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Britain in the eighteenth century

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In the eighteenth century, Britain was a very different country, both industrially and agriculturally. Today's major cities such as London and Birmingham were a fraction of the size that they are today. There were no major factories, with the eighteenth century equivalent running on power generated from waterwheels. There were no roads, just dirt tracks, and all farming was done manually, with help from horses pulling carts instead of machinery. Approximately 5.5 million people lived in England and Wales in the eighteenth century. This was less than there is today living in London. There is no way to know the exact amount of inhabitants, as there was no accurate method, like the modern day national census. The way that historians have accurate estimates on the population distribution of the country is the usage of old parish records, which recorded baptisms, marriages and funerals. When many of these were gathered, an overall view of the country in the eighteenth century was made. Roughly a third of the eighteenth century population resided in the Southeast region of the country, with nearly of them living in rural towns and villages. Of the whole of the country, the most densely populated area was roughly from the mouth of the River Severn, to below the Thames estuary to the south, and the Walsh to the north. The reasons for this being the most popular choice is the fertile land, and the relatively warmer climate, compared to the rest of the country. ...read more.


In their spare time, they farmed a small plot of land, known as the glebe. He also would receive a tithe (tenth) of the produce of the other farms in the region. Even though the church was an important thing in the eighteenth century, the parson usually had to use the glebe and the tithe to keep his head above water. The parson also helped to educate the local children in reading and writing. The people who did receive some education were told not to have ideas 'above their station'; in other words to obey their superiors, and keep their rightful place in society. They were taught that it was god who put them in this position on Earth, and that they should 'obey his wishes'. Below the parson were the freeholders. These were farmers who actually owned their property instead of renting it from the gentry or nobility. They were regarded as socially superior to the smallholders, who could have up to eight hectares of land. Most lived in houses built of the building materials that were easiest to get, which could have been timber, stone or bricks. They lived simple lives, not having things such as curtains, curtains and other necessities. Their houses were furnished with nothing more than strong tables, stools and chairs. The light was provided by nothing more than dim slow burning candles. The people who helped out on the farms of the freeholders were called labourers. ...read more.


To signify its importance in English history, the Lord Chancellor still sits on a woolsack in the House of Lords. The finer cloth made would come from the West Country and East Anglia, where the industry was more organised, while the coarser cloth, which was also cheaper, came from West Yorkshire. The lesser industries in Britain include iron, metal goods and coal mining. The iron was mined and smelted where there was a good supply of timber, as charcoal was used for heating the furnaces where it was smelted. The West Midlands, and towns such as Birmingham, was where the manufacture of metal goods took place, like today. Sheffield was also a main town in this, being famous for its steel, used in cutlery etc. Coal mining was an industry that took place in the northeast of England, most commonly around Newcastle. Even though these trades were growing all the time, the lack of suitable transport was hindering their development somewhat. There was no easy was to deliver goods to far away towns, due to the shortage of navigable rivers. Transporting goods by road was also tricky, as there weren't enough proper ones. Until the methods of transporting goods were improved, it was unlikely that people would order large quantities of things outside the local area. The early eighteenth century factories needed things such as steam engines to be used for pumping water out of mines. Even though inventions such as waterwheels to provide power were used, all different kinds of industry relied mainly on human strength and skill. Tom Ruzyllo 10T 1 ...read more.

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