Professor Steven King

Professor of Economic and Social History

Contact details

  • Office: Attenborough Tower Room 504Steve King (2)
  • Tel: +44 (0)116 229 7606
  • Email:
  • Office Hours 2018-19: Tuesday 12pm-1pm, Thursday 2pm-3pm
  • Dissertation Office Hour: 12pm-1pm
  • Personal details

I obtained a BA (Hons) in Economic and Social History from the University of Kent and a PhD in Historical Demography from the University of Liverpool.


I have wide-ranging teaching interests. At undergraduate level my teaching includes or has recently included:

  • Poverty and Welfare in Britain 1597 to the Present
  • Histories of Violence
  • All Bourgeois Now
  • Making History

My MA teaching includes:

  • Directed Reading Module
  • The Country House


PhD Supervision

I supervise across a wide thematic, spatial and chronological range.

Current PhD students work on the following topics:

  • Poverty in Hertfordshire 1700-1834
  • Migration in nineteenth century Lincolnshire
  • The medical marketplace in nineteenth century Gloucestershire
  • Kinship networks in nineteenth century Scotland
  • Advertising medical remedies in London
  • Workhouse punishment 1650-1890
  • Infanticide in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century northeast
  • Second generation Indian entrepreneurs in California
  • Dynamic Management Capabilities in Midland enterprises
  • Lunacy in nineteenth-century Cumberland and Westmorland

I particularly welcome applications from potential PhD students to undertake the following pre-packaged topics. They arise out of, but are independent of, research projects that I currently have underway:

Clothing of the Poor

This project, which uses pauper letters for the period 1750-1840, will look at the place of clothing and associated rhetorics of nakedness in pauper negotiations with the local state over the entitlement or the renewal and extension of entitlement. Drawing on case studies from across Britain, candidates will have full access to the largest collection of poor law material ever collected and transcribed.

The rise of self-dosing

This project, arising out of my AHRC work on access to health care asks a beguilingly simple question: How did ordinary people (that is non-elite) learn how to take the medicines that were increasingly available to them in the period between 1780 and the 1870s? Using commonplace books, diaries and letters, coronial records and other sources, candidates will trace the evolution of public and private knowledge in this area.

Courtship in Wales

This project, arising out of my work on English courtship patterns, will ask: how did nineteenth-century Welsh couples court and how did their experiences and milestones of courtship differ from their English counterparts. Using letters, diaries, memoirs and antiquarian histories, candidates will reconstruct the national and regional detail of Welsh courtship in a way that has never been attempted.

The economics of overseeing

This project, arising out of my extended work on the Old Poor Law, asks how did the officials responsible for the administration of the poor law at local level understand the economics of the system in which they were inscribed. How did they compare their policies to others? How did they take and give guidance? How did they regulate competing duties to ratepayers and paupers? And how did the day-to-day economics of welfare work?

Old age in British pauper letters 1750-1929

This project will use a comprehensive collection of Welsh, English and Scottish pauper letters to ask how old age was constructed by those responsible for overseeing welfare in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and by the aged themselves. How did the rhetoric of agedness change over time and how did the place of the aged in poor law structures and consciousness change?


    S. A. King, Sickness, Medical Welfare and the English Poor 1750-1834 (Manchester, 2018)

    C. Beardmore, S. A. King and G. Monks, Disability Matters (Cambridge, 2018).

    S. A. King, On The Poor (Cambridge, 2018).

    S. A. King and S. J. Taylor, ‘Imperfect children in historical perspective’, Social History of Medicine, 30 (2017), 718-26.

    P. Jones and S. A. King, ‘Voices from the far north: Pauper letters and the provision of welfare in Sutherland, 1845-1900’, Journal of British Studies, 55 (2016), 76-98.

    S. A. King and P. Jones, ‘Testifying for the poor: Epistolary advocates for the poor in nineteenth century England and Wales’, Journal of Social History, 49 (2016), 784-807.

    E. Hurren and S. A. King, ‘Public and private health care for the poor, 1650s to 1960s‘, in P. Weindling (ed.), Healthcare in Private and Public from the Early Modern Period to 2000 (London, 2015), 15-35.



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