Liberalism and Local Government in Early Victorian London

Liberalism and Local Government in Early Victorian London

Benjamin Weinstein


Royal Historical Society



A fresh interpretation of London's early Victorian political culture, devoting particular attention to the relationship which existed between Whigs and vestry-based radicals.
In the second quarter of the nineteenth century the British capital witnessed a growing polarisation between metropolitan Whig politicians and the increasingly vocal political force of London radicalism - a tension exacerbated by urban, and in many respects specifically metropolitan, issues. Though Whiggery was a political creed based on tenets such as the defence of parliament and free trade, it has been traditionally thought out of place and out of favour in large urban settings, in part because of its association with aristocracy. By contrast, this book shows it to have been an especially potent force in the early Victorian capital where continual conflict between Whigs and radicals gave the metropolitan constituencies a singularly contested and particularly vibrant liberal political culture. From the mid-1830s, vestry-based metropolitan radicals active in local governing structures began to espouse an anti-Whig programme, aimed in part at undermining their electoral strength in the metropolitan constituencies, which emphasised the preservation and extension of "local self-government". This new cause displaced the older radical rhetorics of constitutional "purification" and "re-balance", and in so doing drove metropolitan radicalism away from its earlier associations and towards a retrenchment-obsessed and anti-aristocratic liberalism.

Benjamin Weinstein is assistant professor of history at Central Michigan University.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781846158490), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


November 2011
216 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
ISBN: 9780861933129
Format: Hardback
Royal Historical Society
BISAC HIS037030, POL010000, HIS015000
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Table of Contents

Liberal attachments to the unreformed metropolis
The 'radicalisation' of metropolitan political culture, 1832-1841
The polarisation of metropolitan political culture, 1842-1855
Redefining the state, I: Rates and taxes, 1834-1853
Redefining the state, II: The London government problem
Marylebone in 1854: From conflict to compromise


Extremely detailed with an enormous range of local evidence. . A significant contribution to the literature. VICTORIAN STUDIES

An engaging and meticulously researched account.richly detailed, well-written and tightly focused. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

A fascinating book. CHARTIST

Author Bio

Assistant Professor of History, Central Michigan University

Also in Series