Whilst not a paramount concern amongst historians, sharefarming has excited much controversy and generated a far-reaching debate amongst economists;they are interested primarily in how it works, why it exists, and why, despite the disapproval of the classical economists and the emergence of more satisfactory systems, it has survived.1 The purpose of this chapter is to not to survey the entire academic literature, but to explain the broad principles of sharefarming and to construct a taxonomy from which to view the empirical evidence that follows. Share-farming exists in infinite variety. The taxonomy leads with the classic version of sharefarming, which involves the sharing of inputs and outputs, and moves on to consider other forms, which include the provision of working capital to tenants, the paying of corn rents and profit-sharing with labour. These do not strictly qualify as sharefarming, and more correctly should be termed unconventional tenures to distinguish them from conventional fixed rent tenancies. However, with all these agreements landowners shared the risks of farming with the tenant, whether sharing the crop, sharing the profit on livestock, risking his herd of cows or taking a gamble with the price of corn in the market. It is this direct involvement which differentiates forms of sharefarming from fixed rent tenancies, and elicited the disapproval of the political economists.
KeywordsContract Farming Land Lease Satisfactory System Tenurial Agreement Rent Tenancy
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.J.S. Cohen, ‘Institutions and Economic Analysis’, in Thomas G. Rawksi et al. (eds) Economics and the Historian, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), pp. 60–84Google Scholar
- F. Ellis, Peasant Economics: Farm Households and Agrarian Development, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) pp. 146–64Google Scholar
- 11.J. Cohen, J. and F.L. Galassi, ‘Sharecropping and productivity: feudal residues in Italian agriculture, 1911’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, 43 (1990) 646–56Google Scholar
- 12.E. Evans, The Contentious Tithe: The Tithe Problem and English Agriculture, 1750–1850, (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976), pp. 16–20; R.M. Townsend, The Medieval Village Economy, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 97.Google Scholar
- 13.See below, pp. 39–40. R.A. Dodgshon, Land and Society in Early Scotland, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), pp. 245–53.Google Scholar
- 15.R. Suggett, Houses and History on the March: Radnorshire 1400–1800, (Ceredigion: RCAHMW, 2005), pp. 181–210.Google Scholar
- 18.R.H. Britnell, Britain and Ireland 1050–1530, Economy and Society, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 401–4.Google Scholar