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Title: Admiral John Byng's 'British' execution : a case of community, nation, and empire, 1756-1757
Author: Krulder, Joseph John
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 1710
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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The loss of Minorca at the beginning oft he Seven Years' War created a well documented political crisis culminating in the arrest, trial , and execution of Admiral John Byng. Most of the historiography on this extraordinary event remains, however, mired in political, maritime, and military histories. This dissertation deviates from that trend. If Byng's execution is treated as a deviant case (which it most certainly was) then this remarkable episode can reveal much about several other aspects of eighteenth-century British society that has hithel10 remained below the surface. Thus, by way of microhistory, the research presented here looks past the political and military and attempts, instead, to connect Byng to the several other aspects of cultural Britain that allowed his execution to go forward . Communicative cultures remained potent: ballads and sermons are investigated alongside newspapers and pamphlets not only as conduits of information (or misinformation) but in gauging the potency of the messaging. This dissel1ation also takes an anthropological turn to add to the historical discourse of the eighteenth-century crowd. Thus, what develops is an argument put forward which takes into account individual behaviors as paJ1 of a mob scene whether processional or riotous. The Byng affair occurred during a precipitous rise in food prices. Problems of shortages exacerbated a national mood whereby both food riots and Byng protests occurred concurrently. This deviant case study affords an 0ppOJ1unity to compare various types of mob expressions: food riots, protests against the admiral, but also mob violence against impressment gangs as the nation readied for war. Finally, the dissertation addresses manning issues. Sickness pervaded the navy since impressments began in 1755. Economic changes, long in the making, likely contributed to this, explaining why Byng's fleet fell short of over 700 men as he made his way to the Mediterranean.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available