The agricultural labourer in Worcestershire : responses to economic change and social dislocation 1790-1841
The study of rural history and social unrest in the English countryside has concentrated largely on East Anglia and southern England. Apart from one or two recent studies, the western agricultural counties have been relatively ignored. More importantly, apart from giving some detailed accounts of the lives of rural political activists, many historians have paid less attention to the daily lives of the majority of agricultural labourers. This has led to a general acceptance that most labourers were part of a rural proletariat whose loss of common rights and declining living standards culminated in the Last Labourers’ Revolt of 1830. This thesis seeks to broaden this view by providing a more holistic view of labourers’ lives in Worcestershire in order to determine what social and economic changes had the most impact on rural life in general and on three settlements in particular. The introduction demonstrates how romantic views of the past have influenced some historians’ attitudes. It then determines the empirical basis for this study.