Seventeenth-Century Case Studies: Farming to Halves on Four Norfolk Estates
The purpose of the Norfolk case studies presented in this chapter is to describe the context in which sharefarming existed and developed during the course of the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth. Sets of agreements from four Norfolk estates show why landowners resorted to these methods, how they adapted them to particular circumstances, the problems they encountered, the success they achieved, and why they abandoned them in the early eighteenth century. The case studies, drawn primarily from estate records, inevitably present farming, or letting, to halves from the landowners’ perspective. However, they still provide insights into forms of sharefarming at a lower social level, between tenant and sub-tenant, yeomen and husbandmen, and generally within rural communities. Norfolk landowners used farming to halves throughout this period, firstly, as a device for effecting expansion and improvement from the 1600s, and, secondly, as a way of dealing with vacant farms and falling rents from the late 1660s. The driving force behind the improvements of early 1600s, was the inflation of the late sixteenth century. Prices accelerated rapidly in the 1580s and continued rising until the 1640s, leaving landowners in a vulnerable position. To maintain their incomes, they needed to modernize their procedures, place their rents and tenures on a commercial footing, and exploit their demesnes.
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Dairy Farming Direct Labour Corn Crop Early Eighteenth Century
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