I was first approached by Ivon Asquith and Robert Faber to write an economic and social history of Britain during an international conference on Jeremy Bentham at University College London; whether the result has been for the greatest happiness of the greatest number I leave for others to assess. The sufferings of the author have certainly been reduced by the support of the Press, both from Robert Faber and his successor as history editor, Tony Morris. When the initial one-volume survey of the period from 1700 to 1914 grew too large, we agreed that I should produce two volumes, the first on the period from 1700 to 1850, followed by a second from 1850 to 1939 which will appear in the near future. The starting-point of my survey is the performance of the economy, but the aim has been to integrate social and political history into the analysis in a way which will, I hope, make the more technical writings of economic historians accessible to a wider audience, while at the same time adopting a critical stance on the underlying assumptions of some of the recent work of economic historians. Obviously, I am dependent on the work of a large number of other scholars which is recorded in the guide to further reading. The footnotes could have become excessively long, and I have tried to exercise as much restraint as possible: references are supplied to direct quotations, statistics, and controversial interpretations.
I would like to thank the following for permission to reproduce maps and figures: J. Thirsk and the Economic History Society for a map of agrarian regions from England's Agricultural Regions and Agrarian History, 1500-1750; B. R. Mitchell and Cambridge University Press for data on wheat prices and price indices from British Historical Statistics; J. A. Yelling and Macmillan for maps of the Vernon estate and enclosure from Common Field and Enclosure in England, 1450-1850 ( 1977); J. R. Wordie for figures on rent on the Leveson-Gower estate from Research in Economic History, 6 ( 1981); A. R. H. Baker, R. A. Butlin, and Cambridge University Press for maps of common fields at Cuxham, open fields at Holkham, and infield-outfield at Westertown from Studies of Field Systems in the British Isles ( 1973); J. Langton, R. J. Morris, and Routledge for maps of parliamentary enclosure, employment in textile factories, distribution of steam engines, production of pig iron, regional coal output, inland navigation, railways, agricultural labour, and paupers from Atlas of Industrialising Britain ( 1986); R. V. Jackson and