing, Plays etc., the English have some which are particular 
to them, or at least which they love and use more than any 
other People. Cock-fighting is a Royal Pleasure in England. 
Their Combates between Bulls and Dogs, Bears and Dogs, 
and sometimes Bulls and Bears, are not Battals to Death, as 
those of Cocks: Anything that looks like Fighting is delicious 
to an Englishman. If two little Boys quarrel in the Street, then 
Passengers stop, make a Ring round them in a Moment, and 
set them against one another, that they may come to Fisticuifs. 
When 'tis come to a Fight, each polls off his Neckcloth and 
his Waistcoat (some will strip themselves quite naked to their 
Wastes), and give them to hold to some of the Standers-by; 
then they begin to brandish their Fists in the Air; the Blows 
are aim'd all at the Face, they kick one another's Shins, they 
tug one another by the Hair etc. He that has got the other 
down, may give him one Blow or two before he rises, but no 
more; and let the Boy get up ever so often, the other is obhg'd 
to box him again as often as he requires it. During the Fight, 
the Ring of By-standers encourage the Combatants with great 
Delight of Heart, and never part them while they fight 
according to the Rules: and these By-standers are not only 
other Boys, Porters and Rabble, but all Sorts of Men of Fashion; 
some thrusting by the Mob that they may see plain, others 
sitting upon Stalls; and all would hire places if Scaffolds could 
be built in a Moment. . . . These Combats are less frequent 
among grown Men than Children, but they are not rare. . . . 
Wrestling too is one of the Diversions of the English, especially 
in the Northern Counties. . , . In Winter Footballs is a useful 
and charming Exercise: it is a Leather Ball about as big as 
one's Head, fiU'd with Wind : This is kick'd about from one to 

play 217 

t'other in the Streets, by him that can get at it, and that is all 
the Art of it. Setting up a Cock in some open Place, and 
knocking it down with a Stick, at forty or fifty Paces Distance, 
is another Sport that affords no little Pleasure; but this 
Diversion is confin'd to a certain Season. . . . 


Leisure patterns were as highly stratified as work patterns. 
Partridge shooting was 'the genteelest sport we have' (1777) and 
cockfighting the most popular. In the country fox-hunting 
became a national sport only after the middle of the eighteenth 
century. The first fox-hunting classic, Peter Beckford's Thoughts on 
Hunting, was not published until 1781. Property qualifications 
limited participation in many sports. 

(a) Source: Inscription on a hunting horn, quoted in The Duke of 
Beaufort and M. Morris, Hunting (1891), p. 28. The attribution 
has been questioned, and certainly many country squires kept 
hounds early in the eighteenth century. (See below, extract (d).) 

Thomas Boothby, Esq., Tooley Park, Leicester. With this 
horn he hunted the first pack of fox-hounds then in England 
55 years: bom 1677, died 1752. 

(b) Source: J. S. Gardiner, The Art and Pleasure of Hare-Hunting 

A lover of hunting almost every man is, or would be thought; 
but twenty in the field after an hare find more delight and 
sincere enjoyment than one in twenty in a fox-chase, the former 
consisting of an endless variety of accidental delights, the latter 
little more than hard riding, the pleasure of clearing some 
dangerous leap, the pride of bestriding the best nag, and show- 
ing somewhat of the bold horseman; and (equal to anything) 
of being first in at the death, after a chase frequently from 
county to county, and perhaps above half the way out of 
sight or hearing of the hounds, So that, but for the name of 
fox-hunting, a man might as well mount at his stable-door, 
and determine to gallop twenty miles an end into another 



(c) Deer hunting was an older sport. The duties of a park-keeper 
are set out in the following extract. 

Source: G.Jacob, The Compleat Sportsman (1718), p. 67. 

He must daily take a Turn round his Park, and keep a 
constant Account of the Number of his Deer, and oftentimes 
watch them at Night, for their Preservation against unlawful 
Hunters, especially in Moonshiny Nights and the Rutting 
Season. He must take care to calculate an exact Number of 
Bucks and Does proper to be kill'd in each Season. . , so as 
not to make any Destruction, or lessening of -his Park, and at 
the same Time not to over-stock the same, preserving a proper 
number of young Fawns to be bred up in the steads of those he 
kills; and having always a Regard to Casualties, which some 
will happen in the Winter, unavoidably. 

(d) Sir Roger de Coverley was a keen sportsman — without loo 
much formality. Fox-hunting was far more formally organized by 
the end of the century. 

Source: Article in The Spectator, No. 116. 13 July 1710/11. 

In his youthful days [he had] taken forty coveys of partridges 
in a season and tired many a salmon with a line consisting of 
a single hair. The constant thanks and good wishes of the 
neighbourhood attended him on account of his remarkable 
enmity towards foxes: having destroyed more of these vermin 
in one year than it was thought the whole country could have 
produced. . . , His hunting horses were the finest and best 
managed in all these parts: his tenants are still full of the 
praises of a grey stone-horse that unhappily staked himself 
several years since, and was buried with great solemnity in 
the orchard. 

Sir Roger, being at present too old for fox-hunting, to keep 
himself in action, has disposed of his beagles and got a pack of 
stop-hounds. What these want in speed, he endeavours to make 
amends for by the deepness of their mouths and the variety of 
their notes, which are suited in such manner to each other, 
that the whole cry makes up a complete concert. . . . 

(e) Cockfighdng (along with badger-baiting and bull-baiting) was 
carried on throughout the century, often, but not always, with all 
sections of society present. 

PLAY 219 

Source : Adverdsement in the Chelmsford Chronicle, 1 1 May 1 787. 

Cocking — This is to acquaint all Gentlemen Cockers, That 
there will be a Main of Cocks fought at the King's Arms, at 
Burnham, on the 21st of May, between the gentlement of 
Dengie Hundred and the gentlement of Rochford Hundred — 
To fight eleven batdes for Two Guineas a battle, and Five the 
Main. Dinner at One O' Clock. 

(f) Boxing fitted into this range of sports. Contests were with bare 
fists and sometimes ended in death. There were often several 
thousand spectators, particularly in the last decades of the century. 
They included members of the aristocracy and the royal family. 
London had its first boxing booth in 1719. There were no rules 
until 1867. 

Source: Report in the Ipswich Journal, 19 July 1788. 

Wednesday se'nnight a pitched batde was fought at Tilling- 
ham, in this county, between R. King of Southminster, and 
Noah Church of Bradwell; they met about 5 in the afternoon. 
The contest lasted about an hour and 5 minutes, during which 
time, it is supposed, more hard fighting was never known. 
Church being a strong powerful man, not less than 6 feet 
2 inches high, and King only 5 feet 9 inches and a half, betts 
ran much in favour of him; but King gained a complete 
victory over his antagonist, amidst a concourse of nearly 3000 

(g) Source: Report in the Morning Post, 18 April 1788. 

On Friday, a battle was fought at Blackheath between 
Crabbe, a Jew, and Oliver, commonly called Death; in which 
the former was victorious. All the great patrons, and dis- 
tinguished professors of this fine art were present, and many 
bets were laid. The battle was honoured, in particular, by the 
attendance of his royal highness the prince of wales. 

(h) Boxing gloves had been invented, but were seldom used. 

Source: Note in the Advertiser, 16 Feb. 1747. 

Mr. Broughton proposes with proper assistance to open an 
Academy at his house in the Haymarkct for the instruction of 
those who are willing to be initiated in the mystery of boxing . . , 



where that truly British art, with all the various blows, stops, 
cross buttocks, etc., incidental to the combatants will be fully 
taught and explained; and that persons of quality and dis- 
tinction may not be debarred from entering into a course of 
these lectures, they will be given with the utmost tenderness 
and regard to the delicacy of the frame and constitution of 
the pupil, for which reason muffles will be provided that will 
effectually secure them from the inconveniency of black eyes, 
broken jaws and bloody noses. 

(i) Source; J. Freeth, Stage Boxing in The Political Songster (1790), 
p. 161. 

The true art of boxing — the old English game, 
Of late to so fond an attention lays claim; 
john bull seems resolv'd to throw bullets aside 
And let by the Fist future contests be try'd. 

This art if we turn about forty years back, 

Was taught by old broughton, and practie'd by slack , . . 

slack's reign was not long — with his match soon he met, 

george taylor, the Barber, who never was beat; 

By plunges well aim'd, in John Bull's crowded pit, 

The swaggering Butcher soon made to submit. 

Cross-buttocks caus'd laughter, the whole was a treat, 
A feast for the vulgar, and fun for the great; 
And Cumberland will was as fond of the sport, 
And any prince now is that graces the court. 

(j) Horse racing was popular in Queen Anne's reign, and there 
was a sporting paper at Newmarket as early as 1704. The Oaks 
was first run in 1779 and the Derby a year later. 

Source: Notice in The Gazette, 18/21 June 1705. 

These are to give Notice, That his Royal Highness the Prince 
is pleased to give a Gold Plate, value One Hundred Guineas, 
to be run for at Black Hambleton in Yorkshire, over the four 
miles long Beacon course, the last Thursday in July, by any 
Horse five years old last Foaling time; no Horse to be admitted 
to run but such as bring a Certificate from the Breeder of his 
Horses Age . . . each Horse to carry ten Stone weight, and 
start at the usual hours. 



(k) Source, 

Notes for 12 and 22 Aug. 1756 in the Diary of Thomas 

This day being the first race-day at Lewes, my sister Ann 
Slater and I, upon a horse borrowed of Mr. French, rode to 
Lewes, where we arrived just as the people came from the hill. 
We went to see the ball, which, in my oppinion, was an 
extremely pretty sight. The King's plate of 100 sovereigns was 
run for by Mr. Warren's horse Careless, and Mr. Rogers's 
horse Newcastle Jack, which was won by Careless, the other 
being drawn after the first heat. 'Tis said there were £100 laid 
by the grooms. . . . 

22 August 1756, I sett off for Piltdown, where I saw Charles 
Diggens and James Fowle run twenty rod for one guinea each. 
I got never a bet, but very drunk. 


Both cricket and football were played in the eighteenth century. 
They were adaptations of older games, with marked local variations, 
Cricket became much more highly organized during the eighteenth 
century, with money stakes, betting on the results, and a consider- 
able popular appeal. All classes participated. In a famous match 
at Finsbury when Kent beat All England by one run, Lord John 
Sackville was a member of the Kent team which was captained by 
Rumney, his head gardener. The M.C.C. was formed in 1 787. 

(a) Source: An account by John Nyrcnone of the famous matches 
between the Hambledon Club, a remarkable Hampshire village 
club, and All England, which Hambledon won, taken from his 
Toung Cricketer's Tutor (1833). 

There was high feasting held on Broad Halfpenny during 
the solemnity of one of our grand matches. Oh! it was a 
heart-stirring sight to witness the multitude forming a complete 
and dense circle round that noble green. Half the county 
would be present and all their hearts with us, Little Hambledon 
pitted against All England was a proud thought for the Hamp- 
shire men. Defeat was glory in such a struggle — Victory, 
indeed, made us only 'a little lower than angels'. How those 
brawny-faced fellows of farmers would drink to our success ! 



There would this company, consisting most likely of some 
thousands, remain patiently and anxiously watching every 
turn of fate in the game, as if the event had been the meeting 
of two armies to decide their liberty. And whenever a Hamblc- 
don man made a good hit, worth four or five runs, you would 
hear the deep mouths of the whole multitude baying in pure 
Hampshire— 'Go hard!— Go hard!— Tich and turn!— Tich 
and turn.' To the honour of my countrymen, let me bear 
testimony upon this occasion also, as I have already done 
upon others. Although their provinciality in general, and 
personal partialities individually, were naturally interested in 
behalf of the Hambledon men, I cannot call to recollection 
an instance of their willfully stopping a ball that had been hit 
out among them by one of our opponents. Like true English- 
men, they would give an enemy fair play. 

(b) Source: Report in the Chelmsford Chronicle, 20 July 1787, 

On Tuesday last the long impending match of Cricket, 
between Essex and Kent, was decided at Swanscombe, when 
the former gained a complete victory over their adversaries in 
that noble game, at only one innings, and had 44 notches to 
spare. This so exasperated the gentlemen of Kent, that they 
would not so much as drink with their competitors. 

(c) Kent was not always so unfortunate. 

Source: Report in The Times, 4 Sept. 1795. 

The grand match of Cricket, for one thousand guineas, 
between Kent and All England, was some days since terminated 
at Margate, in favour of Kent. 

(d) Source: E. Chainberlayne, Angliae Notita (1694 edn.), p. 52. 

The Natives will endure long and hard labour insomuch, 
that after twelve hours hard work, they will go in the Evening 
to Foot-ball, Stool-ball, Cricket 

(e) Source: A Report of 1722 in W. Andrews, Old Church Lore 
(1891), p. 96, quoted in M. Marples, History of Football (1954), 
p. 79. 

They write from Eastlow, that at a neighbouring Village, 

PLAY 223 

on Sunday seven-night, during the usual time of Divine 
Service there happened such a violent Hurricane, that a great 
part of the steeple of the Church was blown down; which 
would have done very considerable Damage to the Parishioners 
had they been at Church: But they happened to be luckily at 
a Foot-ball Match, by which means their Lives were probably 

(f) Source: J. Freeth, The Political Songster (1790), p. 83. 

Some years ago the rustic game 

Of football was the fashion, 

And broken shins to merit fame, 

Would frequently occasion; 

Variety diverts the mind, 

And fancy will be straying, 

Else why at present do we find 

This rage for Marble playing. 

Of children's play for men to share, 

The scene however novel ; 

mechanics meet and many are, 

As beggars in a novel; 

They laugh and sing — and round the ring, 

By turns take off a bumper, 

Then eye the spot — and give the shot, 

From taw a deadly plumper. 


People in the eighteenth century drew contrasts between the 
'rustic' and the 'civilized'. These contrasts were based on concrete 
facts about city and countryside. (See above, p. 57.) London life, 
in particular, had a definite round of its own associated with the 
'season'. It rested on the existence of a number of social institutions, 
including clubs, coffee houses, theatres and gaming houses, and the 
acceptance of social conventions and the influence of fashion. 

(a) Source: J. Macky, A Journey Through England (1714), vol. I, 
pp. 190JT. 

I am lodged in the Street called Pall Mall . . . where the 
best Company frequent. If you would know our manner of 



Living, it is thus: We rise by Nine, and those that frequent 
great Men's Levees find Entertainment at them till Eleven, or, 
as in Holland, go to Tea-Tables. About Twelve the Beau-Monde 
assembles in several Chocolate and Coffee Houses: The best 
of which are the Cocoa-Tree and White's Chocolate-Houses, 
St, James's, the Smyrna, and the British Coffee-Houses; and all 
these so near one another, that in less than an Hour you see the 
Company of them all. We are carried to these Places in Chairs 
(or Sedans) which are here very cheap, a Guinea a Week, or a 
Shilling per Hour, and your Chairmen serve you for Porters to 
run on Errands as your Gondoliers (Watermen) do at Venice. 

If it be fine Weather, we take a Turn in the Park till two, 
when we go to Dinner; and if it be dirty, you are entertain'd at 
Picket or Basset at White's, or you may talk Politicks at the 
Smyrna and St. James's. I must not forget to tell you, that the 
Parties have their different Places, where, however a Stranger 
is always well received; but a Whig will no more go to the 
Cocoa-Tree or Ozinda's, than a Tory will be seen at the Coffee- 
House of St, James's. 

The Scots go generally to the British, and a mixture of all 
Sorts to the Smyrna, There are other little Coffee-Houses much 
frequented in this Neighbourhood, Young-Man's for Officers, 
Old-Man's for Stock-jobbers, Pay-Masters, and Courtiers, and 
Little-Man's for Sharpers. I never was so confounded in my 
Life, as when I enter'd into this last: I saw two or three Tables 
full at Faro, heard the Box and Dice ratling in the Room above 
stairs, and was surrounded by a set of sharp Faces, that I was 
afraid would have devoured me with their Eyes. I was glad to 
drop two or three Half-Crowns at Faro, to get off with a clear 
Skin, and was overjoy'd I was so got rid of them. 

At Two we generally go to Dinner: Ordinaries are not so 
common here as abroad; yet the French have set up two or 
three pretty good ones, for the Conveniency of Foreigners, in 
Suffolk-Street, where one is tolerably well served; but the general 
way here, is to make a Party at the Coffee-House to go dine 
at the Tavern, where we sit till Six, that we go to the Play; 
except you are invited to the Table of some Great Man, which 
Strangers are always courted to, and nobly entertain'd. 
(b) Source: A letter to The Times, 31 Dee. 1795. 



London is certainly an eligible place for persons who have 
nothing but their labour to depend on, to get forward in life, 
provided they steer clear of the many snares, and temptations, 
which hover in every alley, street, winding, and comer. 

The mischief is, however, that the generality of young men, 
the moment they set foot in town, or, if brought up in the 
Metropolis, directly they enter the world on their own account, 
are hurried away, thoughtlessly, with the stream of error, and 
dissipation. If he happens to be a young man possessed of a 
moderate independence, without the suggestion of prudence, 
the caution of experience, the councils of wisdom or the re- 
straint of authority, his whole conduct is then influenced by 
the passion with which he is actuated, which becomes at once, 
whether good or bad, his impulse, and his guide. 

The Play-house is the first place of resort, which from the 
frequency of his visits, instead of being an instructive amuse- 
ment, or a moral lesson, turns out a rendezvous of intrigue, 
and intemperance, where he soon acquires an intimacy with 
the idle, the profligate, the gambler, and the prostitute, who 
eye him as their lawful prey, and with all that ease, dexterity, 
and artifice, which a knowledge of the town, and its vicissi- 
tudes, has furnished them with, they imperceptibly lead him 
from one crime to another, till at length he becomes extrava- 
gant, and irregular, callous, and abandoned. Bagnios, gaming- 
tables, horses, and black-legs, are now his only wish, theme, 
and delight, and so long as his pocket will endure the burden, 
so long, and no longer, is he duped, flattered, caressed, and 
encouraged, by those who surround him. But everything must 
have an end, and enormous expenditures cannot keep pace 
with that income which should be managed with care and 
frugality. The young Gentleman runs short, as it is termed, 
and, on his first embarrassment, is advised to apply for the 
assistance of some friendly advertising money lender, who, 
upon proper security, has the modesty to procure him from 
time to time, sums of money, at the equitable premium of 
100 per cent, A repetition so involves him, that, by degrees, 
his estate falls into the hands of Mr. Usurer, who takes an 
absolute assignment of his estate, for a consideration less than 
half its true value: ... he gets [deeper] into debt, is arrested, 



carried to a spunging house, and from thence is removed to 
the King's Bench, or Fleet Prison, 

Far be it from me to throw any odium on an unfortunate 
class of people immured in the walls of either of those places, 
there are no doubt, imprisoned, as worthy, and as good a set 
of people, as any in society, But the young spark I am speaking 
of, being mortified at his late companions standing aloof, and 
resigning him to his fate, becomes loaded with obloquy, 
associates with characters equally as vicious as himself, smoaks, 
swears, and carouses, and, all at once, is wholly lost, as it were 
to himself, and to the world. 

(c) Source: Report in The Times, 5 March 1794. 

The entertainment given by the Manager of the Opera 
House, on Monday night, was the best attended of any we 
have seen for many years, and fully answered the expectations 
that had been formed of it. The space allotted, however, 
large as it was, with the addition of the new room, and another 
above stairs, was by no means sufficient for so large a company : 
and the pressure of the crowd rendered the rooms insufferably 
hot, as well as prevented the masks from appearing to advantage. 
For so large an assembly, there were fewer masks than usual, 
but the hilarity of the company made amends for this de- 
ficiency. The Prince of Wales was in a black domino, arm-in- 
arm with Captain Churchill, and Lord George Conway; 
the Duke of Clarence was the whole evening with Mrs. Jordan 
in a private box upstairs. Michael Angelo Taylor was dressed 
in women's cloaths, but was less talkative than usual. The 
supper was extremely well conducted, and the provisions 
better than usual. The refreshments were also liberally supplied. 
There were about 2700 persons in the rooms, and among them 
some of the prettiest women in town. 


The coffee house reached the zenith of its popularity in the early 
eighteenth century. It provided a centre of news (see above, p. 25), 
and a meeting place for business men and politicians, as well as a 
place for the 'idlers'. 

play 227 

(a) Source; T. Brown, Amusements Serious and Comical (1700), vol. III, 
p. 65. 

Every coffee-house is illuminated both without and within 
doors. ... At the bar the good man always places a charming 
Phyllis or two, who invite you by their amorous glances into 
their smoaky territories. . . . This is the place where several 
knights errant come to seat themselves at the same tabic without 
knowing one another, and yet talk as familiarly together as 
if they had been of many years acquaintance: They have 
scarce look'd about them, when a certain liquor as black as 
soot is handed to them, which being soppishly sum'd into their 
noses, eyes and ears, has the virtue to make them talk and 
prattle together of every thing but what they should do. Now 
they tell their several adventures by sea and land; how they 
conqucr'd the giant, were overcome by the lady, and bought 
a pair of waxed boots at Northampton to go a wooing in. One 
was commending his wife, another his horse, and the third said 
he had the best smoak'd beef in Christendom. Some were dis- 
coursing of all sorts of government, Monarchical, Aristocralical 
and Democratical', some about the choice of mayors, sheriffs and 
aldermen; and others of the transcendant virtues of vinegar, 
pepper and mustard. ... To the charms of coffee the wiser sort 
join'd spirit of clary . . . and brandy, which completely enchants 
the knights. By the force of these soporiferous enchantments you 
shall find one snoaring heartily on a bench, another makes love 
to beautiful Phyllis at the bar, and the third, as valiant as 
Orlando Furioso, goes to signalise his valour in scouring the 


The name 'club' derives from the practice of 'clubbing' the 
expenses of entertainment. All foreign visitors to Britain were 
impressed by English 'dubbability'. During the eighteenth century 
some clubs in London evolved from coffee or chocolate houses 
(notably White's) and by the end of the century there were some 
with a political orientation, others entirely social. In the provinces 
'clubs' were found among many strata of society. In the meantime, 
some coffee houses had evolved into restaurants. 

(a) Source: P. Grosley, A Tour to London, Vol. I (1772), pp. 146-7. 


The establishment of these clubs is owing to the English 
character, which must perpetuate the customs. They are held 
amongst friends, who, having contracted an intimacy in their 
early days, and experienced each other's fidelity, are united by 
a conformity of tastes, schemes of life, and way of thinking. 
These meetings fully gratify that desire, which every man has 
to associate with his equals. . . . 

Affairs of interest and religion are considerably interwoven 
with their private connexions, which Addison has admirably 
described in his Spectator, where we find clubs of hump- 
backed men, stammerers, &c. Their fundamental statutes turn 
upon all the most important duties of friendship, I have been 
assured, that when the members of some of these clubs happen, 
upon a sudden emergency, to be distressed for money, the 
purse of every individual of the society is immediately opened 
to them. . . . 

There are regular clubs, which are held in coffee-houses and 
taverns, at fixed days and hours; wine, beer, tea, pipes, and 
tobacco help to amuse them at these meetings. There are others 
kept at the houses of persons of fortune: they meet in turn 
at the apartments of the several members, if they are bachelors; 
and even if they are married, in case their wives have no 
objection to it. He, at whose house the club is kept, supplies 
the members with refreshments. 

Most of the public societies have a president, who is chosen 
either by plurality of votes or by ballot, for a limited time; 
at the expiration of which, they proceed to a new election. 
The president's seat is at the upper end of the table; and his 
chair, somewhat more elevated than those of the other mem- 
bers, is adorned with some embossed figure, relative most 
generally to those objects, which engage the attention of the 

(b) Source: Edward Gibbon, Journal, Entry for 24 Nov. 1762. 

I dined at the Cocoa-Tree with Holt. ... We went from 
thence to the play {the Spanish Fryar) ; & when it was over, 
returned to the Cocoa-tree. That respectable body, of which I 
have the honour to be a member, affords every evening a 
sight truly English. Twenty or thirty, perhaps, of the first 

play 229 

men in the kingdom, in point of fashion and fortune, supping 
at little tables covered with a napkin, in the middle of a 
Coffee-room, upon a bit of cold meat, or a sandwich, & drinking 
a glass of punch. At present, we are full of Privy Counsellors 
and Lords of the Bedchamber; who, having jumped into the 
Ministry, make a very singular medley of their old principles 
and language, with their modern ones. 

(c) At the other end of the social scale there were craftsmen's and 
farmers' social clubs, like the following at Aveley, Essex. 

Source; M.S. Articles of Aveley Lunatick Clubb, printed in 
Brown (ed.), English History from Essex Sources, vol. II, p. 160. 

I s ' It is hereby agreed that we whose names are under 
written do meet Monthly at The Sign of the Harrow in 
Aveley, there to Expend One Shilling, and be Subject to such 
Rules and Orders as are hereafter Express'd, 

2 nd I|P It is likewise agreed that the said meeting shall be 
on the First Monday after every full Moon in the Year. 

3 rd That some one Member of the said Body, be Chosen 
President or Chairmen for one whole year and no longer, 
unless Re' elected into the said Trust by a Majority of Voices. 

4 th That Every Member shall on his Admission pay Two 
Shillings and Sixpence, which shall goe towards the Publick 
fund for the use hereinafter mention'd, — And the Night of 
his Admission he shall be Exempt from any further payment. 

5 th That Every Member or Members after Signing his 
Name, shall on absenting himself or Themselves, forfeit the 
Sum of One Shilling, which forfeit or forfeitures, shall on the 
next night of their coming be deposited into the hands of the 
President or Chairman; There to be kept untill there is a 
Sufficient fund for a Dinner, which Day is to fixed by a 
Majority of Voices — The Two Shillings and Sixpence paid by 
a New Member to be apply'd to the same use as the forfeit 

6 th That Every Member on his coming into the Clubb 
Room do pay Obeisance to the President or Chairman, and 
Imediatcly pay his Shilling & forfeit Money if any due; If 
a New Member his Two Shillings and Sixpence. 

7 th That no Member do presume on any pretence What- 



soever to use ill Manners to a Brother Member. Such as 
saying, You Lye Sir! or Swear or Curse on pain of being 
Mulch in the Sum of One Shilling, This to take effect during 
Clubb Hours only. 

8 th If any Member or Members do come into the said 
Clubb Room, Fuddled, Disguis'd in Liquor, or Vulgarly 
Speaking Drunk, him or them shall forfeit One Shilling 


There were four London theatres in Queen Anne's reign, each 
with places for different sections of the population. The audience 
was often boisterous. Later in the century plays like Sheridan's 
The Rivals ( 1 775} hit off most of the fashionable pursuits of the day. 
The audience, however, was not interested exclusively in what 
happened on the stage. 

(a) Source.- A comment in The Tricks of the Town Laid Open (1747) 

We have three . . . different and distinct Classes; the first 
is called the Boxes, where there is one peculiar to the King 
and Royal Family, and the rest for the Persons of Quality, 
and for the Ladies and Gentlemen of the highest Rank, unless 
some Fools that have more Wit than Money, or perhaps more 
Impudence than both, crowd in among them. The second 
is calPd the Pit, where sit the Judges, Wits and Censurers, ... in 
common with these sit the Squires, Shapers, Beaus, Bullies and 
Whores, and here and there an extravagant Male and Female 
Cit. The third is distinguished by the Title of the Middle 
Gallery, where the Citizens Wives and Daughters, together with 
the Abigaib, Serving-men, Journey-men and Apprentices 
commonly take their Places. . . . 

(b) Source: Letter in The Mirror, No. 9, 23 Feb. 1779. 

Some weeks ago I was called from my retreat in the country, 
where I have passed the last twenty years in the enjoyment of 
ease and tranquillity. . . . 

Last Thursday I was solicited by an old friend to accompany 
him to the Playhouse, to see the tragedy of King Lear. . . . 
As the theatre had been always my favourite amusement, I 

play 23 1 

did not long withstand the entreaties of my friend ; and when 
I reflected that Mr, Garrick was now gone to 'that undiscovered 
country, from whose bourn no traveller returns,' I felt a sort 
of tender desire to see even a copy of that great original, from 
whose performances I had often, in the earlier part of my life, 
received such exquisite pleasure. 

As we understood the house was to be crowded, we went at 
an early hour, and seated ourselves in the middle of the pit, 
so as not only to sec the play to advantage, but also to have a 
full view of the audience, which, I have often thought, is not 
the least pleasing part of a public entertainment. When the 
boxes began to fill, I felt a secret satisfaction in contemplating 
the beauties of the present times, and amused myself with 
tracing in the daughters, those features, which, in the mothers 
and grandmothers, had charmed me so often. . . . 

Whilst I was amusing myself in this manner, I observed, that 
some of the upper boxes were filled with ladles, whose appear- 
ance soon convinced me that they were of an order of females 
more desirous of being distinguished for beauty than for virtue. 
I could not refrain from expressing some disgust at seeing 
those unfortunate creatures sitting thus openly mingled with 
women of the first rank and fashion. 'Poh!' said my friend, 
'that is thought nothing of now-a-days'. . . . 

As I was going to reprove my friend for talking with such 
levity of a matter that seemed to be of so serious a nature, the 
curtain drew up, and the play began. It is not my design, 
Sir, to trouble you with any remarks on the performance; 
the purpose of this letter is to request of you to take some 
notice of a species of indecorum, that appeared altogether new 
to me, and which, I confess, it hurt me to observe. 

Before the end of the first act, a number of young men came 
in, and took their places in the upper boxes, amidst those 
unhappy females I have already mentioned. I concluded that 
these persons were as destitute of any pretension to birth or 
fashion, as they were void of decency of manners ; but I was 
equally surprised and mortified to find, that many of them 
were of the first families of the kingdom. You, Sir, who have 
lived in the world, and seen the gradual and almost imper- 
ceptible progress of manners, will not, perhaps, be able to 



judge of my astonishment, when I beheld these very gentlemen 
quit their seats, and come down to pay their respects to the 
ladies in the lower boxes. The gross impropriety of this be- 
haviour raised in me a degree of indignation which I could not, 
without difficulty, restrain. I comforted myself, however, with 
the hopes, that those unthinking youths would meet with such 
a reception from the women of honour, as would effectually 
check this indecency; but I am sorry to add, that I could not 
discern, either in their looks or manner, those marks of dis- 
approbation which I had made my account with perceiving. 
Both the old and the young, the mothers and the daughters, 
seemed rather pleased when these young men of rank and 
fortune approached diem. I am persuaded, at the same time, 
that were they to think but for a moment of the consequences, 
they would be sensible of the impropriety of their behaviour in 
this particular. I must therefore intreat of you, Sir, to take the 
earliest opportunity of giving your sentiments on the subject. 

(c) Source; Report in the Morning Pest, 27 Oct. 1798, quoted in 
J. Ashton, Old Times (1885), pp. 192-3. 

Two men in the pit at Drury Lane Theatre, last night, were 
so turbulent, and riotous, during the last act of Henry the 
Fifth, that the performance was interrupted upwards of a 
quarter of an hour. The audience, at last, asserted their power, 
and turned them disgracefully out of the Theatre. This should 
always be done to crush the race of disgusting puppies that are 
a constant nuisance at the playhouse every night. 


Two of the most fashionable places of entertainment in eighteenth- 
century London were Ranelagh Gardens and Vauxhall Gardens. 

.Source.- C. P. Moritz's account of Vauxhall and Ranelagh in 
1782, reprinted in The British Tourists (1798). 

One evening I visited Vauxhall. I had not far to go from my 
lodgings, in the Adelphi Buildings, to Westminster Bridge, 
where you always find a great number of boats on the Thames, 
which are ready, on the least signal, to serve those who will 
pay them, according to the distance. . , . 

PLAY 233 

Vauxhall is, properly speaking, the name of a little village, 
in which the garden, now almost exclusively bearing the same 
name, is situated. You pay a shilling on entrance. 

On entering it, I really found, or fancied I found, some 
resemblance to our Berlin Vauxhall; if, according to Virgil, 
I may be permitted to compare small things with great ones. 
The walks at least, with the paintings at the end, and the high 
trees, which here and there, form a beautiful grove, or wood, 
on either side, were so similar to those of Berlin. . . . Here and 
there you are pleasingly surprised by the sudden appearance 
of the statues of the most renowned English poets and philo- 
sophers; such as Milton, Thomson, and others. But what gave 
me most pleasure, was the statue of the German composer, 
Handel, which, on entering the garden is not far distant from 
the orchestra. 

This orchestra is among a number of trees, situated as in a 
little wood, and is an exceedingly handsome one. As you 
enter the garden, you immediately hear the sound of vocal and 
instrumental music. There are several female singers constantly 
hired to sing here. 

On each side of the orchestra are small boxes, with tables 
and benches, in which you sup. The walks before these, as well 
as in every other part of the garden, are crowded with people 
of all ranks. I supped here with Mr. S***r, and the Secretary 
of the Prussian ambassador; besides a few other gentlemen 
from Berlin; but what most astonished me, was the boldness 
of the women of the town, who often rushed in upon us by 
half dozens, and in the most shameless manner importuned us 
for wine. Our gentlemen thought it either unwise, unkind or 
unsafe, to refuse them so small a boon. 

When the evening was pretty far advanced, we were enter- 
tained with a sight, that is indeed singularly curious and 
interesting. In a particular part of the garden, a curtain was 
drawn up, and by means of some mechanism, of extraordinary 
ingenuity, the eye and the ear are so completely deceived, that 
it is not easy to persuade one's-self it is a deception; and that 
one does not actually see and hear a natural waterfall from a 
high rock. As every one was flocking to this scene in crowds, 
there arose all at once a loud cry of 'Take care of your pockets'. 



This informed us, but too clearly, that there were some 
pick-pockets among the crowd, who had already made some 
fortunate strokes. 

The rotunda, a magnificent circular building, in the garden, 
particularly engaged my attention. By means of beautiful 
chandeliers, and large mirrors, it was illuminated in the most 
superb manner; and every where decorated with delightful 
paintings and statues, in the contemplation of which, you may 
spend several hours very agreeably, when you are tired of the 
crowd and the bustle, in the walks of the garden. . . . But 
enough ofVauxhall! . . . 

I had often heard Ranclagh spoken of. On the evening of 
the 12th I took a walk, in order to visit this famous place of 
amusement; but I missed my way and got to Chelsea; where 
I met a man with a wheelbarrow, who not only very civilly 
shewed me the right road, but also conversed with me the 
whole of the distance, which we walked together. ... At length 
I arrived at Ranelagh; and having paid my half-crown, on 
entrance, I soon enquired for the garden door, and it was 
readily shewn to me; when to my infinite astonishment, I 
found myself in a poor, mean-looking, and ill-lighted garden, 
where I met but few people. I had not been here long, before 
I was accosted by a young lady, who also was walking there, 
and who, without ceremony, offered mc her arm, asking me 
why I walked thus solitarily? I now concluded, this could not 
possibly be the splendid, much-boasted Ranelagh; and so, 
seeing not far from me a number of people entering a door, I 
followed them in hopes either to get out again, or to vary the 

But it is impossible to describe, or indeed to conceive, the 
effect it had on me, when coming out of the gloom of the 
garden, I suddenly entered a round building, illuminated by 
many hundred lamps; the splendor and beauty of which 
surpassed every thing of the kind I had ever seen before. 
Every thing seemed here to be round; above, there was a 
gallery divided into boxes; and in one part of it an organ with 
a beautiful choir, from which issued both instrumental and 
vocal music. All around, under this gallery, are handsome 
painted boxes for those who wish to take refreshments: the 

PLAY 235 

floor was covered with mats; in the middle of which are four 
high black pillars; within which there are neat fire places for 
preparing tea, coffee, and punch: and all around also there 
are placed tables, set out with all kinds of refreshments. Within 
these four pillars, is a kind of magic rotundo, where all the 
beau-monde of London move perpetually round and round. 

I at first mixed with this immense concourse of people, of 
all sexes, ages, countries and characters; and I must confess, 
that the incessant change of faces, the far greater number of 
which were strikingly beautiful, together with the illuminadon, 
the extent and majestic splendor of the place, with the con- 
tinued sound of the music, makes an inconceivably delightful 
impression on the imagination. 

Being, however, at length tired of the crowd, ... I sat 
down in one of the boxes, in order to take some refreshment, 
and was now contemplating at my ease, this prodigious 
collection and crowd of a happy, cheerful world, who were 
here enjoying themselves devoid of care, when a waiter very 
civily asked me what refreshment I wished to have, and in a 
few moments returned with what I asked for. To my astonish- 
ment, he would accept no money for these refreshments ; which 
I could not comprehend, till he told me that every thing was 
included in the half-crown I had paid at the door; and that I 
had only to command, if I wished for any thing more; but 
that, if I pleased, I might give him as a present a trifling 

I now went up into the gallery, and seated myself in one of 
the boxes there: and from thence, becoming all at once, a 
grave and moralizing spectator, I looked down on the con- 
course of people, who were still moving round and round in 
the fairy circle; and then I could easily distinguish several 
stars, and other orders of knighthood. An Englishman, who 
joined me during this my reverie, pointed out to me, on my 
enquiring, princes and lords with their dazzling stars, with 
which they eclipsed the less brilliant part of the company. , . . 

At Ranelagh, the company appeared to me much better, 
and more select than at Vauxhall; for those of the lower class, 
who go there, always dress themselves in their best; and thus 
endeavour to copy the great. Here, even the poorest families 


are at the expence of a coach, to go to Ranelagh, as my 
landlady assured me. She always fixed on some one day in the 
year, on which, without fail, she drove to Ranelagh, On the 
whole, the expence at Ranelagh is nothing near so great as 
it is at Vauxhall, if you consider the refreshments ; for any one 
who sups at Vauxhall is likely, for a very moderate entertain- 
ment, to pay at least half-a-guinea. 


(a) Source; J, Marchant (ed.), Sophie in London (1933), p. 155. 

From Somerset House we set out over Blackfriars Bridge to 
the Royal Circus, where trick riders, tumblers and plays can 
be seen. Actually it is large circular building. 

Children from seven to twelve years ride there, and perform 
a hundred and one tricks. A dear little girl eight years of age 
was particularly entertaining: first dismounting from her 
horse, she proceeds to the stage, where she amuses the spec- 
tators with her by-play. Then it was the adults' turn to ride, 
and an operetta followed, after this rope-walkers, then a 
handsome boy raced the girl on horseback, next came tumblers, 
and finally three grown-ups in a group galloped with the four 
children balanced on their hands and shoulders. This pyramid, 
fraught with art and danger, rode past us a few times, changing 
places as it went. The scenes with these children grieved me, 
though I could not but admire their skill, energy, and the 
infinite flexibility of our body. What cannot human nature 
accomplish by straining every sinew, using all the power of 
its intellect and every minute of its time. 

(b) Source: Note for 9 July 1 760 in the Diary of Thomas Turner. 

In the afternoon my wife walked to Whitesmith, to see a 
mountebank perform wonders, who has a stage built there, 
and comes once a week to cozen a parcel of poor deluded 
creatures out of their money, by selling his packets which are 
to cure people of more distempers than they ever had in their 
lives, for Is each, by which he sometimes takes £8 or £9 of a 



(c) Source; Report in the Ipswick Journal, 12 May 1753, 

To be seen at the King's Arms in Harwich, the surprising 
Dancing Bears, Late arrived from Abroad, who by an infinite 
deal of Labour and Trouble are brought to foot it to a Violin, 
both in Comic Dances and Hornpipes, even beyond Imagina- 
tion. The largest of them is eight Foot high, and dances to the 
Admiration of all Beholders. They have had the honour twice 
to perform before his Majesty King George, his Royal Highness 
the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cumberland, and all the 
Royal Family, and upwards of 300 of the Nobility in London. 
They perform many other Particulars as expressed in the 
Bills; and are separated by a Partition that Gentlemen and 
Ladies may see their Performances without Fear. 

(d) Source: J. Macky, Journey Through England {1714 edn.), vol I, 
p. 153. 

The hunting of a pig there [at Ewel] every Monday Morning, 
when the only knack consists in catching and holding him up 
by the Tail, is infinitely more becoming the Boys that perform 
it, than the Spectators that employ them. 

(e) Source; Report in the Ipswich Journal, 26 Oct. 1754. 

Dedham, October 23, 1764. 

Our Peal of Eight Bells being now compleated; Friday the 
First of November is fixed for Ringing them, when we believe 
they will be esteemed good Bells. 
John Saunders, William Cross, Churchwardens. 

n.b. In the Long Room at the Sun, in the Evening, will be 
Country Dancing; proper Musick is provided. 

(f) Source: C. B. Andrews (ed.), The Torringion Diaries (1935), 
vol. II, p. 22. The passage refers to a visit to Yorkshire in 1789. 

By a country of much beauty, hill, dale and wood, we enter'd 
the town of Rotherham. . . . The master of the inn has got 
a patent (a very odd one) for making marbles for children, 
which he can do of all descriptions, so well and expeditiously, 
that he will soon supply all the schoolboys of the world. 

(g) Source: W. Cowper. Tirocinium (1784). 


The little ones, unbutton'd, glowing hot, 
Playing our games, and on the very spot, 
As happy as we once, to kneel and draw 
The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw; 
To pitch the ball into the grounded hat 
Or drive it devious with a dextrous pat, 


Throughout the century gaming was one of the most active 
national pastimes. Wagers were laid on all kinds of contingency, 
and there were large numbers of gaming houses, particularly in 

(a) Source: Passage from The Works of Thomas Brown (1705), 
quoted by J. Ashton, Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne (1883), 
pp. 82-3. 

Gaming is an Estate to which all the World has a Pretence, 
tho' few espouse it that are willing to keep either their Estates 
or their Reputations. ... In some Places they call Gaming 
Houses Academies; but I know not why they should inherit 
that honourable Name, since there's nothing to be learn'd 
there, unless it be Slight of Hand. . . . One idle day I ventur'd 
into one of these Gaming Houses, where I found an Oglio of 
Rakes of several Humours, and Conditions met together. 
Some that had left them never a Penny to bless their Heads 
with. One that had played away even his Shirt and Cravat, 
and all his Clothes but his Breeches, stood shivering in a 
Corner of the Room, and another comforting him, and saying, 
Damme, Jack, who ever thought to see thee in a State of 

(b) Source : Note in Luttretl's Diary, 2 1 Jan. 1710, quoted in ibid., p. 87. 

Yesterday books were opened at Mercer's Chappel for 
receiving subscriptions for the lottery, and 'tis said, above a 
Million is already subscribed. . . . 

(c) Source: Note in the Post Boy, quoted in ibid., 6/8 Jan. 1713, p. 88. 

PLAY 239 

Yesterday was drawn No. 22858 [in the Public Lottery], 
which entitles the Bearer to £36,000. 

(d) Source: Note in The Every-Day Book (1827), vol. II, col. 1344. 

In October, 1 735, a child of James and Elizabeth Leesh, of 
Chester-le-Street, in the County of Durham, was played for 
at cards, at the sign of the Salmon, one game, four shillings 
against the child, by Henry and John Trotter, Robert Thomson, 
and Thomas Ellison, which was won by the latter, and 
delivered to them accordingly. 

(c) Source: Report in The Times, 25 Sept. 1797. 

To such a height has the spirit of gambling arisen, that at 
some of the great Tables it is not uncommon to see the stake 
consist wholly of property in kind. A house of furniture was last 
week lost to a Lady in the neighbourhood of Pall Mall. The 
successful party had played against it, the stock of a farm in 
the County of Essex. 

(f) Source: Report in ibid., 2 Nov. 1797. 

At some of our Boarding Schools, the fair pupils are now 
taught to play whist, and cassino. Amongst their winning ways, 
this may not be the least agreeable to Papa and Mamma. 

It is calculated, that a clever child, by its cards, and its 
novels, may pay for its own education. 

(g) State Lotteries were in operation until 1826. 
Source: Report in ibid., 19 March 1798. 

The £20,000 prize, drawn on Friday, is divided amongst 
a number of poor persons: a female servant in Brook St., 
Holborn, had a sixteenth; a woman who keeps a fruit-stall in 
Gray*s-Inn-Lane another; a third is possessed by a servant of 
the Duke of rqxburghe's; a fourth by a Chelsea carrier of 
vegetables to Covent Garden. . . , 

(h) Charles Lamb protested against the eventual abolition. 

Source: C. Lamb. 'The Illustrious Defunct' in the New Monthly 
Magazine (1825). 

Never can the writer forget when, as a child, he was hoisted 





upon a servant's shoulder in Guildhall, and looked down upon 
the installed and solemn pomp of the then drawing Lottery. . . . 
The grave and reverend faces of the commissioners eyeing the 
announced number; the scribes below calmly committing it 
to their huge books; the anxious figures of the surrounding 
populace, while the giant figures of Gog and Magog, like 
presiding deities, looked down with a grim silence upon the 
whole proceeding. . . . 


The growth of spas and watering places (see above, pp. 61 ff.) 
encouraged organized 'idleness' in congenial surroundings away 
From London, 

(b) Source; Letter from William Mildmay to his cousin, 1749, 
printed in Edwards (ed.), English History from Essex Sources, vol. I, 
p. 160. 

I was persuaded to stay at this place [Spa in Germany] 
longer than I first intended, by being assured of the greatest 
services these waters perform, in removing the cause of the 
nervous complaints I have heretofore been affile ted with ; and 
now I am induced to stay yet longer, since I have been in- 
formed that your Lordship and Lady Fitzwalter are taking 
the benefit of the waters at Tunbridge, which I heartily wish 
may have as good an effect as these have had on Lady Holder- 
ness, who is surprisingly recovered in her strength, appetite 
and spirits, which has been in some measure owing to her 
persevering in the regimen to be observed at this place. But 
Mr. Tindal, who desires to have no appetite raised that he 
can't gratify, is much enraged at being told, that though the 
waters make him sleepy, he must not sleep; and though they 
make him hungry, he must not eat; so he has forsaken the 
spring, but is very regular in drinking the Burgundy. Your 
Lordship, I presume, is apprised that there are four fountains 
belonging to this place, and one in the town, the others about 
a league distant, and though these are severally recommended 
according to their different medicinal virtues for various 
disorders, yet Fashion gives the preference alternately to go 
cither to the one or the other. 

I wish the passage hither was but as easy as a journey to 
Bath or Tunbridge, being persuaded they would yield great 
benefit to my Lady Fitzwalter; but the spirit of none of the 
waters, except the Pohun, will remain, if bottled to be carried 
into England, or even to be brought down in the town, and so 
much the better for those that are here, since the rising early 
in the morning, and the exercise of going up and returning 
back, greatly help towards the cures which are attributed to 
the waters. . . . 

At present the Season is near over with the foreigners, who 
not being able to afford staying here a long time, drink as 
much in a fortnight as should suffice for a month. This par- 
ticularly is the Dutch frugality, who will drink 20 or 30 glasses 
in a morning, and thus drench and wash their insides, without 
giving time to the blood to imbibe and correct itself with the 
mineral virtues. The English by being better advised, drink 
gently and stay longer, so that within a week, we shall be left 
to ourselves. 


(a) Source: Advertisement in the Ipswich Journal, 25 April 1761. 
Wivenhoe in Essex, April 21, 1761. 

The Wivenhoe Sea Water Bath is continued by Tho. 
Tunmer, Surgeon and Apothecary, as usual. He letts and 
procures Lodgings, Board, etc, at a reasonable Rate; and by 
him Dresses and a Guide, with proper Attendance, are 

Wivenhoe is admired for these Reasons; being situated on 
the Banks of the Coin, about eight Miles from the open Sea, 
it is free from those noxious Exhalations that are consequent on 
a nearer Situation, while it enjoys all that can be reasonably 
expected from Sea- Water; the Density of which, as proved by 
Evaporation, is little or nothing inferior to that in the open Sea. 
The Town is entirely free from all contagious Disorders, and 
the Country round hilly, healthful, and pleasant, abounding 
with Gentlemen's Seats. 

(b) Source: Report in the Brighton Morning Herald, 28 August 1806. 



The Beach this morning was thronged with ladies, all 
anxious to make interest for a dip. The machines, of course, 
were in very great request, though none could be run into the 
ocean in consequence of the heavy swell, but remained sta- 
tionary at the water's edge, from which Martha Gunn and her 
robust female assistants took their fair charges, closely enveloped 
in their partly coloured dresses, and gently held them to the 
breakers, which not quite so gently passed over them. The 
greatest novelty, however, that this part of the coast exhibited 
this morning, was in a gentleman's undressing himself on the 
Beach, for the purpose of a ducking, in front of the town, 
attended by his lady, who satis diffidence, supplied him with 
napkins, and even assisted him in wiping the humid effects of 
his exercise from his brawny limbs, as he returned from the 
water to dress. 


Manners and Styles 

This is the only pleasant Hour 
Which I have in Twenty-four; 
For whilst I unregarded stand, 
With ready Salver in my Hand . . . 
I hear and mark the courtly Phrases, 
And all the Elegance that passes . , . 
The Laws of true Politeness stated, 
And what Good-breeding is, debated. 

(Robert Dodslev, The Footman, 1 732) 

Good company is composed of a great variety of fashionable 
people, whose characters and morals are very different, though 
their manners are pretty much the same. 

(Lord Chesterfield, Letters, 1748) 

There never was a period since the creation of man when crimes 
and vices were less atrocious and shocking than in the present age. 
Manners, now polished and softened, have improved morals. 
Self-interest was always the ruling passion of all mankind; the old 
way of gratifying it was by murdering and poisoning; the new 
fashion by deceit. 

(The Annual Register, 1761) 

An elegant manner and easiness of behaviour are acquired 
gradually and imperceptibly. No man can say 'I'll be genteel'. 
There are ten genteel women for one genteel man, because they 
are more restrained. 

(Samuel Johnson, as quoted by Boswell, 1776) 

Everything about this farm-house was formerly the scene of 
plain manners and plentiful living. , , . [Now] there were the decanters, 
the glasses, the 'dinner-set' of crockery ware, and all just in the 
true stock-jobber style. 

(William Cobbett, Rural Rides, 1830) 



p. 1240. 



B. Dobrde (e&), Letters of Lord Chesterfield (1932), vol. 4, 

The letter was written by Chesterfield to his son in the autumn of 
1 748. The letters as a whole are full of advice both about the norms 
of acceptable social behaviour and the leading political and social 
personalities in England and Europe. 

The company of professed wits and poets is extremely 
inviting to most young men, who, if they have wit themselves, 
are pleased with it, and if they have none, are sillily proud of 
being one of it; but it should be frequented with moderation 
and judgment, and you should by no means give yourself up 
to it. A wit is a very unpopular denomination, as it carries 
terror along with it; and people in general are as much afraid 
of a live wit in company as a woman is of a gun, which she 
thinks may go off of itself, and do her a mischief. Their acquain- 
tance is, however, worth seeking, and their company worth 
frequenting; but not exclusively of others, nor to such a degree 
as to be considered only as one of that particular set. 

But the company which of all others you should most 
carefully avoid, is that low company, which, in every sense of 
the word, is low indeed; low in rank, low in parts, low in 
manners, and low in merit. You will, perhaps, be surprised 
that I should think it necessary to warn you against sucli 
company; but yet I do not think it wholly unnecessary, from 
the many instances which I have seen of men of sense and 
rank, discredited, vilified, and undone, by keeping such 
company. . . . 

Depend upon it, you will sink or rise to the level of the com- 
pany which you commonly keep: people will judge of you, 
and not unreasonably, by that. There is good sense in the 
Spanish saying, 'Tell me whom you live with, and I will tell 
you who you are'. Make it therefore your business, wherever 
you are, to get into that company which everybody in the place 
allows to be the best company next to their own; which is the 
best definition that I can give you of good company. . . , 

As I make no difficulty of confessing my past errors, where I 



think the confession may be of use to you, I will own, that when 
I first went to the university, I drank and smoked, notwith- 
standing the aversion I had to wine and tobacco, only because 
I thought it genteel, and that it made me look like a man. 
When I went abroad, I first went to the Hague, where gaming 
was much in fashion ; and where I observed that many people 
of shining rank and character gamed too. I was then young 
enough, and silly enough, to believe that gaming was one of 
their accomplishments; and as I aimed at perfection, I adopted 
gaming as a necessary step to it. Thus I acquired, by error, the 
habit of a vice which, far from adorning my character has, I am 
conscious, been a great blemish in it. 

Imitate then, with discernment and judgment, the real per- 
fections of the good company into which you may get; copy 
their politeness, their carriage, their address, and the easy 
and well-bred turn of their conversation ; but remember that, 
let them shine ever so bright, their vices, if they have any, are 
so many spots, which you would no more imitate, than you 
would make an artificial wart upon your face, because some 
very handsome man had the misfortune to have a natural one 
upon his: but on the contrary, think how much handsomer 
he would have been without it. 


Eighteenth- century contrasts can never be evaded. Violence and 
good manners coexisted, with areas and dmes of tolerated licence 
for the first. 

(a) London crowds were rough and zenophobic. 

Source: P. Grosley, Observations on England (1772), pp. 85-5. 

Inquire of them [the people] your way to a street : if it be 
upon the right, they direct you to the left, or they send you 
from one of their vulgar comrades to another. The most 
shocking abuse and ill language make a part of their pleasantry 
upon these occasions. To be assailed in such manner, it is not 
absolutely necessary to be engaged in conversation with them : 
it is sufficient to pass by them. My French air, notwithstanding 


the simplicity of my dress, drew upon me, at the corner of every 
street, a volley of abusive litanies, in the midst of which I 
slipt on, returning thanks to God, that I did not understand 
English. The constant burthen of these litanies was, French 

dog, French b : to make any answer to them, was accepting 

a challenge to fight; and my curiosity did not carry me so 
far. I saw in the streets a scuffle of this kind, between a porter 
and a Frenchman, who spit in his face, not being able to make 
any other answer to the torrent of abuse which the former 
poured out against the latter without any provocation. . . . 

Happening to pass one day through Chelsea, in company 
with an English gentleman, a number of watermen drew 
themselves up in a line, and attacked him, on my account, with 
all the opprobrious terms which the English language can 
supply, succeeding each other, like students who defend a 
thesis: at the third attack, my friend stepping short, cried out 
to them, that they said the finest things in the world, but 
unluckily he was deaf: and that, as for me, I did not understand 
a word of English, and that their wit was of consequence 
thrown away upon me. This remonstrance appeased them, and 
they returned laughing to their business. 

(b) There was delight in rough spectacles (for cruel sports, see 
above, p. 216), like the sight of prisoners in procession on their way 
from Newgate Prison to Tyburn Gallows. (See below, pp. 381 ff.) 
Sympathy was often expressed for criminals, but the crowds could 
take affairs in their own hands. 

Source; Note in the Gentleman's Magazine, September 1735. 

[After a sailor found guilty of murdering his wife had 
poisoned himself] the people about Bristol were so incensed at 
his hardened Wickedness, that they dug up his Body, after it 
had been buried in a Cross Road near that City, dragg'd his 
Guts about the Highway, poked his Eyes out, and broke almost 
all his Bones. 

(c) Most foreign visitors, including Grosley, saw redeeming features, 
however, even in crowd behaviour. 

Source: J. W. von Archenholz, A Picture of England (1 790), p. 210. 

On any public commotion, when the people run into the 


streets, and assemble in crowds, the greatest care is taken lest 
any accident should happen to the women and children, whom 
they either make room for, or carry in their arms, that they 
may be better seen. 

(d) At least one French observer noted the relationship between 
'roughness' or 'fierceness', as he called it, and English love of 
liberty. This relationship has been taken up by recent historians. 

Source; B. L. de Mural t, Lettres sur les Anglais et lesFranfais (1725), 
p. 25. 

I would not have you any way offended at this Word 
[fierceness] ; it insinuates, no doubt, something very odious to 
Strangers, but at the same time, it produces a great many good 
Effects among the English. 'Tis to this Fierceness, which can 
bear nothing, and is jealous of everything, that they owe their 
chief Happiness, their Liberty, 'Tis by this that the People, 
tho* divided and plunged in Prosperity and Idleness, recover 
in a Minute all their Strength and forget their Disputes, to 
oppose unanimously every thing that tends to subdue them. 

(e) In high life also, behind the elegance there was often a touch 
of squalor — in big and litde things. There was also frankness about 
the coexistence of elegance and squalor. 

Source: Letter from the Duchess of Leinster, 1 June 1792, in 
B. Fitzgerald, Emily, Duchess of Leinster, A Study of Her Life and Times 
(1951), p. 198. The scene is a masked ball. 

We had no crowd either in going in or getting out, and our 
coachy and footman managed very well. Ciss looked very 
pretty when she took off her mask, dress'd like a little Savoyarde, 
and was very much entertained and very happy & delighted, 

tho' Ld. C was not there; and when we first went in her 

supper which she had hurried down made her sick. But we 
got her to an open window behind a curtain, where she threw 
it up, and then she was perfectly well. We were very lucky } for 
no mortal saw it or suspected it, but Robert, Henry and me; 
for dr good-natured Arabella had run for a glass of water as 
quick as lightening, and brought it back just as it was all 
come up, which recover'd her entirely; and she was as well as 
if nothing had happen'd. ... I always feel a litde nervous 


among masks; but this really went off vastly well, and I was 
even diverted with some of the comical masks. Charles Fox 
was there and sat by me a good while, but it was no place to 

Ciss is fast asleep and it is three o'clock. I got up very well 
and refresh'd, I am an excellent rake. 

(f) Prostitution {see above, pp. 91 AT.) was commonplace and 
generally accepted throughout the country. 

Source: M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations on England (1719), 
p. 60. 

Courtezans, alias whores. Mr. Monconys wrote above 33 or 
34 Years ago in his Little Voyage into E. that he had been 
through one of the Streets (about Lincolns Inn Fields) which 
were wholly inhabited by professd Courtezans. At present 
theres a great Alteration in this Point, for now those Ladies 
are distributed aU the Town over. 

(g) Duelling also persisted, although Steele described it early in 
the century as 'a custom which all men wish exploded, though no 
man has courage enough to resist it'. Codes of honour still held. 

Source; Report in The Times, 13 March 1794. 

On Sunday morning a duel was fought in Hyde Park between 
Mr. Parkhurst and Lieut. Kelly of the Navy. The dispute 
originated in some difference about places at the Opera Pit 
on the preceding night. A brace of pistols was discharged, and 
the latter gentleman wounded in the shoulder. The seconds 
then interfered, and brought the matter to a termination. 


Throughout the century both tastes and conduct were regulated 
by fashion. Chesterfield was a judge not only of behaviour, but of 
fashion, and in the elegant social world Paris clearly set the fashion. 

(a) Source: The Earl of Chesterfield, Letters to his Son (1901), 
vol. II, p. 48. 

Fashion is more tyrannical at Paris than in any other place 
in the world; it governs even more absolutely than their king, 


which is saying a great deal. The least revolt against it is 
punished by proscription. You must observe, and conform to 
all the minuiim of it, if you will be in fashion there yourself; 
and if you are not in fashion, you are nobody. Get therefore, 
at all events, into the company of those men and women 
qui dotment le ton; and though at first you should be admitted 
upon that shining theatre only as a persona muta, persist, 
persevere, and you will soon have a part given you. . . . 

(b) Paris felt, as usual, however, that it had the advantage. 

Source: P. Grosley, Observations on England (1772), p. 106. 

A mode begins to be out of date at Paris, just when it has 
been introduced at London by some English nobleman. The 
court and the first-rate nobility immediately take it up: it is 
next introduced about St. James's, by those that ape the 
manners of the court; and, by the time it has reached the city, 
a contrary mode already prevails at Paris, where the English, 
bringing with them the obsolete mode, appear like the people 
of another world. 

(c) Fashions percolated through society— with tradesmen and 
servants as intermediaries. 

Source: Vicesimus Knox, The Works of Vicesimus Knox (1824), 
vol. I, p. 374. 

The vanity of the great and opulent will ever be affecting 
new modes, in order to increase that notice to which it thinks 
itself exclusively entitled. The lower ranks will imitate them 
as soon as they have discovered the innovation. . . . The 
pattern is set by a superior; and authority will at any time 
countenance absurdity. 

(d) Coach travel gave ample opportunity for discussion of fashion : 
it also spread news of fashion in the provinces. 

Source: C. B. Andrews (ed,), The Torrington Diaries (1934), 
vol. II, pp. 154-5. The passage refers to a change of coach at 

Whilst a change of coaches was preparing, the older ladies 
revell'd in tea, and the Islingtons sipp'd coffee, who were 
reproved by me for being all new dress'd; 'Your old worst 



cloaths, (I told them,) were fittest for travelling'. Resuming 
the coach, the tea (which caused strong perspirations) set the 
ladies tongues a-wagging, and developed their characters; for 
now the younger four (the cook and I taking no part) began 
an elaborate discourse about fashions, feathers, robes, bodies, 
French backs, &c. &c. and then Miss H— proclaimed herself 
a mantuamaker, told them for whom, and at what prices she 
work'd; (meaning to serve the Miss Islingtons;) and brag'd of 
her getting silver'd muslins; and that she had cquipp'd, last 
year, the Sheriff's lady going to a consort at Leicester :— The 
old- blue also spake so scientifically, that I should think they 
were of the same business, and that they had been up to town 
to see, and study fashions; and to view (as they said) 'The 
Qualaty . . , and who walk'd in St, James's Park of a Sunday 
evening, and who were dressed so fancicallf . 

(e) Sometimes there could be sudden switches in fashion. In the 
1790s, for instance, buckles (whether made of cheap metal or of 
silver) suddenly went out of fashion as part of a simplification of 
styles (see below, p. 254) and 'effeminate shoe-strings' took their 
place. Despite furious petitions from Birmingham manufacturers, 
the change in fashion proved permanent. 

Source: Petition to the Prince of Wales, January 1792, printed in 
J. A. Langford, A Century of Birmingham Life (1871), vol. II, p. 14. 

. . . With minds strongly agitated by the alarming decline 
of our Trade, we approach your royal highness, not without 
hope, being abundantly convinced that you will rejoice in an 
opportunity of displaying at the same time, your goodness, 
public spirit and humanity. 

It will stand, instead of a thousand arguments, simply to 
state to your royal highness, that the Buckle Trade gives 
employment to more than Twenty Thousand Persons, numbers 
of whom, in consequence of the prevalency of Shoe-strings and 
Slippers, are at present without employ. ... It is in great 
measure owing to the two valuable Manufactures of Buckles 
and Buttons, that Birmingham has attained her present 
importance in the map of Great Britain. . . . 

We beg leave to observe that when Fashion, instead of 
foreign or unprofitable ornaments, wears and consumes the 

MANNERS and styles 


Manufactures of this Country, she puts on a more engaging 
form and becomes Patriotism, When Taste, at the same time 
and by the same means that she decorates the Persons of the 
Rich, cloaths and feeds the naked Poor, she deserves a worthier 
appellation and may be styled Humanity. We make no doubt 
but your royal highness will prefer the blessings of the 
Starving Manufacturer to the enconiums of the Drawing Room. 

We know it is to no purpose to address Fashion herself; she 
is void of feeling and deaf to argument; but fortunately she is 
subject to your control; She has been accustomed to listen to 
your voice and obey your commands. 

We, therefore, most earnestly implore your royal highness, 
as our present Hope and future Sovereign, attentively to 
consider the deplorable situation of our trade, which is in 
danger of being ruined by this mutability of Fashion. 

(f) Women's fashions were, of course, a source of interest to the 
press as well as to women. 

Source : Note in The Times, 27 Aug. 1796. 

Fashion would be its own murderer, if it were to be constant 
and permanent. The last year's dress seems to abdicate 
entirely ; even the waist is walking down towards the hip ; and 
three straps, with buckles in front, have abridged so much of 
the usurpation of the petticoat. One cannot see so many Ladies 
of high ton with the straps over the bosom, without thinking 
how much better they might have been employed over the 

(g) Some fashions were designed to shock. 

Source: Letter from Caroline Cornwallis to Signora Sara Ford, 
6 April 1806 in the Sismondi Papers, Pescia, Italy. 

The part of this letter which will first take your attention 
will show you that I have not been inattentive to your wishes — 
I have then endeavour'd to give you as good an idea as I 
could upon so small a scale of the dress and fashion of English 
women but I must beg you at the same time to remember that 
in looking at them you do not see me, as I should be very 
sorry to be dressed exactly in the style of any of those ladies — 
A decent compliance with fashion is certainly proper and so far 



I do comply, but I have not yet reconciled to my eyes or my 
conscience that indecency which I am sorry to say is but too 
prevalent in the dress of the English Ladies at present — the 
fashion in general I must call detestable and it grieves me to 
see many of my best friends and who would not do a wrong 
thing for the world suffering themselves to be led into a mode 
of dress so extremely reprehensible — That you may judge to 
what a pitch it is carried tho' for the honour of my country- 
women I should wish to conceal it would they make a secret 
and fit themselves I will tell you what a friend of mine saw 
herself at a ball she was at last year there were two young 
Ladies reckon'd beauties who had literally no covering on the 
upper part of their bodies but a worked muslin strap over the 
shoulders to support the gown and a piece of lace put across 
the breast just above the petticoat! ! Thank heaven the minds 
of those present were not enough corrupted to approve such 
a mode of appearing in public and every one show'd as far 
as possible their contempt for those silly girls— the instance of 
such immodesty is I hope infrequent. 

(h) Yet great attention was paid also to men's fashions both at 
the beginning and end of the period. 

Source: M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations (1719), pp. 15-16. 

It must be own'd there are more Gascoons in Gascony than 
in any other Part of the World; but then it must be own'd, 
there are many of them everywhere. The same may be said 
of those smart Fellows, or He-Coquets, who are not rare in any 
part of France, and who abound at Paris. England also has a 
competent Share of these Animals, and the City of London, 
particularly is thoroughly stock'd with 'em. These Gentlemen 
in English are called Fops and Beaux. The Playhouses, Chocolate- 
houses, and Park in Spring, perfectly swarm with them: Their 
whole Business is to hunt after new Fashions. They are Creatures 
compounded of a Perriwig and a Coat laden with Powder as 
white as a Miller's, a Face besmear'd with Snuff, and a few 
affected Airs; they are exactly like Moliere's Marquesses, and 
want nothing but that Title which they would infallibly 

assume in any other Country but England A Beau is so 

much the more remarkable in England, because, generally 



speaking, the English-Men dress in a plain, uniform Manner, 
(i) Source; Note in the Morning Post, 18 Sept. 1788. 

The fashionable bathing dress, at Brighton, is chiefly a pair 
of buff trousers, with a slight jacket. This is adopted by all the 
young men of the place, and a number of idle, sauntering land 
lubbers meet the eye every morning on the Steyne, that one 
cannot help wishing for a sturdy pressgang to give them useful 
employment, or at least keep them out of mischief. After 
breakfast they are accoutred for the sports of the field. The 
sporting dress is a brown jacket, with a multiplicity of pockets, 
on each side, that reaches from the bottom to the top, so that, 
from this appearance, it is somewhat difficult to determine 
which the fashionable tribe most resemble — a set of grooms, 
or a company of smugglers. 

When the dinner hour arrives, . . . they then attire them- 
selves in order to enjoy the pleasures of the table, and, however 
deranged they may afterwards be by convivial excess, they 
march or stagger away to the Rooms, as circumstances may 
determine and entertain the Ladies with elegant and decent 

(j) Fashions also influenced phrases as well as clothes. One phrase 
— 'That accounts for it' was commented on in the press in 1798. 
On this occasion, the theatre was the medium of communication. 

Source: Note in The Times, 14 Dec. 1798. 

Our Dramatic Authors have lately amused themselves, and 
the Public, with cant phrases, instead of character, 'That's 
your fort' — 'Keep moving' — &c. Young Dibdin, in his Jew and 
Doctor, seems to have hit upon the happiest cant, imaginable; 
'That accounts for it,' which seems applicable in almost all 

'There is no opposition to Government, in the House of 
Commons — for a change of Ministry would ruin the country — 
that accounts for it.' 

*A very great Personage pays no regard to Lovers' Vows: he 
has been disgusted with a German translation — that accounts 
for it.' 

'Buonaparte wishes to return to Paris, though he should go 


thither as naked as the back of his hand; he prefers soup- 
maigre to water melons — that accounts for it.* 

'Women complain of the want of Gallantry in men, though 
the modern dress shows more than enough to excite passion, 
but — that accounts for it.' 

This cant phrase would comprehend all the science of Logic, 
if properly used, and appropriately designed. It might be 
amplified, in the present instance, to any length of space, but 
exemplification breaks off because ne quid nimis— that accounts 
for it. 


Dress reflected social class far more than it reflected fashion. 
There were also differences in making and buying habits. Yet there 
was little scope for regional variation in styles in England, and, 
unlike most other European countries, England had no 'national 
dress'. As far as fashionable clothes were concerned, the basic 
design of men's dress, which had been set in the 1680s, lasted until 
the 1790s — three-cornered hats, periwigs (though there were 
complaints by wig makers in 1 765 that gentlemen were beginning 
to prefer their own hair}, lace ruffles, long waistcoats, skirted coats, 
tight breeches, stockings and buckled shoes (for the fate of buckles, 
see above, p. 250). Women's dress changed more. Hoops for 
example, returned in early eighteenth century and lasted until its 
third quarter, and hair styles changed in the 1760s, when hair, 
often powdered, began to be worn in enormous and elaborate 

(a) Most poor people made their own clothes. What Eden wrote of 
the North of England was true of most parts of the country earlier 
in the eighteenth century. Yet by the 1 790s the South was different. 

Source: Sir F. M. Eden, The State of the Poor ( 1 797), vol I, pp. 554-5. 

In the midland and southern counties, the labourer, in 
general, purchases a very considerable portion, if not the whole, 
of his cloaths, from the shop-keeper. In the vicinity of the 
metropolis, working-people seldom buy new cloaths: they 
content themselves with a cast-off coat, which may be usually 
purchased for about 5s. and second-hand waistcoats and 
breeches. Their wives seldom make up any article of dress, 
except making and mending cloaths for the children. In the 



North, on the contrary, almost every article of dress worn by 
farmers, mechanics, and labourers, is manufactured at home, 
shoes and hats excepted, . . . Although broad cloth, purchased 
in the shops, begins now to be worn by opulent farmers, and 
others, on Sundays; yet there are many respectable persons, 
at this day, who never wore a bought pair of stockings, a coat, 
nor waistcoat in their lives. 

(b) Local landed families would often order clothes direct from 

Source: Letter from Henry Purefoy, 26 March 1740 in G. Eland 
(ed.), The Purefoy Letters (1931), vol. I, p. 304. 

I desire you will send mee ffive and thirty yards of Irish 
holland of about three Shillings a yard to make mee night 
shirts, it must be yard wide cloath & very good of the price. 
Pray send with it seven ells [an ell was 45 inches] of Irish 
Holland at 6s. 6d. a yard, or thereabouts, if as fine and as white 
as Dutch Holland, if not send Dutch Holland of about 7s. an ell. 
And send two yards of Cambrick for shirt Ruflcs; the Last you 
sent was too thin. Send these by the Buckingham carrier. , . , 

(c) There are many surviving account books for clothes, like the 
following from Fitzwalter's account book in the Mildmay Archives, 

Source: Edwards (ed,), English History from Essex Sources (1952), 
vol. I, p. 161-2. 

1734 £ s . d. 

Jan. 6 Mathews, the periwig-maker, for a 

tied wig ... 7. 1. 

Jan. 6 Matthews, also for three wigs and 

bags for my Lord Holderness ... 6. 18. 

Jan. 7 Hawson, the stocking-maker, his bill 

in full 2. 14. 

Jan. 13 Mr. H. Smart, lace-man, for a broad 
silver trimming, etc., for my Lady 
Caroline's petticoat when she held 
up the train of the Princess Royal at 
her marriage with the Prince of 
Orange, March 1733 78. 17. 6 





6 Melchior Wagner, the hatter ... II. 3. 6 

6 To do, for a hat for Lord Holderness . . . 18. 6 

6 Mr. Boney, periwig-maker, for a 

bob-wig ... 3. 13. 6 

17 Wm, Garret, his bill for 7 pairs of 
leather breeches, and in full of all 
accounts, Chandos Street 7. 7. 

Mar. 17 Thos. Garnham, my coachman, for 
3 white frocks he bought last week, 
viz. one for himself and two for the 
other two people in his table, and one 
for one of my footmen to powder my 
periwigs in 1. g. 

Mar. 18 H. Mertens, the German periwig- 
maker, for a tied periwig, and in full 6. 6. 

Apr. 17 Mr. Mann, woollen-draper, his bill 
delivered Feb. 10 1731, and is in full 
to Jan. 8 1734 62. 6. 7 

May 7 To Wm. Platon for 2 pairs of leather 
breeches viz. for the groom and his 
boy ... 2. 2. 

May 31 To Mr. Cutler for five Barcelona suk- 

snuff handkerchiefs 1. 2. 6 

June 4 Wm. Hawson . . . stockings 3. 7. 

July 23 Mr. Vickers this day in part of a bill 
this day given in for mercery goods 
of £188. 5. 11 100, 0.0 

Aug. 23 Claude Dubois, in full for six pairs of 

blue gloves 12, 

Aug. 28 For a blue velvet morning cap now 

bought 16. 

Nov, 17 Mr. Basnet, lace man, for a white silk 
waistcoat flowered and embroidered 
with gold for the Earl of Holderness 
for my Lady Ancram's wedding 16. 16. 

Nov. 19 Townsend and Holford at the Golden 
Fleece, Cheapside, their bill in full 
for stockings 6. 17. 6 


Dec. 10 John Hume, for a pair of boots for my 

postillion, not yet used 18. 

Dec. 1 John Hume for a pair of boots for my 
Lord Holderness to ride in at Mons, 
Toobart's Academy. Nov, 27 first put 
on 1. 5. 

(e) There are many descriptions of dress at court. 
Source: Report in The Times, 4 June 1794. 

Yesterday, being the anniversary of the King's birthday . . . 
a drawing-room was held in the afternoon, and, at night, a 
Ball at St. James's, The gentlemen's dresses were in general 
embroidered silks and silk cloths : but one half were dressed in 

his majesty, as usual on his own Birthday, was in a plain 
suit of clothes. The best dressed Gentlemen whom we saw at 
Court, and indeed their dresses were very generally noticed 
for their taste and splendour, were — 

Mr. Skeffington. 
A brown spotted silk coat and breeches, with a white silk 
waistcoat richly embroidered with silver, stones, and shades 
of silk: the design was large baskets of silver and stones, filled 
with bouquets of roses, jonquilles, &c, the ensemble producing 
a beautiful and splendid effect. 

The Hon. Thomas Anson. 
A striped silk coat and breeches, with a white silk waistcoat, 
richly embroidered with white silk and dentelle : the waistcoat 
embroidered to match the coat. , . . 

Lord Willoughby de Broke. 
A dark olive spotted silk coat, and breeches, with a white 
silk waistcoat, the suit richly embroidered in silver, coloured 
stones, and shades of silk. 

(f) At the holiday resorts, in particular, not all dress met with 
general approval. 

Source: Report in the Morning Post, 18 Sept. 1788. 

The Ladies have no particular dress for the morning, but 
huddle away to the bathing place, in close caps, and gipsey 


bonnets, so that they look like a set of wandering fortune- 
tellers, who have just had the opportunity of pillaging the 
contents of a frippery warehouse, with which they had bedecked 
themsclve in haste. 

It is to be remarked, that the ladies do not atone for the 
negligence of the morning, by neatness, and elegance, during 
the rest of the day, but shuffle on something by dinner time, 
covering themselves with an enormous nondescript bonnet, 
which, to the confusion of all order, they afterwards think a 
proper garb for the Assembly. 


The sharp distinction drawn in the eighteenth century between 
town and country (see above, p. 57) involved different conceptions 
of manners and styles in each, not least for women. 

(a) Source: A Mock Journal of a Lady of Fashion, printed in 
The Adventurer, 23 Jan. 1 753. 



1 . Monday. To call at Deards 
in the morning, To dine with 
my husband's uncle, the city 

2. Tuesday. In the morning 
with the Miss Flareits, to drive 
to the Silk mercer's, &c. At 
night to go to the opera. 

3. Wednesday. Expect Made- 
moiselle La Toure to try on 
my French head. In the even- 
ing to pay forty-three visits. 

4. Thursday. My own day. 
At home. To have a drum 
major and 17 card tables. 


City politeness intolerable! 
Crammed with mince pies, 
and fatigued with compliments 
of the season. . . . 
A beautiful new French Bro- 
cade at Silver Tongues on 
Ludgate Hill. Mem. To teaze 
my husband to buy me a suit 
of it. 

Mademoiselle the milliner tells 
me that Lady Z is in love with 
Captain X. Told it as a 
great secret at Lady F's, the 
Countess of L's, etc. etc. 
Miss Sharp is a greater cheat 
than her mamma. Company 
went before five. Stupid crea- 
ture Mrs. Downright. 


5. Friday. To go to the auction 
with Lady Nicknack, To dine 
at home with a parcel of my 
husband's city relations. 

6. Saturday. Monsieur le Frise 
all the morning to dress my 
head. At night (being Twelfth 
Night) at court. To dance if 
I can with the handsome Bob 

7. Sunday. If I rise soon 
enough St. James Church, 
Lady Brag's in the evening. 


Lady Nicknack finely taken in. 
The whole day a blank. 
Head ache. Could not dress. 
Went to bed horrid soon; 
— before one. Lay alone, maid 
sat by mc. 

My left temple singed with the 
Curling iron. Sir John 
Dapperwit whispered me that 
Miss Bloom was almost as 
charming as myself. She must 
paint I am certain. 
Not up till two. Bad luck at 
night. Never could win on 
Sundays. Miss Serious, who 
hates cards, says it is a 

(b) Source; S, Richardson, Pamela (1740-4). Pamela is describing 
the round of life in the country. 

The two ladies insisted upon it that I would take them with 
me in my benevolent round which I generally take once a 
week among my poor and sick neighbours, and finding I could 
not avoid it I set out with them. 

The coach set us down by the side of a large common about 
five miles distant from our house, and we alighted and walked 
a little way, choosing not to have the coach come nearer that 
we might be taken as little notice of as possible, and they 
entered with me into two mean cots with great condescension 
and goodness; one belonging to a poor widow, with five 
children, who had all been down in agues and fevers ; the other 
to a man and his wife, bed rid with age and infirmities, and two 
honest daughters, one a widow with two children, the other 
married to a husbandman, who had also been ill, but now by 
comfortable cordial, and good physic, in a hopeful way. 

Now you must know that I am not so good as the old ladies 
of former days who used to distil cordial waters, and prepare 
medicines, and dispense them themselves. But this is my 
method. I am upon an agreement with Mr, Barrow, who is 



deemed a very skilful and honest apothecary, and one Mr. 
Simmonds, a surgeon of like character, to attend all such cases 
and persons as I shall recommend, . . . 

My Lady Davers observed a Bible, a Common Prayer Book, 
and a Whole Duty of Man in each cot, in leathern outside cases, 
to keep them clean, and a Church Catechism or two for the 
children, and was pleased to say it was right. 

The ladies left tokens of their bounty behind them to botli 
families, and all the good folks blessed and prayed for us at 

[After further visits] after we had just looked in upon a 
country school, where I pay for the learning of eight children, 
we went home. 

And here, my dear Miss Darnford, is a cursory account of 
my benevolent weekly round, as the two ladies will call it. 

(c) English Sundays were thought by most foreigners to be dull. 
Here is an account of { a citizen's Sunday' in 1 754. 

Source: Article in The Connoisseur, 25 July 1754. 

Sunday. Overslept myself— Did not rise till nine — Was a full 
hour in pulling on my new double-channell'd pumps — Could 
get no breakfast, my wife being busy in dressing herself for 

At ten— Family at church — Self walked to Mother Redcap's 
—Smoked half a pipe, and drank a pint of the Alderman's. 
n.b. The beer was not so good as at the Adam and Eve at 

Dined at one — Pudding not boiled enough, suet musty — 
Wife was to drive me In a one-horsed chair to see Mother Wells 
at Enfield Wash, but it looked likely to rain— Took a nap, and 
posted seven pages from my day-book till five, . . . 

At six— Mrs Deputy to drink tea with my wife— I hate their 
slip-slops— Called on my neighbour the Common-council man, 
and took a walk with him to Islington. 

From seven to eight— Smoked a pipe at the Castle, ate a 

heart-cake, and drank two pints of cider, n.b. To drink cider 

often, because neighbour tells me it is good for the stone and 


At nine: — Got to town again, very much fatigued with the 



journey — Pulled off my claret coloured coat and blue satin 
waistcoat — Went to club, smoked three pipes, came home at 
twelve, and slept very soundly. . . , 


Table manners were crude at the beginning of the century, 
when Defoe thought it necessary in The Compleal Gentleman 
to warn diners not to pick their teeth with a fork and to use a 
napkin. By the end of the century they had greatly improved. 
{See also below, p. 275.) There were frequent toasts, and men and 
women separated after dinner. 

(a) Source: Le Blanc, Letters on the English and French Nations (1747), 
vol. I, p. 326. 

A good butler is more esteemed here than a confectioner 
would be. . . . Even at tables where they serve desserts, they 
do but just show them and presently take away everything, to 
the very tablecloth. By this the English, whom politeness does 
not permit to tell the ladies their company is troublesome to 
them, give them notice to retire, when they are weary of them, 
and school -boys don't show more joy, when their master goes 
out of school, than the guests do when they take leave of them. 
The satisfaction that appears in their looks shows the pleasure 
they feel on finding themselves freed from the restraints the 
company of the women laid them under. . . . The table is 
immediately covered with mugs, bottles and glasses, and often 
with pipes and tobacco; and all things thus disposed, the 
ceremony of toasts begins. 

(b) To some writers there was 'effeminacy' in the new manners. 

Source : J. Brown, An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the 
Times (1757), pp. 29, 35-6. This book went into seven editions in a 

The Character of the Manners of our Times ... on a fair 
Examination, will probably appear to be that of a 'vain, 
luxurious and selfish effeminacy. . . . The first and capital 
Article of Town-Effeminacy is that of Dress: which, in all its 
Variety of modern Excess and Ridicule, is too low for serious 



Animadversion. Yet in this, must every Man of every Rank 
and Age employ his Mornings, who pretends to keep good 
Company. The wisest, the most virtuous, the most polite, if 
defective in their exterior and unmanly Delicacies, are avoided 
as low People, whom Nobody knows, and with whom one is 
asham'd to be seen. How would he have been derided in the 
Days of Elizabeth, when a great Queen rode on Horseback to 
St. Paul's, who should have foretold, that in less than two 
Centuries no Man of Fashion would cross the Street to Dinner, 
without the effeminate Covering and Conveyance of an easy 
Chair? Yet thus accountred the modern Man of Fashion is 
conveyed to Company. Wherever he goes the same false Delicacy 
in all: Every Circumstance of modern Use conspires to soath 
him into the Excess of Effiminacy: Warm carpets are spread 
under his Feet; warm Hangings surround him: Doom and 
Windows nicely jointed prevent the least rude Encroachment 
of the external Air. 

Vanity lends her Aid to this unmanly Delicacy: Splendid 
Furniture, a sumptuous sideboard, a long Train of Attendants, 
an elegant and costly Entertainment, for which Earth, Air 
and Seas are ransacked, the most expensive Wines of the 
Continent ... the most inflaming Foods. ... To this every 
Man of Taste now aspires, as to the true sfavoir vivre. 


Shops, with imposing windows and bright lighting, were one of 
the great attractions of London. 

(a) Source: T. Baker, The Female Taller (1709). 

This afternoon, some ladies, having an opinion of my fancy 
in clothes, desired me to accompany them to Lud gate- Hill. 
The shops are perfect gilded theatres, the variety of wrought 
silks so many changes of fine scenes, and the mercers are the 

performers As people glance within their doors they 

salute them with— 'Garden silks, ladies; Italian silks; very fine 
mantua silks; any right Geneva velvet, English velvet, velvet 
embossed?' And to the meaner sort— Tine thread satins, both 


striped and plain; line mohair silks; satinnets, burdets; Per- 
sianets ; Norwich crapes ; anterines ; silks for hoods and scarves ; 
hair camlets, druggets; gentiemen's nightgowns ready made; 
shalloons; durances; and right Scotch plaids'. 

We went into a shop which had three partners; two of them 
were to flourish out their silks , . . and the other's sole business 
was to be gentleman usher of the shop, to stand completely 
dressed at the door, bow to all the coaches that pass by, and 
hand ladies out and in. We saw abundance of gay fancies. . . . 
'This, madam, is wonderful charming. This, madam, is so 
diverting a silk. This, madam, My stars! how cool it looks! 
But this, madam— ye Gods! would I had 10,000 yards of it!' 
Then gathers up a sleeve, and places it to our shoulders. 'It 
suits your ladyship's face wonderful well.' When we had 
pleased ourselves, and bid him ten shillings a-yard for what he 
asked fifteen: 'Fan me, ye winds, your ladyship rallies me! 
Should I part with it at such a price, the weavers would rise 
upon the very shop. Was you at the Park last night madam? 
Your ladyship shall abate me sixpence. Have you read the 
Taller today ?' 

(b) Source: P. Grosley, Observations on England (1772), p. 35. 

The finest shops are scattered up and down in these courts 
and passages. The grand company which they draw together, 
the elegant arrangement and parade made by the shops, 
whether in stuffs exposed to sale, fine furniture, and things of 
taste, or the girls belonging to them, would be motives sufficient 
to determine those that walk, to make that their way in pref- 
erence to any other, even if they had not neatness and security 
to recommend them. 

The shops in the Strand, Fleet-street, Cheapside, &c. are 
the most striking objects that London can offer to the eye of a 

(c) Source: H. Meister, Letters Written During a Residence in England 
(1799), pp. 16-18. 

The variety, the neatness, and the rich shew made by such 
numbers of shops of every kind, formed a spectacle of so de- 
lightful and astonishing an appearance, as to conceive must 
needs be seen. There are so many things laid open to view, 


and spread forth with so much art and attention, that till the 
eye is accustomed to sights so various and brilliant it must 
needs be weary. You are not ignorant that London alone 
transacts two thirds of the trade of the three kingdoms; the 
splendour and activity of its retail trade will not therefore 
surprise you. ... I confess that such a view of the glorious 
consequences of civilisation affect my mind equally with the 
striking beauties of unadorned nature, and that this sight has 
filled me with wonder and admiration. 


The place of domestic servants in the social hierarchy has already 
been examined (see above, p. 139). The following extracts reveal 
the dependence of eighteenth-century people of property on 
domestic service and the kind of attitudes that were engendered. 

(a) Source: J. Moore, A View of Society and Manners in France, 
Switzerland and Germany, Vol. I. (6th edn., 1786), p. 15. 

Many of our acquaintances seem absolutely incapable of 
motion, till they have been wound up by their valets. They 
have no more use of their hands for any office about their own 
persons, then if they were paralytic. At night they must wait 
for their servants, before they can undress themselves, and go 
to bed: In the morning, if the valet happens to be out of the 
way, the master must remain helpless and sprawling in bed, 
like a turtle on its back upon the kitchen table of an alderman. 

(b) Source: Letter from the Duchess of Leinster, August 1761 in 
B. Fitzgerald, Emily, Duchess of Leinster, p. 87. 

This morning I had a long conversation with Mrs Clarke, 
our new housekeeper. She seems a sensible, notable, genteel 
sort of woman; not fine, but just the manner to create a little 
respect from the under-servants, and enters perfectly into our 
schemes. We are to give her £25E. the first year, and £30E. 
if we approve of her afterwards. I told her the allowance for 
tea and sugar, & that for strangers' servants when at Carton. 
I like her vastly, and so will you, I am certain. She has quite 
persuaded me to have a housekeeper's maid and shew'd me 


the necessity of it. She is to take one over with her from hence. . . . 

(c) Source: C. B, Andrews (ed.), The Torrington Diaries (1935), 
vol. II, p. 70. 

. . . Instead of a nasty, dirty wench, watching you all the time, 
picking her nails, blowing her nose upon her apron, and then 
wiping the knives and glasses with it; or spitting and blowing 
upon the plates. Surely with a great fortune, there is nothing 
so comfortable for a small company as dumb waiters; as for 
myself, I am uneasy when a fellow stands behind me, watching 
me, running away with my plate and winking at his fellows. 


'Affairs of the heart' were much discussed, and there were even 
magazines giving good advice to the lovelorn. Manners were 
stratified in this as in other forms of behaviour, 

(a) Source: Mock letters to the Spectator asking for advice, 28 Dec. 
1711, 25 Feb. 1711-12. 

Mr. Spectator, Here is a gentlewoman lodges in the same 
house with me, that I never did any injury to in my whole life ; 
and she is always railing at me to those that she knows will tell 
me of it. Do you not think she is in love with me? or would you 
have me break my mind yet, or not? Your servant, 'T.B.' 
Mr. Spectator, I am a footman in a great family, and am in 
love with the house-maid. We were all at hot cockles last night 
in the hall these holidays; when I lay down and was blinded, 
she pulled off her shoe and hit me with the heel such a rap, 
as almost broke my head to pieces. Pray, Sir, was this love or 
spite? T**. 

Mr. Spectator. I am a certain young woman that love a 
certain young man very heartily; and my father and mother 
were for it a great while, but now they say I can do better, but 
I think I cannot. They bid me not love him, and I cannot 
unlove him. What must I do? Speak quickly. 'Biddy Dow- 

(b) Source: An Account in The Guardian, 20 June 1713. 



I happened the other day to pass by a gentleman's house, 
and saw the most flippant scene of low love that I have ever 
observed. The maid was rubbing the windows within side of 
the house, and her humble-servant the footman was so happy 
a man as to be employed in cleaning the same glass on the side 
towards the street. The wench began with the greatest severity 
of aspect imaginable, and breathing on the glass, followed it 
with a dry cloth; her opposite observed her, and fetching a 
deep sigh, as if it were his left, with a very disconsolate air did 
the same in his side of the window. He still worked on and 
languished, until at last his fair one smiled, but covered 
herself, and spreading the napkin in her hand, concealed 
herself from her admirer, while he took pains as it were, to 
work through all that intercepted their meeting. This pretty 
contest held for four or five large panes of glass, until at last 
the waggery was turned into an humourous way of breathing 
in each other's faces, and catching the impression. The gay 
creatures were thus loving and pleasing their imaginations 
with their nearness and distance, until the windows were so 
transparent that the beauty of the female made the man- 
servant impatient of beholding it, and the whole house besides 
being abroad, he ran in, and they romped out of my sight. 

(c) Source: Letter from Emily, 3 Dec. 1 745, printed in B. Fitzgerald, 
Emily, Duchess of Uinster, p. 14. 

3rd December 1 745 
Prince Lobkowitz, who I believe you remember, a giddy, 
good-natured, wild young man as any in the world, was 
coming and has had a fall off his horse, so that I fancy he 
won't be here this good while. Apropos to him, I must make 
you laugh and tell you what the Town says— He is in love with 
me, I very much so with Mm. But his relations don't care he should 
marry a Protestant, tho' as he is his own master that would be no 
objection; but that Papa and Mama, great as he is, won't part with 
me; and besides have other views for me. Is not tills a pretty story? 
I assure you 'tis told for certain all over the town and several 
of my friends have told me of it. The truth of the matter is 
that he is vastly fashionable, and as I happen to speak French 


and to know most of his acquaintances in Holland, he takes it 
into his head to talk a good deal to me; and you know in 
London two people can never talk together a quarter of an 
hour but they must immediately either be in love or to be 

They say also that the Venetian Ambassadrice is in love 
with him, and I believe with rather more foundation, for she 
really behaves very ridiculously about him. 

(d) Source: Fanny Burney, Diary, 10 July 1770. 

Wc have just had a wedding — a public wedding, and very 
fine it was I assure you. The bride is Miss Case, daughter of 
an alderman of Lunn, with a great fortune ; the bridegroom 
Mr. Bagg. Our house is in the churchyard, and exactly opposite 
the great church door — so that we had a good view of the 
procession. The walk that leads up to the church was crowded 
— almost incredibly a great mob indeed — I'm sure I trembled 
for the bride — oh what a gauntlet for any woman of delicacy 
to run! How short a time does it take to put an eternal end to 
a woman's liberty! I don't think they were a quarter of an 
hour in the church altogether. . . . [When] the bell began to 
ring so merrily, so loud, and the doors opened — we saw them 
walk down the Isle, the bride and bridegroom first — hand in 
hand— the bridegroom looked so gay, so happy! She looked 
grave, but not sad — and, in short, all was happy and charming. 
Well of all things in the world, I don't suppose anything can 
be so dreadful as a public wedding — my stars! I should never 
be able to support it. 

(e) Thomas Turner was married twice, and has left a frank 
account in his Diary of his marital vicissitudes. 

30 April 1756 

This morn my wife and I had words about her going to 
Lewes tomorrow; oh, what happiness must there be in the 
married state, when there is a sincere regard on both sides, 
and each partner truly satisfied with each other's merits! 
But it is impossible for tongue or pen to express the uneasiness 
that attends the contrary ! . . . 

Oh, was marriage ever designed to make mankind unhappy ? 




No, unless by their own choice it's made so by both partners 
being not satisfied with each other's merit. But surely this 
cannot be my own affair, for I married, if I know my own 
mind, intirely to make my wife and self happy; to live in a 
course of virtue and religion, and to be a mutual help to each 
other. Oh! what am I going to say? I have almost made, as it 
were, a resolution to make a sepparation by settling affairs 
and parting in friendship. But is this what I married for? . . . 
Oh, were I endowed with the patience of Socrates, then mt. 
I be happy; but as I am not, I must pacify myself with the 
cheerful reflection that I have done my utmost to render our 
union happy, good and comfortable to ourselves and 
progeny. . . . 

6 Oct. 1756. This day how are my most sanguine hopes of 
happiness frustrated! — I mean the happiness between myself 
and wife. ... I think I have tryed all experiments to make our 
life's happy, but they have all failed. The opposition seems to 
be naturally in our tempers. . . . 

26 Oct. (Sunday) 1 756. This day, the holy sacrament being 
administered, my wife, self, and maid, all staid— my wife and 
I taking up a resolution ... to become better Christians, and 
to bear with each other's infirmityes, and live in peace with 
all mankind. . . . 

2 Nov. 1756 ... I who, on Sunday last, was all calm and 
serenity in my breast, am now nought but storm and tempest. 
Well might the wise men say, 'It were better to dwell in a 
corner of the house-top than with a contentious woman in a 
wide house.' . . . 

23 June 1761. About five o'clock on the afternoon, it pleased 
Almighty God to take from me my beloved wife, who poor 
creature, has laboured under a severe tho' lingering illness for 
these thirty-eight weeks, which she bore with the greatest 
resignation to the Divine Will. In her I have lost a sincere 
friend, a virtuous wife, a prudent good economist in her family, 
and a very valuable companion. 

5 August 1761. Almost distracted with trouble: how do I 
hourly find the loss I have sustained in the death of my dear 

I am 

wife ! What can equal the value of a virtuous wife ? 
left as a beacon on a rock, or an ensign on a hill. 

[Turner often lamented the death of his wife in this Diary, 
but in 1765 he married again — Molly Hicks, the daughter of 
a Chiddingly yeoman — after a somewhat tiring courtship.] 

28 March 1765. In the afternoon rode over to Chiddingly, 
to pay my charmer or intended wife, or sweetheart, or whatever 
other name may be more proper, a visit at her father's, where 
I drank tea, in company with their family. ... I supped there 
on some rasures of bacon. It being an excessive wet and windy 
night, I had the opportunity, sure I should say the pleasure, or 
perhaps some might say the unspeakable happiness, to sit up 
with Molly Hicks, my charmer, all night. I came home at 
forty minutes past five in the morning — I must not say fatigued ; 
no, no, that could not be, it could be only a little sleepy for 
want of rest. . . . 

Good Fryday — In the evening I met with Molly Hicks, by 
appointment, and walked home with her, where I staid with 
her, the weather being excessive bad, till past five in the 
morning, and then came home. 

7 April 1 765 — In the even very dull and sleepy ; this courting 
does not well agree with my constitution, and perhaps it may 
be only taking pains to create more pain. 

Sunday 15 April — After dinner I set out to Mailing, to pay 
Molly Hicks, my intended wife, a visit. . . . Now, perhaps, 
there may be many reports about in the world of my present 
intentions, some likely condemning my choice, others approving 
it. ... I will take the trouble to relate what really and truly 
are my intentions. . . . First, I think marriage is a state agree- 
able to nature, reason, and religion. ... As to my choice I 
have only this to say — the girl, I believe, as far as I can dis- 
cover, is a very industrious, sober woman, and seemingly 
endowed with prudence and good nature, with a serious and 
sedate turn of mind. She comes of reputable parents, and may 
perhaps, one time or other, have some fortune. As to her person, 
I know it's plain (so is my own) but she is cleanly in her person 
and dress. . . . She is, I think, a well-made woman. As to her 


education, I own it is not liberal; but she has good sense, and 
a desire to improve her mind. . . . 

3 July 1 765 , . . Married, at our church , , , and for about 
fourteen days was very ill with a tertian ague, or rather an 
intermitting fever „ . . however, thank God, I begin to once 
more be a litde settled, and am happy in my choice. I have, 
it's true, not married a learned lady, nor is she a gay one; 
but I trust she is good-natured, and one that will use her utmost 
endeavour to make me happy. As to her fortune, I shall one 
day have something considerable, and there seems to be rather 
a flowing stream. Well, here let us drop the subject, and begin 
a new one. 


(a) Source: An Account by Richard Steele in The Tatler, 1706, of 
what a baby might expect on being introduced to the world. 

I lay very quiet; but the witch, for no manner of reason or 
provocation in the world, takes me and binds my head as 
hard as she possibly could; then ties up, both my legs and 
makes me swallow down an horrid mixture. I thought it an 
harsh entrance into life, to begin with taking physic. When I 
was thus dressed, I was carried to a bedside where a fine young 
lady (my mother, I wot) had like to have hugged me to death. 
. . . Crowds of relations came every day to congratulate my 
arrival; amongst others, my cousin Betty, the greatest romp in 
nature; she whisks me such a height over her head, that I 
cried out for fear of falling. She pinched me and called me 
squealing chit, and threw me into a girl's arms that was taken 
in to tend me. The girl was very proud of the womanly employ- 
ment of a nurse, and took upon her to strip and dress me 
anew, because I made a noise, to see what ailed me; she did 
so and stuck a pin in every joint about me. I still cried, upon 
which, she lays me on my face in her lap; and, to quiet me, 
fell to nailing in all the pins, by clapping me on the back and 
screaming a lullaby, . . . 

(b) Source: Letter from Emily, Duchess of Leinster, 10 Dec. 1762, 
printed in B. Fitzgerald, Emily, Duchess of Leinster, p. 107. 


I have a pleasant and cheerful prospect before my eyes 
within doors. The dear little brats are, thank God, so well, so 
merry, so riotous, so hardy and so full of play from morning 
till night that it would enliven the dullest of mortals to see 
them. The two nurses ... are the best playfellows for children 
I ever saw. They invent some new diversions every night. . . . 
Henry naked is the dearest little being on earth. 

(c) Letter from John Wesley's mother, 24 July 1732, quoted in 
J. Wesley, Journal (Everyman edn., 1906). 

According to your desire, I have collected the principal 
rules I observed in educating my family; which I now send 
you as they occurred to my mind. . . . When turned a year old 
(and some before) they were taught to fear the rod, and to cry 
softly; by which means they escaped abundance of correction 
they might otherwise have had ; and that most odious noise of 
the crying of children was rarely heard in the house. As soon 
as they were grown pretty strong, they were confined to three 
meals a day. At dinner, their little tabic and chairs were set 
by ours, where they could be overlooked ; and they were suffered 
to eat and drink {small beer) as much as they would, but not 
to call for anything. They were never suffered to choose their 
own meat, but always made to eat such things as were provided 
for the family. Mornings they always had spoon meat; some- 
times at night. But whatever they had, they were never per- 
mitted to eat, at those meals, of more than one thing, and of 
that sparingly enough. Drinking or eating between meals was 
never allowed, except in case of sickness, which seldom hap- 
pened. At six, as soon as family prayer was over, they had 
their supper; at seven, the maid washed them; and, beginning 
at the youngest, she undressed and got them all to bed by 
eight : at which time she left them in their several rooms awake ; 
for there was no such thing allowed of in our house, as sitting 
by a child until it fell asleep. They were so constantly used to 
eat and drink what was given them, that when any of them 
was ill, there was no difficulty in making them take the most 
unpleasant medicine; for they durst not refuse it, though some 
of them would presently throw it up. None of them were taught 
to read till five years old, except Kezzy in whose case I was 


over-ruled ; and she was more years learning than any of the 
rest had been months. . . . There was no such thing as loud 
talking or playing allowed of; but every one was kept close to 
their business for the six hours of school. Rising out of their 
places, or going out of the room was not permitted except for 
good cause; running into the yard, garden, or street, without, 
leave, was always esteemed a capital offence. 


Not all regimes were like Mrs, Wesley's. For families that could 
afford toys and presents, there was ample choice. Treatment of 
children owed much to social position. There was also considerable 
change from generation to generation. 

(a) Source: Disbursements for children of the aristocracy listed in 
in G. Scott-Thomson, The Russells in Bloomsbury (1940), pp. 197ff. 

November 5 1751 Paid at the Playhouse with 

Lord Tavistock 10s. Od, 

Paid for seeing the rhinoceros 
and alligator with Lord 
Tavistock 2s. 2d. 

Paid for battledores and 
shuttlecocks 9s. 6d, 

Gave the dog doctor for 
coming to Bounce 5s. Od. 

Paid for seeing the Russia 
man for Lord Tavistock 3s. Od. 

Paid at the Playhouse, ditto 5s. Od. 

Paid Isaac Smith a bill for 
bird cages for Lord Tavis- 
tock and Lady Caroline £1 14s. Od. 
Paid for three peewits for 
Lord Tavistock 2s. 6d. 
Paid for paint and prints for 
Lord Tavistock and Lady 
Caroline 6s. Id. 
Paid for a book of drawings 
for Lady Caroline 5s. Od. 

December 2 1751 

December 2 1751 
February 12 1752 
February 27 1752 

May 29 1752 

July 19 1752 
February 25 1 753 

March 28 1753 



April 3 1753 Paid for a new door to the 

doormouse's cage 6d. 

May 5 1753 Paid Richard Bynion for 

fireworks for Lord Tavistock £1 Os. 4d. 

May 6 1753 Paid for the print of Miss 

Bellamy and Mr. Garrick 
for Lady Caroline 7s. 6d. 

November 24 1753 Paid for battledore and 

shuttlecocks for Lord Tavi- 
stock 4s. 6d. 
Paid for whips and top for 
Lord Tavistock 6d. 
Paid for five cups and balls 5s. 2d, 

(b) Source: Earl of Carnavon (ed.), Letters of the Fourth Earl of 
Chesterfield to his Godson (1890), vol. I, pp. 15-16. The letter was 
written in 1 762 and the recipient was seven years old . 

As I know that you desire to be a well bred gentleman, 
and not a two-legged Bear ... I send you some general rules 
for your behaviour . . . whoever you speak to, to whoever 
speaks to you, you must be sure to look them full in the face. . . . 
You must call every gentleman, Sir, or My Lord, and every 
Woman, Madam. You must never on any account put your 
fingers in your nose, for that is excessively ill-bred, very nasty, 
and will make your nose bleed and be very sore. What is your 
handkerchief for? When you are at dinner you must sit upright 
in your chair, and not loll. , . . When you first come into a 
room you must not fail to make a bow to the company, and 
also when you go out of it you must never look sullen or 
pouting, but have a cheerful, easy countenance. Remember 
that there is no one thing as necessary for a gentleman as both 
[to be] perfectly civil and well bred. 

(c) By die end of the century there were many 'improving' books 
for children. 

Source: Abbe" Gaulthier, Amusing and Instructional Conversations for 
Children of Five Years (1803), pp. 69ff. 

Have you ever seen Thomas Violent? He is a very fine boy 
(if it is possible to be a fine boy without being good); but he is 


capricious, and so naughty, that nobody likes to see him. 

If he is hungry, and wishes for bread, instead of speaking 
properly ... he says rudely, Give me some bread— I want it : 
and if it is not given to him immediately, he cries, he grunts 
like a little hog. 

But, yesterday, he received a lesson, which, I believe, he 
will for a long-time remember. He took it into his head, not to 
suffer himself to be washed, nor dressed. 

The poor maid, whose patience was at an end, perceived in 
the street Mr. Reform. 

Ah, good day, Mr. Reform, cried she at the window: where 
have you been to-day sir? You seem much displeased. Is it 
because you have heard my little Thomas crying? He makes 
a terrible noise. 

Yes, Madam, said Mr. Reform, I came on purpose to ask 
you what noise this is ? I hear that little master is often naughty, 
and that he is not quiet when he is washed nor when he is 
dressed. . . . Lead me to him, and I will make him a good boy. 

Then he goes himself to where master Thomas was still in 
bed, and as he hears him crying, while yet on the staircase, I 
will not be washed — I will not— I will remain dirty — I will 
remain naked. — You will, said Mr. Reform, you will? — Say 
you so, master Thomas? You are then master here. Ah! little 
boy, you have your own way; we shall soon see if I cannot 
teach you better than this. 

He takes him in his arms, carries him to the garden, and then 
plunges him into a large tub. 

Now, says he to him, what do you think of the matter, 
master Thomas ? Do you still say that you will not be washed ? 
If ever that comes into your head again, I will leave you a long 
while in this tub; and if you will not be dressed, in the morning 
I will come and whip you well. . . . See, I have here very good 
rods, and I have always found them hurt little children much. 
Take care of yourself. 

Little Thomas then promised that he would be sure, for 
the future, never to say; I will not be washed; — I will not be 
dressed; — I will remain as I am. 

I am sure that he will keep his word, and that he will always 
be very tractable. 


This Mr. Reform is a very terrible man. O, if you were to 
see how stately he walks along! with what a deliberate pace! 
and how ready he always is to do to little naughty untractable 
children, just what he did yesterday to little Thomas! 


The attempt to 'improve' the manners of adults as well as children 
was a feature of eighteenth-century life both at the beginning and 
end of the period. The influence of women was one factor; religion 
another. There was particular concern, however, for the manners 
(and morals) of the poor. 

(a) Societies for the Reformation of Manners were prominent in 
the 1690s and the early years of the century. 

Source: An account of this period in An Address from the London 
Society for the Suppression of Vice ( 1 703), p. 79. 

We arc told that many thousands have been brought to 
punishment for swearing and cursing; that a multitude of 
drunkards and profaners of the Lord's Day, some of whom 
kept, as it were, open markets within a few years past, have 
been made examples of . . . that hundreds of disorderly 
houses, which were little better than sowes, and nests for 
thieves, clippers, and coiners, etc., have been rooted out and 
suppressed . . . public disorders are remarkably cured; and, 
in short, vice is afraid and ashamed to show its head, where 
within a few years past it was daring and triumphant. 

(b) By the middle years of the century, there had been big changes, 
though the earlier societies disappeared. 

Source: J. Brown, An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the 
Times (1757), p. 20. 

Let us now trace the spirit of liberty through as its effects. 
The first that occurs in Humanity. By this is not meant that 
smoothness and refined polish of external manners, by which 
the present age affects to be distinguished [but] that pity for 
distress, that moderation in limiting punishments or even the 


general humanity of our highwaymen and robbers compared 
with those of other countries. 

(c) Source: Joseph Farington, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Joshua 
Reynolds (1819), p. 55. 

At this time [about 1770] a change in the manners and 
habits of the people of this country was beginning to take place. 
Public taste was improving. The coarse familiarity so common 
in personal intercourse was laid aside, and respectful attention 
and civility in address gradually gave a new and better aspect 
to society. The profane habit of using oaths in conversation no 
longer offended the ear, and bacchanalian intemperance at 
the dinner-table was succeeded by rational cheerfulness and 
sober forbearance. 

(d) Hannah More, the Evangelical {for Evangelical attitudes, see 
below, p. 332} seized on the change with pleasure. 

Source: Hannah More, Works (1853), vol V, pp. 316-17. 

Long was society o'er run, 
By whist, that desolating Hun; 
Long did quadrille despotic sit, 
That Vandal of colloquial wit; 
And conversation's setdng light 
Long half-obscur'd in Gothic night; 
At length the mental shades decline, 
Colloquial wit begins to shine, 
Genius prevails, and conversation 
Emerges into reformation. 

(e) The civil power sometimes backed up the efforts of the 

Source: Report in the Bristol Gazette, 10 April 1788. 

In the town of Stroud a great diminution of irregularity 
and misbehaviour has of late been observed, to the comfort 
and satisfaction of the inhabitants. Such a change shews what 
may be effected in time by the uniform but gentle perseverance 
of a worthy minister, when supported by a few active and 
exemplary characters. The present High Constable has proved 
that our laws give full power for the suppression of every 



enormity, when the execution of them is consigned to men of 
spirit and integrity. 

(f) William Cobbett and his first 'tory' mentor, William Windham, 
disliked many of the changes, as they disliked both Evangelicals 
and Udlitarians. Windham, for example, opposed a bill to abolish 
bull baiting in 1800. They accused the Evangelicals and Utilitarians 
of robbing the poor of their pleasures. 

Source: T. Aymot (ed.), Speeches in Parliament of the Rt. Hon. 
William Windham (1812), vol. I, pp. 332ff. 

In my whole life, I have never been present but at two 
Bull-Baitings, and they happened while I was a schoolboy; 
but I cannot say that I experienced any bad effects from the 
gratification of my curiosity. I did not find myself the worse 
for it, nor could I suspect that the other spectators were 
contaminated by the spectacle. . . . Whatever may be the 
habits of the more luxurious climates of the continent, the 
amusements of our people were always composed of athletic, 
manly, and hardy exercises, affording trials of their courage, 
conducdve to their health, and to them objects of ambition 
and of glory. In the exercise of those sports they may, indeed, 
sometimes hurt themselves, but they could never hurt the 
nation. . . . Some little time since it was thought matter of 
reproach for gentlemen to be present at any of these athletic 
trials; and even boxing was cried down as an exercise of 
ferocity. It is time to resist these unnecessary restraints . . . 
[for] it is idle to declaim against savage manners or dispositions 
in this country. The character of the people is directiy the 
reverse; their sports are robust and hardy, but their tempers 
are not ferocious. . . . Has not the butcher as much right to 
demand the exercise of his sport, as the man of fortune to 
demand that of hunting? Is not the latter as painful to the 
horse, as the former to the bull? Might not the butcher say, 
'have no coaches, horses, balls, masquerades, nor even books, 
which afford so much delight to those in higher stations, and 
who have more leisure time; do not therefore deprive me of 
the amusement I feel in setting the propensities of one animal 
against those of another'. The common people may ask with 
justice, why abolish bull-baiting and protect hunting and 


shooting ? What appearance must we make, if we, who have 
every source of amusement open to us, and yet follow these 
cruel sports, become rigid censors of the sports of the poor, and 
abolish them on account of their cruelty, when they are not 
more cruel than our own ? 


Food and Drink 

The Pudding is a Dish very difficult to be describ'd, because of 
the several sorts there are of it. . , . They bake them in an Oven, 
they boil them with Meat, they make them in fifty several Ways: 
blessed be he that invented pudding, for it is a Manna that hits 
the Palates of all sorts of People. 

(M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations, 1719) 

At Castleford, the starving inhabitants seized a vessel laden with 
corn, and did not give her up till the riot act was read, and the 
military on the spot had captured twelve of their leaders. 

(J. Mayhali., The Annals of Yorkshire, on the year 1795) 

While their Majesties were at Drury Lane Theatre to see the 
Winter's Tale, as Garrick was repeating the lines 

'For you, my hearts of oak, for your regale 
Here's good old English stingo, mild and stale' 
a fellow cried out of the gallery: 'At threepence a pot, Master 
Garrick, or confusion to the brewers," 

(Quoted by R. V. French, Nineteen Centuries of Drink in 

England, 1884) 

Will the sons and daughters of this happy isle, this reputed bode of 
sense and liberty, for ever submit to the bondage of so tyrannical a 
custom as drinking tea? 

(Joseph Hanway, Journal, 1 757) 

We had an old English menu: a large fish, boiled mutton, 
pudding, boiled cabbage with butter, and a roast. Punch was made 
at table. 

(Sophie v. la Roche, 1786) 


Social differences were as marked in relation to food and drink 
as in relation to any other aspect of life. There were also marked 
fluctuations, as far as the common people were concerned, from 





year to year. Given the difficulty of generalizing, it is likely that the 
standard of living improved for most sections of the community 
during the first half of the century, and that after a rise in prices 
in the 1760s wages more than kept pace until the early years of the 
war with revolutionary France at the end of the century. Diets 
became more varied. 

(a) There were marked differences from region to region. 

Source: Sir F. M. Eden, The Stale of the Poor (1797), vol. I, pp. 

There is not only a remarkable difference in the proportion 
of earnings appropriated to the purchase of subsistence by 
labourers in the North and South of England; but their mode 
of preparing their food is no less dissimilar. In the South of 
England, the poorest labourers are habituated to the unvarying 
meal of dry bread and cheese from one week's end: and in 
those famiUes, whose finances do not allow them the indulgence 
of malt liquor, the deleterious produce of China [tea] con- 
stitutes their most usual and general beverage. If a labourer 
is rich enough to afford himself meat once a week, he commonly 
adopts the simplest of all culinary preparations; that of 
roasting it; or, if he lives near a baker's, of baking it; and if 
he boils his meat, he never thinks of forming it into a soup, 
that would not only be as wholesome, and as nourishing, but, 
certainly, more palatable than a plain boiled joint. 

In the North of England, and in Scotland and Wales, on the 
contrary, the poorest labourers can, and actually do, regale 
themselves with a variety of dishes that are wholly unknown to 
the Southern inhabitant of this island. ... To begin with 
one of the simplest articles of diet, 'the healsome porritch, 
chief of Scotia's food', hasty-pudding. . . is extremely nutritious. 
. . . Crowdie is not so generally used as hasty-pudding. It is, 
however, a very common dish in the North, among labourers 
of all descriptions, but particularly miners, as it is soon made 
ready, and without much trouble. The process is extremely 
simple; and consists in pouring boiling water over oat-meal 
and stirring it a little. [Broth or corned beef may be added] 

(b) Arthur Young complained that the poor had misused their 
earnings in the early part of the century when prices were lower. 



Source: A. Young, The Farmer' 's Letters to the People of England 
(1771 edn.). 

Some years ago they [the poor] could buy bread and beer 
and cheese [the foundations of their diet] &c. &c. much cheaper 
than they can at present, while their earnings were the same. 
What was the effect of such cheapness? If the present dearness 
is so afflicting them, were the former good times attended with 
no trifling effects? Instead of laying up three or four pounds; 
they then, doubtless, saved twice as much! No such matter; 
whatever was gained by such cheapness was constantly 
expended by the husband in a proportionable quantity of 
idleness and ale, and by the wife in that of tea. 

(c) Eden gave details of village labourers' budgets in 1792. 

Source : Eden, The State of the Poor (1797), vol. Ill, pp. ccc-xliv.ff. 
(See table on p. 282.) 

(d) There was a sharp increase in prices in the later 1790s, with 
1795 a year of great scarcity (see above, p. 35). The increase in 
the price of food over a larger period is well brought out in the 
following table of housekeeping expenses, drawn up in Bury St. 

Source: The Annual Register (1800), p. 94. 
(See table on p. 283.) 

(e) Artisans' budgets are more difficult to come by than those of 
farmers, but it is clear that artisans lived far better than village 

Source: Note on Sheffield in Ibid., p. 873. 

Wheaten bread is, universally, used here: malt liquor, and 
butcher's meat, form part of the diet of all ranks of people. 
The tradesman, artisan, and labourer all live well; and in 
general, industry is a more prominent feature in their conduct 
than economy. 

(f) The standard of life of the country gendeman was high. 

Source: Letter of Matthew Bramble to Dr. Lewis in T. Smollett, 
Humphrey Clinker (1771). 

At Brambleton Hall ... I drink the virgin lymph, pure and 
crystalline as it gushes from the rock, or the sparkling beverage 










Earnings (weekly) 


10- 6 

8- 6 


7- 6 


1- 6| 


I- 4 






10- 6 


9- 8 


Expenditure on Food 


Bread, flour, oatmeal 

2- 8 



3- 4 

Yeast and salt 





Bacon, pork and other 


1- 9 

1- 4 



Tea, sugar and butter 

1- 5 



















Small Beer 















Thread and Worsted 






7- 9 


4- 6 

6- 91 


27- 6- 

30-17- 6 

23-16- 8 

22-19- 4 




19-16- 9 

11-17- 3 

17-12- 1 



1-1 1- 3 










4-17- 71 

2- 7- 6 

2- 0- 



I- I- 

2- 6 

8- 6 




27-17- 11 

20- 2- 6 

24- 2- 1 


10- 0d 

3-0- 4|s 

3-14- 2s 

1- 2- 9d 

(i) In Lincolnshire, the man was 30 and the woman 25. Their children were 
4 and 6, At the end of 1795, they were free from debt. They never had assistance 
from the parish 

(ii) In Leicestershire, the man was 41 and the woman 31; the children were 
1 1 and 8. 

(iii) In Norfolk, the man was 33 and the woman 30. Their children were 3 
and 1 . The man was 'industrious' and the woman 'frugal'. 

(iv) Cumberland. The man was 35 and the woman 30; both children were 
under 7; and the family was described as 'decent', 'reckoned to live well, and, 
notwithstanding their deficiency, to manage economically.' 



Comb [4 bushels or half a 
quarter] or Malt 

£ s. d. 


£ ■• d- 

1 3 


£ «. d. 


Chaldron of Coals 

1 11 6 

2 6 

2 11 

Comb of Oats 



1 1 

Load of Hay 

2 2 

4 10 









1 4 

Sugar (loaf) 



1 4 





Window lights, 30 

3 !0 

7 10 

12 12 





Poor rates, per Quarter 


2 6 


Income Tax on ^200 





8 4 

16 2 8 

45 14 1* 

home-brewed from malt of my own making; or I indulge 
with cider, which my own orchard affords; or with claret of 
the best growth , . . my bread is sweet and nourishing, made 
from my own wheat, ground in my own mill, and baked in 
my own oven; my table is, in a great measure, furnished from 
my own ground; my five-year old mutton, fed on the fragrant 
herbage of the mountains, that might vie with venison in 
juice and flavour; my delicious veal, fattened with nothing 
but the mother's milk, that fills the dish with gravy; my 
poultry from the barn door ... ; my rabbits panting from the 
warren; my game fresh from the moors; my trout and salmon 
struggling from the stream; oysters from their native banks; 
and herrings, with other sea-fish, I can eat in four hours after 
they are taken. My salads, roots, and pot-herbs, my own 
garden yields in plenty and perfection; the produce of the 


natural soil, prepared by moderate cultivation. The same soil 
affords all the different fruits which England may call her own 
so that my dessert is every day fresh-gathered from the tree; 
my dairy flows with nectareous tides of milk and cream, from 
whence we derive abundance of excellent butter, curds and 
cheese; and the refuse fattens my pigs, that are destined for 
hams and bacon. 

(g) Orders for food, however, were often sent to London. 

Source: Letter of 6 Feb. 1747 in The Purefoy Letters, p. 69. 

M r . Willson/ 

I desire you will send mee 

One pound of the best Bohea Tea 

Half a pound of the best green Tea 

Two pounds of the best Coffeeberries 

A quarter of a pound of nutmegs 

Two ounces of mace 

A quarter of an hundred of the best treble refined 

Loaf sugar 
A quarter of an hundred of Household sugar about 

6 pence a pound 
Haifa quarter of an hundred of Polish starch 
Half a quarter of an hundred of Rice 

Send these by yf Buckingham carrier . . . send your 
Bill with them & will order you payment. The last Bohea Tea 
was so ordinary I could not drink it, my neighbours had as 
good for six shillings a pound. The last hundredweight of 
Raisins you sent were so bad they spoiled the Liquor they were 
made on. I hope you will send no more bad Goods, I have 
had no reason to complain till now, tho' I have dealt at y'. shop 
these forty years & am 

Your humble serv! 
E. P, 
p.s. If you can't conveniently send them on Tuesday Ml 
Jones y e carrier sets out of London on Saturday mornings early. 

(h) There were great food markets in London. Billingsgate, opened 
in 1699, followed Covent Garden and Smithfieldsi there were also 
large numbers of open street markets. 


Source: Sophie v. la Roche, Sophie in London in 1786 (1933), p. 143. 

We left early for Covent Garden to visit Mr. Forster and 
view the fruit and vegetable market, remarkable both for its 
constant fresh supply of fruit, vegetables and flowers, as for 
the order reigning there. We were told that London consumes 
annually 2,957,000 bushels of wheaten flour, 100,000 oxen, 
700,000 sheep and lambs, 195,000 calves, 238,000 pigs, 1 15,000 
bushels of oysters, 14,000,000 mackerel, 16,000,000 pounds of 
butter, and 21,000,000 pounds of cheese annually, exclusive 
of game and poultry; that a fat ox costs 20 pounds sterling, a 
sheep 2, a pig 3; that 5s. pays a goose, 3s. a fowl, 2s. three 
pigeons, and Is. buys 20 eggs; thus the millions of millions 
necessary for general circulation can be roughly calculated. 
You will laugh, children, when you hear that calves are bled 
so as to keep their meat white; it is a proof, however, of the 
enormous luxury. 140,000,244 quarts of beer, a most nourishing 
beverage, are brewed annually in London 

(i) London, like the country, had great contrasts. Quite apart from 
the very poor, even batchelor clerks could find the going difficult. 

Source : Considerations on the Expediency of Raising, at this Time of 
General Dearth, the Wages of Servants that are not Domestic, particularly 
Clerks in Public Offices (1767). 

'That Fifty Pounds a Year is abundantly sufficient for the 
Subsistence of Clerks in Public Offices' ... is as absurd and 
impudent [a statement] as it is false and malignant. I have 
made the following Estimate [to show so], 


Bread and Cheese, and Small Beer, from the £ s. d. 
Chandler's Shop, 2 


Chuck-Beef, or Scrag of Mutton, or Sheeps 
Trotters, or Pig's Ear soused; Cabbage, or 
Potatoes, or Parsnips; Bread, and Small 
Beer, with half a Pint of Porter, 7 


Bread and Cheese, with Radishes, or Cucum- 
bers, or Onions, 3 



Small Beer, and half a Pint of Porter, 

Multiplied by 7 

An additional Repast on Sunday 

lodging in a ready-furnished room , . . 
washing . . . 

shaving and Combing a Wig twice. . . . 
pleasures. Saturday-Night's Club, One Tankard 
of Porter 

Multiplied by 52 



church expense (if he is not an avowed enemy 
to the Christian Faith. . . .) 


Balance Saved 

. . . For the common Entertainments of Life, such as almost 
all People partake of, I have left him wholly dependent upon 
the Bounty of others ; not allowing him, at his own Cost, one 
Night at Sadlers-Wells, one Drop of Wine or Punch, one 
Dish of Tea or Coffee, one Pennyworth of Fruit, one Pipe of 
Tobacco, or one Pinch of Snuff; and the Ten Shillings Church- 
expences include the Sum-Total of his yearly Bounty to the 
Poor. I have driven him to the dirtiest and meanest Parts of 
the Town, to seek for a cheap Lodging; I have cloathed him 
in the plainest and coarsest Manner; I have scarcely allowed 
him to be clean enough for the Place of his stated Appearance; 
I have fed him with the Refuse of the Market. . , . and I have 
granted him no Indulgence but his Saturday Night's Club of 
Three-pence half-penny, that he may forget for a few Hours, 
the Toils and Cares of the past Week. . . . 






























(j) Rich Londoners or even the comfortably off could dine well. 
Dinner was eaten early in the century at 5 or 6 o'clock and supper 
was taken so late that in the words of The Tatler (1710) the meal was 
in danger 'of being entirely confounded and lost in breakfast'. 
Later in the century 2 to 3 and 7 to 8 o'clock became main meal 
times, with afternoon tea growing in popularity among the rich. 
More attention was paid to styles of cooking, and French fashions 
influenced traditional habits. 

Source: A Lady, The Art of Cooking Made Plain and Easy (1747). 

In the Days of good Queen Elizabeth, when mighty Roast 
Beef was the Englishman's Food ; our Cookery was plain and 
simple as our Manners; it was not then a Science or Mistery, 
and required no Conjuration to please the Palates of our 
greatest Men. But wc have of late Years refined ourselves out 
of that simple Taste, and conformed our Palates to Meats and 
Drinks dressed after the French Fashion. The natural Taste of 
Fish or Flesh is become nauseous to our fashionable Stomach; 
we abhor anything that should appear at our Tables in its 
native Properties; all the Earth, from both the Poles, the most 
distant and different Climates, must be ransacked for Spices, 
Pickles and Sauces, not to relish but to disguise our Food. 

(k) Many other attacks were made on 'luxury' in eating. 

Source: D. Defoe, The Complete English Tradesman (1725), pp. 

'Tis surprising, what a swarm of gardeners, poulterers, 
pastry-cooks, &c. are supported by the mere extraordinaries 
of eating; raising plants by mere violence, and, as it were, a 
rape upon the earth; forcing her to produce things before her 
time, and, as it were, in spite of seasons, climates, forward or 
backward springs, and the most obstinate opposition of natural 
causes ? 

What Rapes are committed upon nature in the production 
of Animals as well as Plants ? making the ewes bring lambs all 
the winter, fatting calves to a monstrous size, using cruelties 
and contrary diets to the poor brute, to whiten its flesh for the 
palates of the Ladies, and to gorge the dainty stomachs of 
those who lay up their felicity in eating fine, as they call it? 
[But will any body say, that most of these people might not 



be better and more usefully employ'd, for the good of the 
Commonwealth ? 

(1) As food habits diverged, the pleasures of simpler foods were 
often sung. Yet there had always been striking differences in food 

Source: J. Gay, The Shepherd's Week (1715). 

In good roast beef my landlord sticks his knife, 
The capon fat delights his dainty wife, 
Pudding our Parson eats, the Squire loves hare, 
But white-pot thick is my Buxoma's fare; 
While she loves white-pot, capon ne'er shall be, 
Nor hare, nor beef, nor pudding, food for me. 

(in) During the French Wars at the end of the century attempts 
were made to discipline food habits and to minimize ostentation, 
rather along the lines of Defoe. 

Source: Note in The Times, 23 July 1795. 


Rules for the Rich 

1 . Abolish gravy soups, and second courses. 

2. Buy no starch when wheat is dear. 

3. Destroy all useless dogs. 

4. Give no dog, or other animal, the smallest bit of bread or 

5. Save all your skim-milk carefully, and give it all to the 
poor, or sell it at a cheap rate. 

6. Make broth, rice pudding, &c, for the poor, and teach 
them to make such things. 

7. Go to church yourselves, and take care your servants go 

8. Look into the management of your own families, and visit 
your poor neighbours. 

9. Prefer those poor who keep steadily to their work, and go 
constantly to church, and give nothing to those who are 
idle, and riotous, or keep useless dogs. 

10. Buy no weighing meat, or gravy beef: if the rich would 
buy only the prime pieces, the poor could get the others 


Rules for the Poor 

1. Keep steadily to your work, and never change masters, if 
you can help it, 

2. Go to no gin-shop, or alehouse: but lay out all your 
earnings in food, and cloaths, for yourself, and your 
family: and try to lay up a little for rent and rainy days. 

3. Avoid bad company. 

4. Keep no dogs: for they rob your children, and your 

5. Go constantly to church, and carry your wives, and 
children, with you, and God will bless you. 

6. Be civil to your superiors, and they will be kind to you. 

7. Learn to make broth, milk pottage, rice-pudding, &c. 
One pound of meat, in both, will go further than two 
pounds boiled or roasted. 

8. Be quiet, and contented, and never steal, or swear, or you 
will never thrive, 


Bread was the staple food in the South, and the standard of life 
of the poor depended on bread. White bread was in general demand, 
and the cultivation of wheat gready increased at the expense of 
other cereals. There were frequent complaints in London about the 
adulteration of bread. In the North, many other cereals were 
grown, and in some cases bread was not a staple. Parliament 
authorized the sale of 'standard bread' containing a higher pro- 
portion of bran in 1756-58, 1772-74 and 1795-1800: it was never 

(a) Source: Note in The Gentleman's Magazine (1776), quoted in 
J. Drummond and A. Wilbraham, The Englishman's Food (1958 edn.), 
p. 174. 

The ploughman, the shepherd, the hedger and ditcher, all 
eat a white bread as is commonly made in London, which 
occasions the great consumption of wheat. 

(b) This remark was not true of the North of England. 

Sources: Samuel Bamford, Early Days ( 1 893 edn,, ed. H. Dunckley), 
pp. 98-9, 


The mode ofliving at my uncle's was of the simplest country 
style. At breakfast, a brown earthen dish being placed on a low 
bciiufct [buffet] near the middle of the Boor, a boiling of 
water porridge was poured into the dish, hot from the pan. 
A mess-pot of the same material as the dish was placed for 
each one about to partake of the breakfast, a quantity of milk 
and a spoon were placed in each pot, my uncle took a seat and 
asked a blessing, each of the children of the family standing 
around ; we then took our several messes of milk, and helped 
ourselves to the steaming porridge as quickly as we chose, and 
mixing and eating in the manner we liked best, not a word 
being spoken all the time. The porridge being scraped up . . . 
each would take a piece of hard oaten cake and eat it to the 
remainder of his milk, after which a little butter, or a small 
piece of cheese, with more oaten bread, would finish the meal, 
and in a few minutes work was resumed. . . , Our dinners 
consisted generally of butcher's meat and potatoes, or potato- 
pie, or meat and broth, or barm dumplings, or drink porridge, 
or hasty pudding, and in each case the food was partaken in 
the same primitive manner. . . . When we had potato pie 
for dinner an allowance of the crust was given to each; the 
potatoes were then eaten out of the dish as before, and the 
crust, as being the most dainty, was eaten afterwards. . . . 

Our bagging, or afternoon lunch, consisted of half an oaten 
cake, with butter, treacle, cheese, or milk, as circumstances 
rendered most convenient, and our supper was generally the 
same as breakfast. On Sunday mornings we had mint or balm 
tea, sweetened with treacle, and oaten cake and butter; on 
Sunday afternoons we had tea of the same kind, and a slice of 
buttered loaf was added, which was an especial dainty. 

(c) For people in a different section of society, bread and butter 
began to assume a different significance in the weekly diet. 

Source: C. P. Moritz, A Journey to England (1782). 

The slices of bread and butter, which they give you with 
your tea, are as thin as poppy-leaves— But there is another 
kind of bread and butter usually eaten with tea, which is 
toasted by the fire, and is incomparably good. This is called 



(d) There were many complaints about the adulteration of bread 
in eighteenth-century London, and sharp controversies ensued 
about bakers' practices. 

Source: T. Smollett, Humphrey Clinker (1771), 

The bread I eat in London is a deleterious paste, mixed up 
with chalk, alum and bone-ashes; insipid to the taste and 
destructive to the constitution. The good people are not 
ignorant of this adulteration ; but they prefer it to wholesome 
bread, because it is whiter than the meal of corn. Thus they 
sacrifice their taste and their health, and the lives of their 
tender infants, to a most absurd gratification of a misjudging 
eye; and the miller or the baker, is obliged to poison them and 
their families, in order to live by his profession. 

(e) Ancient rules about the size and distribution of bread were 
always invoked at times of shortage. 

Source: Report in The Times, 8 July 1795. 

Monday, in consequence of an information, Mr. Justice 
Addington, attended by several officers, went to a Baker's 
shop, in Holborn, where they found 70 loaves, short of the 
standard weight, 181 ounces. The Magistrate fixed the penalty 
of 5s. per ounce, which amounted to £45, 5s., but which was 
mitigated to £40. 

( f ) The 'Speenhamland system' of poor relief (see above, p. 1 72) 
depended on fixing the level of poor relief in terms of bread prices. 

Source : Report in the Reading Mercury, 20 April 1 795. 

[The Magistrates] very earnestly recommend to the Farmers 
and others throughout the county to increase the Pay of the 
Labourers in proportion to the present Price of Provisions; 
and . . . have unanimously Resolved, That they will, in their 
several divisions, make the following calculations and allow- 
ances for the relief of all poor and industrious men and their 
families, who, to the satisfaction of the Justices of their parish, 
shall endeavour (as far as they can), for their own support and 
maintenance, that is to say, when the gallon loaf of second 
flour, weighing 8 lbs. 1 1 oz. shall cost one shilling, then every 
poor and industrious man shall have for his own support 3s. 


weekly, either produced by his own or his family's labour or 
an allowance from the poor rates, and for the support of his 
wife and every other of his family Is, 6d. When the gallon loaf 
shall cost Is. 4d. then every poor and industrious man shall 
have 4s. weekly for his own, and Is. lOd. for the support of 
every other of his family. And so in proportion as the price of 
bread rises or falls (that is to say) 3d. to the man and Id. to 
every other of the family, on every penny which the loaf rises 
above a shilling. 


The potato has a social history of its own. Rarely cultivated at 
the beginning of the century, except in big gardens and in some 
districts of the North-West, it became commonplace first in the 
North and then in the South. Its nutritional value was well-known 
at the time, and has been confirmed since. None the less, it was 
attacked as 'inferior food', and was associated with war-time 
scarcity, Irish labour and 'the miseries of the poor'. It offered the 
cheapest subsistence diet. 

(a) Source; Note from The Report of the Board of Agriculture, concerning 
the Culture and Use of Potatoes (1795), p. 84. 

It is also a fact, and one of the greatest importance, that 
potatoes and water alone, with common salt, can nourish 
men completely; but other mealy substances, though the 
principal food of millions of the human race, who never taste 
animal substances, are always mixed with some other kind of 
alimentary matter; such as, with oil, fruits, whey, milk, sour 
milk &c. 

(b) The Board of Agriculture did much to spread propaganda 
about the potato. Eden also sang its praises. 

Source: Sir F, M. Eden, op cit., vol. I., p. 501, 

Potatoes are not only particularly good in the North of 
England, but used in various ways. They are sometimes 
roasted, or boiled, and eaten with butter, as in the South; 
but are more commonly boiled (sometimes with the skin on, 
and sometimes with it taken off,) chopped into small pieces, 


and eaten with butter, (either cold or melted,) or bacon 
fried . . . but the principal way in which this useful root is 
dressed in the North by labourers' families is, by being peeled, 
or rather scraped, raw; chopped, and boiled together with a 
small quantity of meat cut into very small pieces. The whole of 
this mixture is then formed into a hash, with pepper, salt, 
onions &c. and forms a cheap and nutritive dish; which being 
common also in ships, is called by sailors lobscouse. No vegetable 
is, or ever was, applied to such a variety of uses in the North of 
England as the potatoe : it is a constant standing dish, at every 
meal, breakfast excepted, at the tables of the Rich, as well as 
the Poor, 

(c) The consumption of potatoes rose sharply during the French 
Wars, meeting with violent criticism from William Cobbett. 

Source: W. Cobbett, Rural Rides (Everyman, edn., 1957), vol L, 
p. 18. 

The labourers [at Gricklade] seem miserably poor. Their 
dwellings are little better than pig-beds, and their looks indicate 
that their food is not nearly equal to that of a pig. . . . Yesterday 
morning was a sharp frost; and this had set the poor creatures 
to digging up their little plots of potatoes. In my whole life I 
never saw human wretchedness equal to this. 


If potatoes were often regarded as symbols of wretchedness, the 
roast beef of England was a traditional symbol of national pride 
(see above, p. 287). Meat figured in most diets, though often only 
in the form of bacon or cheap pork. The quality of livestock greatly 
improved. Vegetables also increased in size and variety throughout 
the eighteenth century, but milk consumption was patchy. Some 
new luxury products were introduced. 

(a) Source: Sir Richard Weston, A Treatise concerning the Husbandry 
and Natural History of England (1742). 

Some old men in Surrey, where it flourishes very much at 
present, report. That they knew the first Gardeners that came 
into those parts, to plant Cabbages and Cauliflowers, and to sow 



Turnips, Carrots and Parsnips; to sow Raith (or early ripe) Rape, 
Pease; all which at that time were great rarities, we having 
few or none in England, but what came from Holland or 

(b) Source: J. Hanway, Letters on the Importance of the Rising Generation 

The food of the poor [at Stevenage] is good bread, cheese, 
pease, and turnips in winter, with a little pork or other meat, 
when they can afford it; but from the high price of meat, it has 
not lately been within their reach. As to milk, they have hardly 
sufficient for their use. 

(c) Source: T. Smollett, Humphrey Clinker (1771). 

The milk itself [in London] should not pass unanalyzed, 
the produce of faded cabbage leaves and sour draff, lowered 
with hot water, frothed with bruised snails; carried through 
the streets in open pails, exposed to foul rinsings discharged 
from doors and windows, spittle, snot, and tobacco quids, 
from foot-passengers, overflowings from mud carts, spatterings 
from coach-wheels, dirt and trash chucked into it by roguish 
boys for the joke's sake. . . . 

(d) In the country there was game, although enclosure reduced it 
in quandty and the game laws removed it from the diet of most 
of the poor. 

Source: F. G. Stokes (ed.), The Blecheley Diary of the Rev. William 
Cole (1931), p. 174. The year is 1767. 

Frid. 9. Excessive sharp Frost & some Snow. Will Grace 
brought me a wild Goose: I asked him to Dinner. Mr Cart- 
wright & his Neice Bet Lord dined & supped with me. . . . 
Will Grace, Tom & John Holdom went out at 8 o'clock at 
Night on Horseback between here & Stoke to shoot Wild 
Geese where were near an Hundred : they brought Home one. 
I was ill in the Night with Wind in my Stomach. 

(e) Among the new products introduced in the late eighteenth 
century was rhubarb. Oranges and lemons were obtainable 
throughout the century, even locally. There was a national market 
for oysters. The sardine made its debut in 1801. 

Source: Advertisement in the Morning Post, 10 Aug. 1801. 



Sardinias, a Fish cured in a peculiar manner, are highly 
esteemed as a Sandwich, and deemed of superior flavour to 
the Anchovy. 


Throughout the century there were local riots to protest against 
food shortages or high prices. There was a pattern in the riots 
which tended to follow regular procedures and rituals. Conflicts 
in the eighteenth century centred more, indeed, on food than on 

(a) To Arthur Young 'agitators' were to blame for such disturbances. 

Source: A Young, A Six Weeks Tour Through the Southern Counties 
of England (1772 edn.). 

In all occupations, there will be idle, drunken, unsettled 
and disorderly persons; a few of these getting together, and 
talking over the deamess of provisions (which presently becomes 
a cant term among them), inflame each other. 

(b) Source : An Account by local magistrates of a Yorkshire Food 
Riot of April 1740 in the Public Record Office, SP/36/50. 

My Lord, 

We think it our Duty to Inform your Grace, that last Saturday 
Morning, Several Persons, Men and Women to the Number of 
about 400, did Riotousely & Tumultously assemble together 
at Dewsbury about four Miles from this Place; having a 
Drum beat before them; Carrying a Sort of Ensigne or Colours 
with designc to prevent any Corn Ground into Meal or Flower, 
being carried by Badgers and such dealers, from these parts 
Westwards, & into Lancashire on Pretence that such practice 
much Inhanced the Price of Corn here; to the oppression of 
the Poor. 

Their first Attempt was to Stop & Seize certain Sacks, which 
they Suppos'd to be full of such Flower belonging to one John 
Willson who was carrying the same from Dewsbury to some 
Place Westward; But he having some notice, of such their 
designe, had fill'd these Sacks only with Bran which they took 
out and threw into the Highway. 


Being thus disappointed and Supposing the Meal & Flower 
to have been left In the Miln at Dewsbury, they attempted to 
break into the farm. But the doors thereof being well Secured 
& Barrocaded on the Inside, they were then prevented in that 

And that night about 400 of the Rioters as was Supposed 
rested in a Wood near Dewsbury, and on Sunday (being the 
Day following) they pulld down Dewsbury Miln, and what 
Corn they co'd not Carry away they threw into the River. 

From thence they went to another Miln in Thornhill Parish 
where they likewise broke open the Doors, pull'd down the 
Bolting MUIn, cutt the Sacks of Corn, carryed part of it away, 
and pull'd the Slate off of the Miller's House, out of which 
they took the Corn and cut the Sacks. 

From thence they return'd to Dewsbury where they broke 
into another Miln and attempted to destroy it in the same 
manner; But the High Sherriffe having notice of the Tumult, 
apply'd to S! r Jnf Kaye being the next Justice of Peace and they 
two went with their Servants to Dewsbury where they met a 
great Number of Persons said to amount to the Number of 400, 
or upwards upon being asked the Occasion of their meeting 
they told the High Sherriffc and Sir John that it was to prevent 
Corn being carryed out of the Country, which they pretended 
occasioned a great Scarcefy amongst them; upon this the High 
Sherriffe & Sir John endeavoured to persuade them to dis- 
perse, telling them the dangerouse Consequences of Continuing 
together in so Riotous a Manner; and upon their refusal the 
High Sherriffe read the Proclamation during which Time 
Stones and other things were thrown at the High Sherriffe & 
Sir John but in about an hour's time after the Proclamation 
was read they dispers'd and being told by Sir John that if they 
had any just grounds of Complaint, if some few of them wo'd 
repair to his House the next Morning he wo'd send to some 
Neighbouring Justices of the Peace to meet there to hear them. 

That on Monday Morning about nine o'clock Several of 
these Persons and others to the Number of near 1000, who 
began to assemble that Morning by five o'clock by beat of 
Drum came to Sir John Kaye's House and after some short 
Stay there went from thence with Uzza's & Beat of Drum to a 


MUln in the Parish of High Hogland, which they broke into, 
wound the Miller & took away a great Quantity of Meal & 

That some Short time after the Mobb was gone from Sir 
John Kaye's House the High Sherriffe and one Mr. Burton a 
Neighbouring Justice of Peace came thither, where they agreed 
to Send an Express to the Commanding Officer of General 
Barrill's Regiment Quartered at York, to desire he wo'd send 
over, such a detachment as he thought might be proper for 
suppressing such a Riot, which Express coming to him about 
one o'clock on Tuesday Morning, he Immediately Ordered 
about, 100, Men with proper Officers to March hither, who 
arrived here about four o'Clock in the afternoon of the same 

After the Rioters had left the last mentioned Miln, they 
proceeded in the same Riotous manner to a Miln in Sandal 
Parish, where they did no Damage but broke into a Gentle- 
man's House and took out a Bolting Miln and broke it in 

And from thence they proceeded to the House of one 
Joseph Pollard at Crigglcston, and broke into his Barn, where 
he had lodged his Flower of which they took and destroy'd 
to the Value of Ten pounds, whereupon the said Joseph 
Pollard to save the rest, gave them notice that if they did not 
desist he intended to fire upon them which upon their refusing 
he did Several times with Hail Shott; & wounded some of 
them five of which he took, who were Secured in the Town by 
a Neighbouring Justice of Peace all night & Conducted to 
Wakefield the next Morning. 

Before they left Pollard's House they threatened to return 
that night and destroy, him, his House and Family, and 
Continued their menace all that Day. 

On Tuesday Morning in the Town of Wakefield, a great 
Number of People Attended the Door of the House where the 
Prisoners were lodged, appearing to have a designe, to rescue 
them; Upon which the Proclamation was read. 

About two o'Clock in the afternoon of the same Day Several 
Hundreds with beat of Drum entred the West end of the Town, 
and being asked by Mr. Burton the Reasons of their coming, 


one of them told him he was come to release his Prisoners, upon 
which Mr. Burton Seized him and three more, whereupon the 
rest dispersed Seven others were taken and Secured with those 
before mentioned are now Confined in the House of Correction. 
. . . We are now taking their Examination and Intend to 
Committ them to the Castle at York. 

We think it Necessary for the Preservation of the Peace, that 
the Troops we now have, sho'd be continued here for some 
time and humbly desire they may have Orders accordingly. 

(b) Rioters were often heavily punished. 

Source: Letter from Darby, the ironfounder, to Earl Gower, 
23 Aug. 1757, printed in A. Raistrick, Dynasty of Ironfounders (1953), 
p. 79. 

The Riots that we have unfortunately had in this County 
[Shropshire] under pretence of the High price of Corn, made 
it prudent and necessary for Government to proceed with 
severity against the Ringleaders, promoters of those disorders 
for the sake of Example and to prevent the like Tumults for 
the future; with this view several of the Rioters were prosecuted 
last year two of whom out of the number of 10 were capitally 
convicted, & have been hanged. The other 8 were reprieved 
till the last assizes, when they were ordered to be transported 
for 14 years. In the number to be transported are included 
Rd Corbett, Wm. Cadman, John Cock, & Saml. Barker who 
till they were drawn into the said Riots at the Instance and 
threatenings of others, & perhaps with a view to procure 
sustenance for their starving families, always behaved as 
honest Industrious and most laborious Workmen ; and as such 
deserve pity and compassion, and the rather as they are truely 
sensible of the high offence they have comitted and hope his 
Majesty will extend his Mercy to them for the sake of their 
distressed Familys, 

The characters of these four Men till this unfortunate affair 
happened, makes me feel greatly for their distress, and solici- 
tous to obtain their pardon, and for that purpose I have 
presumed to trouble thee with the state of their case, earnestly 
entreating thee to apply to our king for their pardon. 

Examples have been made by hanging two of the said 


Rioters, and if the King shall be graciously pleased to shew 
Mercy to the 4 I have mendoned, I am persuaded it will have 
a good effect upon the minds of the people of this County in 
general, and be considered as a shining instance of that Human- 
ity Mercy and Compassion which the King always wishes to 
shew to the moans of his distressed subjects, 

(d) There were particularly fierce food riots in London in 1800. 
Birmingham, Nottingham, Coventry, Norwich, Sheffield and 
Oxford were other centres of disturbance. By then new radicalism 
overlapped with more traditional expressions of discontent. Placards 
appeared in the streets on Saturday and Sunday, September 13th 
and 14th urging people to take direct action. The price of corn did 
fall, but the riots continued. 

Source: Placard quoted in J. Ash ton, The Dawn of the Nineteenth 
Century in England (1906), p. 19. 

Bread will be sixpence the Quartern if the People will 
assemble at the Corn Market on Monday, fellow country- 
men, how long will ye quietly and cowardly suffer yourselves 
to be imposed upon, and half starved by a set of mercenary 
slaves and Government hirelings? Can you still suffer them to 
proceed in their extensive monopolies, while your children are 
crying for bread? No! let them exist not a day longer. We are 
the sovereignty; rise then from your lethargy. Be at the Corn 
Market on Monday. 


Food riots provide ample evidence of eighteenth- century hunger. 
The great banquets of the century, private or public, offer another 
remarkable eighteenth-century contrast. 

(a) Source: Letter from Lord Hervey to the Prince of Wales, July 
1731, printed in the Earl of Uchester (ed.), Lord Hervey and His 
Friends (1950), p. 73. 

Our company at Houghton [Sir Robert Walpole's house] 
swelled at last into so numerous a body that we used to sit 
down to dinner, a little snug party of thirty odd, up to the chin 
in beef, venison, geese, turkeys, etc.; and generally over the 



chin in claret, strong beer and punch. We had Lords spiritual 
and temporal, besides commoners, parsons and freeholders 

(b) Wal pole's outlay on food was over £1,000 per annum, and he 
put in orders for 100 pounds of chocolate costing £17 at one time. 

Squib writers satirized the dishes served at his table: for a 
critique of French cooking, see above, p. 287. 

Source; A passage from The Norfolk Congress, printed in J. H. 
Plumb, 'Sir Robert Walpole's Food' in Men and Places (1963), p. 157. 

There was one dish that shocked many of the spectators 
which was an English collar of brawn, stuck with French lilies, 
instead of rosemary. At this many were offended, and said the 
times were hugely changed with our Land-lord and his taste, 
and way of living strangely altered: For they remembered 
when he had like to have overturned the whole table, upon 
seeing some French kickshaws upon it, which he said was 
poison to an English constitution. But now forsooth nothing 
but French sauces will go down. 

(c) A ten-year old boy attended a children's ball in 1733 at 
Devonshire House. 

Source: A. H. Tipping, 'Wentworth Castle' in Country Life, 
25 Oct. 1924. 

We had a very handsome supper, viz. at the upper end 
cold cliickcns, next to that a dish of cake, parch'd almonds, 
sapp biskcts, next to that tarts and cheesecakes, next to that 
a great custard and next to that another dish of biskets, 
darch'd almonds and preserved apricocks, and next a quarter of 

(d) On 10 June 1784 Parson James Woodforde ate a 'very genteel 

Source: The Diary of a Country Parson. By James Woodforde (ed. J. 
Bercsford) World's Classics, p. 227. 

We had a very genteel Dinner, Soals and Lobster Sauce, 
Spring Chicken boiled and a Tongue, a piece of Rost Beef, 
Soup, a Fillet of Veal rosted with Morells and Truffles, and 


Pigeon Pye for the first course — Sweetbreads, a green Goose 
and Pease, Apricot Pye, Cheesecakes, Stewed Mushrooms 
and Trifle. 


Many cookery books were published during the century, many 
of them dealing with 'traditional' recipes, using fresh water fish and 
game, others showing French influence. One of the most famous, 
often reprinted, was Elizabeth Raffald's The Experienced English 
Housekeeper, For the Use and Ease of Ladies, Housekeepers, Cooks, etc. 

(a) Source: 'How to Stew Carps' from Mrs Elizabeth Slan/s Book of 
Receipts (1715). 

Take your carps and kill them under the gills or tails with a 
penknife and as they bleed you must keep the blood stirring 
with a little white wine that it clots not together. Then take 
your carps and scour them with some salt. Then open them 
and scour them well and put them in your stew-pan or dish 
and cover them with claret and put in a bunch of sweet herbs, 
2 or 3 whole onions and some salt, whole pepper and some 
large mace and half a nutmeg sliced. Cover them close and let 
them stew ; and when they are about half stewed turn them 
and then put in the blood, stir it in the liquor they were 
stewed in and put in a basin and set it over a chafing-dish of 
coals with 6 yolks of eggs well beaten and a shallot or two and 
2 or 3 anchovies. Let them be dissolved in your sauce ; then set 
it over the fire with the eggs stirring it all the while for fear lest 
it should curdle them; pour it to your carps and send it in. 

(b) Source: 'How to make a Rich, Great Cake', from The Lady's 
Companion, . . , Containing Upwards of Three Thousand Receipts in 
Every Kind of Cookery (6th edn., 1753), vol. II, p. 214. 

Take a peck of Flour well dried, an Ounce of Cloves and 
Mace, Half an Ounce of Nutmegs, as much Cinnamon ; beat 
the Spice well, and mix them with your Flour, and a Pound 
and Half of Sugar, a little Salt, and thirteen Pounds of Currants, 
well washed, picked, and dried, three Pounds of Raisins of the 



Sun stoned, and cut into small Pieces; mix all these well 
together; then make five Pints of Cream almost scalding hot, 
and put into it four Pounds of fresh Butter; then beat the 
Yolks of twenty Eggs, three Pints of good Ale-yeast, a Pint of 
Sack, a Quarter of a Pint of Orange-flower-water, three Grains 
of Musk, and six Grains of Ambergrease; mix these together, 
and stir them into your Cream and Butter, and mingle all 
in the Cake: Set it an Hour before the Fire to rise, before you 
put it into your Hoop. Mix your Sweetmeats in it, two Pounds 
of Citron, and one Pound of candied Orange and Lemon-peel, 
cut in small Pieces. You must bake it in a deep Hoop; butter 
the Sides, and put two Papers at die Bottom, and flour it; 
then put in your Cake. It must have a quick Oven, four Hours 
will bake it; when it is drawn, ice it over the Top and Sides: 
Take two Pounds of double-refined Sugar, beat and sifted, 
and the Whites of six Eggs beaten to a Froth, with three or 
four Spoonfuls of Orangc-flower-water, and three Ounces of 
Musk and Ambergrease together; put all these into a Stone 
Mortar, and beat them with a wooden Pestle till it is as white 
as Snow, and with a Brush, or Bunch of Feathers, spread it all 
over the Cake, and put it in the Oven to dry, but take Care 
the Oven does not discolour it; when it is cold, paper it, and 
it will keep five or six Weeks. 


cut off, fat, lean, much or little done; with this, a little Salt 
and Mustard upon the Side of a Plate, a Bottle of Beer, and a 
Roll; and there is your whole Feast. Those who would dine at 
one or two Guineas per Head, are handsomely accommodated 
at our famous Pontac's; rarely and with difficulty elsewhere. 

(b) Source: Letter from H. Purefoy to D. Baxter, the landlord of 
the Lord Cobham Arms in Buckingham, 4 Nov. 1750, printed in 
The Purefoy Letters, vol. I, p. 41 7. 

M T . Baxter, 

I propose to dine at your house too morrow & desire you 
will get a couple of ffowlls killed too night & boyled with 
bacon, & a small shoulder of mutton roasted, to be on y e Tabic 
at one o'clock. Pray be at home yourself because of paying you 
the 10s., & let us have y e Ground room on the left hand as 
wee come into your house, w? h will oblidge 

Your freind to serve you 
H. P. 

(c) Source: C. P. Mori tz, A Journey to England (1782). 

[They eat] a piece of half-boiled or half-roasted meat; and 
a few cabbage-leaves boiled in plain water; on which they 
pour a sauce made of flour and butter, the usual method of 
dressing vegetables in England. 


Some of the best English food was to be enjoyed in the country. 
Already, eating out in London was less satisfactory than eating in 
a club. 

(a) Source: M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations (1719), p. 146. 

^ It is very certain, that an Englishman, who has twelve or 
fifteen hundred Pound Sterling a Year, does not make such 
a Rout with it, as a Frenchman that has but the tenth Part of it. 
One Word more about the Cooks Shops, to give a full Idea of 
the Thing. Generally four Spits, one over another, carry 
round each five or six Pieces of Butcher's Meat, Beef, Mutton, 
Veal, Pork, and Lamb; you have what Quantity you please 


Because of easily available surviving sources, there is plentiful 
evidence about eadng in prisons, hospitals, schools, barracks and 
workhouses. The following extracts are drawn from this kind of 
literature, which also illuminates eighteenth-century theories of 

(a) Source: R. H. Nichols and F. A. Wray, The History of the 
Foundling Hospital (1935), which gives the diet sheet for children 
in November 1747. Vegetables were not added to the diet until 
1762. (See upper table on p. 304.) 

(b) Source: Sir F. M. Eden, The State of the Poor (1797), vol. Ill, 
p. 849, gives the diet of the inmates of Leeds Workhouse. (See lower 
table on p. 304.) 








Roast Pork or 






Milk and Bread 



Boiled Mutton 



or Beef 



Rice Pudding 
or Rice-milk 

Bread and Cheese 



Boiled Pork or 




Dumphns or 

Milk and Bread 





Hasty Puddings 

Bread and Cheese 







Bread and broth 


potatoes, bread, 

and bread 

broth, beer 




Milk-pottage and 

bread, beer 




Flour dumplings, 




Bread, cheese, 




Potatoes, bread, 

Bread and broth, 

broth, beer 

or beer only 




Milk-pottage and 

bread, beer 







(c) Source: J. Howard, The State of the Prisons in England and Wales 

I have before said, that I am no advocate for luxury in 
prisons; for I would have no meat diet for criminals in houses 
of correction, or at most, only on Sundays, Yet I would plead 
that they should have, at least, a pound and a half of good 
household bread a day, and a quart of good beer; besides 
twice a day a quart of warm soup made from pease, rice, 
milk or barley. For a change they might sometimes have 
turnips, carrots, or potatoes. It may be said this diet will 
starve those who work in houses of correction ; but I am per- 
suaded of the contrary, by what I have seen abroad, in the 
galleys, in the houses of correction, and among the most 
robust labourers. 

10. TEA 

Coffee and chocolate were very popular drinks in the early 
eighteenth century, but the tea-drinking habit spread rapidly from 
the aristocracy to the middle classes and finally to working people. 
Many moral defects were attributed direcdy to it, and few accounts 
of diet were complete without references to it. By the end of the 
century (leaving smuggling on one side) over 20 million pounds of 
tea were being imported, about 2 pounds per head of population. 

(a) Source: J. Hanway, Journal (1757), vol II, p. 220. 

The use of tea descended to the Plebaean order, among us, 
about the beginning of this century ; but it was not before the 
year 1715, that we began to buy large quantities of green tea 
of the Chinese, having been till then contented with hohea. 

In 1720, the consumption was so much augmented, that the 
French, who had hitherto brought home only raw-silk, porcelain, 
and silken manufactures from China, began to import con- 
siderable quantities of tea into France; and by establishing the 
trade of running it into this island, have found their profit in 
our folly ever since. 

From 1717 to 1726, we imported annually about 700,000 
pounds. The quantities run in upon us, however, must have 
been prodigious, for it was calculated in 1728, that 5,000,000 


pounds were imported into Europe, of which we were much 
the greatest consumers. . . . Where will this Evil stop? 

(b) Source: Ibid., pp. 35-6. 

Though habit reconciles us to the use of tea, as it does the 
Turks to opium, may we not with great propriety ask the following 
questions ? 

Is it not disturbing the operations of nature, to drink when 
neither thirst nor heat provokes? 

Do we not often sip tea when we have already drank too 
great a quantity of water, or other diluting liquors? 

Would not cold liquids sometimes relieve nature better than 

Is it not the polite question, 'have you drank your tea,' and 
supposed that every body drinks tea every evening, and every 
morning ? 

Arc not physicians generally agreed, that we have many 
choice and medicinal herbs of our own growth, better than tea? 

Are they not also agreed, that tho' tea is proper for some 
persons, under particular circumstances, that it is in general 
hurtful to the constitution in the manner we use it? . . . 

Will the sons and daughters of this happy isle, this reputed 
abode of sense and liberty, for ever submit to the bondage of so 
tyrannical a custom as drinking tea? 

Must the young and old, and middle aged, the sickly and the 
strong, the poor and rich, in warm weather and cold, in moist and 
dry, with one common consent, employ so many precious 
hours, in so low a gratification as drinking tea? 

Are we to be bread up from generation to generation to this 
vast expence ? 

Is not this a want which nature does not make, and are not 
many unhappy, if it is not regularly supplied? etc. etc. 

(c) Source : T. Alcock, Observations on the Defects of the Poor Laws 
(1752), pp. 45ff. 

Several poor persons, who received Charity have their Tea 
once, if not twice a Day. ... To run daily into such idle 
Extravagances, is certainly a very ridiculous Piece of Manage- 



ment: For the Expence of the whole Apparatus of Tea, Sugar, 
Cream, Bread and Butter, etc. must now be treble to that of 
Milk or Broth, or any other common wholesome Breakfast, 

11. GIN 

Whatever the merits of tea, the merits of gin were still more 
dubious. 'Drunk for Id., dead drunk for 2d, straw for nothing' is 
a phrase that has passed into popular history. There was heavy gin 
drinking, particularly in London, and in 1 725 it was reckoned that 
in one parish gin was sold retail in every fifth house. An act of 1 736 
aimed at prohibition, but it was so unpopular that it was repealed 
in 1 743 and a milder act substituted for it. Gin drinking was at its 
height in the 1740s (see Hogarth's Gin Lane, part of a successful 
campaign against it), but new legislation from 1751 onwards 
curbed excesses. Gin consumption fell in the last years of the century, 
although there was a sharp upward move in 1 785. There was heavy 
consumption of alcoholic drinks, however, and this was a factor, 
as Fielding saw, in the background of London crime. (See below, 
p. 373.) 

(a) Source: An anonymous pamphlet of 1736, Distilled Liquors the 
Bane of the Nation in the Place Papers, British Museum, Add. MSS. 
27,825, p. 178. 

Every one who now passes through the streets of this great 
Metropolis and looks into the distillers' shops . . . must see, 
even in shops of a creditable and wholesome appearance, a 
crowd of poor ragged people, cursing and quarrelling with 
one another over repeated glasses of these destructive liquors. 
... In one place not far from East Smithfield ... a trader has 
a large empty room backwards where, as his wretched guests 
get intoxicated, they are laid together in heaps, promiscuously, 
men, women, and children, till they recover their senses, when 
they proceed to drink on, or, having spent all they had, go 
out to find wherewithal to return to the same dreadful pursuit. 

(b) Source: H. Fielding, An Inquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase 
of Robbers (1751). 

Wretches are often brought before me, charged with theft 
and robbery, whom I am forced to confine before they are in 


a condition to be examined; and when they have afterwards 
become sober, I have plainly perceived from the state of the 
case, that the Gin alone was the cause of the transgression, and 
have been sometimes sorry that I was obliged to commit 
them to prison. . , , Gin is the principal sustenance (if it may 
be so called) of more than an hundred thousand people in this 
metropolis. Many of these wretches there are, who swallow 
pints of this poison within the twenty four hours ; the dreadful 
effects of which I have the misfortune every day to see, and to 
smell too. 

(c) The Act of 1751 increased duties on gin and forbade its sale in 
chandlers' shops. 

Source: Extracts from the Preamble of the 1751 'Act for granting a 
duty to his Majesty to be paid by distillers upon licences to be taken 
out by them for retailing spirituous liquors'. 

Whereas the immoderate drinking of distilled spirituous 
liquors by persons of the meanest and lowest sort, hath of late 
years increased, to the great detriment of the health and morals 
of the common people; and the same hath in great measure 
been owing to the number of persons who have obtained licences 
to retail the same, under pretence of being distillers, and of 
those who have presumed to retail the same without licence, 
most especially in the cities of London and Westminster, the 
borough of Southwark, and other places within the weekly 
bills or mortality, contrary to the good and wholesome laws 
heretofore made for preventing thereof: and whereas we your 
Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects the commons of Great 
Britain in parliament assembled, ever attentive to the preser- 
vation and health of your Majesty's subjects, have taken this 
great evil into our serious consideration, and proposed such 
laws and provisions as appear to us to be more likely to put a 
stop to the same. . . . 

(d) In the 1780s there was a general dghtcning up of licensing 
regulations, pardcularly in the manufacturing districts. The new 
policy was related to Evangelical views on morality (see above, 
p. 276) and to recognition of the need to maintain factory 
discipline (see above, pp. 501T.). 

Source: Note in the Leeds Intelligencer, 26 June 1787. 



At the Brewster Sessions held at Sheffield yesterday s'en 
night, before the Justices of Peace for this Riding, a total 
suppression was ordered of the numerous dram-shops in that 
town, by withholding from them ale licences, which, according 
to the Act in that respect made, restrains them from selling less 
than two gallons of any kind of spirituous liquors. 

(e) Despite the increase in population, the total number of publi- 
cans' spirit licences fell between 1779 and 1790. 

Source: Appendix 32a of the First Report of the Commissioners of 
Inland Revenue (1857), the table from which is printed in S. and B. 
Webb, The History of Liquor Licensing in England (1903), p. 87. 
















Ale had always been a staple drink, and the sale of ale and beer 
had been under control, like the sale of bread, from the middle 
ages. In the eighteenth century beer was a patriotic drink, and 
Hogarth's Beer Street idealized beer while his Gin Lane was a 
study in degradation. Moreover, malt produced in England had 
obvious patriotic advantages over grapes produced in France. The 
favourite form of beer in the eighteenth century was porter, and a 
large-scale brewing industry began to emerge, with a few large firms 
dominating the market. 

(a) Source: H. Jackson, An Essay on Bread (1758). 

Beer, commonly called Porter, is almost become the universal 
Cordial of the Populace, especially since the necessary Period 
of prohibiting the Corn-Distillery; the Suppression presently 
advane'd the Price of that common Poison Gin, to near three 
times its former Price, and the Consumption of Beer has kept 
pace with such advance. 



(b) There were complaints about the quality of beer and experi- 
ments to improve it. 

Source : Letter from T. Greenall (of St. Helens) to J. Hill, 1 787, 
printed in T. C. Barker and J. R. Harris, A Merseyside Town in the 
Industrial Revolution (1954), p. 100. 

We have took the liberty of sending you 2 half Barrels of a 
second sort of Beer (it is sold at Bolton at 6d, pr. Qt.) we have 
charg'd it you only 44/- per Barrel and wish you to make trial 
of It, it is good Beer but rathere [sic} slenderer than our Strong 
Beer, however if it will not sell by itself, it will mix very well 
with the strong Beer; and make your profit more advantageous 
— Shou'd it {the second sort of beer) meet your approbation 
we should be glad to send you a Load, as it would in some 
measure save your strong Beer; and we are rathere scarce of 
that Article, at this Season of the year than any other. 

(c) In the 1780s the attempt to control gin drinking was accom- 
panied by an attempt to control beer drinking also. 

Source: Report in the Chelmsford Chronicle, 10 Aug. 1787. 

At a Vestry held at the parish church of Wanstead ... it 
was resolved that the . . . parish officers and police officers be 
required to pay particular attention to the conduct of the 
several keepers of public-houses within this parish, and that 
they make their report to the Vestry concerning them ; whether 
they keep good order; whether they suffer gambling or tippling 
at unseasonable hours . . . and especially whether they keep 
their houses open for the entertainment of their guests in the 
time of Divine Service on the Lord's Day . . . [It was also 
resolved that] the constables be required to visit the public- 
houses within this parish at ten o'clock every night, and see that 
the publican dismiss his guests and shut up his house at that 
hour; and that they take into their custody all such persons 
as shall refuse quietly to depart when called upon by the 
constables and publicans to do so. 

(d) Source; Report in The Times, 4 Oct. 1797. 

In the City of London, and within the Bills of Mortality, 
there are at present 5,204 licensed Public Houses, and it is 
calculated that [the] consumption of Ale, and Porter, annually, 



in the metropolis, and its environs, is stated to be 1,132,147 
barrels, equal to 36,625,145 gallons, making 158,400,580 pots 
at3id. £2,311,466 15 10 

(e) Wine drinking was a middle-class as well as an aristocratic 
habit. At the beginning of the century French wines, including 
claret and champagne, were in demand, but as the century went by 
the consumption of port — along with sherry and madeira — gready 
increased. Brandy also was a favourite drink, even though it came 
from France: rum from the West Indies was another late eighteenth- 
century drink. The following extract is a wine account for one 
year, 1 735-36, from the Mildmay Archives. 

Source: Lord Fitzwalter's Wine Account, printed in Edwards 
(ed.), English History from Essex Sources, vol. I, pp. 158-9. 

Jan. 1 1 For one hogshead of white port sent in 
Feb. 16 1733, £19; April 12 to one 
hogshead of red port sent to Moulsham 
Hall, £20: to one hogshead of white port 
at the same time to Moulsham, £14; to 
one hogshead of white port, Sept. 20, 
sent also to Moulsham, £15; and in full 
of all accounts to this day 

Jan. 15 Came in one hogshead of white port 
wine bottled off at Mr. Vanderstcgcn's, 
which run 21 dozen 2 bottles, for which 
I am to pay him. Bottled off a hogshead 
of claret this Jan., which run 20 dozen 
and three bottles, and began to drink it 
Jan. 17. n.b. This hogshead of claret 
lasted to May 17. 

Feb. 13 Mr. Lyon his bill in full for claret I had 
of him by dozens last summer, and in 
full of all accounts 

June 7 Bottled off by Turner my butler, one 
hogshead of claret imported from 
Boulogne. . . . 

June 17 Pd. Alexander Gordon ... for a hogs- 
head of claret, £21 ... and in full of all 

£ s. d. 

65. 0. 

27. 17. 5 

22. 10. 


Aug. 22 



Bottled off a hogshead of white Lisbon 
had of Mr. Vanderstegen, which run 19 
dozen ; but there was three dozen and £ 
drunk from the hogshead, so that it 
contained in the whole 22 dozen, i. 
Nov. 20 To Capt. Gil bey for a hogshead of claret, 
Monsr. Pigualt, £15. 0. 6, and for duty 
on landing, £13. 6. 6, and for freight 
and primage, lis. 0, in all 

28. 8. 



Jtr/tin /is »,/,■( rfM. 


A Tlicatrc Ticket 

Sadler's Wells 



Farmer and Man 



A Coffee House 

'Selling a Wife' 






Advice for the Young 

A Gentleman's Kitchen 









The Sermon 



St Paul's, Sheffield 

A Quaker Meeting 

PI.ATK 25 


'Pious Tuition' 



/ff'//t<l> '/(/(//• ' t<H>tHHIH /,'/<>//// /'<*/./&/ i>/'C/r ///,■>/<&* 7,1 tl ( Jtf. 

The Story of James Halt 

plate 27 


'Free Choice' as seen by Gillray 

The Press Gang 













-vmTi * 



The House of Commons 

• '/A * /ia//A- / •/ • A'm/iA- /.iti, ' 

Politics in the Street 



Though I am a poor person, I will be bold to say I am an honest 
man, and would not do an ill thing to be made a bishop. 

(Abraham Adams in Henry Fielding's 

The Adventures of Joseph Andrews, 1742) 

Enthusiasm, a vain belief of private revelation, a vain confidence 
of divine favour or communication. 

(Samuel Johnson, Dictionary, 1755} 

It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the 
common wretches that crawl on the earth, 

(The Duchess of Buckingham to Lady Huntingdon, 1741) 

Ungodliness is our universal, our constant, our peculiar charac- 
ter ... a total ignorance of God is almost universal among us. . , . 
High and low, cobblers, tinkers, hackney coachmen, men and 
maid servants, soldiers, tradesmen of all rank, lawyers, physicians, 
gentlemen, Lords are as ignorant of the Creator of the World as 
Mohametans or Pagans. 

(John Wesley, Estimate of Manners at the Present Time, 1782) 

The necessity of going to church in procession with us on the 
anniversary, raises an honest ambition to get something decent to 
wear, and the churches on Sundays are now filled with very clean- 
looking women. 

(Hannah More, Letter to William Wilberforce, 1791) 


Joseph Addison (1672-1715), who had introduced the readers of 
the Spectator to Sir Roger de Coverley, 'a gendeman of Worcester- 
shire, of ancient descent, a baronet' and a batchelor, in March 1711, 
went on to describe in a later number (24 March) the division of 

X 3'3 


the clergy inlo 'generals, field officers, and subalterns', the latter 
'not to be numbered'. The pattern of rural religion described below 
persisted for most of the rest of the century. 

Source: The Spectator, 9 July 1711. 

I am always very well pleased with a country Sunday, and 
think, if keeping holy the seventh day were only a human 
institution, it would be the best method that could have been 
thought of for the poLishing and civilising of mankind. It is 
certain the country people would soon degenerate into a kind 
of savages and barbarians, were there not such frequent 
returns of a stated time, in which the whole village meet 
together with their best faces, and in their cleanliest habits, 
to converse with one another upon indifferent subjects, hear 
their duties explained to them, and join together in adoration 
of the Supreme Being. Sunday clears away the rust of the 
whole week, not only as it refreshes in their minds the notions 
of religion, but as it puts both the sexes upon appearing in 
their most agreeable forms, and exerting all such qualities as 
are apt to give them a figure in the eye of the village. . . . 

My friend Sir Roger, being a good Churchman, has beauti- 
fied the inside of his church with several texts of his own 
choosing: He has likewise given a handsome pulpit-cloth, and 
railed in the communion table at his own expense. He has 
often told me, that at his coming to his estate he found his 
parishioners very irregular; and that, in order to make them 
kneel and join in the responses, he gave every one of them a 
hassock and a common prayer-book; and at the same time 
employed an itinerant singing-master, who goes about the 
country for that purpose, to instruct them rightly in the tunes 
of the psalms. . . . 

As Sir Roger is landlord to the whole congregation, he keeps 
them in very good order, and will suffer nobody to sleep in 
it besides himself; for, if by chance he has been surprised into a 
short nap at sermon, upon recovering out of it he stands up 
and looks about him, and if he sees anybody else nodding, 
either wakes them himself, or sends his servants to them. . . . 

As soon as the sermon is finished, nobody presumes to stir 
till Sir Roger is gone out of the church. The knight walks down 



from his seat in the chancel between a double row of his 
tenants, that stand bowing to him on each side; and every 
now and then inquires how such as one's wife, or mother, or 
son, or father do, whom he does not see at church; which is 
understood as a secret reprimand to the person that is absent. 


(a) Source: Historical Manuscripts Commission, Egmont MSS,, 
Diary of Viscount Percival, 1st Earl of Egmont (1920), vol I, p. 100. 

Percival is noting in his Diary of 1730 his approval of Bishop 
Joseph Willcocb of Gloucester. {Note the close link between 
religion and politics.) 

He resides as much as any bishop in his diocese, at least four 
months in the year, and keeps a very generous and hospitable 
table; which makes amends for the learning he is deficient in. 
However, though no great scholar, nor a deep man, he is a 
very frequent preacher, and this, with his zeal for the Govern- 
ment, good humour, and regular life, makes him very well 
liked by the Government and all that know him. 

(b) Source: H, G. Foxcroft, Supplement to Burnet's History of his own 
Time (1902). Bishop Gilbert Burnet, author of the famous History 
of his own Times is reminiscing in 1710 about the spiritual side of 
his diocesan work. 

I resolved to go round my diocese about three weeks or a 
month each year, preaching and confirming every day from 
church to church. ... I continued still to go about preaching 
and confirming, so that I have preached and confirmed in 
275 churches of my diocese, and ten or twelve times in all the 
market towns and considerable places, I look upon confir- 
mation, if rightly managed, as the most effective means 
possible for reviving Christianity, but I could never prevail with 
the greater part of my clergy to think of any other way of 
preparing their youth to it but to hear them repeat their 
catechism; they did not study to make them consider it as the 
becoming a Christian by an act of their own. I have now 
settled on a method in which I intend to continue as long as 


God continues my strength to execute it. I stay a week in a 
place where every morning I go and preach and confirm in 
some church within six or seven miles of the place ; and then 
at 5 o'clock after evening prayer I catechise some children and 
explain the whole catechism to them, so that I go through it 
all in six days and confirm the next Lord's day; and make 
presents to the value of about a crown a day to all whom I 
catechised, and I have them all to dine with me on the Lord's 


Among the many diaries of eighteenth-century parish priests, 
that of James Woodforde, the Somerset priest, is outstanding. 
There was, of course, great variety in parish size and organization, 
as there was in the status, stipend and oudook of the priest. 

(a) Source .-J. Beresford (cd.) , The Diary of a Country Parson ( 1 924-3 1 ) , 
entries for May to November 1 769. 

29 May. I read Prayers this morning at C. Cary, being 29 of 
May, the Restoration of King Charles II from Popish 
Tyranny. . : . 

21 June. I played with Mr, James Clarke at Battledor and 

Shuttlecock, and we kept the cock up once upwards of 
500 times. . . . 

22 Sept. Great rejoicings at Gary today being the Coronation 

Day. Bells ringing all day ... a very large bonfire on the 
top of the hill and very grand fireworks were sent from 
London and were Sky-Rocketts, Mines, Trees, Crackers, 
Wheels, and divers Indian fireworks. . . . We did not 
break up till nearly two in the morning. . . . 

23 Sept. Great doings again at Cary in the Park. At one 

o'clock there was a shift run for by women. There were 
five that started for it, and won by Willm. Francis's 
daughter Nan of Ansford— her sister Pegg was second and 
therefore had ribbands. I never saw the Park so full of 
people in my life. The women were to run the best of 
three half mile Heats: Nan Francis run a Heat in three 
minutes. . . . 


1 Oct. I read Prayers, churched a woman and read the Act 
of Parliament against profane swearing as directed by 
Law. . . . 

18 Oct. After breakfast went with Mr. Creed in his Chair to 
Wells with a great possy from Cary to attend at the 
County Meeting to consider of a proper Petition to his 
Majesty in the present crisis of Affairs. 1 We went to the 
Swan, where we dined with upwards of a hundred Gentle- 
men of the first rank in the County. We had a very re- 
spectable meeting on this occasion. . . . Britons never will 
be slaves was played during the dinner. , . . 

12 Nov. I read Prayers and preached this morning at C. Cary 

Church. I was disturbed this morning at Cary Church 
by the Singers. I sent my Clerk some time back to the 
Cary Singers, to desire that they would not sing the 
Responses in the Communion Service, which they com- 
plied with for several Sundays, but this morning after 
the first Commandment they had the Impudence to sing 
the Response, and therefore I spoke to them out of my 
desk, to say and not sing the Responses which they did 
after, and at other places they sang as usual. . . , 

13 Nov. We had news this morning of Mr. Wilkes gaining his 

point against Lord Halifax and 4,000 pound damages 
given him. Cary and Ansford bells rung most part of the 
day on the occasion. . . . 

(b) Henry Crookes was a vicar of an urban parish, Hunslet, near 

Source: Extracts from his Manuscript Diary for 1758 in Leeds 
Reference Library. 

Easter Sunday 26. . . . Went to Chapel at 9. Read prayers 
and expounded the 2nd Lesson and went to Leeds to assist at 
a Sacrament where were 12 Clergymen. . . . Dined at the 
Vicar's. Went to Chapel Quarter past 3 Read prayers and 
preached from John 20 v 9. . . . 

1 The Petition concerned John Wilkes and the freedom of el ecdon. 
See below, pp. 499ff. The year 1769 was important in relation to 
the development of concerted extra-parliamentary action in the 



Monday 27. . . . About 10 rode up to Middleton to buy a 
Cow and Calf of Joseph Walker but did not. . . . 

Friday 31. ... At 3 went to the Funeral of Mr. Bilton and 
got Home between 7 and 8. The Vicar read the Office and I 
stood at the Door, (till the persons invited were got into the 
Chapel) to keep out the Mob, which was excessive great and 
very rude. There were an Hearse and two Mourning Coaches, 
the Recorder's Coach Sir Harry Ibbotson's Coach and a 
Chaise. The Bearers, the Vicar the Apothecary the Family 
(for Mr. Bilton died in London March 14) and Self had Scarfs 
and Hatbands and the other Gentlemen had Scarfs. . . . The 
Discourse was altogether trifling. After the Funeral 5 of the 
Reverend Mr. Colby's Daughters (own Nieces to the Deceased) 
came to our House, (they were there before the Funeral) and 
went away presently afterwards. After Supper smoked a pipe. 
A little past 9 called the Family in sung two Hymns, had prayer 
and to Bed 10 Minutes before 10. 

Saturday 8 April. ... I left Home a little before 6 [in the 
evening] to go to see Anne Daughter of Benjamin Gomersail. 
Benjamin keeps a bad House, and am afraid (by the Reports 
I hear) that his Wife is little better than a common prostitute, 
training up her Daughter too much like herself. May the Lord 
have Mercy upon that wicked Family, and may they all have 
a saving Interest in the Blood of Jesus. The poor young Woman 
calls out for Mercy, which I pray God She may obtain. . . . 

Friday 5 May. . . . After Dinner went to see Hannah Wife 
of Benjamin Arnritage, a poor unhappy Soul, despairs of God's 
Mercy, and has twice intended to destroy herself, once by a 
Razor and another by a Rope, and I pray God She may not 
put that bloody Design into Execution at some Time or other, 
for She confesses, when the Rope was taken from Her, that 
another Method of Self murder was impressed upon her Mind, 
but would not tell me what it was. Went to prayer with Her 
and came away. . . . 

Wednesday 8 November. ... I spent an agreeable After- 
noon with Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (lately Miss Hales of 
Liverpool) old Mrs. Armitage Mrs. Featherstone and Miss 
Armitage. Mr. Hales of Liverpool the Father of young Mrs. 
Armitage had a Son (Neddy Hales) whom He despised for his 


Seriousness. Neddy was a preacher among the Methodists, 
and perhaps one of the most heavenly Youths in this part of 
the world. His Father could not bear with his uncommon 
Holiness, and was so exasperated because He could not bring 
[Him] from preaching among the Methodists that He turned 
Him (as it were) out of Doors and disowned Him for his Son, 
But behold what strange Things the providence of God brought 
about. For, the same Mr. Hales, notwithstanding his Usage of 
his Son became so surprisingly altered in his Temper (or what 
You please to call it) that He has given his only Daughter of 
who He was extravagantly fond, to Mr. James Armitage, as 
deep in Methodism as his Son was and what is more strange, 
He gave Orders to Mr, Newton of Liverpool to write to Mr. 
Armitage to fetch his Daughter away on the same Month and 
the same Day of the Month this year on which He turned his 
Son out of Doors last year. We have this Day been to pay a 
Bride Visit, and an happy Visit it was to my Soul. . . , 

Thursday 9. ... I walked to Francis Weatherheads to see 
Him. Had some serious Discourse with Him concerning his 
Soul, which so gravelled Him He could not contain but broke 
out against me as a preacher of nothing but Hell and Dam- 
nation, I bless God my haughty heart did not rise, and I 
heartily trust it never may. In his Heat Francis upbraided me 
with the Want of a meek and humble Spirit, which I ingen- 
uously confessed, being too conscious of the pride of my heart, 
and it pleased God to make my Confession the Means of 
quelling his Anger. While I was talking with Him the 
G[l]azier came to mend his Windows and prevented me going 
to prayer. From Him I went to see Mary Wife of Joseph 
Crowther with whom and her Daughter Matty I had about 
i an Hours serious Conversation before prayer. Poor Woman, 
She has been 1 Weeks down of a Fever and a Miscarriage 
and their Goods are to be sold toMorrow by a hard hearted 
Landlord. From them I went to see Mr. Hollingworth where I 
met with Mr. Martin Brown junior and Harry Moore and 
presently afterwards Mr. Stoney came in. I smoked a pipe 
with Mr. Brown, and had some Discourse with Him concerning 
the Folly of Hunting, but to no purpose, for they were all 
against me. I came away between 6 and 7, . . . 


(c) Crookes was not typical of all the clergymen of his time, and 
in rural parishes there were many laymen whose private opinions 
of their clergymen were highly critical. In East Sussex, for example, 
Thomas Turner clearly had a mind of his own. 

Source : Entry for 20 Jan. 1757, in the Diary of Thomas Turner. 

In the even I read a pamphlet, entitled Primitive Christianity 
Propounded, which I imagine was written by a Baptist preacher, 
in favour of preaching without notes. I must say I can find no 
harm consequent on our method or reading, as the author is 
pleased to call it; but I must acknowledge that the idle, lazy 
way of preaching which many of our clergy arc got into, seems 
rather to prove self-interest to be the motive of the exercising 
of their profession, than the eternal happiness and salvation of 


The Church was an economic as well as a religious interest. 
The clergy farmed their own glebe land and relied on tithes. 
Church repairs were often a severe burden on the parish. 

(c) Source: An Account of the Parish of Quatt Malvern in 
Shropshire Parish Documents (1903), p. 270. 

The Rectory House consists of about five Bays of Building; 
ye Barn Stable and Cow House are ten Bays. All ye Land 
belonging to ye Rect6ry is ye Church-yard Garden Orchard 
Fold-yard and Barnyard, which consists of betwixt two and 
three Acres or thereabout. 

All tithes are due to ye Rector in kind . . . and if any 
Land produces two Crops in one year ye tithes of both are by 
Special custom due. 

The Custom for tithing Hay Clover and Rye-grass is ye 
Eleventh cock, and ye eleventh Mow of Wheat Mon' corn 
and Rye, and ye tenth cock of Pease Barley Oats and Vetches, 
and ye tenth bottle of Hemp and Flax if ye land it grows upon 
be less than a Statute Acre; and ye time for tithing these 
aforesaid sorts of Grain Hay &c. is when they are sufficiently 
fielded and made ready to carry. 

The Rector has a tithe Lamb at Seven and allows three 
pence for each Lamb under ten, but if they be under seven ye 



owner pays him three pence for each Lamb If Sheep are 

wintered in ye Parish there is a penny due for ye herbage of 
each Sheep and three pence for ye fall of each Larnb. . . . 

For a Cock there is due three Eggs, for a Hen two Eggs, for a 
Pullet one Egg, and ye same for Drakes Ducks Turkeys and all 
other sorts of fowls. 

The Surplus Fees are for a Marriage with a Licence five 
shillings, for a Marriage by Banns one Shilling and Six pence, 
and one shilling for publishing; for a Burial Six pence, and for 
Churching four pence. 

For Easter offerings, as Communicants ye custom is for a 
Man and his wife to pay two pence, and a Single person two 
pence, which is all paid by ye Master or Mistress of the family, 
for a Garden is paid a penny, and for Smoke a farthing. 

The Clark's wages by Ancient custom is four pence ye 
Yard-land through out the Parish. 

(b) Source: Letter from Henry Purefoy to James Perkins, 30 March 
1748, in The Purefoy Letters, vol. I, pp. 21-2. 

Our Church at Shalstonc is so much out of Repair & one 
of the main Beams broke wf h is now forced to be propt to 
prevent its falling on the People, & unlesse there is a new 
Beam yf Rev? Mf Haws can't Repair his Chancell. The Pews 
of the Church are likewise out of repair & must be repaired 
soon & the Church floor must be new paved with stone, & 
likewise the Church windows must be new glazed ; there must 
also be a new Church Bible. I consider y* Tennants have great 
losses in their Cattle & 't is hard Times with them, so entreat 
you will let Mr Taylor know that if hee will condescend to give 
an Oak Tree to repair the Church Pews & three Guineas 
towards glazing the Church windows, I will give an Oak Tree 
for a beam for the Church & a Church Bible. Then there will 
be the Paving of the Church left for the Parish to do which 
will come to about four pounds besides y" workmanship. . . . 


Dissatisfaction with the limits of formal religion encouraged the 
growth of 'vital religion' or 'the religion of the heart'. John Wesley 


(1 702—1 79 1) spread the new message among the crowds, John 
Nelsonj described below, was a stone mason and a dedicated early 

(a) Source: J. Wesley's Journal {Everyman edn., 1906), pp. 134ff, 

I set out early in the morning, and Wednesday 26 [May 1742] 
in the evening, reached Birstall, six miles beyond Wakefield. 

John Nelson had wrote to me some time before, but at that 
time I had little thought of seeing him. Hearing he was at 
home, I sent for him to our inn, whence he immediately 
carried me to his house, and gave me an account of the strange 
manner wherein he had been led on from the time of our 
parting at London. 

He had full business there and large wages. But from the time 
of his finding peace with God it was continually upon his 
mind that he must return (though he knew not why) to his 
native place. He did so about Christmas in the year 1740, His 
relations and acquaintances soon began to inquire, 'What he 
thought of this new faith ?' And whether he believed there 
was any such thing as a man's knowing that his sins were 
forgiven ? John told them point blank, that 'this new faith, as 
they called it, was the old faith of the Gospel; and that he 
himself was as sure his sins were forgiven as he could be of the 
shining of the sun.' This was soon noised abroad. More and 
more came to inquire concerning these strange things. Some 
put him upon the proof of the great truths which such inquiries 
naturally led him to mention. And thus he was brought 
unawares to quote, explain, compare and enforce several parts 
of the Scripture. This he did, at first, sitting in his house, till 
the company increased so that the house could not contain 
them. Then he stood at the door, which he was commonly 
obliged to do in the evening as soon as he came from work, 
God immediately set his seal to what was spoken; and several 
believed and therefore declared that God was merciful also to 
their unrighteousness and had forgiven all their sins. . . . 

I preached at noon, on the top of Birstall Hill, to several 
hundreds of plain people, and spent the afternoon in talking 
severally with those who had tasted of the grace of God. At 
eight I preached on the side of Dewsbury Moor. . . . 

religion 323 

Thursday 12 [August 1745]. — I came to Leeds, preached at 
five, and at eight met the Society ; after which the mob pelted 
us with dirt and stones great part of the way home. The 
congregation was much larger the next evening, and so was 
the mob at our return, and likewise in higher spirits, being 
ready to knock out all our brains for joy that the Duke of 
Tuscany was Emperor. What a melancholy consideration is 
this ? That the bulk of the English nation will not suffer God to 
give them the blessings he would, because they would turn them 
into curses. 

Wednesday, 18, — About five we came to Newcastle, in an 
acceptable time. We found the generality of the inhabitants 
in the utmost consternation, news being just arrived that, the 
morning before, the Pretender had entered Edinburgh. A 
great concourse of people were with us in the evening, to whom 
I expounded the third Chapter of Jonah, insisting particularly 
on that verse, 'Who can tell if God will return, and repent, 
and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?' 

Thursday, 19. — The Mayor summoned all the householders 
of the town to meet him at the Town Hall, and desired as 
many of them as were willing to set their hands to a paper, 
importing that they would, at the hazard of their goods and 
lives, defend the town against the common enemy. Fear and 
darkness were now on every side, but not on those who had 
seen the light of God's countenance. We rejoiced together in 
the evening with solemn joy, while God applied these words 
to many hearts : 'Fear not, ye ; for I know that ye seek Jesus 
which was crucified.' 

Friday, 20, — The Mayor ordered the townsmen to be under 
arms and to mount guard in their turns, over and above the 
guard of the soldiers, a few companies of whom had been drawn 
into the town on the first alarm. Now, also, Pilgrim Street 
Gate was ordered to be walled up. Many began to be much 
concerned for us, because our house stood without the walls. 
Nay, but the Lord is a wall of fire unto all that trust in Him. 

Saturday, 21. — [There] came the news of General Cope's 
defeat [at Prestonpans] . Orders were now given for the 
doubling of the guard and for walling up Pandon and Sally- 
Port Gates. 



Sunday, 22, — The walls were mounted with cannon and all 
things prepared for sustaining an assault. Meantime our poor 
neighbours on either hand were busy in removing their goods, 
. . . and more and more of the gentry every hour rode south- 
ward as fast as they could. 

All this week the alarms from the North continued, and the 
storm seemed nearer every day. Many wondered we would stay 
without the walls. Others told us we must remove quickly, for 
if the cannon began to play from the top of the gates, they would 
beat all the houses about our ears. This made me look how the 
cannons on the gates were planted, and I could not but adore 
the providence of God, for it was obvious, 1. They were all 
planted in such a manner that no shot could touch our house. 
2. The cannon on Newgate so secured us on one side, and those 
upon Pilgrim Street Gate on the other, that none could come 
near our house without being torn in pieces. 

On Friday and Saturday (27 & 28) many messengers of lies 
terrified the poor people of the town, as if the rebels were just 
coming to swallow them up. Upon this the guards were in- 
creased and abundance of country gendemen came in with 
their servants, horses and arms. 

Sunday, 29.— Advice came that they were in full march 
southward, so that it was supposed they would reach Newcastle 
by Monday evening. At eight I called on a multitude of sinners 
in Gateshead to seek the Lord while he might be found. 

On Monday and Tuesday I visited some of the Societies in 
the country, and on Wednesday, October 2, returned to Newcastle, 
where they were just informed that the rebels had left Edin- 
burgh on Monday, and were swiftly marching toward them. 

But it appeared soon that this also was a false alarm 

^ On Thursday and Friday I visited the rest of the country 
Societies. On Saturday [5] a party of the rebels {about a 
thousand men) came within seventeen miles of Newcastle. This 
occasioned a fresh alarm in the town, and orders were given by 
the General that the soldiers should march against them on 
Monday morning. But these orders were countermanded. 

Wednesday, 9. — It being supposed that the danger was over for 
the present, I preached at four in Gateshead, and then taking 
horse with Mr. Shepherd, in the evening reached Sandhutton. 


Thursday, 10. — . . . We lay at Doncastcr, nothing pleased 
with the drunken, cursing, swearing soldiers who surrounded 
us on every side. Can these wretches succeed in anything they 
undertake? I fear not, if there be a God that judgeth the earth. 

(b) The next two extracts bring out the vigour and drive of 
Methodist laymen. Thomas Lee was converted to 'vital Christianity' 
by Rev. William Grimshaw, Vicar of Haworth, near Keighley, a 
great Anglican friend of the Methodists. Lee was a textile worker, 
but in 1 75 1 or 1 752 gave up his trade, bought a horse and became 
a full-Ume itinerant preacher. 

Source; 'The Autobiography of Thomas Lee' in The Lives of Early 
Methodist Preachers (1837), vol. IV, pp. 157-9. 

After I had preached some time at Greenough Hill [in 
Yorkshire], I was invited to Pateley Bridge. Here I was called 
to an exercise of my faith which I had not hitherto known. The 
first time I was there, Mr. . . . had prepared and encouraged 
a numerous mob, who spared neither mud nor stones, with 
many strokes besides, so that they themselves owned, 'We have 
done enough to make an end of him.' I did indeed reel to and 
fro, and my head was broken with a stone. But I never found 
my soul more happy, nor was ever more composed in my 
closet. It was a glorious time; and there are several who date 
their conversion from that day. After I was a little cleaned, I 
went to a neighbouring town, where, when my head was 
dressed, I preached abroad to abundance of people, many of 
whom had followed me from Pateley Bridge. Some of the mob 
also followed, but as the wretched minister was not present to 
head them, and as they were greatly outnumbered, they 
behaved peaceably, and the Lord blessed us much. . . . 


One of Wesley's contemporaries, George Whitefield (1714-1770) 
was also a highly successful preacher, appealing to the same kind 
of people and drawn into similar controversies. As a Calvinist, 
however, he disagreed with Wesley on doctrine. 

(a) Source: Entry for 30 March 1739 in George Whitefield' s Journal 
(I960 edn.), p. 241. 


Preached this afternoon near Coal-Pit Heath, seven miles 
from Bristol, a place to which I was earnestly invited, and 
where great numbers of colliers live. I believe there were above 
two thousand people assembled on this occasion. The weather 
was exceedingly fair, the hearers behaved very well, and the 
place where I preached being near the maypole, I took occasion 
to warn them of misspending their time in revelling and 
dancing. Oh, that all such entertainments were put a stop to. 
I see no other way to effect it, but by going boldly, and calling 
people from such lying vanities in the Name of Jesus Christ. 
That reformation which is brought about by a coercive power, 
will be only outward and superficial; but that which is done 
by the force of God's Word, will be inward and lasting. Lord, 
make me meet by Thy grace for such a work, and then send me. 

(b) Sunday Schools spread after the 1760s, Robert Raikes usually 
being regarded, mistakenly, as their pioneer. Methodists were 
prominent in the movement, which also brought in Anglicans and 

Source.- S. Bamford, Passages in the Life of a Radical (1893 edn.), 
vol. I, pp. 100-1. " 

Every Sunday morning at half-past eight o'clock was this 
old Methodist school open for the instruction of whatever child 
crossed its threshold. A hymn was first led out and sung by the 
scholars and teachers. An extempore prayer followed, all the 
scholars and teachers kneeling at their places; the classes, 
ranging from those of the spelling-book to those of the Bible, 
then commenced their lessons, girls in the gallery above, and 
boys below. Desks which could either be moved up or down, 
like the leaf of a table, were arranged all round the school' 
against the walls of the gallery, as well as against those below, 
and at measured distances the walls were numbered. Whilst 
the Bible and Testament classes were reading their first lesson 
the desks were got ready, inkstands and copy-books numbered, 
containing copies and pens, were placed opposite corresponding 
numbers on the wall; and when the lesson was concluded the 
writers took their places, each at his own number, and so 
continued their instruction. When the copy was finished, the 
book was shut and left on the desk, a lesson of spelling' was 


gone through, and at twelve o'clock singing and prayer again 
took place, and the scholars were dismissed. At one o'clock 
there was service in the chapel, and soon after two the school 
reassembled, girls now occupying the writing desks, as boys 
had done in the forenoon, and at four or half-past the scholars 
were sent home for the week. 


Many pamphlets appeared attacking the Methodists and their 
sympathizers both as deluded 'enthusiasts' and as agents of 

(a) Source: Anon, Observations upon the Conduct and Behaviour of a 
Certain Sect, Usually distinguished by the Name of Methodists (1740?). 
The pamphlet was probably written by Edmund Gibson, Bishop 
of London. 

Besides die many Irregularities which are justly charged upon 
these Itinerant Preachers, as Violations of the Laws of Church 
and State; it may be proper to enquire, Whether the Doctrines 
they teach, and those Lengths they run, beyond what is practised 
among our Religious Societies, or in any other Christian Church; 
be a Service or a Disservice to Religion. . . . Whether Notions 
in Religion may not be heighten'd to such Extremes, as to lead 
some into a Disregard of Religion itself, through Despair of 
attaining such exalted Heights. . . . Whether a due and regular 
attendance on the publick Offices of Religion, paid by good 
men, in a serious and composed Way, does not better answer 
the true Ends of Devotion, and is not a better Evidence of the 
Co-operation of the Holy Spirit, than those sudden Agonies, 
Roarings and Screamings, Tremblings, Droppings-down, 
Ravings and Madnesses; into which their Hearers have been 
cast; according to the Relations given of them in the Journals 
referr'd to? . . . Whether in a Christian Nation, where the 
Instruction and Edification of the People is provided-for, by 
placing Ministers in certain Districts, to whom the care of the 
Souls within those Districts is regularly committed; It can be 
for the Service of Religion, that Itinerant Preachers run up 
and down from Place to Place, and from County to County, 


drawing after them confused Multitudes of People, and leading 

them into a Disesteem of their own Pastors All the while, 

for the sake of those Schemes, and in Pursuance of them] 
violating the wholesome Rules, which the Powers Spiritual and 
Temporal have wisely and piously established, for the preser- 
vation of Peace and Order in the Church. 

(b) Whitefield, like Wesley, had to face bitter opposition, as his 
correspondence with the Mayor of Basingstoke shows. 

Source: Entries in George Wkitefield's Journal, pp. 307ff. 

c . B . .. 'Basingstoke, July 19, 1739. 

Sir,— Being a civil magistrate in this town, I thought it my 
duty, for the preservation of the peace, to forbid you, or at 
least dissuade you, from preaching here. If you persist in it, in 
all probability, it may occasion a disturbance, which I think 
it is your duty, as a clergyman, as well as mine, to prevent. 
It any mischief should ensue ... I am satisfied it will fall on 
your own head, being timely cautioned by me, who am, sir 
your most humble servant, 

John Abbot. 

p.s. The Legislature has wisely made laws for the preser- 
vation of the peace; therefore, I hope, no clergyman lives in 
defiance of them.' 

To this I immediately sent the following answer:— 

'Honoured Sir,— I thank you for your kind letter, and I 
humbly hope a sense of your duty, and not a fear of man 
caused you to write it. 

If so, give me leave to remind you, honoured sir, as a clergy- 
man, that you ought to be not only a terror to evil-doers, but a 
praise to them that do well. I know of no law against such 
meetings as mine. If any such law exists, I believe you will 
think it your duty, honoured sir, to apprise me of it, that I may 
not offend against it. If no law can be produced, as a clergyman, 
I think it my duty to inform you that you ought to protect, and 
not in any way to discourage, or permit others to disturb an 
assembly of people meeting together purely to worship God. . . . 

-I am, honoured sir, your humble servant, 

George Whitefield.* 



Friday, July 20. After breakfast I waited in person on the 
mayor, to see what law could be produced against my meetings. 
As soon as I began to talk with him, I perceived he was a little 
angry. He said, 'Sir, you sneered at me in the letter you sent 

last night. Though I am a butcher, yet sir,' said he, 'I ■' 

I replied, I honoured him as a magistrate, and only desired to 
know what law could be produced against my preaching; in 
my opinion, there could be none, because there was never any 
such thing as field-preaching before. I then instanced the trial 
of P . . . , the Quaker, where the jury, notwithstanding they 
were so hardly used, gave a verdict in favour of him. 'Sir,' 
said he, 'you ought to preach in a church.' 'And so I would,' 
I replied, 'if your minister would give me leave.' 'Sir,' said he, 
'I believe you have some sinister ends in view; why do you go 
about making a disturbance?' I answered, 'I make no distur- 
bance. It was hard I could not come into your town without 
being insulted. It was your business, sir, to wait, and if there 
was any riot in my meetings, then, and not till then, to inter- 
pose.' ... I then pressed him to shew me a law against 
meetings, urging, that if there had been any law, they would 
have been stopped long since. He answered, 'It was an odd 
way of preaching. But sir, I must go away to a fair; before you 
came I had written you another letter, which I will send you 
yet, if you please. 1 Upon this, I thanked him, paid him the 
respect due to a magistrate, and took my leave. Soon after I had 
returned to my company, he sent me the following letter: — 

'Basingstoke, July 20, 1739. 

Rev. Sir,— I received your extraordinary letter, and could 
expect no other from so uncommon a genius. 

I apprehend your meetings to be unlawful, having no 
toleration to protect you in it. My apprehension of religion 
always was, and I hope always will be, that God is to be 
worshipped in places consecrated and set apart for His service ; 
and not in brothels, and places where all manner of debauchery 
may have been committed; but how far this is consistent with 
your actions, I leave you to judge, . , . 

Your appearing against me as a swift witness, at the day of 
judgment, I must own, is a most terrible thing, and may serve 



as a bugbear for children, or people of weak minds ; but, believe 
me, reverend sir, those disguises will have but little weight 
amongst men of common understanding. 

John Abbot. 
f,s. I told you I had a letter written. I make bold to send it.' 

To this I sent the following answer : — 

'Basingstoke, July 20, 1739. 

Honoured Sir, — Does Mr. Mayor do well to be angry? 
Alas! what evil have I done? I honour you as a magistrate; 
but, as a minister, I am obliged to have no respect of persons. 
Your apprehending my meetings to be unlawful, does not make 
them so. There is no need of a toleration to protect me, when I 
do not act unconformable to any law, civil or ecclesiastical. 
Be pleased to prove that my meetings are schismatical, seditious, 
or riotous, and then I will submit. 

But you say they are upon unconsecrated ground. Honoured 
sir, give me leave to inform you, that God is not now confined 
to places, but seekcth such to worship Him, who worship in 
spirit and in truth. Where two or three are gathered together 
in Christ's Name, there will Christ be in the midst of them. 
The Church, by our ministers in their prayer before their 
sermons, is defined to be, not the church walls, but a congre- 
gation of Christian people. Such is mine. 

As forjudging me, to my own Master I stand or fall. At His 
dreadful tribunal I will meet you; and then you shall see what 
is in the heart of, honoured sir, your very humble servant, 

George Whitefield.' 


About eight o'clock I went into a field, lent my by Mr. 
H . . . ; and though one said, I should not go out of Basingstoke 
alive if I preached there, and another said, the drum should 
beat just by me, yet I had little or no interruption, and God 
gave me power to speak against revelling; and those few scoffers 
that were there, were not able to gainsay or resist it. 




Despite protests of this kind, there was a powerful Evangelical 

movement working within the eighteenth -century Anglican Church. 
By the end of the century it had captured a large number of parishes, 
particularly in growing centres of population, for example, in the 
West Riding of Yorkshire. Crookes's Diary (see above, pp. 317ff.) 
reflects it. The Methodists, despite John Wesley's dislike of separa- 
tion, became a religious sect and soon a series of related religious 
sects. Evangelicalism within the Church remained, however, as 
one of the powerful strands in religious life. It directly influenced 
social and political life also, tightening moral 'discipline', particu- 
larly during the wars against revolutionary France and Napoleon, 
imposing rigorous codes of conduct, and providing driving force 
for the anti-slavery campaign. 

(a) Source: I. Milner fed.), Works of the Late Rev. Joseph Milner 
(1870), vol. VIII, pp. 190-1. 

Practice has grown as corrupt as principle. This must be the 
case. The preaching of morality is not God's appointed way of 
making men holy in their lives. It has a place, an extremely 
necessary place in doctrine, but not a prominent one. Christ 
crucified is the chief Gospel theme. Who does not see what an 
increase of wickedness has prevailed among us! Look at the 
Clergy! I would be tender in speaking of my brethren; but is 
there not a loud call for it, in charity? That sermons should 
be sold to them by a person advertising in the newspapers, is 
a flaming proof of the low state of their religious views and 
studies. . . . That we are a selfish, profane, licentious people, 
is evident. The whole head is sick, and the heart weak. 

(b) Source: William Wilberforce, Practical View of the Religious 
System of Professed Christians Contrasted with Real Christianity (1797). 
7,500 copies of this work sold within six months. It had run through 
15 editions by 1826. 

To the decline of Religion and Morality our national 
difficulties must both directly and indirectly be chiefly as- 
cribed: . . . my only solid hopes for the well-being of my 
country depend not so much on her fleets and armies, not so 
much on the wisdom of her rulers, or the spirit of her people, 
as on the persuasion that she still contains many, who in a 



degenerate age, love and obey the Gospel of Christ; on the 
humble trust that the intercession of these may still be prevalent, 
that for the sake of these, Heaven may still look upon us with 
an eye of favour. 

(c) Source: Extract from the Royal Proclamation against Vice (1787). 
This Proclamation enjoined the enforcement of 'laws of conduct'. 
Wilberforce, who declared that he had been chosen by God 10 
secure the reformation of his country's manners, was also responsible 
for the formation of the Society for the Reformation of Manners, 
known at first as the Proclamation Society. There had been an 
earlier society with this name in existence from 1692 to 1738. 
(See above, p. 275.) 

We do hereby strictly enjoin and prohibit all our loving 
subjects, of whatever degree of quality soever, from playing 
on the Lord's Day at dice, cards, or any game whatsoever, 

either in public or private houses Our further pleasure 

is, and we strictly charge and command all our judges, mayors, 
sheriffs, justices of the peace, and all other our officers and 
ministers, both ecclesiastical and civil, and all other subjects, to 
be very diligent and strict in the discovery and effectual prose- 
cution and punishment of all persons who shall be guilty of 
excessive drinking, blasphemy, profane swearing and cursing, 
lewdness, profanation of the Lord's Day, or other dissolute, 
immoral, or disorderly practices; and that they take care also 
effectually to suppress all public gaming houses, and also all 
unlicensed public shows, interludes and places of entertain- 
ment, using the utmost caution in licensing the same; also to 
suppress all loose and licentious prints, books and publications, 
dispensing poison to the minds of the young and unwary, and 
to punish the publishers and vendors thereof. 


Evangelicals were often accused— e.g. by William Cobbett— of 
interfering with the 'liberties of the poor' in the name of religion. 
(See above, p. 277.) At the same time, the Evangelicals made 
fervent appeals to the rich and well-connected. Arthur Young was 
a convert in the 1790s. Note the fear of the French Revolution. 



(a) Source: A. Young, An Enquiry into the State of the Public Mind 
(1798), p. 25. 

The true Christian will never be a leveller; will never listen 
to French politics, or to French philosophy. He who worships 
God in spirit and in truth will love the government and laws 
which protect him without asking by whom they are adminis- 
tered. But let it not be imagined that such characters will 
abound among the lower classes while the higher by their 
Sunday parties, excursions and amusements and vanities; by 
their neglect of public worship and their families show that 
they feel not themselves, what perhaps they talk of, or 
recommend for the poor. 


Underlying Evangelicalism, indeed, there were profound value 
judgements relating not only to religion but to society and its 
structure. Wilberforce's picture of a 'practical Christian' brings 
this to the surface. 

Source: W. Wilberforce, Practical Christianity (1797). 

[With a practical Christian] there will be no capricious 
humours, no selfish tempers, no moroseness, no discourtesy, no 
affected severity of deportment, no peculiarity of language, 
no indolent neglect, no wanton breach, of the ordinary forms 
or fashions of society. ... If he give offence, it will only be 
where he dares not do otherwise; and if he falls into dis-esteem 
or disgrace it shall not be chargeable to any conduct which is 
justly dishonourable, or even to any unnecessary singularities 
on his part, but to the false standard of estimation of a mis- 
judging world. ... In whatever class or order of society 
Christianity prevails, she sets herself to rectify the particular 
faults, or if we would speak more distinctly, to counteract the 
particular mode of selfishness to which that class is liable. 
Affluence she teaches to be liberal and beneficent; authority 
to bear its faculties with meekness, and to consider the various 
cares and obligations belonging to its elevated station, as being 
conditions upon which that station is conferred. Thus, softening 
the glare of wealth, and moderating the insolence of power, she 


renders the inequalities of the social state less galling to the 
lower orders, whom also she instructs, in their turn, to be 
diligent, humble, patient: reminding them that their more 
lowly path has been allotted to them by the hand of God; 
that it is their part faithfully to discharge its duties, and 
contentedly to bear its inconveniences; that the present state 
of things is very short; that the objects about which worldly 
men conflict so eagerly, are not worth the contest; that the 
peace of mind, which Religion offers to all ranks indiscrimin- 
ately, affords more true satisfaction than all the expensive 
pleasures which are above the poor man's reach; that in this 
view, however, the poor have the advantage, and diat if 
their superiors enjoy more abundant comforts, they are also 
exposed to many temptations from which the inferior classes 
are happily exempted . . . finally, that all human distinctions 
will soon be done away, and the true followers of Christ will 
all, as children of the same father, be alike admitted to the 
possession of the same heavenly inheritance. 


Outside the ranks of Evangelicals and Methodists were the old 
dissenters or nonconformists, descendents of the Puritan sects of 
the seventeenth century, suffering civil disabilities, sometimes 
severe ones. They were always liable to be unpopular and to suffer 
persecution, as in Anne's reign or as in the last decade of the 
century, when many of them sympathized with the French 

(a) Source: Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of 
England (1775 edn.), vol, IV, pp. 52 ff. 

Non-conformists are of two sorts: first, such as absent 
themselves from divine worship in the established church, 
through total irreligion, and attend the service of no other 
persuasion. . . , The second species of non-conformists are 
those who offend through a mistaken or perverse zeal. . . . All 
persons who will approve themselves no papists or oppugners 
of the trinity, are left at full liberty to act as their consciences 
shall direct them, in the matter of religious worship. And, if 



any person shall wilfully, maliciously, or contemptuously 
disturb any congregation, assembled in any church or meeting- 
house, or shall misuse any preacher or teacher there, he shall 
be bound over to the sessions of the peace and forfeit twenty 

(b) Source: J. White, Letter to a Gentleman Dissenting (1746), p. 10, 
p. 91. 

The main body of Dissenters are mostly found in cities and 
great towns among the trading part of the people [and] their 
ministers are chiefly of the middle rank of men, having neither 
poverty nor riches. ... If I had a son brought up in any trade 
and had no consideration either for him or myself in anotlicr 
world, I should be ready to say to him at setting up — my son, 
get Money, and in order to do that, be a Dissenter. 

(c) The Unitarians, who gained in strength during the century, 
did not believe in the trinity. They included many outstanding 
individuals both in intellect and culture. They were interested in 
government, and were drawn naturally to the viewpoint, con- 
sidered dangerous after 1789, that 'the people [are] the origin of 
power' and that 'the enjoyment of life, liberty and property [are] 
the right of all mankind'. The Quakers, for the most part with- 
drawn from politics, were a highly distinctive dissenting group. 

Source: B. Faujas de St. Fond, A Journey Through England in 1788, 
pp. I13ff. 

I love the Quakers, and I have great pleasure in seeing them 
in private, in society, and in their religious assemblies. They 
inspire mc with an involuntary veneradon. 

Clothed with all that is most simple, plain, and modest, 
but at the same time, most neat, finished, and perfect, it has 
seemed to me that their mind shares in the whiteness of their 
beautiful linen, and must be as pure and as carefully tended 
as their clothes. . . . The places where the Quakers assemble 
for worship, or rather for meditation, where they descend into 
their own thoughts, and await the inspirations of virtue in their 
hearts, are calculated to awaken respect. 

This kind of temples, like those of the nations of antiquity, 
admits the light only from the roof. The walls are of a dazzling 
white; . . . the seats are simple benches, placed in parallel 


rows. In vain would one look here for paintings, statues, 
altars, priests, and acolytes. All these accessories are considered 
by the quakers as excrescences, devised by man, and foreign 
to the Supreme Being. They prefer to offer up to him pure 
hearts, and acts of virtue and beneficence. They are persuaded 
that nothing can be more agreeable to him than that mild 
philanthropy which induces them to regard all men as brothers 
and real friends, with whom they travel, in common, the short, 
but difficult road of life, in which they reciprocally stand in 
need of assistance. 

They, accordingly, hold in abhorrence those cruel and 
sanguinary persons, who, from motives of ambition or ven- 
geance, provoke war. . . . 

When the quakers are assembled in their churches, the men 
occupy a place apart from that of the women, and have their 
heads covered with a black hat, of a broad half-cocked brim, 
without loop or button. Their eyes are humbly bent on the 
ground, and often entirely shut, to avoid any distraction in the 
midst of their contemplative meditations. 

The women also have their heads covered with bonnets, 
made of silk, velvet, or straw, but very plain. They, in general, 
conceal their faces; at least they do so in this place of medita- 
tion. . . . They are attired in the most decent taste. . . , 

At the farther end of the church there is a kind of platform, 
a little raised, and surrounded with a wooden balustrade. It is 
not a pulpit; it is rather a large and long tribune from which 
to harangue. Here it is that those (including the women) who 
are animated by heavenly inspiration, take their place, to 
communicate in a loud voice to their brethren the transports of 
their souls, and the impressive thoughts which the Eternal has 
sent to them. 

(d) Source; J. Godber (ed.), The Diary of Elizabeth Brown o/Ampthill, 
printed in Some Bedfordshire Diaries (1959), pp. 113-14. 

23 Oct. 1778. This day passed in assisting M[ercy] E[xton] at 

ironing. . . . 
24th. At home employed in the family. In die evening read 

part of an old history, which was entertaining as also 

informing, . . . 



25th. Employed whilst Meeting time in cookery. After Meeting 
had to dine with us M.A., Gfeorge] E[xton] and M.E., 
with whom the afternoon was agreeably spent, and the 
evening at J. Humphreys'. 

26th, Passed the morning at home, employed in family affairs. 
[In] the afternoon took a pleasant walk and went to 
assist M.E, in the evening. Read of Philip, King of 
Macedon, a great warrior who conquered many nations 
and was guilty of some acts of cruelty. . . . 

27th. First of the week at Meeting. J.T. appeared in the 
morning; he reminded that 'Blessed is the man that 
feareth always', inferring that nothing short of that can 
preserve. . . . The Meeting concluded with a prayer. In 
the afternoon no public Friends. Went after Meeting to 
drink tea at G.E.'s in company with uncle, aunt, and 
R.B., as also some more. The conversation turned in part 
on American affairs. There seems not much probability 
of reconcilement at present; and news [was] brought of 
the English fleet being dispersed the second time in a 
storm, and one if not more ships wrecked, wherein 80 
perished, and upwards of 400 taken prisoners by the 
Americans. The French fleet suffered no damage that we 
heard of. It seems as if there was need of chastisement, if 
we may be favoured to profit by it. In the evening read 
in Purver's Bible. 1 What a mercy and favour that we 
enjoy the privilege of that valuable book ! 

28th. Busied at home in family affairs. In the evening read 
the News, which gives account of the arbitrary proceedings 
of the Americans, those that pretend to be such advocates 
for liberty, under whom our fellow professors suffer 

29th. Spent the morning in necessary business, and copied 
from the Northampton Mercury a hymn for that called 
Christmas Day, which breathed a heartfelt gratitude for 
the wonderful condescension of our dear Lord in coming 
into the world to redeem poor lost mankind. . . . The 
evening was spent in pleasant conversation, having at 

1 Purver's Bible was an annotated edition prepared in 1702-07. 



our house H.C., a poor but honest well-disposed Friend, 
far beyond many of those in higher station. . , , 
31st. Assisted at the shop to-day, a pleasant employ, of which 
I have been deprived of late through an indisposition. . . . 
The evening was in company with a person professing 
Quakerism, but whose conduct had so much politeness 
in it as cannot be quite consistent with that of the true 
Quaker. . , , 

(e) One Quaker, John Woolman — from America — was very 
worried about the state of the Friends. 

Source: John Woolman, Journal (Everyman edn., 1906), pp. 

I have felt great Distress of Mind, since I came on this 
Island, on Account of the Members of our Society being 
mixed with the World in various Sorts of Business and Traffick, 
carried on in impure Channels. Great is the Trade to Africa 
for Slaves! and, in loading these Ships, abundance of People 
are employed in the Factories; amongst whom are many of 
our Society. Friends, in early Times, refused, on a religious 
Principle, to make, or trade in, Superfluities; of which we have 
many large Testimonies on Record; but, for Want of Faithful- 
ness, some gave way; even some, whose Examples were of 
Note in our Society; and from thence others took more 
Liberty. Members of our Society worked in Superfluities, and 
bought and sold them; and thus Dimness of Sight came over 
many: At length, Friends got into the Use of some Superfluities 
in Dress, and in the Furniture of their Houses; and this hath 
spread from less to more, till Superfluity of some Kinds is 
common amongst us. 

In this declining State, many look at the Example one of 
another, and too much neglect the pure Feeling of Truth. 


There were not many Roman Catholics in eighteenth-century 
England, although there were pockets of strength, particularly in 
Lancashire, where they were protected by recusant landed families. 



Many of them had to face charges of Jacobitism early in the century, 
and throughout the whole period anti-Papalism never died out as a 
popular force. 

(a) Source: Nicholas Blundell, Diary and Letter Book (1952), pp. 
77-9. Blundell is asking the Provincial of the Jesuits in 1 706 to find 
him a good priest. 

Tho you be a Stranger to me yet I presume to address myself 
to you, being you are not ignorant of ye Subject I writ about 
w 6 ! 1 is to desire you will, with what convenient Speed you 
can, furnish us with one of yours, that you think will be propper. 
You have formerly been informed how we desire he should be 
qualifyed, so shall be brcef on that. Subiect, only say in few 
words that we desire a Man of Wit and Conversasion, one that 
can preach well and is willing to take Pains among ye poore 
Catholicks, of which we have a great Many and one that is of 
a good Humour and will be easy contented with tollerable 
good Fair. ... Sir your speedy Answer to this would much 

Your Humble Servant 
Nicholas Blundell. 

Barnes recommended a priest called Aid red, who became one of 
Nicholas's closest friends. He soon left the Hall, however, for a 
cottage. Blundell thanked Barnes for his choice. 

To Mr. Barns. Feb. 17th. 1707/8. 
I ought long since to have returned you thanks for the good 
Man you sent us viz: Mr. Aldred who is qualified according 
as desired and is extreamley to my liking and gives very great 
Satisfaction to the Catholicks hereabouts who are very numer- 
ous, but cannot say my Wife carries to him as sivilly as she 
ought, which causes him to be dissatisfied and not willing long 
to continue in my Famoly. However he being so well approved 
of both by myself and all the Neighbourhood, I am not willing 
he should part far, so have taken care that another Hous not 
far distant be hence provided for him . . . the Neighbours have 
not only Petissioned for his stay, but have on their own Accord 
promised considerably towards his Maintenance which, with 
what I shall do, will I hope, maintain him Sufficiently. . . . 



I now plainly perceive that a man may be of much more conse- 
quence by improving his mind in various kinds of knowledge, lhan 
by all the finery and magnificence he can acquire. 

(Thomas Day, Sandford and Merton, 1 783) 

From the coffee-house then I to Tennis away 
And at five I post back to my College to pray: 
I sup before eight, and secure from all duns, 
Undauntedly march to the Mitre or Tuns: 
Where in punch or good claret my sorrows I drown, 
And toss off a bowl 'To the best in the town': 
At one in the morning, I call what's to pay, 
Then home to my College I stagger away. 

(From the Lounger's Diary in the Oxford Sausage, 1760) 

Our misfortune is that there is too much business here, so that 
some can spare little time for learning. 

(Letter from the Vicar of Bradford to the 
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1721) 

Those parents who . . . obstinately refuse to send their children 
to the Sundays' School shall be deemed improper Objects to receive 
any Charity that shall in future be distributed in the parish of 
Curry Rivel. 

(Ordinances for the Founding of a Sunday School at Curry 

Rivel, 1786) 
If any trust can be said to be of God and as such ought not to 
be relinquished at the command of men, it is that which we have 
of the education of our children. 

(Joseph Priestley, First Principles of Government, 1771) 


Opportunities for education depended directly on social rank, yet 
even upper-class education was often haphazard and disorganized. 




There was an intermittendy lively debate about whether die poor 
should be educated at all, and women's education was almost 
always viewed with suspicion. 

(a) Source; P. Grosley, A Tour to London (1772), p. 167. 

Education, the aim of which should be to direct, and to 
temper the natural disposition, has little or no influence upon 
the English, It begins with teaching to read and write at home. 
The principal object of this groundwork of education is, not 
to put any constraint upon the tempers of children, nor any 
bias upon the operations of nature, in unfolding the faculties 
either of the body or mind. . , . 

In pursuance of the same principle, children are sent from 
their father's house to public schools, in which there are a 
great number of boys, and which are supported and main- 
tained by handsome foundations. After the young people have, 
in these schools, been taught the elements of the learned 
languages, they are sent to the universities of Oxford and 

The public schools and universities, by bringing together 
persons of all ranks and conditions in life, put them, in some 
measure, upon a level. A spirit of emulation reigns there, which 
is excluded by domestic education: connexions are formed, 
which often lay the foundation of the greatest fortunes. Such, 
say the English, was the education at Sparta, calculated to 
form men, and not petits maitres. 

(b) Source: C. B. Andrews (ed.), The Tomngton Diaries (1934), 
vol. II, p. 371. The passage refers to the year 1791. 

When tradesmen, farmers and yeomen brought up their 
children to business, to attend to agriculture, and to assist 
in their fathers' fortunes, why then truth, society and honesty 
dwelt in the land: for the sons were honest, hearty fellows and 
the girls unaffected, notable housewives. — But now, from false 
pride, and idle hope, parents educate their children in fashion- 
able folly, the misses sent to French boarding schools, or 
convents, and the boys are to become bishops, or generals. Of 
such blindness what must be the result? Why, such misery and 
distress of the old folks, that the farm (for ages in the family) 
must be sold; the sons turn'd out into the world, (to make their 


fortune, as the term is) sink into debauchery, disappointment, 
and end in a jail, whilst the fine misses, vain, pert and ignorant, 
quickly degenerate into harlots, take lodgings in Wardour 
Street and perish ■ — we hope repentant sinners. 

(c) Source: J. Fawel, The Principles of Sound Policy (1785). 

The Ignorance of the Poor affords their masters the best 
security of their unremitting Utility, Faithfulness and Obed- 
ience. That to instruct them in Reading and Writing generally 
puffs them with Arrogance, Vanity, Self Conceit and . . . 
unfits them for the menial stations which Providence has 
allotted for them, 

(d) Source: Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book V, 
Part III. 

The education of the common people requires, perhaps, in 
a civilised and commercial society the attention of the public 
more than that of people of some rank and fortune. People of 
some rank and fortune are generally eighteen or nineteen 
years of age before they enter upon that particular business, pro- 
fession, or trade, by which they propose to distinguish themselves 
in the world. They have before that full time to acquire, or 
at least to fit themselves for afterwards acquiring, every accom- 
plishment which can recommend them to the public esteem, 
or render them worthy of it. Their parents or guardians are 
generally anxious that they should be so accomplished, and 
are, in most cases, willing enough to lay out the expense which 
is necessary for that purpose. If they are not always properly 
educated, it is seldom from the want of expense laid out upon 
their education, but from the improper application of that 
expense. ... It is otherwise with the common people. They 
have little time for education. Their parents can scarce afford 
to maintain them even in infancy. As soon as they are able to 
work, they must apply to some trade by which they can earn 
their subsistence. That trade, too, is generally so simple and 
uniform as to give little exercise to the understanding. . . . But 
though the common people cannot, in any civilised society, be 
so well instructed as people of some rank and fortune, the most 
essential parts of education, however, to read, write and 


account, can be acquired at so early a period of life that the 
greater part even of those who arc to be bred to the lowest 
occupations have time to acquire them before they can be 
employed in those occupations. For a very small expense the 
public can facilitate, can encourage, and can even impose 
upon almost the whole body of the people the necessity of 
acquiring those most essential parts of education. 


The Charity School movement was inspired above all else by 
the desire to promote 'social discipline' along with 'godly discipline'. 
It represented, in Richard Steele's phrase, one of the 'greatest 
instances of public spirit the age had produced'. By 1730 there were 
nearly 1,500 Charity Schools in England with over 22,000 pupils. 
The main sponsor was the Society for the Promotion of Christian 
Knowledge, founded in 1695. In 1800 there were 2,000 Schools. 

(a) Source: Isaac Watts, An Essay Towards the Encouragement of 
Charity Schools (1728), p. 26. 

I would persuade myself that the masters and mistresses of 
these schools among us teach the children of the poor which 
are under their care to know what their station in life is, how 
mean their circumstances, how necessary 'tis for them to be 
diligent, laborious, honest and faithful, humble and submissive, 
what duties they owe the rest of mankind and particularly to 
their superiors. 

(b) Source: St. Margaret's Parish Charity School, Westminster, 
Minute Book, 1698. Quoted in M. G. Jones, The Charity School 
Movement (1930), pp. 44-5. The School was later known as the 
Grey Coat Hospital. 

Several of the inhabitants of Westminster, having taken into 
their serious consideration the great misery that the poor 
children of the parish do generall suffer, by reason of their 
Idle and Licentious Education; their Nurses, or those that 
provide for them, generally suffering if not encouraging, them 
to wander about and begg, by which Means the Evil Customs 



and Habits they contract thereby become, for the most part, 
the Curse and Trouble of all places where they live, and often, 
by their Wicked Actions, are brought to Shameful and 
Untimely Death; to prevent the like miseries for the future, 
in the said Parish, where 40 of the greatest objects of charity 
they could find should, from time to time, be educated in 
sober and virtuous principles, and instructed in the Christian 
Religion. And for their Incouragement in their Learning they 
did propose that the said 40 children should be clothed, as 
hereafter directed, and when fit to go out Apprentices should 
be carefully placed out to Honest Masters, who should take 
care as well of their good Principles as instruct them how to 
get an honest livelyhood, by their labours and industry in the 

(c) Each year from 1704 onwards (until 1877) there was an annual 
assembly of the London Charity Schools. There are many 
descriptions of this event. 

Source: Sir Gilbert Elliot, first Earl of Minto, Life and Letters 
(1880), vol. I, pp. 303-4. 

Under the dome were piled up to a great height all round, 
6,000 children from the different charity Schools in the City, 
in their different habits and colours. This was by far the most 
interesting part of the show. You may see this any year for they 
are brought to St. Paul's and placed in the same order every 
year, and I think it will be worth your while if you ever come 
within sight of St. Paul's again. After the House of Commons 
and of Peers etc, were seated . . . and when the King 
approached the centre all the 6,000 children set up their little 
voices and sang part of the Hundredth Psalm. This was the 
moment I found most affecting and without knowing exactly 
why I found my eyes running over and the bone in my throat, 
which was the case with many other people. 

(d) William Blake gave a poetic description of the same scene later 
in the century. 

Source: A poem in Songs of Innocence (1789). 

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean 

The children walking two by two, in red and blue and green, 



Grey-headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as 

Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames water flow 

O what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of London 

Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own. 
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs, 
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent 



(e) Discipline was strict, and humility and obedience were always 
inculcated. (For attention to time, see also above, pp. 49ff.) 

Source: Mrs. Sarah Trimmer, The Charily Spelling Book: The 
Part of a Plan of Appropriate Instruction for the Children of the Poor, 
vol. I, Lesson VIII, 'Moral Duties' (1808 edn.). 

Instructor: There is one kind of dishonesty which is often 
practised without thought by workmen, and that is wasting 
the time for which they are paid and the materials belonging 
to the Trade or Manufacture they work at. Of the same nature 
with this is the crime of many household servants who take 
every opportunity of being idle and who make no scruple of 
wasting provisions or giving them away without leave. . . . 

Question: Is it honest for workmen to waste and destroy the 
materials and implements which they make use of? 

Answer: No. 

Question: Who do these things belong to? 

Answer: Their Master. 

Question: Whose eyes see you when your master is not by? 

Answer: God's. 

(f) Girls, in particular, were expected to be particularly 'good'. 

Source: The Poor Girl's Primer used in the Sheffield Girls' Charity 
School, 1789. 

Opening Prayer: Make me dutiful and obedient to my bene- 
factors, and charitable to my enemies. Make me temperate 
and chaste, meek and patient, true in all my dealings and 
content and industrious in my station. . . . 


Lesson I 
Be good, 
Be a good Girl, 

Be a good Girl, and God will love you 
Be a good Girl, and God will love, and bless you. . . . 

Lesson TV 
Keep your Clothes clean, 
Wash your Hands, and Face, 
Comb your Head, 
Tye your Shoes, 

Lesson V 
Learn to spin Wool and Linen. 
Learn to sew Shifts and Shirts and Caps. 
Learn to knit Hose, 
Learn to bake and brew and wash. 
Learn to clean Rooms and Pots and Pans. 

Lesson VI 
Do no wrong. 
It is a sin to steal a Pin. 
Swear not at all, nor make a Brawl. 
Use no bad Words. 
Live in Peace with all as much as you can. 

(g) In addition to primers, there were formal rules, often copied 
from school to school. 

Source: 'Rules to be observed by the Children' in Rules and Orders 
Agreed upon by the Trustees of the late Mr. Scott's Charity School, 




To attend School constantly at Nine in the Morning and 
Two in the Afternoon, 

To attend School with Hands and Face clean, Hair 
combed and Shoes brushed. 
On all occasions to speak the Truth. 
To behave with particular and solemn reverent Quiet- 
ness when reading the Holy Scriptures. 
To behave with Solemnity in all Places of Public 
To be obedient at Home to Parents and Friends. 








To avoid all bad Company. 

Never to use bad Words or ill Names. 

To avoid all Quarrelling and Contention. 

Never to mock lame or deformed Persons, and to be 

kind to all men. 

To avoid Cruelty, and never tease or in any way harm 

brute Creatures. 

To be silent in School. 

To enter and leave School orderly. 

To obey the Rules and Orders of the School. 

Whenever a Boy is about to leave School, it is expected that 
he will inform the Master, 

(h) There were also rules for the Trustees and Teachers. 

Source: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, The Methods 
Used for Erecting Charity Schools with the Rules and Orders by which 
they are Governed {1715), p. 7. 

VI. The Qualifications to be required in a School-Master. 

1. That he be a Member of the Church of England, of a 
sober Life and Conversion, and not under the Age of 23 Years. 

2. That he understand well the Grounds and Principles of 
the Christian Religion, and be able to give a good Account 
thereof to the Minister of the Parish, or Ordinary, on 

3. That he be of a meek Temper and humble Behaviour, 

4. That he have a good Government of himself and his 
Passions, and keep good Orders. 

5. That he frequent the Holy Communion, 

6. That he have a Genius for Teaching, write a good Hand, 
and understand Arithmetick. 

7. That he be approved by the Minister of the Parish. 
and here it may be noted, That it will be adviseable for any 

new-elected School-Master to consult with some of the ex- 
pericne'd Masters of these Schools, for the better Understanding 
of his Duty, 

(i) Posts in schools were advertised. In the North of England some 
masters taught industrial skills. 


Source: Advertisement in the Leeds Mercury, 14 Nov. 1750. 

For the promoting Industry in our extensive Manufacture, 
and for the Benefit of the Poor in general ; it is thought very 
requisite and necessary, that the Children educated in the 
Charity-School here, should be enured to some easy Labour; 
in Order the better to qualifie them for Service when they go 
out Apprentices. 

Any Person capable of teaching such Children to spin 
Worsted, Yarn, &c. may apply to the Trustees at the said 
Charity-School, on Friday the 30th Instant, at Three 
o'Clock in the Afternoon. 

The Person chosen Work Master, shall be accommodated 
with a good Dwelling House and reasonable Wages. 

n.b. Such Inhabitants who are willing to promote so com- 
mendable an Undertaking, their Company will be very 
acceptable to the Trustees at the said Meeting. 


Four hundred old grammar schools existed at the beginning of 
the eighteenth century. Very few, however, were created during 
the century. Classical education was the basis of the system, and 
studies tended to become stereotyped. None the less, there were 
some attempts to modernize the curriculum, and some of the schools 
in commercial communities, like Manchester or Newcastle, catered 
for a broad cross section of the community. 

(a) Source: S. Bamford, Early Days (1893 edn.), pp. 80-2. 

After a time I was sent to the Free Grammar School (at 
Manchester) .... The school was a large room of an oblong 
form, extending north and south, and well lighted by large 
windows. At the northern end was a fireplace, with a red 
cheerful fire glowing in the grate. The master's custom was to 
sit in an armed chair, with his right towards the fire and his 
left arm resting on a square oaken table, on which lay a 
newspaper or two, a magazine or other publication, a couple 
of canes with the ends split, and a medley of boys* playthings, 
such as tops, whips, marbles, apple-scrapers, nut-crackers, 



dragon banding, and such like articles. The scholars were 
divided into six classes, namely, accidence, or introduction to 
Latin, higher Bible, middle Bible, lower Bible, Testament, and 
spelling classes. . . . Each class sat on a strong oaken bench, 
backed by a panel of the same, placed against the wall, with a 
narrow desk in front, so that they all sat around the school in 
regular gradation. The spellers only had not a desk, they sat 
on forms outside the desk of the higher Bible class, they being 
considered as children among the boys. The boys of each class 
were placed according to their proficiency, and the first and 
second boys of the class exercised considerable authority over 
the others. The school hours were from 7 to 8.30 at morning, 
from 9.30 to 12 at noon, and from 2 till 5 afternoon. The master 
was seldom more than five minutes beyond the time, and on 
coming in, he first pulled off his hat, and his extra coat or 
handkerchief, if he brought such; he would then probably 
give his hands a warming at the fire, stamp the wet from his 
shoes, and turning his back to the pleasant warmth, he would 
take a survey of the muster already arrived. Every boy who 
now entered the school was bound to go up to the table and 
present his shoulders for a correction, and they in general got 
off with a slight cut or two of the cane, except frequent de- 
faulters, and those were hit more severely, being often sent off 
to their class writhing, to the amusement of their more orderly 
comrades. The mustering and flogging being over, the classes 
were severally called up, arranged round the table, and went 
through their lessons, the boy who in spelling or reading could 
readiest make out a word when those above him were at fault, 
moving up to their places, and thus the quickest spellers and 
readers were always towards the upper end of their class. 
When a boy had been at the head of his class some time, and 
especially if he happened to have some acquaintance amongst 
those of the next class above him and they wished to have him 
amongst them, their head boy would take him by the hand, 
and leading him to the master, would say, 'If you please, sir, 
must X (mentioning the surname) go into my class?' when a 
brief intimation, as a nod, a 'yes', or 'no', would decide the 
application, and the parties withdrew either elated with success 
or abashed by failure. 


(b) Bamford went to the school at the end of the century. The 
following table gives a breakdown of the occupational background 
of fathers of boys at the school earlier in the period. 

Source: A. A. Mumford, History of Manchester Grammar School 








































































Shopkeepers etc. 














Of the total, 196 were boarders. 84 of these proceeded to the universities, as 
against only 16 day boys. 160 entered the Church, 75 the Army and II the Navy. 
72 became lawyers and 32 medical men. The majority entered industry and 


While It was not until the nineteenth century that the special 
claims and privileges of the 'public schools' were fully expressed, 
nine schools (Eton, Westminster, Winchester, Harrow, St. Paul's, 
Shrewsbury, Rugby, Merchants Taylors and Charterhouse) are 
said to have supplied almost one-third of England's eighteenth- 
century ilite, defined as those people whose careers are set out in the 
Dictionary of National Biography. 

(a) Boarding was, of course, a feature of the system, although some 
boys, as at Sedbergh, boarded with landladies. 

Source: Letter from William Cotesworth to his father, 7 April 
1716, printed in E. Hughes, North Country Life in the Eighteenth 
Century (1952), pp. 344-5. 

Honoured Father, 
We arrived here on Wednesday night. . . . 
Our Landlady is a very neat woman, and as far as we have 



tried, does very well by us. We have always 2 Dishes of meat 
to dinner and there are three sorts of Bread set upon the table, 
and we have liberty to choose of which we will. As for our 
breakfasts, we have butter and bread and cheese, and as much 
milk as we desire, and if we be hungry betwixt meals she bids 
us call for what we want. We have a little room entire to 
ourselves where we have shelves for our books, and pins for 
our cloths, and there's a room almost as large as the Hall 
(at their home) which we have liberty to walk in. Mr, Saunders 
(the Headmaster) seems to be a very civil man and calls every 
day to see us. We gave him everyone a Guinea and my Uncle 
(according to the custom of the School) gave the Usher half as 
much. , , , 

Your Dutyful son, 
William Cotesworth. 

(b) Source: A letter from William's younger brother, Robert, 15 
April 1716, in ibid., p. 345. 

. . . My Landlady does very well by us and is very civil as 
likewise is every Body else, Mr. Sanders is not at all severe, 
but on ye contrary very good humour'd. . . . My brother 
gives his duty to you and my Aunt, his love to Hannah and 

service to all friends, 

p.s. [by William] I have been forced to buy several Books since 
I came here which I never learned before. I desire that you 
would let Neddie buy me Madam Dacier's Homer, it's in 
either 2 octavo volumes or 5 twelves; it is a very good Book 
and will be a means to make me understand Homer perfectly. 
Mr. Sanders bought it very lately. Our seat is to-day making 
Latin verses upon one of our Scholars who is dead of the 
small pox; they are to be pinn'd upon the Pall. 

(c) Not all schooldays were as happy as this. 

Source: P, Gosse (ed.), Dr. Viper, The Querulous Life of Philip 
Thicknesse (1952), pp. 16-17. 

I believe I could at this day shew upon the backs of my 
hands some marks of the favours frequently confer'd upon 
them by that truly beautiful nobleman the present Earl of . . . 
for as cash often ran low with me, and Nan Batchelor's tarts 


and custards were as grateful to my palate as to any lord's in 
the school, I did sometimes spend that money which was 
given me on the bougie account by my mother rather too 
hastily, so that I had no other means of light for the school 
than exposing the back of my hand to a yard and a half of 
double waxed candle, at so much a cut: and his lordship was 
of so generous a disposition that I was as sure of my night or 
morning's bougie from his lordship's bountiful hand, as a poor 
woman is, who goes to the humane pawnbroker with her last 
shift, to borrow a shilling upon, to buy bread for her 
children. . , . 


In grammar schools, public schools and many of the newly 
founded private schools, Latin and Greek were the main subjects 
taught. By the end of the century a vigorous reaction had set in. 
Indeed even before 1700, there were 'academies' which offered a 
far wider (in some cases a 'comprehensive') curriculum. 

(a) There were many reasons given for studying the classics. 

Source; R. L. Edgeworth, Essays on Professional Education (1808). 
p. 372. 

A knowledge and taste for classical literature is peculiarly 
ornamental and useful, indeed indispensably necessary to 
every Briton who aspires to distinction in public life, for in this 
country a statesman must be an orator. It is by eloquence, that 
he must bring himself into notice; by eloquence, that he must 
preserve this power, and accomplish by his influence in the 
senate what ever designs he may form for his own advantage or 
the good of the country. 

(b) Source: J. Lowe, Article on England in the Encyclopedia Brilannica 
(4th edn. 1816). 

In regard to the mode of education in England, there is 
much both to commend and censure. Scotland has been for a 
century past in possession of a larger proportion of parish 
schools; but the utility of these is much lessened by an estab- 
lished routine of teaching Latin to almost all youths, whatever 
be their intended line of life. In England this absurdity is less 



prevalent, because most of the schools are private undertakings, 
the managers of which are necessarily guided by considerations 
of utility. The youth destined for a life of business arc thus saved 
a serious waste of time; their education, if imperfect, is not 
supererogatory; but, on examining the higher seminaries of 
England, we find much ground for disappointment, and many 
marks of a blind adherence to ancient usage. ... In a country 
of which commerce forms the strength, there are no teachers 
of political economy. Under a government which has so long 
borne the representative form, there are no classes for the study 
of modern history, or the principles of legislation. There are here 
hardly any of those public lectures, which, in the rest of 
Europe, constitute the grand characteristic of a university, and 
distinguish it from schools: — all, or nearly all, is done by 
private tuition. 

(c) An Advertisement at the back of W. Foot, An Essay on Education 

An Academy, where young gentlemen, intended for military 
employment, are instructed in Fortification, Gunnery, Sur- 
veying, etc., and every other part of knowledge necessary for 
that profession, as modern languages, Riding, Fencing, 
Drawing, etc. Those who incline to the Marine are taught every 
branch of Navigation etc. Those who would be formed for the 
Counting House, learn to write strong and free, — to compute 
with case, expedition and demonstration— to enter Mercantile 
Transactions by double entry — to know the use of all the books 
kept by Merchants with their different methods — to draw all 
forms of business — the nature of foreign exchange and the 
proper style for correspondence. The intention of this under- 
taking being to perfect the instructed in any branch of know- 
ledge as capacity and application will admit. . . . Poor pupils 
are made accountants gratis on proper recommendation. 


Corporal punishment played a large part in the life of the public 
schools, while in most conventional schools, including the charity 



schools, learning by rote was a main form of instruction. Reformers 
talked of rewards as well as punishments, and experimented with 
ingenious methods of instruction. 

(a) Source: J. Talbot, The Christian Schoolmaster (1721 2nd edn.}, 
p. 79, 

After they have gone through the Letters of the Alphabet, 
he must instruct them in the true Spelling of Words, and the 
Distinction of Syllables, by the Help of some proper Spelling- 
Book for that Purpose. From this they may proceed to the 
Reading of Words, as they are joined together in a Sentence: 
And great care must be taken from the Beginning, that each 
Syllable and every Word may be Pronounced very Plainly, 
Distinctly, and Audibly, without Muttering or Stammering, . . . 
These Things being thus Premised, it may be very proper to 
Appoint their first Lessons in such Parts of the Church-Catechism 
as they had not Learnt by Heart before they began to Read : 
That so by Repetition of the Words, while they are thus 
Practising to Read them, they may become Familiar with the 

(b) Source: E. Hobson (ed.), The Diary of a West Country Physician 
(1934). The physician was Dr. Claver Morris of Wells, Somerset. 
His son was a pupil at Sherborne School. 

March 5, 1724. I went about ten o'clock to Sherborne to 
be fully informed whether the report of Mr. Wilding's excessive 
severity to my son under his instructions was true, I found he 
had been often whipped since Christmas, but not above three 
lashes, not fourteen at a time as he was before I had desired 
him to be more moderate in his discipline. Mr, Wilding showed 
me his exercises in one of which there were thirty literal faults. 
but none of false concord or very improper words. He read 
about ten lines of English and made him piece by piece turn 
them into Latin off-hand which he did very well. He then 
examined him in Latin and Greek, being late put into the 
Greek Testament. He made him decline a Greek verb, con- 
jugate it through all the moods . . . which he did exactly to 
the greatest satisfaction to me imaginable. At last Mr. Wilding 
said he would compare him with any boy in England of his 
standing and did not doubt but he should make him an 


incomparable scholar and the best that ever went from his 
school. He loved him heartily, for he had no fault but one, and 
that was he would not take pains, which he endeavoured by 
his often whipping him to break him of, and he had almost 
compassed his desire. If he would but search his dictionary 
they should never fall out. Mr, Wilding then bid him go out 
a little while and divert himself, and he would call him in 
again. Then he . . . professed he had not given him above 
three lashes at a time since I had talked with him about it. 
He said also that I should tell his mother that he would whip 
him no more, I answered him then, all would be spoilt that 
way; no, I did not desire that, but only moderate correction, 
which to him, a good-natured and flexible though lazy boy, 
I hoped would be effectual. • 

(c) Source: An Advertisement at the back of J. Rule, Poetical 
Blossoms (1766), 

At this Academy [at Islington], no Saturday nor Thursday 
afternoon are observed and there are but two breakings-up in 
the year, of three weeks each, one at Christmas and the other 
at Whitsuntide; when premiums are bestowed on the most 
deserving to excite the necessary spirit of emulation. 

(d) Source: L. Lochee, An Essay on Military Education (1773). 

The members of this Academy [at Little Chelsea] constitute 
a military republic; the laws of which are so framed that the 
liberty and accommodation, as well as discipline and improve- 
ment of each individual, are inseparably connected with the 
order and good government of the whole. Of these laws there 
is a written code, which is regularly read over to the whole 
society every week. Every new member, after mature exami- 
nation, declares his concurrence with the laws passed before 
his admission, and afterwards has an equal share in the enaction 
of new laws. . . . The rewards consist of tickets of temporary 
privilege, silver and gold medals, and superiority of station 
and honour lasting as the superiority of merit that gained it. 
The punishments are either pecuniary, corporal, viz. guards 
extraordinary, arrest, and the black-hole, or degrading . . . 
they are immediately inflicted. . . . The week is divided into 


theoretical and practical days. The theoretical days are 
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, on which the study of 
the sciences and the attainment of ail useful knowledge is 
pursued, such as languages, drawing, arithmetic, algebra, 
geometry, mechanics, fortification, artillery, chronology, geo- 
graphy, civil law and history. The practical days are devoted 
to the exercise of the body in dancing, fencing, riding and the 
manual exercise during the day; and in the evenings in sports 
for the improvement of agility and strength. . . . The money 
accumulated by fines is appropriated to the purchase of 


There was every variety of eighteenth-century schoolmaster, as 
the previous extracts show. 

(a) Some got their posts by advertisement. 
Source: The Leeds Mercury, 6 Jan. 1741. 

This is to give Notice that at Rawcliffe, in the Parish of 
Snaith, there wants a School-Master, to teach the Children to 
read and write true English and Arithmetic. There's an Endow- 
ment of £1 1 or 12 a Year for teaching about fourteen Children, 
and attending on the Chappel as Clerk: It's a populous and 
improving Town, where an industrious Master may acquire a 
good School, and be well paid; ... he must be approv'd on 
by the Trustees for the said Charity; they wou'd have a sober, 
and (willingly) a single Man. 

n.b. If such Person understand the Latin and Greek Tongues, 
he'll find further Encouragement. 

(b) Some got into difficulties. 

Source: The Diary of Walter Gale, a Sussex schoolmaster. 

26 October 1759. I was called into the little chamber over 
the club-room, and there I found Mr. Baker, Mr. Dowgate, 
old Sawyer, and old Kent, who said that 'I spent my time in 
reading printed papers to the neglect of the children ; he said 

education 357 

that I was covetous, and undertook to do other persons' 
business to the neglect and detriment of the school ; that the 
children did not improve, and that he would get an old woman 
for 2d. a week that would teach them better.' I answered that 
'many of them were extremely dull, and that I would defie 
any person that should undertake to teach them better.' He 
then said 'that I got money so fast that I was above my 
business, and it made my saucy'. 

Resolution of Meeting of 18 October 1771. That the school- 
master, Mr. Walter Gale, be removed from the School for 
neglecting the duties thereof, and that he have notice to leave 
the same the next quarter day. 

Resolution of Meeting of 10 April 1772. It was ordered that 
Mr. Gale, the old schoolmaster, be not paid his salary due, till 
he has absolutely put the Schoolhouse in such a condition to 
the form of it as it was at the time of his entering upon such 
house. Agreed nem. con. 

(e) Many were under-paid. 

Source: Article on 'Teachers' in the Encyclopedia Britannica (4th 
edn; 1800). 

We will venture to say, that there is no class of men to whom 
a nation is so much indebted as to those employed in instructing 
the young : For if it be education that forms the only distinction 
between the civilized and the savage, much certainly is due to 
those who devote themselves to the office of instruction. It must 
be the duty therefore of every state to take care that proper 
encouragement be given to those who undertake this office. 
There ought to be such a salary as would render it an object 
of ambition to men of abilities and learning, or at least as would 
keep the teacher respectable. In Scotland, the office of a school- 
master was formerly much more lucrative than at present, and 
most of that class had received liberal education; and this is 
the reason why the common people in Scotland have been 
famous even to a proverb, for their learning. But at present the 
salary of a country schoolmaster, independent of fees for scholars 
is not greater than a ploughman can earn, being seldom more 
than £8 6s, 8d., the consequence of which is that this, which is 
in fact an honourable, because an useful profession, is now 


sinking into contempt. It is no longer an object to a man of 
learning; and we must soon be satisfied with schoolmasters 
that can read, write, and cast accounts, a little better than the 
lowest of the people, or who from some natural deformity are 
unable to exercise a trade. And what in this case must become 
of the minds of the common people? They must be totally 


There was a lively debate in the eighteenth century about the 
respective merits of home education versus school education. 
Schools were sometimes compared with prisons, at other times with 
crowded cities: both their scale and their system of relationships 
seemed to be wrong. 

(a) Source, 

E. Hamilton, Letters on Elementary Principles of Education 

The great seminaries, where hundreds of bad and good boys 
arc promiscuously mingled, where the time of boys is so entirely 
at their own disposal, that of the four and "twenty hours but 
two or three at the utmost are spent under the master's eyes; 
of the remainder, when we deduct what is employed in the 
important business of purveying, in quarrelling and in 
play, we shall find little left for the purpose of voluntary 

(b) Many famous men in the eighteenth century did not go to 
school, and were brought up by private tutors in the society of the 
home. William Cowper, the poet, educated at Westminster, balanced 
the merits of the two systems. 

Source: W. Cowper, Tirocinium (1784). 

Would you your son should be a sot or dunce, 
Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once; 
That in good time the stripling's finished taste, 
For loose expense and fashionable waste 
Should prove your ruin, and his own at last; 
Train him in public with a mob of boys, 



Childish in mischief only and in noise . . . 
There shall he learn, ere sixteen winters old, 
That authors are most useful, pawned or sold ; 
That pedantry is all the schools impart, 
But taverns teach the knowledge of the heart . 
Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise, 
We love the play-place of our early days. 


(c) There was another side to the picture, particularly when boys 
went to university very young. 

Source: Vicesimus Knox, Liberal Education (1781), p. 35. 

After all the confinement and trouble of a domestic edu- 
cation, it is probable that the boy will at last be sent to the 
University. There he will find the greater part of his associates 
to consist of young men who have been educated at schools; 
and if they have any vices he will now be in much greater 
danger of infection, and will suffer much worse consequences 
from it, than if he had not been secluded from boys at a boyish 


Oxford and Cambridge, each based on a collegiate pattern, 
were the two English universities, although there were four more 
vigorous universities in Scodand, more closely linked to the educa- 
tional systems of the continent, and one in Ireland. 

(a) Source: 
pp. 397-9. 

E. D. Clarke, Tour Through the South of England (1791), 

The approach to Oxford from Woodstock, is not marked by 
any particular beauty. The country, bleak, champaign and 
flat, consists of those features which melancholize the environs 
of its sister seminary. It is not in the power of nature to assume 
a visage more deformed that she wears in the neighbourhood 
of Oxford and Cambridge. Not one expressive line, not one 
interesting object, presents itself to the traveller's eye; and the 
desponding Freshman, as he sojourns a-cross the drear expanse, 


feels the full force of Johnson's assertion, when, speaking of 
Scotland, he says 'that, if the miserable aspect of the country 
should induce a man to hang himself, he would scarcely find 
a tree to swing from!' 

I shall confine my remarks upon this city within a very small 
compass— it is foreign to my present purpose to record, in 
pompous detail, its colleges and the history of their founders ; 
and those, who wish to acquire a more accurate knowledge of 
their buildings and benefactors, will find ampler sources of 
information in the Oxford and Cambridge Guides than in any 
laboured essay of mine. 

In Oxford there seems, what may be styled, a disease of 
bmldmgs. The traveller is presented with a profusion of edifices 
jumbled together with no great display either of taste or 
design. It is a kind of anarchy in stone and mortar, where every 
thing is confused; and architecture, in a high fever, seems to 
have stuck one edifice here and another there, varying the 
nonconformity of her work in proportion to her delirium. 
There is a Mausoleum for a library, and a cock-pit for public 
disputants. There is a sepulchre of manuscripts, and a long gallery, 
where heroes with ugly faces, and learned graduates in full 
bottomed wigs, are copiously displayed upon canvass. What 
shall be said of christ-chtjrch ? where neat little .peckwater 
cements the dirty puddle and the leaden mercury that disgraces 
its neighbouring quadrangle— and of the boasted theatre? 
with its wrong side foremost, that turns its back upon the 
public and hides its fine front in a corner— and of st. mary's? 
with a low gothic spire, but of sufficient beauty for every one 
to wish it taller— and of the prospect from the top of radglipf's 
empty library? where the view of all-souls alone is a recom- 
pence for the fatigue of ascending. 

After leaving Oxford, the prospect of the University on the 
London side is worth paying attention to. The country 
gradually improves towards henly. 

(b) This was only one impression of the setting: there were others. 
Source; Rev. Sir J. Peshall's edition of Anthony Wood's The 
Antcient and Present State of the City of Oxford ( 1 773) . 

Oxford is better seen than described. The magnificent 


Colleges, and other most noble Edifices, standing in, and 
giving an Air of Grandeur to the Streets : the many delightful 
Walks: elegant Gardens: rich Chapels: grand Libraries: the 
Beauty of the Meadows and Rivers, that on every side delight 
the Eye: the Sweetness of the Air: the Learning, and frequent 
public Display of it, and the Politeness of the Place: the 
Harmony and Order of Discipline: not to mention the great 
Number of Strangers that continually visit us and express their 
Satisfaction, conspire to render it the Delight and Ornament 
of the Kingdom, not to say of the World. 

(c) One of the best-known accounts of Oxford is that of Edward 
Gibbon. Again his impressions were not universally shared. There 
were 'poor students' at Oxford and Cambridge who were there 
entirely for their brains. As one writer, Thomas Baker, put it in his 
An Act at Oxford (1704), 'the difference between us the servitors 
and Gentleman Commoners is this, we are men of wit and no 
fortune and they are men of fortune and no wit". Gibbon, of 
course, had both. There is evidence that the absolute and relative 
numbers of 'poor students' at both Oxford and Cambridge declined 
in the late eighteenth century. 

Source: E. Gibbon, Autobiography, written in 1792-93. Gibbon was 
an undergraduate at Magdalen College from 1 752 to 1 755. He was 
only fifteen years old when he arrived. 

. . . My own introduction to the University of Oxford forms 
a new aera in my life, and at the distance of forty years I still 
remember my first emotions of surprize and satisfaction. In 
my fifteenth year I felt myself suddenly raised from a boy to a 
man; the persons whom I respected as my superiors in age and 
Academical rank entertained me with every mark of attention 
and civility; and my vanity was flattered by the velvet and silk 
gown which discriminate a Gentleman-Commoner from a 
plebeian student. A decent allowance, more money than a 
schoolboy had ever seen, was at my own disposal, and I might 
command among the tradesmen of Oxford an indefinite and 
dangerous latitude of credit. A key was delivered into my hands 
which gave me the use of a numerous and learned library; 
my apartment consisted of three elegant and well-furnished 
rooms in the new building, a stately pile, of Magdalen College; 
and the adjacent walks, had they been frequented by Plato's 



disciples, might have been compared to the Attic shade on the 
banks of the Ilissus. Such was the fair prospect of my entrance 
into the University of Oxford, . . . 

The expression of gratitude is a virtue and a pleasure; [yet] 
to the University of Oxford / acknowledge no obligation : and 
she will as chearfully renounce me for a son, as I am willing 
to disclaim her for a mother. I spent fourteen months at 
Magdalen College; they proved the fourteen months the most 
idle and unprofitable of my whole life. . . . 

The fellows or monks of my time were decent easy men, who 
supinely enjoyed the gifts of the founder; their days were filled 
by a series of uniform employments, the Chappel and the 
Hall, the Coffee-house and the common room, till they retired, 
weary and well-satisfied, to a long slumber. From the toil of 
reading, or thinking, or writing, they had absolved their 
conscience; and the first shoots of learning and ingenuity 
withered on the ground without yielding any fruit to the owners 
or the public. . . . Their conversation stagnated in a round of 
College business, Tory politics, personal anecdotes, and private 
scandal. . . . 

The example of the senior fellows could not inspire the 
undergraduates with a liberal spirit, a studious emulation; and 
I cannot describe, as I never knew, die discipline of the College. 
Some duties may possibly have been imposed on the poor 
scholars, whose ambition aspired to the peaceful honour* of a 
fellowship , . , but no independent members were admitted 
below the rank of a Gentleman-Commoner, and our velvet cap 
was the cap of liberty. A tradition prevailed that some of our 
predecessors had spoken Latin declamations in the Hall, but 
of this ancient custom no vestige remained; the obvious methods 
of public exercises and examinations were totally unknown; 
and I never heard that cither the President or the Society 
interfered in the private economy of the Tutors and their 
pupils. ... No plan of study was recommended for my use . . . 
and, at the most precious season of my youth, whole days and 
weeks were suffered to elapse without labour or amusement, 
without advice or account. 

(d) For the don's life, there are many vivid portraits. This comes 
from Cambridge. 


Source: Notes from The Journal of a Senior Fellow or Genuine Idler 

Monday, 9. Turned off my bedmaker for waking me at 
eight. Consulted my weather-glass. No hope of 
a rise before dinner. 

10. After breakfast transcribed half a sermon from 
Dr. Hickman, n.b. never to transcribe any more 
from Calamy: Mrs. Pilcocks, at my Curacy, 
having one vol. of that author lying in her 

11. Went down into my cellar. 

1 . Dined alone in my room on a sole. . . . Sat down 
to a pint of Madeira. Mr. H surprized me over 
it. We finished two bottles of port together and 
were very cheerful. 

6. Newspaper in the Gommon Room. 

7. Returned to my room, made a tiff of warm 
punch, and to bed before nine. 


Dissenters were kept outside the old universities and developed 
academies of their own. Some of them, like the Warrington Academy, 
had a deservedly high reputation. Their curricula were often 
progressive, and included scientific subjects. 

Source: J. Orton, Memoirs of the Life, Character and Writings of the 
late Reverend Philip Doddridge (1766), pp. 87-92. 

As the Method of Education in the Seminaries of Protestant 
Dissenters is little known, it may be proper to give some general 
Account of his [Philip Doddridge's, first at Market Harborough 
(1729) and later at Northampton]; which bears a near Resem- 
blance to others of the Kind. He chose to have as many of 
his Students in his own Family as his House would contain, 
that they might be more immediately under his Eye and 
Government. The Orders of this Seminary were such, as suited 
a Society of Students; in a due Medium between the Rigour of 
School -discipline, and an unlimited Indulgence. As he knew 


that Diligence in redeeming their Time was necessary to their 
Attention to Business, and Improvement of their Minds, it 
was an established Law, that every Student should rise at 
Six o'Clock in the Summer, and Seven in the Winter. A Monitor 
was weekly appointed to call them, and they were to appear 
in the public Room, soon after the fixed Hour. Those who did 
not appear were subject to a pecuniary Penalty, or, if that did 
not cure their Sloth, to prepare an additional academical 
Exercise; and the Monitor's Neglect was a double Fine. Their 
Tutor set them an Example of Diligence, being generally 
present with them at these early Hours. . . . 

One of the first Things he expected from his Pupils, was to 
learn Rich's Short-hand, which he wrote himself, and in which 
his Lectures were written; that they might transcribe them, 
make Extracts from the Books they read and consulted, with 
Ease and Speed, and save themselves many Hours in their 
future Compositions, Care was taken in the first Year of their 
Course, that they should retain and improve that Knowledge of 
Greek and Latin, which they had acquired at School, and gain 
such Knowledge of Hebrew, if they had not learned it before, 
that they might be able to read the Old Testament in its original 
Language: A Care very important and necessary! . . . Those 
of them, who chose it, were also taught French. He was more 
and more convinced, the longer he lived, of the great Im- 
portance of a learned, as well as a pious Education for the 
Ministry. . . . Systems of Logic, Rhetoric, Geography and Meta- 
physics were read during the first Year of their Course, and they 
were referred to particular Passages in other Authors upon 
these Subjects, which illustrated the Points, on which the 
Lectures had turned. To these were added Lectures on the 
Principles of Geometry and Algebra. These Studies taught them 
to keep their Attention fixed, to distinguish their Ideas with 
Accuracy and to dispose their Arguments in a clear, concise 
and convincing Manner. — After these Studies were finished, 
they were introduced to the Knowledge of Trigonometry, 
Conic-sections and celestial Mechanics. A System of natural and 
experimental Philosophy, comprehending Mechanics, Statics, 
Hydrostatics, Optics, Pneumatics, and Astronomy, was read to 
them; with References to the best Authors on these Subjects. 

education 365 

But the chief Object of their Attention and Study, during 
three Years of their Course, was his System of Divinity, in the 
largest Extent of the World. . . . 


Most women in the eighteenth century received no education, 
a fact which had provoked Defoe to write that he believed that it 
was 'one of the most barbarous customs in the world, that we deny 
the advantages of learning to women'. This was by no means a 
general view a hundred years later, as some of the following 
extracts show, yet there was no shortage of 'blue-stockings' in the 
eighteenth century, many of them women of exceptional learning. 
Girls were also educated (humbly) in charity schools (see above, 
p. 345) and (expensively) in private boarding schools. 

(a) Source: Letter of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 10 Oct. 1753, 
printed in Letters and Works (1861), vol. II, p. 242. 

There is no part of the world where our sex is treated with 
so much contempt as England. I do not complain of men for 
having engrossed the government . . . but I think it the highest 
injustice . . . that the same studies that raise the character 
of a man should hurt that of a woman. We are educated in the 
grossest ignorance, and no art omitted to stifle our natural 
reason; if some few get above their nurses' instructions, our 
knowledge must rest concealed, and be as useless to the world 
as gold in the mine. I am now speaking according to our 
English notions, which may wear out, some ages hence, along 
with others equally absurd. 

(b) Source: Advertisement in the Leeds Mercury, 2 Aug. 1743. 

This is to give Notice to all Ladies, and others, who have 
occasion for Gowns, or Petticoats, drawn for French Quilting, 
running Patterns or Sprigs, to be wrought In Silk or Worstead ; 
also drawing upon Canvas for Chairs, Fire-Screens, or Stools; 
likewise she draws Pictures from any Copper-plate or Oil- 
Piece that shall be sent to her, without ever damaging them; 
She draws it upon silk or Canvas, to be wrought and then 
fram'd and glass'd ;she also will teach any Person to paint upon 


Glass, or Water Colours upon Cloth; she will likewise teach 
any Person to Draw and Work the above. Also she will teach 
all sorts of Tent-work, White-work, Marking and Plain-work, 
which is carefully and expeditiously performed at reasonable 
Rates; by Mary England at the Charity-School House in 

n,b. The Charity Children will be no Disturbance to any 
Person that learns with me, they being Taught in another 
Apartment by my Husband and his Mother. 

(c) Source: J. Lackington, Memoirs (1791). 

Many farmers, observing how some, in circumstances 
inferior to themselves, bring up their daughters, think that 
because they can better afford the expence, their girls ought 
to be brought up as genteelly as their neighbours; so that 
instead of having them taught to read and write, and do 
plain-work at a day-school, until they are ten or eleven years 
old, and then taken home to help milk the cows, &c. they are 
sent to a boarding-school, where they remain until they are 
fourteen, or older. There they are called ladies, and learn 
filigree, pride, and extravagance. When their education is 
completed, their infatuated parents find themselves despised 
by their own children, who think themselves ladies, and look 
with disdain on all they see going forward in the old farm- 
house. To see their father come in from the fields in his 
smock-frock, with a pick on his shoulder, is 'monstrous. 5 To 
see the butchers and pig-dealers about the house, and by the 
fireside, bargaining for calves, sheep, hogs, &c. is 'insup- 
portable!' To see their mother with a serge petticoat, woollen- 
apron, mob-cap, and old hat milking the cows, making butter, 
cheese, &c. is 'prodigious monstrous. 5 And when any of their 
old schoolmates happen to call on them, O, they are ready to 
expire with shame and vexation, while they hear their mother 
apologize for her homely dress, &c. 

Such girls, instead of being useful in the affairs of the 
farm-house, &c. are rendered good for nothing; instead of 
assisting, they expect to be waited upon; to have horses to 
make their idle visits; and a servant several times a week to 
exchange novels at the circulating library. 




There was no organized adult education in the eighteenth century, 
but there were many local and voluntary initiatives, some of them 
ambitious both in object and in name, as the first extract shows. 
Lecture courses were given, encyclopedias, 'repositories' and 
periodicals produced, philosophical and scientific societies formed, 
and at the end of the century evening classes organized for 

(a) Source: Advertisement of 31 March 1742. 

At the East End of Exeter Change in the Strand, this evening 
at 6, o'clock will be opened the London University, where all 
liberal Arts and Sciences will be most usefully, critically and 
demonstratively taught in the mother tongue in proper 
courses of lectures, composed by men of the greatest learning 
and delivered with good address, so as to be entertaining to 
all and particularly improving to the ladies and such gentlemen 
as have not had an academical education, as more real learning 
will be exhibited thus in few months than in an equal number 
of years elsewhere. The opening lecture will be a rational view 
of the nature, reality, origin, extent, past and present state of 
all liberal Arts and Sciences with the means of improving them. 

At midsummer next proper Schools will be opened in the 
centre of the town where very able Professors will teach all 
liberal Arts and sciences in the mother tongue. 

fb) Source: H. Brougham, Practical Observations upon the Education 
of the People (1825), p. 17. 

About the year 1800 he [Dr. Birkbeck] announced a course 
of lectures on National Philosophy, and its application to the 
Arts, for the instruction of mechanics. But a few at the first 
availed themselves of this advantage; by degrees, however, the 
extraordinary perspicuity of the teacher's method, the judicious 
selection of his experiments, and the natural attractions of the 
subject, to men whose lives were spent in directing or witnessing 
operations, of which the principles were now first unfolded to 
them, proved successful in diffusing a general taste for the 
study. , . . 


Crime and Punishment 

One is forced to travel, even at noon, as if one was going to 

(Horace Walfole to Sir Horace Mann, 1752} 

Elizabeth Walker, of Snowden, was sent to the House of Correc- 
tion at Wakefield for fourteen days, and ordered to be publicly 
whipped for embezzling 31b of combed wool. 

(From tht Newcastle Journal, 1 August, 1767) 

Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw, 
Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law 

(Oliver Goldsmith, 1764) 

I now come to a fourth encouragement which greatly holds up 
the spirit of robbers, and which they often find to afford no 
deceitful consolation; and this is drawn from the remissness of 
prosecutors, who are often, 

1. Fearful, and to be intimidated by the threats of the gang; or, 

2. Delicate, and cannot appear in a public court ; or, 

3. Indolent, and will not give themselves to the trouble of 
prosecution; or 

4. Avaricious, and will not undergo the expense of it; nay, 
perhaps, find their account in com pending the matter; or, 

5. Tender-hearted, and cannot take away the life of man ; 
Lastly, Necessitous, and cannot really afford the cost, however 
small, together with the loss of time which attends it. 

(Henry Fielding, An Enquiry into the Late Increase of Robbers, 


The indiscriminate application of the sentence ofdeath to offences 
exhibiting very different degrees of turpitude has long been a 
subject of complaint in this country, but it has still been progressive 
and increasing. 

(Samuel Romilly, Speech in the House of Commons, 1810) 





Eighteenth-century England felt itself particularly vulnerable to 
crime. There was no adequate police force, and the increase in 
wealth in a society grounded in inequality widened the range of 
criminal opportunity. The privileged classes were sensitive (above 
all else) to crimes against property, but they were also gravely 
concerned, as were humanitarian reformers, by displays of brutality. 
In an attempt to protect themselves, new statutes imposing capital 
punishment were introduced at the rate of more than one a year 
between 1727 and 1810. At the same Ume English criminal pro- 
cedure—methods of prosecution and trial — was far more liberal 
than that in most continental countries, as European travellers 
observed, and from the middle of the century there was a movement 
for reform. 

(a) Source: The Due de Levis, UAngleterre ait commencement du 
dix-neuviime deck (Paris, 1814), p. 35. 

In a country where there are neither forests nor great 
mountains, you should have no more robbers than there are 
wolves; but why do you not have police to catch your robbers ? 
, . . [My English friends reply] 'Such an institution is incom- 
patible with liberty. 5 

(b) Source: Remarks of Dr. Primrose in O. Goldsmith, The Vicar 
oj Wakefield (1766). 

Government, while it grows older, seems to acquire the 
moroseness of age; and, as if our property were to become 
dearer in proportion as it increased — as if the more enormous 
our wealth the more extensive our fears — all our possessions 
are paled with new edicts every day, and hung around with 
gibbets to scare every invader. 


There were many complaints in the eighteenth century of rural 
crime, some of it highly organized, and among the crimes punished 
by death were maliciously cutting down trees and destroying the 
heads of fishponds. Transportation was a general punishment in 
the later century, applied to stealing sheep or even oysters. There 



were many anomalies in the law. To steal fruit already gathered 
was a felony: to gather it and then steal it was a trespass. 

(a) Scarce ; Letter of Lady Fermanagh, 4 Dec. 1710, printed in 
The Verney Letters, p, 285. 

. . . The Dumb Boy is dead that was shott, & Jack Busby is 
dead. . . . There is such robbing that I never heard on since 
I came into Buckingham. They robb between us and Dr. 
Busby's, I have the back dore locked, & the Key brought up 
to me as soon as it is dark. 

(b) Source: Note in Hertfordshire County Records, Quarter Sessions 
Book, vol. 14, Epiphany Session, 1783. 

This Court took into Consideration the numerous Roberies, 
Felonies, and Misdemeanors lately committed in this County 
and resolved as follows. . . . That it is the Opinion of this 
Court (and this Court doth recommend to all other Justices 
of the Peace of this County) that, to prevent the Committing 
of such a Number of Felonies, Roberies, and Misdemeanors as 
have lately been committed in this County, it is necessary that 
frequent Petty Sessions should be held in the several divisions 
of the County, and all High and Petty Constables be summoned, 
and strict charges given them to apprehend and carry before 
the Magistrates all suspicions and disorderly Persons, to be 
examined and dealt with as the Nature of their Cases may 
require and as the Law directs; and in Parishes where there is 
only one Constable, another should be appointed, and in 
large and extensive Parishes, two Constables and two Head- 
boroughs, who should frequently visit the Publick Houses to 
see that good Order be observed, good Hours Kept, and the 
House shut up by nine o'clock in the Evening in Winter and 
ten in Summer, and that no gaming be permitted. . . . 

That it be recommended to all Parish Officers and other at 
their Vestry Meetings at Easter to make Choice of good 
Character, strong, decent and active, to execute the offices of 
Constables and Headboroughs, That it is recommended to all 
Lords of Courts best to direct their Stewards not to swear into 
the office of Constable or Headborough any other than Men of 
good Character, not keeping Publick Houses. 



And that it be recommended to all Farmers and others not 
to Harbour or permit wandering Beggars to lodge and sleep 
in their outhouses, which has brought great inconvenience and 
charges upon many Parishes. 

And it is ordered that the Foregoing Resolutions be advertised 
once in two daily Papers and once in two Evening Papers, and 
that they be printed and sent to the Chief Constables, to be 
distributed and put up in all Parishes and Places in the County, 
and also that they be sent to the acting Justices of the Peace 
for this County. 

(c) Source; C. Vancouver, General View of the Agriculture of the 
County of Devon (1808), pp. 366-7. 

The business (for as such in some parts of the county, it 
seems to be almost exclusively practised) of sheep-stealing, is 
carried on to a most atrocious extent, particularly in the 
vicinity of the forests of Exmoor and of Dartmoor. A well 
attested fact states, that one farmer lost in the course of five 
years, no less than 108 sheep from off the former of these 
wastes; and it is no uncommon case for farmers in the neigh- 
bourhood of these moors to lose 20 sheep in the course of a 
season. Not in depredations upon sheep only are these excesses 
carried, but to so great a height is thieving arrived at, that 
neighbours are frequently detected in robbing each other of 
potatoes whilst yet in the ground. To put some check to these 
enormities, an association has been formed in the neighbourhood 
of Bidcford, and this will most probably be soon followed by 
others in the county. 


Serious, though scattered, rural crime might be, urban crime, 
particularly in the rich and bustling metropolis, posed far greater 
problems. London footpads were particularly dreaded, and 
pickpockets were present not only on all special occasions when 
great crowds assembled, but regularly in the shopping streets and 
in inns and theatres. "London swarms with pickpockets, as daring 
as they are subtile and cunning', wrote P. J. Grosley in 1 765. Many 
of the pickpockets were between the ages of twelve and fourteen. 


It was often difficult to draw the dividing line between beggars 
and criminals: both belonged to a Brechtian underworld. Among 
the hidden criminals were fences and counterfeiters. 

(a) Source: John Gay, Trivia or the Art of Walking the Streets of 
London (1716). 

When the Mob gathers, swiftly shoot along, 

Nor idly mingle in the noisy Throng; 

Here dives the skulking Thief, with practis'd sleight, 

And unfelt Fingers make thy Pocket light. 

Where's now thy Watch, with all its Trinkets, flown? 

And thy late snuff box is no more thine own. 

(b) Source: Letter written by William Shenstone in 1743, printed in 
M. Williams (ed.), The Letters of William Shenstone (1939), vol. Ill, 
p. 73. 

London is really dangerous at this time; the pick-pockets, 
formerly content with mere filching, make no scruple to knock 
down with bludgeons in Fleet-street and the Strand, and that 
at no later hour than eight o'clock at night: but in the Piazzas, 
Covent-garden, they come in large bodies, armed with 
couteaus, and attack whole parties, so that the danger of coming 
out of the play-houses is of some weight in the opposite scale, 
when I am disposed to go to them oftener than I ought. 

(c) Source: King George IPs speech to Parliament 1751, printed in 
Journals of the House of Commons, vol. XXVI, p. 3. 

I cannot conclude without recommending you in the most 
earnest Manner, to consider seriously of some effectual Pro- 
visions to suppress those audacious Crimes of Robbery and 
Violence, which are now become so frequent, especially about 
this great Capital, and which have proceeded in a great 
Measure from the profligate Spirit of Irreligion, Idleness, 
Gaming, and Extravagance, which has of late extended itself, 
in an uncommon Degree, to the Dishonour of the Nation, and 
to the great Offence and Prejudice of the sober and industrious 
Part of my People, 

(d) Henry Fielding, magistrate as well as novelist, had already 
drawn attention to the lurid social background of crime. In a 
fascinating tract of 1 750, quoted below, he drew upon the evidence 


of one of his collaborators in detecting crime, the Bow Street 
magistrate, Welch. {For the effects of gin drinking, see above, 
pp. 307ff.). 

Source: H. Fielding, An Inquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase 
of Robbers (1*30). 

That in the parish of St. Giles there arc great numbers of 
houses set apart for the reception of idle persons and vagabonds, 
who have their lodgings there for twopence a night ; that in the 
above parish, and in St. George Bloomsbury, one woman alone 
occupies seven of these houses, all properly accommodated 
with miserable beds from the cellar to the garret, for such 
twopenny lodgers; that in these beds, several of which are in 
the same room, men and women being strangers to each other, 
lie promiscuously; the price of a double bed being no more than 
threepence, as an encouragement to them to lie together; but 
as these places are thus adapted to whoredom, so are they no 
less provided for drunkenness, gin being sold in them all at a 
penny a quartern; so that the smallest sum of money serves for 
intoxication; that in the execution of search warrants, Mr. 
Welch rarely finds less than twenty of these houses open for the 
receipt of all comers at the latest hours ; that in one of these 
houses, he hath numbered fifty-eight persons of both sexes, the 
stench of whom was so intolerable that it compelled him in a 
short time to quit the place. 

(e) Some eighteenth-century crimes are no longer perpetrated. 

Source : Report in The Times, 23 Dec. 1 796. 

Early on Tuesday Morning, some suspicion being enter- 
tained that the Pesthouse burial-ground, in Old-Street-Road, 
had been frequently violated, the parish watchmen were 
ordered to keep a good look out, when a hackney coach was 
observed, waiting near the spot. Upon the watchman's ap- 
proaching it, he was assaulted, and beaten, by three men, 
who then made off: but afterwards, springing his rattle, the 
assistants took the coachman into custody, who had three 
sacks in his coach, two of them containing the body of a man 
each, and the other, three children. Several other bodies, which 
had been dug up for the purpose of carrying away, were found 


under the wall of the burying-ground : and, it is generally 
believed, that almost all the bodies deposited therein, for 5 
weeks past, have been stolen, which, upon an average, must 
have been 15 per week. The hackney-coachman, who owned 
he was to have had ten guineas for his night's fare, was com- 
mitted to the New Prison, Clerkcnwell. This fellow, it should 
seem, was hardened to his business: for, though put into the 
cage with the bodies he was carrying off, he slept so sound 
that it was with some difficulty he was awakened by the visit 
of a brother-whip, previous to his going before a Magistrate. 


Highwaymen, like pirates, have passed into legend. Dick Turpin, 
who was hanged at York in 1 739, did so at once. Their combination 
of violence and politeness reflects the eighteenth-century combina- 
tion of these qualities. As the amount of road passenger traffic 
increased (see above, p. 102), the numbers or highwaymen in- 
creased, even in the immediate vicinity of London. 

(a) Source: Mme. van Muyden (ed.), A Foreign View of England in 
the Reigns of George I and George II, written in French by C. de 
Saussure between 1 725 and 1 730. 

Highwaymen are generally well mounted; one of them will 
stop a coach containing six or seven travellers. With one hand 
he will present a pistol, with the other his hat, asking the 
unfortunate passengers most politely for their purses or their 
lives. No one caring to run the risk of being killed or maimed, 
a share of every traveller's money is thrown into the hat, for 
were one to make the slightest attempt at self-defence the 
ruffian would turn bridle and fly, but not before attempting 
to revenge himself by killing you. If, on the contrary, he 
receives a reasonable contribution, he retires without doing 
you any injury. When there are several highwaymen together, 
they will search you thoroughly and leave nothing. Again, 
others take only a part of what they find; but all these robbers 
ill-treat only those who try to defend themselves. I have been 
told that some highwaymen are quite polite and generous, 



begging to be excused for being forced to rob, leaving passengers 
the wherewithal to continue their journey. 

(b) Source: C. Williams (ed.), Sophie in London, 1786 (1933), p. 235. 

[Sophie describes how a party of ambassadors outside London 
broke their meeting because] they feared highwaymen, for 
they were all booked for the evening, and so had to leave for 
London much earlier than eleven; perhaps they needed their 
money for gaming, and hence could not afford to give it to 
the highwayman ! So they decided to depart all together, as the 
robbers would hardly hold up four coaches at once. 

(c) There was much popular admiration for highwaymen, as there 
was for other bold criminals. Turpin, according to the Gentleman's 
Magazine, gave £3 10s. to men who were to follow his cart as 
mourners, and the crowd snatched his body from the surgeon's 
dissecting knife and secured him a Christian burial. 

Source: A Broadside Ballad in the Firth Collection, printed as 
an illustration to H. L. Beales's chapter on 'Travel and Com- 
munications' in A. S. Turberville (ed.), Johnson's England (1933), 
vol. I, p. 145. 

O Rare Turpin 
As I was riding over Hunslow Moor, 
There I saw a lawyer riding before, 
And I asked him if lie was not afraid, 
To meet bold Turpin that mischievous blade. 
chorus. — I asked him if he was not afraid, 
To meet bold Turpin that mischievous blade. 
Says Turpin to the lawyer and for to be cute, 
My money I have hid all in my boot, 
Says the lawyer to Turpin they mine can't find, 
For I have hid mine in the cape of my coat behind. 
I rode till I came to a powder mill, 
Where Turpin bid the lawyer for to stand still 
For the cape of your coat it must come off, 
For my horse is in want of a new saddle cloth. 
Now Turpin robbed the lawyer of all his store, 
When that's gone he knows where to get more. 



And the very next town that you go in. 

Tell them you was robb'd by the bold Turpin. 

Now Turpin is caught, and tried and cast, 

And for a game cock must die at last, 

One hundred pounds when he did die, 

He left Jack Ketch for a legacy. 


Much crime was organized not by individuals but by criminal 
groups, some of them gangs. Jonathan Wild, for instance, has been 
called 'Director-General of the United Forces of Highwaymen, 
House-breakers, Footpads, Pickpockets, and private thieves'. 
Gangs had their own slang and their own codes of behaviour. 
Frequently, in the absence of police, citizens also banded themselves 
together for protection. 

(a) Source: John Gay, The Beggar's Opera (1728), Act. II. Scene, 
A Tavern near Newgate. 

Jemmy Twitcher, Grook-finger'd Jack, Wat Dreary, Robin 
of Bagshot, Nimming Ned, Henry Paddlngton, Matt of the 
Mint, Ben Budge, and the rest of the Gang, at Ike Table, with Wins, 
Brandy and Tobacco. 

Ben. But pr'ythee, Matt, what is become of thy Brother 
Tom ? I have not seen him since my Return from Transportation. 

Matt. Poor Brother Tom had an Accident this time Twelve- 
month, and so clever a made fellow he was, that I could not 
save him from those fleaing Rascals the Surgeons; and now, 
poor Man, he is among the Otamys at Surgeons Hall, 

Ben. So it seems, his Time was come. 

Jemmy. But the present Time is ours, and no body alive 
hath more. Why are the Laws levell'd at us? are we more 
dishonest than the rest of Mankind? What we win, Gentlemen, 
is our own by the Law of Arms, and the Right of Conquest. 

Crook. Where shall we find such another Set of Practical 
Philosophers, who to a Man are above the Fear of Death ? 

Wat. Sound Men, and true! 

Robin. Of try'd Courage, and indefatigable Industry! 

Ned. Who is there here that would not die for his Friend ? 



Harry. Who is there here that would betray him for his 
Interest ? 

Matt. Shew me a Gang of Courtiers that can say as much. 

Ben. We are Tor a just Partition of the World, for every Man 
hath a Right to enjoy Life. 

Matt. We retrench the Superfluities of Mankind, The World 
is avaricious, and I have Avarice. A covetous fellow, for the 
sake of hiding it. These are the Robbers of Mankind, for 
Money was made for the Free-hearted and Generous, and 
where is the Injury of taking from another, what he hath not 
the Heart to make use of? 

Jemmy. Our several Stations for the Day are fixt. Good luck 
attend us all. Fill the Glasses. 

(b) Source: Newspaper cutting of the 1790s, printed in A. S. 
Turberville, English Men and Manners in the Eighteenth Century (1929), 
p. 167. 

BATH GUARDIAN SOCIETY for the Prosecution of FELONS, 

forgers, receivers of STOLEN-GooDS etc. and to defray the 
Expences of Advertisements, Hand-Bills; all of which are paid 
out of the Public Stocks raised annually at Five Shillings each 
Member residing in the City of Bath; and Two Shillings and 
Sixpence additional for such as reside in the [Outer Parishes]. 
^ This Society has been established upon its present Plan 
Fourteen Years, and a great number of Offenders, who had 
robbed or defrauded the Members of this Society have been 
apprehended, prosecuted, and brought to justice; many of whom 
would prabably have escaped the punishment due to their 
crimes, . . . The Committee of this Society do therefore invite 
their Fellow-Citizens, and the neighbouring Inhabitants, to 
join in this laudable Undertaking, the good effects of which 
have been sensibly felt by the Public, not only in the Punish- 
ment of Offenders; but, it is presumed, in the Prevention of 


The method of trial of criminals in England, wrote one observer, 
'is very singular, and different from other nations.' Once beyond 



the petty courts, where local justices had social as well as legal 
authority (see above, p. 370), there were 'numerous rules favourable 
to the person accused'. He was presumed innocent until found 
guilty, he could not be tortured to extract evidence, he was tried 
by jury, he could call witnesses to prove his innocence, and pro- 
ceedings were for the most part oral. There was great public interest 
in trials during the eighteenth century, as later, and many publica- 
'tions devoted to describing them. The language quoted may well 
represent the natural spoken language of the period more faithfully 
than any other surviving evidence. There were weaknesses as well as 
strengths in trial procedures, however, and the very severity of 
punishments for minor crimes encouraged 'merciful interpretation' 
of some statutes in the courts and large-scale commuting of sen- 
tences later. This carried with it arbitrariness and indeterminacy, 
both of which were attacked by penal reformers. 

(a) Source:}. Marchand (cd.), A Frenchman in England, 1784 (1933), 
p. 1 1 7. The Frenchman was F. de la Rochefoucauld, ' 

The administration of justice in England deserves the highest 
commendation. On two occasions I was myself a witness of the 

equitable way in which English criminal, as well as civil, cases 
are conducted and I can testify that almost against my will I 
was filled with respect and admiration. 

(b) Source: Lord Campbell, The Lives of the Chief Justices of England 
(3rd. edn. 1874), vol. 4, pp. 21-2. Mansfield was not a lenient judge. 

Trying a prisoner at the Old Bailey on a charge of stealing 
in a dwelling house to the value of forty shillings, when this 
was a capital offence, Lord Mansfield advised the jury to hold 
a gold trinket, the subject of the indictment, to be of less value. 
The prosecutor exclaimed, with indignation, 'Under forty 
shillings, my Lord! Why xhc fashion alone cost me more than 
double the sum,* Lord Mansfield calmly observed, 'God 
forbid, gentlemen, we should hang a man for fashion's sake.' 

(c) The following account of a trial figures Jonathan Wild. 

Source: J. Wilford (printer), Select Trials for Murders, Robberies, 
Rapes . , . and other Offences at the Sessions House in the Old-Bailey 
(1735), vol, II, p. 106. 

Not long after this, Jonathan mist another very useful Hand, 
He had minuted down in his Books a Gold Watch, a Parcel of 



fine Lace, and several other Things of great Value, which this 
Rascal (whose Name was Jack Butler) had made upon the 
Lodging Lay at Newinglon-Green; and yet he wholly neglected 
coming to Account, and no News was to be heard of him for 
two or three Months. Jonathan swore he would be up with him 
for his Ingratitude, and accordingly spared no pains in hunting 
after him; but as Jack had retired from Business, it was no easy 
Matter to meet with him. However, hearing at last that he 
lodged at an Ale-house in Bishopsgate-slreet, he got a Warrant, 
and taking two or three to assist him, went thither betimes in 
the Morning, and gaining an easy Admittance at the Street- 
door he went foremost up Stairs with a Pistol in his Hand, tho' 
not so softly but Butler heard him, upon which he jump'd out 
of Bed, slipt on his Goat, Breeches and Shoes, and getting out 
of the Window (which was but one Story high) dropt into the 
Yard, climb'd over the Wall into the Street, and ran cross the 
Way into a Dyer's Shop, and so through to a Wash-house where 
some Women were washing. He told 'em he was pursued by 
Bailiffs, and begg'd they would let him hide himself. The good 
Women pitied his Case, and directed him to the Coal-hole. 
In the mean Time Jonathan had wrench'd open the Door, 
and found that Butler had given him the Slip, and what was 

more he knew not which Way to follow him At last he 

saw the Dyer's Door open, upon which he goes over, and 
meeting with the Man of the House, acquainted him with 
what had happen'd, and said he believed the Rogue must have 
run in there, because (it being early in the Morning) he saw 
no other Door open thereabouts. He can't be here {says the Dyer) 
for I have not been out of the Shop above a Minute. Sir (says Jonathan) 
that must be the very Time he slipp'd in, and therefore I beg you would 
give me leave to search for him. The Dyer bid him search and 

Jonathan and his Assistants went in, and finding the Women 
in the Wash-house, enquir'd of them if they had seen such a 
Fellow: They deny'd it stiffly, till he satisfied them that the 
Man he wanted was a Thief, and then they advised him to 
look in the Coal-hole. Jonathan took a Candle and look'd all 
round, but to no purpose. He examined the Cellar, the Kitchen, 
the Shop, and every other Place where he thought it was 


possible for the Fellow to be hid, and yet all was Labour in 
vain. He was heartily vex'd, and swore he was never so foil'd 
in his Life before. He told the Dyer he believed the Rogue was 
got out again. That's impossible, said the Dyer, for I have been in 
the Shop ever since, and if he went down Stairs hi must be there still, 
for there's no other Way out but at this Door, and he could not come 
this Way without my seeing him, and therefore I'd advise ye to look 
in the Cellar again, and I'll go with ye. Down they all went, and the 
Dyer turning up a large Tub which he used in his Trade, 
immediately Butler made his appearance. So, Mr. Son of a 
Bitch! have I caught you at last? says Jonathan; What have you 
done with the Gold Watch, the Lace, and the other Movables that ye 
stole out of your Lodgings, ye runnagate Rascal? ye shall certainly 
swing for it: I'll take care of you, if there's never another Rogue in 
England. But notwithstanding these Menaces, Jack knew the 
Secret of calming Jonathan's Wrath, and therefore calling him 
aside, If you'll step to my Room again, says he, and look behind the 
Bed's Head, you may find something that will make you amends for 
your Trouble. Jonathan went, and was well satisfy'd with what 
he found; but as Butler was apprehended in so publick a 
Manner, it was necessary to carry him before a Justice, and the 
Justice committed him to Newgate; and by good Management, 
instead of being hang'd, he was only transported. 


Punishments were severe in the eighteenth century, and the 
authorities made every attempt to display to the public how severe 
they could be. 

(a) Source: M. Misson, Memoirs and Observations (1719), p. 218. 

This Punishment [the Pillory] is allotted for those who are 
convicted of any notorious Cheat, or infamous Imposture; of 
having publish'd defamatory Libels against the King or 
Government- of false Testimony, and of publick Blasphemy; 
They are expos'd in a high Place, with their Heads put thro' 
two Pieces of notch'd Wood ; the uppermost whereof being 



made to slide down, shuts the Neck into the Notch. The 
Criminal's Hands are confin'd on each Side his Head in the 
same Manner; and thus he stands in this ridiculous Posture for 
more or less Time, or with more or fewer Repetitions, according 
to his Sentence. If the People think there is nothing very 
odious in the Action that rais'd him to this Honour, they stand 
quietly by, and only look at him; but if he has been guilty of 
some Exploit dislik'd by the Tribe of 'Prentices, he must 
expect to be regaled with a hundred thousand handfuls of 
mud, and as many rotten Eggs as can be got for Money. It is 
not lawful to throw Stones, but yet 'tis often done. 

(b) Source: Note in The Grub Street Journal, 21 Oct. 1731. 

The same day, at noon, the Sessions ended at the Old 
Baily, when the 2 following persons received sentence of death, 
viz. John Turner, for breaking into the apartments of Mrs. 
Turner, who was an intimate of his father's, near Quccnhithc, 
and stealing from thence 1 guinea, £5 Is. in silver, and several 
wearing apparel; and Anne Palmer, alias Hinks, for stealing 
£8 Is. in money, and goods to the value of 38s., the property 
of Mr. Sam. Ruffel. . , . Five were burnt in the hand, and 
30 were cast for transportation. . . . Seven were burnt in the 
hand, and about 20 ordered for transportation. . . . Eight 
were burnt in the hand. 

(c) Source: Report in the Morning Post, 4 Nov. 1800. 

This day, being hay-market day at Whitechapel, John 
Buder, pursuant to his sentence at the last General Quarter 
Sessions, held at Clerkenwell, is to be publicly whipped from 
Whitechapel Bars, to the further end of Mile End, the distance 
of two miles, for having received several trusses of hay, knowing 
them to have been stolen, and for which he gave an inferior 


Prisoners sentenced to death in London went in slow procession 
from Newgate to Tyburn. They travelled in clothes of their own 
choice, and, when they were men of standing, in their own carriages. 


Large crowds assembled, expressing their sympathy or reprobation ; 
such was the sense of excitement that the execution days were 
known as 'Tyburn Fair' or the 'Hanging Match'. Around the 
gallows there were boxes, the hangmen were public personalities, 
there were sometimes theatrical speeches, and broadsides were on 
sale. Children were taken there, and all sections of society were 
represented. Many superstitions developed round the rituals of the 
occasion. In 1 783, however, the place of execution was transferred 
from Tyburn to Newgate. The sheriffs felt that the procession 
defeated 'all the ends of public justice'. In fact, large and noisy 
crowds continued to gather at Newgate. 

(a) Source: J. Swift, Tom Clinch (1727), 

As clever Tom Clinch, while the rabble was bawling, 
Rode stately through Holborn to die in his calling, 
He stopt at the George for a bottle of sack, 
And promised to pay for it when he came back. 
His waistcoat, and stockings, and breeches, were white; 
His cap had a new cherry ribbon to tie't. 
The maids to the doors and the balconies ran, 
And said, 'Lack-a-day, he's a proper young man !' 
But, as from the windows the ladies he spied, 
Like a beau in the box, he bow'd low on each side! 
And when his last speech the loud hawkers did cry 
He swore from his cart 'It was all a damn'd lie!' 
The hangman for pardon fell down on his knee; 
Tom gave him a kick in the guts for his fee : 
Then said I must speak to the people a little ; 
But I'll see you all damn'd before I will whittle ! l 
My honest friend Wild (may he long hold his place) 
He lengthen'd my life with a whole year of grace. 
Take courage, dear comrades, and be not afraid, 
Nor slip this occasion to follow your trade; 
My conscience is clear, and my spirits are calm, 
And this I go off without prayer-book or psalm; 
Then follow the practice of clever Tom Clinch, 
Who hung like a hero, and never would flinch. 

(b) Source: L. J. Ferri de St. Constant, Londres et les Anglais (1804), 
vol. I, pp. 303^. 

* To 'whittle' meant to confess at the gallows. 


To show off favourably the humanity of the English their 
criminal laws and the way they are put into operation are 
often cited. Yet how can we reconcile such sentiments of 
humanity with the curiosity which draws a crowd of both 
sexes to the public executions? How can we explain this taste 
for cruel spectacles which recalls the barbarism of gladiatorial 
contests ? 


For criminals who were sent to prison, conditions varied as much 
as they did for paupers placed in workhouses. There were two 
main types — common county or borough gaols and Bridewells or 
'houses of correction' originally designed for the wantonly idle. All 
prisons were dirty and liable to epidemics, in many food was 
appalling and in most conditions were corrupting. Prison reformers, 
notably John Howard, did much to expose conditions and to 
encourage reforms. 

(a) Source: J, Howard, Tfie State of Prisons in England and Wales 
(1777). There were then, according to Howard, 4,084 prisoners 
in England and Wales, of whom 2,437 were debtors. 

The gaol for this large populous town [Birmingham] is called 
the Dungeon. The court is only about 25 feet square. Keeper's 
House in front, and under it 2 cells down 7 steps. Straw laid 
on bedsteads. On one side of the Court 2 night rooms for 
women, 8 ft. x 5 ft. 9 inches and some rooms over them; on 
the other side the gaoler's stable and one small day room 
for men and women; no window. Over it another room or two. 

In this small court, besides the litter from the stable, a 
stagnant puddle near the sink for the gaoler's ducks. Gaoler's 
poultry is a very common nuisance, but in so scanty a court 
is intolerable. The whole prison very offensive. Sometimes 
great numbers confined here. Over 150 prisoners in the winter 
of 1775. 

(b) Howard's suggested reforms are summarized in a pamphlet 
published by the Society for the Enforcement of the Proclamation 
against Vice and Immorality. 

Source: Model regulations set out in An Account of the Present State 
of the Prisons (1789). 


I. That Rules be made by the Justices, and confirmed by 
the Judges, for the direction of the gaolers, and the conduct 
of the prisoners, and that the same be painted on a board in 
a legible manner, and hung up in one or more conspicuous 
parts of every prison. 

II. That the act of [1774] and the clauses against drunken- 
ness in the act of [1784] be in like manner hung up in the 

III. That until the laudable example of the county of 
Sussex, and some few other places, in abolishing all fees, be 
generally adopted, a table of fees made by the Justices, and 
confirmed by the Judges, be also hung up in the prisons; and 
that no garnish, or any other fee but what is allowed as above, 
be permitted to be taken of any prisoner. 

IV. That every prison be white-washed at least once in 
every year, and that this be done twice in prisons which are 
much crowded. 

V. That a pump and plentiful supply of water be provided, 
and that every part of the prison be kept as clean as possible. 

VI. That every prison be supplied with a warm and cold 
bath, or commodious bathing tubs, and that the prisoners be 
indulged in the use of such baths, with a proper allowance of 
soap, and the use of towels. 

VII. That attention be paid to the sewers, in order to render 
them as little offensive as possible, 

VIII. That no animals of any kind which render a prison 
dirty, be allowed to be kept in it, either by the gaoler, or any 
prisoner. The only exception to this rule, should be one dog 
kept by the gaoler. 

IX. That great care be taken, that as perfect a separation as 
possible be made of the following classes of prisoners, vi& 
That felons be kept entirely separate from debtors; men from 
women; old offenders from young beginners; and convicts 
from those who have not been tried. 

X. That all prisoners, except debtors, be clothed on their 
admission with a prison uniform, and that their own clothes 
be returned them when they are brought to trial, or are 

XI. That care be taken that the prisoners are properly 


supplied with food, and their allowance not deficient, either 
in weight or quality. 

XII. That no gaoler, or any person in trust for him, or 
employed by him, be permitted to sell any wine, beer, or other 
liquors, or permit or suffer any such to be sold in any prison; 
or on any pretence whatever, to suffer any tippling or gaming 
in the prison. 

XIII. That a proper salary be given to the gaoler, in lieu 
of the profits which he formerly derived from the tap, from 
fees, and other perquisites. 

XIV. That those prisoners who are committed to hard 
labour be not permitted to be idle, and that such other prisoners 
as are willing to work, be supplied with materials, and be 
allowed part of the profits of such work, as the act directs. 

XV. That a clergyman be appointed, with a proper salary, 
and that divine service be regularly performed on Sundays 
and holydays: that on those days no persons be allowed to 
visit the prisoners; and that such prisoners as will not attend 
divine service be locked up, and not suffered to disturb others 
while it is performed. 

XVI. That care be taken that no swearing, cursing, or 
profane conversation be permitted, that the keepers and 
turnkeys be cautioned against it, and strictly enjoined not to 
suffer the prisoners to be guilty of it. 

XVII. That cells be provided for the refractory, and night- 
rooms for solitary confinement, but that no prisoner be kept 
in any dungeon, or room under ground. 

XVIII. That a surgeon or apothecary be appointed (with 
a proper salary) to afford the necessary assistance to the sick, 
and that two rooms, one for men, and one for women, be set 
apart as infirmaries, and be furnished with proper bedding. 

XIX. That great attention be paid to what concerns the 
debtors, as it is found that that part of the management of 
our prisons has hitherto been the most neglected. 

XX. That wherever any legacies have been bequeathed, or 
any charitiable donations given for the benefit of prisoners, an 
account of the same be hung up in the prison; and that care 
be taken that the sums of money so given, be employed to the 
purposes for which they were intended by the donors. 


XXI. That agreeably to the act [1782], the keeper of 
every house of correction be obliged to deliver to the Chairman 
at the Quarter Sessions, a list of the prisoners in his custody, 
distinguishing their age and sex, and mentioning in what 
trade or business each person hath been employed, and is best 
qualified for; as also the behaviour of such person during his 
or her confinement. 

XXII. That the prisons be frequently visited, that the 
visiters take notice whether the regulations which have been 
established are observed or neglected; that a report from the 
visiters be presented to the Justices at every Sessions, and that 
these reports be taken into consideration, at least once a year, 
viz. at the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions. 

XXIII. That attention be paid to prisoners when they are 
discharged, and that, if possible, some means be pointed out 
to them, by which they may be enabled to gain a livelihood in 
an honest manner. 

(c) There were many escapes from prisons. 

Source: An account of the escape of John Shepherd, who was 
awaiting trial for burglaries in 1724 from J. Wilford (printer), 
Select Trials (1734), vol. I, p. 441. 

On Wednesday, October 14. The Sessions begun at the Old- 
Bailey; and Jack knew that the Keepers would then have so 
much Business, in attending the Court, as would leave them 
but little Leisure to visit him; and therefore thought that this 
would be the only time to make a Push for his Liberty. 

The next Day, about Two in the Afternoon, one of the 
Keepers carried Jack his Dinner, and as usual examined his 
Irons, and found all fast, and so left him. He had hardly been 
gone an Hour, before Jack went to work. The first thing he did, 
he got off his Hand-cuifs, and then with a crooked Nail, 
which he found upon the Floor, he open'd the great Padlock 
that fasten'd his Chain to the Staple. Next he twisted asunder 
a small Link of the Chain between his Legs, and drawing up 
his Feet-locks as high as he could, he made 'em fast with his 
Garters, He attempted to get up the Chimney, but had not 
advanced far, before his Progress was stopt by an Iron Bar 
that went a-cross within Side, and therefore descending, he 


fell to work on the Outside, and with a piece of his broken 
Chain pick'd out the Mortar, and removing a small Stone or 
two about six Foot from the Floor, he got out the Iron Bar, 
which was an Inch square, and near a Yard long, and this 
proved of great Service to him. He presendy made so large a 
Breach, that he got into the Red Room over the Castle, Here 
he found a great Nail which was another very useful Imple- 
ment. The Door of this Room had not been opened for 7 
Years past; but in less than 7 minutes he wrenched off the 
Lock, and got into the Entry leading to the Chappel. Here he 
found a Door bolted on the other Side, upon which he broke 
a Hole thro' the Wall, and push'd the Bolt back. Coming now 
to the Chappel-Door, he broke off one of the Iron Spikes, which 
he kept for further Use, and so got into an Entry between the 
Chappel and the lower Leads. The Door of this Entry was very 
strong, and fastened with a great Lock, and what was worse, 
the Night had overtaken him, and he was forced to work in 
the dark. However, in half an Hour, by the help of the great 
Nail, the Chappel Spike, and the Iron Bar, he forced off the 
Box of the Lock, and open'd the Door, which led him to another 
yet more difficult; for it was not only lock'd but bar'd and 
bolted. When he had try'd in vain to make this Lock and Box 
give way, he wrench'd the Fillet from the main Post of the 
Door, and the Box and Staples came off with it. And now 
Sepulchre's Chimes went Eight. There was yet another Door 
betwixt him and the lower Leads; but it being only bolted 
within Side, he open'd it easily, and mounting to the Top of 
it, he got over the Wall, and so to the upper Leads. 

His next Consideration was how to get down; for which 
Purpose looking round him, and finding the Top of the 
Turner's House adjoining to Newgate, was the most convenient 
a Place to alight upon, he resolved to decend thither; but as it 
would have been a dangerous Leap, he went back to the 
Castle the same way that he came, and fetch 'd a Blanket he 
used to lie on. This he made fast to the Wall of Newgate, with 
the Spike he stole out of the Chappel, and so sliding down, 
dropt upon the Turner's Leads, and then the Clock struck Nine. 

Luckily for him the Turner's Garret-Door on the Leads 
happen'd to be open. He went in and crept softly down one 


Pair of Stairs, when he heard Company talking in a Room 
below. His Irons giving a Clink, a Woman started, and said, 
Lord! What Noise is that? Somebody answer'd, The Dog or the 
Cat; and thereupon Skeppard returned up to the Garret, and 
having continued there above two Hours, he ventured down a 
second Time, when he heard a Gentleman take Leave of the 
Company, and saw the Maid light him down Stairs. As soon 
as the Maid came back, and had shut the Chamber-Door, he 
made the best of his way to the Strcet-Door, unlock'd it, and 
so made his Escape, about Twelve at Night. 


(a^ By the early nineteenth century, improvements in prison 
building and planning were sometimes visible. 

Source: J. J. Gurney, Notes on a Visit made to some of the Prisons in 
Scotland and the North of England (1819), pp. 94-7. 

This jail [York City] is a new, and in some respects a com- 
modious building, and is kept in a state of great cleanliness by 
George Rylah, the jailor, and his wife, who also bear the 
character of real benevolence towards their prisoners. 

There is a good day-room, and an airy court-yard for men 
and women prisoners respectively; but no further classiBcation 
is attempted. There were at this time but four criminals in 
the prison; one woman and three men. No regular provision 
exists in this jail for the employment of the prisoners; but the 
woman was engaged in needle-work; and one of the men, 
who was placed in a small room by himself, was carrying on 
the business of a watch-maker. 

The sleeping-cells were well ventilated, and the bedding 
sufficient. The allowance of food is much too scanty, consisting 
only of one pound and a half of bread and a pennyworth of 
milk per day. No firing is allowed, and clothing only in cases 
of particular necessity. The prisoners have been permitted, at 
their own request, to sleep two in a cell; but there is abundant 
accommodation for single sleeping; and we were given to 
understand that it would be enjoined for the future. The male 
criminals are ironed. 


The debtors' apartments in this prison are remarkably 
pleasant and commodious, far more so than is usually the 
case. The chaplain gives attendance twice in the week. 

The House of Correction, which we visited on the same 
day, and in company with the same gentlemen, also belongs 
to the City and Liberties of York, and is a place of confinement 
for petty offenders before trial, as well as for those who have 
been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. . . . All parts of 
[this] prison are kept in a state of much neatness and cleanliness. 

The prisoners meet for worship twice in the week. They are 
never ironed. Their allowance of food is the same as that of the 
prisoners in the jail. . . . 

A Committee of Ladies has been formed, with the sanction 
of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of York, for the purpose of 
superintending the females in the two prisons, which I have 
now described; and it may be hoped that a similar care will 
be extended over the male prisoners. When this object is 
effected, and sufficient employment provided, there will be 
little to prevent either of these prisons from becoming places 
of reform — prisons tending to the diminution of crime. 


Prison reform was merely one aspect of a new attitude to crime 
and to punishment. The posidon of debtors, indeed, encouraged 
the Society for the Discharge and Relief of Persons imprisoned for 
Small Debts (founded in 1 772) to examine general abuses, and the 
harshness (and ineffectiveness) of the laws relating to capital 
punishment led many reformers, most influenced either by religion 
or by the ideas of the Enlightenment, to urge drastic changes in 
the law. Jeremy Bentham was one reformer; Samuel Rom illy 
another. Wilberforce, too, backed their attacks on 'the barbarous 
system of hanging*. Yet the arguments of other eighteenth- century 
writers, like the philosopher clergyman, William Paley, were used 
by opponents of reform. All suggested changes were resisted, and 
the fruits of the ideas of the reformers belong to the nineteenth 

(a) Source: Letter from Samuel Romilly, 22 May 1781, printed in 
the introduction to his Speeches (1820), vol. L, p. 29. 



It [Howard's State of the Prisons] is not a book of great literary 
merit — but it has a merit infinitely superior — it is one of those 
books which have been rare in all ages of the world — being 
written with a view only to the good of mankind. The author 
. . , made a visit to every prison and house of correction in 
England with invincible perseverance and courage; for some 
of the prisons were so infected with diseases and putrid air 
that he was obliged to hold a cloth steeped in vinegar to his 
nostrils during the whole time he remained in them, and to 
change his clothes the moment he returned. After having 
devoted so much time to this painful employment here, he 
set out on a tour through a great part of Holland, Germany 
and Switzerland, to visit their prisons. What a singular 
journey ! — not to admire the wonders of art and nature — not 
to visit courts and ape their manners, — but to compare the 
misery of men in different countries, and to study the arts of 
mitigating the torments of mankind! What a contrast might 
be drawn between the painful labour of this man, and the 
ostentatious sensibility which turns aside from scenes of 
misery, and with the mockery of a few barren tears, leaves it 
to seek comfort in its own distresses. 

(b) Romilly published his Observations on the Criminal Law as it 
Relates to Capital Punishments in 1810. He received a letter from the 
distinguished Scottish economist, Dugald Stewart, a leading 
representative of the Scottish Enlightenment. 

Source: Romilly 's sons, Memoirs of the Life of Samuel Romilly (1840), 
Vol. II, p. 134. K h 

Kinneil House, June 28, 1810. 
My dear Sir, 

I have yet to thank you for the very great pleasure I 
received from your Observations on the Criminal Law of 
England. On every point which you have there touched upon, 
your reasonings carried complete conviction to my mind; 
and however unsuccessful they may have been in accomplishing 
your object in Parliament, I am satisfied that they must have 
produced a very strong impression on public opinion. I hope 
that nothing will discourage you from the prosecution of your 
arduous undertaking, in which you cannot fail to be seconded 



by the good wishes of every man of common humanity, whose 
understanding is not altogether blinded by professional or by 
political prejudices. . . . 


Statistical information about eighteenth-century crime is patchy 
and inadequate. It is possible, however, to obtain information from 
writers like Howard and Colquhoun and from early nineteenth- 
century retrospective enquiries. 

(a) Source: Parliamentary Papers, Report of the Select Committee on 
Criminal Laws (1819), pp. I35ff. (See table on p. 392.) 

(b) The following is the breakdown of the 1785 totals of 97 
executions. Note how they confirm foreigners' impressions that 
the number of murders in England was very small, far lower than 
on the continent. 

Source: Ibid,, p. 148. 

Burglary and Housebreaking 


Horse stealing 

Larceny on a navigable river 


Personating others to obtain prize money 

Robbery on the highway and other places 

Unlawfully returning from transportation 







(c) Patrick Colquhoun, a London magistrate, tried to make an 
estimate of the indigent and criminal population. 

Source: P. Colquhoun, Treatise on Indigence (1806), pp. 38-43. 

1 . Indigent persons already stated to be the objects 

of parochial relief 1 ,040, 7 1 6 

2. Mendicants, comprising indigent and distressed 
beggars, sturdy beggars, irampers, persons pre- 
tending to have been in the army and navy, lame 








































































































































































and maimed, travelling all over the country, 
and using many devices to excite compassion, 
estimated, including their children at about 

t. Vagrants, under which description are to be 
included gypsies, and another race of vaga- 
bonds who imitate their manners . . . wander- 
ing about the country with jackasses, sleeping 
in the open air under hedges, and in huts and 
tents, loving idleness better than work, and 
stealing wherever opportunities offer. . . . 

-. Idle and immoral persons, who are able to work, 
but who work only occasionally, who neglect 
their families, and either desert them totally, 
or loiter away their time idly in alehouses and 
half support them leaving the deficiency to be 
scantily made up by the parishes — this class 
of depraved characters are pretty numerous. . , 

. Lewd and immoral women, who live wholly or 
pardy by prostitution, . . . 

. Persons described in the statute of 1 7 Geo. II as 
rogues and vagabonds, comprising wandering 
players of interludes at fairs, mountebanks, stage 
dancers and tumblers . . . showmen, ballad singers, 
minstrels with hurdy gurdies and hand organs, 
etc., vagabonds with dancing bears and mon- 
keys, low gamblers with E O tables, wheels of 
fortune, and other seductive implements of 
gaming ; duffers with waistcoat pieces and other 
smuggled goods, and petty chapmen and low 
Jews . , . pretended horse dealers without licen- 
ces exposing stolen horses for sale. All these 
different classes of vagabonds visit almost 
every fair and horse-race in the country and 
live generally by fraud and deception. Foreign 
vagabonds, who also wander around the 
country, pretending to sell pictures, but who 
are also dealers in obscene books and prints, 
which they introduce into boarding schools, 








on pretence of selling prints of flowers, where- 
by the youth of both sexes are corrupted, 
while at the same time some of these wanderers 
are suspected of being employed by the 
enemy as spies, . . . 10,000 

7, Lottery vagrants, or persons employed in pro- 
curing insurances during the drawing of the 

lotteries. . . . 10,000 

8. Criminal offenders, comprising highway robbers, 
foot pad robbers, burglars, house breakers, 
pick pockets, horse stealers, sheep stealers, 
stealers of hogs and cattle, deer stealers, 
common thieves, petty thieves, occasional 

thieves who cannot resist temptations 80,000 

Total number presumed to live chiefly or 
wholly on the labour of others 1 ,320,7 16 


Going to War 

Colonel Southwell has sold his regiment for £5000 to Colonel 
Hansom of the Guards. 

(G. F. Luttrell's Diary, 12 June 1708) 

Like other amphibious animals, we must come occasionally on 

shore; but the water is more properly our element, and in it, like 

them, as we find our greatest security, so wc exert our greatest force. 

(Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, 

Idea of a Patriot King, 1749) 

Reason frowns on War's unequal game. 

(Samuel Johnson, Reason Frowns on War, 1748) 

Come cheer up, my lads, 'tis to glory we steer, 
To add something new to this wonderful year. 

(David Garrick, Harlequin's Invasion, 1759) 

The progress of wealth and the application of productive labour 
must indispose the lower orders from entering into a military life. 

(General Maitland, 1804) 


The Royal Navy was very much the senior service during the 
eighteenth century. Great pride in its achievements did not mean, 
however, that the method of recruitment by impressment was not 
extremely unpopular on occasion. There was no conscription for the 
Army, and in peace-time recruitment was by promise of bounty 
and sometimes threat of kidnapping. In time of war, bounties 
increased and magistrates were often given power to enlist idle or 
disorderly persons. The idea of a regular standing army remained 
extremely unpopular, and there was also (see below, pp. 419flT.) 
marked civilian dislike of billeting troops. 

(a) Source: Note in the Daly Courant, 4- March 1703. 



Hull, 1 March. Last week a Lieutenant came hither with a Press 
Gang, and had so good Success, that he soon Glean'd up a con- 
siderable number; but having no vessel to put them on board, he 
turn'd them into an upper Room in the Town Gaol, and on Satur- 
day they broke out through the top of the House and Escap'd. 

(b) An Apology for the life of Bttmpfylde — Moore Carew (n.d.). Carew 
was bom in 1693, the son of the Rector of Bickley, Devon. Impress- 
ment of a rough kind was used to secure merchant seamen also. 

Bampfylde then return'd back to Torrington, and calling on 
several Friends in his Way, steers direcdy for Exeter, where, 
having visited his old Friends, he leaves his Wife, and takes a 
Walk to Topsham. Alas! little did he think this Walk would end 
in a long and cruel Separation from his Friends and Country, little 
did he imagine that in the Land of Freedom and Justice, he should be 
siezed upon by the cruel Grasp of lawless Power; tho' poor he thought 
himself under the Protection of the Laws, and as such, liable to no 
Punishment till they inflicted it. How far he thought right in this 
let the Sequel tell: Going down to Topsham, and walking upon 
the Key there, enjoying the Beauties of a fine Evening medita- 
ting no Harm, and unsuspecting Danger, he was accosted 

by Merchant D -y, accompanied with several Captains 

of Vessels, in some such Words as these, Ha! Mr. Bampfylde 
you are come in a right Time, as you came Home for your own Pleasure 
you shall go over for mine. They then laid Hands on Bampfylde, 
who found it it in vain to resist, as he was overpower'd with 
Numbers, he, therefore, desir'd to be carried before some 
Magistrate, but this was not hearkened to, for they fore'd 
him aboard a Boat without the Presence or Authority of any 
Officer of Justice, not so much as suffering him to take Leave 
of Ms Wife, or acquaint her with his Misfortune, tho' he 
begg'd the Favour almost with Tears. 

(c) Report in St. James's Chronicle, 4-6 May 1790. 

The report of the number pressed in the river on Tuesday 
night was delivered to the Lords of the Admiralty yesterday 
morning, which amounted to about 1500 taken in Wapping, 
and in Southwark, &c, more than 600; amounting in the whole 
to upwards of 2100 men, besides those at the different seaport 
towns, reports of which were not received. 


Four tenders went down the river yesterday morning, 
crowded with impressed men, to be shipped on board a vessel 
of war lying in Long- reach, ready to receive them. The same 
tenders were expected up again with the return of the tide, 
upon the same errand. 

(d) Source: Recruiting Order and Notice of Bounty (1715), printed 
in C. M. Clodc, The Military Forces of the Crown (1869), vol. II, pp. 

These are to authorise you by Beat of Drum or otherwise 
to raise Volunteers in any County or part of this Our Kingdom 
of Great Britain, for a Regiment of Foot under your Command 
for Our Service, to consist of Ten Companies, of Two Ser- 
geants, Two Corporals, One Drummer, and Forty Private 
Soldiers, including the Widows' Men in each Company. 
And when you shall have listed twenty Men fit for Service in 
any of said Companies, you are to give notice to two of Our 
Justices of the Peace of the Town or County wherein the same 
are, who are hereby authorised and required to view the said 
Men and certify the day of their so doing ; from which day the 
said Twenty Men and the Commissioned and Non-Commis- 
sioncd Officers of such Companies are to enter into Our pay. 

(e) Source: A Recruiting Order of 1782, printed in M.S. Atholl 
Forbes (ed.), Curiosities of a Scots Charter Chest (1897), p. 302. 

his majesty's first royal regiment 


FOOT guards 
The greatest opportunity ever known for young Scotchmen to 
raise themselves and Families. 

Your Duty is a constant Pleasure, being only to attend and 
Guard his majesty's Person at the Palace, and to the Theatres, 
Opera-Houses, Masquerades, and Reviews of different Regi- 

When off Duty, you are under no Restraint; there is no 
Roll-calling; you may dress as you please, go where you please 
any where within 10 miles round London, and follow any 
Profession you please; which being constantly in London, is 
of great consequence to you, the Wages there being about 
three times more than anywhere else. 


Your Pay is lOd. per day, and Subsistence 4s. per week, and 
15s. a-year of queen's Bounty, with excellent Quarters, a good 
Room to yourself, with a Lock and Key, with the full Use of 
the House, Coal and Candle, and 5 Pints of choice Beer or 
good Cyder every Day, which the Landlord must furnish you 
by Act of Parliament. 

It is well known you cannot be draughted to any other 

So great an Opportunity as this cannot be supposed to last 
long; therefore, before it is too late, let all handsome young 
Men, whose Hearts beat at the Sound of the Drum, and are 
above mean Employments, inquire after the Party commanded 
by Captain dick, where you shall have the Honour of being 
made one of His majesty's own First Regiment of foot guards. 

The bounty is three guineas and a crown. 

Lads from 16 to 19 are taken 5 Feet 5 inches and an Half; 
from that to 25 years of Age, at 5 feet 6 Inches and an Half. 
N.B. The Bringer of a good Recruit shall receive one guinea, by 
applying to Serjeant smith at the Sign of the Marquis of Granby's 
Head, Lady Milton's Dike, Canongate, Edinburgh, 


During the eighteenth century, Army commissions could be 
bought for cash and were frequently held for social reasons by the 
most unsuitable persons. Discipline was often harsh, and other 
ranks were treated toughly. Punishment was severe. In the Royal 
Navy it was easier to secure promotion, given ability, and many 
eighteenth-century admirals (Hood and Nelson, for instance) 
started as midshipmen. At the same time, 'influence' was the main 
factor guiding the chances of promotion, and life at sea was often 

(a) Source : An account of the rank-and-file in the Army from The 
London Spy (1703). 

A Foot Soldier is commonly a Man, who for the sake of 
wearing a Sword, and the Honour of being term'd a Gentleman, 
is coax'd from a Handicraft Trade, whereby he might Live 
comfortably to bear Arms for his King and Country, whereby 

going to war 399 

he has the hopes of nothing but to Live Starvingly, His 
Lodging is as near Heaven as his Quarters can raise him ; and 
his Soul generally is as near Hell as a Profligate Life can sink 
him. Scars tho' got in Drunken Quarrels, he makes Badges of 
his Bravery; and tells you they were Wounds receiv'd in some 
Engagement, tho' perhaps given him for his Sawciness. He's 
one that loves Fighting no more than other Men; tho' perhaps 
a dozen of Drink and an Affront will make him draw his 
Sword, ... If he spends Twenty years in Wars, and lives to 
be Forty, perhaps he may get a Halbert; and if he Survives 
Three Score an Hospital. The best end he can expect to make 
is to Die in the Bed of Honour; and the greatest Living Marks of 
his Bravery, to recommend him at once to the World's Praise 
and Pity are Crippled Limbs, with which I shall leave him 
to beg a better Lively Hood. 

(b) Officers raised their own regiments when they could. The 
following extract describes Henry William Paget's {later Marquess 
of Anglesey) reaction to the news of the outbreak of war with 
revolutionary France in 1 793. 

.Scarce; Memorandum by Paget, quoted in The Marquess of 
Anglesey, One Leg (1961), p. 41. 

The moment I heard it, I jumped upon my horse and 
galloped to Ivy Bridge, from whence I rode post all night 
without stopping to Hertford Bridge. Then I dined and by 
chaise into London. I instantly wrote to Mr. Pitt [the Prime 
Minister] to beg to sec him. He appointed the next day. I told 
him my anxiety to raise a Regiment of Cavalry. He received me 
most kindly, but told me Cavalry was not then wanted; that 
I might raise a Battn. of Infantry and have the rank of Lieut. - 
Colonel. I instantly closed with him [and] got my father's 
leave, who generously contributed everything that was neces- 
sary to effect the object. . . . Contrary to the practice of the day, 
my father was put to great expense in raising the Regiment. 
Many Commissions were given away, which in other hands 
would have been sold. 

(c) One of the most vivid accounts of the life and duties of a 

non-commissioned officer is that of William Cobbett, who served in 
this capacity in Canada. 



Source: W. Reitzel (ed,), The Progress of a Ploughboy to a Seal in 
Parliament (1933), pp. 3 Iff, 

While I was Corporal I was made clerk to the regiment. In 
a very short time, the whole of business in that way fell into 
my hands; and, at the end of about a year, neither adjutant, 
paymaster, or quarter-master, could move an inch without 
my assistance. . . . Then 1 became Sergeant-Major to the 
regiment, which brought me into close contact at every hour, 
with the whole of the epaulet gentry, whose profound and 
surprising ignorance I discovered in a twinkling. The military 
part of the regiment's affairs fell under my care. In early life, 
[I] contracted the blessed habit of husbanding well my time. 
To this more than any other thing, I owed my very extra- 
ordinary promotion in the army, I was always ready. . . , My 
custom was this: to get up, in summer, at daylight, and in 
winter, at four o'clock ; shave, dress, even to the putting of my 
sword over my shoulder and having my sword lying on the 
table before, me, ready to hang by my side. Then I ate a bit 
of cheese, or pork, and bread. Then I prepared my report, 
which was filled up as fast as the companies brought me in the 
materials. After this I had an hour or two to read, before the 
time came for any duty out of doors, unless when the regiment 
or part of it went out to exercise in the morning. When this 
was the case, and the matter was left to me, I always had it on 
the ground in such time as that the bayonets glistened in the 
rising sun, a sight which gave me delight. ... If the officers 
were to go out, eight or ten o'clock was the hour, sweating the 
men in the heat of the day, breaking in upon the time for 
cooking their dinner, putting all things out of order and all 
men out of humour. When I was commander, the men had a 
long day of leisure before them. . . . About this time, the new 
discipline, as it was called, was sent out to us in little books, 
which were to be studied by the officers of each regiment, and 
the rules of which were to be immediately conformed to. 
Though any old woman might have written such a book; 
though it was excessively foolish from beginning to end; still, 
it was to be complied with, it ordered and commanded a total 
change. To make this change was left to me, while not a single 
officer in the regiment paid the least attention to the matter; 



so that, when the time came for the annual review, I had to 
give lectures of instruction to the officers themselves, the 
Colonel not excepted; and, for several of them, I had to make 
out, upon large cards, which they bought for the purpose, litde 
plans of the regiment, together with lists of the words of 
command, which they had to give in the field. . . . But I had 
a very delicate part to act with those gentry; for, while I 
despised them for their gross ignorance and their vanity, and 
hated them for their drunkenness and rapacity, I was fully 
sensible of their power. 

(d) Cobbett's attitudes may well have been quite distinctive. More 
frequendy, officers complained about the inferiority of their men. 
Wellington's despatches, for instance, reveal how difficult it was to 
control other ranks in the Army; the extract which follows shows 
how reluctant some other ranks were to serve. 

Source: Letter to Viscount Castlereagh, 31 May 1809, printed in 
J. Gurwood, Selection from Wellington's Despatches (1841), p. 263. 

The army behaved terribly ill. They are a rabbble who cannot 
bear success any more than Sir J. Moore's army could bear 
failure. I am endeavouring to tame them; but if I should not 
succeed, I must make an official complaint of them, and send 
one or two corps home in disgrace. They plunder in all directions. 

(e) On the social distinctions between officers and men in the Royal 
Navy and the relations between them, there is a prodigious litera- 
ture. The following extract dealing with the last part of the period 
covered in this book has more general reference: it refers to 'social 
space' on a frigate, not one frigate, but, in the author's words, to 
'all the frigates that ever were built, or ever will'. 

Source: Passage in the Navy at Home (1831) quoted by C. N. 
Parkinson, Portsmouth Point (1948), an indispensable book for 
further reading. 

The deck then was just five feet five inches high to the beams 
... by some thirty-six or forty feet wide from side to side, and 
required a sort of reverential position when walking. . . . Those 
next the main-mast (opposite to which was situate the berth, 
parlour or drawing-room of the mids) might be seen thick- 
studded with the hats and belts of the marines in all stages of 



pipe-claying polishing, and brushing, together with their other 
accoutrements, dangling in mid air from their batons, while the 
soldiers themselves filled up the space beneath, busy as bees in 
the said operation; two exact rows of hanging tables garnished 
either side; and the rest of more irregular jacks filled up a 
confused distance into the very bows. Opposite the table of the 
marines lay a gulf called the main hatchway — this yawned 
terrible, displaying huge cables coiled in their tiers, and winding 
upwards to daylight ... in the middle, amidships, just before 
the spot, stood, filing and hammering, two grim personages, 
who might have passed for a pair of the cyclops. . . . Im- 
mediately behind all this, and on the opposite side, balancing 
the parlour of the midshipmen, lay constructed the cabin of the 
captain's steward — a person of infinite consequence. . . . Behind 
this temple, on the same side, lived two quiet creatures, of 
little note in the neighbourhood, and considered a couple of 
old bores by the whole set of bloods . . , the gunner and the 
carpenter of the ship — warrant officers and men of note and 
authority on deck, but wholly insignificant at home. . . . They 
never gained ground . . . except [with] the good-natured 
scribe Toby, considered an amphibious animal whose bureau or 
office, lay exactly opposite, and separated only from the mids 

by the cabin of the boatswain We have now comprehended 

the whole of the steerage — of that space included between 
the hallowed partition, or bulkhead, which separated the awful 
cabins of the lieutenants, and the foremost verge of the mids, 
and captain's stewards' cabins on each side, between which 
came down in mighty volume, the mainmast, and all the 
pumps, great shores or stanchions, etc., forming a sort of thick 
wood or forest — the scene of many skirmishes between the 
belligerents in night attacks. 

(g) There are many pictures of captains. The following extract 
satirically describes an early eighteenth-century captain. 

Source; Ned Ward, The Wooden World Dissected (1706). 

He's a Leviathan, or rather a Kind of Sea God, whom the 
poor Tars worship as the Indians do the Devil, more through 

Fear than Affection The great Cabin in the Sanctum 

Sanctorum he inhabits; from this all Mortals are excluded by a 


Marine, with a brandish'd Sword. ... It must be a great 
change of Weather indeed, when he deigns to walk the Quarter- 
Deck; for such a Prostitution of his Presence, he thinks, weakens 
his Authority, and makes his Worship less reverene'd by the 
Ship's Crew. , . , Once in a Moon, he invites some Marine 
Lieutenant to taste of his Bounty; but the poor Gentleman 
finds his Dinner bestow'd rather as a Charity than an honour- 
able Entertainment for upon his Entry he finds him aforehand 
seated at Table, with as stiff an Air, as if he expected your 
coming to kiss his Toe, for no Pope on Earth can look greater. 


The extracts which follow do no more than pick out certain 
aspects of military and naval service, emphasizing contrasts of 
experience — boredom and valour; comfort and hardship; security 
and danger. They are supplemented by extracts in later sections, 
dealing with specific campaigns. 

(a) Source: An account of the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich 
in the Diary of Sophie in London, in 1786, pp. 250rT. 

To-day we went to Greenwich. ... At the outset the weather 
was lovely, but changed to heavy rain during the journey, so 
that there was a dense curtain of fog on both sides of the coach. 
. . . To our joy it cleared up a little around Greenwich, so 
that the majestic pile was visible from afar, rising sheer above 
quantities of ships' masts; but when we alighted it began 
raining again, so that my walk through the great peristyle 
was spoiled. 

The six buildings of this hospital, which stand detached, 
facing the Thames, are not only large and extensive in character, 
but of grand and noble structure, creating the impression of 
summer palaces, which so many great lords had planned to 
build here, rather than of a residence of sick sailors. 

The glorious river, where battleships and merchantmen, 
built in the neighbouring Deptford, always He at anchor, and 
the Woolwich cannon foundry adjacent, must bring back to 
the two thousand old seamen supported here pleasant memories 


of early days, about which they spin yarns to the one hundred 
and forty boys being trained for marine service. 

Their dormitories are very pleasant; large, light and lofty, 
with cubicles containing glass windows on the side, where 
each has his own bed, small table, chair, wardrobe, tea and 
smoking outfit which he can lock up. No humanitarian with 
a philosophical turn of mind could be indifferent to the way 
in which they decorate their cubicles: a number of them have 
sea and land charts, with the voyages they have made marked 
out on them, or spots where storms have been overcome or 
battles fought, where they have lost an arm or a leg, or con- 
quered an enemy ship, and so on; others have stuck figures of 
every nationality on cardboard, others of strange beasts in 
foreign lands, while a number have collected books in several 
languages with which they amuse themselves. . . . 

Everything is spotless. Each man has two white shirts 
weekly, and a hundred and four women are employed to do 
the laundry and keep the place clean. 

(b) A letter from the Lower Deck (1805), printed in C. Lloyd (ed.), 
The Englishman and The Sea (1946), pp. 121-2. 

Honoured Father, 

This comes to tell you I am alive and hearty except three 
fingers; but that's not much, it might have been my head. 
I told brother Tom I should like to see a great battle, and 
I have seen one, and we have peppered the Combined rarely 
(off Trafalgar) ; and for the matter of that, they fought us 
pretty tightish for French and Spanish. Three of our mess are 
killed, and four more of us winged. But to tell you the truth of 
it, when the game began, I wished myself at Warnborough 
with my plough again ; but when they had given us one duster, 
and I found myself snug and tight, I set to in good earnest, 
and thought no more about being killed than if I were at 
Murrell Green Fair, and I was presendy as busy and as black 
as a collier. How my fingers got knocked overboard I don't 
know, but off they are, and I never missed them till I wanted 
them. You see, by my writing, it was my left hand, so I can 
write to you and fight for my King yet. We have taken a 
rare parcel of ships, but the wind is so rough we cannot bring 



them home, else I should roll in money, so we are busy smashing 
'em, and blowing 'cm up wholesale. 

Our dear Admiral Nelson is killed ! so we have paid pretty 
sharply for licking 'cm, I never set eyes on him, for which I 
am both sorry and glad; for, to be sure, I should like to have 
seen him — but then, all the men in our ship who have seen 
him are such soft toads, they have done nothing but blast their 
eyes, and cry, ever since he was killed, God bless you! chaps 
that fought like the devil, sit down and cry like a wench. 

(c) Early scenes of army life began, as in the twentieth century, 
with a visit to the barber, but the recruits were much younger. 

Source: J. Shipp, Memoirs of the Military Career of John Shipp (1843). 

On the following morning I was taken to a barber's, and 
deprived of my curly brown locks. My hair curled beautifully, 
but in a minute my poor little head was nearly bald, except 
a small patch behind, which was reserved for a future operation. 
I was then paraded to the tailor's shop, and deprived of my 
new clothes — coat, leathers, and hat — for which I received in 
exchange, red jacket, red waistcoat, red pantaloons, and red 
foraging-cap. The change, or metamorphosis, was so complete, 
that I could scarcely imagine it to be the same dapper little 
fellow. I was exceedingly tall for a boy of ten years of age; 
but, notwithstanding this, my clothes were much too large, my 
sleeves were two or three inches over my hands, or rather 
longer than my fingers; and the whole hung on me, to use a 
well-known expression, like a purser's shirt on a handspike. 
My pride was humbled, my spirits dropped, and I followed the 
drum-major, hanging my head like a felon going to the place 
of execution. 

(d) If that was how army life began, it could end with a different 
kind of misery. 

Source: Petition from the Essex Justices to Lord Godolphin, 1709, 

printed in Edwards (ed.), English History from Essex Sources, (1952), 
vol. I, p. 128. 

During the war with France many poor, sick, lame, maimed 
and disabled soldiers have been weekly brought over in the 
packet-boats from Holland to Harwich, which have been 


relieved and conveyed with horses, carts and waggons from 
there to Bow in the County of Middlesex, being about three 
score miles. The charges of relieving and conveying these 
passengers hath been annually so very great that the monies 
yearly raised in the said county, pursuant to the said statutes, 
have not been sufficient to bear the charge. ... We petitioners 
humbly pray that such future provision may be made for 
relief and conveying such poor soldier passengers as should be 
necessary for their subsistence. 


So long as there were disputes about the Hanoverian succession 
to the throne, there was always a threat to national stability from 
inside the country. The last great Stuart challenge reached its 
climax with an invasion of England (on 'Black Friday' the Prince 
reached Derby) and ended with the savage battle of Gulloden in 
April 1 746. In the late century there were threats of a different 
kind from Ireland (the United Irishmen's Rebellion, 1 798), and in 
1803 as in 1759, there was an invasion threat to England itself, 
which never materialized. 

(a) Source: A letter of 16 April 1746 in the Mildmay Archives, 
printed in English History from Essex Sources, Edwards (ed.), vol. I, 
p. 147. 

The Duke attacked near Culloden House, which is a small 
distance from Inverness. The rebels were upwards of 8,000 
men, the King's army not exceeding 7,000. The rebels made 
a furious attack on one wing of the King's army, but that not 
succeeding they immediately turned their back and fled with 
the utmost precipitation. Of them there was killed and taken 
prisoners about 4,000; on the King's side not one hundred men 
killed. By my Lord Robert Ker, brother to my Lord Ancram, 
was there killed gallantly for the King and in defence and the 
laws and liberties of his country. So fell the handsomest and 
finest young fellow in Great Britain by the hands of the 
execrable villains. The same day my Lord Ancram killed four 
of my rebels with his own hand, and had his pistol at the head 
of my Lord Kilmarnock, who fell down on his knees and 
begged his life, so he took him prisoner. 



(b) Punishment of the Stuart supporters in 1745 and 1746 was 
harsh, and a patriotic note was struck in all the broadsides. 

Source : 'A New Song', printed in A. S. Turberville, English Men 
and Manners in the Eighteenth Century (1929), p. 37. 

He [Cumberland] cross'd the River Spey 

a battle did Ensue 

but few were left alive 

Rebellion to pursue. . . . 

Now Peace and Plenty 

amongst us all will Reign, 

In spite of a Pretender, Dupe 

to France and Spain, 

French Soupes we do dispise 

it suitcth not our blood, 

Brown bear and good rost beef 

is holsomc British food 

(c) At the time of the Irish Rebellion, there was perhaps a little 
more evidence of compassion. 

Source; G. B., Narrative of a Private Soldier in one of His Majestfs 
Regiments of Foot (1819). 

As our regiment had not been in the country during the 
outbreaking of the rebellion, we had received no injury to 
provoke our resentment The only loss the regiment sus- 
tained during this service, occurred one morning, when we were 
pursuing a body of rebels among the mountains. One of our men 
having fallen behind through weakness, was met by two or 
three rebels in women's clothes, carrying pails of milk on their 
heads, as if returning from milking. They offered him a drink, 
and while he was drinking, one of them seized his musket, and 
after threatening to kill him, they allowed him to proceed to 
the regiment, with the loss of his musket and ammunition. 
The sight of so many houses and villages, and parts of towns, 
burned and destroyed, and the great number of women and 
children who were in a destitute state, because their husbands 
and fathers were either gone with the rebels, or were fled for 
safety, touched most powerfully the sensi bib ties of our hearts, 
and diffused a feeling of generous sympathy through the 



regiment. It so happened at that time, that we had newly 
received a more than ordinary balance of arrears of pay, so 
that every man was in possession of money, less or more ; and 
although we were very fond of milk, because we had been living 
long on salt provisions, before our arrival in Ireland, yet there 
were none, who would accept of a draught of milk for nothing, 
but would pay its price. And if the people of the house would 
not take payment, they would give the value of what milk 
they received, to the children. 

(d) The threat of invasion of England in 1803 produced far sharper 
and more primitive reactions. Patriotism was everywhere the order 
of the day. 

Source; Handbill in the British Museum collection of squibs, 
printed in J. Ashton, The Dawn of the Nineteenth Century in England 
(1906), pp. 80-1. 

Fellow citizens, Bonaparte threatens to invade us; he 
promises to enrich his soldiers with our property, to glut their 
lust with our Wives and Daughters. To incite his Hell Hounds 
to execute his vengence, he has sworn to permit everything. 
Shall we Merit by our Cowardice the titles of sordid Shop- 
keepers, Cowardly Scum, and Dastardly Wretches, which in 
every proclamation he gives us? No! we will loudly give him 
the lie: let us make ourselves ready to shut our Shops, and 
march to give him the reception his malicious calumnies 
deserve. Let every brave young fellow instantly join the Army 
or Navy; and those among us who, from being married, or so 
occupied in business, cannot,, let us join some Volunteer 
Corps, where wc may learn the use of arms, and yet attend 
our business. Let us encourage recruiting in our neighbourhood, 
and loudly silence the tongues of those whom Ignorance or 
Defection (if any such there be) lead them to doubt of the 
attempt to invade or inveigh against the measures taken to 
resist it. By doing this, and feeling confidence in ourselves, 
we shall probably prevent the attempt. 




There were many battles in Europe in the eighteenth century 
even after Marlborough's campaigns were over and a reaction had 
set in against far-reaching European commitments. 

(a) Source. -An account of the battle of Dettingen (1743) by James 
Wolfe in a letter to his father. This was the last battle in which a 
British king (George II) took part. Printed in C. H. Gardiner, 
Centurions of a Century (1910), 

Hochst,4July 1743 
This is the first time I have been able, or have had the least 

time to write The fatigue I had the day we faugh t, and 

the day after, made me very much out of order, and I was 
obliged to keep to my tent for two days. Bleeding was a great 
service to me, and I am now as weD as ever. The enemy was 
drawn out this se'n night between a wood and the river, near a 
little village called Dettingen, in five lines— two of foot and 
three of horse. The cannons on both sides began to ply about 
till one o'clock in the morning, and we were exposed to the 
fire of them (said to be above fifty pieces) for near three hours, 
a great part of which planked us terribly from the other side 
of the water. The French were all the while drawn up in sight 
of this side. About twelve o'clock we marched towards them; 
they advanced likewise, and, as near as I can guess, the fight 

began about one [There were three attacks.] The third and 

last attack was made by the Foot on both sides. We advanced 
towards one another, our men in high spirits, and very im- 
patient for fighting, being elated with beating the French 
Horse, part of which advanced towards us, while the rest 
attacked our Horse, but were driven back by the great fire we 
gave them. The Major and I {for we had neither Colonel nor 
Lt-Colonel) before they came near, were employed in begging 
and ordering the men not to fire at too great a distance, but to 
keep it if the enemy should come near us; but to little purpose. 
. . . [Eventually] the French . . . marched close to us in sore 
disorder and made us give way a little, particularly ours and 
two or three more regiments, which were in the hottest of it. 
However, we soon rallied again, and attacked them with great 
fury, which gained us a complete victory and forced the enemy 



to leave in great haste. . . . His Majesty was in the midst of 
the fight; and the Duke behaved as bravely as a man could do. 
He had a musket shot through the calf of his leg. I had several 
times the honour of speaking with him just before the battle 
began and was often afraid of his being dashed to pieces by 
cannon balls. He gave his orders with a great deal of calmness, 
and seemed quite unconcerned. The soldiers were in high 
delight to have him near them, ... I sometimes thought that 
I had lost poor Neb when I saw arms, legs and heels cut off 
close by him. He is called the 'old Soldier' and very deservedly. 
. . , They talk of a second battle soon. . . . Your dutiful and 
affectionate son, J. Wolfe. 

(b) The most prolonged fighting in Europe was carried on during 
the bitter struggle against Napoleon, which ended at Waterloo. 

Source : An account of a campaign in the Peninsular War by a 
young soldier, Kincaid, printed in W. H. Fitchett (ed.), Wellington's 
Men, Some Soldier Autobiographies (1900), pp. 49ff. 

March 15 [1811] — We overtook the enemy a little before 
dark this afternoon. They were drawn up behind the Ceira, at 
Fez d'Aronce, with their rearguard, under Marshal Ney, 
imprudently posted on our side of the river, a circumstance 
which Lord Wellington took immediate advantage of; and, 
by a furious attack, dislodged them in such confusion that they 
blew up the bridge before half of their own people had time 
to get over. Those who were thereby left behind, not choosing 
to put themselves to the pain of being shot, took to the river, 
which received them so hospitably that few of them ever 
quitted it. 

About the middle of the action, I observed some inexperi- 
enced light troops rushing up a deep roadway to certain 
destruction, and ran to warn them out of it, but I only arrived 
in time to partake the reward of their indiscretion, for I was 
instantly struck with a musket-ball above the left ear, which 
deposited me at full length in the mud. 

I know not how long I lay insensible, but, on recovering, 
my first feeling was for my head, to ascertain if any part of it 
was still standing, for it appeared to me as if nothing remained 
above the mouth; but, after repeated applications of all my 



fingers and thumbs to the doubtful parts, I at length proved to 
myself satisfactorily, thatit had rather increased than diminished 
by the concussion; and jumping on my legs, and hearing, by 
the whistling of the balls from both sides, that the rascals who 
had got me into the scrape had been driven back and left me 
there, I snatched my cap, which had saved my life, and which 
had been spun off my head to the distance of ten or twelve 
yards, and joined them a short distance in the rear, when one 
of them, a soldier of the 60th, came and told me that an officer 
of ours had been killed a short time before, pointing to the 
spot where I myself had fallen, and that he had tried to take 
his jacket off, but that the advance of the enemy had prevented 
him. I told him that I was the one that had been killed, and 
that I was deucedly obliged to him for his kind intentions, 
while I felt still more so to the enemy for their timely advance, 
otherwise, I have no doubt, but my friend would have taken a 
fancy to my trousers also, for I found that he had absolutely 
unbuttoned my jacket. 

There is nothing so gratifying to frail mortality as a good 
dinner when most wanted and least expected. It was perfectly 
dark before the action finished, but, on going to take advantage 
of the fires which the enemy had evacuated, we found their 
kettles in full operation, and every man's mess of biscuit lying 
beside them, in stockings, as was the French mode of carrying 
them ; and it is needless to say how unceremoniously we pro- 
ceeded to do the honours of the feast. . . . 

(d) Kincaid was present also at Waterloo. 

Source : Account of the last stages of the battle in ibid. pp. 134ff. 

I shall never forget the scene which the field of battle pre- 
sented about seven in the evening. I felt weary and worn out, 
less from fatigue than anxiety. Our division, which had stood 
upwards of five thousand men at the commencement of the 
battle, had gradually dwindled down into a solitary line of 
skirmishers. The 27th Regiment were lying literally dead, in 
square, a few years behind us. My horse had received another 
shot through the leg, and one through the flap of the saddle, 
which lodged in his body, sending him a step beyond the 
pension-list. The smoke still hung so thick about us that we 


could see nothing, I walked a little way to each flank, to 
endeavour to get a glimpse of what was going on ; but nothing 
met my eye except the mangled remains of men and horses, 
and I was obliged to return to my post as wise as I went. 

I had never yet heard of a battle in which everybody was 
killed; but this seemed likely to be an exception, as all were 
going by turns. We got excessively impatient under the tame 
similitude of the later part of the process, and burned with 
desire to have a last thrust at our respective vis-a-vis; for how- 
ever desperate our affairs were, we still had the satisfaction of 
seeing that theirs were worse. . . . 

Presently a cheer, which we knew to be British, commenced 
far to the right, and made every one prick up his ears — it was 
Lord Wellington's long-wished- for orders to advance; it 
gradually approached, growing louder as it drew near — we 
took it up by instinct, charged through the hedge down upon 
the old knoll, sending our adversaries flying at the point of the 
bayonet. Lord Wellington galloped up to us at the instant, 
and our men began to cheer him; but he called out, 'No 
cheering my lads, but forward, and complete your victory!' 

This movement had carried us clear of the smoke; and, to 
people who had been for so many hours enveloped in darkness, 
in the midst of destruction, and naturally anxious about the 
result of the day, the scene which now met the eye conveyed a 
feeling of more exquisite gratification than can be conceived. 
It was a fine summer's evening, just before sunset. The French 
were flying in one confused mass. British lines were seen in 
close pursuit, and in admirable order, as far as the eye could 
reach to the right, while the plain to the left was filled with 
Prussians. The enemy made one last attempt at a stand on the 
rising ground to our right of La Belle Alliance; but a charge 
from General Adams's brigade again threw them into a state 
of confusion, which was now inextricable, and their ruin was 
complete. Artillery, baggage, and everything belonging to 
them fell into our hands. After pursuing them until dark, we 
halted about two miles beyond the field of battle, leaving the 
Prussians to follow up the victory. 

This was the last, the greatest, and the most uncomfortable 
heap of glory that I ever had a hand in ... . We were, take 



us all in all, a very bad army. Our foreign auxiliaries, who 
constituted more than half of our numerical strength, with 
some exceptions, were little better than a raw militia— a body 
without a soul. . . . 

If Lord Wellington had been at the head of his old Peninsula 
army, I am confident that he would have swept his opponents 
off the face of the earth immediately after their first attack; 
but, with such a heterogeneous mixture under his command, 
he was obliged to submit to a longer day. 

The field of battle next morning presented a frightful scene 
of carnage; it seemed as if the world had tumbled to pieces 
and three-fourths of everything destroyed in the wreck. 


Despite the loss of American colonies in the wars which ended 
in 1783, Britain added substantially to her overseas possessions in 
the eighteenth century. Both soldiers and sailors had to fight in 
strange conditions, often against strange foes, sometimes against 
European adversaries. 

(a) Source; Memoirs of the Sergeant-Major of General Hopson's 
Grenadiers, printed in the Appendix of Part II of A. G. Doughty, 
The Siege of Quebec and ike Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1901). 

8 July 1759. The 8th, we landed on Quebeck-Shore, without 
any Interception, and marched up the River about two Miles; 
when the Louisbourg Grenadiers being order'd out to get 
Fascines, they had scarce set down to take a small Refreshment, 
and detach'd a small Party of Rangers to guard the Skirts of 
the Wood, before a large party of Indians surrounded them, 
kill'd and scalp'd 13, wounded the Captain-Lieutenant and 
9 Privates; they likewise kill'd and wounded 14 of the Royal 
American, wounded 2 of the 22d and one of the 40th Regiment: 
we got only 3 Prisoners, and kill'd 2 of the Savages. 

(b) Campaigns in India took place on both a large and a small 

Source: J. Shipp, Memoirs of the Military) Career of John Skipp (1843). 

About the 18th of December [1804] we took up a position 



before the fort of Deig, and in two days after broke ground 
against it. The two companies to which I belonged led the 
column, carrying tools for working. The night was as dark as 
pitch, and bitterly cold. Secrecy was the great object of our 
mission, and we slowly approached the vicinity of the fort, 
steering our course towards a small village about eight hundred 
yards from the spot, where we halted under shelter from their 
guns. This village had been set on fire two days before, and its 
inmates compelled to take shelter in the fort. Small parties 
were dispatched in search of eligible ground for trenches, and 
within breaking distance. I was dispatched alone through the 
desolate village to see what was on the other side. I was yet 
but a novice in soldiering, and ... I bad no great fancy for 
this job; but an order could not be disobeyed; so off I marched, 
my ears extended wide to catch the most distant sound. I 
struck into a wide street, and, marching on tiptoe, passed two 
or three solitary bullocks, who were dying for want of food. 
These startled me for the moment, but not another creature 
could I sec. I at one time thought I heard voices, and that I 
could see a blue light burning on the fort, from which I inferred 
that I was getting pretty close to it. Just as I had made up my 
mind that this must be the case, I distinctly heard a voice 
calling out 'Khon hie' in English, 'Who is there? 1 I was 
riveted to the spot, and could not move till the words were 
repeated ; when I stole behind one of the wings of a hut close 
on my right. Soon afterwards I heard the same man say, 'Quoi 
tak mea ne deckah' which is 'I am sure I saw somebody'. 
Another voice answered 'Guddah, Hogah', which signifies 
* A Jackass, I suppose', for there were several wandering about. 
I fully agreed with the gentleman who spoke last, but I was 
determined to throw off the appellation as quickly as possible, 
as endeavoring to find my way back ... I can venture to say 
that I never ran so fast before in my life. 


War had many hazards — sickness as well as wounds, imprison- 
ment as well as death. It also had prizes, particularly for sailors, 
and bounties were offered to persuade men to join the Army. 


(a) Source : S. Ancell, A Circumstantial Journal of the Long and Tedious 
Blockade of Gibraltar, from the Twelfth of September, 1779, to the Third 
Day of February, 1783. 

Yesterday and today they fired incessantly. Our batteries 
made but a trifling return, as it is almost madness to fire at 
their works, they being so thickly covered with sand, that our 
shot finds very little penetration. The enemy continue firing, 
and seem determined if possible, to batter down all our works. 
. . . We are really in a dismal situation — between the land and 
sea fire, we scarce dare close our eyes. On your part you must 
not expect correct letters, the hurry of times, the noise of 
mortars, howitzers, cannon and the busting of shells, render 
the mind so confused that it would be a task ; let it suffice that 
I am alive; That shot and shells are my near companions, 
that smoke, and wounded brothers, soldiers, arc constantly 
in view; that we have heavy duty, hard watchings, and little 
rest; that our comforts are groans, that our nightly repose is 
turned to harassing alarms, that our pastimes are destruction, 
that every hour, we or the enemy are inventing some horrid 
strategem; and that the next we behold each other plunged 
thereby into the most excruciating anguish. 

(b) G, B., Narrative of a Private Soldier in one of His Majesty's Regi- 
ments of Foot (1819). [G.B. was fighting at this time in Egypt.] 

The part of my wound where the ball entered healed in 
about sixteen days; but the part where it was extracted became 
inflamed, and the foot and ankle swelled considerably. I was 
suspicious that the dirty water with which it was sometimes 
washed was the occasion of the inflammation. An erroneous 
opinion was entertained, that salt water would smart the wounds ; 
and as fresh water was not in plenty on board the ship, only a 
small quantity of it was allowed for washing them. ... By the 
end of three weeks, my wound began to mortify. I was then put 
into a boat to be taken to the hospital at Aboukir, along with a 
number more whose cases were considered bad. Two were so 
weak that they were unable to sit, and were laid upon gratings 
in the bottom of the boat; one of them died before we reached 
the shore, and the other died upon the beach. These cases 
made little impression upon my mind; death was becoming 


familiar to me, and I looked at it with a careless indifference. 

(c) Source: A Captain in the Navy, The Life of a Sailor (1832), quoted 
in C. N. Parkinson, Portsmouth Point (1948), p. 112. 

We were cruising off the coast of Italy and had been very un- 
successful in the way of captures; our martial ardour, or empty 
pockets, had called into existence the desire of glory or gain. 
No doubt glory is a very fine thing but honour will not mend a 
broken leg, whereas gain will pay the apothecary's bill. I 
merely mention this, because we hear a great deal about honour 
and glory, and such like, and no one is candid enough to say 
that lucre — vile, filthy lucre, has anything to do with the 
business; but we 'sea attorneys* know better. I have known the 
prize-money shared in imagination, previous to the capture, 
and honour and glory never mentioned in the calculation. 


Just as there were many signs of conflict in eighteenth-century 
society, so there were many examples of mutiny at sea and distur- 
bances in the army. The most important of these were the Naval 
Mutinies at Spiihead and the Nore in 1797. 

(a) Source; Report in The Times, 13 Dec. 1794. 

The mutiny which existed several days on board the Culloden 
of 74 guns, and which, it is said, originated in the wish of the 
crew to have the ship docked, previous to her sailing for 
the West Indies, was, on Wednesday, settled by an order from 
the Admiralty in the following manner : — 'Thatseveral Captains 
were to go on board and inform the crew, unless they immediately 
returned to their duty, the Royal George of 110 guns, and Queen of 
98 guns, would directly be laid alongside them.' They were 
allowed half an hour to consider the matter. The officers, and 
others, who chose to leave the ship, were at liberty so to do. 
The ship's company several times wanted to make terms, which 
could not possibly be complied with: in about twenty minutes 
they all agreed to return to their duty; 12 of the ringleaders 
were instantly seized, and put in irons, and will no doubt be 
tried by a Court Martial for the same. During the time the 



ship was in this mutinous state, the crew flogged several marines 
because they would not join them, and would have punished 
the whole, had they gone below. 

(b) Source: Report in the Annual Register (1797). 

The suppression of the disturbances among the seamen at 
Portsmouth, without recurring to violent measures, and by 
granting their petitions, occasioned universal satisfaction, and 
it was hoped that the causes of their discontent being thus 
effectually removed, no further complaints would arise to 
spread alarm throughout the nation. But these reasonable 
expectations were in a short time wholly disappointed by a 
fresh mutiny that broke out in the fleet at the Nore, on the 
twenty-second of May. 

The crews on that day took possession of their respective 
ships, elected delegates to preside over them, and to draw up 
a statement of their demands, and transmit them to the lords 
of the admiralty. . . . 

The principal person at the head of this mutiny was one 
Richard Parker, a man of good natural parts, and some 
education, and of a remarkably bold and resolute character. 
Admiral Buckner, the commanding officer at the Nore, was 
directed by the lords of the admiralty to inform the seamen, 
that their demands were totally inconsistent with the good 
order and regulations necessary to be observed in the navy, 
and could not for that reason be complied with; but that on 
returning to their duty, they would receive the king's pardon 
for their breach of obedience. To this offer Parker replied by a 
declaration, that the seamen had unanimously determined to 
keep possession of the fleet, until the lords of the admiralty 
had repaired to the Nore, and redressed the grievances which 

had been laid before them [Eventually] Parker was seized 

and imprisoned, and after a solemn trial, that lasted three days, 
on board of the Neptune, he was sentenced to death. He suffered 
with great coolness and intrepidity, acknowledging the justice 
of his sentence, and expressing his hope, that mercy might be 
extended to his associates. But it was judged necessary to make 
public examples of the principal and most guilty, who were 
accordingly tried, and, after full proof of their criminality, 


condemned and executed. Others were ordered to be whipped; 
but a considerable number remained under sentence of death 
till after the great victory obtained, over the Dutch fleet, by 
Admiral Duncan: when his majesty sent a general pardon to 
those unhappy men; who were, at that period, confined on 
board a prison ship in the river Thames. 

(c) Source: Report in The Times, 31 July 1799. 

lewes. — Last week the Volunteers for regular Service from 
the Derby, Westminster, North Gloucester, and Surrey regi- 
ments of Militia, marched into this town, from their respective 
stations, on their routes to the grand depot, at Horsham, The 
large bounties which these men have received, enable them to 
keep up a scene of drunkenness, and insubordination, which it is 
very difficult to restrain. After parade here, on Saturday evening, 
Sir Joseph Mawbey, and other Officers, commanding the 
Surrey Volunteers, were compelled to have recource to their 
drawn swords, to enforce order, and maintain their command, 
which was for some time powerfully resisted, on their ordering 
a man to the guard -house. And, on dismissing the parade, 
yesterday evening, a similar disturbance took place. No 
swords were then drawn, but the clamour demanded the 
interference of General Hulse, who, in consequence, ordered 
out a piquet guard of infantry, and a patrole of horse, by 
which tranquillity was restored, and preserved. Others who 
have passed through this town, in their drunken frolics, dis- 
tinguished themselves by swallowing Bank-notes between slices 
of bread and butter, and lighting their pipes with them, to the 
no small advantage of the Bankers. 


The Revolution of 1688 established a standing army, yet English- 
men were loath to admit it. Billeting of troops was usually unpopular, 
and there were many petitions against the presence of soldiers, even 
in war time. 

(a) Source: Report in the Journab of the House of Commons (1759), 
vol. XXVIII, p. 600. 


A Petition of the Inn keepers and Public-house Keepers 

within the City of Winchester, and Suburbs of the said City, 
was presented to the House, and read; complaining of the 
several Hardships, which the Petitioners allege they have 
laboured under ever since the French Prisoners came there; and 
alleging, that not less than Twenty-six Public Houses, in the 
said City and Suburbs, have lately given off, on Account of 
having so great a Number of Soldiers quartered in the said 
City and Suburbs as have been necessary to guard the said 
Prisoners, which has reduced the Number of Public Houses to 
Four Inns and Thirty-two small Public Houses; and further 
alleging, that the Petitioners, if not speedily redressed, must 
be obliged to give up their Houses, or be totally ruined; and 
that the Petitioners apprehend, that, if the Soldiers necessary 
to guard the said French Prisoners were put into Barracks in 
the Palace there, where the Petitioners are informed there is 
sufficient Room for that Purpose, it would be, as they are 
advised, the most speedy and effectual Method to remedy their 
great Grievances: And therefore the Petitioners implore the 
House to take their hard Case under Consideration, and give 
them such Relief in the Premises as the House shall think 

Ordered, That the said Petition do he upon the Table. 

(b) The events of 1745 continued to cast their shadow late in the 

Source: Note in C. B. Andrews (ed.), Tfu Torrington Diaries (1935), 
vol. II, p. 62. 

This town [Preston] is over run by the drunken militia: . . . 
being brought from home to be let loose upon their country 
men in fights, and insults, of which we saw various instances, — 
as well as their {steady) Rollcalling!! — 

Being in all the distress that idleness and a great town oc- 
casion, we had only to saunter about the streets, where I made 
much enquiry about the Pretenders abode here in 1745; and 
enter'd the house, and saw the parlour where in these hasty, 
misguided adventurers quarell'd so fiercely, before their 
return. To me it appears strange that in a bad season he 
should suffer his whole army to march on foot; and did not 


press the country for horses — for their forward march — or 
quick retreat — : but probably the want of breeches, and ignor- 
ance of riding, might prevent it. 

They still speak of the rudeness of this army, and of their 
plunder of the town. 


The number of people taking part in eighteenth-century wars 
was small, and most Englishmen had to register to news coming 
from great distances. Here are a few reactions. News from America 
influenced the whole pattern of eighteenth-century politics. 

(a) Source: Note for 5 May 1765 in the Diary of Thomas Turner. 

This was the day appointed by authority for a general 
thanksgiving for the late peace. No service at our church in 
the morn, Mr. Porter being on a journey. We have had no 
kind of rejoicing in this place, tho' it is the day for the 
proclamation of peace. I think almost everyone seems to be 
dissatisfied with this peace, thinking it an ignominious and 
inglorious one. 

(b) Source: Letter from Henry Shiffner to George Shiffner, 25 
October 1777 in the Shiffner MSS, 964, East Sussex Record Office. 

We are in daily expectation of important News from America. 
Reports say that there has been a General Engagement & 
that the Rebels have been totally defeated & Washington 
killed, but till we have it under the Authority of the Gazette, 
there is no dependence on the truth of Report. Our Frigates 
have taken several foreign ships laden with Ammunition & I 
believe have orders to take all they meet with suspected of 
being destined for America. . . . 

(c) There were many crides of war. 

Source: Josiah Tucker, Seventeen Sermons (1 776). 

The love of country hath no place in the catalogue of Christian 
virtues. The love of country is, in fact, a local affection and a 
parental attachment; but the Christian covenant is general, 
comprehending all mankind within its embraces. ... So far 



as the love of country means no more than a principle of self 
defense against invaders, so far it is justifiable, and so far hath 
Christianity provided for due exertion of it, by inculcating 
obedience to the respective powers set over us. But as to the 
ideas of honour and glory and conquest and dominion and the 
other fine things usually implied in the love of country, they 
are so foreign to the Christian plan that in this sense the love 
of country neither is, nor ought to be, a part of the Christian 
scheme of universal love and benevolence. 

(d) There was certainly sharp criticism of the long wars against 
France, not least among middle-class manufacturers in the critical 
years from 1810 to 1812. 

Source: An article in the Manchester Gazette, 17 March 1797. 

We seduce every peasant from agriculture, extort wealth from 
the artisan and give it only to the man of blood; and then 
lament that the harvest is bad and industry is languishing. . . . 
While there is a guinea left in the country, or Bank notes 
current, and while bread can be got at any price, we will 
go on in the war ; to gain what ? — that we have never discovered. 

(e) Source: An article in the Monthly Repository (1809). 

Why rejoice in the midst of rivers of blood, while the burden of 
taxation presses so heavily on the middle classes of society, so 
as to leave the best part of the community little to hope and 
everything to fear? 


The Pursuit of the Arts and 

I am persuaded that to be a virtuoso (so far as befits a gentleman) 
is a higher step towards the becoming a man of virtue and good sense 
than the being what in this age we call a scholar. For even rude 
nature itself in its primitive simplicity is a better guide to judgement 
than improved sophistry and pedantic learning. 

{Lord Shaftesbury, 1711) 

Q,. In what particular Manufactures, Arts or Sciences are the 
English Nation chiefly deficient? 

A. They are said to be outdone by Foreigners in most of the 
higher or politer Arts, such as Painting, Engraving, Statuary and 
Music. And our Reason seems to be that neither the Religion, nor 
the Political Constitution of the Country give that Encouragement 
to those Studies, which is to be met with Abroad; our Church, for 
example, admitting of little more than elegant Neatness; and' our 
Situation as an Island . . . preventing our Artists from taking 
Models, or trying their Ingenuity in the Palaces of Foreign Princes. 

(Dean Tucker, 1758) 

The Enquiry in England is not whether a Man has Talents and 
Genius, but whether he is Passive and Polite and a Virtuous Ass 
and obedient to Noblemen's Opinions in Art and Science. 

(William Blake, e. 1808) 

He lived through an age of memorable events and changes, and 
was an active and anxious contemporary. He was ... an effective 
ameliorator of a stern and uncharitable criminal code and the 
inventor of the interrogative system of education by which new 
impulses were given to the intelligence of society. He also placed 
natural philosophy on the basis of common sense, and developed 
the laws of nature on immutable principles which will always be 
co-extensive with the respect of mankind for truth He wrote and 




published more original works than any of his contemporaries, and 
in all of them advocated civil liberty, general benevolence, ascen- 
dancy of justice and the improvement of the human race. . . . 

(From the Epitaph of Sir Richard Phillips in 
the Churchyard of Brighton Old Parish Church, 



From the beginning of the eighteenth century, the pursuit of 
the arts — painting, sculpture, architecture and music — was direcdy 
related to the life of the Court, the aristocracy and the gentry. It 
was centred on London and the country house, with creativity and 
taste in one art influencing creativity and tasle in another. There 
were marked but overlapping shifts of taste from one generation 
to another — rococo, neoclassical, picturesque, exotic, romantic — 
with influences from abroad being set first by Paris, then by Rome, 
and with the English themselves serving as the main initiators of 
the 'picturesque'. There were many English writei-s on taste, whose 
critical views express changing eighteenth- century canons of style 
and judgement, 

(a) Source: D. Defoe, Tour (1724), Letter III. 

But the beauty of Stamford is the neighbourhood of the 
noble palace of the Earl of Exeter. . . . This house, built all of 
free-stone looks more like a town than a house, at which avenue 
soever you come to it. . , , The late Earl of Exeter, father of 
his present lordship, had a great genius for painting and 
architecture, and a superior judgement in both, as every part 
of this noble structure will testify, for he changed the whole 
face of the building; he pulled down great part of the front of 
the garden and turned the old Gothic windows into those 
spacious sashes which are now seen there, and though the 
founder or first builder, who had an exquisite fancy also (as 
the manner of building then was) had so well ordered the 
situation and avenues of the whole fabric, that nothing was 
wanting of that kind, and had also contrived the house itself 
in a most magnificent manner, the rooms spacious, well 
directed, the ceilings lofty and the decorations just, yet the late 
Earl found room for alterations, infinitely to the advantage of 





the whole, as particularly, a noble staircase, a whole set of 
fine apartments, with rooms of state, fitting for the entertain- 
ment of a prince As this admirable gentleman, the late Earl, 

loved paintings, so he had infinite advantage in procuring them, 
for he not only travelled three times into Italy ... but he was 
entertained at the Court of Tuscany .... The staircase, the 
ceilings of all the fine lodgings, the chapel, die hall, the late 
Earl's closet, are all finely painted by Varrio, of whose work 
I need say no more than this, that the Earl kept him twelve 
years in his family, wholly employed in painting those ceilings 
and staircases etc., and allowed him a coach and horses and 
equipage, a table and servants and a very considerable pension. 

(b) There were many eighteenth -century treatises on architecture 
The following extract is taken from a widely read mid-century 
book designed 'to serve as a library on this subject to the gentleman 
and the builder': it still serves as a mine of information about the 
application of mid-century conceptions of balance and proportion. 
Source: I. Ware, A Complete Body of Architecture (1756), pp. 293-5. 

The extent of ground being determined, the materials 
chosen, and the weight of the roof, and thickness of the wall 
settled in the builder's mind, he is next to consider the article 
of proportion. 

Here is a space to be covered with building: and the great 
consideration is its division into parts, for different uses; and 
their distribution. In this regard is to be had to two things, the 
convenience of the inhabitant, and the beauty and proportion 
of the fabrick. Neither of these should be considered inde- 
pendently of the other, because if it be, the other will not fail 
to be sacrificed to it; and this, which would be very disagree- 
able, is never absolutely necessary. 

If the house be for a person in trade, the first principal 
attention must be shewn to the article of convenience; but 
with this the builder should always carry in his mind the idea of 
beauty, proportion, and a regular distribution of the parts. In 
the same manner, when the house is for a person of fashion, 
the beauty and proportional disposition of parts is to be 
principally considered; yet the great and needful article of 
convenience must not be disregarded. 


When convenience has been thus far considered in the plan, 
the next regard is to be shewn to proportion. 

This is a thing of more strict concern than the other, and 
must be managed with the greatest accuracy. The matter of 
convenience falls under the direction of fancy, but proportion 
is established upon rule. . . . 

Whatever the false taste of any particular time may adopt, 
the builder, though he complies with it from the orders he 
receives, yet he must never suppose that the caprice, or fashion, 
can change the nature of right and wrong. He must remember 
that there is such a thing as truth, though the present mode will 
not follow its steps; and establish it as a maxim in his own 
mind, that proportion and regularity are real sources of beauty, 
and always of convenience. 

(c) The Adam brothers believed that architecture must be 'in- 
formed and improved by a correct taste', yet they experimented 
with varied forms and stressed 'movement' as well as proportion. 
They noted the change since the beginning of the century, referred 
to the relationships between the arts, and believed that everything 
in a room should 'match' — carpets, ceiling, fireplace, even paintings. 

Source: R. and J. Adam, Works (1778), p. 35. 

Movement is meant to express, the rise and fall, the advance 
and recess, with other diversity of form, in the different parts of 
a building, so as to add greatly to the picturesqueness of the 
composition. For the rising and falling, advancing and receding, 
with the convexity and concavity, and other forms of the great 
parts, have the same effect in architecture, that hill and dale, 
foreground and distance, welling and sinking have in landscape: 
That is, they serve to produce an agreeable and diversified 
contour, that groups and contrasts like a picture, and creates 
a variety of light and shade, which gives great spirit, beauty 
and effect to the composition. 

(d) They also welcomed changes in styles of interior decoration 
which made for greater variety. 

Source: ibid, p. 3. 

A remarkable improvement in the form, convenience, and 
relief of apartments; a greater movement and variety in the 



outside composition; and in the decoration of the inside, an 
almost total change. The massive entablature, the ponderous 
compartment ceiling, the tabernacle frame, almost the only 
species of ornament formerly known in this country, are now 
universally exploded, and in their place, we have adopted 
a beautiful variety of light mouldings, gracefully formed, 
delicately enriched, and arranged with propriety and skill. We 
have introduced a great diversity of ceilings, friezes and 
decorated pilasters, and have added grace and beauty to the 
whole by a mixture of grotesque stucco and painted ornaments 
together with the painted rainceau with its fanciful figures. 

(e) The Adam brothers drew much of their inspiration from classical 
styles, although they made a highly distinctive contribution of their 
own. Thomas Chippendale, who lived in the same London street as 
the painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, worked in many styles, including 
Chinese and Gothic. His Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Directory 
(1754) had an impressive list of subscribers and went through many 
editions. The descriptions of his furniture almost speak for themselves. 

Source : Account of a lady's dressing table, quoted by O, Brackett 
in A. S. Turberville (ed.), Johnson's England, (1933), vol. II, p. 144. 

A Design of a Dressing-Table for a Lady; the Drawer above 
the Recess hath all Conveniences for Dressing, and the Top of 
it is a Dressing-Glass, which comes forward with folding Hinges. 
On each Side is a Cupborad with Glass Doors, which may be 
either transparent or silvered; and in the Inside, Drawers or 
Pigeon Holes. Two Dressing-Tables have been made of Rose- 
wood, from this Design, which gave an entire Satisfaction: 
AH the Ornaments were gilt. 

{f ) By the end of the century Hepplewhite styles, as described and 
illustrated in The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Guide, represented 
good taste, although Thomas Sheraton noted a 'decline' in the 
designs and called Chippendale's designs 'wholely antiquated and 
laid aside'. Carlton House, the Prince of Wales's residence, was a 
showplace of taste, 

The lesser arts were also highly developed in England itself. 
Thus, the Chelsea porcelain factory, opened about 1743 and in 
operation until about 1770, produced vases, potpourri jars and 
small figures, some in imitation of those produced at Sevres and 


Meissen. There was excellent English silverware and some magnifi- 
cent miniature paintings and portraits. 

Source: Entry of 23 Oct. 1812 in J. Farington, TheFarington Diary 
(1927), vol. VII, p. 122. 

At breakfast we had conversation about taste in choosing 
furniture. Lady Beaumont said that the splendour of the 
furniture at Carlton House is so great that let the company who 
go there be ever so finely dressed they are not seen, the eyes 
of all being drawn off by the gorgeous decoration of the 
apartments. Sir George said that it was not so at Lord Gros- 
venor's where the furniture has a fine solemn effect, & when 
the apartments are filled with company the effect is like that 
of a Venetian picture. — Lord Lonsdale said Mr. Thos. Hope's 
house resembled a museum. 


Changing tastes in gardens and landscapes reveal much about the 
attitudes of cightseenth-centey men of property, Not surprisingly, 

alongside the serious literature, there is a rich literature of satire. 

(a) Source: Note by Alexander Pope in The Guardian, 29 Sept. 1713. 

I lately took a particular friend of mine to my house in the 
country, not without some apprehension that it would afford 
little entertainment to a man of his polite taste, particularly in 
architecture and gardening, who had so long been conversant 
with all that is beautiful and great in either. But it was a 
pleasant surprise to me to hear him often declare, he had found 
in my little retirement that beauty, which he always found 
wanting in the most celebrated seats, or if you will villas, of the 
nation. . . . There is certainly something in the amiable sim- 
plicity of unadorned nature that spreads over the mind a more 
noble sort of tranquillity, and a loftier sense of pleasure, than can 
be raised from the nicer scenes of art. . . . How contrary to 
this simplicity is the modern practice of gardening. We seem 
to make it our study to recede from nature, not only in the 
various tonsures of greens into the most regular and formal 


shapes, but even in monstrous attempts beyond the reach of 
the art itself. We run into sculpture, and are yet better pleased 
to have our trees in the most awkward figures of men and 
animals, than in the most regular of their own. 

(b) Tastes changed. 

Source: W. Gilpin, Three Essays (1792), Essay I. 

Why does an elegant piece of garden ground make no figure 
on canvas? The shape is pleasing, the combination of the 
objects harmonious, and the winding of the walk in the very 
line of beauty. All this is true; but the smoothness of the whole . . . 
offends in a picture. Turn the lawn into a piece of broken 
ground; plant rugged oaks instead of flowering shrubs; break 
the edges of the walk; give it the rudeness of a road; mark it 
with wheel tracks; and scatter round a few stones and brush- 
wood — in a word, instead of making the whole smooth, make it 
rough, and you also make it picturesque. 

(c) Appreciation of mountains was evidence of a change in taste. 
What previously had been thought of as 'considerable protuberances' 
became sources of awe and inspiration. 

Source: T. Gray, Journal (1769), entry for 3 Oct. 

A heavenly day. rose at seven, and walk'd out under the conduct 
of my landlord to Borrowdale. the grass was covered with a 
hoar-frost, w ch soon melted, & exhaled in a thin bluish smoke. 
cross'd the meadows obliquely, catching a diversity of views 
among the hills over the lake & islands, & changing prospect at 
every ten paces, left Cochhut & Castle-hill . . . behind me, & 
drew near the foot of Walla-crag whose bare & rocky brow, cut 
perpendicularly down 400 feet, as I guess, awcfully overlooks the 
way . . . opposite lie the thick hanging woods of L d Egremont, & 
Newland-v&ltey, with green and smiling fields embosom'd in 
the dark cliffs; to the left the jaws of Borrowdale, with that 
turbulent Chaos of mountain behind mountain roll'd in 
confusion; beneath you, & stretching far away to the right, 
the shining purity of the Lake, . . . 

(d) Source: E. Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our 
Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1 756), Part II, Section 1. 



The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature, when 
those causes operate most powerfully, is astonishment: and 
astonishment is that state of the soul in which all its motions 
are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the 
mind is so entirely filled with its object that it cannot entertain 
any other, nor by consequence reason upon that object which 
employs it. Hence arises the great power of the sublime. 


Eighteenth-century portrait painting leads back to the drawing 
room. It provided the staple livelihood of the painter, and many 
painters achieved social distinction themselves. 'The personal con- 
ceit of the sitter", Sir Osbert Sitwell has written, 'was only equalled 
by the technical conceit of the artist.' The personalities of the 
individual artists within the period — for example, Reynolds, 
Gainsborough and Romney — can be properly appreciated only 
from a detailed study of their work, yet Reynolds, in particular, was 
also a fluent writer on styles and tastes. Landscape painting won 
recognition more slowly — although there was an interesting East 
Anglian school — and the works of Constable, Bonington and Turner 
in the early nineteenth century derived from a living tradition of 
painting inherited from the Flemish studios. 

(a) Source: Letter from the Duke of Bedford's agent to Thomas 
Gainsborough, 4 Jan. 1765, printed in M. Woodall (ed.), The 
Letters of Thomas Gainsborough (1961), p. 35. 


From the expectations you gave me when I saw you before 
I left Bath in November, I supposed before this time you wo'd 
have sent home the Pictures you painted for the Duke & 
Duchess of Bedford, 

Her Grace now directs me to acquaint you that she desires 
you will immediately send her Picture & that of Lady Mary 
Fitzpatrick's, & that they need not wait for His Grace's 
Picture if you have not yet finished the Copies you were to 
make of it, but if they are done that the original can be spared 
you will please to send it with the two beforementioned. 

Her Grace orders me to add that if it is agreeable to you 


to come to London & will keep to your usual prices she will 
be answerable for its paying the expenses of the journey. 

(b) Gainsborough's letters are full of interesting detail. 

Source ; Letter from Thomas Gainsborough to Henry Bate, 1 1 
March 1 78 8, printed in ibid,, p. 35. 

Mr. Boydcll bought the large landscape you speak of for 
seventy-five guineas last week at Greenwood's. It is in some 
respects a little in the schoolboy stile — but I do not reflect on 
this without a secret gratification ; for as an early instance how 
strong my inclination stood for Landskip, this picture was 
actually painted at Sudbury in the year 1748; it was begun 
before I left school; — and was the means of my Father's sending 
me to London. 

It may be worth remark that though there is very little idea 
of composition in the picture, the touch and closeness to 
nature in the study of the parts and minutiae are equal to any 
of my latter productions. In this explanation I do not wish to 
seem vain or ridiculous, but do not look on the Landskip as 
one of my riper performances. 

It is full forty years since it was first delivered by me to go in 
search of those who had taste to admire it ! Within that time it 
has been in the hands of twenty picture dealers, and I once 
bought it myself during that inverval for Mneleen Guineas. 
Is not that curious ? 


During the middle and late eighteenth century diere was great 
enthusiasm for collecting pictures, statuary and antiquities from 
Europe, particularly Italy, and similar objects — and ancient poems 
and manuscripts — from England itself. English ardsts at Rome 
made money by buying, restoring and selling ancient 'master- 
pieces', but excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii (profoundly 
influencing current tastes, including Wedgwood's pottery) the 
researches of Winckelmann, and the activities of die Dilettanti 
Society, founded in 1732, greatly widened the range. The great 
collectors of the early century like Dr. Meade, who died in 1 754, 
were followed by new generations of explorer-collectors. In 1762, 



for instance, the antiquities of Athens were held up as a model and 
the purportedly ancient Celtic poems of Ossian were being dis- 
cussed. In 1765 Thomas Percy published his Reliques of Ancient 
English Poetry. Throughout the last decades of the century museums, 
like zoos, were always popular. 

(a) Source : Reminiscence of the artist Joseph Nollekens, quoted in 
J. T. Smith, Nollekens and His Times (1828), vol, I, p. 251. 

I got the first and best of my money by putting antiques 
together. Hamilton and I, and Jenkins, generally used to go 
shares in what we bought. And as I had to match the pieces 
as best I could, and clean 'em, I had the best part of the profits. 
. . .Jenkins followed the trade of supplying the foreign visitors 
with intaglios and cameos made by his own people that he kept 
in a part of the ruins of the Coliseum fitted up for 'em to 
work in slyly by themselves. . . . Bless your heart ! He sold 
them as fast as they made 'em. 

(b) Reynolds did buying for the Duke of Rutland, 

Source: Historical Manuscripts Commission, A1SS of the Duke of 
Rutland (1900), vol. Ill, p. 310. 

July 19, 1785, London. I set out to-morrow morning for 
Brussels. ... I have but just received a catalogue of the pictures 
which are now on view at Brussels. The Emperor has suppressed 
sixty-six religious houses, the pictures of which are to be sold 
by auction. Le Comte dc Kageneck informs me the Emperor 
has selected for himself some of the principal pictures; however, 
there is one altar-piece which belonged to the Convent of the 
Datties Blanches at Louvain, which is to be sold. The subject is 
the Adoration of the Magi, ten feet by seven feet eight inches, 
which I take to be about the size of your picture of Rubens. . . . 
This picture, I suspect, is the only one worth purchasing if 
your Grace has any such intention, or will honour me with 
discretionary orders in regard to other pictures. . . . 

Aug. 22, London. ... I was much disappointed in the 
pictures of the suppressed religious houses; they are the saddest 
trash that ever were collected together. The adoration of the 
Magi & St. Justus, by Rubens, & a Crucifixion by Vandyck, 
were the only tolerable pictures, but these are not the best of 


those masters. I did not like St. Justus as well [as] I did before, 
but 1 think of sending a small commission for it; the two others 
I dare say will not go to above £200 each. ... I was shown 
some of the pictures which were reserved by the Emperor, 
which were not a jota better than the common run of the rest 
of the collection. 

Though I was disappointed in the object of my journey, 
I have made some considerable purchases from private 
collections. 1 have bought a very capital picture of Rubens of 
Hercules & Omphale, a composition of seven or eight figures, 
perfectly preserved, & as bright as colouring can be carried. 
The figures are rather less than life. ... I have likewise a 
Holy Family, a Silenus & Baccanalians, & two portraits, all 
by Rubens, I have a Virgin & Infant Christ & two portraits 
by Vandyck, & two of the best hunting of wild beasts, by 
Snyders & De Vos, that I ever saw. 

Sept 22, London. I am sorry to accquaint your Grace that 
there is nothing bought at the sale. I have enclosed Mr, Gree's 
letter, by which it appears they went much above even the 
commission you wished me to send. I cannot think that either 
the Rubens or Vandyck were worth half the money they 
sold for. The Vandyck was an immense picture very scantily 
filled ; it had more defects than beauties, & as to the Rubens, 
I think your Grace's is worth a hundred of them, 

1785, Sep. 26, London, Immediately on the receipt of your 
Grace's letter I wrote to Mr. De Gree to make enquiry to 
whom the pictures were sold, & whether they would part with 
them at a certain profit, at the same time, I am confident if 
your Grace saw them you would not be very anxious about 
purchasing them. 

(c) Source: T. Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). 

The old minstrel ballads are in the northern dialect, abound 
with antique words and phrases, are extremely incorrect, and 
run into the utmost licence of metre ; they have also a romantic 
wildness, and are in the true spirit of chivalry, — The other 
sort are written in exacter measure, have a low or subordinate 
correctness, sometimes bordering on the insipid, yet often 
well adapted to the pathetic; these are generally in the southern 



dialect, exhibit a more modern phraseology, and are commonly 
descriptive of more modern manners, 

(d) Space could induce the same feelings as time. 

Source: Note on the collection of stuffed birds, animals and anthro- 
pological exhibits at the Leicester House Museum in the European 
Magazine, Jan. 1782. 

The objects before him [the visitor] make his active fancy 
travel from pole to pole through torrid and through frigid 
zones. He beholds the manners of men in the forms of their 
habits, . . . He sighs to recollect the prevalent power of fear 
and superstition over the human mind, when he views the 
rude deformity of an idol carved with a flint, by a hand 
incapable of imitating the outline of nature. , . . [He must 
express] gratitude to the public-spirited proprietor, who has 
thus given his countrymen an opporunity of surveying the 
works of nature, and contemplating the various beings that 
inhabit the earth. 


Interest in the exotic (e.g. Chinese) or the Gothic (at first a term 
of contempt and then thought of as suitable a diversion or only for 
minor works and gardens) encouraged men of the later eighteenth 
century to deviate from symmetry and eventually to cultivate 
irregularity for itself. As some of the earlier passages have shown, 
there was a transition by the end of the century from antiquarian 
or sentimental or playful interest in the Gothic to the appreciation 
of the picturesque and the romantic. In the process taste and 
feeling were transformed. 

(a) Source : T. Warton, Pleasures of Melancholy ( 1 747) . 

O lead me, Queen Sublime, to solemn glooms 

Congenial with my soul ; to cheerless shades, 

To ruin'd seats, to twilight cells and bowers . . . 

Beneath yon ruin'd abbeys moss grown piles 

Oft let me sit at twilight hour of eve, 

When through some western window the pale moon 

Pours her long-levelled rule of streaming light. 


(b) Source: J. Shebbcare, B. Angeloni, Letters on the English Nation 
(1755), vol. II, p. 261. 

The simple and the sublime have lost all influence, almost 
everywhere, all is Chinese or Gothic. Every chair in an apart- 
ment, the frames of glasses, and tables must be Chinese: the 
walls covered with Chinese paper fill'd with figures which 
resemble nothing of God's creation, and which a prudent 
nation would prohibit for the sake of pregnant women. . . . 
Nay, so excessive is the love of Chinese architecture become, 
that at present foxhuntcrs would be sorry to break a leg in 
pursuing their sport in leaping any gate that was not made in 
the eastern taste of little bits of wood standing in all directions. 
The gothic, too, has its advocates; you see a hundred houses 
built with porches in that taste, such as are belonging to many 
chapels; not to mention that rooms are stuccoed in this taste, 
with all the minute, unmeaning carvings, which are found in 
the most Gothic chapels of a thousand years standing. 

(c) Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill, which he bought in 1747, 
kept him busy 'battlementing, pinnailing, fenestrating' for the 
rest of his life: he also wrote The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic story, in 

Source: Letter from Walpole to Sir William Cole, 9 March 
1765, printed in Letters (1914), vol. VI, p. 195. 

I had time to write but a short note with the Castle of Otranto. 
. . . Your partiality to me and Strawberry have, I hope, inclined 
you to excuse the wildness of the story. You will even have 
found some traits to put you in mind of this place. . . . Shall I 
even confess to you, what was the origin of this romance? 
I waked one morning in the beginning of last June, from a 
dream, of which all I could recover was, that I had thought 
myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head 
filled like mine with Gothic story), and that on the uppermost 
banister of a great staircase, I saw a gigantic hand in armour. 
In the evening I sat down, and began to write, without 
knowing in the least what I intended to say. . . . Though I 
write romances, I cannot tell how to build all that belongs to 
them, ... I have decided that the outside will be of ireitlage 
[trellis], which, however, I shall not commence, till I have 



again seen some of old Louis's old-fashioned galanteries at 
Versailles. Rosamond's bower, you, and I, and Tom Hearne 
[the antiquary] know, was a labyrinth, but as my territory 
will admit of a very short clew, I lay aside all thoughts of a 
mazy habitation; though a bower is very different from an 
arbour, and must have more chambers than one. In short, I 
both know, and don't know what it should be. I am almost 
afraid I must go and read Spenser, and wade through his 
allegories, and drawling stanzas to get at a picture. . . . 

(d) Novelists could create the Gothic without inhibitions. It 
dominated their imagination, and there was whole genre of terror 

Source: Mrs. Radcliffe, Udolpho (1794). 

As they' crossed the first court, the light showed the black 
walls around them, fringed with long grass and dark weeds 
that found a scanty soil among the mouldering stones, the 
heavy buttresses, with here and there between them a narrow 
grate, the mossy iron gates of the castle, whose clustering 
turrets appeared above, opposite the huge towers of the portal 

(e) The imagination affected attitudes towards people as well as 
towards landscapes, qualifying eighteenth-century attitudes towards 
economics and morals (cf. 'Brechtian 5 attitudes to crime and squalor 
in the towns; see above, p. 372). 

Source: A. Young, Tour to the Lakes (1761), vol. II, pp. 44fT. 

In a moral view, the industrious mechanic is a more pleasing 
object than a loitering peasant. But in a picturesque light, it is 
otherwise. The arts of industry are rejected; and even idleness, 
if I may so speak, adds dignity to a character. Thus the lazy 
cowherd resting on his pole; or the peasant lolling on a rock 
may be allowed in the grandest scenes. . . . The characters 
that are most suited to these scenes of grandeur are such as impress 
us with some idea of greatness, wildness or ferocity; all of 
which touch on the sublime. 

(f) With Wordsworth (see also below, p. 443) simplicity was in 
vogue again — simplicity imbued with romantic feeling. The 'natural' 
and the artificial were placed in sharp contrast. Lakeland characters 


were conceived of as being as far away from artificial life as noble 

Source: W. Wordsworth, Preface to the third edition of the 
Lyrical Ballads (1802). 

The principal object . . . proposed in these Poems was to 
choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate 
or describe them, throughout, as far as possible in a selection 
of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to 
throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby 
ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual 
aspect; and, further, and above all, to make these incidents and 
situations interesting by tracing in them, truly though not 
ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly as far as 
regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of 
excitement. Low and rustic life was generally chosen, because 
in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better 
soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under 
restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; 
because in that condition of life our elementary feelings co- 
exist in a state of greater simplicity . . . and, lastly, because in 
that condition the passions of men are incorporated with the 
beautiful and permanent forms of nature. 


Eighteenth-century English music was dominated by Handel, 
although the reception of his work was neither universally favour- 
able nor consistent. Public concerts had been first established in 
England in the late seventeenth century in the form of musical 
evenings arranged in drawing rooms with admission by subscription 
for a series, and the first concert hall, the Holywell Music Room in 
Oxford, opened in 1 748, remained a curiosity for the rest of the 
century. Opera was very much of a foreign import. 

(a) Source: P. Grosley, A Tour to London Vol. II. (1772 edn ) on 
113-14. r ' 

Queen Elizabeth's taste for music caused that art to make 
some progress in England, by giving it some of the improve- 
ments which it had before received in Italy. 



In the present age Handel, a German by birth, brought 
about the same revolution in England, which Lully the Italian 
had effected in France in the last century. Since that <era the 
English flatter themselves that they have a national music: 
but it is nothing more than a dialect of the German, as the 
latter is itself a dialect of the Italian. 

The grand concert at St. Paul's for the benefit of the sons 
of the clergy, those of Vaux-hall and Ranelagh, and some 
private ones to which I was admitted, were said to be English 
compositions. The symphony was half German, half Italian: 
with regard to the vocal performance, Englishmen have assured 
mc that the just accent of their language was much murdered 
by the performers, as that of the French tongue is mauled in 
the burlesque operas, which are imitations or parodies of the 

The London opera is entirely Italian, both with regard to 
the words and the music; but is much less frequented than the 
other theatrical entertainments. No expence is spared to procure 
fine singers; ceconomy is observed only in the articles of 
machines and dances. With regard to both of these it is not 
half so well supplied as the French comedy at Paris is at 

(b) Source: Preface to C. Burney, An Account of the Musical Perfor- 
mances in Westminster Abbey and the Pantheon, 1784, in Commemoration 
of Handel ( 1 785}, pp. iii-v. 

handel whose genius and abilities, have lately been so nobly 
commemorated, though not a native of England, spent the 
greatest part of his life in the service of its inhabitants: improv- 
ing our taste, delighting us in the church, the theatre and the 
chamber; and introducing to many among us species of musical 
excellence, that, during more than half a century, while senti- 
ment, not fashion, guided our applause, we neither wanted 
nor wished for any other standard. He arrived among us at a 
barbarous period for almost every kind of music, except that 

of the church The English, a manly, military race, were 

immediately captivated by [his] grave, bold, and nervous style, 
which is congenial with their manners and sentiments. And 
though the productions of men of great genius and abilities 


have, since his time, had a transient share of attention and 
favour; yet, whenever any of the works of Handel are revived 
by a performer of superior talents, they are always heard with 
a degree of general satisfaction and delight, which other 
compositions seldom achieve. . . . And it was perhaps, at the late 
performance in Westminster Abbey, that the compositions of 
this great master were first supplied with a band, capable of 
displaying all the wonderful powers of his harmony, 


During the eighteenth century there was a shift in literature 
from dependence on patronage (already patronage had moved from 
the royal family to the aristocracy) to communicadon with a 
broader reading public. At the same time, patronage did not dis- 
appear even in literature, and it remained dominant in the organiza- 
tion of the other arts. The Prince Regent was a notable patron of 
the arts. The Exhibitions of the Society of Artists founded in 1760 
(see below, p. 444) ensured, however, that artists were no longer 
completely dependent on patronage for a living. 

(a) This dedication of a play to Lady Wortley Montagu is a 
characteristic eighteenth-century dedication of a work of art. 

Source: H. Fielding, Love in Several Masques (1728). 

Madam, — Your Ladyship's well-known goodness gives my 
presumption the hopes of a pardon, for prefixing to this slight 
work the name of a lady, whose accurate judgment has long 
been the glory of her own sex and the wonder of ours: especially, 
since it arose from a vanity to which your indulgence, on the 
first perusal of it, gave birth. I would not insinuate to the 
world that this play passed free from your censure; since I 
know it is not free from faults, not one of which escaped your 
immediate penetration. Immediate indeed for your judgment 
keeps pace with your eye, and you comprehend almost faster 
than others overlook. 

This is a perfection very visible to all who are admitted to 
the honour of your conversation ; since, from those short inter- 
vals you can be supposed to have had to yourself, amid the 
importunities of all the polite admirers and professors of wit and 



learning, you are capable of instructing the pedant, and are at 
once a living confutation of those morose schoolmen, who would 
confine knowledge to the male part of the species, and a shining 
instance of all those perfections and softer graces, which nature 
has confined to the female. 

But I offend your ladyship, whilst I please myself and the 
reader; Therefore I shall only beg your leave to give a sanction 
to this comedy by informing the world that its representation 
was twice honoured with your ladyship's presence, and am with 
the greatest respect, 

Your Ladyships' most obedient 
Most humble servant 
Henry Fielding 
(b) Dr. Johnson was an acute critic of patronage. 

Source: A conversation with Johnson in St. Andrews, 1773, re- 
ported in J. Boswell, A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel 
Johnson (1785). 

Dr. Watson observed, that Glasgow University had fewer 
home-students, since trade increased, as learning was rather 
incompatible with it. 

Johnson: 'Why, Sir, as trade is now carried on by subor- 
dinate hands, men in trade have as much leisure as others; 
and now learning itself is a trade. A man goes to a bookseller, 
and gets what he can. We have done with patronage. In the 
infancy of learning we have some great man praised for it. 
This diffused it among others. When it becomes general, an 
author leaves the great, and applies to the multitude.* 

Boswell: 'It is a shame that authors are not now better 

Johnson: 'No, Sir. If learning cannot support a man, if he 
must sit with his hands across till somebody feeds him, it is as 
to him a bad thing, and it is better as it is. With patronage, 
what flattery! What falsehood! While man is in equilibrio, 
he throws truth among the multitude, and lets them take it 
as they please: in patronage he must say what pleases his 
patron, and it is an equal chance whether that be truth or 



Watson : 'But is it not the case now, that instead of flattering 
one person, we flatter the age?' 

Johnson: 'No, Sir! The World always lets a man tell what 
he thinks, his own way. I wonder, however, that so many 
people have written, who might well have left it alone. 

(c) A bookseller was in a strategic position to survey the rise of a 
general reading public. 

Source: Memoirs of the Life of James Lackington (1792 edn.), pp. 

The sale of books in general has increased prodigiously 
within the last twenty years. According to the best estimation 
I have been able to make, I suppose that more than four times 
the number of books are sold now that were sold twenty year 
since. The poorer sort of farmers, and even the poor country 
people in general, who before that period spent their evenings 
in relating stories of witches, ghosts, hobgoblins &c, now 
shorten the winter nights by hearing their sons and daughters 
read tales, romances &c, and on entering their houses you 
may see Tom Jones, Roderick Random, and other entertaining 
books stuck up on their bacon racks &c. 


Artists and writers played a prominent part in eighteenth -century 
life, and their interests crossed at many points. There were many 
varieties of art, including the fierce satire of Dean Swift { 1 667—1 745), 
the pioneer dramatic art of William Hogarth (1697-8) and the 
rich and profound art of William Blake (1757-1827), Their work 
must be set alongside that of Pope or Gainsborough or Reynolds or 
Sheridan. The development of romantic ideas about art and artists 
transformed late eighteenth-century art as a whole. 

(a) Source; Voltaire, Letters Concerning the English Nation (1733 
translation), pp. 224-6. 

The English have so great a veneration for exalted talents, 
that a man of merit in their country is always sure of making 
his fortune. Mr. Addison in France would have been elected 
a member of one of the Academies. ... or else might have 




been imprisoned in the Hostile. . . . Mr. Addison was raised to 
the post of Secretary of State in England. Sir Isaac Newton was 
made Warden of the Royal Mint. . . . But the circumstance 
which mostly encourages the arts in England, is the great 
veneration which is paid them. The picture of the Prime 
Minister hangs over the chimney of his own closet, but I have 
seen that of Mr. Pope in twenty noblemen's houses, 

(b) Hogarth, like Fielding, who greatly admired his influence, 
wanted art to have a direct impact. 

Source : W. Hogarth, Note appended to The Four Stages of Cruelty 

The leading points in these, as well as in Beer Street 
and Gin Lane were made as obvious as possible, in the hope 
that their tendency might be seen by men of the lowest rank 
and the fact is that the passions may be more forcibly expresst 
by a strong bold stroke, than by the most delicate engraving. 
To expressing them as I felt them, I have paid the utmost 
attention, and as they were addrcsst to hard hearts, have 
rather preferred leaving them hard. 

(c) For the variety of commitments of an established writer, the 
following letter from Oliver Goldsmith, dated 7 Sept. 1772, is 
particularly interesting. It was written to Bennet Langton, a 
distinguished Greek scholar and a member of a literary club founded 
by Dr. Johnson. The other members included Boswell, Garrick, 
the actor, Burke, the politician and philosopher, and Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, the painter. The comedy referred to in the first paragraph 
was Slit Sloops to Conquer, first produced at Covent Garden in March 

Source : K. C. Balderston (ed.), Collected Letters of Oliver Goldsmith 
(1928), pp. 102ff. 

Since I had the pleasure of seeing you last, I have been 
almost wholly in the country at a farmer's house, quite alone, 
trying to write a comedy. It is now finished ; but when or how 
it will be acted, or whether it will be acted at all, are questions 
I cannot resolve. I am, therefore, so much employed upon 
that, that I am under the necessity of putting off my intended 
visit to Lincolnshire for this season. 




Reynolds is just returned from Paris, and finds himself 
now in the case of a truant that must make up for his idle 
time by diligence. We have, therefore, agreed to postpone 
our journey till next summer, when we hope to have the 
honour of waiting upon Lady Rothes and you, and staying 
double the time of our late intended visit. We often meet, and 
never without remembering you. 

I see Mr. Beauclcrc very often both in town and country. 
He is now going directly forward to become a second Boyle ; 
deep in chemistry and physics. Johnson has been down on a 
visit to a country parson. Dr. Taylor; and is returned to his 
haunts at Mrs. Thrale's. Burke is a farmer, en attendant a better 
place; but visiting about too. Every soul is visiting about and 
merry but myself. And that is hard, too, as I have been trying 
these three months to do something to make people laugh. 
There have I been strolling about the hedges, studying jests 
with a most tragical countenance. 

The Natural History is about half finished, and I will shordy 
finish the rest. . . . 

(d) A number of 'prc-rom antic' poets, like Thomas Chatterton, 
who committed suicide in 1770, influenced Blake, who was bitterly 
hostile to the dominant philosophy of the Enlightenment, 'the 
unholy Trinity' of Bacon, Newton and Locke. Blake's unique 
vision lights up the last years of the century. 

Source: W. Blake's notes to his engravings of 1788 in G. Keynes, 

The Complete Writings of William Blake (1957), pp. 97-8. 

He who sees the Infinite in all things, sees God. He who 
sees the Ratio only, sees himself only. 

(e) Chatterton remained more important as a symbol than as a 
writer. Keats dedicated Endymion to him, and Wordsworth called 
him 'the sleepless soul that perished in his pride*. Chatterton wrote 
of 'Bristol's narrow streets, Where pride and luxury with meanness 
meets'. His Last Verses clearly set out his own view of the artist and 
his fate in 1 770. 

Source: H. D. Roberts (ed.), The Complete Poetical Works of Chatter- 
ton (1906), vol I, p. 221. 

Farewell, Bristolia's dingy piles of brick, 
Lovers of Mammon, worshippers of trick ! 


Ye spurned the boy who gave you antique lays, 

And paid for learning with your empty praise. 

Farewell, ye guzzling aldermanic fools, 

By nature fitted for corruption's tools! 

I go to where celestial anthems swell; 

But you, when you depart, will sink to hell. 

(Q At the end of the century William Wordsworth set forward 
his own idea of the role of the artist. 

Source: W. Wordsworth, Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800). 

The Poems in these volumes will be found distinguished by 
at least one mark of difference, that each of them has a worthy 
purpose. Not that I always begin to write with a distinct purpose 
formally conceived; but habits of meditation have, I trust, so 
prompted and regulated my feelings, that my descriptions of 
such objects as strongly excite those feelings, will be found to 
carry along with them a purpose. If this opinion be erroneous, 
I can have little right to the name of a Poet. For all good poetry 
is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: and though 
this be true, Poems to which any value can be attached were 
never produced on any variety of subjects but by a man who, 
being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, had 
also thought long and deeply. 

(g)_Yet the 'polite artist" more than held his own throughout the 
period, not only in letters. 

Source: Note of 20 Aug, 1813 in J. Farrington, The Partington 
Diaries (1927), vol. VIII, p. 199. 

We had conversation upon the State of Artists in this 
country compared with what it was when Mr. West arrived in 
England, in respect of their personal manners and the degree 
of estimation in which they were and are held. Mr. West 
said that in 50 years they had become a different description 
of men, so much more decorous in their deportment and in 
their reception in Society. He observed that the establishment 
of the Royal Academy had done much in giving dignity to 
the Arts, and that too much could not be done to preserve its 




Most artists, scientists and men of letters initiated or developed 
societies during the eighteenth century, often for good practical 
reasons. The Royal Society, founded in 1662, had led the way as 
far as scientists were concerned, and its Transactions (see below, p. 452) 
included important scientific articles. 

(a) The practically orientated Society for the Encouragement of 
Arts was founded in 1753. 

Source: P. Grosley, Observations on England (1772), pp. 13-14. 

The object of this Society, the most numerous, not in England 
only but in ail Europe, is the encouragement of arts, manu- 
factures and commerce. (The Society is not erected into an 
academy, a title reserved by the English for learned assemblies.) 
It at present consists of about 3000 members, amongst whom 
are a great many peers of Great Britain. Each of these members 
contributes two guineas a year: many, however, do not confine 
themselves to this sum, which they are proud to exceed in 

proportion to their rank or wealth They have their 

meetings upon fixed days and hours, in a large house occupied 
by the society in the Strand. 

The finest room in this house, forming a salon, with sky 
lights, is consecrated to the arts: a gallery adjoining to it, 
contains all the new invented machines, for abridging labour 
in the different trades. Whether perfect or imperfect in their 
kind, they are amply paid for by the society, whose chief aim 
is to direct those who have a genius for mechanics, to their 
proper objects. 

(b) It was in die rooms of the Society for the Encouragement of 
Arts that the newly founded Society of Artists held their first 
exhibition in 1760. In 1768, however, the Royal Academy was 
formed, with Joshua Reynolds as President. In 1780 the Academy 
obtained new rooms in Somerset House. 

Source: Report in the Morning Chronicle, quoted by A. Shirley, 
'Painting and Engraving' in A. S. Turberville (ed.), Johnson's 
England, 1933 vol. II, p. 54. 

The exhibition of the artists at the Royal Academy was 
opened in the new buildings, Somerset Place, where a noble 



suite of rooms has been adapted for that purpose. The grand 
room is at the top. . . . The rooms beneath are appropriated 
for drawings, models, statues, busts, &c. At the end of one are 

the portraits of their Majesties by Sir Joshua Reynolds The 

tout ensemble of the present exhibition is allowed on all hands 
to do infinite honour to the British arts and certainly contains 
many pictures that will prove lasting monuments of the real 
genius of the several artists. The concourse of people of fashion 
who attended the opening of the Royal Academy exhibition 
yesterday was incredible. . . . 

(c) There were flourishing local societies in the provinces by the 
end of the century, like the Society of Gentlemen at Spalding, and 
the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, founded in 
1781. The most famous was the Lunar Society of Birmingham of 
which Priestley (see below, p. 451), Erasmus Darwin, Josiah 
Wedgwood, James Watt and Matthew Boulton were members. 
Priestley's house was destroyed by a Birmingham mob during the 
French Revolution, and he had to flee to London. His letter recalls 
his association with the Society, which unfortunately did not keep 
minutes of its meetings. 

Source: Letter of Joseph Priestley to Dr. William Withering, 5 
Nov. 1791, printed in H. C, Bolton, Scientific Correspondence of Joseph 
Priestley (1892). 

It will be a considerable time, with every assistance that 
money can afford before I can be at work again, and hardly 
ever to so much advantage as at Birmingham, Such assistance 
from philosophical friends I should in vain look for here, and 
as long as I live I shall look back with pleasure and regret 
to our Lunar meetings, which I always enjoyed so much and 
from which I derived so much solid advantage. If I could find 
the same intelligence in any club of Philosophers here, I could 
not find the same frankness, which is the charm of all society. 
. . . Still hoping to have the satisfaction of seeing you and the 
rest of my friends of the Lunar Society, some time hence, and 
always to hear of your proceedings. 


The eighteenth century has often been called 'the age of reason'. 
One of the main contrasts of the age was that between reason and 


superstitition, a contrast which explains the power of the term 
'Enlightenment'. Yet the word 'reason' meant many things, and 
the reaction against certain conceptions of reason was itself an 
eighteenth-century process. The following extracts relate to eigh- 
teenth-century attitudes towards philosophy and philosophers. 
In the background were Newton and Locke, and much of the 
later movement of thought and feeling was European rather than 
particularly English. David Hume's Treatise on Human Mature 
(1738) reflected a spirit of scepticism: during the last years of the 
century other Scottish philosophers, far more creative and imagina- 
tive than their English counterparts, ensured that Scotland made a 
distinctive contribution to the European Enlightenment. 

(a) Source: M. Mendelssohn, 'On the Question: What is Enlighten- 
ing?' in Berliner Monatschrift (1784), This interesting article, of 
European range, was followed three months later by an article by 
the German philosopher, Kant. 

The words Enlightenment, Culture, Cultivation are rather 
new in our language. So far they are bookish terms only. 
The common mass hardly understands them. Should this mean, 
however, that the substance of the terms is altogether new with 
us ? I don't think so. It is said of a certain people that it has 
no specific word for virtue and none for superstition; yet one 
may rightly attribute to it a good measure of both these 

However, common usage has not yet apportioned definite 
borderlines to these terms which are closely allied yet must 
be distinguished. Cultivation, culture, and enlightenment are 
modes of the social life, achievements of men's industry and 
efforts to improve their social condition. 

The degree of cultivation in a people can be gauged from 
the degree in which its social condition, through art and 
industry, has been brought into harmony with the destination 
of man. 

Cultivation consists of culture and enlightenment. Culture 
seems to be concerned with the practical: with quality and 
beauty in the handicrafts, arts, and manners; with aptitude 
and industry in the two former, and with inclinations, urges, 
and customs in the latter. . . . 

Enlightenment on the other hand seems to refer rather to 



the theoretical clement: to logical knowledge and the capacity 
to think rationally about the concerns of human life, according 
to their relevance and influence on the destination of man. 

A language achieves enlightenment through the sciences, 
and culture through social intercourse, poetry and eloquence. 
. . . Both together confer cultivation on a language. . . . 

Enlightenment has the same relation to culture as theory 
to practice, as knowledge to morality, as criticism to virtuosity. 
Objectively they depend on each other though subjectively 
they are often separated. 

You can say: the people of Nuremberg have more culture, 
those of Berlin more enlightenment; the French have more 
culture, the English more enlightenment; the Chinese much 
culture and little enlightenment. The Greeks had both culture 
and enlightenment. They were a cultivated nation, just as their 
language is a cultivated language. Altogether the language of a 
people is the best measure of its cultivation, of its culture as 
well as of its enlightenment, both in its extension and its 

Moreover, the destination of man may be subdivided into 

1. the destination of man as man (individual), and 

2. the destination of man as citizen (social being). 

As regards culture, these aspects coincide in as much as all 
practical accomplishments are valuable only in the social 
sphere and must therefore be in keeping only with man's 
role as a member of society. Man as man alone needs no culture; 
but he needs enlightenment. 

A citizen's standing and calling determine his duties and 
rights, and accordingly require different abilities and accom- 
plishments, different attitudes, urges, manners, and customs, 
different types of culture and appearance. The more these 
correspond, in all ranks, with their respective callings as 
members of society, the more culture a nation is said to have. 

Equally they require different theoretical insights and 
abilities according to an individual's rank and calling, or, in 
other words, different degrees of enlightenment. The enlighten- 
ment, which is of interest to man as individual man, is universal 
without distinction of ranks; the enlightenment of man as a 
citizen is modified according to station and profession. The 


destination of man, in this context too, determines the measure 
and the ends of his activities. 

Accordingly the measure of a nation's enlightenment may 
be taken from 1. the sum of knowledge; 2. The relevance of 
this knowledge to the destination (a) of the individual, and (b) 
of the citizen; 3. the spread of knowledge throughout the ranks; 
4, according to callings. . . . 

There is potential conflict between individual and civic 
enlightenment. Certain truths which serve man as man, may 
be obnoxious to him as citizen. . . . Such a conflict can arise 
between 1. essential or 2. accidental ends of the individual on 
the one hand, and 3. essential or 4. non-essential, accidental 
ends of the citizen. , . . 

Unhappy the state in which there is no harmony between 
the essential destination of man and that of the citizen, in 
which the enlightenment which all need cannot spread through 
all ranks of the realm without endangering the constitution. 

But where the non-essential ends of man clash with the 
essential or non-essential ends of the citizen, there rules must 
be devised to provide for exceptions and to adjudicate in cases 
of collision. 

When unhappily there is discord between the essential and 
the non-essential ends of man, when it is impossible to spread 
certain useful and worthy truths without overthrowing the 
very principles of religion and morality — then the virtuous 
enlightener will proceed carefully and cautiously and will 
suffer prejudice rather than refute the truths which arc 
connected with it. . . . 

Where enlightenment and culture are in step with each 
other, there they offer the best protection against corruption. 
. . . For a cultivated nation there is only one danger left, 
namely the abundance of national happiness . , . (like the 
perfectly happy and healthy man) it may fall prostrate because 
it cannot rise any higher, . . . 

(b) David Hume considered the relationship between custom and 

Source : D. Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding ( 1 748). 

All inferences from experience . . . are effects of custom, not 


of reasoning. Custom then is the great guide of human life. 
It is that principle alone which renders our experience useful 
to us, and makes us expect for the future a similar chain of 
events with those which have appeared in the past. Without 
the influence of custom we should be entirely ignorant of every 
matter of fact beyond what is immediately present to the 
memory and senses. We should never know how to adjust means 
to ends, or to employ our natural powers in the production 
of any effect. There would be an end at once of all action, as 
well as of the chief part of speculation. 

(c) At the beginning of the century the role of the thinker and the 
philosopher had been extolled as against the role of the king, the 
fighter, the hero. 

Source; Letter in The Spectator, No. 662, 19 Nov. 1714. 

When we look back upon the history of those who have born 
the parts of Kings, statesmen, or commanders, they appear to 
us stripped of those out-side ornaments that dazzled their 
contemporaries; and we regard their persons as great or little, 
in proportion to the eminence of their virtues or vices. The wise 
sayings, generous sentiments, or disinterested conduct of a 
philosopher under mean circumstances of life, set him higher 
in our esteem than the mighty potentates of the earth, when 
we view them both through the long prospect of many ages. 

{f ) The same kind of problem was discussed by one of the leading 
writers of the Scottish Enlightenment later in the century. 

Source: A. Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), 
pp. 30-1. 

It is peculiar to modern Europe, to rest so much of the 
human character on what may be learned in retirement, and 
from the information of books. A just admiration of ancient 
literature, an opinion that human sentiment, and human reason, 
without this aid, were to have vanished from the societies of 
men, have led us into the shade, where we endeavour to derive 
from imagination and thought, what is in reality matter of 
experience and sentiment: and we endeavour, through the 
grammar of dead languages, and the channel of commentators, 
to arrive at the beauties of thought and elocution, which 


sprang from the animated spirit of society, and were taken from 
the living impressions of an active life. Our attainments are 
frequently limited to the elements of every science, and seldom 
reach to the enlargement of ability and power which useful 
knowledge should give. Like mathematicians, who study the 
Elements of Euclid, but never think of mensuration, we read 
of societies, but do not propose to act with men: we repeat 
the language of politics, but feci not the spirit of nadons: 
we attend to the formalities of a military discipline, but know 
not how to employ numbers of men to obtain any purpose by 
stratcgem or force. 

But for what end, it may be said, point out a misfortune 
that cannot be remedied? If nadonal affairs called for exertion, 
the genius of men would awake; but in the recess of better 
employment, the time which is bestowed on study, if even 
attended with no other advantage, serves to occupy with inno- 
cence the hours of leisure, and set bounds tothe pursuit of ruinous 
and frivolous amusements. From no better reason than this, we 
employ so many of our early years, under the rod, to acquire 
what it is not expected we should retain beyond the threshold of 
the school; and whilst we carry the same frivolous character 
in our studies that we do in our amusements, the human 
mind could not suffer more from a contempt of letters, than 
it does from the false importance which is given to literature, 
as a business for life, not as a help to our conduct, and the 
means of forming a character that may be happy in itself, 
and useful to mankind. 

(g) Goldsmith talked also of the value of experience. 

Source: Q. Goldsmith, The Citizen of ike World (1762), Letter 

Books, my son, while they teach us to respect the interests 
of others, often make us unmindful of our own; while they 
instruct the youthful reader to grasp at social happiness, he 
grows miserable in detail, and attentive to universal harmony, 
often forgets that he himself has a part to sustain in the concert. 
. . .The discontented being, who retires from society, is generally 
some good-natured man, who has begun life without experience, 
and knows not how to gain it in his intercourse with mankind. 


(h) Most writers were preoccupied with the relationship between 
the individual and society, with 'interest' and happiness. Different 
answers were given. 

Source : J. Priestley, Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion ( 1 782), 
vol. I, part I, ch. 2. 

Since however, the divine goodness is general, and impartial; 
and he must, consequendy, prefer the happiness of the whole, 
to that of any individuals, it cannot be his pleasure, that we 
should consult our own interest, at the expense of that of 
others. Considering ourselves, therefore, not as separate 
individuals, but as members of society, another object that we 
ought to have in view is the welfare of our fellow creatures, 
and of mankind at large. But still there is no real disagreement 
among these different rules of conduct, because we are so 
made, as social beings, that every man provides the most 
effectually for his own happiness, when he cultivates those 
sentiments, and pursues that conduct, which, at the same time, 
most eminently conduce to the welfare of those with whom he 
is connected. Such is the wisdom of this admirable constitution, 
that every individual of the system gains his own ends, and 
those of his maker, by the same means. 

(i) Tom Paine pursued this main line of argument. For the political 
implications of this, see below, p. 468, 

Source: T. Paine, Tke Rights of Man (1791), part II, ch. 1. 

A great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not 
the effect of Government. It has its origin in the principles of 
society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior 
to Government, and would exist if the formality of Govern- 
ment was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal 
interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of a civilized 
community upon each other, create that great chain of connec- 
tion which holds it together. The land-holder, the farmer, the 
manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupa- 
tion, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other 
and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns 
and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains 
have a greater influence than the laws of Government. In 



fine, society performs for itself almost everything which is 
ascribed to Government. 

To understand the nature and quantity of Government 
proper for man, it is necessary to attend to his character. As 
nature created him for social life, she fitted him for the station 
she intended. In all cases she made his natural wants greater 
than his individual powers. No one man is capable, without 
the aid of society, of supplying his own wants; and those wants, 
acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into 
society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a centre. 

But she has gone further. She has not only forced man into 
society by a diversity of wants which the reciprocal aid of each 
other can supply, but she has implanted in him a system of 
social affections, which, though not necessary to his existence, 
are essential to his happiness. There is no period in life when 
this love for society ceases to act. It begins and ends with our 


English science was generally respected in the eighteenth century, 
and there was some interest in science not only among the litterati 
(Johnson, for example, was 'very fond* of chemical experiments), 
but even at a popular level. At the beginning of the century, it was 
the work of Newton and the mathematical physicists which stood 
out: by the end of the century there was a renewed interest in 
chemistry and biology. There was also considerable discussion of the 
experimental method, and a recognition amongst some writers that 
the pracdcal applications of science were likely to transform mind 
and environment. 

(a) Source; Letter from the Vicar of Upminster to the Squire of 
Belhus, June 1704, printed in Edwards (ed.), English History from 
Essex Sources, vol. I, p. 157. (Both men were Fellows of the Royal 

I here send you by this messenger your two books which I 
borrowed, for which I give you many thanks. I beg the favour of 
borrowing the next volume of your Transactions, and Dr Plot's 
History of Staffordshire, and Mr. Newton's Optics if you can 
spare them. 


I was yesterday at London, where I saw Mr. Newton's new 
contrivance of reflecting glasses. They were to have been tried 
yesterday before the Royal Society in the presence of Lords 
Halifax and Somers etc., but the day did not favour us. We 
were however regaled by Mr. Hawksbee's experiments in the 
pneumatic engine, viz: 

1 . A very light feather descended as swiftly as a piece of lead 
in the exsucked receiver. 

2. Tepid water first gently rose with small bubbles, and as 
the receiver was emptied of air the bubbles increased, till 
at last (when quite evacuated) it boiled with the greatest 
violence as if the greatest fire had been under. 

3. A glass vial included (and by a certain artifice evacuated) 
within the receiver, was broken into thousands of pieces by 
the admission of the air into the receiver. 

(b) Source: P. Grosley, Observations on England (1772), pp. 185-8. 
The conception of science broadened out from the natural sciences 
into the study of antiquity. Gilbert White's Natural History and 
Antiquities of Selborne ( 1 789) was an outstanding work in these 
fringe territories. 

England has maintained the reputation for the abstruse 
sciences, which it had formerly for the philosophy and theology 
of the schools, when the greatest geniuses were entirely en- 
grossed by those studies. Those which have established them- 
selves upon their ruin, arc infinitely indebted to the plans, the 
discoveries, of Bacon, Gilbert, Boyle, Newton, Halley, &c. &c. 
In investigations concerning antiquity, what obligations do we 
not owe to Usher, Selden, Marsham, and the accurate and 
laborious lucubrations of the learned men, who have raised 
from their ruins Palmyra, Athens, with the monuments of 
Dioclesian at Spalatro? England presents us with many 
living examples of the perseverance of its inhabitants in their 
attachment to such objects as have once engaged their attention. 

The disposition and turn of mind, which excites men to such 
enterprize and inspires them with the courage requisite for 
carrying them into execution, is precisely the sort of character 
required by ancient legislators in statesmen. It is the atrox animus 
. , . which the Stoics endeavoured to instil [into] their followers. 



(c) A full account of the experimental method is given by Sir 
Humphry Davy, best known for his invention of the safety lamp. 

Source: Humphry Davy, Researches Chemical and Philosophical, 
Chiefly Concerning Nitrous Oxide and its Respiration (1800). 

April, 1 799. In April I obtained nitrous oxide in a state of 
purity and ascertained many of its chemical properties. 
Reflections upon these properties and upon the former trials 
made me resolve to endeavour to inspire it in its pure form, for 
I saw no other way in which its respirability or powers could 
be determined. 

I was aware of the danger of this experiment. I thought that 
the effects might be possibly depressing and painful, but there 
were many reasons which induced me to believe that a single 
inspiration of a gas apparently possessing no immediate action 
on the irritable fibre could neither destroy or materially injure 
the powers of life. 

April 11. I made the first inspiration of pure nitrous oxide. 
It passed through the bronchia without stimulating the glottis, 
and produced no uneasy feeling in the lungs. The result of 
this experiment proved that the gas was respirable, and induced 
me to believe that a farther trial of its effects might be made 
without danger. 

April 16. Dr. Kinglake being accidentally present, I 
breathed three quarters of nitrous oxide from and into a silk 
bag for more than half a minute without previously closing 
my nose or exhausting my lungs. The first inspirations occasion- 
ed a slight degree of giddiness. This was succeeded by an 
uncommon sense of fulness of the head, accompanied with loss 
of distinct sensation and voluntary power, a feeling analogous 
to that produced in the first stage of intoxication, but un- 
attended by pleasurable sensation. Dr. Kinglake, who felt my 
pulse, informed me that it was rendered quicker and fuller. 

This trial did not satisfy me with regard to its powers; 
comparing it with the former ones I was unable to determine 
whether the operation was stimulant or depressing. 

April 17. I communicated the result to Dr. Beddoes and he 
was present when the following experiment was made. Having 
previously closed my nostrils and exhaused my lungs I breathed 



four quarts of nitrous oxide from and into a silk bag. The first 
feelings were similar to those produced in the last experiment, 
but in less than half-a-minute the respiration being continued, 
they diminished gradually, and were succeeded by a sensation 
analogous to gentle pressure on all the muscles, attended by a 
highly pleasurable thrilling, particularly in the chest and the 
extremities. The objects around me became dazzling and my 
hearing more acute. Towards the last inspirations the thrilling 
increased, the sense of muscular power became greater, and 
at last an irresistible propensity to action was indulged in. 
I recollect but indistinctly what followed; I know that my 
motions were various and violent. 

These effects very soon ceased after respiration. In ten 
minutes I had recovered my natural state of mind. The thrilling 
in the extremities continued longer than the other sensations. 
This experiment was made in the morning. No languor or 
exhaustion was consequent; my feelings throughout the day 
were as usual, and I passed the night in undisturbed repose. 

April 18. The next morning the recollections of the effects 
of the gas were very indistinct, and had not remarks written 
down immediately after the experiment recalled them to my 
mind I should even have doubted of their reality. I was willing 
indeed to attribute some of the strong emotion to the enthusiasm 
which I supposed must necessarily have been connected with 
the perception of agreeable feelings when I was prepared to 
experience painful sensations. Two experiments, however, 
made in the course of this day, with scepticism, convinced 
mc that the effects were solely owing to the specific operation 
of the gas. In each of them I breathed five quarts of nitrous 
oxide for rather a longer time than before. The sensations 
produced were similar, perhaps not quite so pleasurable. 
The muscular motions were much less violent. 

Having thus ascertained the powers of the gas, I made many 
experiments to ascertain the length of time for which it might 
be breathed with safety, its effects on the pulse, and its general 
effects on the health when often respired. I found that I could 
breathe nine quarts of nitrous oxide for three minutes, and 
twelve quarts for rather more than four. I could never breathe 
it in any quantity so long as five minutes. Whenever its 


operation was carried to the highest extent the pleasurable 
thrilling at its height about the middle of the experiment grad- 
ually diminished, the sense of pressure on the muscles was lost, 
impressions ceased to be perceived, vivid ideas passed rapidly 
through the mind, and voluntary power was altogether 
destroyed, so that the mouth-piece generally dropped from my 
unclosed Hps. Generally, when I breathed from six to seven 
quarts muscular motions were produced to a certain extent. 
Sometimes I manifested my pleasure by stamping or laughing 
only; at other times by dancing round the room and 

May 3. To ascertain whether the gas would accelerate or 
retard the progress of sleep, I breathed at about eight o'clock 
in the evening 25 quarts of nitrous oxide in quantities of six at 
a time, allowing but short intervals between each dose. The 
feelings were much less pleasurable than usual, and during the 
consumption of the two last doses, almost indifferent. Indeed, 
the gas was breathed rather too soon after its production and 
contained some suspended acid vapour which stimulated the 
lungs so as to induce coughing. After the experiments, for the 
first time I was somewhat depressed and debilitated. My 
propensity to sleep, however, came on at the usual hour, and 
as usual was indulged in. My repose was sound and unbroken. 

Between May and July. I habitually breathed the gas, 
occasionally three or four rimes a day for a week together; at 
other periods, four or five times a week only. The general effects 
of its operation upon my health and state of mind are extremely 
difficult of description, nor can I well discriminate between its 
agency and that of other physical and moral causes. I slept 
much less than usual, and previous to sleep my mind was long 
occupied by visual imagery. I had a constant desire of action, 
a restlessness and an uneasy feeling . . . analogous to the 
sickness of hope. But perhaps these phenomena in some measure 
depended on the interest and labour connected with the 
experimental investigation relating to the production of 
nitrous oxide by which I was at this time incessantly occupied. 

■ • « 

[Davy continued his experiments.] 

Between September and the end of October. I made but 




few experiments on respiration, almost the whole of my time 
being devoted to chemical experiments on the production and 
analysis of nitrous oxide. At this period my health being some- 
what injured by the constant labour of experimenting and the 
perpetual inhalation of the acid vapours of the laboratory, I 
went to Cornwall where new associations of ideas and feelings, 
common exercise, a pure atmosphere, luxurious diet and 
moderate indulgence in wine in a month restored me to health 
and vigour. 

(d) The need for scientists to communicate with each other en- 
couraged the exchange of scientific papers and the formation of 

Source : Article by John Playfair in the Supplement to 4th, 5th 
and 6th editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1816-24). 

Frequent communication of ideas, and a regular method of 
keeping up such communication, are evidently essential to 
works in which great labour and industry are to be employed 
and to which much time must necessarily be devoted; when the 
philosopher must not always sit quietly in his cabinet, but must 
examine nature with his own eyes, and be present in the work- 
shop of the mechanic, or the laboratory of the chemist. These 
operations are facilitated by the institutions now referred to, 
which, therefore, are of more importance to the physical sciences 
than to the other branches of knowledge. They who cultivate 
the former are also fewer in number, and being, of course, 
farther separated, are less apt to meet together in the common 
intercourse of the world. The historian, the critic, the poet, 
finds everywhere men who can enter in some degree at least 
into his pursuits, who can appreciate his merit, and derive 
pleasure from his writings or his conversation. The mathe- 
matician, the astronomer, the mechanician, sees few men who 
have much sympathy with his pursuits, or who do not look 
with indifference on the objects which he pursues. The world, 
to him, consists of a few individuals, by the censures or appro- 
bation of whom the public opinion must be finally determined; 
with them it is material that he should have more frequently 
intercourse than could be obtained by casual encounter; and 
he feels that the society of men engaged in pursuits similar to 



his own, is a necessary stimulus to his exertions. Add to this, 
that such societies become centers in which information con- 
cerning facts is collected from all quarters. For all these reasons, 
the greatest benefit has resulted from the scientific institutions 
which, since the middle of the seventeenth century, have 
become so numerous in Europe. 

(e) In the meantime science was a growing mystery to most laymen. 
Throughout the century there were experiments with electricity, 
which thrilled and astonished contemporaries, Joseph Priestley 
wrote an interesting History and Present State of Electricity (1767) 
dealing with them. Wesley wondered whether diseases could be 
cured by electric shock treatment. 

Source: Journal of Thomas Turner, 28 April 1761, 

There being at Jancs's a person with an electrical machine, 
my niece and I went to see it; and tho' I have seen it several 
years agoc, I think there is something in it agreeable and 
instructing, but at the same time very surprising. As to my 
own part, I am quite at a loss to form any idea of 
the phoeinomina. 


There had been many brilliant discoveries in the medical history 
of the seventeenth century, but it look time for learning to be 
applied to regular medical practice. Folk remedies were employed 
despite the development of sophisticated medical 'systems', many of 
them reflecting the influence of the Enlightenment. One of the 
main European centres of medical education was Edinburgh, where 
important reforms were introduced in 1726, and a distinguished 
line of professors began to develop university studies. Among the 
new 'inventions' of the century were forceps: another innovation 
was 'inoculation' against smallpox, introduced from the East in 
1717, and followed up by vaccination in 1796. 

(a) Source: A Cure for the Gout in The Lady' s Companion (1753 edn,), 
vol. II, p. 387. 

Half an Ounce of Hiera-picra, and eight Grains of Cochineal, 
finely powdered, being put into a Pint of the best Red Port, 


let it stand at least twenty-four Hours, shake the Bottle well, 
and often, during that Time, but shake not the Bottle for three 
or four Hours before you draw off any of the Tincture for Use; 
take of this half a Quartern, according as you find yourself strong 
or weak ; you must continue taking of this every second, third, 
or fourth Day, till you take the whole Pint; and if the Gout 
returns, take another Pint as before, and so do to every Fit. 
This Tincture, if taken in a Fit of the Gout, in a few Hours 
dissolves all the Particles in the Blood, which causes the Pain, 
and if pursued, as before directed, will, in Time, work them all 
out of the Blood. 

(b) Source: F. Turner (cd.), A Berkshire Batchelor's Diary (1932), p. 
33. A Rt. to Cure ye Bite of a Mad Dog. 

Of yc leaves of Rue pick'd from ye Stalb, six ounces, garlic 
pick'd and bruis'd four ounces, Venice treacle four ounces, 
scrapings of Pewter four ounces, metidate four ounces. Boil 
these ingredients over a slow fire in 2 quarts of strong Ale till 
one Pinte is consum'd; then keep it in a Bottle close stop'd 
and give of it 7 spoonfuls to a man or woman, warm, seven 
mornings fasting, and six to a dog. 

This the author believes will not by God's blessing fail, if 
it be given within 9 days after ye bite of ye dog. Apply some of 
ye ingredients from wch. ye liquor was strained to ye bitten 

N.B. This Rect. was taken out of Cathrop [Calthrop?] 
Church in Lincolnshire; many of ye inhabitants being bitten 
by mad dogs. All who took this medicine did well and recovered. 
The others died mad. It has also been found effectual when 
applied to other animals. 

(c) Doctors were more professionalized at the end of the century 
than at the beginning, but they remained divided and stratified. 
Apothecaries, once tradesmen, became practising doctors; surgeons 
finally ceased to be linked with barbers; and physicians, the only 
'gendemen' of the profession at the beginning of the century, were 
more numerous and more 'professionally' educated, although still 
only a small dlite. Physicians saw their patients only rarely. 

Source; Letter from Henry Purefoy to his surgeon, 7 Oct, 1742, 
printed in Purefoy Letters (1931), vol, I, p. 100. 



Since you was so kind to desire to know what effect your 
medicines had on mee I can now acquaint you I have done 
taking what you prescribed mee last ffriday and I hope they 
will perform a cure on my Leg, and then I shall think my 
Journey to Bath very fortunate. I have kept the Plaister to 
my leg as you ordered & it is quite dryed without any soreness 
or Tendernesse. I have not yet had an Issue made in my Leg & 
should be glad to know if it could be avoided without danger, 
if not I will be sure to have it done out of hand when I have your 
answer. The swelling in my Leg is in a manner quite gone. I 
bound on a binder higher on my leg besides that which you 
bound on, which I thought helped to lessen the swelling thereof, 
I desire your Directions whether I must take your last Pres- 
criptions any more or if you would order mee anything else 
I still continue your plaister on & to swath my Leg as usuall. , . 

(d) There is an interesting account of the costs of medical care in 
1 742/4 in the Mildmay Archives. The extract is printed in Edwards 
(ed.), English History from Essex Sources, vol. I, pp. 165-6. 

£ 1. d. 
1742: Mar. 1 Longmorc my butler having a violent cold and 
inflammation in his breast, I sent for Dr. Barker. 
Gave him 1 . 1 . 

Mar. 22 For the lodgings and diet of Luke one of my 
footmen at Chelsea after he had had the measles 
£0. 8. 6. and also for his nurse and lodgings in 
Town during the time he had them, £1. 1. 1. 9. 6 

July 3 Gave Dr. Barker for his advice, having been 
troubled for some days with a lightness in my 
head — he advised bleeding 1, 1.0 

July 3 Gave Mr. Hawkins for taking away ten ounces 

ofblood I, 1. 

1743: Jan. 19 Gave to Dr. Barker for advising my Lady 

to 22 Fitzwalter in a fit of the gout 4. 4. 

Feb. 8,9 Gave Dr. Barker for attending my Lady Fitz- 
walter on a return of the gout in a violent manner 
in the same foot 2. 2. 

Apr. 16 Gave Dr. Barker for coming to mc 3 times upon 
a complaint of a lightness in my head, having a 
great cold 3. 3. 

Apr. 13 Gave Mr. Hawkins for bleeding rae 1. 1.0 

N.B. the sixteenth I took physic 
July 7 To Dr. Barker, being troubled with a palpitation 1. 1.0 

1744: Mar. 19 Gave Mr. Curedin for syringing both my ears 2. 2. 


(e) A few doctors' diaries survive. 

Source: E. Hobhouse (ed.), The Diary of a West Country Physician 
(1934). The writer was Dr. Claver Morris (1684-1726). 

1719. Jan. 1. My son being III, and supposing it would 
come to the Measles, I gave him a gentle Purge just as I saw 
immediately some Breaking Out on the Skin. The Purge made 
him very sick, and work'd with him 3 or 4 times. About 5 
in the Afternoon 5 Spoonfuls of his Cordial-Mixture were 
given. . . . 

Jan 2. My Son was very likely to Die in the Measles; though 
they were come out. . . . 

Oct, 21. I was taken sick betwixt 11 and 12 a clock, with a 
shivering and coldness, like an Ague, I could not dine. I 
continued 111 all the afternoon. Prescribed for myself. 

Oct. 22. I took a Purging Bolus last night, and with drinking 
Bawm [balm] tea, I attended on it working this day, I had 5 

1720. March 17. Visited Mr. Shirley at Sherborn. He was 
very lU of a Jaundice, & his Physician Dr. Bull not discerning 
righdy his Disease, & Prescribing very languid Medicines for 
what he thought it, He desired mine Assistance, & I prescribed. 

(f) For smallpox and the fears it engendered, and inoculation as a 
somewhat alarming way of dealing with its dangers, there is much 

Source : Letter from Sanderson Miller to T, Lennard Barrett, 1 744, 
printed in L. Dickins and N. Stanton (eds,), An Eighteenth-Century 
Correspondence (1910), pp. 95-6. 

Dear Sir, — There is no reason why you should make any 
apology for your letter which I look upon as the strongest mark 
of your Friendship. I have never had occasion to study the 
Controversy about Innoculation, and indeed I always thought 
it a matter of prudence only. I believe there is much less 
chance for the Child's dying now, than there is if she has it in 
the common way, and as her station will oblige her to be much 
in Town, it is very improbable that she will excape it entirely, 
besides if she should, the tears and anxieties that the thoughts 
of the distemper might give her some day may be as bad 


consequence as the distemper itself. You see there are sufficient 
reasons for people to innoculate their Boys, and I am sure 
the reasons are much stronger for innoculating Girls, because 
the Ladies are generally of a more timorous disposition, and 
therefore it is more dangerous and if they have it during 
pregnancy it is found to be very fatal, . . . But in this case 
I would not venture to advise without having the same regard for 
you as for the Child. 

(g) Edward Jenner, a friend and pupil of the great medical pro- 
fessor John Hunter, won both friends and enemies for his experi- 
ments with vaccination. 

Source: A Resolution recorded in the Minutes of the Essex and 
Hcris. Benevolent Medical Society, 1801, reprinted in Brown (cd.), 
English History from Essex Sources, vol. II, p. 146. 

That the thanks of this court be given to Dr Jenner for Ids 
invaluable treatise on the Variola Vaccina, wherein he has 
clearly and satisfactorily demonstrated that the inoculated cow 
pox is a certain preventive of the small pox. 

That as men of humanity, associated for the purposes of 
benevolence, we should be wanting to the character we assume, 
did we neglect the present opportunity of bearing our testimony 
to the value of this providential discovery, which, if generally 
practised we are of opinion, would effectually eradicate the 
small pox, one of the severest scourges of the human race. 

(h) Throughout the century there was increasing if intermittent 
concern for public health. 154 hospitals, infirmaries and dispen- 
saries were opened between 1 700 and 1 825. There were only about 
3000 patients in hospitals in 1800, however, and ihey were still 
unclassified. Standards of cleanliness had improved even if it did 
not always come next after godliness. Sir John Floyer's Right Use 
of Hot, Cold and Temperate Bath, which ran through six editions 
between 1697 and 1722, had made no mention of bathing for 

Source: D. Defoe, Tour (1724), letter II. 

The Hospitals in and about the City of London, deserve a 
little further Observation, especially those more remarkable for 
their Magnitude, as, 


I. Betklem, or Bedlam: This and Bridewell, indeed, go together, 
for though they are Two several Houses, yet they are Incorpor- 
ated together, and have the same Governors ; also the President, 
Treasurer, Clerk, Physician and Apothecary are the same; 
but the Stewards and the Revenue are different, and so are 
the Benefactions ; but to both very great. 

The Orders for the Government of the Hospital of Bethlem 
are exceeding Good, and a remarkable Instance of the good 
Disposition of the Gentlemen concerned in it, especially those 
that follow; 

1. That no Person, except the proper Officers who tend 
them, be allowed to see the Lunaticks of a Sunday. 

2. That no Person be allowed to give the Lunaticks strong 
Drink, Wine, Tobacco or Spirits, or to sell any such tiling in 
the Hospital. 

3. That no Servant of the House shall take any Money 
given to any of the Lunaticks to their own Use; but that it 
shall be carefully kept for them till they arc recovered, or laid 
out for them in such things as the Committee approves. 

4. That no Officer or Servant shall beat or abuse, or offer 
any Force to any Lunatick; but on absolute Necessity. The 
rest of the Orders are for the good Government of the House. . . . 

II. The hospital of Bridewell, as it is an Hospital, so it is 
also a House of Correction. The House was formerly the 
King's City Palace; 

... As Idle Persons, Vagrants, &c. are committed to this 
House for Correction, so there are every Year, several poor 
Lads brought up to Handicraft Trades, as Apprentices, and 
of these the Care is in the Governors, who maintain them out 
of the standing Revenues of the House. . . . 

The other City Hospitals, are the Blue-coal Hospital for 
poor Freemen's Orphan Children, and the Two Hospitals for 
Sick and Maimed People, as St. Bartholomew's and St. Thomas's. 

III. Christ's Hospital was originally constituted by King 
Edward 'VI, who has the Honour of being the Founder of it, . . . 
It is now so far increased in substance, by the Benefactions of 
worthy Gentlemen Contributors, they now maintain near a 
Thousand, who have Food, Cloathing and Instruction, useful 
and sufficient Learning, and exceeding good Discipline; and 




at the Proper Times they are put out to Trades, suitable to their 
several Genius's and Capacities, and near Five thousand Pounds 
a Year are expended on this Charity. 

IV. St, Bartholomew's Hospital , . . from [a] small Beginning, 
rose to the Greatness we now see it arrived at, of which take the 
following Account for one Year, viz. 1718; 

Cur'd and discharg'd, of Sick, Maimed 

and Wounded from all Parts 
Buried at the Expence of the House 198 

Remaining under Cure 513 

V, St. Thomas's Hospital in Southwark . . . has received 
greater Benefactions than St. Bartholomew's; but then 'tis also 
said to have suffered greater Losses, especially by several great 
Fires in Southwark and elsewhere, as by the Necessity of expen- 
sive Buildings, which, notwithstanding the charitable Gifts of 
divers great Benefactors, has cost the Hospital great Sums. 
The State of this Hospital is so advanced at this Time, that in 
the same Year as above, viz. 1718, the State of the House was 
as follows: 


Cur'd and discharged of Sick, Wounded \ 

and Maimed from all Parts, j 

Buried at the Expence of the House 216 

Remaining under Cure 566 

Adjoining to this of St. Thomas's, is lately laid a noble 
Foundation of a new Hospital, by the charitable Gift and 
single Endowment of one Person, and, perhaps, the greatest 
of its kind, next to that ofSuttons Hospital, that ever was founded 
in this Nation by one Person, whether private or publick, not 
excepting the Kings themselves. 

This will, I suppose, be called Guy's Hospital, being to be 
Built and Endowed at the sole Charge of one Mr. Thomas Gup, 
formerly a Bookseller in Lombard-street, who lived to see the said 
Hospital not only designed, the Ground purchased and cleared, 
but the Building begun, and a considerable Progress made in 
it, and died [in 1 724] while these Sheets were in the Press, 


Politics in a Changing Society 

Our house is every day so very full of Country People, that its 
like an Election time. 

(Letter from Lord Fermanagh to Ralph 
Verney, 31 Dec. 1712) 

You will be of the House of Commons as soon as you are of age, 
and first you must be a figure there if you would make a figure in 
your country. 

(Letter from Lord Chesterfield to his son, 

5 Dec. 1749) 

You ask me my sentiments upon the affair of Mr. Wilks ... I 
don't love Riots and Turmults. But it is necessary that it should be 
known, that the Nation is not satisfied. 

(The Duke of Newcastle, April 1 768) 

The present extraordinary era , . . affords a noble opportunity for 
the contemplation of wisdom, and, in the improvement oflegislative 
and political establishments, for the exercise of human ability. . . . 
The particular objects next in succession to these great universal 
attainments, is the colonial and domestic prosperity of the British 
Empire, to restore to the Constitution and the Laws their original 
spirit, to preserve them from visionary emendations, and to support 
every measure which Reason dictates for their improvement and 
perfection in Church and State. 

(Address to the Public, announcing the 
publication of The Observer, Dec. 1791) 

To enlighten the people, to show the people the reason, the 
ground for all their sufferings, 

(The Object of the London Corresponding 

Society, as defined by a witness at the Trial of 

Thomas Hardy, 1793) 





There was no written constitution in eighteenth-century Britain, 
yet most Englishmen during the eighteenth century referred legal 
and political questions to the Constitution as it had been left after 
'the Glorious Revolution' of 1688. The Constitution was admired. 
even venerated by lawyers like Blackstone, and extolled by foreign- 
ers. Even radicals talked not of altera ting the Constitution but of 
restoring it. There were, however, many conflicting interpretations 
of what the Constitution meant, particularly after the American 
War of 1775 to 1783, which unsettled much in English life and 
politics. The French Revolution marked an even bigger break. 

(a) Source: T. Somerville, Observations on the Constitution and Present 
State of Britain (1 793), p. 1 . 

It cannot be deemed necessary to use many words in en- 
deavoring to prove the existence of the British Constitution, to 
which the following pages principally refer. The form of the 
British constitution has often been described and explained. 
Its essential, constituent parts; their coordinate, combined 
influence in the legislature; their separate functions and in- 
terests; are understood by every person instructed in the 
elements of domestic policy. The spirit and principles of our 
constitution, well-known and familiar, arc the standard to 
which we appeal in all our political disputes; and by which 
we estimate the merits and utility of measures of state, 

(b) Source: Edmund Burke, On The Reform of Representation in the 
House of Commons (1782). 

A nation is not an idea only of local extent, and individual 
momentary aggregation; but it is an idea of continuity, which 
extends in time as well as in numbers and in space. And this 
is a choice not of one day, or one set of people, not a tumul- 
tuary and giddy choice; it is a deliberate election of the ages 
and of generations; it is a constitution made by what is ten 
thousand times better than choice, it is made by the peculiar 
circumstances, occasions, tempers, dispositions, and moral, 
civil and social habitudes of the people, which disclose them- 
selves only in a long space of time. 


(c) Source: Timothy Telltruth, The Collected Wisdom of Ages, The 
Most Stupendous Fabric of Human Invention, the English Constitution 
{Philadelphia, 1799), pp. v ff. 

The present constitution of England ... is, by no means, that 
constitution which laid the foundation of English grandeur and 
riches, and introduced into that country the arts; those arts 
which in the hands of Englishmen have been improved, so as 
to excel all nations, and give them the pre-eminence in every 
quarter of the globe. . . . No! The present constitution is not 
calculated to build up, but to destroy; to render ineffectual 
even the temperance and salubrity of the climate ; the richness 
of the soil; and above all to cramp the inventive genius and 
cnterprizing spirit of Englishmen, . . . The government of 
England is liable to great, though imperceptible revolutions, 
and , . . the sovereign power may be transferred from the 
cabinet council to the king, if he chance to be a man of strong 
intellects, and have sufficient knowledge of mankind, and the 
art of governing; and vice versa if he should be a man of weak 
parts, and the members of the council ambitious. ... It is also 
probable that the house of commons, if assisted by the people 
might obtain the sovereignty, but this would be a more 
stormy revolution and difficult to accomplish, for every transfer 
of the sovereignty from one body to another is a revolution. 
The English constitution, as it is considered by foreigners, and 
contemplated in theory, is perfect only when the bodies politic 
are respectively afraid of, and kept in awe by each other, , . . 
[At present] what with a splendid establishment for a royal 
family, and the members of the executive or cabinet council; 
a standing army; an immense navy (useless in time of peace): 
an expensive church establishment, and above all an enormous 
national debt, the very interest of which is now equal to all the 
other expenses of government; the people groan under an 
excessive weight of taxes which ultimately fall upon the 
lower classes. . . . [Yet as now] the poor are reduced as low 
as possible, no other resource is left for Pitt but to tax the 
rich, which, it appears, he is sensible of, by his taxes upon 
income, carriages, hair powder etc. But it cannot be expected 
(because it never has been known in the history of man) that 
the rich will bear oppression as patiently as the poor, therefore, 


it may be naturally supposed that the middling class of people, 
or employers in England, feeling themselves oppressed, will 
instruct the working people in their rights and wrongs and stir 
them up to sedition and revolt. 

(d) The principles of the 'Enlightenment' were used by some late 
eighteenth-century radicals to test government. 

Source; T. Walker, A Review of Some of the Political Events which 
have occurred in Manchester during the last Five Tears (1794), pp. 1-2. 

Of late years ... it has been suspected, that society and 
civil government originally were, or ought to have been, 
intended to promote and render permanent the happiness 
of individuals who thus connect themselves with each other, . , . 
It has become important to ascertain . . . how the few have 
permanently contrived to live in affluence and luxurious 
indulgence, while the many drag on an existence laborious and 
miserable, in ignorance and vice, in pain and poverty! It is 
not great wonder that any set of men should prefer their 
own interest and inclination to that of their neighbours. . . . 
But though a melancholy, it is a very instructive problem, to 
ascertain how it thus happened, that the great mass, not 
merely of a community, but of mankind, should have for 
ages submitted to this state of things. 


There were frequent displays of strong feeling in eighteenth- 
century politics, although the distribution of power and influence 
between different social classes was not a major issue before the 
nineteenth century. Polidcal power was based on property, with 
landed property being treated as the foundation of society. The 
landed interest dominated parliamentary and local life, and any 
study of 'party' labels must begin with the facts of family connexion 
and 'interest'. 'Influence' operated in relation to social life, business, 
appointments and, not least, elections. 'Crude pressure', in Sir 
Lewis Namier's phrase, shaded off 'by almost imperceptible degrees' 
into traditions of influence. 

(a) In Chester, for example, the Grosvenor family, living four miles 
away at Eaton Hall, exercised persistent local influence. Between 1715 


and 1874 they always held one of Chester's two seats in the House of 
Commons and for 42 years both seats. The following letter, among 
the Grosvenor papers, is from the Town Clerk to Sir Richard 
Grosvenor, M.P. for Chester, after the latter had informed him in 
Dec. 1 760 that he expected to be made a peer. 

Source: Sir Lewis Namier and J. Brooke, The House of Commons, 
1754-90 (1964), vol I, p. 221. 

At an assembly of our corporation held yesterday the favour 
of your obliging and kind letter was presented and read. I am 
directed by the unanimous voice of the house to express their 
true and sincere thanks for all your repeated and willing 
services to this city, at the same time to assure you that Mr. 
Bootie's offer to fulfill the trust you are soon to resign [and to 
become M.P.] is wholly pleasing to the body. I am further to 
inform you, Sir, that the citizens think themselves happy 
in having your wishes and intentions for their welfare. The 
obligations they have so long received from you and your 
ancestors so much command their inclinations to be grateful, 
that your approbation is in their minds a sufficient foundation 
for their acceptance, and for those expectations they have 
already formed of your intended successor. 

On all occasions, Sir, the city will hereafter confide in 
possessing your patronage and esteem. On their parts they will 
be always ready to exert the most unalterable attachment and 
regard to you and your worthy family. 

(b) It was not only landed aristocracy which exercised 'influence'. 
All other groups used influence naturally and un-selfconsciously 
whenever they could. 

Source; Note on the West Indian 'interest' (about 40 members) in 
the House of Commons in 1 764 from the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 
XXXVI, p. 230. 

In almost every contest between the West-Indians and North- 
Americans, the West-Indians gained their point: In a very few 
instances, national justice and good sense defeated the combined 
power of the West-Indian aristocracy; for, in short, they 
considered themselves entitled to double influence, as members 
of the House of Commons, and people of large property both 
at home and abroad. 


(c) Yet there were many critics of 'influence*. 

Source : Note in the pre-election number of