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Gentrification and the Enterprise CultureBritain 1780-1980$
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F. M. L. Thompson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243303

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243303.001.0001

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Aristocrats as Entrepreneurs

Aristocrats as Entrepreneurs

(p.23) 2 Aristocrats as Entrepreneurs
Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture


Oxford University Press

This chapter challenges the view that the landed aristocracy as a social group were inherently anti-business, anti-industrial, and anti-commercial. Instead it argues that there have always been different aristocratic groups with different sets of values and different influences on the rest of society. Historians have tended to focus on the idle, profligate, dissolute, and pleasure-seeking aristocratic men and women, and their mistresses, a group with changing composition over time which undoubtedly existed, undoubtedly figured as anti-business models, and whose lives provide sensational material. Anti-business aristocrats were balanced by at least equally influential pro-business aristocrats. This group was increasingly actively involved from the later 18th century in the development of the resources of their estates, especially coal and iron, financing and managing many mining and canal enterprises. In the later 19th century most of these aristocratic entrepreneurs changed into rentiers leaving investment and management to their lessees, but still remained closely involved with their local industrial economy and were important influential figures in the business world.

Keywords:   anti-business aristocracy, pro-business aristocrats, entrepreneurs, rentiers, mistresses, coal, iron

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