Sharefarming in England: Theory and Practice

  • Elizabeth Griffiths
  • Mark Overton


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.


Contract Farming Land Lease Satisfactory System Tenurial Agreement Rent Tenancy 
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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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