The management of some South Yorkshire landed estates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, linked with the central economic development of the area (1700-1850)
Between 1700 and 1850 South Yorkshire contained some of the most valuable portions of a number of Britain's greatest landed estates. Industrialization brought increased population, mineral working, industrial and transport development, agricultural change and urbanization. This increased the values of property absolutely and in relation to holdings elsewhere. This thesis examines the role of estates in these processes, assesses their contribution and gains, and seeks to establish the extent to which landowners were passive rent receivers and investors. 'Pure rent' receipts increased, but estate administrations also played a wide-ranging and positive role. Investments changed the relative value of land, generating increased rents from resources previously under utilized. Reactions to opportunity were not uniform. The 'commercial ethos of economic individualism' penetrated in differing degrees, and material circumstances differed within this area. The availability of alternative supplies of capital and enterprise, changes in family priorities among owners and changes in the economic climate, all influenced commitment. Urban growth was important with mining, transport and industry, and two of the largest estates let building land and provided market facilities until the nineteenth century. Elsewhere village building for smaller communities was more important. Agriculture remained vital, but levels of landowner participation varied. Some invested heavily, with little apparant financial strain. Others were less liberal. Local markets for produce were buoyant for much of the period, though price fluctuations caused problems. Estate participation in these activities is- assessed, and estimates are presented for comparison with practice elsewhere.2 Consumption was the alternative to investment. An analysis of its extent and effects aids understanding of the large landowners' roles.3 The wealth and rentals of landowners grew astronomically in this period, as much the produce of a favourable environment and prior claim on resources as of astute administration. Large owners were active in South Yorkshire economic development, in varying degrees, but 'unearned' rental increments probably outweighed interest and profits. Professionalization of administration meanwhile served the end of consumption as much as development.