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Title: Common right and enclosure in eighteenth-century Northamptonshire
Author: Neeson, J. M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3440 5688
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1977
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All occupiers of open field land, and some occupiers of cottages, enjoyed common right of pasture over the open fields and commonable places of a parish; even those with very small holdings could use common pasture; and in royal forest, fenland parishes, and others with sizeable wastes, landless commoners collected fuel wood, furze, browse and much more. Common of pasture was a critical support of the small occupiers' economy. Its value was maintained by a comprehensive communal regulation of the use of the right, and by apparently effective enforcement of field orders. At enclosure common rights were extinguished - although some part of the old economy survived in newly enclosed forest and fen parishes lying near unenclosed common pastures. In many parishes two thirds of all commoners sold some or all of their land, or left their rented holdings; only half as many left their lands in adjacent open field parishes at the same time. Small owners -old their lands in greater numbers than any other group. Thus opposition to enclosure arose for two reasons: the loss of common right and the loss of land. Opposition in Parliament was voiced in counter-petitions and at the report stage in a majority of successful enclosure Bills. Unlawful opposition in the form of riotous destruction of posts and rails, and more clandestine activity, was more widespread in Northamptonshire than has been thought hitherto; but existing records cannot reveal its full extent. Finally, the enclosure of open fields, and the loss of common rights over waste, woods and permanent commons, closed up the countryside to all but individual owners of land. And for the landless it replaced an economy partially based on rights over all the land with one more dependent on privileges and benevolence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Committee of the Institute of Historical Research
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor ; KB General and Comparative Law