Quaker politics and industrial change c.1800-1850

Morton, Vanessa (1991). Quaker politics and industrial change c.1800-1850. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000dfac


This thesis explores early 19th century Quakers from the perspective of the social history of religion. It examines the ways in which Quaker organisation adapted to arid facilitated economic change, and in which Quackerism and Quaker politics developed to reflect and represent the new economic and social requirements of this predominantly bourgeois and business community.

Chapter II sets out the most significant features of the 18th century background: the process of Quaker consolidation, economic and political activity, the shift to evangelicalism.

Chapter III explores the London Quaker evangelical elite around William Allen, Elizabeth Fry, Joseph John Gurney: their interconnections with the Clapham "Saints", with Dissenting evangelicals, with Whig "progressives", and with the Benthamites: their role as political lobby: their contribution to the development and dissemination of concepts of social modification in the service of industrial development, infused by religion.

Chapters IV and V examine the provincial challenge to the London Quaker establishment in the 1830s and 40s, within the arenas of pressure group politics - most notably anti-slavery - and the development of a combatant Quaker press. These chapters continue the analysis of the role of of within Quaker politics begun in Chapter III, and explore the basis for the internal conflicts and shifts between Quaker "Whiggery" and Quaker "Liberalism".

Chapters VI and VII comprise two case-studies of Quaker provincial economic, social and political activity. Chapter VI examines how Birmingham Quaker employers implemented structural change, the split within the Quaker community over the rise of Liberal politics and the challenge of Chartism. It focuses particularly on Joseph Sturge and the Complete Suffrage movement. Chapter VII analyses the varying economic and political strategies of the Pease and Backhouse dynasties in South Durham and their relationship to Quaker organisation and affiliation.

In conclusion, chapter VIII attempts to analyse the essential features of the economic, political and religious development of the Quaker community over the period, and the ways in which it reflected, contributed to and participated in the development of bourgeois Liberalism.

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