Qualified Rule

Paul Langford

in Public Life and the Propertied Englishman 1689–1798

Published in print August 1994 | ISBN: 9780198205340
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676574 | DOI:

Series: Ford Lectures

Qualified Rule

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In this chapter, legislators are revealed as employing the favourite safeguard of the age, the property qualification, to expand the governing class while restricting the rights of the governed class, in the process giving free play to the vested interests of business and professional people. The 18th century entertained great faith in the virtues of free association, especially the association of propertied people for purposes of philanthropy and improvement. There were no wholesale reform acts to alter the structure of the parliamentary electorate. Most of the new governors of Georgian England were so by virtue of a local or private act of Parliament. Their functions were as diverse as the purposes of such legislation. The nomination of an independent group of propertied men was not the only means of ensuring that an oligarchical corporation was prevented from grasping powers of taxation. The property qualification was the crucial safeguard of sound, respectable government.

Keywords: free association; reform acts; corporations; government; electorates

Chapter.  38899 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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