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Dr Sebastian A.J. Keibek

Dr Sebastian A.J. Keibek

Research Fellow in Economic History (Queens' College)

Queens' College
Silver Street

Cambridge CB3 9ET


  • From 2015: Research Fellow in Economic History at Queens' College
  • 2012-2016: PhD in History, University of Cambridge
  • 2011-2012: MPhil in Economic and Social History, University of Cambridge
  • 2008-2011: BA (History), University of Cambridge
  • 1995-2008: Consultant and, from 2002, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • 1993-1995: Petroleum engineer for Royal Dutch Shell in Aberdeen, Scotland
  • 1991-1993: Researcher for the Dutch Institute of Applied Physics, Delft, The Netherlands (as 'alternative military service')
  • 1985-1991: MSc (Physics), University of Utrecht


Research Interests

The Occupational Structure of Britain project is shedding new light on the Industrial Revolution and on the economic developments in early modern Britain that preceded it. Before 1850, its results are mainly based on parish records. However, before Rose's Act of 1812, only a (small) minority of parishes actually recorded occupations. The composition of this 'parish sample' furthermore changed over time. And, virtually no parishes recorded occupations before 1700. My research is therefore aimed at complementing the occupational information from parish records with that from a source that recorded occupations much more widely and continuously: probate documents (wills, inventories, etcetera). This source is itself problematic as it is strongly socially biased. For obvious reasons, the poor were much less likely to be probated than the (relatively) wealthy and the probate record on its own therefore does not provide a fair picture of contemporary occupational structure. However, this bias can be removed by combining the probate data with the parish record data. The weaknesses in these two sources can then be overcome using their respective strenghts, that is, the lack of bias in the parish record and the temporally continuous and geographically complete coverage of the probate record. Furthermore, since probate records provide information before 1700, they allow us to push our understanding of the development of the (male) occupational structure further back in time, to 1650 and potentially even further.


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

Key Publications

In print

Sebastian A. J. Keibek and Leigh Shaw-Taylor, 'Early modern rural by-employments: a re-examination of the probate inventory evidence', Agricultural History Review, 61:II (2013), pp. 244-81

Working papers

Other Publications

Conference papers

  • 2017 California Institute of Technology, Early Modern Group conference: ‘The male occupational structure of England and Wales, 1600-1850’
  • 2017 IHR Seminar in the Economic and Social History of the Early Modern World, London: ‘The development of the male occupational structure of England and Wales between 1600 and 1850’
  • 2016 Core Seminar in Economic and Social History, Cambridge: ‘The development of the male occupational structure of England and Wales, 1600-1850’
  • 2016 Asian Historical Economics Conference, Seoul: ‘By-employments in early-modern England: re-interpreting the evidence’
  • 2016 annual conference of the Economic History Society, 'The regional and national development of the male occupational structure of England and Wales, 1600-1820', Cambridge
  • 2016 ESSHC conference, 'From inventories to households; what removing inventories' social bias reveals about eighteenth-century English consumption', Valencia
  • 2015 winter conference of the Agricultural History Society, 'The occupational structure of rural England and Wales, c.1710-1891’, with Dr Leigh Shaw-Taylor, IHR, London
  • 2015 annual conference of the Pre-Modern Town Group, ‘Combining probate and parish register data for analysing pre-modern urban occupational structures’, Birckbeck, London
  • 2014 conference on The Landscape of Occupations in Pre-Industrial Britain and Western Europe: ‘Early modern rural by-employments: a re-examination of the probate inventory evidence’, Exeter
  • 2014 annual conference of the Economic History Society: ‘Probate records as a source of occupational information for early modern England and Wales’, Warwick

Books/papers on non-historical subjects

  • The Craft of Strategy Formation - Translating Business Issues into Actionable Strategies, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-51859-5, co-authored with E. Wiebes, M. Baaij, and P. Witteveen (London, 2007)
  • S.A.J Keibek et al, ‘A fast partitioning algorithm and a comparison of binary feedforward neural networks’, Europhysics Letters, 18:6 (1992), pp. 555-559