Bread and the British Economy, 1770–1870: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Bread and the British Economy, 1770–1870

1st Edition

By Christian Petersen, Andrew Jenkins


368 pages

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New in Paperback: 9781138380189
pub: 2018-09-18
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pub: 1995-05-18
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pub: 2017-07-05
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In this ambitious book Christian Petersen has taken a central topic in economic and social history and given it a new sweep and coherence. As the Lord’s Prayer suggests, securing an adequate supply of bread was a matter of over-riding concern to everyone until very recently. Bread was always by far the largest single item in the budgets of the poor, but bread could be made from many grains - wheat, rye, barley etc. Christian Petersen describes how in the later eighteenth century the process of replacing other cereals by wheat in bread making was completed throughout Britain. He provides a continuous series of estimates of bread consumption per caput, of bread prices (and, consequently, used in conjunction with population data, of total national expenditure on bread), and of wheat output and net imports. The implications of the changes in techniques of milling and baking that occurred are analysed, and the organisation of the baking and retailing of bread is described. Bread was so central to the economy of individual households and to the national economy as a whole that this book represents a major contribution to the history of the British economy and of British society in the period 1770-1870.


'Complex problems are treated in a clear, not simplified manner, making this a book suitable for undergraduates as well as specialists. This is an essential purchase for all serious libraries.' THES 'will remain essential reading for students of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for a long time to come.' The Economic History Review ’…the publication of this research is to be welcomed, and the book will be a valuable reference source for many economic and social historians.’ English Historical Review 'This extremely valuable monograph on the economic importance of bread will probably be used at one time or another by almost all social and economic historians of early modern and industrial Great Britain.' Journal of Economic History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The Bread Question; The Wheat Loaf; Milling and Baking; The Assize of Bread; Consumers and Consumption; Wheat Supply; Measuring Wheat Consumption; Value; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography.

About the Authors

Christian Petersen (deceased) was a leading Sales Promotion Consultant and author. He moved to academic life in his early forties studying Modern History at New College Oxford and undertaking the research on which this book is based. He died suddenly in January 1993 with his work at an advanced stage. This book has been brought to completion by Andrew Jenkins of Exeter University.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General