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Title: Marriage strategies of Midlands 'lesser gentry', c.1660-1820
Author: Davies, Hugh Gareth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 0144
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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Secondary writers describing lesser gentry marital practices have usually relied on extrapolation from the procedures of the wealthy gentry but there is no consensus about whether squirearchy practices were a diluted form of metropolitan procedures or diverged from them because of different aims and limited resources. This study examines the marriage-making strategies of Midlands squires. The Midlands is an area far enough from London to escape many metropolitan influences and its rapid economic and industrial expansion may have influenced gentry strategies and relationships. ‘Lesser gentry’ is a term used to describe landowners with relatively small estates and limited resources who were usually inactive in county or national governance. It is an imprecise term because social boundaries were blurred, making them a fluid and porous social group in which status could change. Lesser gentry saw themselves as an integral sub-stratum of the gentry despite differences in wealth and influence. I argue that their marital practices were closer to those of the greater gentry than the wealthier urban merchants and professionals with whom they are often compared and that they experienced similar procedural changes and influences as the greater gentry. This study uses family archives, supplemented with primary material available in published form and contemporary literary material, to provide a different dimension. Literary authors reflected and represented marriage-making practices to challenge traditional behaviours and attitudes. Chapters 1-3 discuss secondary writers’ views about gentry marriage-making, the families sampled and literary materials used. Five chapters consider strategies affecting heirs, provision for younger children, younger sons, daughters and widows. Parental aims differed for different children but included: strengthening estate finances; reducing costs by ‘disposing’ of daughters and ‘setting up’ younger sons; and preventing widows from alienating wealth through remarriage. This thesis shows that the dominant influences in marriage-making were finance and financial provision, although affection and personal choice played an increasingly important role.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman