Lower Classes in Regency England

R.J. White describes how all sorts and conditions of men, at every stage of transition of a rapidly changing society, crowded the early-nineteenth-century scene.

One of the immediate impressions that would strike a twentieth-century Englishman, could he be carried back to the England of the Prince Regent, would be that of a world in costume. People dressed the part they had to play in life, or at the least displayed some unmistakable insignia of their craft or calling.

This might be—as it still is—a judge’s wig or a bishop’s lawn sleeves; it might be—as it is no longer—simply a paper cap on the head of a carpenter, or an apron twisted like a sash about the waist of a weaver. It might equally well express a social status, like the merchant’s broadcloth and the gentleman’s silk cravat. People, especially women, also dressed according to their age.

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