Philanthropy, economy and society in north east England: The Early Modern Era, 1501 – 1750

This paper surveys the history of philanthropy in the North East of England during The Early Modern Era (1501 – 1750) - an era in which the modern British state, conceived as an organized form of collective social power, began to take shape. Our purpose is to understand philanthropy in the context of the economics, politics, beliefs, values and social practices of the time. Our findings show that education and support for the poor and vulnerable were the two most important objects of philanthropy in the North East during the early modern period, as in the rest of England. In both cases, philanthropists came from aristocratic, clerical, landed gentry and entrepreneurial backgrounds, although it is fair to say that while all types of wealth supported philanthropic causes, the entrepreneurial class, relative to means, was disproportionately active.