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The 'perpetual fair'Gender, disorder and urban amusement in eighteenth-century London$
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Anne Wohlcke

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090912

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090912.001.0001

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Regulation and resistance:

Regulation and resistance:

Wayward apprentices and other ‘evil disposed persons’ at London’s fairs1

(p.78) 3 Regulation and resistance
The 'perpetual fair'

Anne Wohlcke

Manchester University Press

Chapter three examines more closely regulation attempts by London’s Court of Aldermen and efforts by Middlesex magistrates to curtail fairs. London’s Aldermen and Middlesex county authorities believed fairs threatened social and commercial order in London and were especially concerned about the behaviour of apprentices at fairs. It is clear that London City and Middlesex county officials shared concerns of social reformers that fairs undermined masculine productivity and encouraged unruly male behaviour. In the era before a uniform, professional police force in London, disorderly fairs contributed to a tenuous social situation in the quickly expanding metropolis. London authorities repeatedly attempted to regulate what they saw as a growing nuisance in the capital city, but their efforts were contested by fairgoers and playbooth managers, such as Hannah Lee. Court documents reveal a long struggle between urban officials and those who profited from or enjoyed fairs. These records illuminate social reasons beyond discourse that influenced official attempts to regulate fairs.

Keywords:   London Court of Aldermen, Middlesex, Regulation, Apprentices, Hannah Lee

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