The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Hammond, John Lawrence le Breton (1872–1949) and Lucy Barbara (1873–1961)

  • Peter Clarke
Reference work entry


Lawrence Hammond was born in Yorkshire in 1872. He married Barbara Bradby in 1901; they had no children. Both the Hammonds received a classical education, which they drew on in their literary work. At Oxford, Lawrence was a Scholar of St John’s College and Barbara of Lady Margaret Hall, where she made a striking impression as an early feminist. She became active in social work in London at the turn of the century, while Lawrence was making his career as a Liberal journalist and later as Secretary of the Civil Service Commission (1907–13). But their increasingly precarious health (hers tubercular, his mainly coronary) led to a steady withdrawal to a life of authorship in the country, punctuated by Lawrence’s intermittent work for the Manchester Guardian in later years. It is as pioneer social historians that they are remembered, especially for their ‘labourer’ trilogy. Their account of how agricultural workers fared under the enclosure measures of the period 1760–1830 opened up a far-reaching debate. They did not deny the economic rationality of the process, but pointed to the way in which its costs were borne by the rural poor (Hammond and Hammond 1911). Their work was given contemporary salience by the inception of Lloyd George’s Land Campaign in 1913. In turning their attention to the urban working class, the Hammonds helped establish the ‘pessimistic’ view of the Industrial Revolution. Again, they did not disparage industrialization itself but focused on its exploitative effects, given the prevailing ideologies of an age which took social inequality for granted (Hammond and Hammond 1917). Published amid wartime planning for reconstruction, their findings once more fed current political debate. Finally, the Hammonds analysed the impact of technological change in making skilled craftsmen redundant in the early 19th century, and offered a new understanding of the Luddite movement (Hammond and Hammond 1919).

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  1. Clapham, J.H. 1926. An economic history of modern Britain, The early railway age, 1820–1850, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Clarke
    • 1
  1. 1.