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‘Indeed amongst agriculturalists, there is something like free-masonry – we are all brethren’: Exploring agricultural friendship in late Georgian England

Matthews, H. (2022) ‘Indeed amongst agriculturalists, there is something like free-masonry – we are all brethren’: Exploring agricultural friendship in late Georgian England. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00111432


This thesis concerns a diverse group of men interested in promoting progressive farming and their agricultural friendship. Largely ignored by scholarship, these men were active during the class-conscious world of late Georgian Britain when close social mixing was rare on a quasi-equal basis. It draws attention to the role influential landowners played in bringing together the best scientific and practical agriculturalists regardless of social rank and their importance in engendering fellowship among them, seeing it as essential in moving agriculture forward. It explores what made this friendship possible, how it worked in practice, the parameters it operated within and the extent to which it could negotiate factors such as the class issue. It establishes that respect and mutual benefit were essential elements within the agricultural friendship of the group. Chapter One explores political affiliation and identifies the importance of Whig egalitarianism in engendering fellowship at their events. Chapter Two establishes the importance of a shared agricultural interest in facilitating relationships between socially diverse men. Chapter Three explores agricultural friendship under tension, revealing how shared objectives and respect enabled men to overcome their differences. The final chapter draws attention to the importance dining together played in facilitating fraternity. The thesis’s investigation into agricultural friendship re-embeds this neglected group into the agricultural social history of the late Georgian period. It draws attention to the patriotic aspect of their events and the part Whiggism played in this. It identifies the importance of fraternity to these agriculturalists, contributing to a clearer understanding of friendship and its capacity to cross barriers. The thesis concludes that where a strong common interest brings people together, sharing knowledge through mutual exchange and practical experience, the resultant fellowship can bridge social divides and, in the process, become a powerful engine of creativity and innovation within their shared field of interest.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Burchardt, J.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Humanities
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:111432


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