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Paternalism In Crisis: Aristocratic Responses to the Agricultural Depression in England, 1870-1900

Dale, A G (2012) Paternalism In Crisis: Aristocratic Responses to the Agricultural Depression in England, 1870-1900. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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The publication of David Roberts’ Paternalism in Early Victorian England in 1979 has sparked some debate as to the extent in which paternalism existed as a solid, definable concept or ideology and the degree to which it influenced Victorian politics, society and culture. This thesis has attempted to reopen this debate with a fresh perspective on paternalism, in order that its importance, on both aristocratic behaviour and the ‘decline and fall’ of the British aristocracy in the late nineteenth century, may be reasserted. The thesis also aims to reassert the importance of the agricultural depression in providing an atmosphere that encouraged and necessitated great change in rural England during this period. This thesis will rely on evidence obtained from the estate records of three aristocratic families and will particularly relate to the lives of three aristocratic paternalists - namely Henry Chaplin, the second earl of Leicester of Holkham and the seventh duke of Devonshire. The central argument of this thesis is that, despite the potential for aristocratic paternalism to be flexible to change, the aristocracy largely failed to adapt their traditional understanding of their roles and duties in local and national politics and society to the new challenges that were facing them. Great weight is added to the importance of the agricultural depression in providing the principal circumstance that contributed to their decline, by placing them in a ‘sink or swim’ environment. Largely speaking, their responses to the agricultural depression often had negative effects on their paternalism. It is hoped that this thesis will encourage others to pursue research into aristocratic paternalism in the twentieth century or alternatively, industrial paternalism in the late nineteenth century.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: Paternalism Aristocracy Britain Victorian Depression
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr A G Dale
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2013 14:26
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3339

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