Economic and social attitudes to landed property in England 1790-1850.
Martin, David E., 1944-
Economic and social history
Thesis or dissertation
- © 1972 David E Martin. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
The principal aim of this thesis is to examine the ideas that were held on the subject of landed property in England between approximately 1790 and 1850. In the opening chapters the debate about landed property in the 1790s is considered. Under the impact of the French Revolution and because of the disturbed economic situation, differing attitudes towards land became sharply defined. The ideas of the main protagonists, William Godwin, Arthur Young and T.R. Malthus are examined as well as those of other writers.
Eventually, Malthus's opinions proved strongest and became the basis of a socio-economic orthodoxy that was strengthened and elaborated by Ricardian economics and Benthamite philosophy. According to the majority of political economists and social philosophers, it was desirable that land should be held privately, although this meant that the great majority were excluded from ownership. It was also regarded as necessary for agriculture, if it was to operate efficiently, to be organised on the tripartite system of large landlord, tenant farmer and landless labourer.
However, this conventional view had its critics, and the thesis discusses some of the theories that were advanced against it. While conservatives opposed even moderate reforms, radicals were responsible for a number of proposals. Some, like the Owenites, believed in communities; others favoured land nationalisation, while there was support also for the almost-vanished yeoman, as idealised by Cobbett.
These groups, together with the views of orthodox economists, represent part of the background against which J.S. Mill's ideas emerged. The second part of the thesis attempts to trace the way in which Mill's attitudes towards landed property developed up to the publication of his Principles of Political Economy in 1848. By that date he had abandoned much of the conventional thought on the subject, and the reasons for this are suggested.
- Department of Economic and Social History, The University of Hull
- Saville, John, 1916-2009
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- University of Hull
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