By Richard Dennis
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Extra info for A Social Geography of England and Wales
Apprenticeship and eventual membership of a gild gave a man status and privileges that were jealously guarded. Traders 32 A Social Geography of England and Wales and other foreigners were attracted to pre-in dust rial towns and whilst some outsiders, such as Dutch, Walloon and Huguenot refugees in Norwich, were readily assimilated, others occupied special quarters. The presence of Hanseatic merchants in London forms the classic example. These 'Easterlings' had occupied their 'Steel Yard' alongside the Thames since the tenth century and were trusted traders until the mid-sixteenth century when complaints were voiced and the 'Liberty of the Steel Yard' was seized by the Crown.
222). By the late seventeenth century there were few parishes, save perhaps in some of the most remote regions, that remained largely selfsufficient and many of these were soon to be affected by seasonal if not permanent outmigration. However, as Laslett (1971) has explained, "to be a social unit conscious of itself, and removed, distinct from others, it was not necessary for the village community to be cut off from interchange with its companions. On the contrary, it was in perpetual negotiation with its neighbours, and this was an essential of its individuality" (pp.
He inferred that at some time in their lives one-sixth of adult males in England must have experienced life in 46 A Social Geography of England and Wales their capital city. Rural—urban migration was certainly not a novel phenomenon in the nineteenth century but the scale at which it operated was new. At the beginning and even midway through the century the greater share of the British population was far more aware of the local influences than the national forces that affected their lives. Changes in communication gradually eroded that spatial and social isolation as the railway opened up new possibilities of travel, as primary education raised literacy rates, and as the penny post and newspapers enabled information to be transmitted into every settlement in the land in a hitherto unknown way.