#57 From mayor to meat market. Getting elected in the 18th Century.
It is still wrongly but commonly thought that in the 18th Century the gentry bought their way into a parliamentary seat, mainly by purchasing land, or by gaining the approval of some unrepresentative local patron who had the borough in his pocket. You've heard of pocket boroughs, and rotten boroughs? Well, Jon's 1985 doctoral thesis, researched entirely from local documents rescued from mouldy parish chests and corporation vaults, contradicted so many of the leading historians of the day so baldly that although Jon was awarded his doctorate he could never publish. But NOW that the old orthodoxy has collapsed and everyone agrees with Jon, he’s been able to bring out his book updated with all the latest scholarship. It’s a world of lively – not to say riotous, overheated, rumbustious, often embittered, endlessly partisan, endlessly changing and challenging - local politics. What reading the local records tells us is that it was a world of lively local democracy. Enjoy!