Agriculture and society in Glamorgan, 1660-1760.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:14 by Moelwyn I. Williams
During the period 1660-1760, Glamorgan was a predominantly rural and peasant county. Arable and animal husbandry, and their ancillary tasks, provided the only sources of livelihood for the majority of the people who were concentrated mainly in the mixed farming areas of the lowlands of the Vale, and the Gower peninsula, while the pastoral areas of the Blaenau, or upland districts, sustained only a small community of scattered homesteads. Broadly speaking, the population of the county comprised the landlords, clergy, freeholders, tenant farmers, farm labourers, traders, and rural craftsmen. Occupiers of land, who were neither freeholders nor copyholders, were tenants whose tenure was determined by the nature of their leases. The labourers, however, who constituted the agricultural proletariat, had no legal title to the land, and their only means of livelihood was by selling their labour to those who required it. The numerous physical tasks connected with agriculture were performed within a social environment, conditioned by the established system of landownership. Most family groups lived primarily on what they grew, and made for themselves. Their tools, implements, and household furniture were constructed to serve several generations of the same family, and even their houses and cottages could be regarded as part of their agricultural equipment. Industry and commerce, however, were already exerting their influence upon the life of the county, and by 1760, the Glamorgan landscape had assumed, in many parts, the unmistakable features of industrialism, although, as yet, no industrial revolution was indicated. In the final analysis, agricultural interests, as modified by the industrial and commercial opportunities of the period, still dominated society in Glamorgan in 1760. The story of the transition from the peaceful pursuits of agriculture to the revolutionary development of modern industry was only beginning to unfold.