Peter Kitson MA MPhil PhD
Research Associate, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure
The demographic history of pre-industrial England c.1550-1850, especially: the socio-economic context of family formation, changing patterns of mortality in urbanising and industrialising communities, and the development and application of record linkage methodologies; and the occupational structure of England and Wales c.1380-1880
In 2004, I completed my doctoral thesis on a set of related issues concerning family formation, male occupation and parochial registration in England from the mid-sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. From November 2004 until September 2005, I was a Research Associate on the ESRC-funded project into Male Occupational Change and Economic Growth in England 1750-1851. From October 2005 to September 2008, I was engaged on my British Academy postdoctoral project: 'The economic context of family formation in England, c.1550-1851'. Between October 2008 and January 2012, I worked on the following research projects: the Leverhulme Trust-funded project, 'The occupational structure of England and Wales c.1379 to c.1729', as well as the ESRC-funded project, 'Male occupational change and economic growth in England 1750-1851'. Since February 2012, I have been working on the Wellcome Trust funded project, 'An empirical base for understanding the early phase of the epidemiological transition: Short-term and spatial variations in infectious disease mortality in England 1600-1837'.
- 2004-2005: Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
- 2005-2008: British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
- 2008-present: Research Associate, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
- 1999 BA History (University of Cambridge)
- 2000 MPhil Economic and Social History (University of Cambridge)
- 2003 MA (University of Cambridge)
- 2005 PhD (University of Cambridge)
My research interests lie in the relationships between socio-economic change and demographic behaviour in England between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. During this period, England experienced massive population growth and urbanisation, while playing host to the development of the first industrial economy. However, the impact of industrialisation and commercial development upon patterns of both fertility and mortality are poorly understood. The severe problems caused by rapid population growth in urbanising, industrialising communities are well-documented for the nineteenth centuries; but the pathways along which they developed during the eighteenth century remain obscure. In addition, comparatively little empirical research has been conducted into how the family formation behaviours of historical actors were related to their livelihoods, and whether this behaviour varied over space and time. I seek to address these issues through the exploitation of the parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials kept by the Church of England throughout this period. This is done through the use of existing demographic datasets, and the creation of new ones using parish registers that record occupational information.
- How did patterns of family formation change during the Industrial Revolution?
- To what extent did family formation behaviours (e.g. age at marriage, extra-marital fertility) vary for different socio-occupational groups?
- How did urbanisation and industrialisation affect patterns of mortality and the epidemiological environment during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries?
- Did these changes have different effects upon infant and child mortality on the one hand, and adult mortality on the other?
- How reliable a guide to an individual's livelihood is the occupational titles recorded within parish registers?
Main data sources
- Aggregative analysis of monthly frequencies of baptisms, marriages and burials
- The analysis of existing family reconstitution datasets
- The creation and analysis of new family reconstitution datasets based upon parish registers which record occupational information using nominative record linkage techniques
- 'Marriage processes in the English past revisited', in C. D. Briggs, P. M. Kitson, and S. J. Thompson (eds.), Population, welfare and economic change in Britain, c.1270-c.1834: historical studies (forthcoming, 2013).
- 'Industrialisation and the changing mortality environment in an English community during the industrial revolution', in M. K. Zuckerman (ed.), Are modern environments bad for human health? Revisiting the Second Epidemiological Transition (forthcoming, 2013).
- 'Religious change and the timing of baptism in England, 1538-1750', Historical Journal 52, 2 (2009), pp. 269-94.
- (with L. M. W. Shaw-Taylor, E. A. Wrigley, R. S. Davies, G. Newton, and A.E.M. Satchell) 'The creation of a 'census' of adult male employment for England and Wales for 1817', Cambridge Working Papers in Economic and Social History 4 (March 2012).
- Geographical Tripos Part IB (Archival methods and multivariate methods for geographical research)
- Historical Tripos Part I Papers 9 and 10 (British economic and social history 1500-1750, and 1700-1914)
- Economics Tripos Part I Paper 5 (British economic history)
- Bye-Fellow, Downing College, University of Cambridge
- Member of the Economic History Society