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Religion and society in the parish of Halifax, c. 1740-1914

Hargreaves, John A. (1991) Religion and society in the parish of Halifax, c. 1740-1914. Doctoral thesis, Huddersfield Polytechnic.

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Most recent studies of religion and society have focussed on
the period from c. 1880 to 1914, basing their investigations
upon late-Victorian newspaper censuses of churchgoing. This
thesis aims to study the development of religion in its
economic and social context in a large northern industrial
parish over a longer period of time from c. 1740 to 1914. In
religious terms this period extends from the mid-eighteenth
century Evangelical Revival to the decline of organised
religion in the early twentieth century. In economic and
social terms the period is characterised by the transformation
of the parish from a semi-rural, proto-industrial society
dominated by a relatively small but expanding market town, into
a predominantly urban advanced industrial society dominated by
a medium-sized textile manufacturing town and several smaller
urban centres of textile production; supporting a wide
diversity of associated industries and trades, but still
containing within its boundaries sharply contrasting urban and
semi-rural environments.

The thesis aims to assess how religious expression within the
parish of Halifax was affected by the changing economic and
social environment, in particular the urban-industrial
experience, and how religion helped shape the new urbanindustrial
society during the period from the middle of the
eighteenth century to the outbreak of the First World War. It
argues that whilst the pessimistic view of a moribund Georgian
Church of England can no longer be sustained by the Halifax
evidence, the Established Church nevertheless lacked the
logistical resources to respond effectively to the new urbanindustrial
society as it emerged within the parish in the lateeighteenth
and early-nineteenth centuries, providing an
opportunity for the growth of Evangelical Nonconformity,
especially Methodism. It maintains that Evangelical
Nonconformity and an Anglican Church renewed by Evangelical
incumbencies during the period 1790-1827 and reformed as a consequence of national legislation in the 1840s played a vital
role within the expanding urban-industrial society, surviving
the experience of industrialisation and urbanisation and
displaying a remarkable vibrancy, despite underlying downward
trends in churchgoing in the late-Victorian era. It suggests
that the causes of the decline of organised religion during
this period were complex, but related more to the onset of
industrial-urban stagnation and decline than to the experience
of industrial-urban expansion.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, Philosophy, Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Graham Stone
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2009 12:00
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 23:04


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