Social and Economic Change on Lancashire Landed Estates During the Nineteenth Century, with Special Reference to the Clifton Estate, 1832-1916.

Rogers, G (1981) Social and Economic Change on Lancashire Landed Estates During the Nineteenth Century, with Special Reference to the Clifton Estate, 1832-1916. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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One of the most fascinating aspects of 19th century social history is the adaptability and the capacity for survival shown by many of Britain's landed families. Admittedly they were increasingly moving on to the defensive. By the end of the century their collective social and political influence had undergone considerable erosion and their economic supremacy was under challenge. Indeed, by the end of the Great War, British society was fast moving into an age in which the landed aristocracy was no longer the dominant force it had once been. Nevertheless, the experience of Britain's landed elite was not one of sudden decline and collapse; rather it took the form of a gradual eclipse. Indeed, if the overall position of landed society in 1914 was considerably weaker than it had been a hundred years before, then it was still remarkably impressive for all that. Certainly the wealth of the aristocratic leadership was even more prodigious than ever. In this respect, industrialisation did not just create a new generation of Lancashire "worthies it also reinforced at least the financial standing of long-established families. In fact, by the end of the century, Lancashire's leading magnates - Derby, Sefton, Devonshire, Wilton - were probably the wealthiest single group in the county. In much the same way the profits from business and urban property shored up the position of lesser landowners as well including, for instance, the Blundells, Lathorns, Scarisbricks and Lilfords. However, the end of the 19th century also saw the contraction and, in some cases, the complete break-up of numerous Lancashire estates. In other words, landowners were travelling down two roads simultaneously during the course of the century --- some to survival and others to oblivion. Within this broad context this study justifies itself in several important ways. So far, little detailed work has been done on Lancashire landowners of the 19th century. This is all the more surprising considering the scale of economic change that took place, in a county where so much of the land was concentrated into relatively few hands. Hopefully, this study will go some way towards filling that gap. More especially, what follows re-examines aspects of landed behaviour; how, in fact, landowners related to the changes that were taking place around them. In certain respects it ventures qualifications to established interpretation and, in doing so, makes extensive use of new evidence. For the most part the thesis concentrates on the Clifton estate based at Lytham on the south Fylde. There was nothing particularly exceptional about the estate. In many ways it was rather typical, but that is what makes it interesting. It was a large ancestral property running to about 16,000 acres, mainly agricultural in character, yet increasingly caught up in urban and commercial developments. As such, the estate provides a valuable insight into changing social and economic attitudes. The Clifton estate, however, is not considered in isolation. Where appropriate comparisons are drawn with the experience of other landowners within the region and nationwide. The Clifton estate was one of those estates which failed to survive the rigours of economic change intact. In their case, the size of their landholding and its potential, at least in terms of business diversification, did not grant them immunity against financial disaster. In short, this suggests that much more is involved in explaining the predicament many landowners found themselves in at the end of the 19th century, than just the scale of their property and business assets. This is the theme taken up by the first two chapters. Chapter I looks specifically at landed incomes, the contribution made by non-agricultural sources and, most importantly, the motives which shaped landowners' attitudes towards income and investment. Incomes, of course, cannot be considered in isolation. Therefore Chapter II examines the spending habits of Lancashire landowners and the extent to which they were inclined towards debt-accumulating expenditure. It also suggests that the landowners' spending and their readiness to borrow money reflected their enduring confidence in the stability of their own social and financial position right up to the closing decades of the century. However, in a county and in an age of rapid economic change, landowners were clearly presented with widening opportunities to exploit the resources of their estates. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 1981.
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02 May 2019 16:30
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:35