The Shropshire Enlightenment: a regional study of intellectual activity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries

by Roger Neil Bruton

Institution: University of Birmingham
Department: School of History and Cultures
Year: 2015
Keywords: DA Great Britain; HC Economic History and Conditions
Record ID: 1405221
Full text PDF: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5830/


The focus of this study is centred upon intellectual activity in the period from 1750 to c1840 in Shropshire, an area that for a time was synonymous with change and innovation. It examines the importance of personal development and the influence of intellectual communities and networks in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. It adds to understanding of how individuals and communities reflected Enlightenment aspirations or carried the mantle of ‘improvement’ and thereby contributes to the debate on the establishment of regional Enlightenment. The acquisition of philosophical knowledge merged into the cultural ethos of the period and its utilitarian characteristics were to influence the onset of Industrial Revolution but Shropshire was essentially a rural location. The thesis examines how those progressive tendencies manifested themselves in that local setting. The study therefore explores contemporary knowledge acquisition and dissemination, both within and beyond the industrial environment for which the county has become historically known. Comparisons are made with similar processes in other localities and conclusions drawn on local specificity in the context of economic and agricultural improvement and the enhancement of infrastructure. It acknowledges in the process, the cultural change effected in the lives of many individuals across the social spectrum.