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Parliamentary enclosure and changes in landownership in an upland environment : Westmorland c.1770-1860.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date1/10/2006
JournalAgricultural History Review
Number of pages17
Original languageEnglish


The impact of parliamentary enclosure on landownership, especially on small proprietors, has been considered mainly in the context of lowland open-field arable communities. However, it also affected extensive areas of upland common pasture in northern England. This article examines parliamentary enclosure in Westmorland where the context of enclosure and the structure of rural society were markedly different from southern England, particularly in the prevalence of customary tenures with rights effectively equivalent to freehold. A study of sales of allotments in enclosure awards, and changes in landownership between awards and subsequent Land Tax returns, shows that there was considerable continuity of occupation by smaller proprietors despite enclosure. Parliamentary enclosure in Westmorland does not appear to have caused the large scale disappearance of small owners or their transformation into landless wage labourers. Small owner-occupied farms remained a characteristic feature of this area into the later nineteenth century.

Bibliographic note

RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : History