Religious attendance and provision in Birmingham and the Black Country and the surrounding rural areas during the mid-nineteenth century
AbstractThe aim of this thesis is an investigation of religious attendance and provision in the mid-nineteenth century for the region of Birmingham and the Black Country and its surrounding rural areas. Two distinct methodologies have been employed to establish general regional patterns of religious attendance and provision and, subsequently, to assess trends of religious attendance and provision in a number of settlements within the region over a longer period of time. Firstly, the returns of the 1851 Religious Census for the whole region have been analysed in terms of settlement type and denominational distribution. This facilitated a comparison between the identified regional patterns of attendance and provision with the established national patterns. Secondly, a number of contiguous settlements within the region have been chosen in order to carry out three case studies of the period between approximately 1840 and 1860. This used alternative local sources of evidence to discover whether the patterns of religious attendance and provision identified in the previous analysis were uniform throughout the region, and to locate the findings of the 1851 Religious Census within a wider period. Therefore, in chapter one, there is a survey of existing national and regional analyses of religious provision and attendance during the first half of the nineteenth century. In addition, the various interpretations of the findings of the 1851 Religious Census have been assessed. Finally, a Typology to identify the settlements within the region has been constructed. In chapter two, the returns of the eighty-seven settlements located within the nine Registration Districts which formed the region under examination have been examined, firstly, to obtain overall Indexes of Attendance (IAs) and Indexes of Accommodation (IAccs) and, subsequently, similar IAs and IAccs for each denomination. The level of free accommodation and the incidence of service in the region were similarly assessed. This regional analysis has been undertaken with reference to denominational distribution and settlement type. In the case studies of chapter three, local sources of evidence of religious attendance and provision have been located to provide a dynamic analysis over time. This evidence, such as Methodist membership records and Visitation records, has not been as complete or as extensive as the returns of the 1851 Religious Census. Nevertheless, they have offered an opportunity to engage in an assessment of the level of attendance and provision over time, with specific interest in the typicality of the 1851 results throughout the mid-nineteenth century. In chapter four, an evaluation of the methodological issues has beeni undertaken. In addition, the historical conclusions from both methodological approaches have been contextualised within the wider debate of the religious practice of the working class in the mid-nineteenth century, and some indication of further investigation has been made.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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