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Dr Leigh Shaw-Taylor

Dr Leigh Shaw-Taylor

Senior lecturer in eighteenth and nineteenth century British economic and social history

Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure
Office Phone: 01223 3 33190


I first went to University to study Physics at Oxford but soon realised this was not for me.  I subsequently did an undergraduate degree at the Open University in social sciences and history.  I began graduate work with the M.Sc. at Oxford and undertook my Ph.D, at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, supervised by Professor Richard Smith.  After a research fellowship at Jesus College Cambridge, I held grants in the Department of Geography at Cambridge.  I was appointed to a University lectureship in the Faculty of History in 2006.  I have been director of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure since 2013.

Subject groups/Research projects

Economic, Social and Cultural History:

Research Interests

My primary  research interests are in (i) long-run economic developments in England from the late medieval period down to the late nineteenth centuries with a particular focus on occupational structure; (ii) comparative work in the same field (iii) tthe development of agrarian capitalism and (iv) the contribution of transport improvements to the Industrial Revolution.

I am director of an ongoing program of research: The occupational structure of Britain c.1379-1911. This has been  a British Academy research project and has been generously funded by the ESRC, The Leverhulme Trust, The British Academy and the Isaac Newton Trust. The project is a collaboration with Professor E.A. Wrigley and others, aimed at improving our understanding of the long run process of economic development, which culminated in the Industrial Revolution, through a quantitative reconstruction of the occupational structure of the economy over as long a period, and in as much detail, as the sources will allow. The project is based in the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure.

In conjunction with Professor Osamu Saito of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo I am co-ordinating a network of historians working on the International Comparative History of Occupational Structure (INCHOS). The first phase of this project will be a volume. edited by myself and Professor Saito: Occupational Structure and Industrialization in Comparative Perspective.  This will contain three thematic chapters and seventeen country chapters (and associated online datasets) covering the experience of Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Denmark, England and Wales, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia/Soviet Union, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the United States.

With Professor Gareth Austin I co-ordinate another international network AFCHOS, African Comparative History of Occupational Structure, focused on sub-Saharan Africa. 

With Dr Alexis Litvine I cordinate the European Network for the Comparative History of Population Geography and Occupational Structure (ENCHPOPGOS)

Research Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from prospective students in most fields of British economic and social history c.1600-1900 but would be especially keen to supervise graduate students who wish to undertake work relating to the The Occupational Structure of Britain c.1379-1911 research program. I would welcome enquries from potential students wshing to work on occupational structure elsewhere.  My current research students are working on: the occupational structure of China 1736-1899; the occupational structure of the Lower Yangzi River Region, 1736-2010; migration, rural depopopulation and the decline of small market towns in the late noneteenth century; and male and female time-use 1851-1911. I have previously supervised research students working on: the male occupational structure of England 1550-1820; Female employment 1851-1911;an occupational study of the worsted industry 1700-1851; the development of agrarian capitalism and the growth of large farms; patents and the institutional pre-conditions for British Industrialization; and the history of urban back gardens in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I would strongly advise prospective students to contact me before making a formal application. 


I lecture for two part I papers, paper 10, British economic and social history 1700-1914 and paper 9: British economic and social history c.1500-1700 and also contribute to the lecture series Understanding Quantitative History. I teach on the part I themes and sources  paper, Earning a Living 1381-1911 which uses material derived from the Occupational Structure of Britain project.   I also supervise part II dissertations on British economic and social history 1600-1900. My research project on occupational structure provides a range of opportunities for undergraduates both to make use of existing large-scale datasets and to undertake archival research and I would particularly welcome enquiries in this area. Some successful dissertations can be found online at 

With Dr Sara Horrell (Economics) I teach an advanced paper on British Industrialization for the M.Phil in economic and Social History. I am one of the convenors for the research seminar in early modern economic and social history and the research seminar in quantitative history.

Other Professional Activities

I am a member of the Economic and Social Research Council's peer review panel.


  • Economic, Social History
  • British social history c.1600-1850

Collaborators outside this directory

  • Alex Trew
  • Bob Bennett
  • Mark Casson
  • Osamu Saito
  • Richard Smith
  • Stephen Heblich
  • Tony Wrigley

Key Publications

  • Shaw-Taylor, L.,  Wrigley, E.A., ‘Occupational structure and population change’, forthcoming in Floud, R., Humphries, J., Johnson, P., (eds) The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, 4th edition, forthcoming (2014) CUP. 

  • Shaw-Tayllor, L., Keibek, S., ‘Early modern rural by-employments:  a re-examination of the probate evidence’, Agricultural History Review (2013).
  • Kitson, P.M., Shaw-Taylor, Wrigley, E.A., Davies, R.S., Newton, G.,and  SatchellA.E.M., 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, December 2013).

  •  ‘The rise of agrarian capitalism and the decline of family farming in England’, Economic History Review, 65, I., (2012) pp. 26-60.  

  • 'Diverse experiences: the geography of female employment and the 1851 census' in N. Goose (ed.) Women's work in industrial England: regional and local perspectives (2007), pp. 51-75.

  • 'Family farms and capitalist farms in mid-nineteenth century England', Agricultural History Review, 53, II (2005), pp. 158-191
  • M. De Moor, L. Shaw-Taylor and P. Warde (eds.) The management of common land in north west Europe (2002), C.O.R.N. Publication No. 8, Brepols.
  • 'The Management of Common Land in the Lowlands of Southern England, circa 1500 to circa 1850' in M. De Moor, L. Shaw-Taylor, and P. Warde (eds.) The management of common land in north west Europe (2002), C.O.R.N. Publication No. 8, Brepols.
  • 'Parliamentary enclosure and the emergence of an English agricultural proletariat', Journal of Economic History, 61 (2001), pp.640-62.
  • 'Labourers, cows, common rights and parliamentary enclosure: The evidence of contemporary comment c. 1760 - 1810', Past and Present,171 (2001) pp. 95-126.

Other Publications

Obschonka, M., Stuetzer, M., Rentfrow, P.J., Shaw-Taylor, L., Satchell, M., Silbereisen, R.K., Potter, J., Gosling, S.D., 2017. In the Shadow of Coal: How Large-Scale Industries Contributed to Present-Day Regional Differences in Personality and Well-Being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Online Early View, November 2017. doi:

Stuetzer, M., Obschonka, M., Audretsch, D.B., Wyrwich, M., Rentfrow, P.J., Coombes, M., Shaw-Taylor, L., Satchell, M., 2016. Industry structure, entrepreneurship, and culture: An empirical analysis using historical coalfields. European Economic Review, 86, 52-72. doi:

  • Casson, M., Satchell, A.E.M., Shaw-Taylor, L., Wrigley, ‘E.A., Railways and local population growth: Northamptonshire and Rutland, 1801-9’ in Casson, M., and Hashimzade, N., (eds), Large databases in economic history, forthcoming Routledge (2013).

  • 'Access to land in eighteenth century England' in B.J.P. van Bavel, and P.C.M. Hoppenbrouwers (eds.), Land holding and land transfer in North-West Europe: Late middle ages to C19th (2004), C.O.R.N. Publication No. 9, Brepols, pp. 265-281.


2010 Shaw-Taylor, Leigh et al, The Occupational Structure of Nineteenth Century Britain: Full Research Report ESRC End of Award Report, RES-000-23-1579. Swindon: ESRC.   Available at

2006 Shaw-Taylor, Leigh et al, Male Occupational Change and Economic Growth 1750-185:Full Research Report ESRC End of Award Report, RES-00023-01231.  Swindon: ESRC.  Available at:


All available from the Economic and Social Data Service at:

2017 Satchell, A.E.M and Kitson, P.K and Newton, G.H and Shaw-Taylor, L. and Wrigley, E.A (2016). 1851 England and Wales census parishes, townships and places. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-852232

2006 Wrigley E.A., Shaw-Taylor, L, Primary, secondary and tertiary (PST) occupational codes for the 1851 census report (SN5434). 

2006 Shaw-Taylor, L, Wrigley, E.A., 1851 Census report registration district occupational data (SN5433)

2006 Shaw-Taylor, L, Wrigley, E.A., 1851 Census principal towns occupational data (SN5432). 

2006 Shaw-Taylor, L, Wrigley, E.A., 1851 Census report county occupational data (SN5431). 

2006 Shaw-Taylor, L, Wrigley, E.A., Kitson, P., Male occupational data from English parish registers (processed summary data) c.1700-1820 (SN5398). 

2006 Shaw-Taylor, L, Wrigley, E.A., Kitson, P., Male occupational data from English parish registers (raw data), c.1700-1820 (SN5397).


Details over over 120 further datasets can be found at: