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  • The "Language of Business":Shopkeepers and The Business Community in Victorian England
  • Chris Hosgood (bio)
Chris Hosgood
University of Lethbridge
Chris Hosgood

Chris Hosgood is a member of the History Department at the University of Lethbridge. He is currently summoning the courage to begin work on Victorian commercial travellers, the long and unjustly neglected "knights of the road."


1. Shopkeepers were seldom active in that most intimate level of association with the elite: marriage.

2. See, for example, Fish.

3. For a discussion of small general, or domestic, shopkeepers, see my "The Pigmies of Commerce."

4. See the introduction to the archives of James Budgett and Sons, Ltd., housed in the Guildhall Library, City of London. See also Arthur.

5. Budgett, Creditworthiness Correspondence, Vol 3.21 Jan 1911, 324. Hereafter identified in this text by volume, page, and date.

6. This was a term which features strongly in shopkeeping language. It became common currency with the arrival of proprietary articles which, shopkeepers claimed, did not return "a living profit." See The Grocers' Journal 18 Jan 1902: 13.

7. Budgett 1.2, 16 Dec 1858; 1.2, 6 Apr 1859; 1.121, 3 Mar 1859; 1.142, nd 1860; 1.128, nd.

8. Which is not to imply that shopkeepers were any less susceptible in this regard. (Rubin 210).

9. See for example a telling column about commercial travellers by a Leicester grocer which includes the plea: "What am I to do with this fellow? If he harrassed me like this in the street I could charge him with assault, but here, in my shop, I have no redress." The Wyvern, 6 August 1897.

10. Budgett 3.121, 5 July 1903; 2.195, Jan 1895; 2.334, 11 Jan 1898; 1.252, 17 Feb 1883; 1.252, 13 Mar 1883.

11. Trustees of the General Charities, Minutes, 26 June 1879. The Trustees considered the applications of those in their last year of eligibility first, and then the rest in order as their names were drawn out of a hat. Minutes, 9 Mar 1882.

12. This figure is calculated from an enumeration of all recipients for 1870. Leicester Journal, 18 Mar 1870.

13. Newspaper accounts were extremely accurate. A comparison of extant association meeting transcripts taken by the ward secretaries would suggest that in most cases newspaper accounts were based on transcripts provided by the respective associations.

Works Cited

Anon. The Leicestershire Trade Protection Society, 1850-1950. Leicester, nd.
Arthur, William. The Successful Merchant: Sketches in the Life of Mr. Samuel Budgett. London, 1852.
Best, Geoffrey. Mid-Victorian Britain, 1851-1875. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1973.
Blackbourn, David. "Economic Crisis and the Petite Bourgeoisie in Europe During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries." Social History 10.1 (1985): 95-104.
Crossick, Geoffrey. "The Emergence of the Lower Middle Class in Britain: A Discussion." The Lower Middle Class in Britain, 1870-1914. Ed. Geoffrey Crossick. London: Croom Helm, 1977. 11-60.
———. "The Petite Bourgeoisie in Nineteenth-Century Britain: the Urban and Liberal Case." Shopkeepers and Master Artisans in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Ed. Geoffrey Crossick and Heinz Gerhard Haupt. London: Methuen, 1984. 62-94.
Fish, W. F. The Career of Andrew Crafter: A Romance of the Drapery Trade. London: Lutterworths, 1930.
Gray, Robert. "Bourgeois Hegemony in Victorian Britain." Culture, Ideology and Social Process. Ed. Tony Bennet. London: Batsford, 1981.
Hosgood, Christopher. "'The Pigmies of Commerce' and the Working-Class Community: Small Shopkeepers in England, 1870-1914." Journal of Social History 22.3 (1989): 439-60.
Kent, Christopher. "Presence and Absence: History, Theory and the Working Class." Victorian Studies 29.3 (1986): 454-55.
Kidd, Alan. "Introduction: The Middle Class in Victorian Manchester." City, Class and Culture: Studies of Social Policy and Cultural Production in Victorian Manchester. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1985.
Roberts, Robert. A Ragged Schooling: Growing up in the Classic Slum. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1976.
Rubin, Gerry R. "From Packmen, Tallymen and 'Perambulating Scotchmen' to Credit Drapers' Associations, c. 1840-1914." Business History 28.2 (1986): 206-25.
Sir Thomas White's, and Parker and Heyrick's Charities...


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