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Title: The structure and development of commercial gardening businesses in Fulham and Hammersmith, Middlesex, c. 1680-1861
Author: Rough, Barbara Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7651 8324
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This dissertation responds to Joan Thirsk's call for historians to undertake a closer investigation of commercial gardening. It adopts a micro-historical approach, to address two questions, 'What was a gardener?', and 'What was a garden business?'' Based in the parish of Fulham (including the hamlet of Hammersmith), Middlesex, the parish with the largest acreage of commercial gardening in England in 1796, the study applies nominal linkage to a variety of sources to understand more fully the gardeners, garden businesses, and gardening families between 1680 and 1861. The dissertation exploits sources with occupational descriptors, including livery company apprentice registers, bankruptcies and insolvencies, clandestine marriage registers, Bank of England accounts, and fire insurance policies, not used previously for a statistical examination of gardening. Quantitative data are set in a rich context using qualitative sources such as newspapers, Old Bailey proceedings and property surveys. Tracing occupational terms through the sources shows that records created by parish and government bodies relied on a few customary terms, each encompassing several different functions in gardening, for much longer than commercial documents, demonstrating how reliance on one source can be misleading. In this study I argue that occupational descriptors in gardening reflected the focus, but failed to capture the entirety, of what was produced in a garden business. From the early eighteenth century garden businesses should not be viewed simply as a market garden or nursery; they cultivated a diversity of horticultural products, but are also found to have had a variety of other agricultural interests and economic pursuits, introducing new products and responding to new opportunities: gardeners did not only garden. Contrary to the claims of some historians this was not just an early phase in the transition from agriculture to specialist gardening but persisted into the nineteenth century. This study contributes not only to the history of commercial gardening but also to wider debates in agricultural and business history. From four land-use maps, dated between 1747 and 1843/5 the changing acreage and locations of gardens have been identified, and the first graphical representation of the land use in the parish from the tithe apportionment schedules is presented. The complex interaction between competing land uses is examined providing new findings about how the garden industry adapted in the face of pressures from urban development and other agricultural needs. Examination of the occupational structure of the industry has been approached through several sources. Very few gardeners were apprenticed, but some families continued to obtain training as gardeners and commercial advantages through one of five different livery companies, as well as the Gardeners' Company. The parish registers give the first tentative estimate of the size of the industry, while registers of clandestine marriages suggest that gardeners were a significant proportion of the middling sort in Fulham in the early eighteenth century. Comparison of gardening occupations in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census enumerators' books provide insights into the structure of the industry but also reveal the inconsistent application of terminology, resulting in the reliability and validity of some of the data being questioned. The implication is that only the 1851 census gives an accurate occupational structure for gardening industry. The findings of previous studies that most gardeners rented their land have been confirmed. On the bishop of London's estate the rents were low during the eighteenth century, but few gardeners were his head lessees and therefore able to benefit. Gardeners had a range of wealth, sufficient for some to have a comfortable living as part of the middling sort while a few had accrued greater wealth from gardening. Garden businesses rarely became bankrupt or insolvent and mainly when there were general economic downturns. Businesses were left predominantly to widows or sons, with the intention of keeping businesses operating and resulting in the establishment of garden business dynasties. The wealth of some businesses demonstrates the benefit of trans-generational transfer, others fared well enough for their business to continue on a smaller scale, but many names came and went from Fulham and Hammersmith commercial gardens in one generation.
Supervisor: Williams, Samantha Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: market gardens ; agriculture ; Fulham and Hammersmith ; garden business ; nurseries ; gardener ; nurseryman ; women in business