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A Social Geography of England and Wales by Richard Dennis

By Richard Dennis

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Additional resources for A Social Geography of England and Wales

Example text

Economic forces were moulding the geography of England in more powerful ways than ever before, and structures that had been inherited from pre-industrial times had to be re-shaped or erased in this new industrial age. Social institutions old and new, small and great, rural and urban exercised their powers to generate fascinating exceptions to what might be expected from the operation of economic rules. New industrial towns were inserted into the framework of pre-urban landownership units and manifested the social ideals and attitudes of millowners, town councillors and others with access to social and economic power.

After due consideration of mortality trends, Wrigley (1967) has hypothesized that roughly 12,000 migrants must have moved to London annually between 1650 and 1750 and Smith (1978) remarks that "it may have absorbed up to half the natural increase of the total population, recruiting its migrants from considerable distances" (p. 224). For example, an analysis of 104 working men living in Stepney and Whitechapel between 1580 and 1639 showed that well over two-thirds had originated from settlements more than 50 miles away and which were spread fairly evenly across the country.

Each centre had regular market days each week and also held fairs less frequently. These fairs remained a significant feature in the economic and social organization of England certainly until the eighteenth century but their international character declined. The operation of 'the open market' was carefully organized and stood in contrast with the private buying and selling that escaped the eyes and ears of the market officials. Pre-industrial towns depended also on supplies of migrants from the countryside for their very survival, since rates of urban mortality were extremely high and would have precluded population growth.

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