An historical and geographical study of the small towns of Shropshire, 1600-1830.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015 by Sarah Anne. Lewis
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The thesis begins with a brief historiographical survey establishing the rationale for research into the role of small towns in the early modem English economy. The spatial dimension of the Shropshire urban system is then analysed employing Christaller central place methodology. Databases for 1797 and 1828 are derived from directory sources and supplemented by information on the transport and market infrastructures and their services to examine centrality, function, connectivity and nodality by hierarchical ranking. The second part of the thesis develops occupational and sectoral classification systems to delineate the economic parameters of the urban system. The sectoral structure of the small towns at the benchmark dates of 1797 and 1828 is analysed and a typology of the urban system is developed from the demographic and economic data. The final part provides case studies of six small towns: Bishops Castle, Bridgnorth, Broseley, Ludlow, Much Wenlock and Oswestry. Benchmark estimates derived from probate inventories, occupational and fiscal data are used to analyse the composition and rate of growth of output by sector, and to create time series from the early seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. The extent to which the evidence of the case studies is representative of the urban system as a whole, typologically differentiated, is considered in the conclusion.