Professor Patrick Wallis

Professor Patrick Wallis

Professor of Economic History

Department of Economic History

+44 (0)20-7107-5350
Room No
SAR 5.11
Office Hours
Monday, 14:00-15:30 Book via Student Hub
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Key Expertise
apprenticeship; human capital; labour markets; guilds; craft; health

About me

My research explores the economic, social and medical history of Britain and Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. At present, I have two main interests:

Apprenticeship and human capital

The supply of skilled labour is one of the fundamental factors in economic performance and growth. And for centuries, apprenticeship was the main way that most people outside of agriculture gained skill. My research aims to understand how apprenticeship worked in England in the three centuries leading up to the industrial revolution.

We know surprisingly little about how apprenticeship operated in practice. Together with my co-author Chris Minns, I have been using very large collections of apprenticeship records from guild and tax sources to provide new insights into the openness, effectiveness and outcomes of apprenticeship training in London and other parts of Britain. By looking beyond the legal framework, we have uncovered a more flexible and accessible system of training than historians used to believe.

Now we are extending this work in a comparative project, as part of an EU-funded study bEUcitizen, that examines citizenship across Europe from 1600 to 1900.

The transformation of healthcare in early modern England

Between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century, the English people profoundly changed their response to ill health. Previously, they had relied on their families and communities. Now they increasingly turned to commercial providers: they learned to pay doctors, buy medicines, and hire nurses.

My research is exploring how and why this transformation in healthcare occurred. By using a range of sources – from the debts left by the dying to the customs records of drug imports – I am uncovering the timing and nature of this change, showing the massive growth in the use of commercial drugs and the frequency that people sought help from medical practitioners.

Research project: My ancestor was an apprentice

This is a research project which invites people to contribute information about ancestors who were apprentices. 

More information is available on the project website:

New publications

 Access to the Trade: Monopoly and Mobility in European Craft Guilds in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Maarten Prak, Clare Haru Crowston, Bert De Munck, Christopher Kissane, Chris Minns, Ruben Schalk, Patrick Wallis, Journal of Social History

Apprenticeship in Early Modern Europe

Cambridge University Press; November 2019

Editors: Maarten Prak (Universiteit Utrecht), The Netherlands; Patrick Wallis (LSE)

With contributions from: Maarten Prak, Patrick Wallis, Joel Mokyr, Victoria López Barahona, José Nieto Sanchez, Beatrice Zucca Micheletto, Anna Bellavitis, Riccardo Cella, Giovanni Colavizza, Georg Stöger, Reinhold Reith, Merja Uotila, Ruben Schalk, Bert De Munck, Raoul De Kerf, Annelies De Bie, Clare Crowston, Claire Lemercier


 Apprenticeship in Early Modern Europe_Cover

View Professor Wallis's CV: Professor Patrick Wallis's CV [PDF]


Expertise Details

early modern European economic and social history; human capital and training; especially apprenticeship; craft and skill; labour markets; guilds; urban history; health and medicine.

Selected and recent publications

Prak, M., & Wallis, P. (Eds.). (2019). Apprenticeship in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Maarten Prak, Clare Haru Crowston, Bert De Munck, Christopher Kissane, Chris Minns, Ruben Schalk, Patrick Wallis, Access to the Trade: Monopoly and Mobility in European Craft Guilds in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth CenturiesJournal of Social History, , shz070

Wallis, Patrick (2016) Introduction: the growth of the early modern medical economy Journal of Social History. ISSN 0022-4529

Wallis, Patrick and Pirohakul, Teerapa (2016) Medical revolutions? the growth of medicine in England, 1660-1800 Journal of Social History, 49 (3). 510-531. ISSN 0022-4529

Wallis, Patrick and Colson, Justin and Chilosi, David (2016) Puncturing the Malthus delusion: structural change in the British economy before the industrial revolution, 1500-1800 Economic History Working Papers , 240/2016 

Schalk, Ruben and Wallis, Patrick and Crowston, Clare and Lemercier, Claire (2016) Failure or flexibility? exits from apprenticeship training in pre-modern Europe Economic History Working Papers, 252/2016. 

Deneweth, Heidi and Wallis, Patrick (2016) Households, consumption and the development of medical care in the Netherlands, 1650-1900 Journal of Social History, 49 (3). 532-557. ISSN 0022-4529