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Title: Agrarian capitalism in England c.1700 to c.1850 : a new methodological approach
Author: Rhodes, J.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis re-assesses the development of agrarian capitalism in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England using a 'farmer-centred' methodology to yield new insights into the causes, nature, and timing of changes to farms in this period. New data on the occupiers of land is presented by cross-referencing manorial documents, poor rates, and geo-referenced maps, to reconstruct cultivators' holdings in unprecedented detail. In addition, the relationship between family and wage labour is examined on individual farms by extracting new, household-level data from the 1851 census. This thesis reconfigures existing understandings of agrarian capitalism in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England by identifying inconsistencies between traditional macro-level measures of capitalist farming and household-level farming strategies. New, more accurate farm size data show that while the average size of farms broadly increased over the eighteenth century, substantial annual fluctuations in the size of individual holdings occurred. This indicates that two processes were therefore occurring simultaneously. One in which the average farm size increased gradually over time, and a second movement which was driven largely by life-cycle processes within farming households. Cultivators rather than land owners were responsible for these changes, and they adapted the size of their farms to suit their needs. Subletting was the key mechanism through which cultivators obtained or shed parcels of land to adjust the size of their holdings in accordance with the family life cycle. Furthermore, labour-use decisions on individual farms were closely tied to the internal dynamics of the farming household, reflecting the changing availability of family labour across the life cycle. The use of wage labour was therefore partly related to the family developmental cycle, and therefore cannot reliably be used as a measure of capitalist farming.
Supervisor: French, H. ; Cox Jensen, F. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: farms ; labour ; subtenancy ; agrarian ; life cycle ; England ; eighteenth century ; nineteenth century ; farm size ; family labour ; wage labour ; agriculture