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Agricultural change in the lowlands of South Yorkshire with special reference to the manor of Hatfield 1600-c.1875.

Byford, Daniel (2005) Agricultural change in the lowlands of South Yorkshire with special reference to the manor of Hatfield 1600-c.1875. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This study provides an analysis of agricultural change between about 1600 and 1875 in the extreme south-east of the old West Riding of Yorkshire. Commentators have regarded the area as of little economic value, as easily flooded flatlands whose inhabitants eked out a living as hunters, gatherers and cattle keepers. The adjoining townlands were also seen as poor prospects for farming. One element of this view is that the Dutch drainage of the 1620s led to a transformation of the local economy. The early chapters of the thesis challenge this interpretation by showing how openfield farming had developed since at least as early as Domesday. Traditionally, the efforts of the 'the great Dutch engineer' Cornelius Vennuyden to drain the meres at the confluence of the rivers Don, Idle and Tome have been seen as successful, but little attempt has been made to measure the impact of drai nage on the agricultural system. This thesis aims to make such an analysis, and to argue that the improvements were only moderately successful and that less credit than has been accorded should go to the inexperienced Vennuyden. On many farms, wetness of the soil was so permanent that oats and grass were the only possible activities until the introduction of artificial warping in the mid-eighteenth century. The cvidence of change in estate papers and probate inventories (which has received little scholarly attention) indicates gradual agricultural development, over a wide part of the research area, from the seventeenth centurv. The study seeks to show how, over some two centuries, insufficient industry and capital investment was directed to the drained flatlands but the more barren townlands of the area gradually became not only a commercially valuable part of the county but also one of the most technically innovativc. Reasons for this change are advanced in the later chapters of the study.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.544226
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2016 14:11
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 14:11
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12820

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