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Books Year : 2015

The End of the Urban Ancient Regime in England

Frédéric Moret


The 1835 Municipal Reform Act is both a consequence and a continuation of the 1832 Reform Act. By dealing with those “citadels of Torysm” that were the municipal corporations, the Whigs not only wanted to confirm their electoral victory, but also to reform the local system that had been largely criticised for decades. Preceding the reform, a thorough investigation was conducted by a group of twenty commissioners – young liberal or radical lawyers – who visited 285 municipal corporations in England and Wales. After public hearings, they wrote, for each borough, a detailed report which provided an accurate picture of the municipal institutions and their functioning over the preceding decades. In describing the political organisation, the administration, the legal and law enforcement functions, the reports showed that the municipal corporations were areas of privileges. Beyond the overview provided by those in favour of reform of a system at breaking point, the reports, while taking into account local situations, measured the role played in urban management by municipal corporations. After an extensive campaign and several petitions, the parliamentary debate resulted in a compromise bill that aimed at reforming only the main royal boroughs. Small towns, as well as large industrial cities, which had not been granted the royal charter of incorporation, were not affected by the reform. Though it carefully treated certain former institutions, the municipal reform fundamentally altered the way administration was run and marked the end of the urban Ancient Regime in England and in Wales.
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hal-01532131 , version 1 (02-06-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01532131 , version 1


Frédéric Moret. The End of the Urban Ancient Regime in England. Cambridge Scholars Publishing xiv-365 p., 2015, 978-1-4438-7072-6. ⟨hal-01532131⟩
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