The land market of a Pennine manor: Slaidburn, 1650–1780
The quantitative study of English land markets in the three centuries after the close of the middle ages is still in its infancy. The medievalists, exploiting the conveyances of customary tenants recorded in manorial court rolls, have shown how issues such as the devolution of land within families, the frequency with which land was sold and the behaviour of the land market at moments of demographic or economic stress can be addressed by the analysis of such data either aggregatively or by looking at the landholding histories of individual participants in the land market. Early modernists have invariably approached the study of the land market in a non-quantitative fashion, usually as part of an attempt to make observations about some other characteristic of English history. Stone looked at the land market in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as part of his campaign to prove that the aristocracy was in decline, Macfarlane to show that the property-holding behaviour of the English was ‘individualistic’, Habbakuk to explore the strategies by which the English aristocracy maintained its supremacy and Mingay and others to settle the debate about the effect of enclosure on the small landowner. The early modern land market has rarely, if ever, been seen as worthy of discussion in its own right.