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Title: Place and power : the landed gentry of the West Solent Region in the eighteenth century
Author: Page, Emma R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 5337
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This regional study examines the character and pace of change in landed society in the eighteenth century and the impact of change on social stability. It offers new perspectives on why the landed gentry, the 'untitled aristocracy', retained their estates and their influence throughout the period. Members of this distinct social group had to make more careful, strategic choices than the wealthier peerage, and their behaviour served as a barometer of the effects of socio-economic and cultural developments on society as a whole. In spite of this, there have been few regional studies of eighteenth-century landed gentry in recent years. The study's in situ holistic approach builds on the earlier historiography of landed elites but also on more recent scholarship on culture, performance, and polite behaviour. It uses archival records to study the fifty-two landed-gentry families in the New Forest and the Isle of Wight. It shows that the landed gentry of this region was open to newcomers, who added to the numbers rather than displacing established families. Furthermore, there was no evidence of elite withdrawal or of a separation into so-called 'old and local' and 'new and national' groups. This thesis adds an important new dimension by identifying two characteristics of successful families. They were social and cultural amphibians, able not only to move between their estates and London but also to adapt to the polite norms of behaviour of different groups. In addition, they used 'social power', which stemmed principally from their behaviour, to achieve their aims in spite of the greater wealth and status of the peerage. As a group, the landed gentry presented a picture of social continuity and stability in 1800, but they had achieved this through a process of gradual social accommodation. They had changed in order to preserve their place and their power.
Supervisor: Gauci, Peregrine Lee Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Gentry ; England ; Social history ; Eighteenth century