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Edward Anthony Wrigley MA PhD

Edward Anthony Wrigley MA PhD

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

  • '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.
  • '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.
  • The early English censuses, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History (OUP, 2011). ISBN 978-0-19-726479-9.
  • Energy and the English industrial revolution (Cambridge, 2010). ISBN 978-0-521-76693-7.
  • 'Rickman revisited: the population growth rates of English counties in the early modern period', Economic History Review, 62 (2009), pp. 711-35.
  • 'English county populations in the later eighteenth century', Economic History Review, 60 (2007), pp. 35-69.
  • 'The transition to an advanced organic economy: half a millennium of English agriculture', Economic History Review, 59 (2006), pp. 435-80.
  • 'British population during the 'long' eighteenth century, 1680-1840', in R. Floud and P. Johnson, eds., The Cambridge economic history of modern Britain, vol. 1, Industrialisation 1700-1860 (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 57-95. ISBN 0-521-82036-7.
  • 'The quest for the industrial revolution', Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 121 (2003), pp. 147-70. ISBN 0-19-726303-8.
  • 'Intrinsic growth rates and inheritance strategies: a perspective from historical demography' in H. Grandits and P. Heady, eds., Property, family and community in a changing Europe, pp. 69-95. Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia, vol. 2 (Münster, 2003). ISBN 3-8258-6961-x.
  • 'Energy constraints and pre-industrial economies', in Economia e energia secc. XIII-XVIII, Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica "F. Datini" Prato, serie II, Atti delle "Settimane di Studi" e altri Convegni, 34, ed. S. Cavaciocchi (Le Monnier, 2003), pp. 155-72. ISBN 88-00-72235-0.
  • 'Country and town: the primary, secondary, and tertiary peopling of England in the early modern period', in P. Slack and R. Ward, eds., The peopling of Britain: the shaping of a human landscape (Oxford, 2002), pp. 217-42. ISBN 0-19-829759-9.
  • 'Production and reproduction: the significance of population history' in P. Martland, ed., The future of the past: big questions in history (London, 2002), pp. 50-65. ISBN 0-7126-6856-X.
  • 'Population history', in P. Burke, ed., History and historians in the twentieth century (Oxford, 2002), pp. 141-64. ISBN 0-19-726268-6.


  • 'Energy and the English industrial revolutioon', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A; Mathematical,Physical and Engineering Sciences (2013)
  • 'The preventive check and the poor law: the Malthusian model and its implications' T.R, Malthus, An essay of the principle of population in the series Rethinking the western tradition (Yale University Press, 2013).
  • 'The region as a unit of study; history and geography in harmony' Romanian Journal of Population Studies (2013).
  • With Leigh Shaw-Taylor, 'Occupational structure and population geography' in R. Floud and J. Humphries, eds., Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, vol. 1 (2014).