Friday, 27 May 2011

Second volume in Colonial Rebellion trilogy…coming soon

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Famine, Fenians and Freedom, 1840-1882 is the second volume of a trilogy on resistance and rebellion in the British Empire. It examines the Irish dimension in Britain’s Empire, evident in Three Rebellions: Canada 1837-1838, South Wales 1839 and Victoria, Australia 1854, through attempts especially by the Young Ireland and Fenian movements to achieve Ireland’s independence through rebellion between 1840 and 1882 and by the populist and parliamentarian constitutionalist Repeal Association and campaign for Home Rule to achieved devolved government. Famine, Fenians and Freedom, 1840-1882 focuses on:

  • The nature and impact of the Famine in its global Irish context in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia
  • Why, how and where Irish emigrated and how they settled into their new communities
  • How different approaches to Irish nationalism evolved in Ireland, British colonies in Canada and Australia and in the United States and why it failed to achieve its objectives between 1840 and 1882
  • The nature and differences in the character of Irish rebellion in Ireland, mainland Britain, Canada and Australia in 1848 and during the 1860s looking especially at its military character and failure
  • The role played by individuals such as Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Davis, John Mitchel, John O’Mahony, James Stephens, John O’Neill, John Devoy, Michael Davitt, Isaac Butt and Charles Stewart Parnell
  • The political character of the Irish diaspora

Standards of Living 1815-1850: Rise or Fall?

Discussion of living standards, especially the so-called ‘standard of living debate’ in the period before 1850, is bedevilled by a range of methodological problems. [1] What is the meaning of living standards? Is it a qualitative or quantitative concept? What evidence can be used? Statistics, one of the main fuels in the debate, obscure much of the diversity and harshness of working-class experience. Should historians be using ‘actual’ wages or ‘real’ wages as the basis for their arguments? [2] These issues have given rise to a debate, especially in the period up to 1850, over, not simply whether living standards fell or rose, but over the whole revolutionary experience.[3]

There was a decline in real wages starting in the 1750s that persisted through the price peak of 1812-1813 and the distress of the post-war years. In London this downward trend was not reversed until the 1820s, though it was not until the 1840s that the levels of the 1740s were regained and exceeded. The national index compiled by Lindert and Williamson also situates the upturn in the 1820s but their figures are far more optimistic suggesting that real wages nearly doubled between 1820 and 1850.[4] By 1830, therefore the worst excesses of the pessimist scenario seem to have been at an end and real wages for the bulk of the working population seem to have been rising, though whether Lindert and Williamson’s optimistic assessment is entirely valid is questionable.

So what did people earn? In the 1760s most high-wage counties were in the south east. By 1850, they were in the Midlands and north: Lancashire wages were more than a third higher than in Buckinghamshire, a differential that continued until the end of the century. This North-South divide[5] and wage payments must be assessed in the context of family income and the higher cost of living for the working-classes, a hardship aggravated by the family poverty cycle and the devastating impact of recurrent short-term crises.[6]

Class 10

Keighley, Yorkshire c1860

Standard of living statistics conceal important structural changes in the composition of working-class family income before 1850.[7] The assumption on which the figures were based, especially the dominance of money-wages and of the male breadwinner, lack validity until 1850 by which time workers had been deprived of traditional perks and rights and the working-class family had been forced to redefine gender roles and functions.[8] The imposition of monetary form of wage payment marked a fundamental change in employers’ attitudes to property and labour. What had previously been accepted as a customary right now became crime: employers could no longer allow workers to appropriate any part of the materials or product of their labour, no matter how small. What was a stake for workers was not simply a traditional source of ‘extra’ income, but the maintenance of some independence at the workplace, some control over the product and the labour process. Age was probably the most important factor in determining output and earnings. In the 1830s the youngest and fittest of the handloom weavers could earn 25% more wages in the same time as a weaker person could earn on the same machine. Throughout the trades, the elderly or rather the prematurely old were often forced to give up the better-paid tasks as they were affected by various forms of occupational disorder. The Sheffield fork-grinders killed off no less than a quarter of their workforce every five years.[9] Differences in output and earnings were kept to a minimum where group solidarity and trade societies were strong, but these forms of mutual protection did not apply to the so-called ‘dishonourable’ trades or in the over-stocked outwork industries. Here, in the absence of day rates or ‘legal’, union-backed piece prices, opportunistic middlemen and commercially minded masters were able to exploit cheap, unskilled labour through the piece-rate system. Even in ‘honourable’ trades, few workers were fortunate enough to enjoy full-time work throughout the year.

The focus on the adult male breadwinner’ in terms of the standard of living debate has diverted attention away from the notion of the family income. Earnings in this period were assessed in family, not individual, terms with the family often functioning as a unit of production. By 1830, however, the prospects for women and hence family earnings deteriorated considerably. The first victims of technological or structural unemployment were women who encountered the new prejudice and sexual division of labour and the harsh economic costs of the new male breadwinner ideal.[10] Sexual segregation was rigorously enforced in the textile mills where women were denied access to the best-paid skilled jobs. Skill was a male preserve in the modern factory, protected by trade union organisation and internal subcontracting that gave mule spinners and their like a supervisory role for which women were deemed ineligible. Textile mills apart[11], mechanisation and the factory system brought few new opportunities for women: female employment was derisory in iron and steel, railways, chemicals and the expanding heavy industries. Legislation in 1842 restricted female work in the mines.[12] Sexual segregation was by no means restricted to the factory districts and occurred wherever men were confronted with changes in the location or process of work. In rural England, for example, female participation was limited to haymaking and weeding the corn by 1830.[13]

The family income suffered as a result but most men on their own economic grounds welcomed the new sexual specialisation. They were increasingly vulnerable to seasonal unemployment with the expansion of production that was less labour intensive and they were determined to restrict cheap female competition.[14] Yet in many cases the wife’s contribution to the family income remained indispensable but the force of the new convention against working women confined their employment to the lowest paid ‘dishonourable’ and sweated trades.[15] Here their cheap labour was exploited in such a way as to reinforce still further the male hostility towards ‘unfair’ competition. Relations between the sexes in the London tailoring trades were at crisis point in the early 1830s when the Owenite socialists championed the rights of working women and called on the London tailors union to adopt a policy of ‘equalisation’ in order to unite all the workforce. The resulting strike was, however, a disastrous failure and led to further marginalisation of female workers in the trades.[16]

Domesticity was probably the best in a narrow range of options for working-class married women, but for those employed in the sweated trades it was a cruelly illusive ideal. Until their children were old enough to contribute to the family income, there was no release from the double burden of unpaid housework and ill-paid waged work. Unable not to work, married women were driven lower and lower into the sweated trades or prostitution by the forces of social convention that condemned but continued to exploit their labour. The middle-classes deplored the ‘unnatural’ behaviour of young working mothers and condemned them for leaving their children with incompetent child-minders. However, only a quarter of female mill workers were married and of those with children utmost care was taken to ensure that they were looked after by a close relative, lodger or neighbour. Less than 2% of all infant children in industrial Lancashire were left to the mercies of professional child minders.

Class 11

Female surface workers, Lancashire c1870

The middle-classes imposed their views of the ‘proper’ role of women on the working-classes, a view that reinforced the economic arguments of working men that the role of working women should be reduced. Working-class family earnings seem to have declined most where market competition intensified but there were no prospect of alternative employment. In the arable east and de-industrialising south, the removal of traditional controls in agriculture and the trades led inexorably to discrimination against women and inadequate pay for men. In the north, wages were higher: new employment opportunities in hand-domestic and mechanised trades developed alongside the survival of traditional institutional frameworks and hiring practices in farm service and apprenticed trades.

The expenditure or cost of living for working-class families was significantly higher than for the middle and upper-classes.[17] Food was by far the most important item, accounting for up to three-quarters of the wage packet. Working people bought poor quality food in small quantities for immediate consumption and rarely received value for money. Food was often obtained from the Saturday night markets where dealers were able to off-load their otherwise unsellable produce: Engels commented that ‘the workers get what is too bad for the property-holding class.’[18] They were often dependent on credit and had to pay the higher prices of the obliging small shopkeepers. Provisions were dearer still where workers were victims of the truck system and the poor quality, adulterated foods of the ‘Tommy shops’.[19] Despite stringent legislation from 1831, the truck system remained common practice into the 1850s in south Staffordshire and in much of rural East Anglia where gang-masters supplied subcontract labour at the cheapest daily rates.[20]

As with food, so with housing: those at the bottom end of the market received scant value for money.[21] Accommodation accounted for anything up to a quarter or even a third of a labourer’s wages compared to about a sixth of the income of the middle-classes. The nuclear family, the sacred cow of English social history, was too expensive for many families who lived with kin or in lodgings for the first few years of marriage. John Foster found that the proportion of families living with relatives ranged from a third in Northampton to over two-thirds in South Shields while in Preston in 1851, lodgers were present in 23% of all households.[22] Many urban workers were also subject to the ‘house trucking’ system where housing was dependent on their employers, an extension of the ‘tied’ cottage system of rural England.

For working-class teenagers, clothes and accessories were the first call on income after they had paid their contribution to the family income. Many poor families, however, relied on cast-off, second-hand or stolen goods. Clothes could be easily pawned or fenced and there are many recorded cases of petty theft: in Manchester there was an average of 210 reports a year of stolen clothing from hedges or lines. Extra income was often spent on clothes since they were easily pawned as well as providing immediate enjoyment.[23]


[1] Rubinstein, W.D., Wealth and Inequality in Britain, (Faber), 1986 and Kaelbe, H., Industrialisation and Social Inequality in Nineteenth Century Europe, (Berg), 1986 provide useful analysis of the issues.  Pollard, S., and Crossley, D.W., The Wealth of Britain 1085-1966, (Batsford), 1968 and Burnett, J., A History of the Cost of Living, (Penguin), 1969 provide chronological perspective. Floud, R., Wachter, K. and Gregory, A., Height, health and history: Nutritional status in the United Kingdom 1750-1980, (Cambridge University Press), 1990, a major contribution to the debate. Taylor, A.J., (ed.), The Standard of Living in the Industrial Revolution, (Methuen), 1975 contains articles by the major protagonists. Burnett, J., Plenty and Want, (Scolar Press), 1969, new edition, 1989 is central to the period 1832-1914. Crafts, N.F.R., ‘Some dimensions of the ‘quality of life’ during the British industrial revolution’, Economic History Review, Vol. 50, (1997), pp. 617-639 is valuable. Humphries, Jane, ‘Standard of Living, Quality of Life’, in Williams, Chris, (ed.), A companion to nineteenth-century Britain, (Blackwell Publishers), 2004, pp. 287-304 summarises the debate.

[2] ‘Real’ wages related the actual wages earned to the level of prices. Real wages will therefore increase if wages remain constant and food prices fall: the money available will go further. Crafts, N.F.R. and Mills, Terence C., ‘Trends in real wages in Britain, 1750-1913’, Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 31, (1994), pp. 176-194 and Feinstein, C.H., ‘Pessimism perpetuated: real wages and the standard of living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution’, Journal of Economic History, Vol. 58, (1998), pp. 625-658 and ‘What really happened to real wages?: trends in wages, prices, and productivity in the United Kingdom, 1880-1913’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., Vol. 43, (1990), pp. 329-355.

[3] Weaver, Stewart, ‘The Bleak Age: J. H. Clapham, the Hammonds and the standard of living in Victorian Britain’, in Taylor, Miles and Wolff, Michael, (eds.), The Victorians since 1901: histories, representations and revisions, (Manchester University Press), 2004, pp. 29-43.

[4] Crafts, N.F.R., ‘English workers’ real wages during the industrial revolution: some remaining problems’; with reply by Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson, Journal of Economic History, Vol. 45, (1985), pp. 139-153.

[5] On this issue, see Baker, Alan R.H. and Billinge, Mark, (eds.), Geographies of England: the North-South divide, material and imagined, (Cambridge University Press), 2004.

[6] Harison, Casey, ‘The standard of living of English and French workers, 1750-1850’, in Rider, Christine and Thompson, Michael, (eds.), The industrial revolution in comparative perspective, (Krieger), 2000, pp. 165-178 provides a useful comparative study.

[7] Voth, Hans-Joachim’, Living standards and the urban environment’, in ibid, Floud, Roderick and Johnson, Paul A., (eds.), The Cambridge economic history of modern Britain, Volume 1: industrialisation, 1700-1860, pp. 268-294.

[8] Horrell, Sara and Humphries, Jane, ‘The origins and expansion of the male breadwinner family: the case of nineteenth-century Britain’, International Review of Social History, Supplement, Vol. 5, (1997), pp. 25-64 summarises the debates.

[9] Williams, Naomi, ‘The reporting and classification of causes of death in mid-nineteenth-century England: the example of Sheffield’, Historical Methods, Vol. 29, (1996), pp. 58-71.

[10] Horrell, Sara and Humphries, Jane, ‘Women’s labour force participation and the transition to the male-breadwinner family, 1790-1865’, Economic History Review, Vol. 48 (1995), pp. 89-117 and ‘”The exploitation of little children”: child labour and the family economy in the industrial revolution’, Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 32, (1995), pp. 485-516.

[11] There were severe limitations on women’s roles in textiles; see, Valverde, Mariana, ‘“Giving the female a domestic turn”: the social, legal and moral regulation of women’s work in British cotton mills, 1820-1850’, Journal of Social History, Vol. 21, (1987-8), pp. 619-634.

[12] John, Angela V., By the sweat of their brow: women workers at Victorian coal mines, 1980.

[13] Verdon, Nicola, Rural women workers in nineteenth-century England: gender, work and wages, (Boydell), 2002 provides an overview while Ulyatt, Donna J., Rural women and work: Lincolnshire c.1800-1875, (Anderson Blake Books), 2005 and MacKay, John, ‘Married women and work in nineteenth-century Lancashire: the evidence of the 1851 and 1861 census reports’, in Goose, Nigel, (ed.), Women’s work in industrial England: regional and local perspectives, (Local Population Studies), 2007), pp. 164-181 provide valuable case studies. See also, Sharpe, Pamela, ‘The female labour market in English agriculture during the Industrial Revolution: expansion or contraction?’, in ibid, Goose, Nigel, (ed.), Women’s work in industrial England: regional and local perspectives, pp. 51-75.

[14] Clark, Gregory, ‘Farm wages and living standards in the industrial revolution: England, 1670-1869’, Economic History Review, Vol. 54, (2001), pp. 477-505, provides a valuable longitudinal study.

[15] Blackburn, Sheila, A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work?: sweated labour and the origins of minimum wage legislation in Britain, (Ashgate), 2007, ‘“Between the devil of cheap labour competition and the deep sea of family poverty?”: sweated labour in time and place, 1840-1914’, Labour History Review, Vol. 71, (2006), pp. 99-121 and ‘“Princesses and sweated-wage slaves go well together”: images of British sweated workers, 1843-1914’, International Labor and Working-Class History, Vol. 61, (2002), pp. 24-44.

[16] Schmiechen, J.A., Sweated industries and sweated labour: the London clothing trades: 1860-1914, (Taylor & Francis), 1984.

[17] Horrell, S. and Humphries, J., ‘Old questions, new data, and alternative perspectives: families’ living standards in the industrial revolution’, Journal of Economic History, Vol. 52, (1992), pp. 849-880.

[18] Ibid, Engels, Frederick, The condition of the working class in England, p. 104.

[19] On the operation of the truck system see, Hilton, G. W., ‘The British truck system in the 19th century’, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 65, (1957), pp. 237-256, and The truck system, including a history of the British Truck Acts, 1465-1960, (W. Heffer), 1960.

[20] Verdon, Nicola, ‘The employment of women and children in agriculture: a reassessment of agricultural gangs in nineteenth-century Norfolk’, Agricultural History Review, Vol. 49, (2001), pp. 41-55.

[21] Williams, Samantha, ‘Poor relief, labourers’ households and living standards in rural England c.1770-1834: a Bedfordshire case study’, Economic History Review, Vol. 58, (2005), pp. 485-519.

[22] Ibid, Foster. J., Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: early industrial capitalism in three English towns, pp. 125-131.

[23] Tebbutt, Melanie, Making Ends Meet: Pawnbroking and Working-Class Credit, (Leicester University Press), 1983 and Hudson, K, Pawnbroking: an aspect of British social history, 1982.

Monday, 23 May 2011

From domestic to ‘modern’ production, 1815-1850

The subject of the working-classes in the nineteenth century is an enormous one.[1] It is difficult to overestimate the importance of work in working-class life. Work helped determine two fundamental elements of working-class existence: the ways in which workers spent most of their waking hours; and the amounts of money they had to their disposal. It also determined most other aspects of working-class life: the standards of living they enjoyed; standards of health; the type of housing they lived in; the nature of the family and neighbourhood life; the ways in which leisure time was spent and the social, political and other values that were held.[2]

The swing away from domestic forms of production was largely the result of three developments: the growth of population, the extension of enclosure with a consequent reduction in demand for rural labour and the advent of mechanised production boosting productivity and fostering the growth of new towns and cities. The result was a change in the structure of the labour market. However, this did not mean a linear progression to large-scale factory production nor did it necessarily entail the deskilling of labour, though there were notable exceptions.

Class 8

The enclosure of common lands had a profound impact on the livelihood of rural workers and their families from the last quarter of the eighteenth century. It led to a reduction of resources available for many workers and a greater reliance on earnings. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic war, the spread of enclosure pushed rural labourers on to the labour market in a search for work, a situation worsened by falling arable farm prices and wages between 1815 and 1835.[3] The result of the growth in labour supply and agricultural depression was the collapse of farm service in the south and east of the country, a process that was already evident before 1800. It had been customary for farm workers to be hired for a year, to enter service in another household and to live with another family, receiving food, clothes, board and a small annual wage in return for work, only living out when they wished to marry. The norm now became day-labourers who had little job security and who were employed only when there were agricultural jobs to be done.

Added to this was the development of factory-based textile production that had a profound effect on the other source of earned income for rural workers involved in outwork. Different parts of the country were associated with different types of product: lace-making round Nottingham, straw-plaiting in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, stocking-knitting in Leicester and spinning and weaving of cotton and wool in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The appearance of the mills damaged the status and security of some very skilled branches of outwork. Many rural households were thrown into poverty as such work became increasingly scarce and available only at miserably low rates of pay. The fate of the handloom weavers, stocking-frame knitters and silk weavers in the 1830s and 1840s, all reflected the impact of technological change on the distribution of work.[4] Textiles were not the only industry to experience such structural changes. In both town and country, mechanisation had a marked impact on a wide variety of employment and the position of some skilled workers was undermined while the demand for new skills grew.

Urban workers had always been more reliant on wages than had their rural counterparts. Pre-industrial towns had tended to be commercial centres with markets rather than major centres of manufacture and employment there had been more specialised than elsewhere. Small units of production in which skilled artisans worked, providing local services and goods rather than commodities for export operated largely on a domestic basis through frequently under the control of the craft guilds. These stipulated modes of recruitment and training and the quality of products and founded the vocabulary of the rights of ‘legal’ or ‘society’ men who worked in ‘legal’ shops that permeated craft unions in the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century saw the position of the skilled urban artisan increasingly under threat from semi-skilled and less well trained workers.

The Elizabethan Statute of Artificers (or Apprentices) 1563 provided a legal framework of craft regulation but had fallen into abeyance long before its apprenticeship clauses were repealed in 1811. [5] Under the old system of apprenticeship, the pupil was formally indentured at 14-16 and joined a master’s house for a period traditionally specified as seven years before being recognised as a journeyman, qualified to practice the trade. It was also usual for journeymen to ‘live in’, entitled to bed, board and wages in return to work, only moving out on marriage. Often journeymen tramped the country in search of work in part to extend their experience and knowledge of their trade but also to escape increasingly uncertain employment prospects in their immediate locality.[6] To become a master the journeyman had to produce his ‘masterpiece’, demonstrating his mastery of the skills of the specific trade. From the early nineteenth century, fewer apprentices were completing their indentures and journeymen’s wages were falling, both signs that employers were no longer bothered about hiring only men who had served their time. This led to a dilution in the labour force and an increased blurring of the boundaries between ‘society’ and ‘non-society’ men, a situation made worse by the mechanisation of production that required fewer skills than handwork.

Class 9

The nature of training for skilled work changed; apprenticeships were shortened and concentrated on specific skills rather than on an extensive understanding of all aspects of production. [7] Lads worked alongside journeymen rather than being attached to a master’s household with various adverse results. The new system bore heavily on apprentices’ families, who frequently still paid for indentures while the apprentice lived at home and could expect little or no wages for his efforts until his time was served. Stipulated ratios between journeymen and boys were increasingly ignored and apprentices became a cheap alternative for adult labour further depressing the adult labour market. Such developments were resented by the journeymen expected to train recruits, souring relations and often making training uncooperative. The fate of boys was often instant dismissal as soon as they were old enough to command an adult rate.[8] These practices were more common during economic downturns. This abuse of apprenticeship provoked sporadic industrial disputes as skilled workers tried to protect their position and to prevent their trade from being diluted by excess labour. The independence of their ‘aristocratic’ status was upheld through the rhetoric of custom and the invention of ‘tradition’ to sanction and legitimise current practice. This excluded employers and market calculations from the opaque world of custom, tradition, craft mystery and skill, a separate culture upheld by secrecy, theatrical ceremony and, when necessary, ritualised violence. Through these means skilled workers defended their position at the ‘frontier of control’.

Reduced to wage-earning proletarians without rights to the materials and product of their labour, skilled workers fought hard to retain some control over the ‘labour process’ and to defend their workplace autonomy against the new time and labour discipline favoured by political economists, preachers and employers.[9] Even in new forms of work organisations, they often succeeded in safeguarding their status despite ‘deskilling’ technology and increased division of labour. But in defending or reconstructing skilled status, their actions were divisive: not just a line drawn against employers but against unfair or unskilled competition in the labour market. [10] Skill as property became skill as patriarchy that left women defenceless against the degradation of their labour and increasingly marginalised.

The most obvious impact of industrialisation was found in the more intense and strictly disciplined nature of work in those industries transformed by the new technology: textiles, coal-mining, metal-processing and engineering. Skilled workers may have been able to hold the ‘frontier of control’ in relation to their skills as property but they were unable to prevent, though perhaps delay, the inexorable march of discipline and compulsion within the workplace. None of the convivial culture of the workshop was allowed to interrupt the pace of factory work. Early mills were manned by convict and pauper labour, mostly children because the regularity of work was alien to the adult population used to a greater degree of autonomy in conducting their working lives.[11] The higher wages available in factories provided insufficient compensation for this loss of ‘freedom’. Impoverished handloom weavers would send their daughters to work on the power looms while resisting the prospect themselves. Hours in the early factories were probably no longer than those in the domestic trades but what made it far less acceptable was the monotony of the work involved, the loss of public feast days and holidays and, for middle-class commentators, the physical consequences of long hours and the appalling conditions in the factory towns.[12]

The growth of labour market conditions in the nineteenth century makes it difficult to make clear distinctions between the employed, the unemployed, the underemployed, the self-employed and the economically inactive. Sub-contracting was widespread, notably in the clothing trade where middlemen ‘sweated’ women to earn a profit. The ‘slop’ end of the fashion and furnishing trades competed frantically for available orders at almost any price. Casualism became more visible towards 1900 as cities spread in size. Short-term engagements and casual employment were particularly associated with the docks and the construction industries. The casual labour of the old East End was trapped within an economy of declining trades. Conditions of employment deteriorated. By the early 1870s, London’s shipbuilding[13] had slumped beyond the point of recovery and by the 1880s most heavy engineering, iron founding and metal work had gone the same way. Competition from provincial furniture, clothing and footwear factories could only be met by reducing labour costs and led to the increasing importance of metropolitan sweated trades.


[1] The literature on the labouring population is immense.  Ibid, Hunt, E.H., British Labour History 1815-1914, Rule, J., The Labouring Classes in Early Industrial England 1750-1850, (Longman), 1986, ibid, Benson, J., The Working-class in Britain 1850-1939, (Longman), 1989, Hopkins, E., A Social History of the English Working-classes 1815-1945, (Edward Arnold), 1977, Belchem, J., Industrialisation and the Working-class, (Scolar), 1990, Savage, M. and .Miles, A., The remaking of the British working class, 1840-1940, (Routledge), 1994 and Brown, K.D., The English Labour Movement 1700-1951, (Gill and Macmillan), 1982 are good starting points.

[2] Ibid, Benson, John, The Working-class in Britain 1850-1939, pp. 9-38 is the best introduction to this issue. Ibid, Joyce, Patrick, (ed.), The historical meanings of work, is an excellent collection containing a seminal introduction by the editor. Ibid, Joyce, Patrick, ‘Work’ in Thompson, F.M.L., (ed.), The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1950: Vol. 2 People and their environment, pp. 131-194 is a short overview.

[3] Richardson, T.L., ‘Agricultural labourers’ wages and the cost of living in Essex, 1790-1840: a contribution to the standard of living debate’, in Holderness, B.A. and Turner, M.E., (eds.), Land, labour and agriculture, 1700-1920: essays for Gordon Mingay, (Hambledon), 1991, pp. 69-90.

[4] See ibid, Bythell, Duncan, The Handloom Weavers and The Sweated Trades for a detailed discussion of this issue.

[5] Lane, Joan, Apprenticeship in England, 1600-1914, (UCL Press), 1996 and Wallis, Patrick, ‘Apprenticeship and Training in Pre-modern England’, Journal of Economic History, Vol. 68, (2008), pp. 832-861 provide background.

[6] See ibid, Hobsbawm, E.J., ‘The tramping artisan’ in his Labouring Men, pp. 34-63 and ibid, E.P. Thompson The Making of the English Working-class, pp. 259-296 and ‘Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism’, Past and Present, Vol. 38, (1967), pp. 56-97 reprinted and revised in ibid, Customs in Common, pp. 352-403.

[7] Ibid, Humphries, Jane, ‘English Apprenticeship: A Neglected Factor in the First Industrial Revolution’, in David, Paul A. and Thomas, Mark, (eds.), The economic future in historical perspective, (Oxford University Press), 2001, pp. 73-102, Rose, Mary B., ‘Social policy and business; parish apprenticeship and the early factory system, 1750-1834’, Business History, Vol. 31, (1989), pp. 5-32, Lane, J., ‘Apprenticeship in Warwickshire cotton mills, 1790-1830’, Textile History, Vol. 10, (1979), pp. 161-174 and a valuable comparative study Elbaum, Bernard, ‘Why apprenticeship persisted in Britain but not in the United States’, Journal of Economic History, Vol. 49, (1989), pp. 337-349.

[8] Honeyman, Katrina, Child workers in England, 1780-1820: parish apprentices and the making of the early industrial labour force, (Ashgate), 2007, Steinberg, Marc W., ‘Unfree Labor, Apprenticeship and the Rise of the Victorian Hull Fishing Industry: An Example of the Importance of Law and the Local State in British Economic Change’, International Review of Social History, Vol. 51, (2006), pp. 243-276 and Reinarz, Jonathan, ‘Learning By Brewing: Apprenticeship and the English Brewing Industry in the Late Victorian and Early Edwardian Period’, in Munck, Bert De, Kaplan, Steven L. and Soly, Hugo, (eds.), Learning on the shop floor: historical perspectives on apprenticeship, (Berghahn Books), 2007, pp. 111-130 and ‘Fit for management: apprenticeship and the English brewing industry, 1870-1914’, Business History, Vol. 43, (2001), pp. 33-53.

[9] That this was often unsuccessful is explored in Green, David R., From artisans to paupers: economic change and poverty in London, 1790-1870, (Scolar & Ashgate), 1995. See also, Levene, Alysa, ‘“Honesty, sobriety and diligence”: master-apprentice relations in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England’, Social History, Vol. 33, (2008), pp. 183-200.

[10] This was especially evident in attacks, widespread in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, on new technology where it posed a threat to employment but was especially focused on the use of unskilled labour. See, for example, Brodie, Marc, ‘Artisans and dossers: the 1886 West End riots and the East End casual poor’, London Journal, Vol. 24, (1999), pp. 34-50.

[11] Honeyman, Katrina, ‘The Poor Law, the Parish Apprentice, and the Textile Industries in the North of England, 1780-1830’, Northern History, Vol. 44, (2007), pp. 115-140.

[12] Ibid, Boot, H.M., ‘How skilled were Lancashire cotton factory workers in 1833?’

[13] Rankin, Stuart, (ed.), Shipbuilding on the Thames and Thames-Built Ships: a symposium for researchers and authors held on Saturday 2 September 2000: supported by London Borough of Southwark, Department of Education & Leisure and the Greenwich Maritime Institute to mark the 130th anniversary year of the launch of “Lothair”, last large vessel built in Rotherhithe, 1870, (Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Group), 2000.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Was Victorian Britain a class society?

If it is legitimate to speak of a class only when a group is united in every conceivable way then the concept is rendered meaningless. Classes are not and never were monolithic blocks of identical individuals. The critical question is whether working people in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries consciously acted as members of a class as well as in other roles. Historians have interpreted class in different ways. At one extreme are those who argue that class and class action were abnormal and that individual interest was always more powerful than class loyalty. On the other, some historians see social developments in which class conflict played an integral and inevitable role. So what conclusions can be reached from this tendentious debate? By 1850 it is possible to identify a middle-class(es) with clearly defined ‘consciousness’ based on notions of respectability and self help and with a strong organisational base. That consciousness had percolated down and reinforced traditional, independent artisan values. There were important distinctions within the working population, for example between rural and urban, agricultural and industrial, skilled and unskilled and technologically obsolete and innovative occupations that helped to determine attitudes and perceptions. It is possible to identify different levels of class-consciousness within the working population that found itself in a somewhat ambiguous relationship with the more homogeneous middle-class ideology. Changes in social attitudes and values were the result of dialogue and conflict between the older notion of paternalism and the newer conceptions of class.

Class 7

The period between 1832 and 1914 can be viewed in terms of three broad phases of ‘class development’. The first, what Foster calls it the period of class consciousness’ and Perkin ‘an immature class system’, was over by the early 1850s. It was characterised by the confrontational politics of Chartism, a consequence in part of the depressed state of the economy from the mid-1830s through to the late 1840s and the emergence of middle-class pressure group politics as a means of challenging aristocratic control over government and policy-making. The second phase, corresponding to Perkin’s ‘mature class system’ and Foster’s ‘liberalised consciousness’ covers the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s. Confrontational politics became less important though pressure groups, whether in the form of middle-class campaigns or working-class ‘new model unionism’, became increasingly effective. ‘Distress’ ceased to be a motive force for working-class action. Overall the economy was more prosperous, at least until the 1870s, and there were improvements in standards of living across most sections of society. The third phase began in the 1880s and led to the social ‘crises’ of the Edwardian era. There were cogent challenges to the existing system from socialism and Marxism and a growing awareness of the failure of Britain’s industrial economy to compete effectively against newly industrialised states such as Germany and the United States or to provide the necessary resources to resolve the twin problems of poverty and unemployment.

Mass or ‘new’ unionism led to the re-emergence of confrontational politics and to recognition by government, at local and national levels, that the issues raised by the embryonic Labour party could not be addressed successful through existing mechanisms. The Liberal reforms after 1906 can be seen as a belated attempt both to provide support for the existing system and to head off the threat from Labour. In both respects they failed. The 1830s began with the existing social and political system under concerted attack from those who were, by the partial nature of the voting system, excluded from what they saw as their right to participate in the system and benefit from that participation. By 1914, things had gone full circle.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Were there three classes in Victorian Britain?

The majority of contemporary and modern analysts have adhered to the three-class model. Harold Perkin argued that, as the result of industrialisation, urbanisation and the midwifery of religion, a class society emerged between 1789 and 1833 or, more precisely between 1815 and 1820. Class was characterised

...by class feeling, that is, by the existence of vertical antagonism between a small number of horizontal groups, each based on a common source of income. [1]

The paternal view of society was not, however, destroyed by these class antagonisms and the potential conflict of emergent class society was contained by modification of existing institutions. For Perkin, compromise was a central reason for the persistence of older social values and structures and that only an ‘immature’ class society was characterised by violence. Each class developed its own ‘ideal’ and, by 1850, he believed, three can be clearly seen: the entrepreneurial ideal of the middle-classes, a working-class ideal and an aristocratic ideal based respectively on profits, wages and rent. The ‘struggle between ideals’ was

...not so much that the ruling class imposes its ideal upon the rest, but that the class that manages to impose its ideal upon the rest becomes the ruling class. [2]

In Perkin’s model, the mature class society that emerged by the 1850s was, despite the differences that existed between classes, not marked by overt conflict but by tacit agreement and coexistence under the successful entrepreneurial ideal.

Class 5

Between 1880 and 1914 class society, according to Perkin, reached its zenith. [3] The rich, both large landowners and capitalists, drew together in a consolidation of that new plutocracy that had already begun to emerge in the 1850s. The middle-classes, ever more graduated in income and status, came to express those finer distinctions in prosperity and social position physically, both in outward appearance, in dress, furnishings and habitations and in their geographical segregation from one another and the rest of society in carefully differentiated suburbs. So too did the working-classes, in part involuntarily because they could only afford what their social betters left for them, but also, within that constraint, because those working-class families who could chose to differentiate themselves equally, by Sunday if not everyday dress and by better and better furnished houses in marginally superior areas. Only the very poor, the ‘residuum’ as Charles Booth called them, had no choice at all and were consigned to the slums. They were the most segregated class of all because all the rest shunned them and their homes. Segregation, by income, status, appearance, physical health, speech, education and opportunity in life, as well as by work and residential area, was the symbolic mark of class society at its highest point of development.

Class society in Britain in 1880 already contained the seeds of its own decay. The three classes each had their own powerful ideals of what society should be and how it should be organised to recognise and reward their own unique contribution to the welfare of the community. Each class in a segregated society believed that its contribution was most vital and should be rewarded accordingly.[4] The landowners, capitalists and middle-classes saw themselves as providing the resources and organising ability that drove the economic system to provide the goods necessary for the survival and civilised life for the whole community. Those in the working-classes who thought about it saw themselves as providing the labour, the sole source of value, without which the resources and management would be in vain. The increasing class conflict of the late-Victorian and Edwardian period was the struggle for income, status and power arising from this clash of incompatible ideals. It was into this tripartite struggle that ‘the professional class’ came contributing both to the struggle and to the means of resolving it.[5]

Class 6

Between the constitutional class between the Lords and the Commons between 1909 and 1911 and the General Strike of 1926, class society in Britain underwent a profound crisis. The crisis was essentially to decide whether Britain was to continue along a path of increasing class conflict culminating in social breakdown or revolution or whether there was to be an accommodation between the classes of the kind that gave mid-Victorian Britain its viable class society. The crisis was largely one between the classes of capital and labour, in which the government became reluctantly involved, by no means wholly on the side of capital. It was complicated by the co-existence of three other crises, any one of which was a potentially violent challenge to the established order. Connected or not, the co-existence of threats of violence from the Suffragettes, from Irish Nationalists and from Ulstermen over the future status of Ireland and from the more aggressive trade unionists, raised fears of social revolution before 1914 just as the co-existence of revolutions in Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey as well as Ireland gave rise to the same fear after 1918. The crisis was also complicated by the outbreak of war in 1914. In the short term, the war suspended all four crises but it ruthlessly laid bare the shortcomings and deficiencies of society, the economy and the political system. It confirmed the appalling effects of poverty on the mass armies recruited to fight it, the weakness of British industry and management in producing the munitions of modern battle and the incompetence of the minimalist state to conduct modern warfare on the grand scale. [6]

As long as professionals were few in numbers and depended mainly on the rich and powerful for their incomes, they tended to temper their social ideals to the values of their wealthy clients. With the development of industrial and urban society, however, the professions proliferated, their clients multiplied and, in certain cases, for example in preventive medicine, sanitary engineering and in central and local government generally, the client became in effect the whole community. They became much freer to act as critics of society and purveyors of the terminology in which people came to think about the new class society. In different ways, they attacked the laissez-faire individualism of the entrepreneurial ideal. Through social legislation, the development of trade union immunities, changing attitudes to poverty and in the emergent welfare state after 1906, they challenged the ‘amateur’ spirit of society and enhanced the position of the professional expert. By the mid-twentieth century, the professional ideal had achieved hegemony as complete as the entrepreneurial ideal had done a century before.[7] But, just as the entrepreneurial ideal had started to decline at its apogee, the professional ideal started to lose its appeal once it had achieved moral and cultural hegemony. Public service professionals were confronted by a backlash led by professionals in the private sector. And, by a strange paradox, this private sector backlash took place under the banner of a new version of the entrepreneurial ideal that harked back to the individualistic enterprise of a century earlier. [8]


[1] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Origins of Modern English Society 1780-1880, p. 37.

[2] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Origins of Modern English Society 1780-1880, pp. 218-270 for discussion on the ‘struggle between ideals’.

[3] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880, pp. 27-63.

[4] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880, pp. 62-114.

[5] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880, pp. 171-217.

[6] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880, pp. 218-285.

[7] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880, pp. 359-404.

[8] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880, pp. 472-519.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Were there two classes in nineteenth century Britain?

An alternative to the vertical relationships of a paternalistic hierarchical society lay in the horizontal solidarities of ‘class’.[1] Richard Dennis, in his study of nineteenth century industrial cities, sums up the problem of class in the following way:

Evidently the road to class analysis crosses a minefield with a sniper behind every bush.... it may not be possible to please all the people all of the time...[2]

What did contemporaries understand by the idea of ‘class’? How many classes were there? What do historians understand by ‘class consciousness’ and how, if at all, does it differ from ‘class perception’? When did a working-class come into existence? Despite all the literature on the subject, the years since the publication of E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working-Class in 1963, have done little to clarify the situation. Answers to the central questions of ‘when?’, ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ have been surprisingly inconclusive. [3]

Many contemporaries interpreted early Victorian society in terms of two classes. Disraeli popularised the idea of ‘two nations’, the rich and the poor.[4] Elizabeth Gaskell wrote of Manchester that she had ‘never lived in a place before where there were two sets of people always running each other down.’[5] Tory Radicals were not alone in using the two-class model. Engels referred to the working-class in the singular and offered a model dominated by two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, in which other classes existed but were becoming increasingly less important. Marxist historians, E.P. Thompson and John Foster, have also used this model. For Thompson, class experience was largely the result of the productive relations into which people entered. The essence of class lay not in income or work but in class-consciousness, the product of contemporary perceptions of capital and labour, exploiter and exploited. [6]

Class 4

From the Industrial Worker, 1911

John Foster, in his study of Oldham, South Shields and Northampton, found that 12,000 workers sold their labour to 70 capitalist families. [7] There was a middle-class of tradesmen, shopkeepers and small masters but despite deep divisions in their social and political behaviour they aligned with the working-class on most political issues.[8] The working-class, Foster argues, went through three stages of developing consciousness. It was, first, ‘labour conscious’ when consumer prices ceased to be a major concern for workers and the focus shifted to the levels of their own wages.[9] Then ‘class conscious’ where attempts to resolve industrial and economic problems, initially by a vanguard of skilled workers, became politicised. This can be seen in the 1830s and 1840s in working-class support for the Chartist movement.[10] Political reform was seen as a necessary prerequisite for the resolution of economic problems: only a Parliament elected on the Charter would be prepared to legislate in favour of working-class concerns. Foster argues that the movement was a victim of its own success and that the bourgeoisie was alerted to the threat from the potentially revolutionary masses and adopted a policy of economic liberalisation by conceding some proletarian demands. Foster specifically mentioned the Ten Hour Act 1847 and the offer of household suffrage in 1849. This, he maintained, represented a major tactical victory and led to a ‘liberalised consciousness’ by which the bourgeoisie, aided by growing economic prosperity after 1850, was able to attach important sections of the working population to its consensus ideology grounded in individualism and ‘respectability’.[11] The skilled workers who had previously formed the revolutionary vanguard sold out in the post-Chartist years and became reformist in attitude, accepting the economic situation as it was and working to get the best deal out of it they possibly could.

It is possible to criticise the two-class model in a variety of ways. It assumes a model for change based on conflict or ‘class war’ between two competing classes for economic dominance. It accepts other social groups, but subsumes them within the two-class perspective. It recognises that although a significant degree of ideological homogeneity that may have validity in the vibrant social magma of the industrial factory towns, it has less validity in rural areas and the older urban areas. Diversity of experience within the working population led to diversity of responses.


[1] The literature on ‘class’ is immense but theoretical perspectives can be found in Calvert, P., The Concept of Class, (Hutchinson), 1983, Giddens, A., The Class Structure of Advanced Societies, (Hutchinson), 1973 and especially Neale, R.S., (ed.), History and Class: essential readings in theory and interpretation, (Basil Blackwell), 1984.

[2] Dennis, R., English Industrial Cities in the Nineteenth Century: A Social Geography, (Cambridge University Press), 1984, pp. 187-188.

[3] Neale, R.S., Class in British History 1680-1850, (Basil Blackwell), 1983 and Class and Ideology in the Nineteenth Century, (Routledge), 1972, the useful bibliographical essay by Morris, R.J., Class and Class Consciousness in the Industrial Revolution, (Macmillan), 1980 and his ‘The industrial revolution: Class and Common Interest’, History Today, Vol. 33, (5), (1983), pp. 31-35 are good starting points for the period before 1850.   See also, Briggs, A., ‘The language of ‘class’ in early nineteenth century England’, in Briggs, A. and Saville, J., (eds.), Essays in labour history in memory of G.D.H. Cole, rev. edn., (Macmillan), 1967, pp. 43-73 and Jones, G. Steadman, Languages of Class, (Cambridge University Press), 1983. Joyce, Patrick, Visions of the People: Industrial England and the question of class 1840-1914, (Cambridge University Press), 1991 takes the question of language further and questions the veracity of a view of society grounded simply in ‘class’. Other studies include Prothero, I., Artisans  and Politics in Early  Nineteenth-Century London, (Dawson), 1979, Smith, D., Conflict and Compromise: Class Formation in English Society 1830-1914, 1982 and Calhoun, C., The Question of Class Struggle, (Basil Blackwell), 1982. Reid, Alastair J., Social Classes and Social Relations in Britain 1850-1914, (Macmillan), 1992 is the best and briefest starting-point for this period. Benson, J., The Working-class in Britain 1850-1939, (Longman), 1989 is the most recent general survey. McKibbin, R., The Ideologies of Class: Social Relations in Britain 1880-1950, (Oxford University Press), 1990 is an excellent collection of articles. Perkin, H., The Rise of Professional Society: England since 1880, (Routledge), 1989 extends his earlier work in a masterful study. Meacham, Stanish, A Life Apart: The English Working-class 1890-1914, (Thames & Hudson), 1977 and Bourne, Joanna, Working-class Cultures in Britain 1890-1960, (Routledge), 1994 are excellent.

[4] See Disraeli, Benjamin, Sybil or The two nations, (B. Tauchnitz), 1845.

[5] Gaskell, Elizabeth, North and South, (B. Tauchnitz), 1855, p. 48.

[6] Ibid, Thompson, E.P., The Making of the English Working-class.

[7] Foster. J., Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: early industrial capitalism in three English towns, (Weidenfeld), 1974.

[8] Foster’s view of the petit bourgeoisie and his attempts to explain it away have been criticised by historians such as R.S. Neale who interpose a ‘middling’ class between the middle and working-classes in his ‘five-class model’: Neale, R.S., ‘Class and class-consciousness in early 19th century England: three classes or five?’, Victorian Studies, Vol. 12, (1968-9), pp. 5-32.

[9] Ibid, Foster. J., Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: early industrial capitalism in three English towns, pp. 47-72.

[10] Ibid, Foster. J., Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: early industrial capitalism in three English towns, pp. 73-125.

[11] Ibid, Foster. J., Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution: early industrial capitalism in three English towns, pp. 203-249.

Monday, 9 May 2011

From paternalism to class

For a variety of reasons this paternalist view of society began to break down from the early-nineteenth century. An ‘abdication on the part of the governors’ had been recognised as early as the 1820s though it was Carlyle who popularised it in the 1840s.[1] This process had the following features. The changing focus of the economy away from land and towards manufacturing and service industries led to a gradual decline in the economic power of the paternalist elite and the fabric of state paternalism was gradually dismantled. Paternalism was grounded in reciprocal obligations, like ‘just wages’ and ‘fair prices’, many of which were given a statutory basis in paternalist Tudor and Stuart legislation. From the 1770s this legislation was either allowed to lapse or deliberately repealed. The principles of ‘the free market’ could not accommodate the protectionism inherent in paternalism. The critical issue is whether the notion of the caring landlord existed in reality and how far there was an actual ‘abdication’ or whether it was simply thought that there was an ‘abdication’ by those fighting to retain older values in the face of social and economic change. While there is no doubt that society changed, to view change solely in terms of a shift from paternalistic solidarity to unbridled individualism is too simplistic. Both capitalist practices and vertical antagonism between different groups in society existed before the economic changes of the late-eighteenth century. Nineteenth century society contained elements of both but despite this there remained a widespread belief that there had been a shift from a paternalist to a capitalist society.

Class 2

Agriculture may have declined relative to other sectors of the economy but the aristocratic tone of British society was still set by the great houses and the large landowners. As J.F.C. Harrison says.

Landed England did not survive unchanged. Had there not been flexibility in coming to terms with the economic realities of the industry state, and a willingness to retreat gradually and quietly from untenable positions of political privilege, landed society might not have outlived the end of the century. In fact it displayed remarkable powers of tenacity and adaptation: it sought to engulf and change some of the new elements in society, though in the process it was itself changed.[2]

Urbanisation occurred broadly outside the paternal net. There is evidence that many people moved to towns because they perceived them as ‘free’ from the social constraints of rural society. In addition, as towns and cities burgeoned in size after 1850 they ceased to be face-to-face societies and became places of anonymity. Changing religious observance, especially declining support for the Church of England and the growth of secularism broke the ‘bond of dependency’ between squire, parson and labourer. The aristocracy and gentry gradually ‘cut’ their lives off from those of their labouring workers. The layout of country houses and gardens that evolved from the mid-seventeenth century demonstrated a move towards domestic privacy.[3] Client relationships became less important as labour became more mobile and became centred in urban communities.

The economic and political power of the landed elite came from their ownership and control of land while for industrial entrepreneurs it came from their ownership and control of manufacturing. For both these elites the nineteenth century saw important changes. First, the emergence of managers as a segment of the economic elite reflected changing rates and channels of social mobility.[4] Education became a more important medium as a channel of recruitment into managerial occupations and consequently the chances of those from working- or middle-class backgrounds of moving into the economic elite improved. The emergence of bureaucratisation, with the clerk as a dominant occupation after 1830 reflects this process. Secondly, the emergence of a managerial sector introduced an important source of potential conflict within the economic elite as a whole. The moral solidarity of the old property-owning elite was undermined. The separation of ownership and control in industry resulted in the emergence of two different roles as individuals moved apart in their outlook on and attitudes towards society in general and towards enterprise in particular. The ‘individualistic’, profit-seeking entrepreneur is contrasted with the managerial executive, whose values stressed efficiency and productivity rather than profits. Such a difference in ideals and values reinforced divergence in styles of life and social contacts. This in turn produced a certain conflict of interests, sometimes leading to open struggles, since the pursuit of maximum returns on capital was not always compatible with safeguarding the productivity and security of the enterprise.[5] Finally, the separation of ownership and control was held to introduce important shifts in the structure of economic power. Within the large joint-stock companies that emerged in the 1850s and 1860s effective power increasingly devolved into the hands of managers and the sanctions held by the ‘owners’ of the enterprise were merely nominal.[6]

Class 3

This separation of ownership and control is not the only factor that led to the decomposition of the old ruling class. There was a general rise in rates of mobility, particularly intergenerational mobility, into elite positions in many institutional spheres during the late thirty years of the nineteenth century. There was some redistribution of wealth and income after 1850 as levels of ‘real’ wages rose that benefitted those in the lower social classes. Parliamentary reform in 1832, 1867 and 1884-1885 gave initially the middle-classes and latterly the upper working-class a stake in the existing political structure. This needs to be seen in relation to the rights of organisation in the industrial and political sphere for the mass of the population. The growth of trade unions, especially after 1851, the expansion in the range of political pressure groups and the emergence of the Labour Party in the early years of the twentieth century constituted both potential limitations on the power of elite groups as well as perhaps changing the structure of those elite groups themselves.

Harold Perkin characterised the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century as a ‘one-class society’.[7] Only the aristocratic elite could, he maintained, be seen as a ‘class’. This view of a unitary capitalist ruling class certainly did not exist by 1830. Karl Marx viewed the British ruling class as an ‘antiquated compromise’ in which, while the aristocracy ‘ruled officially’; the bourgeoisie ruled ‘over all the various spheres of civil society in reality’. [8] The aristocracy, that Marx thought had ‘signed its own death warrant’ as a result of the Crimean War (1853-1856), proved to be much more resilient in maintaining a strong presence in the Cabinet, Parliament and the Civil Service. The proprietary fortunes and power of the large landowners remained virtually intact until the end of the century and the relatively amicable inter-penetration of aristocratic landowners and wealthy industrialists remains one of the striking features of British society in the latter half of the century.


[1] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Origins of Modern English Society 1780-1880, pp. 183-196 discusses this issue.

[2] Ibid, Harrison, J.F.C., The Early Victorians 1832-1851, p. 123.

[3] See, for example, Pollock, Linda A., ‘Living on the stage of the world: the concept of privacy among the elite of early modern England’, in ibid, Wilson, Adrian, (ed.), Rethinking social history : English society, 1570-1920 and its interpretation, pp. 78-96, Meldrum, Tim, ‘Domestic service, privacy and the 18th century metropolitan household’, Urban History, Vol. 26, (1999), pp. 27-39 and Taylor, William M., ‘Visualising comfort: aspect, prospect, and controlling privacy in The Gentleman’s House (1864)’, in Taylor, William M., (ed.), The geography of law: landscape, identity and regulation, (Hart Publishing), 2006, pp. 65-83.

[4] Pollard, Sidney, ‘The genesis of the managerial profession: the experience of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain’, Studies in Romanticism, Vol. 4, (1965), pp. 57-80.

[5] This was evident in agriculture after 1870: Hunt, E. H. and Pam, S.J., ‘Managerial failure in late Victorian Britain?: land use and English agriculture’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., Vol. 54, (2001), pp. 240-266 and ‘Responding to agricultural depression, 1873-96: managerial success, entrepreneurial failure?’, Agricultural History Review, Vol. 50, (2002), pp. 225-252.

[6] Alborn, Timothy L., Conceiving companies: joint-stock politics in Victorian England, (Routledge), 1998, Taylor, James, Creating capitalism: joint-stock enterprise in British politics and culture, 1800-1870, (Boydell), 2006 and Johnson, Paul, Making the Market: Victorian Origins of Corporate Capitalism, (Cambridge University Press), 2010.

[7] Ibid, Perkin, H., The Origins of Modern English Society 1780-1880, pp. 36-38.

[8] Marx, Karl, ‘The Crisis in England and the British Constitution’, in Marx, K. and Engels, F., On Britain, (Moscow State Publishing House), 1953, pp. 410-411.

The rise of Catholic clerical power in Lower Canada: After the rebellions

In 1806, Le French Canadian was established by Pierre Bédard in Quebec with its motto: ‘Notre foi, notre langue, nos institutions’. These became the three pillars of survival for French Canadians and had increased resonance in the aftermath of Durham’s Report in defining the distinctiveness of French Canada. The focus was placed upon what Michel Brunet called ‘Messianism’, ‘agriculturalism’ and ‘anti-statism’.[1] From 1841, leadership was progressively assumed by the Roman Catholic Church and religion was increasingly stressed to distinguish the French Canadian people from their ‘Protestant’ environment. The Church emphasised the duty of French Canadians to spread their religion and the conservative rural values associated with it. It also preached distrust of a state that was dominated by a majority alien in culture and religion. It was therefore better to rely on the Church to provide services normally associated with the State: charity, health, welfare and education. The Church was regarded as the guardian not just of the faith of the people but also of the nation. Within a few decades, the Church supplied the French Canadian people with a transcendental vision of their new situation. [2] Its definition of the French Canadian nation explicitly refuted that of the Patriotes, which had a strong liberal and emancipating connotation. As emphasised by a clerical ideologist in the 1840s, ‘it is not borders, nor even laws or political administrations which make a nationality; it is a religion, a language, a national character’. [3] The entanglement of Catholicism with nationalism later evolved into a close relationship between the Catholic faith and the French language according to which the latter was the best means to keep alive the former, and was condensed into the motto ‘the language, guardian of the faith’.[4]

During the rebellions, Mgr Jean-Jacques Lartigue[5], since 1836 first bishop of Montreal and his coadjutor, Ignace Bourget[6] were actively involved in maintaining the authority of the Church and colonial government against the demands of the rebels.[7] The Roman Catholic hierarchy threw its weight behind a policy of compromise. [8] Lartigue’s first injunction was dated 24 October 1837, two days after a demonstration by 1,200 Patriotes in front of the Cathedral of St-Jacques protesting against the sermon given by Lartigue on 25 July at the ceremony when Ignace Bourget was consecrated as Lartigue’s coadjutor with the right of succession. [9] Lartigue had reminded the congregation of the Catholic Church’s attitude to rebellion against lawful authorities. [10] The first pastoral letter restated the traditional doctrine of the Church to ‘the obedience due to authority’ casting serious doubt on the wisdom of the radicals’ policy, which he considered imprudent as well as harmful. However, he did not threaten ecclesiastical sanctions against those in his diocese who did not respect his instructions. This letter was not well received by Patriotes. La Minerve on 30 October was particularly critical, as was Étienne Chartier, priest of St-Benoît who challenged the argument on which the pastoral letter was based. [11] According to Gilles Chaussé:

…although the clergy disassociated itself from the views expressed by the curé of St-Benoît, nonetheless a significant section of the clergy entertained serious doubts about the action of their bishop and on his view of the doctrine of unconditional obedience to the Crown and its representatives. [12]

This pastoral letter reminded clergy and laity of their religious responsibilities. [13] In reality, for many Patriotes it meant making a choice between their religious and political conscience. [14]

Following Lartigue’s death in 1840, Bourget took his place at the head of the diocese. He had been Lartigue’s secretary since 1821 and had been well prepared for this task. The ten years after the rebellions saw considerable change in the Roman Catholic Church.

The character of education in Lower Canada both before and after the rebellions was a major concern for the Church. Before 1800, the education of habitants had been left largely in the hands of the Church and was largely ignored by the colonial state. This proved inadequate and accounted for the low levels of literacy among habitants. In 1801, legislation empowered the governor to appoint trustees who would form a Royal Institute, the administrative body of a new system of education. The governor appointed commissioners in parishes or townships that wished to set up a Royal Institute school and they would oversee the construction, financing and maintenance of the school while the colonial government would pay for the teachers. Although the legislation originated in a proposal from the Anglican bishop Jacob Mountain, there was little initial opposition to the Royal Institute schools from Catholics. However, by the 1810s, the Catholic hierarchy under Plessis was concerned that these schools were part of an assimilationist plan by Anglicans.[15] This opposition limited the potential of these schools for French Canadians and between 1801 and 1824 only between 13 and 17 French Canadian localities established these schools. Although resistance by the Roman Catholic Church was a major factor, there were other reasons for the limited impact of Royal Institute schools. There was an unwillingness of parents to contribute to costs and relations between the Legislative Assembly and colonial government deteriorated over government costs.

In 1824, the government introduced the fabrique law. This provided for elementary education directly controlled by the parish fabrique (church council) and was supported by both the Church and the nationalist Parti Canadien. It allowed the parish priest and the fabrique to use a quarter of the parish’s annual revenue to finance schools. This legislation did not replace the state-run Royal Institute schools but established a parallel system more in keeping with French Canadian needs and wants. Despite the potential of the fabrique system, it appears to have made as little impact on the education of French Canadians as the Royal Institute schools. Parish revenues were generally inadequate to sustain a school and parish priests appear to have preferred spending the money on enriching the fabric of their churches rather than the education of their parishioners. In addition, there was growing alienation between the Church and the more radical and reorganised Parti Patriote that took a more liberal nationalist view and wanted to snatch education from the grasp of the Church.

This growing ideological and political split was exacerbated in 1829 with the passage of the Assembly School Act that gave deputies rather than local priests control over elementary school system. [16] This legislation, renewed in 1832, created a third parallel system of education, the Écoles de Syndic that the colonial state was prepared to finance. It wanted a system of public education to reduce levels of illiteracy but this concerned the clergy as they saw it as lay interference in what they thought should be a Catholic education. The anglophone middle-class exerted pressure in London to establish a free and public system of education conscious of its importance in producing a skilled workforce. The plan called for primary and secondary schools in each parish or canton and the introduction of a university in Quebec. The Church feared that schooling would occur in ways that were contrary to Catholic faith and morality and that the centralising nature of the legislation would further limit control by the Church.[17] However, attempts by parish clergy to put pressure on habitants by, for example, refusing the sacrament to those who sent their children to Assembly schools of had a negative effect, a reflection of the growing resentment by habitants of the ways priests spent fabrique revenues and their simmering anticlericalism. The hegemony of parish clergy was being challenged by rural liberal professionals and merchants who were increasing critical of the Church over education and the sought control through the democratic nature of the fabriques. This, however, had the effect of hardening the attitude of the Church hierarchy to the Assembly’s School legislation.

When the Assembly attempted to amend the legislation in 1836, it was rejected by the Legislative Council on the grounds that the new bill was too costly and would extend the control of deputies over the existing system in unacceptable ways. This rejection was the result of two things: the effective lobbying of Lartigue that met with a sympathetic hearing in the Council and the increasingly bitter disputes between the Patriote deputies and the nominated Council members. The rejection of the school bill left Lower Canada without an official school system, something lamented by contemporaries. La Minerve stated that ‘Today, a vital law for this colony expires...The Legislative Council in its rage and folly has closed 1665 elementary schools...’[18] Durham’s Report was highly critical of the Assembly schools because he maintained they promoted patronage and abuse since Patriote deputies used for their own political advantage. In general terms, however, the impact of the Assembly schools in rural areas led to an increase in levels of literacy and had the widespread support of habitants. [19] Despite calls from parents for the reestablishment of the Écoles de syndic, in 1838 Arthur Buller proposed a new non-sectarian system of education for the United Canada where anglophones and francophones would be educated together ‘in order to develop harmony and mutual understanding and, in the long term, the anglicising of French Canadians.’[20] The desire for assimilation of French Canadians was always a political hope.[21] To avoid colonial government assuming the expenses of running this system of education, there was to be a school tax that parents and landowners would pay. This provoked widespread opposition from both Protestant and Catholic clergy who saw this as an attempt to leave education in the hands of the state.[22] The Catholic Church’s campaign for a Catholic and French education system in Lower Canada during the 1840s proved an important feature in its revival as the institutional basis for revived French Canadian nationalism that was conservative rather than liberal in focus.

In Europe and especially in France and Italy during the 1820s and 1830s a Catholic revival linked to ultramontanism became increasingly important and it arrived in Quebec during the 1840s. Mgr Bourget, who had close links with the Papacy, restructured the Church to increase its presence in the social and political spheres as part of the campaign to strengthen French Canadian faith and willingness to adhere to Catholic doctrine. To achieve this he initially needed to resolve the problem of the shortage of priests in the province and recruited priests from religious communities in Europe. This resulted in an increase in the number of priests per head of population from 1:1,800 in 1830 to about 1:1,000 by 1850. This expanded clergy allowed Bourget to make the presence of the Church felt more closely and in a more disciplined manner in the lives of parishioners. This was accomplished since priests became more involved in charitable work, education and the organisation of religious processions, retreats and temperance societies.

La lutte que se sont livrés mutuellement l’Église et l’État au XIXe siècle, aussi bien en Europe qu’au Canada-français, n’a été en fait qu’une transposition, au niveau des institutions, d’une opposition fondamentale entre deux groupes sociaux aux intérêts divergents, soit le clergé, d’une part, et la bourgeoisie, d’autre part.[23]

The Church was also concerned by the influx of largely Protestant immigrants into Lower Canada at the same time as many French Canadians emigrated to the United States. Like other elite groups, the Church was concerned about cultural survival and consequently promoted the colonisation of new lands in Canada where French Canadian communities could be established beyond the influence of Protestant anglophones. In 1848, Bourget supported calls for a project to colonise the Eastern Townships and subsequently expended considerable energy in colonising northern Quebec.

Initially Bourget was wary of the reformist politics of Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine but by the mid-1840s, he recognised the value of an alliance with the dominant political grouping especially with the introduction of responsible government in 1848. The new structures gave the people a stronger voice since their representatives were now ministers in the Executive Council. Bourget’s spiritual revival was closely linked to his political agenda for the Church would have greater influence over the lives of the people if those lives were being structured and monitored by Catholic clergy. The French Canadian petite bourgeoisie also saw the advantage of allying with the clergy, which needed the support of the Lower Canadian middle-class, to strengthen their position in relation to British middle-class commercial power. In seeking these alliances, Bourget was without doubt

...l’un des premiers leaders ecclésiastiques à saisir l’importance de cette entreprise comme facteur d’intégration et de cohésion à la fois idéologique et administrative au sein de la communauté religieuse canadienne.[24]

In 1840, education was still relatively decentralised. The 1840s, however, saw the central state and its political agents take control of institutions that had previously been under the control of local bodies or by creating new institutions. Municipal and school laws created a local structure of governance where none had existed before and this was regulated by a centralised state. The development of education policy after 1840 was closely linked to changes in local administration introduced by Lord Sydenham. In 1840, his Municipal Ordinance was the first attempt to bring municipal government to Lower Canada creating two levels of local government. At the local level, municipal corporations were established based on existing parishes and townships with over 300 inhabitants with limited powers vested in an annual meeting for all male residents who met the property qualification. Regional municipal corporations were based on districts (initially 22, but increased to 24 in 1842) with district councils, which met quarterly, with the power to levy taxes for municipal projects. These basic features of municipal government were criticised by Lower Canadian members of the new Assembly largely because the new councils were firmly under executive control. There was also considerable resentment among habitants at the taxing powers of the councils. This situation was made worse by Sydenham’s belief that a comprehensive public education system was as important as municipal government. The result was a period of intense debate over the form that this education system should take lasting from 1841 to legislation in 1846 that laid the foundations for Quebec’s system of schooling for over a century.

The Common Schools Act was adopted in 1841 and applied to both Upper and Lower Canada. The act remained in force in the upper province only for a short time and was replaced in 1843. After this the two sections of the United Province developed separate systems of education. The control of schools that had previously been vested in the Assembly now lay with the office of superintendent of education. The original legislation established one superintendent but in 1842 governor Bagot appointed an assistant superintendent for each province and Jean-Baptiste Meilleur was appointed for Lower Canada.[25] The legislation introduced, with several modifications to satisfy opposition, Buller’s proposals but it did not prove promising: few schools were founded and local opposition often prevented their construction and financing. [26] The cooperation of the new district councils was essential for the success of the new system and this was not forthcoming. Meilleur made clear in 1843 that the reason why local taxation was not introduced was the suspicion of local voters that the monies collected would be used for other than local purposes. The connection between the municipal and school acts in the early 1840s can be seen as one of the major reasons for the failure of the common school legislation.

Despite opposition to the 1841 legislation, schools did gradually increase in number during the first half of the 1840s largely because parents and the Church were willing to provide funding on a voluntary basis. To address the problems with the legislation, in 1845 taxing powers were given to locally-elected school commissioners rather than to the municipal corporations.[27] However, this legislation was replaced a year later by the 1846 Act ‘to make better provision for Education in Lower Canada’. The most significant feature of this Act was the return to compulsory school taxes: in addition to annual school taxes, parents of children between 5 and 16 had to pay a monthly tax whether their children attended school or not and this was symptomatic of a more centralised system of education. The Church gained a little ground through this legislation as it allowed clergy to act as visitors to the schools. However, there was widespread opposition to the compulsory nature of school taxes that took the form of withdrawing children from school, refusing to elect local officials and putting pressure on the Church to make the tax voluntary. [28] While compulsory taxes remained, adjustments were made in response to local complaints.

The emergence of a professional state bureaucracy and the introduction of responsible government that gave the dominant political groupings access to widespread patronage resulted in closer ties between the Roman Catholic Church and Lafontaine’s Reform Party and this was reflected in important changes at local level. Social legislation and the bureaucracy necessary to manage it provided openings for professional men in French Canadian rural society. Participation in local government and school affairs gave individuals status within their communities as well as potential access to lucrative patronage positions. Following Bourget’s lead, local clergy involved themselves in Church initiated social activities as a further way of influencing the lives of their parishioners. For both the professions and the Church, the social initiatives introduced by the state provided important opportunities. It was this new alliance and the loss of prestige for the traditional seigneurs that led to their alliance with habitants over state-imposed taxation. This represented a reversal of the situation in the 1830s when it was the alliance of habitants and professionals that confronted the Church and seigneurs. Education in itself was not the issue; it was a matter of who should control it.

Bourget was largely responsible for the assertion of the rights of the Church over their parishes and schools and over birth, marriage and death, the critical events in people’s lives that were independent of the state. [29] Education was seen first as a means of training good Christians and only secondly intelligent and educated individuals.[30] However, European ideas of secularisation and anticlericalism were not without their supporters in Lower Canada in the 1840s and 1850s. The Parti Rouge supported the abolition of the dime in 1849 that would have severely weakened the economic position of the clergy and the Church in general.

The return of Papineau from exile in 1845 and the emergence of the Rouges as a radical, nationalist party reasserted the role of education and liberalism in the development of French Canadian nationalism. Faced by this, the Church drew attention to the fact that the French Canadian nation was defined in terms of its language and religion. It restated its links with the French Canadian people and also its loyalty to the British Crown. [31] Bourget’s position was reinforced by the elevation in 1846 of Pius IX who was more open to innovation than his predecessor. He went to Rome to ask for the establishment of an ecclesiastical province and to recruit clergy who were prepared to go to Canada and, as a result a new diocese was set up in Toronto.

The decade after the rebellions saw widespread change in the Canadas. Political changes, modifications in established political ideologies and crises in social policy especially in education were issues in which the Catholic Church with its growing self-confidence and viability as a loyal part of the colonial state had little choice but to be involved. In the aftermath of the rebellions, it was the Roman Catholic Church that provided many in Lower Canada with a focus for their faith but also for their political and cultural aspirations. Though conservative clerical nationalism was not fully formed by 1850, its roots were clearly identified in the growing ultramontanism of the Church and in its increasing appeal to many French Canadians as the protector not simply of their faith but of their cultural heritage as well.

Perhaps the most enduring bequest of Victorian Christianity whether Roman Catholic or Protestant to its religiously committed descendants has been in the realm of form rather than content. The nineteenth-century ‘churching of Canada’ differed significantly from the corresponding process witnessed in the United States and as a consequence, the anatomy of contemporary Canadian religion bears less resemblance to its American counterpart than might initially or superficially be supposed. In this respect, the evolution of Canadian religion has followed a European rather than an American model, in keeping with a characteristic Canadian reluctance, both French and English, to abandon the ties of ancestral authority in a revolutionary American manner. Steeped in the heroic mythology of religious dissent and constitutionally celebrating the separation of church and state, the United States has long accommodated the sect as its predominant and paradigmatic mode of religious organization. In contrast, Canadian religion boasts establishmentarian roots. Sectarianism has undoubtedly played a vital and vigorous minor role but it has been large churches with strong links to powerful political, business and cultural elites that dominated Canadian religious experience.


[1] Brunet, Michel, La Présence Anglaise et les French Canadians: Études sur l’histoire et la pensée des deux Canadas, (Beauchemin), 1964, pp. 113-166.

[2] Eid, N. F., Le clergé et le pouvoir politique au Québec: une analyse de l’idéologie ultramontaine au milieu du 19e siècle, (Hurtubise), 1978, Ferretti, L., Brève histoire de l’Église catholique au Québec, (Boréal), 1999, ibid, Hardy, R., Contrôle social et mutation de la culture religieuse au Québec, 1830-1930 and Voisine, N., Histoire du catholicisme québécois: Les XVIII et XIXe siècles, Vol. 2: Réveil et consolidation (1840-1898), (Boréal), 1991, provide context.

[3] Cit, Dumont, F., Genèse de la société québécoise, (Boréal), 1993, p. 227, and Lamonde, Y., Histoire sociale des idées au Québec, 1760-1896, (Fides), 2001, p. 286.

[4] Sylvain, Philippe, ‘Libéralisme et Ultramontanisme au Canada français: affrontement idéologique et doctrinal (1840-1865)’, in Morton, W. L., (ed.), Le Bouclier d’Achille: regards sur le Canada de l’Ère victorienne, (McClelland & Stewart), 1968, pp.111-138, 220-255.

[5] Ibid, Chausse, Gilles, Jean-Jacques Lartigue: Premier eveque De Montreal and Chausse, Gilles and Limieux, Lucian, ‘Jean-Jacques Lartigue’, DCB, Vol. 7, 1836-1850, pp. 485-491.

[6] ‘Ignace Bourget’, DCB, Vol. 11, pp. 94-105.

[7] Ibid, Lemieux, Lucien, Histoire du catholicisme québécois, Les XVIIIe et XIXe siècle, Vol. 1, Les années difficiles, (1760-1839), pp. 383-394.

[8] Correspondance de Mgr Jean-Jacques Lartigue (1836-1840), in Rapport de l’archiviste de la province de Québec, Vol. 25, (1944-1945), pp.173-266; Vol. 26, (1945-1946), pp. 47-134.

[9] Ibid, Chaussé, Gilles, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, p. 199.

[10] Ouellet, Fernand, ‘Le mandements de Mgr Lartigue de 1837 et la réaction libérale’, Bulletin des recherches historiques, Vol. 58, (2), (1952), pp. 97-104. See above, pp.

[11] Chabot, Richard, ‘Etienne Chartier’, DCB, Vol. 8, 1851-1860, pp. 140-146, and more generally ‘Le rôle du bas clergé face au mouvement insurrectionnel de 1837’, Cahiers de Sainte-Marie, Vol. 5, (1967), pp. 89-98.

[12] Ibid, Chaussé, Gilles, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, p. 211.

[13] Ibid, Chaussé, Gilles, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, p. 200.

[14] Ippersiel, Fernand, Les cousins ennemis: Louis-Joseph Papineau et Jean-Jacques Lartigue, Montreal, 1990, provides a valuable juxtaposition.

[15] Nationalist historians such as Groulx supported Plessis’ position but more recently this has been questioned. To establish a Royal Institute school meant that the majority of people in a parish were prepared to support it and more importantly finance it. In addition, the Board of Trustees of the Royal Institute allowed considerable local autonomy so French Canadian parishes could appoint French-speaking Roman Catholic teachers.

[16] Ibid, Lemieux, Lucien, Histoire du catholicisme québécois, Les XVIIIe et XIXe siècle, Vol. 1, Les années difficiles, (1760-1839), pp. 191-197.

[17] Dufour, Andrée, ‘Tous à l’école’, État, communautés rurales et scolarisation au Québec de 1826 à 1859, (HMH, Cahiers du Québec, Collection Psychopédagogie), 1996, p. 36.

[18] La Minerve, 1 May 1836.

[19] Ibid, Dufour, Andrée, ‘Tous à l’école’, État, communautés rurales et scolarisation au Québec de 1826 à 1859, p. 93.

[20] Ibid, Dufour, Andrée, ‘Tous à l’école’, État, communautés rurales et scolarisation au Québec de 1826 à 1859, p. 97.

[21] Curtis, Bruce, ‘The State of Tutelage in Lower Canada, 1835-1851’, History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 37, (1), (1997), pp. 25-43 considers the question of ‘liberalism’ and ‘conservatism’ in education reforms.

[22] Ibid, Dufour, Andrée, ‘Tous à l’école’, État, communautés rurales et scolarisation au Québec de 1826 à 1859, p. 99.

[23] Eid, Nadia F., Le clergé et le pouvoir politique au Québec, une analyse de l’idéologie ultramontaine au milieu du XIXe siècle, (HMH, Cahiers du Québec, Collection Histoire), 1978, p. 26.

[24] Ibid, Eid, Nadia F., Le clergé et le pouvoir politique au Québec, une analyse de l’idéologie ultramontaine au milieu du XIXe siècle, p. 32.

[25] Ibid, Voisine, N., Histoire du catholicisme québécois: Les XVIII et XIXe siècles, Vol. 2: Réveil et consolidation (1840-1898), p. 29.

[26] Ibid, Dufour, Andrée, ‘Tous à l’école’, État, communautés rurales et scolarisation au Québec de 1826 à 1859, p. 101.

[27] In 1845, district councils were abolished and greater powers were given to local municipalities based on parishes and townships.

[28] Ibid, Dufour, Andrée, ‘Tous à l’école’, État, communautés rurales et scolarisation au Québec de 1826 à 1859, pp. 110-111.

[29] Ibid, Eid, Nadia F., Le clergé et le pouvoir politique au Québec, une analyse de l’idéologie ultramontaine au milieu du XIXe siècle, p. 37.

[30] Ibid, Eid, Nadia F., Le clergé et le pouvoir politique au Québec, une analyse de l’idéologie ultramontaine au milieu du XIXe siècle, p. 201.

[31] Ibid, Eid, Nadia F., Le clergé et le pouvoir politique au Québec, une analyse de l’idéologie ultramontaine au milieu du XIXe siècle, p. 231.