‘Non-Élite’ Members in the Commons in the Age of the French Revolution
Although the Parliaments of 1790 and 1796 were contemporary with the those of the French Revolution and its immediate aftermath, there is no indication that that cataclysmic event had any effect upon the gradual process of social change in the House which had begun to quicken after 1774. Businessmen in the House of Commons in the reign of George III may very roughly be distinguished as falling within one or other of four categories: bankers, ‘merchants’, industrialists, and nabobs. Twenty-three bankers of non-élite social background were returned to the House of Commons at the general election of 1796. A table that shows the intrusion of men of non-élite social background into the House of Commons in the last two Parliaments of the 18th century is provided in this chapter. A perceptible change had taken place since the first half of the 18th century, and the higher level of non-élite membership of the House which had been established at the end of the century was henceforth to be sustained.
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