• Elizabeth Griffiths
  • Mark Overton


Farming to halves is the English version of sharefarming, a system of letting land which is common in Europe and the New World but thought not to have existed in England until very recently. According to Arthur Young the absence of sharefarming in England was the point of difference between English and French agriculture, and one that explained the success of the former and the failure of the latter. In his Travels through France of the late 1780s he famously argued that métayage, as sharefarming is known in that country, was the root cause of the backward nature of French farming. ‘The poor people who cultivate here are métayers, that is men who hire the land without the ability to stock it;the proprietor is forced to provide the cattle and seed and he and his tenant divide the produce … It is an absurd system which perpetuates poverty and excludes instruction. In this most miserable of all the modes of letting land the defrauded landlord receives a contemptible rent, the farmer is in the lowest state of poverty, the land is miserably cultivated and the nation suffers as severely as the parties themselves.’1


Seventeenth Century Shadow Economy Farm Account Share Contract Guarantee Income 
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Copyright information

© Elizabeth Madeleine Griffiths and Mark Overton 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Griffiths
    • 1
  • Mark Overton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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