The Pawnbroker’s Apprentice
This chapter examines the level of urban poverty in the decades prior to 1850, looking at the evidence, including the writings of influential thinkers of that time. It argues that the urban poverty that arose in the aftermath of the industrial revolution was such that people like the stockingers of Nottingham lived lives that were qualitatively different from those of the poor of previous generations. Changes in economic structures caused by the rapid industrialisation led to corresponding stresses on traditional social structures. There were further charges on the stockingers that were created by the middleman from his position of strength. There is no universally accepted measure of the degree of poverty in England in the first half of the nineteenth century. Booth imbibed influences of both Chartism and Methodism that were to significantly affect the kind of person he became and the form of organisation he eventually founded. Nottingham was the ideal place for him to assimilate these two influences.