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Subletting in eighteenth-century England: A new methodological approach

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Subletting continues to be overlooked in macro-economic narratives of agrarian change in early modern England. This article outlines a new methodology to reconstruct and map subletting practices. The approach is demonstrated using two eighteenth-century case-study parishes but can be more widely applied. It outlines the proportion of sublet land in each parish and establishes subtenants' socio-economic status. Measured by length of occupancy, subleases are shown to offer subtenants similar levels of tenurial security to those enjoyed by owner-occupying manorial tenants. Manorial documents are shown to inaccurately reflect landholding patterns at the level of occupation because they conceal subtenant-driven engrossment and a substantial subletting market. Finally, the article explores the implications of this for existing methods of calculating early modern farm sizes, and questions the accuracy of existing farm size data.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Agricultural History Review is the leading journal for the publication of original research in all aspects of agricultural and rural history. First published in 1953, the Review reflects the diversity of approaches which are possible in rural history. Its editors welcome submissions in any aspect of the history of agriculture, rural society and rural economy over the past millennium. Whilst it is not concerned with current policy debates, it is interested in considering discussions of the historical dimensions of current problems in rural society and food supply. The Review is especially strong in British rural history, but actively seeks submissions in European and American rural history and has no bar on submissions concerning the remainder of the world. It is also the journal of record for book reviews in the discipline.

    Agricultural History Review has an international editorial board. The current editors are Professor P. S. Warde, University of Cambridge, UK, who is responsible for articles, and Dr J. R. Morgan, University of Bristol, UK, who serves as editor for book reviews. The Review is fully peer-refereed.

    Agricultural History Review is published by the British Agricultural History Society from whom personal subscriptions may be obtained.
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