Dissenters (Vol 2)
The expansion of Evangelical Nonconformity was one of the most important developments in English and Welsh history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In eighty years the number of Nonconformist chapels increased ten-fold, and by 1851, nearly one...
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The expansion of Evangelical Nonconformity was one of the most important developments in English and Welsh history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In eighty years the number of Nonconformist chapels increased ten-fold, and by 1851, nearly one person in five worshipped insuch chapels. For millions of people the gospel preached and the religion practised in these chapels determined their choice of marriage partners, conditioned the upbringing of their children, and moulded their family life. Religion pervaded education, shaped morals, controlled leisure, providedmusic and literature, motivated philanthropy and decided political loyalties.In this, the second of a projected three-volume history of Dissent, Michael Watts argues that while the Quakers constituted an increasingly wealthy but numerically declining community of businessmen, farmers, and retailers, and that in many towns the Unitarians formed a vibrant, progressive,intellectual elite, the appeal of Nonconformity was primarily to the poor, the ill-educated, and the unsophisticated. The working-class adherents of Evangelical Nonconformity vastly outnumbered those of political radicalism, trade unionism, or Chartism, and Dissent was a major factor in making asection of the working class respectable, thus contributing to the social harmony of the 1850s and 1860s.The history of late Georgian and Victorian England and Wales, argues Dr Watts, cannot be understood without a knowledge of Nonconformity.
English and Welsh society in the nineteenth century was profoundly influenced by religion. For millions of people, religion determined their choice of marriage partner, conditioned the upbringing of their children and moulded their family life. Religion pervaded education and literature, inspired poetry, stimulated music, motivated philanthropy, moderated industrial strife, and decided political loyalties.^ The driving religious force which dominated the early nineteenth century was Evangelical Christianity. While a substantial minority of Anglicans subscribed to it, its main influence was mediated through the channels of the Bapitists, the Congregationalists, and the Methodists: otherwise known as Dissenters or Nonconformists. They are the subject of this book, the second part of the comprehensive study of Dissent in England and Wales. The first volume dealt with the period between the Reformation and French Revolution; this volume takes the study into the nineteenth century, exam