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Lecture 11

MIDDLING SORT TO MIDDLE CLASS

 

1. Definitions of Middling Classes

Income ranges

  • servant - a few pounds a year plus board
  • journeyman, small tradesman - ,8-,35 a year
  • 50 a year necessary to maintain basics of middling class
  • lifestyle
  • 40 a year level at which liability to pay the poor rate
  • London - c. 2-3% in 1798 in the upper income bracket (av. ,200 a year)
  • 16-21% in the middling bracket - ,80-139 a year
  • remaining 75% a diverse body of small shopkeepers, smaller independent artisans, wage labourers and the unemployed

Numbers

  • The urban population of England grew from 850,000 in 1700 (17% of pop) to 2.38 mil. in 1801 (27.5% of pop.)
  • [Definition of urban - towns over 5,000]
  • 2/3 of growth occurred outside London- were c. 170,000 urban middling people in 1700 and c. 475,000 in 1801 - leaves out all those in villages and smaller county towns
  • Compare to numbers in gentry - were c. 1,000 families in upper gentry, 2,000 in lesser gentry - & c. 10,000 in group calling themselves gentlemen

 

2. Divisions
  • Appetite for social status
  • Gentlemen and merchants
  • Regional divisions
  • Polite society and the rest

 

3. Consumer Goods for the Middle Classes
  • Taxes: poor rates, house and window taxes and especially stamp and excise duties; new carriage and coach taxes, plate tax, servant taxes.

 

4. Professions
  • Apothecaries and lawyers
  • Mobility
  • Genteel poverty

 

5. Business

 

6. Credit and Debt
  • Wholesale credit - 6 months - a year
  • Retail credit - 3, 4, 6 months
  • Debt - Courts of Conscience
  • Bankruptcy laws - 1706 - could only be declared if debtor owed more than ,100 to a single creditor 1-2% of population declared bankrupt annually

 

7. Religion
  • Dissent
  • Societies for the Reformation of Manners
  • Evangelicalism

 

8. Commercial Education
  • In 1500 c. 1% of women and 10% of men could read and write - by 1800 c. 40% of women and 60% of men were able to do so. The men who read were mainly from the gentry, the professionals, government officials, retail traders and skilled tradesmen.
  • Among women - domestic servants had rates much lower than 40% - but women in the needle trades c. 70% - shopkeepers, midwives and
  • Schooltreachers were 80-100% literate
  • Accounting and book keeping
  • The Dissenting Academies