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The Making of an Industrial SocietyWhickham 1560-1765$
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David Levine and Keith Wrightson

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198200666

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198200666.001.0001

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Living by the Benefit of Coales: The Anatomy of Industrial Society in Whickham

Living by the Benefit of Coales: The Anatomy of Industrial Society in Whickham

(p.152) 3 Living by the Benefit of Coales: The Anatomy of Industrial Society in Whickham
The Making of an Industrial Society

David Levine

Keith Wrightson

Oxford University Press

In the century after 1563, the world of the copyholders of the manor of Whickham was utterly transformed by industrial development. Long before the mid-seventeenth century, however, most of the inhabitants of Whickham were not copyholders, and never had been. While one outstanding social consequence of industrial growth had been the dissolution of the agrarian community of the sixteenth century, there are two others that also demand attention: the emergence of a new industrial population, and the creation of a new social structure. Both of these processes were in train by the turn of the sixteenth century and they proceeded alongside, and were influenced by, the struggles of the copyholders to adapt to the dynamic of economic change. It is only in the 1660s, however, that we are able to take stock of these developments in the parish as a whole – the opportunity being provided by the hearth-tax returns of the Restoration era. This chapter presents an anatomy of the population of the parish in the reign of Charles II – a population that had emerged in the course of three generations of drastic change and which lived, in William Gray's telling phrase, ‘by the benefit of coals’.

Keywords:   industrial development, industrial population, social structure, copyholders, Charles II, Whickham, seventeenth century, hearth-tax returns

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