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Welsh History Review


Vol. 19, nos. 1-4 1998-99

Politics in Eighteenth-Century Wales. Book review.

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reflection of Dr Gibson's labours than on the state of current research into
Hanoverian religion. We are only just beginning to uncover the lost world
of the eighteenth century, especially at the local level, and it is likely that in
a decade or two the picture will look very different from that sketched in
this book. Dr Gibson's eighteenth century can seem slightly old-fashioned;
there is more here about bishops, squires and parsons than about
commerce, civility and empire. A volume of this nature can, of course,
never be comprehensive, nor suit all readers. There are, however, some
peculiar omissions, both of subject matter-such as the Trinitarian, Deist
and Subscription controversies, the Latitudinarians, and the impact of
science, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution-and of
historical debates-surely E. P. Thompson's and Jonathan Clark's work
merits brief discussion? And yet, paradoxically, at times this collection
simply seems to be attempting too much, with the concomitant danger of
skating too quickly over important differences or assuming too much on
the part of the student reader. A glossary, chronology, and guide to further
reading might have made this a more user-friendly work for the student.
And what would be even more helpful is a work of synthesis and
interpretation to accompany this source-book. It is becoming increasingly
obvious to researchers that the eighteenth century is part of 'the long
English Reformation', that issues were being worked out within the
established church, Dissent, and English and Welsh society which went
back to the sixteenth century. It may be asking too much for a collection of
this sort to tackle issues like clericalism, pluralism, voluntarism, or
antipopery, but even as it stands Dr Gibson's valuable volume will be a
helpful tool for those grappling with these bigger questions. The committed
student will learn much from this collection.
Politics IN Eighteenth-Century WALES. By Peter D. G. Thomas.
University ofWales Press, Cardiff, 1998. Pp. xvi, 288. £ 25.00.
It was an excellent idea to make use of Peter Thomas's unrivalled knowledge
of Welsh parliamentary history, exploiting and augmenting his, work over the
years for the History of Parliament. The flavour is distinctly Namierite,
partly because some of the original research was done in the 1950s, partly
because Wales, before it was transformed by coal and Methodism, was a
relatively undeveloped land, dominated by the gentry. Its political life had
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