Magistrates in a Paternalist Society
Aristocracy implied ‘membership of an elite of governors’. The gentry and nobility shared a historic responsibility for local government, and this lent them a unity of outlook which marked them off from the rest of society. Within the elite, however, there were very clear lines of status, as can be demonstrated through an examination of the offices of local government, and those that held them. These are the magistrates, lieutenants, sheriffs, and justices of the peace. How far individual landowners obeyed the dictates of the model of ideal paternalism is difficult to ascertain. This chapter examines paternalism, focusing on the structure of local government, particularly the composition and performance of the county magistracy. It presents three ‘vignettes’, short case-studies that demonstrate the practical manifestation of paternalism in Carmarthenshire. The chapter concludes by analysing aristocratic patriotism and the aristocracy's patronage of cultural activity in Wales.
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