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Title: Rural South West Lancashire in the eighteenth century : the land and the people
Author: Virgoe, John Malcolm.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3548 5691
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis sets out to examine the rural communities of south west Lancashire in the eighteenth century, and their response to the important changes taking place at that time in the surrounding area. Rural south west Lancashire in the eighteenth century was an area of small farms and conservative farmers who made a satisfactory living from a few acres by production of niche products such as vegetables, potatoes and cheese for the increasing markets of the nearby growing towns. Most farms also produced small amounts of cereals, predominantly oats, probably for domestic consumption on the farm by the family, and livestock. Such farms required little capital investment, and in terms of their overall wealth their farmers were poorer than their contemporaries in the com-growing areas, but in terms of savings and investment in household goods ( indicative of lifestyle), they could not be considered impoverished. Farm labour was mainly provided by the family, supplemented by casual labour supplied by neighbours. There were a number of important, eighteenth century local landowners who were far-sighted in appreciating the importance of growing markets and made considerable financial investments in land reclamation, and establishing a progressive attitude to agricultural change. Eighteenth century farming in the area was not backward, but was different from that in the areas usually considered progressive, such as East Anglia, and had more in common with the reclaimed lands of the Low Countries. The eighteenth century laid the foundations for south west Lancashire to become an important vegetable-growing area in the twentieth century. Eighteenth century society in the area was remarkably stable, a situation sustained by the persistence of leasing for lives until the end of the century, and a form of partible inheritance. Community life was only partly based upon the township, and many people lived their lives within the ambit of the district and could be considered to form a south west Lancashire community. The late eighteenth century landscape was a landscape in transition. It comprised a mixture of old, small enclosures, and new, reclaimed, mosslands with larger fields bounded not by hedges but by ditches; a mixture of dilapidated, timberframed thatched buildings, and new, mainly stone-built and flag-roofed yeomen's houses. The thesis shows eighteenth century south west Lancashire to be an area which, whilst influenced by the economic and social changes in the surrounding county, yet retained its distinctive character.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Agricultural communities