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From Reformation to ImprovementPublic Welfare in Early Modern England$
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Paul Slack

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206613

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206613.001.0001

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Bodies Politic

Bodies Politic

(p.126) 6 Bodies Politic
From Reformation to Improvement

Paul Slack

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores multiple agencies of virtue and welfare. An examination of welfare activity in the quarter-century from 1714 to 1740 brings into focus the subject of agency. Some of these institutions were agents of local government, from county quarter sessions down to the vestries of the civil parish. Some were corporations, while others were formally charitable trusts and less formal voluntary associations. They were all in a more general sense ‘political bodies’. These contending associations included many of the subsidiary bodies run by men of property which shaped the competitive public world of Hanoverian England. They also determined much of the quality and quantity of its welfare activity. When there was no single authority able to impose reformation in the name of a single public good, several lesser agents pursued improvement in a number of them.

Keywords:   bodies politic, public good, Hanoverian England, charitable agency, welfare activity

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