A comparative study of urban society in Edinburgh, Dublin and London in the late seventeenth century
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This is a study at a local level of the cities of Edinburgh, London and Dublin. Obviously each city was too large to be studied in its entirety so one parish has been selected from each - the Canongate, St. Bartholomew's the Great and St. Bride's. The aim is to partly rectify certain weaknesses that have appeared in the study of urban history in the United Kingdom. Despite its long pedigree, the study of urban history has remained the study of single units - few attempts have been made at comparative work. At the same time British urban history has normally meant English urban history. The towns of Scotland and Ireland have been much neglected. The rewards for work in these areas could be very substantial. Work in Britain has tended to follow certain themes - migration, poor relief or demographic change. Multi-faceted history (as epitomised by the 'Annales d'Histoire Economique et Sociale') has only recently advanced in this country. It is only with this type of study that the researcher-can hope to achieve an overall picture of his subject. This also means that he must not look at merely one easily defined group of people such as the aristocracy or merchants, but at the entire population. While this study takes into account the demography, economic structure and wealth of the parishes, its main interest lies in the secular and ecclesiastical means of control. Priority is given to the operation of the poor law, who was punished and why, plus who controlled the local government machinery and their motives for doing so. It is hoped to show that despite differences in law, politics, religion and local problems, the machinery of government was operated by the same people, in the same way, and for the same reasons in all three capitals.
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