A new perspective on British identity : the travel journals of John Byng, 1781-1794
Rupp, William H. (2011) A new perspective on British identity : the travel journals of John Byng, 1781-1794. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk:80/record=b2579897~S1
The Honourable John Byng (1743-1813; later fifth Viscount Torrington) was a
British soldier, civil servant, and diarist who wrote fifteen accounts of his series of
pleasure tours between 1781 and 1794. Unpublished in his lifetime, these accounts
were re-discovered in the twentieth century and have been in print ever since.
Despite their scope (Byng visited two thirds of all English and Welsh counties) and
detail (he filled twenty seven manuscript volumes totalling over 2,500 hand-written
pages) his writings have been used only sporadically and anecdotally by historians.
This dissertation, therefore, seeks to re-position Byng as an historical actor and his
writings as a complex historical source that requires detailed re-examination and reevaluation.
Doing so reveals that Byng’s journals can inform the historigraphical
discussion that surrounds the creation of a ‘British’ national identity and
consciousness in the late eighteenth century. Prevailing models stress top down
dynamics and external forces that caused the English, Welsh, and Scottish to band
together as a Protestant elect in order to survive the onslaught of the large, Catholic,
Continental powers of the time. Whilst Byng’s observations do not refute this
interpretation, they present a strong argument for the inclusion of ‘sub-national’
(hamlet, village, town, county) identities and loyalties in any attempt to chart British
identity formation. To demonstrate this, elements of post-colonial theory,
particularly contact theory, are used to show that in Britain Byng moved through a
series of encounters akin to those experienced by Europeans in Asia, Africa, and the
Americas. Through his reactions, it is possible to see how these various identities
complemented and competed with each other, particularly important social tropes
such as politeness. Family composition and relationships with friends are also
discussed to illustrate how focusing on individual historical subjects can yield useful
insights into broader historical issues. Finally, the experiences of Arthur Young
(1741-1820) and William Cobbett (1763-1835), two other well known travellers and
commentators, are used to suggest the wider ramifications of the analysis whilst
making links to wider study of domestic travel.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Byng, John, Viscount Torrington, 1743-1813 -- Criticism and interpretation, Travelers' writings, English -- History and criticism, Great Britain -- History -- 18th century|
|Official Date:||March 2011|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of History|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Finn, Margot C.|
|Extent:||ix, 382 leaves : ill., maps|
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