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Pre-industrial welfare between regional economies and local regimes: rural poor relief in Flanders around 1800

  • Nick Van den Broeck (a1), Thijs Lambrecht (a2) and Anne Winter (a3)

Abstract

This study uses data on income and distribution of relief payments from local poor relief tables for 512 rural parishes in Flanders (present-day Belgium) in 1807 to examine spatial variation in poor relief practices in a region characterised by well-established local poor relief institutions and marked socio-economic differences. By combining data on poor relief with local data on population, landholding and occupational structure, we map out the relative importance of regional economies and local variation in producing distinct poor relief regimes. The results show that although local variation was considerable, the nature and extent of this variation interacted with structural socio-economic characteristics to produce regional patterns, signalling that local variation did not so much contradict as constitute regional patterns in poor relief regimes. The importance of socio-economic characteristics in determining both regional patterns and local variation supports our more general contention that local and regional levels of analysis represent a more fruitful avenue for understanding variations in poor relief practices than national differences in legislation, and therefore has implications for the comparative study of poor relief practices in a wider international context.

Cette étude exploite des données sur le revenu et l'enregistrement de l'aide aux pauvres au niveau local, pour 512 paroisses rurales de Flandre (Belgique actuelle) en 1807. On cherche quelle est, dans la pratique, la variation spatiale des aides aux pauvres dans une région caractérisée à la fois par des institutions bien établies pour dispenser cette aide, et de fortes différentiations socio-économiques. En combinant ces données sur l'aide aux pauvres avec les statistiques locales sur la population, la propriété foncière et la structure professionnelle, nous mettons en évidence l'importance relative des économies régionales et des variations locales dans la mise en œuvre de systèmes spécifiques d'aide aux pauvres. Les résultats montrent bien que, malgré de considérables fluctuations locales, la nature et l'ampleur des variations interagissent avec les caractéristiques socioéconomiques structurelles, pour produire des modèles régionaux. Les variations locales ne contredisent pas tellement les modèles régionaux d'aide aux pauvres mais plutôt les confortent. Ce poids des caractéristiques socioéconomiques dans la détermination à la fois des tendances régionales et des variations locales étaye notre argument plus général selon lequel les niveaux d'analyse placés au plan local et au plan régional offrent un moyen plus efficace de comprendre les variations des pratiques d'aide aux pauvres que lorsqu'on se place au plan national, étant donné les différences de législation. Cela a des conséquences sur toute étude comparative relative aux pratiques d'aide aux pauvres, dans un contexte international plus large.

Diese Studie verwendet Daten zum Einkommen und zur Verteilung der Unterstützungszahlungen in örtlichen Armenunterstützungstabellen für 512 ländliche Gemeinden in Flandern (heutiges Belgien) im Jahre 1807, um die räumliche Verteilung der Armenunterstützungspraktiken in einer Region zu untersuchen, die sich durch fest etablierte Armenunterstützungseinrichtungen und markante sozialökonomische Unterschiede auszeichnete. Durch die Kombination von Daten zur Armenunterstützung mit solchen zur Bevölkerung, zum Landbesitz und zur Berufsstruktur lässt sich herausarbeiten, welche Bedeutung regionalen Ökonomien und lokalen Unterschieden für die Herausbildung bestimmter Armenunterstützungsregimes zukam. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass trotz beträchtlicher örtlicher Unterschiede diese nach Art und Umfang mit strukturellen sozialökonomischen Merkmalen einhergingen, was darauf hindeutet, dass lokale Unterschiede den regionalen Mustern der Armenunterstützungsregimes weniger widersprachen als dass sie diese vielmehr erst hervorriefen. Die Bedeutung sozialökonomischer Merkmale für die Herausbildung sowohl der regionalen Muster als auch der lokalen Unterschiede unterstützt unsere generelle These, dass lokale und regionale Analyseebenen einen fruchtbareren Weg eröffnen, um die Variationsbreite von Armenunterstützungspraktiken zu verstehen als nationale Unterschiede in der Gesetzgebung, woraus sich wiederum Schlussfolgerungen für die vergleichende Untersuchung von Armenunterstützungspraktiken in einem größeren internationalen Kontext ziehen lassen.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: Nick.Van.den.Broeck@vub.be

References

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Notes (Appendix)

1 The comments provided by the villages and the absence of rounded figures, indicate that Flemish municipalities interpreted the second question (‘nombre des pauvres pris sur la population’) as enquiring after the number of poor who received some form of assistance from the local bureau de bienfaisance.

2 State Archives Bruges, Belgium, Leiedepartement, 4196; State Archives Ghent, Belgium, Scheldedepartement, 2780/6. On this survey, see also Dousset, C., ‘Statistique et pauvreté sous la révolution et l'empire’, Annales historiques de la Révolution française 280, 1 (1990), 167–86.

3 On the 1806 census, see Vrielinck, S., ‘Boerenbedrog: De volkstelling van het jaar VIII in de Belgische departmenten’, in Art, J. and François, L. eds., Docendo discimus: liber amicorum Romain van Eenoo (Gent, 1999), 97115.

4 De Belder, J., Jaspers, L., Gyssels, C. and Vandenbroeke, C., Arbeid en tewerkstelling in Oost-Vlaanderen op het einde van het Ancien Régime: een socio-professionele en demografische analyse: Werkdocumenten (Gent, 1983); De Belder, J., Jaspers, L., Gyssels, C. and Vandenbroeke, C., Arbeid en tewerkstelling in West-Vlaanderen op het einde van het Ancien Régime: Een socio-professionele en demografische analyse: Werkdocumenten (Gent, 1984). For a critical discussion of the census and a first exploration of the results, see Jaspers, L. and Stevens, C., Arbeid en tewerkstelling in Oost-Vlaanderen op het einde van het ancien régime (Gent, 1985) and Gyssels, C. and Van der Straeten, L., Bevolking, arbeid en tewerkstelling in West-Vlaanderen, 1796–1815 (Gent, 1986).

5 Ministère de l'Intérieur, Recensement général (15 octobre 1846) (Brussels, 1849).

Notes

1 See, for example, Harris, B., The origins of the British welfare state: society, state, and social welfare in England and Wales, 1800–1945 (Basingstoke, 2004); Lindert, P. H., Growing public: social spending and economic growth since the eighteenth century (Cambridge, 2004); Patriquin, L., Agrarian capitalism and poor relief in England, 1500–1860: rethinking the origins of the welfare state (Hampshire, 2007); King, S., ‘Welfare regimes and welfare regions in Britain and Europe, c. 1750s to 1860’, Journal of Modern History 9, 1 (2011), 4265.

2 Laslett, P., ‘Family, kinship and collectivity as systems of support in pre-industrial Europe: a consideration of the “nuclear-hardship” hypothesis’, Continuity and Change 3, 2 (1988), 153–75. For a recent overview, see Marfany, J., ‘Family and welfare in early modern Europe: a north-south comparison’, in Briggs, C., Kitson, P. M. and Thompson, S. J. eds., Population, welfare and economic change in Britain, 1290–1834 (Woodbridge, 2014), 103–29.

3 Slack, P., Poverty and policy in Tudor and Stuart England (London, 1988), 12, 113–61; Lindert, P. H., ‘Poor relief before the welfare state: Britain versus the Continent, 1780–1880’, European Review of Economic History 2, 2 (1998), 101–40, esp. 132–5; Lindert, Growing public, 67–86; Innes, J., ‘The state and the poor: eighteenth-century England in comparative perspective’, in Brewer, J. and Hellmuth, E. eds., Rethinking leviathan: the eighteenth-century state in Britain and Germany (Oxford, 1999), 225–80, esp. 237–41.

4 Woolf, S. J., The poor in western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (London, 1986), 83; Slack, Poverty and policy, 13; Jütte, R., Poverty and deviance in early modern Europe (Cambridge, 1994), 100–42; Grell, O. P. and Cunningham, A. eds., Health care and poor relief in Protestant Europe 1500–1700 (London, 1997); Grell, O. P., Cunningham, A. and Arrizabalaga, J. eds., Health care and poor relief in Counter-Reformation Europe (London, 1999).

5 Lis, C. and Soly, H., Poverty and capitalism in pre-industrial Europe (Brighton, 1979); Patriquin, Agrarian capitalism, 79–191.

6 Slack, P., ‘Some comparative problems in the English case’, in Riis, T. ed., Aspects of poverty in early modern Europe (Stuttgart, 1981), 281–5, esp. 283–5; Slack, Poverty and policy, 9–10, 12–13; van Voss, L. Heerma, ‘The embarrassment of poverty: why do the proverbial welfare states border on the North sea?’, in Knotter, A., Altena, B. and Damsma, D. eds., Labour, social policy and the welfare state (Amsterdam, 1997), 1733, esp. 21–4.

7 See among others Slack, Poverty and policy, 11–14; Solar, P. M., ‘Poor relief and English economic development before the industrial revolution’, Economic History Review 48, 1 (1995), 122; Innes, ‘The state and the poor’, 225–43; Innes, J., ‘The distinctiveness of the English poor laws, 1750–1850’, in Winch, D. and O'Brien, P. eds., The political economy of British historical experience, 1688–1914 (Oxford, 2002), 381407; Patriquin, Agrarian capitalism, 79–191; Smith, R. M., ‘Social security as a developmental institution? The relative efficacy of poor relief provisions under the English Old Poor Law’, in Bayly, C. A., Rao, V., Szreter, S. and Woolcock, M. eds., History, historians and development policy (Manchester, 2011), 75102, esp. 75.

8 Patriquin, Agrarian capitalism, 112–16, 195–206. The ‘national’ dimension of his argument is however strongly determined by a strict Brennerian interpretation of early modern class relations of which the ‘national’ interpretation has been strongly nuanced due to extensive research focusing on the Low Countries in particular. See, for instance, Thoen, E., ‘“Social agrosystems” as an economic concept to explain regional differences: an essay taking the former county of Flanders as an example (Middle Ages–nineteenth century)’, in Hoppenbrouwers, P. C. M. and van Bavel, B. J. P. eds., Landholding and land transfer in the North Sea area (late Middle Ages–nineteenth century) (Turnhout, 2004), 4766 and van Bavel, B. J. P., Manors and markets: economy and society in the Low Countries, 500–1600 (Oxford, 2010), 387406.

9 King, S., Poverty and welfare in England, 1700–1850: a regional perspective (Manchester, 2000). These macro-regimes can further be subdivided into sub-regions, see pages 261–5.

10 Winter, A. and Lambrecht, T., ‘Migration, poor relief and local autonomy: settlement policies in England and the southern Low Countries in the eighteenth century’, Past and Present 218, 1 (2013), 91126. See also Warde, P., ‘The origins and development of institutional welfare support in early modern Wurttemberg, c. 1500–1700’, Continuity and Change 22, 3 (2007), 129; van Leeuwen, M. H. D., van Nederveen Meerkerk, E. and van Voss, L. Heerma, ‘Provisions for the elderly in north-western Europe: an international comparison of almshouses, sixteenth–twentieth centuries’, Scandinavian Economic History Review 62, 1 (2014), 116; Marfany, ‘Family and welfare’.

11 See, for example, Hindle, S., On the parish?: the micro-politics of poor relief in rural England, c. 1550–1750 (Oxford, 2004); Williams, S., Poverty, gender and the life-cycle under the English Poor Law, 1760–1834 (Woodbridge, 2011); Dyson, R., ‘The extent and nature of pauperism in five Oxfordshire parishes, 1786–1832’, Continuity and Change 28, 3 (2013), 421–49; French, H., ‘An irrevocable shift: detailing the dynamics of rural poverty in southern England, 1762–1834: a case study’, Economic History Review 68, 3 (2015), 769805; French, H., ‘How dependent were the “dependent poor”? Poor relief and the life-course in Terling, Essex, 1762–1834’, Continuity and Change 30, 2 (2015), 193222.

12 See, for example, Hitchcock, T., King, P. and Sharpe, P., Chronicling poverty: the voices and strategies of the English poor, 1640–1840 (New York, 1997); Bothelo, L. A., Old age and the English Poor Law, 1500–1700 (Woodbridge, 2004); Shave, S., ‘The dependent poor? (Re)constructing the lives of individuals “on the parish” in rural Dorset, 1800–1832’, Rural History 20, 1 (2009), 6797; Williams, Poverty, gender and the life-cycle, 101–30.

13 In an attempt to overcome these problems, King formulated a number of yardsticks to enable systematic comparisons between pre-modern welfare regimes in King, ‘Welfare regimes’. Yet because the model focuses on comparing different practices of welfare regimes (varying from ‘entitling’ to ‘disciplinary’), their relation to the underlying motives of poor relief remains obscure. Although allowing that ‘the model [welfare-regime] is sensitive to change’, it does not identify any causalities that might engender such change. Yet without investigating underlying causalities of variation and change, one risks that poor relief regimes become static entities. It is to these causalities that we turn.

14 See Winter and Lambrecht, ‘Migration, poor relief and local autonomy’; Lambrecht, T., ‘Agrarian change, labour organization and welfare entitlements in the North Sea area, c. 1650–1800’, in King, S. and Winter, A. eds., Migration, settlement and belonging in Europe, 1500–1930s: comparative perspectives (Oxford, 2013), 204–77. See also Van Onacker, E. and Masure, H., ‘Unity in diversity: rural poor relief in the sixteenth-century Low Countries’, Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis 12, 4 (2015), 5988.

15 Patriquin sidesteps the potential problems for his argument embodied by the recent research underscoring variations in regional and local relief practices in early modern England by addressing them only in one rather cursory and dismissive footnote: Patriquin, Agrarian capitalism, 211.

16 Until 1795, Flanders refers to the then County of Flanders. Under French rule, the erstwhile County was divided in two departments: Scheldt and Leie. After French rule these departments became the Dutch and later Belgian provinces East and West Flanders.

17 On the relevance of the 1846 agricultural census for the situation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, see note 40.

18 Vandewalle, P., De geschiedenis van de landbouw in de kasselrij Veurne (1550–1645) (Brussels, 1986); Lambrecht, ‘Agrarian change’.

19 K. Dombrecht, ‘Plattelandsgemeenschappen, lokale elites en ongelijkheid in het Vlaamse kustgebied (14de–16de eeuw): case-study: Dudzele ambacht’ (unpublished PhD dissertation, Universiteit Gent, 2014), 59–178; L. Vervaet, ‘Goederenbeheer in een veranderende samenleving: Het Sint-Janshospitaal van Brugge, ca. 1275–ca. 1575’ (unpublished PhD dissertation, Universiteit Gent, 2014), 203–304; Thoen, E. and Soens, T., ‘The family or the farm: a Sophie's Choice? The late medieval crisis in Flanders’, in Drendel, J. ed., Crisis in the later Middle Ages: beyond the Postan-Duby paradigm (Turnhout, 2015), 195224.

20 Vanderpijpen, W., ‘De proto-industrialisatie in Vlaanderen: een grote regionale diversiteit’, in Witte, E. and Hannes, J. eds., Arbeid in veelvoud: een huldeboek voor Jan Craeybeckx en Etienne Scholliers (Brussels, 1988), 123–31; Vermoesen, R., Markttoegang en ‘commerciële’ netwerken van rurale huishoudens: de regio Aalst, 1650–1800 (Gent, 2012), 67114.

21 Lambrecht, T., ‘Peasant labour strategies and the logic of family labour in the southern Low Countries during the eighteenth century’, in Cavacciochi, S. ed., The economic role of the family in the European economy from the 13th to the 18th centuries (Florence, 2009), 637–49; Ronsijn, W., Commerce and the countryside: the rural population's involvement in the commodity market in Flanders, 1750–1910 (Gent, 2014); Vanhaute, E. and Lambrecht, T., ‘Famine, exchange networks, and the village community: a comparative analysis of the subsistence crises of the 1740s and the 1840s in Flanders’, Continuity and Change 26, 2 (2011), 155–86.

22 Faipoult, M., Mémoire statistique du département de l'Escaut, adressé au ministre de l'intérieur (Paris, 1804), 4658.

23 Most of the relief dispensed in the countryside passed through so-called poor tables although these institutions did not have an exclusive right. Rural abbeys and monasteries also distributed alms or managed their separate charities. But although monastic charity could be of great local importance, there were too few of them to be significant on a more structural level. Also, the poor could profit from occasional bread distributions during funeral services, but these were too rare in the eighteenth century to be of any real significance to alleviate poverty. See Lambrecht, T. and Winter, A., ‘De vele gezichten van zorg: Armoede en armenzorg op het platteland in het graafschap Vlaanderen tijdens de achttiende eeuw’, Tijd-Schrift 7, 1 (2017), 4557. Finally, most regions in the Austrian Netherlands still allowed begging. In most cases begging was restricted to settled inhabitants within the confines of the parish boundaries. The value of these alternative types of assistance are difficult, if not impossible, to quantify.

24 Maréchal, G., ‘Het openbaar initiatief van de gemeenten in het vlak van de openbare onderstand in het noorden van het land tijdens het Ancien Régime’, in N. A. ed., Het openbaar initiatief van de gemeenten in België: historische grondslagen (Ancien Régime). 11de internationaal colloquium. Spa, 1–4 sept. 1982. Handelingen (Brussels, 1984), 497540, esp. 514–15. The inert nature of the income structure of rural poor tables has recently been researched for the sixteenth century in Van Onacker and Masure, ‘Unity in diversity’, 78–81.

25 For one indication of continuity in the medium-term income structure of rural poor tables throughout the regime changes at the micro-level, see Vanhaute, E., ‘De armenzorg op het Antwerpse platteland, 1750–1850: onderzoek naar een instelling tijdens de scharniereeuw’, in N. A. ed., Machtsstructuren in de plattelandsgemeenschappen in België en aangrenzende gebieden (12de–19de eeuw). 13de internationaal colloquium. Spa, 3–5 sept. 1986. Handelingen (Brussels, 1988), 625–77, esp. 637–41. The detailed research by van Leeuwen, M. H. D., ‘Amsterdam en de armenzorg tijdens de Republiek’, NEHA-Jaarboek 95 (1996), 132–61 shows on pages 144–7 that the financial and social upheaval of the French annexation could also exert considerable pressure on existing resources of relief institutions and to a decline in relief provisions.

26 Vanhaute, ‘De armenzorg’, 628, 632; Van den Eeckhout, P. and Haesenne-Peremans, N., ‘De openbare onderstand’, in Bruneel, J., Craeybeckx, J. and Droixhe, D. eds., De erfenis van de Franse Revolutie, 1794–1814 (Brussels, 1989), 148–53, esp. 152; Van de Perre, S., ‘La dîme du plaisir: het “droit des pauvres” in het licht van de financiering van de armenzorg in de lange 19de eeuw (1796–1914)’, in Ockeley, J., Janssens, J. D., Gotzen, F., Verbesselt, L. and Boelpaep, V. eds., Recht in geschiedenis: een bundel bijdragen over rechtsgeschiedenis van de Middeleeuwen tot de hedendaagse tijd: Aangeboden aan prof. dr. Fernand Vanhemelryck (Leuven, 2005), 379–98, esp. 380–2. Settlement legislation, however, was made uniform throughout the territory. See Winter, A., ‘Caught between law and practice: migrants and settlement legislation in the southern Low Countries in a comparative perspective, c. 1700–1900’, Rural History 19, 2 (2008), 137–62, esp. 144–8.

27 The survey was organised in 1808, but data pertain to 1807. See the appendix for more details on this survey, which has so far never been analysed systematically for research. In the 1970s, Vandenbroeke tentatively explored the geography of poverty in East Flanders during the first half of the nineteenth century. This work, however, drew mainly on published material and was restricted to the analysis of the number of relief recipients. Vandenbroeke's data were organised according to the much larger spatial unit of administrative districts. See Vandenbroeke, C., ‘Sociale contrasten in Vlaanderen, einde Ancien Régime-begin 19e eeuw’, in D'Hanens, J. P. ed., Handelingen van het XLIIIe Congres van de Federatie van Kringen voor Geschiedenis, Oudheidkunde en Folklore van België (Sint-Niklaas, 1975), 46–7 and Vandenbroeke, C., ‘Demografische en sociaal-ekonomische varianten van het pauperisatieproces in Oost-Vlaanderen (18e–eerste helft 19e eeuw)’, in Van Haver, J. ed., Handelingen van het XXXe Vlaams Filologencongres (Gent, 1976), 256–62.

28 See appendix.

29 Vanhaute and Lambrecht, ‘Famine’; van Bavel, B. J. P. and Rijpma, A., ‘How important were formalized charity and social spending before the rise of the welfare state? A long-run analysis of selected western European cases, 1400–1850’, Economic History Review 69, 1 (2016), 159–87

30 Hindle, On the parish?, 22–95; Vanhaute, ‘De armenzorg’, 627.

31 W. Vanderpijpen, ‘De landbouw en landbouwpolitiek in het Leie- en Scheldedepartement (1794–1814)’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1983), 269–80.

32 In the absence of more detailed research at the micro level, it is not possible to be conclusive on the extent of poor tables’ possible losses entailed by the regime changes. Data collected from a number of late eighteenth-century poor table accounts in the rural district of Furnes (see reference in note 44), show that the level of income recorded in the 1808 survey was lower than average relief expenses in the years around 1790 for six out of eight parishes for which accounts survive. For these eight parishes taken together, the income recorded in the 1808 survey was on average only 75 per cent of yearly expenses in 1790, suggestion an average income reduction of around a quarter.

33 A. Verhalle, ‘Peilingen naar armoede en armenzorg in het Brugse Vrije van 1770 tot 1789’ (unpublished MA thesis, KULeuven, 1964), appendix 2, 8, 13, 17, 23, 28; J. Clement, ‘Armenzorg op het Gentse platteland 1750–1850’ (unpublished MA thesis, Universiteit Gent, 1988), appendix 56–61; S. De Rouck, ‘Armenzorg op het platteland: de financiële organisatie van vier armentafels in het Land van Rode: Casus Balegem, Gijzenzele, Landskouter en Oosterzele 1743–1798’ (unpublished MA thesis, Universiteit Gent, 2010), 128–131.

34 Some poor tables invested their financial surpluses in annuities and bonds. See, for example, State Archives Bruges, Belgium, Registers Brugse Vrije, 1032 and E. Degreve, ‘De organisatie van de armenzorg in dorpen van de dekenij Sint-Pieters-Leeuw tijdens de 18e eeuw’ (unpublished MA thesis, KULeuven, 1981), 86.

35 According to the wording of the survey, this referred to poor persons rather than households. Given that poor tables often recorded only one household member as ‘recipient’, it is likely that there were a ‘dark number’ of dependants so that the number of ‘recipients’ in the returns might underestimate the number of individuals dependent on poor relief. See also Van den Broeck, N., ‘Armenzorg op het platteland: Het voorbeeld van Dessel in de tweede helft van de achttiende eeuw’, Tijd-Schrift 7, 1 (2017), 2243, esp. 37–8.

36 Wage data for this period are scarce. The daily wage of a male agricultural labourer (food excluded) during this period probably ranged between 1.20 and 1.40 francs. See Vandenbroeke, C., ‘Werkinstrumenten bij een historische en sociaal-economische synthese 14de–20ste eeuw’, in Witte, E. and Hannes, J. eds., Arbeid in veelvoud: een huldeboek voor Jan Craeybeckx en Etienne Scholliers (Brussels, 1988), 271 and Faipoult, Mémoire statistique, 90.

37 Slack, P., The English Poor Law, 1531–1782 (Cambridge, 1995), 30; King, Poverty and welfare, 85, 154; Clark, G., ‘Farm wages and living standards in the Industrial Revolution: England, 1670–1869’, Economic History Review 54, 3 (2001), 477505, esp. 485. Even if we allow the regime change to have cost 25 per cent of income, and allow for relief expenses to have stood at 90 per cent of income, a corrected figure of 1.58 fr. average relief expenditure per capita prior to the French Regime was still, at most, one third of the English equivalent in the 1780s. Conversely, rarely more than 5 per cent of all parishes, mostly in the coastal areas, recorded expenses that approximated the English average.

38 King, Poverty and welfare, 81.

39 Of course, averages obscure that not all recipients within a municipality received equal amounts of relief: individual variations in the nature, timing and amount could be large – variations which we would like to pursue in further research. For England, see, for example, Williams, Poverty, gender and the life-cycle.

40 Data from the 1796 population census were collected via STREAM, data from the 1846 census via LOKSTAT. Relations to land arguably underwent considerable change between 1807 and 1846, resulting in an even more marked polarisation between large-scale farms, on the one hand, and a proliferation of micro-holdings, on the other. See Vanhaute, E., ‘Rich agriculture and poor farmers: land, landlords and farmers in Flanders in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’, Rural History 12, 1 (2001), 1940. Although more intensified by 1846, then, the spatial contours of this process remained stable. In spatial terms, the relative predominance of large viz. smallholdings in 1846 can therefore be taken as indicative for the relative importance of large farmers viz. small peasants in 1807. This is confirmed by the fact that the soil share of holdings larger than 20 ha in 1846 correlates positively with the proportion of male heads of households identified as labourer in 1796 $(\hat \beta = .32,\; p \lt .001)$ .

41 For a similar approach, see Shaw-Taylor, L., ‘Family farms and capitalist farms in mid nineteenth-century England’, Agricultural History Review 53, 2 (2005), 158–91.

42 If the median is 0, all values equal to zero were allocated to the lowest category.

43 The type and size of income categorised as ‘unforeseen’ income could indeed vary greatly. For example, in mid-eighteenth century Oosterzele and Gijzenzele 29 and 19 per cent respectively of total relief income was generated by logging, while in Landskouter 14 per cent of income was generated by inheritances of deceased recipients. See De Rouck, ‘Armenzorg op het platteland’, 138–9. These ‘unforeseen’ revenues rarely if ever added up to a major source of revenue in 1807. Even among those who recorded ‘unforeseen revenue’, it did not provide more than 16 per cent of total revenue on average (median 8 per cent). The 30 parishes where this ‘unforeseen revenue’ yielded more than 50 per cent of total income were parishes with small overall revenue (mean of 63 cents and median of 45 cents per capita).

44 T. Lambrecht and A. Winter, ‘An old Poor Law on the continent? Agrarian capitalism, poor taxes and village conflict in eighteenth-century coastal Flanders’, Economic History Review (in press); See also Vanhaute, ‘De armenzorg’, 632; Van de Perre, ‘La dîme du plaisir’, 381–2.

45 See note 43. The survey of 1808 unfortunately did not differentiate within this miscellaneous category, so it is only on the basis of other surveys or micro-research that the respective contribution of collections and other donations versus other ‘unforeseen revenue’ such as logging or sales of paupers’ possessions can be explored.

46 $\hat \beta = - .03,\; p \lt .05$ .

47 As a comparison between Figures 5 and 9 show, there is no complete overlap between distribution regimes, on the one hand, and income regimes on the other, although there is a strong connection between both as evidenced, for instance, in Table 8. The regional contours that appear from the distinct types of local variation, moreover, are highly similar on both maps.

48 On the growing importance of poor taxes as a structural source of income in the coastal area in the second half of the eighteenth century, see Lambrecht and Winter, ‘An Old Poor Law?’.

49 Boyer, G. R., An economic history of the English Poor Law, 1750–1850 (Cambridge, 1990).

50 Lis and Soly, Poverty and capitalism.

51 Evidence of higher levels of landownership in this region in De Kezel, L., ‘Grondbezit in Vlaanderen, 1750–1850: Bijdrage tot de discussie over de sociaal-economische ontwikkeling op het Vlaamse platteland’, Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 14, 1 (1988), 61102; Lambrecht, T., ‘Het landboek als bron voor sociaal-economische geschiedenis: eigendomsstructuren in Oost-Vlaanderen tijdens de 17de en 18de eeuw’, in Beyls, P. ed., Ex cultura abundantia: Onderzoeksgids van Oost-Vlaamse landboeken, prijzijboeken, gebruikboeken, ommelopers en bijbehorende kaarten (Brussels, 2015), 204–22.

52 Lynch, K., Individuals, families and communities in Europe, 1200–1800: the urban foundations of Western society (Cambridge, 2003).

53 Lambrecht and Winter, ‘De vele gezichten’.

54 Lambrecht, T., ‘Reciprocal exchange, credit and cash: agricultural labour markets and local economies in the southern Low Countries during the eighteenth century’, Continuity and Change 18, 2 (2003), 237–61; Vanhaute and Lambrecht, ‘Famine’.

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