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Title: On the fringe : landscape and life in Upholland, c1300-1599.
Author: Coney, Audrey Pauline.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 1998
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The aim of this study of Up holland in Lancashire is to investigate the late-medieval and Tudor community, to understand the landscape in which this community operated and to assess the impact of marginality on society and economy. Upholland lay within the agricultural fringe in respect of its soils and straddled the geographical interface between lowland wetlands on the Lancashire plain and elevated land on the Billinge-Parbold ridge. It was a peripheral place, too, as regards its positions on the western edge of Wig an parish and on the eastern border of West Derby hundred. Despite its undoubted marginality, there are indications for great stability in its boundary, for ancient settlement patterns and for clearance levels remaining fairly constant between the Iron Age and the early-modern period. Because several tracts of ancient woodland survived into Tudor times and as most soils in this township were wet and/or infertile, farming life was based on the wood-pasture economy. Upholland farmers made the best possible use of their resources and diversified into rural crafts, such as tanning, carpentry, and the ferrous metal industry. There is a particularly early example of a water-powered bloomery in the demesne. Upholland was arguably part of a multiple estate in the pre-Conquest period. It was held in thegnage in 1066. Under the later manorial system the township had powerful lords in the de Holands, the Lords Lovell and the Earls of Derby. Only the former, however, were resident. Their status symbols included a castle, two large parks, a warren and a priory. Despite this emergence of power, tenants enjoyed autonomy and security of tenure. Their dispersed homesteads lay amidst enclosed fields and there was an absence of communal organisation in agriculture. Many copyhold families were long established by the sixteenth century and well aware of their ancient rights. When the second Earl of Derby tried to impose more-stringent tenurial conditions, several copyholders took their case to the Court of Star Chamber. Tenant independence is also seen in local government. Although this institution was presided over by the lord's steward, community regulation was effectively in the hands of a tenant elite. Tenant holdings tended to be small although disparkment and shrinkage of population after the Black Death made way for the creation of larger allotments. Population recovery by the mid-sixteenth century led to expansion by 1600, an increase largely due to the growth of leasehold properties in the former parks and in the waste. Upholland lay within a part of Lancashire that was relatively rich by the 1540s. Growing commercialisation is evident in the trading centre present by 1599. This study demonstrates how independence and skilful use of the environment can turn marginality into advantage. It shows, too, how the fringe can provide quality of life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Lancashire; Late-medieval; Tudor community History