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Title: Tenants, tenures and transfers
Author: Gayton, Juliet Dorothy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2749 7344
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the impact of different customary manorial tenures on the land transfer activities of rural tenants between 1645 and 1705. The study of land transfer has formed part of the attempt by historians to establish how and why England developed from family-based subsistence farming into large-scale commercialised agriculture before many of its Continental neighbours. A key element in any study of land transfer is the property rights of those undertaking the transfers. England had a variety of customary tenures, and little research has focussed on how they operated and impacted on rural tenant transfer behaviour in the early modern period. This study uses evidence from eight manors in Hampshire with four different types of tenure to explore how they affected what land transfer options the tenants had, and how transfers were used to further family and economic objectives. The types of tenure were copyhold of inheritance; copyhold for three lives; copyhold for three lives where the first could act alone; and a form of customary freehold. The main documentary sources are manorial records augmented by parish, probate, survey and taxation material. The tenurial and landholding structure of the manors is established for 1645 using the Cromwellian Parliamentary Surveys of confiscated ecclesiastical estates. The analysis of subsequent tenant land transfers through to 1705 then examines their volume and any correlation with prices and population movements. The permanent transfers of death/inheritance and the inter vivos land market are analysed to assess the extent to which tenants were attached still to family, or taking part in an active extra-familial investment and sales market; and whether this led to changes over time in farm holding size and distribution. The temporary transfers of sub-letting of land and sub-tenure of dwellings are then analysed. The latter has not been studied before, and uses the Hearth Tax returns to compare occupiers of dwellings with formal tenants. Finally a detailed study of mortgages is made. Previous studies of the use of land as collateral for a mortgage loan have often overlooked the rural tenant as a participant in the credit market, and changes in the laws of usury at the end of the sixteenth century produced a significant uptake of mortgaging in the seventeenth, which makes this study timely. The research reveals that the tenants were very active with their transfers, but that the way in which they were active was determined by tenure. Those with copyhold of inheritance tenure had many options including inheritance, sale, mortgaging, sub-letting, splitting holdings, and conditional surrenders to provide for old age or several children. Those with copyhold for lives were restricted to after-death transfers, shuffling of reversion lives, or sub-letting. However, they adapted, and while Inheritance-tenured tenants adopted mortgages with enthusiasm, Lives tenants sub-let on a large scale. Both thereby acquired financial support from their lands, so that although the land-family bond was not absent, the bond was strongest in terms of using the land as an economic asset. The sub-letting of dwellings enabled Lives tenants to accommodate a landless workforce, where their tenure prevented the splitting of parcels for sale as manorial smallholdings. Aggressive accumulation of land was largely absent, and purchasers of land and mortgage lenders were overwhelmingly local. Some polarisation of holding size was found, but sub-tenure meant that actual farmed units were probably very different. It is concluded that differences in tenure significantly shaped the transfer behaviour of the tenants, so that any future research involving customary tenants must take tenure into account. However, their economic ambitions were found to be similar whichever tenure they had, so that they had to take different means to the same end.
Supervisor: Whittle, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: land tenure ; copyhold ; land transfer ; sub-tenure ; mortages ; Hampshire ; 17th century