Archive | 2019
The local origins of industrialisation:the case of the Derbyshire lead industry, c.1700-1830
This thesis explores the relationship between household and community ties and the process of industrialisation in Derbyshire during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Using a series of closely examined archival sources linked mainly to the local lead industry, it endeavours to provide new insights into the way in which households and communities operated, and contributed to processes of industrial and economic change. Networks of credit and trust are seen to have been particularly important in financing and organising industrial and commercial ventures. By reconstructing these local networks and retracing the webs of personal, familial and kinship relations, this thesis considers the continuing importance of sociability, community and reputation – usually studied in the context of the early modern era – in laying the foundations for precocious change in industrialising Derbyshire. Historical accounts of the Derbyshire lead industry have emphasised the long decline of the free mining community owing to the rise of capital-intensive mining in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In contrast, this thesis identifies the Derbyshire lead miners more as ‘middling’ artisans than as proletariats, and shows their continuing prominence in local society, their role as employers and entrepreneurs, and their monopoly of knowledge and skill in the mining trade even in the face of challenges from enlightenment knowledge. Based on the case of Derbyshire, this thesis argues therefore that far from suffering at the hands of industrialists and capitalists, household and community structures and relationships played a crucial role in processes of industrialisation and economic growth, helping to establish a degree of stability and regularity in an otherwise tumultuous and unpredictable period.