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Edward Anthony Wrigley MA PhD

Edward Anthony Wrigley MA PhD

Emeritus Professor

My interests lie in the economic and demographic history of England in the period between the reigns of Elizabeth and Victoria. I am currently working, jointly with Leigh Shaw-Taylor, on the reconstruction of the history of the changing occupational structure of England in the period during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. I am also pursuing my interest in the history of energy use in England over the same period and in the writings of the classical economists, Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus, about the necessary limits to economic growth.



  • 1958-74 Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 1974-94 Co-Director, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure
  • 1979-88 Professor of Population Studies, LSE
  • 1988-94 Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
  • 1994-7 Professor of Economic History, Cambridge
  • 1994-2000 Master, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
  • 1997-2001 President, British Academy

Qualifications and honours

  • Degrees: B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (all Cantab.)
  • Honorary Degrees: Hon.Litt.D.: Bristol, London, Manchester, Sheffield. Hon.D.Litt.: Leicester, Oxford. Hon.D.Sc.: Edinburgh
  • IUSSP Laureate, 1993. Founder's Medal, RGS, 1997. Leverhulme Medal, British Academy, 2005.


I have two principal interests: a range of issues related to achieving a better understanding of the genesis and nature of the profound changes conventionally labelled 'the industrial revolution' in England; and the population history of the country during the period from the middle of the sixteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century.


Selected publications during the past decade

  • 'English county populations in the later eighteenth century', Economic History Review, 60 (2007), pp. 35-69.
  • 'Population history: recent changes and current prospects', Local Population Studies, 81 (2008), pp.7-8.
  • 'Rickman revisited: the population growth rates of English counties in the early modern period', Economic History Review, 62 (2009), pp. 711-35.
  • Energy and the English industrial revolution (Cambridge, 2010). ISBN 978-0-521-76693-7.
  • The early English censuses, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History (OUP, 2011). ISBN 978-0-19-726479-9.
  • 'Coping with rapid population growth: how England fared in the century preceding the Great Exhibition', in D. Feldman and J. Lawrence, eds., Structures and transformations in modern British history (Cambridge, 2011), pp. 24-53. ISBN 978-0-521-51882-6.
  • 'Economic history and demography', in Where is economic history going? Methods and prospects from the 13th to the `18th centuries, Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica "F. Datini" Prato, Atti delle Settimane di Studi e altri Convegni, 42, ed. F. Ammannati (Firenze University Press, 2011), pp. 473-95. ISBN 978-88-6453-287-7.
  • 'The west European marriage system in early modern Europe', in Liber Amicorum: Frans Poppel: a sort of farewell, ed. E. Beekink and E. Walhout (eds.), Nederlands Interdisciplinair Demografisch Institut (The Hague, 2012), pp. 81-4.
  • 'Energy and the English industrial revolution', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 371 (2013), 2011.0568.
  • 'The region as a unit of study: history and geography in harmony', Romanian Journal of Population Studies, VII (2013), pp.107-19.
  • 'Urban growth in early modern England: food, fuel, and transport', Past and Present, 225 (2014), pp.79-112.
  • & L. Shaw-Taylor, 'Occupational structure and population change', in R. Floud, J. Humphries, and P. Johnson, eds., The Cambridge economic history of modern Britain, vol. 1, Industrialisation 1700-1860 (Cambridge, 2014), pp.53-88.
  • 'European marriage pattern and their implications: John Hajnal's essay and historical demography during the last half-century', in C.D. Briggs, P. Kitson, and S. Thompson, (eds.), Population, welfare and economic change in Britain, 1290-1834 (2014), pp.15-41.
  • The path to sustained growth: England's transition from an organic economy to an industrial revolution (Cambridge, 2016). ISBN 98-1-107-13571-0.


  • 'The preventive check and the poor law: the Malthusian model and its implications' in Shannon Stimson, ed., T.R, Malthus, An essay of the principle of population in the series Rethinking the western tradition (Yale University Press).