Edexcel A level history option 1C, Britain 1625-1701: conflict, revolution and settlement. Social and intellectual challenge

  • Created by: AmyS11
  • Created on: 15-06-18 11:43

Unit 3: Social and Intellectual Challenge

Why did the Population of Britain Increase in the Years 1625-88, and What Impact did This Have?

·         Between 1625 and 1680, the population of England doubled from 2.5 million to 5. This expansion was not equal across regions and changed pace at various points- the average rate of population growth was 0.5% per year.

·         Three quarters of the population lived in the south-east. Large portions of the north were uninhabited, and towns remained a rarity.

·         Reasons for the increase in population growth. Migration had some impact on population growth- a large number of foreign immigrants arrived in 1651 when religious toleration appeared to be established policy under the Commonwealth. Migration was most noticeable in towns, and by 1600, migrants made up thirty five per cent of the population in Norwich. These were economic migrants; skilled weavers from the Low Countries. Migration was also taking place within Britain, and the view that people lived their entire lives in the town in which they were born has therefore been questioned in recent years. Kentish towns that were attractive to migrants became established centres of the cloth trade- English migrants were often able to become apprentices to the Dutch migrants.

·         Only 5% of the population outside London lived in towns with more than 5000 inhabitants in 1700.

·         Mortality rates were lower than in the preceding 3 centuries, mostly because of a decline in instances of the plague. The population had become adept at isolating individuals and containing illnesses.

·         The impact of population growth on the development of towns. In 1650 London became the largest city in Western Europe. Contemporaries estimated the population to be around 500,000, making London more than ten times bigger than the next largest English towns of Norwich and Bristol. 7% of the English population lived in London, the 9% in 1700. The growth of London also impacted on the rural economy, as huge amounts of agricultural goods were needed to feed the city- 400 times more grain were imported between 1600 and 1680

·         In 1600, there were eight towns with a population over 5000, which increased to over 30 in 1700. Towns that expanded in the period were generally coastal, or industrial centres, and benefitted from the increase in trading activity.

·         The main impact on towns was a growth in poverty and the number of people classed as vagrants. The increase in population caused a shortage of work in towns and the countryside although government policy blamed vagrants for not being able to find work.

·         Two thirds of the population lived near the poverty line

·         The impact of population growth on rural life. The economy was largely agricultural- around 9 million acres of British land was devoted to the growing of crops.

·         After 1650, population growth meant that small farmers were no longer able to invest in their farms and had


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