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Title: Aspects of society in Scotland and north east England, c.1550-c.1750 : social structure, literacy and geographical mobility
Author: Houston, Robert Allan
ISNI:       0000 0001 0895 6363
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1981
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This thesis offers a comparison of certain aspects of society in pre-industrial Scotland and the north of England. It attempts to view the social development of Scotland and England simultaneously in the period cl550-1750, thus countering the assumption that this is impossible and also offering some opportunity to examine whether the two countries enjoyed a :(undamentally different historical development. The aspects studied are social structure, geographical mobility and literacy. Using apprentice records, marriage bonds and marriage registers a picture o f the social hierarchy of Scotland and Northern England is recovered by the use of the statistical technique of multi- dimensional scaling. The resulting configurations show that at its basic structure society in the two regions of Britain was remarkably similar. The 'backward' nature of society in north-east England is questioned, as is the 'egalitarian' nature of Scottish social life. Apprentice records for Edinburgh and Newcastle are exploi ted to study geographical mobility over the same period of time. These are supplemented, for Scotland only, by the use of 'testimonials' issued to mobile persons between c 1640 and 1800. The Patterns of geographical mobility revealed are essentially similar, but with some possibly important variaties. The a attainment of literacy, measured as the ability to sign a name to a document , is compared in both countries. In England subsqribers to the Protestation Oath of 1642, to marriage bonds and depositions at both ecclesiastical and criminal courts are analysed, mainly for the period 1640-1750. Results are compared with subscriptions to the scottish Covenants, 1638-43, and with deposition evidence at various civil and criminal courts, 1630-1760. The level of literacy in scotland is found to have been lower than previously assumed, and indeed to have been close to that in contemporary England. The place of the much vaunted Scottish education system in producing this profile is questioned. While the above documents form the core of ' the analysis, they are supplemented by reference to a wide range of Scottish and English sources, notably taxation documents, wills and inventories, parish registers and estate records. The approach is essentially a regional and national one, though information derived from detailed local study is incorporated to provide explanation and qualification of results thrown up by the wider ranging, more typical analysis. This thesis exploits traditional methods of historical craftsmanship combined with a limited use of statistical techniques of varying complexity to give a higher standard of verification for the generalisations provided. It's aim is to refute unwarranted assumptions about the nature of Scottish and English society in the pre-i ndustrial period. Finally it offers some opportunity to examine the debate on the social preconditions of successful industrialisation by comparing two countries which apparently shared the experience of being the first in the world to industrialise, but which were supposedly very different before doing so.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: History