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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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Entrepreneurs as Aristocrats

Entrepreneurs as Aristocrats

(p.45) 3 Entrepreneurs as Aristocrats
Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture


Oxford University Press

This chapter aims to measure the extent to which new men of wealth and their families became gentrified. Social or cultural gentrification can be intuitively and subjectively detected but cannot be objectively verified and measured. Gentrification in the traditional sense of the acquisition of landed estates and country houses by new men and their families can, however, be tested and measured through evidence of landownership. The size and value of landed estate necessary for support of gentry status has been disputed, and analysis of contemporary social registers establishes that the landed gentry threshold could be as low as a four or five hundred acre estate yielding an income of around £500 a year. Investigation of every non-landed millionaire and half-millionaire businessman who died before 1914 establishes that 60 per cent of them had acquired landed estates, a further 20 per cent had landed descendants, and most of the remaining 20 per cent were childless and lacked the incentive to found a landed family. The flow of new money into land is shown to have continued at a reduced rate in the years since 1914. Moreover in a sample of over 700 less wealthy successful entrepreneurs one-third acquired landed estates, several of them leaving less than £50,000 in personalty. Thus there was a great deal more gentrification of businessmen, measured by the acquisition of landed estates, than in the works of the Stones and Rubinstein, while gentrification in the sense of full adoption of landed upper class lifestyles may have been a great deal less than implied by Martin Wiener.

Keywords:   gentrification, landed estates, entrepreneurs, new men, millionaire, half-millionaire, Lawrence Stone, Bill Rubinstein, Martin Wiener

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