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Burgesses, freemen and strangers: the organisation of industry and trade in Southampton, 1547 to 1603

Burgesses, freemen and strangers: the organisation of industry and trade in Southampton, 1547 to 1603
Burgesses, freemen and strangers: the organisation of industry and trade in Southampton, 1547 to 1603
This thesis demonstrates how the town government of Southampton organised its industry and trade in the sixteenth century, with specific focus on the way in which it controlled the three groups involved: burgesses, freemen and strangers. It shows how the town council used devices, such as licences, oaths and ordinances, to regulate those who wished to trade or carry on a craft.

By comparing Southampton to several other towns, Boston, Rye, Salisbury and Winchester, the often complex and diverse nature of English administrations is exposed and the individuality of urban environments is revealed. This thesis also shows how the meanings of certain commonplace terms and words could vary in different towns.

This study defines each group – burgesses, freemen and strangers – as three distinct entities before revealing the close collaborations which could exist between them. The status of an individual was often determined by membership of a particular group. Burgesses were undeniably the group with the most power and highest social standing whose members were often of the mercantile crafts. Research for this thesis shows that although only burgesses had access to the higher levels of political power, non-burgesses were permitted to hold some lower offices.

This study also reveals that within some occupations a combination of burgesses, freemen and strangers worked alongside one another, and that these same occupational groups were called upon to help maintain the town’s defences at a time of national emergency.

By utilising unique sources which have rarely, if ever, been used in surveys of urban history before, a new in-depth town study is created. By comparing its findings to studies of other towns, new narratives emerge which reveal much about the organisation of industry and trade in late medieval and early modern English towns. In short, this thesis makes a significant contribution not only to Southampton’s history but also to the wider field of urban history.
University of Southampton
Fairbrother, Louise Elizabeth
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Fairbrother, Louise Elizabeth
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Stoyle, Mark
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Hayward, Maria
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Fairbrother, Louise Elizabeth (2018) Burgesses, freemen and strangers: the organisation of industry and trade in Southampton, 1547 to 1603. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 466pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis demonstrates how the town government of Southampton organised its industry and trade in the sixteenth century, with specific focus on the way in which it controlled the three groups involved: burgesses, freemen and strangers. It shows how the town council used devices, such as licences, oaths and ordinances, to regulate those who wished to trade or carry on a craft.

By comparing Southampton to several other towns, Boston, Rye, Salisbury and Winchester, the often complex and diverse nature of English administrations is exposed and the individuality of urban environments is revealed. This thesis also shows how the meanings of certain commonplace terms and words could vary in different towns.

This study defines each group – burgesses, freemen and strangers – as three distinct entities before revealing the close collaborations which could exist between them. The status of an individual was often determined by membership of a particular group. Burgesses were undeniably the group with the most power and highest social standing whose members were often of the mercantile crafts. Research for this thesis shows that although only burgesses had access to the higher levels of political power, non-burgesses were permitted to hold some lower offices.

This study also reveals that within some occupations a combination of burgesses, freemen and strangers worked alongside one another, and that these same occupational groups were called upon to help maintain the town’s defences at a time of national emergency.

By utilising unique sources which have rarely, if ever, been used in surveys of urban history before, a new in-depth town study is created. By comparing its findings to studies of other towns, new narratives emerge which reveal much about the organisation of industry and trade in late medieval and early modern English towns. In short, this thesis makes a significant contribution not only to Southampton’s history but also to the wider field of urban history.

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Published date: July 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427316
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427316
PURE UUID: ed5e8cf5-cb4b-43bd-96aa-6cd99a209651

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Date deposited: 11 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 03 Dec 2019 05:08

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Contributors

Author: Louise Elizabeth Fairbrother
Thesis advisor: Mark Stoyle
Thesis advisor: Maria Hayward

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