The Journal of Economic History



COMMON RIGHTS TO LAND IN ENGLAND, 1475–1839


Gregory Clark c1 and Anthony Clark c1

Abstract

We estimate the extent of common land in England from 1475 to 1839, treating charity land as a sample. We find common was only 27 percent of land in 1600. Thus there was little common beyond what Parliamentary acts later enclosed. More tentatively, common was only one-third of land even in 1500. Further, common land in 1600 was mainly stinted, excluding those without formal property rights. Common waste, to which the landless poor did have access, constituted a mere 4 percent of land, and was mainly land of marginal value. Private property was thus the norm in England by 1600.


Correspondence:
c1 Gregory Clark is Professor, Department of Economics, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8578. E-mail: gclark@ucdavis.edu. Anthony Clark, 118 Bullhead Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 1RL, U.K.


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