‘A curious mixture of the old and the new’? the nature of the English corresponding societies 1792-95.

Chatterton, Robin John (2019). ‘A curious mixture of the old and the new’? the nature of the English corresponding societies 1792-95. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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This thesis relates to the British Corresponding Societies in the form they took between 1792 and 1795. It draws on government papers, trial transcripts, correspondence, public statements, memoirs and contemporary biography. The aim is to revisit the historiographical debate regarding the societies’ nature, held largely between 1963 and 2000, which focused on the influence on the societies of 1780s’ gentlemanly reformism which sought to retrieve lost, constitutional rights, and the democratic ideologies of Thomas Paine and the French Revolution which sought to introduce new natural rights. The thesis takes a wider perspective than earlier historiography by considering how the societies organised and campaigned, and the nature of their personal relationships with their political influences, as well as assessing the content of their writings. It concludes that the societies’ nature was pragmatic and practical not ideological, moulded by political inexperience, their motives in entering reform debate and their class. Pragmatism was critical to the way the societies absorbed their political influences, provides an explanation of why they conflated apparently contradictory sources to create the ‘curious mixture’, and enabled them to unite to achieve the common goal of reform despite their differences, providing a greater level of cohesion than the historiography allows.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/9469


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