Debt and Norwich in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
The English economy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries relied on informal networks of credit and debt at all levels of society, from wealthy gentry and merchants to shopkeepers and labourers.
There were no banking institutions offering credit at this time. During the eighteenth century the textile industry in Norwich, which had previously been of great economic importance, was in decline which might suggest that debt in that city was likely to have been a major issue. The relatively small numbers of signatories on the petitions from Norwich debtors, however, suggests that Norwich fostered a spirit of survival amongst its inhabitants and that during an economic downturn individuals were less likely to take financial risks.