Abstract: This article offers a radical reinterpretation of the chronology of control over reproduction in England’s history. It argues that, as a result of post-World War II policy preoccupations, there has been too narrow a focus in the literature on the significance of reductions in marital fertility. In England’s case this is conventionally dated to have occurred from 1876, long after the industrial revolution. With a wider angle focus on \"reproduction,\" the historical evidence for England indicates that family planning began much earlier in the process of economic growth. Using a \"compositional demography\" approach, a novel social pattern of highly prudential, late marriage can be seen emerging among the bourgeoisie in the course of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. There is also evidence for a more widespread resort to such prudential marriage throughout the population after 1816. When placed in this context, the reduction in national fertility indexes visible from 1876 can be seen as only a further phase, not a revolution, in the population’s management of its reproduction. Copyright 2000 by The Population Council, Inc..