The Origins of the Consumer Revolution in England: From Brass Pots to Clocks, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Origins of the Consumer Revolution in England

From Brass Pots to Clocks, 1st Edition

By Joanne Sear, Ken Sneath


368 pages | 54 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2020-03-02
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The Origins of the Consumer Revolution in England explores the rise of consumerism from the end of the medieval period through to the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The book takes a detailed look at when the 'consumer revolution' began, tracing its evolution from the years following the Black Death through to the nineteenth century. In doing so, it also considers which social classes were included, and how different areas of the country were affected at different times, examining the significant role that location played in the development of consumption. This new study is based upon the largest database of English probate records yet assembled, which has been used in conjunction with a range of other sources to offer a broad and detailed chronological approach. Filling in the gaps within previous research, it examines changing patterns in relation to food and drink, clothing, household furnishings, and religion, focusing on the goods themselves to illuminate items in common ownership, rather than those owned only by the elite.

Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative evidence to explore the development of consumption, The Origins of the Consumer Revolution in England will be of great use to scholars and students of late medieval and early modern economic and social history, with an interest in the development of consumerism in England.

Table of Contents


1. The consumer revolution

2. Sources and interpretations

3. Food and drink

4. Clothing

5. The home environment

6. Religious consumption

7. When and where did the consumer revolution take place?

8 Social groups

9. Who benefited from the consumer revolution?

10. Conclusions

Appendix and Glossary

About the Authors

Joanne Sear teaches a range of local history courses at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge. Her research focusses on consumption and trade in the Middle Ages and she is currently working on a volume on the manorial records of late medieval Newmarket.

Ken Sneath lectures in early modern history at University of Cambridge and was formerly Assistant Director of Studies for Economic History at Peterhouse College. Ken has published articles on consumption and is a contributor to the forthcoming volume on the Huntingdonshire Hearth Tax.

About the Series

Themes in Medieval and Early Modern History

This is a brand new series which straddles both medieval and early modern worlds, encouraging readers to examine historical change over time as well as promoting understanding of the historical continuity between events in the past, and to challenge perceptions of periodisation. It aims to meet the demand for conceptual or thematic topics which cross a relatively wide chronological span (any period between c. 500-1750), including a broad geographical scope. For more information about the series and the proposal process, please contact the series editor at [email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General