Exploring the origins of 'middle-class' status in the English provinces during a formative period of social and economic change, this book discusses the nature of social identity in early modern England. Dr. French examines the bases for such identity in three detailed case studies of the 'middle sort' in East Anglia, Lancashire, and Dorset. He looks at how far their claims to parochial supremacy were matched by their local power or household wealth, finding a fragmented social group lacking a broader perspective on their place in society.

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