By Donald E. Ginter
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Additional resources for A Measure of Wealth: The English Land Tax in Historical Analysis
In counting acres, then, it is clear that tithes should somehow be excluded. But can they be? Certainly they cannot be excluded systematically in all townships. It is simply incorrect to suggest, as Hunt does, that all clerical proprietor entries represent tithes. Some clergymen were also independently wealthy and held vast estates, and innumberable small holdings, as many duplicates make abundantly clear. Nor is it possible to resolve all such residual problems by tracing tithe entries back from the duplicates of the later 1820s, as Hunt himself concedes.
4 It is questionable whether such large tenant farmers should 17 Minor Problems find their way into counts of declining owner-occupiers. Owner-occupation was not their primary characteristic. Nor were they small holders, except (misleadingly) as proprietors. It is inevitable that landholding categories be employed in such studies, but the categories must be filled by line entry counts that take fully into account the complexities of the farming community. 5 Without elaborating any further examples, it is perhaps sufficiently clear that linking names within or between land tax duplicates poses procedural problems which are severe and which bear substantial consequences.
Such persons cannot in any simple fashion be placed in any one of the three traditional landholding categories, and it is difficult to know how they have traditionally been treated in studies which traced the decline of owner-occupiers, for example. Such procedures are never explained. Similarly, it is striking how often the largest tenants in a township are also entered in the duplicates as small owner-occupiers. Such tenants owned and occupied their own house and garth, or sometimes a small home farm which constituted the core of their holdings, and this is information which the estate records of their large landlord would not normally reveal.