The World of the Small Farmer
Tenure, profit and politics in the early-modern Somerset Levels
Author: Patricia Croot
“This is a substantial, innovative and thought-provoking contribution to the history of agrarian development, regional history and the lives and choices of ordinary people in a decisive and tumultuous period of England’s past.”
About the book
“Beautifully presented by the University of Hertfordshire Press, this is another valuable addition to a very fine series on regional and local history. It is to be hoped Croot’s substantial and significant archival work will now reach a much wider audience than before.” John Reeks, The Seventeenth Century
“Rich in its use of source materials, and equally as much about the farmers and their families as their economic activity, this will be a key text for those interested in the exploitation of wetlands elsewhere as well as for those with an interest in Somerset and the south-west.” Paul Stamper, Landscapes Journal
“Fully describes a species of rural economy that has attracted little attention since the pioneering work of Joan Thirsk on Lincolnshire nearly seventy years ago. I hope it brings the present-day inhabitants of Somerset as much pleasure as it will bring Dr Croot’s professional peers.” Prof Richard Hoyle, Journal of British Studies
“This is an important book which will repay a detailed reading thanks to its meticulous archival research and grounding in the local and regional context. By elucidating the experiences of small farmers on the Somerset Levels, Croot has provided a valuable reminder that historians of early modern English agriculture too often and misguidedly assume the superiority of large‐scale farming.” Joshua Rhodes, The Economic History Review
“[A] superbly readable thesis” The Greenwood Tree
This detailed and original study of early-modern agrarian society in the Somerset Levels examines the small landholders in a group of sixteen contiguous parishes in the area known as Brent Marsh.
These were farmers with lifehold tenures and a mixed agricultural production whose activities and outlook are shown to be very different from that of the small 'peasant' farmers of so many general histories. Patricia Croot challenges the idea that small farmers failed to contribute to the productivity and commercialisation of the early-modern economy.
While the emergence of large capitalist farms was an important development, these added to the production of existing small cultivators, rather than replacing them. The idea that only large-scale, specialized farmers were involved in agricultural progress, or that their contribution alone was enough to account for the great increase in food production by the late 17th century is questioned; small farmers continued to make a living, contributed to the market, and survived alongside the new, bigger farms.
ISBN: 978-1-909291-87-4 Format: Paperback, 240pp Published: Nov 2017
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