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What are your thoughts on "the decline of the gentry in 19th century Britain"?

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The decline of English gentry in the 19th century was largely brought about by the industrial revolution. In past centuries, wealth and power in England were tied to land ownership. The landed gentry had been the most influential class in the nation for generations.

Industrialization in the 19th century changed that. It now became possible for entrepreneurial Englishmen of any class to make a fortune and a name for themselves. This led to a class conflict between the "new money" and the "old money." British aristocrats had long denigrated anyone who worked for a living. Many scoffed at the notion of an influential working man. However, this new class of industrialists and business owners began vying for influence in politics to promote their interests.

19th-century industrialization also led to a rise in the working class and the middle class. Previously, the gentry relied on peasant labor to support them. For the lower classes, there had been few alternatives other than working for an English lord. The industrial revolution brought new opportunities. Many members of the rural poor left the estates to live and work in cities. A much smaller labor pool was left for the gentry to rely on. They also were forced to make concessions to keep their laborers happy enough to stay.

In another sense, this decline in the influence of the gentry was greatly spurred on by the passage of the Reform Act of 1832. This act revamped the electoral system to remove the near-monopoly that the aristocracy had in Parliament. It extended the franchise to include a greater swath of the population. This led to more political representation and influence from non-gentry Britons. While it still fell far short of universal suffrage, this new law began to erode the long-established power structure that favored the landed gentry.

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