Just Authority

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

Just Authority

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Law and authority in England during the 18th century were confronted with difficult problems in urban, industrial, and semi-rural areas. There were numerous country districts as well as towns which lay outside the control of the landed gentry and its machinery of county government. There was also a notable lack of interest in systematic municipal reform. It was assumed that the ancient pattern of urban life placed the rich in proximity to poor and ensured a harmonious hierarchy of social relations. The corollary of middle-class migration was the entrenchment of lower-class poverty. The expressions “industrious poor” and “labouring poor” were increasingly used in the late 18th century. Moral reformation was concentrated on changing the habits of the poor rather than the rich.

Keywords: authority; law; municipal reform; poor; rich

Chapter.  35937 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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