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The Social Calculus: Deference and Defiance in Later Georgian England*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2014

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The history of the long reign of George III has recently been shaken by a vigorous and determined revisionism. A temblor of this magnitude has not been felt since Sir Lewis Namier mounted his prosopographical revolution more than half a century ago. Indeed, it has been suggested that J. C. D. Clark's English Society actually will surpass the influence of Namier's Structure of Politics. If so, it is difficult to imagine the combined impact of English Society, Rebellion and Revolution, The Dynamics of Change, The Memoirs and Speeches of James, 2nd Earl Waldegrave, the host of articles already published, and the plethora of words certain to be typeset in the relatively near future.

Perhaps Clark's relentless torrent of prose will relegate to the historiographical scrap heap virtually all existing scholarship about the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in favor of his corrected model of Hanoverian England. Already Clark claims that the standard account depicting eighteenth-century England as “an economically progressive society, increasingly secular and individualist in its ethos and distinctively demarcated from its European contemporaries” is, quite simply, “no longer tenable.” Clark's most recent pronouncement declares that “the revisionists’ [i.e. his] views of the period now command widespread acceptance.” The revisionist view cannot be fairly summarized in a single statement (though the phrases “ancien regime” and “confessional state” both manage nicely to encompass a great deal), but a passage Clark cites to illustrate England at the death of George III serves as a point of departure.

Research Article
Albion , Volume 21 , Issue 3 , Fall 1989 , pp. 426 - 449
Copyright © North American Conference on British Studies 1989

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A version of this paper was read at the joint meeting of the North American and Pacific North-west Conferences on British Studies in Portland, Oregon, October 1987. I would like to thank the Research Committee of the Academic Senate of the University of California, Riverside for its support of this research, and Louis Masur, Charles Wetherell, and Virginia Ettinger for their criticisms.


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3 Clark, J. C. D., “Year of Destiny,” review of Speck, W. A., Reluctant Revolutionaries (Oxford, 1988)Google Scholar in The Times Higher Education Supplement, 30 Sept. 1988, p. 20Google Scholar.

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19 A few additions to this short list can be made, but “surviving diaries providing sufficient detail” about the Anglican clergy “are relatively few” (Evans, Eric J., “The Anglican Clergy in the North of England,” in Jones, Clyve, ed., Britain in the First Age of Party [London, 1987], p. 235)Google Scholar.

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28 Ibid., pp. 68, 73, 69, 90.

29 Ibid., p. 78 and n. 114; pp. 16, 104.

30 Evans, , “Anglican Clergy,” pp. 221–22Google Scholar.

31 Vicars derived their income from the glebe, tithes, and oblations with augmentations from fees and offerings. Predial tithes seem to have been more burdensome but easier to collect than agistment tithes (Kain, R. J. P. and Prince, H. C., The Tithe Surveys of England and Wales [Cambridge, 1985], pp. 128)Google Scholar.

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38 Clark, , English Society, p. 189Google Scholar.

39 Skinner, , Somerset Rector, p. 26Google Scholar.

40 Ibid., pp. 200–07, 212.

41 Ibid., p. 36.

42 He recorded singers interrupting the Catechism on three successive Sundays in 1808. They became no more docile over time.

43 Woodforde, , Country Parson, 1: 9295Google Scholar.

44 Holland, , Paupers, pp. 120, 183Google Scholar.

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50 Ibid., p. 55.

51 lbid., pp. 191–92, 262.

52 Ibid., p. 284.

53 Ibid., pp. 33, 42, 48, 67, 93.

54 Holland, , Paupers, p. 47Google Scholar.

55 Skinner, , Somerset Rector, pp. 87, 191, 321Google Scholar; Holland, , Paupers, p. 236Google Scholar.

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59 Evans, , “Anglican Clergy,” p. 236Google Scholar.

60 Skinner, , Somerset Rector, pp. 326, 402Google Scholar.

61 Ibid., pp. 272–75. The jury in this case considered damages of £100 for some time before settling on a £50 award, p. 283.

62 Flick, Carlos, “The Oddingley Murders,” British Studies Intelligencer 2 (1987): 1617Google Scholar.

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71 Ibid., p. 142.

72 Snell, , Annals, pp. 1824Google Scholar.

73 Woodforde, , Country Parson, 2: 183–84Google Scholar; 4: 124.

74 Ibid., 5: 353.

75 Holland, , Paupers, pp. 146, 212Google Scholar.

76 Ibid., p. 228.

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