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Deal and the Deal boatmen, c.1840-c.1880

Bower, Jacqueline Mary (1989) Deal and the Deal boatmen, c.1840-c.1880. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94225) (KAR id:94225)


The traditional role of the town of Deal, on the East Kent coast, was that of providing services to shipping. The boatmen were the town's dominant occupational group. In the nineteenth century, however, many inhabitants, represented by the Borough Councillors, the local newspapers and some leading townsmen, were conscious that this era was ending and were seeking a new role for the town.

The themes addressed in this thesis are therefore twofold. The first is that of how a smallish rural town attempted to adjust, over a period of about forty years, to economic decline. The second theme is the boatmen's work, their society, their family relationships and their position in the community.

The thesis looks at Deal's development from the seventeenth century to its zenith in the early nineteenth century. It suggests that growth and decline in Deal directly coincided with periods of war and peace in national history, and that consequently the decline of the nineteenth century was inevitable, given the century of cross-Channel concord which followed the defeat of Napoleon.

Chapter Three discusses the boatmen's decreasing opportunities for making a living from the 1830s and their consequent decline. Chapters Four and Five consider the effect of this decline on the rest of the population and the attempts made by some sections to redress the situation. These chapters examine the degree to which they had succeeded by 1880, and how the town changed in character as a consequence.

Chapter Six attempts to reconstruct the customs and practices which governed the organisation of the boatmen's work. Chapter Seven assesses the importance of family and kinship in the boatmen's society, while Chapter Eight looks at the extent to which the boatmen existed as a separate community within the town, and whether this separation increased as their economic importance declined.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Whyman, John
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94225
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Uncontrolled keywords: History of Deal c.1840-c.1880
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Economics
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2023 12:06 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 12:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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