Vested Interests and Pressure Groups

  • H. T. Dickinson


Many recent historians have stressed that there were two political worlds in eighteenth-century Britain. On the one hand, there was a narrow landed elite, composed of the aristocracy and the greater gentry. This remarkably cohesive and integrated group dominated the court, the cabinet, both houses of parliament and the administration of the counties. They regarded the possession of land as the essential qualification for those who desired to serve the king or to sit in parliament. The possession of landed property was also seen as the best means of attaching men to the interests of their country and of providing them with the independence, leisure and judgement needed to govern others. On the other hand, historians have also detected another political world which, if not entirely separate and distinct, at least sought to escape from the patronage of the aristocratic elite and was sometimes in conflict with it. This political world, both bourgeois and plebeian, existed outside the narrow confines of court, cabinet and parliament and flourished in urban areas. In the towns merchant oligarchies, popular radicalism or crowd demonstrations were largely beyond the control of the landed elite.1


Eighteenth Century Vested Interest Pressure Group Slave Trade East India Company 
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Copyright information

© H. T. Dickinson 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. T. Dickinson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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