English nonconformist entrepreneurs and their mansions (1780-1900): a paradox
Jones, Diana K.
Industrialists -- England -- History -- 1780-1900 Elite (Social sciences) -- England -- History -- 1780-1900 Mansions -- England -- History Βιομήχανοι -- Αγγλία -- Ιστορία -- 1780-1900 Ελίτ (Κοινωνικές επιστήμες) -- Αγγλία -- Ιστορία -- 1780-1900 Αρχοντικά -- Αγγλία -- Ιστορία
The rise of entrepreneurial bourgeois elites during the period of industrialisation has been extensively researched and written upon. A pivotal factor in the debate is arguably the impact of ascetic Protestant ethics on this social elite and resultant affect on burgeoning industrial society, not least the shaping of growth and development within towns and cities. The thesis, as advanced in Max Weber’s seminal work ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism’, continues to fascinate. It is not infrequently asserted that the essential characteristics of the middle classes can only be fully understood within a religious context and that, predominantly if not exclusively, Nonconformist - or, in the parlance of Weber, ‘ascetic protestantism’. My own research highlights paradoxical tensions within the lives of representative members of this bourgeois group, between ascetic tendencies arising from religious belief and opulence of life style and places of residence, the ‘essential’ accoutrements of successful business enterprise.Using a broadly prosopographical approach, this paper maps the residential patterns of a single homogeneous elite – a selected group of 18th/19th century English Nonconformist entrepreneurs. The geographic context is purposely irregular, reinforcing economic and demographic determinants that, as will be demonstrated, frequently influenced decisions about location. Particular attention will be given to: - choices of locale- number of residences- types of residences- domestic life style- relationships with local landed elites - impact on the physical landscape - extent of influence in shaping work habits within the populace at largeThis study of the places and types of residence of a single bourgeois elite is presented as a contribution to the wider debate regarding relations between different groups of urban elites and in identifying their respective, or even combined, influences on the modern urban environment.
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Living in the city: Urban Elites and their residences