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Dr Alexander Wakelam

Research Associate

Digitising the 1921 Census and studying emerging trends related to occupational structure



  • PhD in History, University of Cambridge (2015-18)
  • MPhil in Early Modern History, University of Cambridge (2014-15)
  • BA in History, University of York (2011-14)


I am an economic historian of Britain between 1660 and the early twentieth century, focussing on debt, insolvency, and shifts in occupational structure particularly of women and the emerging middle classes.

Much of my research since my PhD has focussed on Debtors’ Prisons in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My first book, Credit and Debt in Eighteenth-Century England (2020), explored why traders chose to engage in an apparently illogical system, finding that the prisons actually proved to be an effective tool of financial recovery. I continue to study commercial society through debt imprisonment, studying for example the place of women in the market, the ability of ethnic minorities such as Jews to gain access to credit, and the impact of industrialisation on regional insolvency rates.

I am also interested in local council elections and councillors at the end of the nineteenth century, studying the changing social background of local democracy as the right to vote was broadened and urban populations swelled (1867-1900).


[Publications will appear automatically from the University’s publications database.]