The Cragg Family Memorandum Book : society, politics, and religion in North Lancashire during the 1790s
The Cragg family memorandum book is a detailed source for society and politics in the rural area around Lancaster, a region often neglected by historians in favour of the archive-rich south Lancashire. It records local and national events from the point of view of provincial Quaker yeomen. The most striking entries are republican radical in character. They attack the government and aristocracy about the war, taxes, and militia ballot. This was a period when the older ideological world of the eighteenth century was being eroded by the new forces of a wider free market in both economy and politics, but where the more ideologically-certain world of the mid nineteenth century had not yet solidified to fill up the void. The memorandum book deals with all three debates and is a reflection of this unstable world. A key theme in the memorandum book is a sense of place. The historiography of Britain during the French wars emphasizes a growing identification with the Britishness shared by most inhabitants. The memorandum book illustrates how this identification was filtered through local mechanisms of power and regional identities: a 'Lancashire Britishness'.