This book is a study of the aristocracy in Victorian Carmarthenshire. It is concerned with the public lives of these private men, and their role as landowners, local administrators, and politicians in nineteenth-century Wales. The gentry and nobility comprehended within the term ‘aristocracy’ were, above all, ‘an elite of governors’, predisposed towards the leadership of their local communities in deference to the paternalistic obligations that devolved upon those who owned land. The idea of paternalism is central to an understanding of the Victorian aristocracy. This book argues that the aristocrats' involvement in the affairs of their neighbourhoods was considerable, and that they exercised a correspondingly important influence on the way in which affairs developed in the Principality. This influence, furthermore, was not simply a function of their huge material wealth, their ownership of land, and their control of law and order. The aristocracy drew great strength from their subscription to a powerfully cohesive, and much older, communal ideology in the countryside, which may be termed ‘the moral economy of the landed estate’.
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