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GOVERNING ENGLAND THROUGH THE MANOR COURTS, 1550–1850*

  • BRODIE WADDELL (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

Using records from 113 manors in Yorkshire and elsewhere, this article surveys the changing role of manor courts in English local government over three centuries. These institutions allowed juries of established tenants to deal cheaply and easily with a variety of chronic concerns, including crime, migration, retailing, common lands, and infrastructure. Their focus varied significantly according to region, topography, settlement size, and time period, but active courts existed in most parts of the country throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Ultimately, they had many valuable functions which historians have barely begun to explore. This article thus offers the most systematic analysis to date of the role of these institutions in making and enforcing by-laws in this period, showing that many of the courts evolved to suit the changing priorities of local tenants rather than falling rapidly into ruin as has sometimes been assumed.

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Faculty of History, University of CambridgeCB3 9EFbw315@cam.ac.uk
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I am grateful to Mark Hailwood, Steve Hindle, Dave Hitchcock, Dave Postles, Phil Withington, and the two anonymous readers for their comments, and to the Trustees of the Rena Fenteman Research Fellowship, the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Isaac Newton Trust for providing funding and support for this research. In this article manorial records are cited by manor name and year of court session. Full references can be found in the Appendix. The only exceptions are the few manors that are not included in the quantified sample, for which full references are provided in the footnotes.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
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