The Oxford Companion to British History

By John Cannon | Go to book overview


Wade, George ( 1673-1748). One of the best-known soldiers of early Hanoverian Britain. Wade was the grandson of a Cromwellian officer who had settled in Westmeath ( Ireland). He joined the army in 1690 at the beginning of more than twenty years of almost incessant warfare and by the end of the War of the *Spanish Succession in 1714 had risen to major-general. In 1715 he was returned to Parliament for Hindon and in 1722 transferred to Bath, where he built up a powerful political base and where his fine house in the abbey courtyard still stands. From 1724 to 1740 he commanded in Scotland, where his programme of military road-building was designed to facilitate troop movements. Promoted to field marshal in 1743 he fought an unremarkable campaign in Flanders the following year. He was given charge of the army at Newcastle during the Jacobite invasion of 1745 though his conduct appears to have been sluggish.


wages are the returns earned by workers for their labour. Real wages reflect the actual purchasing power of these returns adjusted by price levels, while money wages involve no adjustment for inflation. The importance of wages has grown since the *enclosure movement resulted in hired labour replacing self-employment and indenturement on the land and as industrialization produced the *factory system.

Real wages in 12th-cent. England were closely correlated to pressures of population change. Population growth in the 12th and 13th cents. reduced per capita output and famines resulted in years of bad harvests. The considerable impact of the *Black Death ( 1348-9) on the labour force acted as a counter-balance and following it real wages rose considerably. By the 15th cent. the wages of skilled workers attained a level not reached again until the latter half of the 19th cent. Increased population pressure in the 16th cent. brought real wages down and after 1600 the index of real wages was about half its level a century earlier. The period following the Civil War saw a gradual improvement which continued through the mid-18th cent. as the *agrarian revolution offset the effects of a rising population. Higher farm production also contained the fall in wages which accompanied the Napoleonic wars. Real wages rose slowly through the 19th cent. as industrialization expanded and have, with the marked exception of the Great Depression and the world wars, risen throughout the 20th cent.

The pattern of money wages is different, with both a remarkable consistency characterizing long periods from the 13th until the mid-20th cent. and the absence of any major falls. Real wage adjustments have generally come about through price inflation effects. Only major shocks have brought about significant upward shifts in monetary wages -- the Black Death, the Tudor debasement of the currency ( 1532-80), and the Napoleonic wars. The recent past has seen money wages rising since the investment boom of the post-Second World War period. Initially this may have been explained by a reluctance of employers to limit wage rises when productivity was rising rapidly but subsequently expectations on the part of labour made it difficult to contain further rises.

Various theories have been developed to explain levels of real wage. The classical economists Adam *Smith and David *Ricardo in the late 18th cent., although arguing that wages are an essential material necessity of production, tended to treat them as part of a distribution process -- an approach continued by Karl Marx. Alternatively, T. R. *Malthus placed considerable emphasis on the effects of population on wages -- if real wages rose above subsistence population growth would push them down again. The neoclassical framework associated with Alfred *Marshall focused on the role of real wages in balancing the supply of labour and the demand for its services as reflected by its marginal product. Neo-Keynesian economists have paid more attention to imperfections in the labour market, which make structural changes difficult as aggregate levels of demand change.


Waitangi, treaty of, 1840. In 1839 the British government dispatched Captain William Hobson to New Zealand where piecemeal and uncontrolled development had already undermined traditional Maori culture. At Waitangi in February 1840 a majority of the Maori chiefs present agreed to cede sovereignty to Queen Victoria in exchange for confirmation of their land and protection. Hobson declared himself lieutenant-governor and proclaimed British sovereignty in May 1840. But Maori disappointment at the persistent encroachments upon their land led to the *Maori wars from 1844 until 1872. In 1994 a New Zealand government apologized for breaches of the treaty and promised compensation.



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The Oxford Companion to British History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Ppreace vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Note to the Reader xii
  • A 1
  • B 71
  • C 149
  • D 273
  • E 318
  • F 363
  • G 399
  • H 445
  • I 503
  • J 523
  • K 541
  • L 553
  • M 602
  • N 666
  • O 701
  • P 717
  • Q 782
  • R 785
  • S 831
  • T 907
  • U 941
  • V 951
  • W 960
  • Y 1008
  • Z 1015
  • Subject Index 1034


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