County administration in the reign of George II : the example of Surrey
This thesis investigates the restructuring of local government in the reign of George II in the county of Surrey. The decay of mediaeval and Tudor institutions such as manors and church courts, the redefinition of the role of the Assizes in local administration, the ending of the isolation of the boroughs, the marked professionalisation of County Quarter Sessions contributed to a very considerable change in the nature of local government in the period. The research opens with an introduction on the administrative relationship between central and county government, is then divided into three parts, each subdivided into chapters. Part one discusses forms of government at parish and borough level and charts the development of vestries and, against a background of municipal insecurity, assesses the reality of an urban renaissance in eighteenth century Surrey towns. Part two examines the important work of the court of Quarter Sessions and, in particular, the impact of administrative prescription on the individual Surrey inhabitant. Part three looks at the influence and social status of the county magistracy and their commitment and dedication to administrative work in the localities. The importance of administrative procedure as an agency of social control in the eighteenth century is emphasised in the conclusion, which also stresses the uses of administrative history to the social historian.