The nineteenth century witnessed a huge expansion in the number of people in Britain and Europe described as members of a profession. Industrialisation, imperial expansion and the growth of the state led to an ever-increasing demand for lawyers, doctors, religious ministers and teachers, as well as newer service providers such as accountants, bankers and civil engineers. Many historians have viewed the professions as forming part of a wider middle class that also included manufacturers, merchants and entrepreneurs. However we simply do not know whether the professions acted differently from other members of the middle class in terms of who they married, how they were educated, the arrangements they made for their children and the social and cultural activities they engaged in. In short, we do not know whether they formed part of the wider middle class or were, as Harold Perkin (1969) once suggested, a distinct social class.