The Anglican church in Victorian Liverpool and its work with the Labouring poor

Wilcox, Alastair James Howard (2004) The Anglican church in Victorian Liverpool and its work with the Labouring poor. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis will describe the nature of Anglican parochial work in Victorian Liverpool, with particular reference to the church's relationship with the poor during the period 1851-1902. The nineteenth century witnessed large scale urbanisation of which Liverpool was a conspicuous and distinctive example.
How well adjusted were the institutions of the Anglican Church to meet these challenges? What structures, mechanisms and devices did clerics on the national stage recommend should be employed in both establishing and then running an efficient parish? How were these expectations met in practice?
Many major studies already conducted locally have tended to centre on London. The availability of national and metropolitan sources (in particular those generated by Charles Booth) have been in some part responsible for this. Regional study however is key to understanding nineteenth century churches. What might the experiences within the 'second city of the Empire', have been? How far were recommended practices for efficient parochial management applicable in Liverpool? But the relationship between the priest and his parish is two sided. This thesis examines the use the poorer working classes made of the Anglican Church in Liverpool, not only in terms of worship but also rites of passage, (using the sacrament of baptism as an example) the agencies of relief and visitation.
Liverpool is an excellent choice for such a study on account of the source material generated by religious effort, religious rivalry and ecclesiastical self-analysis. Although interesting statistical material exists for Liverpool, and should not be ignored, the primary emphasis of this thesis will be the use of regional qualitative data. This thesis will also be able to use
material not hitherto in the public domain. This thesis must ignore (for reasons of length) the educational efforts made by the Anglicans. Date limitations curtail the use of much of the oral evidence gathered although reference will be made to this material where appropriate.
This thesis will contend that there existed working class churches, used by the working class for worship, in membership or use of parochial organisations and for neighbourhood purposes (in the celebration of baptisms). Although success in one of these fields did not automatically entail success in the others, such churches, created the sentiment expressed by Victorians of 'our church.' The Anglican Church in late Victorian Liverpool was able to adapt to a certain degree, secular trends into the church by virtue of its strong parochial systems.

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