The method described in previous chapters may be applied to any area, rural or urban, large or small, for which there are historical records. In order to illustrate some of the questions which it is possible to answer using such records, we will take the two contrasted examples, namely the parish of Earls Colne-in Essex and that of Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria. Documents from these two areas have already been used to illustrate previous chapters. The parishes were chosen because they contain very good records and because they provide a good contrast. The Essex parish lies in lowland England, near London, the Cumbrian parish in the upland, pastoral area, near the northern border. Analysis of the two parishes also makes it clear that the survival of records dictates the type of questions it is meaningful to ask. Many of the questions can only be asked of one or the other parish because they need a specific source in order to make the answer possible. The choice of samples circumscribes the analysis: it is limited to the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and to rural areas.
It is necessary to stress that the work on Earls Colne and Kirkby Lonsdale is only now reaching a stage where it is beginning to be possible to obtain answers to questions. The following sections do not embody these answers, which will be contained in other future publications. The evidence cited from these villages is therefore impressionistic and statistically largely meaningless. It is given to illustrate some of the questions one might ask and some of the sources one might use to answer them. This needs to be emphasized strongly since it would be very misleading to give the impression that the enormous investment of time in accumulating data, and the richness of that data, has culminated in the bare and somewhat insubstantial speculations of this chapter. Almost every one of the topics raised below would require a chapter or even a book to itself if we were to deal with it properly, even at the level of the two parishes. The necessity to survey most possible uses of the data in a few thousand words leads to a superficiality which those who are familiar with early modern English history must pardon. Yet it does seem that a book prescribing an arduous and time-consuming technique would be deficient without some attempt to sketch in some of the questions we could answer after the methodology had been applied.
5:1 The physical background.
The previous chapter has shown that it is possible to trace the site and ownership of particular fields and houses over many hundreds of years. Combined with archaeological fieldwork in the village, it is possible to date not only buildings but also hedges and ditches. Hoskins, for example, provides an account of the methods which may be used (1970). One is able to build up maps of the parish at many points in time and watch the landscape evolving. This is a level which may be integrated with study of the soil and geology of the region. The methodology for undertaking such work is now well established and described. There are also other features of the physical background within which past inhabitants lived which may be explored.
One feature of the physical background which was of enormous importance was the weather. There is growing evidence of major climatic shifts during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Hard winters and drought have been adduced to help explain the incidence of epidemics, for example (Appleby 1973). Information on the weather can usually only be gleaned indirectly from local records. The fluctuation of prices in inventories and account books, or fluctuations in burials, have to be used as an index, albeit distorted, of the weather. Sometimes a local inhabitant did jot down the major features as they appeared to him. An example of this is contained in the diary of an Earls Colne inhabitant, Ralph Josselin (Macfarlane 1976a). The major features of the weather in this Essex village over a forty year period in the seventeenth century are illustrated by that document; fluctuations can be correlated with demographic and economic changes in considerable detail. The impact of the weather on the inhabitants would depend very considerably on the buildings, furniture and clothing used in the period.
Only in parishes where probate inventories have survived is it possible to study changes in household furniture. Thus, for example, if we look at the inventories made by the inhabitants of the chapelry of Lupton within the parish of Kirkby Lonsdale, a sub-part of the parish with approximately 150 inhabitants in the seventeenth century, we notice a gradual diversification of furnishings. Nearly 150 inventories for this tiny hamlet survive covering the period 1550-1720. In the two dozen pre-1600 ones items include kettles, pans, pots, cauldrons, pewter vessels, chests, chairs and other similar basic furnishings. In 1604 a silver spoon is mentioned, in 1608 a candlestick, in 1659 a cheese press, and in 1679 a clock and case. Given the larger sample of 2,000 or so inventories for the whole parish of Kirkby Lonsdale it would be possible to study in some detail how houses were furnished, and how new standards emerged.
Inventories also record details of clothing and changes in the cost of garments. 'Rayment' or 'apparel' is often listed separately and is mentioned as being worth 5s.4d., 20s. and 13s. respectively in three late sixteenth-century inventories for Lupton. Higher sums of 16s., 28s. and £2 are mentioned in three seventeenth-century inventories. It would be necessary in all such comparisons to know a good deal about changes in the value of money and the exact status and age of the deceased before interpreting comparisons. It would be necessary to look at wider evidence to decide whether the first mention of bodices and bands in 1636, or 'stockings' in 1679 reflected changing fashions, or was merely a chance mention. The same precautions would need to be taken if assessing changes in agricultural tools from inventories.
Many other aspects of the physical background, which must have conditioned the lives of Englishmen before the industrial revolution, can be documented from local records. Methods of heating and the collection of fuel can be studied through inventories, account books and manorial records. The supply of water and its regulation is often dealt with by the local court leet which contains orders to prevent contamination. The same source, as well as Quarter Sessions records, deal with communication and transport. Every aspect of the physical world, from hedges and ditches, cutting of trees and undergrowth, to the upkeep of houses and the use of land, was minutely regulated. In general, the physical conditions within which people lived in the past can be reconstructed in immense detail. This framework provides us with an indispensable basis upon which to analyse more abstract and impermanent features of the past.
5:2 Economic life.
The area in which English documents are richest is economics. This is well known and consequently agricultural and economic historians have for a long time drawn heavily on local sources (Tawney 1912; Thirsk 1967). Shortage of space forces us here to omit numerous topics such as land-ownership and tenurial patterns, storage mechanisms, markets and marketing, prices and currency, famines and scarcity, taxation, gifts and exchanges. We will concentrate on eight topics in a little detail.
The amount of capital invested in agricultural and non-agricultural production may be investigated through the use of inventories, wills, diaries, account books and manorial records. At a simple level we can compare inventory totals. If we take, for example, sixteenth-century inventories for Lupton where animals are mentioned, we find that the mean average value of the thirteen inventories of this kind made by men was £40 if debts are excluded, £55 with debts. We may compare this with the ten inventories of a similar kind made between 1680 and 1689 in the same hamlet, where the mean average value was £114, and the average when debts were included £144. It is impossible, as yet, to be certain as to the rate of inflation of currency in the period, but this probably does indicate an increase in real value. The comparisons become more precise if we compare particular farms over the period and look at specific items. For instance, in Lupton the Middleton family owned a farm called Aikrigg Green. When it was inventoried in August 1586, the goods, excluding debts, were worth £69 8s.4d., by September 1659 the goods were worth £272 3s.2d. excluding debts. on this farm and others there then seems to have been a halt in the rise in value of the movable goods in the later seventeenth century. If we took the 2,000 inventories for the whole parish, it would clearly be possible to work out in some detail how much was invested in tools, animals, seed, manure, loans and other items and then this could be compared with the value of the land. It would be possible to look at non-agricultural families to see how smiths, tailors and other occupational groups compared in terms of capital. It should be stressed that since many people, particularly the aged, had already transferred a large part of their wealth before they died to their children, inventories can be a deceptive guide to capital.
In order to interpret the results of such an analysis we need to know how many people were farmers, tailors etc., in other words we need to know something about the occupational structure. Although this can be pieced together from other sources, the easiest way is through a listing of inhabitants, though this only gives a cross-section at one point in time. The listing for the chapelry of Lupton in 1695 named 137 persons. Thirty-five of these were said to be 'husbandmen', one a yeoman and one a labourer; 16 persons were of various trades, including a carpenter, a shoemaker, a badger, a tailor, a miller, an innkeeper, a blacksmith and a schoolmaster. This means that between a quarter and a third of this apparently rural chapelry were primarily engaged in non-agricultural occupations. That Lupton was not exceptional in this can be seen if we compare it with the listings for the other eight chapelries within Kirkby Lonsdale; for example, in Killington to the north, of the 51 occupations of those not listed as 'pensioners', 12, or a little under a quarter, were non-agricultural. These included one or more of the following; miller, blacksmith, tanner, spinster, cooper, weaver, cordwainer, skinner and millwright. The survival of a listing makes it possible to see whether such a large number of non-agriculturalists would have been indicated by the inventories alone. Excluding the inventories made for women, we would expect to find about one-quarter of the 120 inventories to be made for non-agriculturalists. In fact the number is a good deal less. Inventories often give the occupation or status of the deceased, but only five Lupton inventories mention non-agricultural occupations: a tailor in 1680, waller in 1686, tanner in 1688, carpenter in 1710 and blacksmith in 1712. Four of these men left tools of their trade which were inventoried, the tailor is the exception. None of the other inventories contain special tools of trade, with the exception of hemp, yarn and cloth, which is mentioned in the inventories of 13 other persons, most of whom are styled 'husbandmen'. Inventories as a source in this area would therefore give a misleading impression of the amount of non agricultural specialization.
Any belief that we may have had that in England in the seventeenth century everyone was solely engaged in agriculture, in a subsistence economy with little economic specialization, would have begun to be undermined by the analysis of the occupational structure. Furthermore, if this diversification is found in the apparently remote Cumbrian parish it is likely that the development of the market and secondary industries would have proceeded even further in the Essex parish. An examination of the land transmission patterns of the two areas throws further light on the subject. By the late sixteenth century in Earls Colne the market in land was fully developed. Taking just one of the two manors in the parish, Earls Colne manor, and looking at the five-year period 1589-93, some 51 parcels of copyhold property were surrendered to the lord of the manor as a way of transferring them to another holder, or at the end of a lease for a specified number of years. It is clear that at least 21 of these were, in fact, sales of copyhold estates for cash, and a number of others were surrenders at the end of mortgage terms or leases. Twenty-four, or just under half, were transfers by inheritance between kin. This was not a simple 'peasant' society with families holding on to ancestral plots for generation after generation. The results can be seen in the rapid turnover of family holdings. of the 274 pieces of property in the two Earls Colne manors in rental for 1677, only 23 were held by the same family (female links included) two generations earlier in 1598. This massive shift can be seen even in short periods. Comparing two rentals for Earls Colne manor in 1549 and a 1589, we find that of the 111 pieces of property listed at the earlier date, only 31 pieces were in the same family some forty years later. This is the case even if we trace the inheritance of property through women. Property was very mobile and there seems to have been no strong attempt to 'keep the name on the land' as in some other agrarian societies.
We might expect a much less mobile situation in the Cumbrian parish. Yet even in the north the turnover seems to have been considerable. For the chapelry of Lupton the earliest manorial records date from 1642 and the list of tenants for that year gives 28 different surnames. Some two generations later, in 1710, only 12 of-these surnames have survived among the property holders in the chapelry. Of course, changes of name at marriage would be likely to be missed by such calculations and hence family continuity is likely to be higher than this suggests. The only way to study the problem properly, and this is feasible, would be to study each holding over the period.
The penetration of the market into both areas is also shown by the web of debts which becomes visible through the use of probate inventories. After cataloguing possessions, these documents often have a list of both incoming and outgoing debts. A brief analysis of such lists of debts illustrates for the northern parish that rather than being the isolated, rural, immobile population which we might have imagined, the inhabitants had widespread contacts and that borrowing and lending was enormously important to them. Some indication of the dimensions of such loans may be given by looking again at the Middleton family at Aikrigg Green. John Middleton had at his death in 1586 movable possessions whose total value was £69 8s.4d., but he was owed another £66 6s.8d. in cash out on loan. A century later Robert Middleton's inventory records that he had movable possessions worth £51 2s.8d., owed other people £57 4s.8d. and was owed £170 0.0. Very often money lent out and borrowed was greater than all the household possessions, including livestock and tools, clothing and furniture. Some of the inventories not only list the debts but also the places where creditors and debtors lived. To give one example: the inventory of Edward Burrow, a Lupton 'husbandman' in 1603, gives a list of debtors who lived in the following places; Clarethorpe, Mosside, Barbon, Carnforth, Warton, Underbarrow, Killington, Yealand, Dalton, Nether Kellet, Kirkby Lonsdale, Arnside. Many of these were twenty or more miles from his home parish. Other Lupton inventories mention debtors in the south of England, East Anglia and elsewhere. The main theories to explain such indebtedness concern the need to spread risk in such a society, the shortage of cash which led people to accept bills and bonds, and the importance of such exchanges in both providing credit and cementing social relationships. Among the problems to be explored are the presence or absence of specific 'money lenders' in certain parishes, a feature which can only be studied at the level above a particular chapelry.
Along with indebtedness, another feature of agrarian societies which we may examine in the past is the basic unit of production. It has been argued in relation to other agricultural societies, such as pre-revolutionary Russia or contemporary India, that most of the production and consumption in such societies occurred within the family or household. This feature, together with others has been termed the 'Domestic Mode of Production' and has been well described by Sahlins (1974: chs. 2, 3). Where this is the case there are many interesting consequences, including the way in which the amount of labour produced by a person fluctuates to fit with the fluctuations in the domestic cycle within the household. At first sight the economies of Kirkby Lonsdale and Earls Colne would both appear to fit within the category of the 'domestic model. Labour groupings seemed to be based on no wider unit than the household: there is little evidence from the documents or secondary descriptions of collective or collaborative labour outside the household. Yet closer examination of production soon suggests that both areas were, in fact, in various respects different from the classic accounts of such a system. The Account Book kept by the lord of the manors of Earls Colne and Colne Priory shows that the manorial system organized a good deal of the labour through a combination of services owed and cash payments for rent. The northern parish also was organized to a considerable extent on a manorial basis. Furthermore, the institution of servanthood, which moved labour in and out of the households, also made the-situation radically different from the archetypal East European cases.
The situation becomes even less like the stereotype if we examine the mechanisms within Kirkby Lonsdale in a little more detail. It is true that most of the labour on the small farms was family labour, and this was supplemented by farm servants, but the important corollary that most of the labour of the children went into their parents holding does not hold true. The stereotype envisages a situation where all the children remain within the communally-producing group, at least until the father dies. In this situation the labour pool contracts and expands very dramatically over the life cycle of the parents. In Kirkby Lonsdale farms, however, the labour pool seems to have been kept at roughly the same size by exporting the surplus children when they began to be productive and, if necessary, hiring in servants. How this worked can be shown by linking the parish register and the listing of inhabitants in 1695. If we do this, it is possible to construct a hypothetical 'listing' which shows who would have been living in the parish if children had stayed at home to help with the family farm. To summarize the results briefly, it appears that or the children born to couples mentioned in the Lupton listing and not recorded as buried there, between one-third and a half seem to have disappeared from the parish to live and die elsewhere. Where these children went and for what purpose is still a mystery. But clearly this phenomenon already puts the English economy, so far as Kirkby Lonsdale is representative, in a different category to historical India or Russia. The contrast would not be so great if it could be shown that such children sent their earnings home to a communal account, but, as yet, there is little evidence of this.
Another topic of central importance is the distribution of wealth, between individuals and over time. Two tentative preliminary remarks can be made about the sample parishes. The first is that the amount of capital and the per capita income increased considerably in the period between the mid sixteenth century and the early eighteenth century. This has already been implied by the changes in clothing, furniture, debts and total movable wealth discussed in the pages above. It is a well established and well known trend, documented, for example in the 'housing revolution' of the later sixteenth century in the south of England, and in the solid stone houses in Kirkby Lonsdale, which mostly date from the seventeenth century (Barley in Thirsk 1967: Ch. 10; Hoskins 1953). The other strong impression is that the distribution of wealth within parishes became increasingly uneven during this period, a trend which probably started, in the south of England at least, before the middle of the sixteenth century. A comparison of the two parishes suggests that by the late seventeenth century the distribution was far more uneven in the Essex parish than the Cumbrian one. Even though Hearth Taxes tend to conceal some of the differences, we may give a preliminary indication of the relative inequalities by comparing the two areas. In Lupton in 1669 the majority of the population still lived in one-hearth houses; only 7 out of the 37 houses listed had two or more hearths. The largest was the one case of a three-hearth house. In Earls Colne in the 1671 Hearth Tax there were many more substantial houses. The bulk of the population (86 houses) still lived in one-hearth houses, but there were 27 two-hearth houses, 13 three-hearth, 11 four-hearth, 8 five-hearth, 8 six-hearth, 2 seven-hearth, and 2 with more than 10 hearths. The gap between the landless labourers and weavers and the 'gentry' was already established in this Essex parish in a way which was absent in Kirkby Lonsdale.
The difference of wealth caused differential problems of poverty in the two areas. The absence of overseers of the poor accounts for both Lupton and Earls Colne before the eighteenth century makes a really detailed analysis of the problem of poverty less profitable than it might be. But wills, churchwardens accounts and other sources make it possible to gain some impression of the situation. Another complication is the fact that it seems to have been the case that some of the Lupton old and poor migrated into the neighbouring market town of Kirkby Lonsdale, so that the rapidly lengthening poor lists of the second half of the seventeenth century for that town partly reflect changes in the outlying chapelries. Yet the general impression, at present, is that although the average income of those in the Essex parish might be far greater, it is likely that the problem of the unemployable and destitute poor was also greater than in the northern parish.
The information for the study of economic behaviour over long periods of time is plentiful in local records. Only a few of the more obvious questions have been posed here and other more difficult questions concerned with motivation and attitudes have not been examined. The real value of any community study on the subject of past economics is that while many of the questions have been asked before, the answers had to be sought in straight economic terms. The interweaving of local records allows us to search for part of the solution to economic behaviour in realms other than the purely economic. Intuitively we know that economic transactions were in many ways embedded in the demographic, social, religious and intellectual forces of past societies. In order to explain them we heed to be able to move into these dimensions. We may therefore turn to other features of the past.
5:3 Population studies.
The large potential for demographic analysis contained in historical records is now widely recognized (Wrigley 1966; Hollingsworth 1969). Whereas land records and inventories provided the core of the economic analysis, here the focus is upon parish registers and listings. There are three levels of intensity in such analysis. Firstly, there is aggregative analysis, which provides totals or 'aggregations' of various events such as births or marriages. Such totals make it possible to work out crude rates. Secondly, there are methods based on linking births (or baptisms), marriages and deaths (or burials), together. This enables one to construct far more satisfactory age-specific rates. Thirdly, there is the possibility of linking such age and sex-specific rates to other local documents so that the findings can be further broken down by occupation, wealth, religious affiliation or other features which appear to be interesting.
There are various direct and indirect methods of estimating the total Population of a parish; some of these may be illustrated for Lupton though the samples are too small to have any statistical significance. They are given to show what could be done with a larger sample, rather than as concrete results. Arguments based on the figures are examples of what might be argued. The figures are too small to make the conclusions safe. One method is to take the mean average number of births or baptisms in a period and to multiply it by a likely crude birth rate for such a population. In Lupton during the decade 1691-1700 the mean annual average was 6.1 baptisms which, if we assume a crude birth rate of 40 births per 1,000 population, would mean that there was a total population of 152 in the chapelry. Another estimate can be obtained from using taxation listings. The 1674 Hearth Tax referred to 56 separate dwellings. There has been much dispute about the correct multiplier, in other words the likely number of persons living in each house. In England generally, between four and five seems to be accepted. If we take the lower figure, this would give a total population at that point of 224, but this is far above the Parish register figure for the later period. Fortunately in Lupton there are two more direct estimates. In 1692, the Reverend Thomas Machell travelled through the chapelry and noted that there were 56 'families' in the lordship of Lupton (Machell 1963: 26). If we assumed that a 'family' would have the same number of members as a household, and again took a multiplier of four, we should get the same large figure as before. Three years after Machell a listing was made and some 54 separate 'households' (assuming that 5 of the 12 bachelors lived as separate 'families') are shown. Yet the average size of these was so small that the total population only came to 137 persons. Various tests suggest that a few people were missed, so that a total of about 145 is more likely, which accords well with the parish register estimate. Clearly the multiplier of four is far too high for this chapelry, and this is confirmed by looking at neighbouring listings in the same way.
We may view the Lupton findings within the wider context of Kirkby Lonsdale and note the impression gained from looking at the parish register from 1539 onwards and comparing the totals with the total population shown in the 1695 listings. From this it appears that although there was a growth in the total population in the second half of the sixteenth century, and there seem to have been some years of high mortality, particularly 1598 and 1666, the general pattern was already substantially different from that described for parts of France, Germany or even Scotland at that time. Instead of a rapid build up of population cut back by a 'crisis' of war, epidemic or famine, which in turn led to a drop in the age at marriage and a rise in fertility leading to another crisis, the Cumbrian pattern was different. There were indeed minor crises, but already some form of 'homeostatis' had been achieved (Macfarlane 1976b: ch. 16; Wrigley 1969: ch. 2). If this is correct, we may wonder whether the absence of a 'crisis' pattern was the result of restricted fertility, high annual mortality, out migration, or a combination of these three.
We may first look at the simplest measure, the crude birth rate (CBR), or number live births in a year divided by the total mid period population multiplied by 1,000. Here again the numbers are too small to be statistically meaningful and are only given to illustrate methods of argument.' For Lupton in the decade 1691-1700, if we take the listing as accurate, this gives us a CBR of 44.5. Since this is extremely high we need to check it against other parishes. Killington to the north has an excellent listing and its own chapelry register. The CBR for Killington in the same decade was 41, which confirms the general apparently very high level. The well known drawback of this crude rate is that it does not allow for differences in the age and sex structure of the population. A glance at the local listings shows that there seem to be very many married couples and few children; this alone would lead us to expect a high rate. In order to check the real fertility levels we need to look at specific fertility histories of married women. In situations of uncontrolled fertility, with early marriage and reasonable diet, women are likely to produce between six and ten live-births before they reach the age of forty-five. Since women tended to be baptized in one parish, married in another, and have children in a third, it is a long business working out fertility histories for women who are mentioned as married in the Lupton listing. The impression, and it is no stronger than that, from half a dozen cases where the marriage is recorded and the woman dies after the age of forty-five in the parish, is that the number of live-births per woman is very low. In the best three documented cases, only seven live-births are recorded in all. Although there may have been under-registration of births which have escaped checks against other documents, it is still fairly certain that women in Lupton were not producing anywhere near their theoretical maximum of children.
Among the major possible reasons for this very lowered fertility, the strongest two are probably delayed marriage and some form of contraception. If we look at the Lupton listing of 1695, we can find an age at first marriage for fourteen males in the list. These varied from the youngest at twenty-four and the oldest at forty-eight. The mean average age at marriage was thirty-five. By any standards, marriage for males at what amounts to middle age is extremely late, and is likely to affect women's marriage age. Taking the females mentioned in the same listing, their ages at first marriage were as follows: 28, 25, 33, 30 and' 45, giving a mean age of thirty-two. Even allowing for the exceptionally old case, it would appear that women were marrying at around thirty, thus missing some twelve years of maximum fertility. With such a small number of cases the random variation would be great and therefore these are merely impressions. Assuming that the last conception would occur, on average, when they were about forty, and that births occurred, on average, every three years, it is not difficult to see why reconstituted families and wills so often give a picture of two, three or four surviving children, rather than the possible half dozen or more. In contrast, in Earls Colne taking a sample of people throughout the period whose surname began with the letters S to W, we find that the mean age at first marriage for eighteen men was 25.8, and for twenty women was 24.4. If this impression is supported by further research, the reasons for the difference would repay analysis. In order to see whether as well as late marriage, contraception of some kind played a part, it would be necessary to work out age-specific fertility rates along the lines pioneered by Wrigley (1966). Since the calculations are so precise, a large base population is needed, the whole of Kirkby Lonsdale with over 2,000 inhabitants, rather than Lupton, for example. Taking such a large population should also make it possible to find out whether fertility rates differed between socio-economic groups; whether the occupational structure discussed above is reflected in differences of fertility, with certain groups marrying younger, having more children etc. In general, it seems clear that the much reduced fertility of the Cumbrian population goes a long way to 'explaining' the absence of a rapid population expansion, even though the late age at marriage (if this impression is confirmed) in itself needs to be explained. But mortality also needs to be examined in order to confirm the argument, since this might have checked population growth even more.
We may briefly look at two different aspects of mortality, particular crises and perennial mortality. A simple test for 'crises' years which has been suggested is that they are years when the mortality is more than double the mean average for the surrounding period (Schofield 1972). Applying this to Earls Colne, if we make a very rough calculation over the period 1560-1699 there were 2,605 burials in the 114 years when the burial register was complete, or an annual average of 22.85. Since the population expanded during the period, this would mean that in the sixteenth century any year with more than 40 recorded burials can be counted as a 'crisis', in the seventeenth, any year with more than 50 recorded burials. Using this criteria, only the years 1611, 1613 and 1635 were 'crisis' ones in Earls Colne between 1560 and 1699 though there may have been others in the 15901610 period for which the burial register does not survive.
It would be possible to look at particular years of high mortality and by using all the documents to find out the months in which the mortality occurred, which sex was most affected, the age of those who died, where in the village or outlying farms the deaths were, whether certain families were particularly badly stricken, and by these methods it is sometimes possible to work out the nature of the diseases at work. The economic and social effects can also be charted.
A second form of analysis is to examine mortality in non-crisis years, either by examining all the deaths in a particular period, or by looking at the life-histories of a group of individuals (cohort) born at a particular time. An example of the former would be to look at the crude death rate (CDR), in other words the number of recorded deaths in a year divided by the total mid period population, multiplied by a thousand. If we do this for Lupton for the 1691-1700 decade, assuming the listing total of 137 to be correct, we reach a figure of 39.5. Since this is again very high even for a 'pre-modern' population we may look at nearby Killington, where the rate was 33.8, again high but not as extreme as Lupton. In Earls Colne, in contrast, even if we assume a fairly low average population of 1,000 over the whole period 1560-1700, the CDR would be the much lower one of 22 (19 in the decade 1671-80). Since, as with fertility, these rates are not only distorted by under-registration, but also by the age and sex structure of the population, we need to treat them warily. Furthermore, even if there was apparently high mortality, we would want to know whether this was mainly during infancy, adolescence, middle or old age. A first impressionistic glance at the Lupton evidence does-not suggest a high level of infant and child mortality. Taking all the children baptized as 'of Lupton' in the three years 16947, in none of the 22 cases is a child recorded as being buried within the first year, and only one within the first three years. That this is not merely a result of out-migration and loss of the deaths can be shown by the fact that in at least eight of the cases we can follow the children into middle age; two others died when they were eight and nine respectively. Analysis of specific groups is also possible starting from an earlier point. For instance, if we look at the 26 males baptized as 'of Lupton' in the period 1660-9, we find that only three, or a rate of 110 per 1,000, which is fairly low by pre-modern standards, died within their first year. We can look at other recorded ages at death which are as follows: 18, 71, 28, 59, 38, 55, 67, 14, 61, 46. The outstanding feature about girl children is how difficult it is to trace them at burial. Of 25 girls baptized between 1660 and 1669, none were recorded as buried within the first year, but it is only possible to find a burial within Lupton for 3 of the 25, at 12, 18 and 62 years respectively. Again, the impression, to be confirmed or destroyed by further analysis, is of low mortality.
Another particularly vulnerable group would be women at childbirth and it is sometimes possible to pick out such deaths when a mother and child are buried on the same or nearby days. Again, a first impression from the Lupton evidence is that the rate was not as high as in many other societies. Of the four married women aged under forty-five in the Lupton listing whose age at marriage we know, and who continued in observation until they reached forty-five, having various children, none died in childbirth. The evidence of wills gives an impression that wives outlived their husbands more often than the other way round. It would clearly be possible, with a larger sample of women, to take this further.
We know that in many parts of England before the industrial revolution there was very considerable geographical mobility (Peyton 1915; Rich 1949; Schofield 1970). The presence of a parish register and listing for Kirkby Lonsdale makes it possible to add to this discussion, and to elaborate the findings discussed under the section above on the turnover of surnames of landholders. One suggestion of the mobility is that of the 20 males baptized in the period 1660-9 who had not been recorded as buried by the 1695 listing, only 6 were mentioned in the listing. The other 14 had gone to live elsewhere by the time of the listing. It is a further indication of the late age at marriage, that although all these men would have been aged between twenty-five and thirty-five at the time of the listing, not one of the six was married by then. All were listed as 'bachelors' though several subsequently married. Women, as we have seen, were even more mobile. Of the 23 girls baptized in Lupton in the same period 1660-9 whose death is not recorded in the chapelry, not a single one was there in the listing in 1695. A search for both boys and, especially girls, for the decades after this also suggest that very few stayed in Lupton after the first few years of their lives. A similar analysis of the Kirkby Lonsdale listing supports this impression (Macfarlane 1970b: Appdx B). In the absence of a listing, a much cruder analysis can be made on the basis of surnames in taxation records. Thus, of the 102 different surnames mentioned in Earls Colne in the Lay Subsidy of 1524, only 12 were present 150 years later in the 1673 Hearth Tax.
The movement away helps to explain the strange age structure of the Cumbrian chapelries. An age structure is the result of past fertility, mortality and migration, and it is therefore not surprising that the age and sex structure of the two adjacent chapelries should be very different. It is impossible at present, to accurately reconstruct the age of every individual in these northern listings because of the high geographical mobility. We may therefore base our impressions on the categories of the list-takers themselves. Looking firstly at the sex ratio, in Lupton the name of children is not given, so we can only work out the sex of adults. There were 56 males and 55 females; the imbalance was largely shown in the presence of 12 bachelors over the age of twenty-five. In Killington, there was an exact balance of adults, with 80 of each sex. Turning to the age structure, in Lupton there were 101 adults, either married or over twenty-five or both. Another 5 persons were said to be 'son' or 'daughter', rather than 'child' and it is possible to check the ages of most of these cases and to discover that the distinction being made was between young children, and those over the age of eighteen or thereabouts. In populations with high fertility, the proportion sometimes reaches as high as a half of the population under the age of sixteen which again indicates controlled fertility and an elderly population. In Killington there were 62 'children' to a total population of 222, again an aged population. A curious feature which differentiates the two chapelries is that while in Lupton there were few widows, 3 of them as compared to 36 wives, in Killington there were 15 widows to 42 wives. Whether this was the result of earlier mortality of husbands, or pressure against remarriage, would repay investigation.
5:4 Social structure.
The data for the study of social structure is more than adequate. We may briefly survey a few instances to show some of the questions one can ask. One of these concerns the size and structure of the household, a topic which has attracted considerable attention from social historians (Berkner 1972; Laslett 1972). This work has shown that most Englishmen from the middle of the sixteenth century onwards lived for most of their lives in small households with a mean average size of 4.5 and a simple structure consisting of parents and children. The analysis of the Kirkby Lonsdale listing confirms these findings. Although there is the problem of where to place bachelors over twenty-five, who are often listed separately, even on the assumption that each bachelor shared a house with probably unrelated persons, the mean household size for Lupton would have been under three persons. The same is the case in Killington, which has a more detailed listing, and where the 222 persons appear to have been living in about 76 separate 'households', again an average of under 3 per household. Not only was the household very small, it was very simple. None of the inhabitants of Lupton lived in households of more than two generations depth; there were no cases of widowed mothers living with their children, of uncles and aunts, or other distant kin sharing a house, or of brothers living jointly. The same absence of anything wider than the nuclear family is shown in the neighbouring listings. It would thus seem that it must have been the case that children did not marry until their parents were dead or had retired elsewhere.
Such is the view of household structure from a listing, but those who have used wills as their main source sometimes argue that they, and manorial transfers, contain provision for elderly parents and seem to imply multi-generational households (Spufford 1974: 114). Kirkby Lonsdale provides an excellent setting to see how the two findings can be reconciled. If we look at the 115 surviving wills for Lupton in the period 1550-1720, we find that in 29 of them, that is between a quarter and a third, testators left wills mentioning that they had married children; in nearly three-quarters of the cases there were no children or they were unmarried. The majority of these married children were daughters; twenty mention married daughters, eleven mention a married son. Daughters would normally have married out of the parish, so we would not expect such marriages to cause multi-generational households. Most of the sons may have been younger sons and thus also living outside the parish. Clearly there were situations envisaged in the wills where, for example, a son is instructed how to treat his shortly to be widowed mother who, it is assumed, would be living with him. Unfortunately, the Lupton sample is too small to generate many cases where this occurred just before the 1695 listing, but taking Kirkby Lonsdale as a whole should produce some answers. What does seem to be the case is that nowhere, either in the listings or the wills, is it envisaged that two married-couples would reside together in one house. Sons and daughters might marry and live elsewhere, but a 'stem' family of married parents and married child (and his or her children) living together is conspicuous by its absence.
It is obvious that a sharp distinction needs to be made between family and household; people may live with their kin and not act jointly, they may live in separate households but act as a 'joint family'. In order to take the discussion of family structure further, therefore, we need to look beyond the physical units of particular households. In many societies an individual is surrounded by close and more distant kin through blood, and affines through marriage. By itself, a list of inhabitants cannot tell us whether this was the case in the past, since it merely needs a marriage to change a woman's name and hence to conceal a relationship. What we need ultimately to establish are various indices of kinship and interconnectedness, similar to those devised for European villages by Emmanuel Todd (1976). Until this is done, a few impressions will have to suffice. If we take a Lupton family which dominates the local records, the Burrows, we gain an impression of some kind of dominant localized kin groupings. The presence of 'clans' has been suggested for the highland areas of England (Cowper 1899; 199-201; Thirsk 1967: 9, 15). Such a development clearly did not happen, for example, in the Essex parish. But if one looks closer at the local families in Kirkby Lonsdale also, both the large ones and those which move in for a generation or two and then die away, the impression that emerges is that the extent of groupings was never wide, that any such 'grouping' was constantly shedding children, and that the normal experience in this area of England was for an individual to be surrounded by people to whom he could trace no kinship relationship. This must remain an impression until more of the genealogical links, to be gathered from all the sources, have been worked out.
Even if people did live near their relatives by blood or marriage, kinship, which is a social not a biological matter, may still be unimportant for them. In order to see what the effective groupings were we can use various indirect indices presented by local documents. One of these would be to see who acted as witnesses in the numerous documents such as marriage bonds, transfers in the manor courts, wills and inventories. A brief analysis of those who witnessed the documents made by the Houseman, Baynes and Burrow families in Lupton during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries does not suggest any evidence for the thesis that kinship links were important. The witnesses turn out to be neighbours rather than kin, usually from the same parish but not known to be connected by blood or marriage in any way. This sample of the witnesses of 23 documents will need to be extended and superimposed on the hidden genealogical links before the impression is confirmed or destroyed. It could be argued that since many of the documents were concerned with wills and inheritance this would necessarily be the case, since family members were often too directly concerned and hence debarred from acting as witnesses by law. Such a criticism would not apply to borrowing and lending patterns. The earlier discussion of indebtedness can be pursued to show whether it was from neighbours or kin that a person borrowed; the present impression from looking at many lists of debts in northern inventories is that in very few cases were people of the same surname mentioned, and even more rarely does a document specify a kinship link. The evidence is still negative.
Another index of the importance of kinship in the past is the nature of bequests made in wills. Although such bequests are not a direct reflection of sentiment, for example the closest relatives may have received their gifts or property before the will was made and may therefore not be mentioned at all, they do provide a preliminary guide to the distance and direction of family sentiment. An analysis of the Lupton wills made in the period 1661-70 gives an impression of a narrow range of kinship ties. Almost all kin mentioned were either children or grandchildren; in the 11 wills of the period, no aunts, no cousins, and no in-laws were mentioned. The furthest people went was, in two cases, to mention a nephew or niece, in one an uncle, and in four cases to mention a child's spouse. A search through all the 115 wills for the chapelry only led to the discovery of the following kin outside the direct line; 11 wills mentioned nephews or nieces, 6 mentioned 'cousins', 2 mentioned an uncle or aunt. The most distant relative mentioned was a 'brother-in-law's son'. Even brothers and sisters are seldom mentioned in wills. There is an enormous emphasis on the spouse and on children and if these are living further kin. are rarely mentioned. A survey of the Earls Colne wills does not suggest a different picture there. Again this is all negative evidence. It does not prove that kin were unimportant, but it does not give us grounds for believing that they were.
Two further indexes, which could be analysed in order to see what the structure of the kinship system was, may be mentioned very briefly. One is the kinship terminology, or that part of it reflected in terms of reference. Here again the wills are a prime source. The analysis of a dozen Lupton wills starting with the letters A and B gives no evidence that the kinship terminology was any different from the 'Eskimo' form which is current in contemporary England (Fox 1967: 258). Relatives are called brother, sister, nephew, brother's daughter or sister's son, cousin, grandson or granddaughter in exactly the same way as they are now. Such a system stresses the line and makes the calculation of more distant relationships very difficult. Another indirect approach is through the naming patterns of the children. A stress on the male or female line could well be detected through the practice of naming sons and daughters after certain kin. Again a preliminary examination of the genealogies which can be built up by combining records, although it gives a hint that certain Christian names did run in families and that eldest sons and daughters were often named after parents and grandparents, shows a great deal of flexibility. There seems to have been a preference, but no firm rule, which encouraged, for example, the eldest son to be named after his paternal grandfather, so that one would get a run of names. The Middleton family of Aikrigg Green whom we met earlier have a run of John - Arthur - John - Arthur. The patterns in female names would repay further analysis.
Closely connected to the questions discussed above is the sociology of marriage. At the simplest level there is the physical distance between marriage partners. A good deal of analysis has been undertaken to show, for example, the amount of intra-parish marriage. Such analysis can be undertaken whenever the parish register gives both partners' parish of origin, or there are marriage bonds which give the same information. In Earls Colne during the Interregnum both partners' parish was given. Of the 40 marriages, in 24 cases both came from Earls Colne, in 11 cases the male came from outside, in 5 the female. The proportions were roughly the same in the 1696-1705 period, but then in the period 1730-9 there was a dramatic change, with only 21 marriages in which both were from inside the parish, 26 with the male from outside, one with the female from outside and 25 with both partners from outside. Further analysis would be needed to see why this occurred, and to measure the exact distance away of the outsiders. In Lupton, such calculations would, in the period 1660-90,give us a smaller proportion of cases where both were from Lupton, some 22 of 60 marriages, reflecting the much smaller size of the population. Such analysis is not as meaningful as it at first appears. With the high rate of geographical mobility, although a couple may be stated to be of the same parish at the time of their marriage, their birth places might be far apart. Marriage distance derived solely from parish resisters or bonds cannot be used as an index of parish endogamy. This may be seen by looking more closely at marriage partners who were said to be 'of Lupton' at the time of their marriage in the decade 1691-1700. Of the 8 males so designated, only 2 are recorded as baptized in the parish. Of the 14 females, only 4 had been baptized in the parish. Even high rates of intra-parish marriage can be reconciled with the idea that people did not marry kin or close neighbours.
By combining information from all sources it is possible to find out whether people of particular social ranks married into the same level or whether there were other sub-groups of a religious or other nature within which marriages tended to occur. Furthermore, as has been realized by geneticists, the historical material is often good enough to be able to study physical inbreeding (Kuchemann et al.1967). It will also be possible to discover whether there were 'preferential' or 'prescriptive' marriage rules which laid down, as they do in some societies, which kin a person should marry. It seems likely that the situation in England was a 'complex' one, where rules can only be studied at the level of statistical patterns, and consequently these rules can only be discovered after very intensive studies of particular areas (Fox 1967: ch. 8).
One of the areas where there is most evidence it that of sexual behaviour. Parish registers can be used to find Out whether women were pregnant when they were married (Hair 1966, 1970), and this can be supplemented by looking at the ecclesiastical and civil court records where offenders were presented. Consequently, a good deal of work can be undertaken on bastardy, bridal pregnancy, adultery, sexual slander and a number of other topics. The age and status of those accused can often be ascertained. In Earls Colne, an analysis of sexual offences in the 1580s has shown that about a dozen incidents a year can be discovered in the local records; many of those involved can be placed on a map, and their family and other links to each other can be traced (Macfarlane 1977: 10-18). It is therefore not surprising that the study of sexual behaviour in the past is increasingly attracting the attention of social historians (Laslett 1977). It should one day be possible to see how such behaviour fluctuated over time and to analyse the ways in which it was related to weather, prices, changes in popular morality and other topics.
Sexual behaviour is often connected to questions of honour, so that in order to understand it we need to analyse questions of status and prestige in past communities. The analysis of social hierarchies is notoriously difficult. While it may not be impossible to estimate the relative wealth of different individuals, it is almost impossible to estimate the effects of such differences on the way people perceived themselves and others. Indirect indices, such as differences in literacy, mortality, clothing, housing, need to be used to establish whether, for example, a relatively homogenous social structure in the later sixteenth century had been transformed by the mid eighteenth century into one where there were very wide differences in life style between rich and poor villagers. For instance, those involved in sexual offences in the parish of Earls Colne in the period 1589-93 seem to have come from all ranks of parish society; vicar, schoolmaster, churchwarden, and wealthy villagers appeared alongside and were often involved in scandals with servants and the poor. By the end of the seventeenth century in the same parish this situation appears to be inconceivable. The 'respectable' element of the village was by then thinking and acting in opposed ways. Their leisure and their work, their upbringing and their education, all seem to cut them off from the lower sections of the village. This seems to indicate that a transformation from a society based on rank to one based on class was occurring during this period, as has been argued in other terms by Keith Wrightson (1974).
Another way of studying similar problems would be to look at the distribution of titles and terms of address, for example, the gaining of honorifics such as 'Mr' or 'Esquire'. Furthermore, the tracing of particular families through time would show cases of both upward and downward mobility, in terms of both title and occupation. One of the difficulties of such analysis is that by studying social mobility over a number of generations, we have to take into account the fact that the society is changing around the individuals. A further problem is the fact that families did not move as a block; elder and younger sons might be mobile in different directions and, within a couple of generations, grandchildren might be at totally different levels within the village.
5:5 Law, politics and administration.
There has been a growing interest in recent years in crime and social control in the past. Local records provide copious information concerning many areas in this field (Cockburn 1977). The analysis of patterns of crime and litigation is enriched by setting the cases within their local context. Furthermore, until we understand how various courts worked at the local level and the way in which disputes moved between them, national and regional statistics are misleading. As we have seen in earlier chapters, numerous courts had jurisdiction over the inhabitants of villages in the past. An indication of the gross quantity of legal business which could occur is given in a brief examination of the records for the Essex parish for just five years, between 1589 and 1593. In these years, the following separate cases appeared in each type of court: Assizes (3); Quarter Sessions (10); Star Chamber (1); Court of Requests (1); Archdeaconary Court (158); Court Leet (48). It is not always possible to disentangle the cases or even to know, in those where persons were merely excommunicated for not appearing at the court, what the case was about. Therefore the numbers given here are approximate, but they do indicate that more than 200 legal actions, varying from proving a will in the ecclesiastical court, to theft, have left their mark over a five-year period, on this village of roughly 1,000 inhabitants.
The process of each court, the fees and fines paid and the nature of the compurgators and witnesses and its effectiveness in punishing individuals and maintaining order, can be studied from these records. To take one small example. It has been suggested recently that the court leet was ineffective by the end of the sixteenth century, the evidence being that individuals kept committing the same offence (Parker 1976: 158). If we examine the activities of the Court leet for the Earls Colne manor and set them against the occasional bailiff's accounts, it is clear that the fines were being extracted and there is no evidence that the institution as a whole was merely a hollow formality.
It is clear that by the late sixteenth century each parish was already enmeshed within a complex administrative machine. Each court and every institution needed local officials to help to operate it. Through the records it is possible to study the activities of vicars, churchwardens and 'questmen', of bailiffs, decenners, beckwatchers, aletasters, and numerous other manorial officials, of justices of the peace, constables and overseers of the poor The duties and difficulties of such local officials acting as mediators between outside powers and their neighbours is shown in almost every document. Since what actually reached the courts and was written down depended very heavily on such officials and their ideas of the offices they held, study of them is not merely a separate and dry piece of administrative history.
Although the constable and churchwardens were important in maintaining law and morality, it is well known that most behaviour is not controlled by an elaborate hierarchy of courts, but by informal sanctions, such as the need for reciprocity, by scorn, ridicule, gossip, fear of cursing, as well as positive inducements to good behaviour and child socialization. Local records enable us to probe a little way into this world of charivari and shaming and to look at some of the forms of informal control along the lines pioneered by Natalie Davies (1975; ch. 4). For example, we find the use of gossip, slander and scandalous rhymes. In Earls Colne in 1587 John Brand was presented at the Quarter Sessions for spreading the following rhyme about a case of
Woe be unto Kendall that ever he was born
he kepes his wife so lustily she makes him wear the horn
but what is he the better or what is he the worse
she keeps him like a cuckold with money in his purse.
Another example would be the fear of being bewitched or being thought of as a witch. Suspicions of witchcraft occur in the local records of both the Cumbrian and Essex parishes taken as samples here (Macfarlane 1970a: cases 1002, 1037, 1129). Such cases were merely the surface; it is clear that many fears never came to be written down. Unneighbourly acts were likely to be controlled not only by the fear of creating a bad reputation, but also by the belief in mystical sanctions, sent either by God or ill-minded persons. For we have to remind ourselves of a fact which can be concealed by local documents, that this was a world where the borderline between natural and supernatural, between angry thought and physical damage, was not as sharply drawn as it is today.
If we return to the more observable past world of crime, we find that village records enable us to construct maps and graphs of particular crimes over long periods. But it-is only by combining the records of all the courts and of other local documents that we can gain some idea of what these patterns mean. We may examine this by looking at the crime of 'theft' in Earls Colne during the ten years from 1589. Eleven cases of theft are recorded, seven in the Assize records, three in the Quarter Sessions, one in the court leet. This number is too small for anything except an impressionistic account, again to show what could be done rather than providing usable results. The occupations of the accused can be checked against other records and seem substantially accurate, and furthermore it is clear that they did-live in Earls Colne when stated -to be of that place. most of the accused seem to have been at the lowest, level, tinkers, labourers, with one or two artisans such as tailors and carpenters. The thefts seem to have occurred mainly in the spring, and to have consisted of cloth, small animals and furniture. The 'victims' appear to have been, on the whole, wealthier. Throughout such analysis it must always be remembered that the records may be spurious and that we are at several removes from what actually occurred. To pursue the analysis further we would need not only to examine the victims in as much detail as the accused, and to see what relationship there was between them, for example whether there had been a previous history of dispute, but also to see whether the incidence of various types of offence altered over the seasons or over longer time periods. This would enable us to see, for instance, whether high-food prices were correlated with food thefts.
Local records are far less helpful in the study of national politics than in the study of law. Civil wars and revolutions can occur, the Armada can be fought off, governments come and go and yet nothing appears in such records. It is sometimes inferred from this that villagers were uninterested and ignorant about anything other than local matters, that they were not part of the 'political nation'. It is only when, by chance, a record of a special kind survives that we realize that this is not the case. In Earls Colne, Josselin's diary covering the mid seventeenth century immediately shows that the vicar and many of the villagers, not only the rich and powerful ones, were constantly reading about and discussing politics (Macfarlane 1976a). Such interest stretched beyond the county level to national even to international affairs. It could well be argued from this and similar documents that the state of political awareness was higher, if such things can be measured, than was to be the case again until the advent of television in the mid-twentieth century. The local records do not note national events because parish registers, wills and manorial transfers are not the place to do so. Likewise, in Kirkby Lonsdale, the larger world would seem to have passed by the inhabitants, leaving scarcely a ripple, if we were not by chance reminded of it by the occasional Quaker prosecution or letter about political disputes. For these reasons it is impossible to make a systematic study of 'grand politics' at the local level. Only in the later eighteenth century and onwards is it possible to study even the very formal matter of voting patterns of the wealthy from poll books. A much more productive form of analysis from such records is the study of what might be termed 'micro-politics' or 'local level politics'.
Such analysis is concerned with the distribution and use of power at the local level, whether that power be in origin religious, economic or social. The focus is on occasions when such power, usually concealed, becomes visible in a particular dispute such as a riot or civil litigation. The analysis is based on the 'case-study' approach, and deals both with the process of conflict and the factions involved (Van Velson 1967). The best material for such analysis lies in the often immensely detailed depositions and counter-depositions contained in the central courts concerning supposed offences. An example from Earls Colne would be the roughly 30,000 words in a set of depositions in a Star Chamber case that continued from 1606 to 1608. This describes a dispute over Colneford Mill when armed bands tussled in the village street. In Kirkby Lonsdale, the numerous Chancery cases provide similarly detailed material, as do the Assize depositions, part of one of which has been illustrated earlier in this work. Taken in isolation, such accounts have little meaning, but seen within the framework of other disputes and other records the dispute shows for a few days or months the nature of the forces which normally lie concealed within the formal documents. The long drawn out and bitter struggle between Quakers and their prosecutors in Kirkby Lonsdale would be susceptible to such analysis, which has already been applied with good effect to witchcraft prosecutions in North America (Boyer and Niessenbaum 1974).
5:6 Education and religion.
Commenting on the state of Cumbria, two eighteenth-century authorities stated that 'it is a rare thing in this county, to find any person who cannot both read and write tolerably well' (Nicholson and Burn 1777: 9). We may wonder whether this was indeed the case, either for the eighteenth century or earlier, in the north of England. Here we will be discussing another topic which has received a good deal of attention recently, namely the ability to sign documents (Schofield 1968). Among the sources for the study of signing ability are the records produced for probate; wills, bonds and inventories. If we look alphabetically at the first 60 male will-makers in Kirkby Lonsdale, we find that almost exactly half signed their wills. This would appear to be a far higher proportion than is the case for women. Of the 10 women whose signing ability is indicated in the wills they made in Lupton between 1550-1720, nine made a mark, and one put her initials on the document. This low figure is paralleled in Earls Colne, where of the 16 women who made wills and whose signing ability is indicated, between the same dates, only one, a 'gentlewoman', signed her will, the rest made marks. Earls Colne men in the period 1630-40 signed their wills in 5 cases and marked them in 7. One objection to the use of wills is that the will-maker was often old and might, especially in illness, make a mark where earlier in his or her life a signature would have been made. We must therefore look at other documents. Administration bonds were made for women when they were left with an estate at their husband's death, and though they may not have been young, they were probably in good health. Looking at the Lupton bonds, of 45 women whose signing ability is indicated, there are 36 marks and 9 signatures. This does show a higher ability to sign. Another index would be the signing ability of the witnesses to wills. Looking at the witnesses to Lupton wills of persons whose surnames start with A and B, in 53 out of 57 cases where signing ability is indicated, the male witnesses did sign the document, thus indicating a far higher signing ability than that shown by the will-makers. initials are rarely employed in any of these documents.
It has frequently been pointed out that those who made or witnessed wills were not representative of the population as a whole, since they were likely to be above average in wealth and status. It is therefore helpful if some other document can be used to reach the lower strata of the population. Fortunately there survives for Earls Colne a very full 'Association Roll', which is a list of signatures or marks of those who thereby showed allegiance to William and Mary in the year 1696. It is likely that the 160 names of males for Earls Colne represents more than two-thirds of the adult males then residing in the parish; this can be seen both from the likely total, given the age and sex structure of the population, and from the 35 or so other adult males shown by other records to have been living in the parish at the time, who are not recorded. Yet by reconstructing the background of those who did indicate their allegiance, it seems clear that there is a good cross-section from the very poor to the wealthy. We find that 92 made a signature, one gave his initials, and the other 67 made a mark. It will be possible, by further investigation of this document within the local context, to see how signing ability varied with age, social status and other factors.
It is one thing to be able to sign a document and another to be able to write. Wills again provide at the local level the best indication of writing ability, and recent work has shown that it is sometimes possible to find out who were the particular scribes of wills, to compare the handwriting of particular documents so that they can be divided into those written by particular persons. This methodology was developed by Margaret Spufford (1974: ch. 13). If we apply this technique to the Earls Colne wills, for example, we find that at least half a dozen scribes can be identified as writing more than one will. William Adams, the son of a former vicar of Earls Colne, wrote seventeen wills during the period 1625-62. Detecting such scribes is not easy, for three reasons. Firstly, both in Kirkby Lonsdale and Earls Colne, they do not seem automatically to have acted as witnesses or put their names at the bottom. It-is therefore not possible simply to look at the witnessing patterns as a guide to writers. Secondly, handwriting seems to have varied considerably over a scribe's lifetime. This is well illustrated in the case of the vicar, Ralph Josselin. If his diary had not survived to show the steady deterioration and alteration of his hand, it would have been impossible to be confident that he wrote the four wills for which we know he was the scribe. Finally, and this is a point we will return to, the form, particularly the introductory religious preamble, was not standard and specific to particular writers.
It is generally agreed that the ability to read is acquired earlier and more widely than the ability to write; writing and signing therefore provide a minimum threshold of reading ability. Unfortunately it is only indirectly, through book publication figures or remarks by visitors, that one is able to piece together an idea of reading ability. Another indirect index is the presence of books in the home, as shown in probate inventories of the period. A study could be done for the approximately 2,000 Kirkby Lonsdale inventories. of the 146 Lupton inventories for the period 1550-1720, 26 mention 'books'. The titles are only specified once; 'Book of Martyrs, Eusebius and Josephus with one great bible' valued at E3 10s. in 1679, owned by a Quaker family. This is the largest valuation; the mean average value through the period is less than 5s. per instance. All but five of the mentions come from the post 1640 period. Recent authors have shown that ephemera, , particularly penny chapbooks and almanacs, were the most popular reading, and it is therefore quite possible that there was widespread reading, yet no mention of books in inventories (Thomas 1971: 348).
It is also dangerous to use the incidence of formal educational establishments as an index of either literacy or education. It is probable that much of the instruction in reading and writing went on outside schools. The records of formal institutions survive for the historian and we are therefore forced to concentrate on them. There is no evidence of any school in Lupton in the seventeenth century, yet the listing shows a 'schoolmaster' living in the village. Both Kirkby Lonsdale and Earls Colne were well known for their grammar schools and both schools are well documented (Merson 1975). It is probable that only a tiny fraction of the boys and girls from the village would go to such schools so it seems formal schooling was not the only route to literacy. Detailed search of local records often turns up instances of private schools; for example, a man living with his scholars in a private house in Killington. The Quakers were especially anxious to give such private instruction. Since most children would pass through servanthood or apprenticeship, it may well be that it was during such training, rather than in a classroom, that they learnt to read and write. Though a full answer to these questions cannot be gained from local records alone, they do provide a corrective to an overemphasis on formal teaching institutions.
As we have seen in the reference to the Quakers, the ability to read and write both influenced and was in turn encouraged by certain religious movements. The Protestant stress on bible reading has been put forward as a reason for the desire to encourage literacy. The spread of new and sometimes heretical ideas was made swifter by the printing press and widespread reading ability. Yet before discussing changes at this level, we need to establish how important formal religion was.
It has been forcefully argued that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century villagers were disinterested in formal religion, did not usually attend church, and were enormously ignorant of the fundamentals of Christianity (Thomas 1971: ch. 6) Other historians working with local records have assumed that church attendance was more or less universal and that there was widespread religious interest and enthusiasm (Spufford 1974: 246-7, 319). It would appear to be easy to decide this issue, especially if we tie it down to whether people actually attended church or not. Yet further search of the records suggests that it was only rarely and by chance that we find concrete evidence on the subject. Fortunately, Earls Colne is one place where such evidence-survives. At first sight there appears to have been conformity and attendance. The ecclesiastical officials were instructed to present those who did not attend their church on Sundays and Feast days. Consequently, numerous cases appear in the archdeaconary court concerning Earls Colne villagers who failed to appear. Over the period 1561-1640, despite one or two short gaps in the court records, some 93 males and 31 females were presented, once or several times, for not attending divine service or communion. There appear to be two peaks in such presentments, one in the 1590s and the other in the 1630s, both of them times when the ecclesiastical authorities are known to have been making attempts to improve discipline. Detailed analysis of those who were presented would tell us whether they were from all levels of the village, or whether the churchwardens picked on the poorer or the wealthier. Statements made by the villagers in mitigation, concerning their illness or work commitments, also help to give us some idea of whether it was considered normal to attend. Unfortunately, church records in themselves are ambiguous since they do not merely reflect rates of non-attendance, but also the zeal of the authorities. To assume that all those who did not get presented in the courts necessarily attended would be foolhardy and this can be shown dramatically for the period when the vicar, Ralph Josselin, kept his diary.
The ecclesiastical courts were not held in the first years of Josselin's ministry, but during the last twenty years of his time in Earls Colne, they merely mention 13 people as being presented from the parish for non-attendance at church. We might have assumed that this indicated a full church for the zealous pastor, and the religious preambles to wills and references to godly meetings which Josselin had with some of his devout neighbours might have strengthened this belief. Given a parish of roughly 1,000 persons, even if only those over the age of fourteen attended church, there should have been a congregation of at least 500 persons. Yet when Josselin gives figures, they are far below this. He frequently laments the 'thinness' of the congregation, and in January 1663 he noted 'not an 100 people hearing the word' and the following January 'about 80 or 90 hearing the sermon'. Over four-fifths of the adults had not attended, though the fact that it was January in an unheated church might have been a contributory factor. Holy Communion became a restricted rite, for the 'saints' the special band of ardent believers. Having ceased to offer the bread and wine in church for some years, Josselin noted that in April 1669 20 people were present at the Easter Communion, a year later there were only 14, and at Easter 1674, only 12 persons and himself, finally at Easter 1680 there were 4 men and 13 women (Macfarlane 1976a). It is thus possible to argue both that non-attendance and ignorance were widespread, and also that among a small group, and among the growing number of nonconformists, religious enthusiasm burnt strongly.
One of the reasons for apathy was the splitting of the Church, first away from Rome, and then into nonconformist sects. The religious formulae of wills have been used as one way to find out exactly how such a process occurred, for example to show how Roman Catholic references to Mary and the Saints lingered on into the seventeenth century in the north (Dickens 1964: 191-2). Such a study of the survival of Catholicism in the two sample areas is possible, and it might be feasible to apply this technique to a later period to see whether religious sub-groups, for instance the Quakers or Presbyterians, could be identified from their wills. Once we have assembled a list of local Quakers from the books of sufferings, Quaker registers and other documents, it is possible to look at the formulae in their wills to see whether they show any singularity. All such analysis must take into account that the formula is not a direct reflection of the testator's spiritual state, since, as has been pointed out, the scribe may be more important in deciding what was written down. Yet a glance at the formulae written by one Earls Colne scribe, William Adams, mentioned above, is moderately encouraging in that although there are constant features, the expression, like the handwriting, varies considerably. It would not seem that the introduction is purely the result of the scribe's training, or of his following a set manual.
The discussion so far has concentrated on the more external aspects of religion. The most interesting realm is the actual set of beliefs and perceptions of which Christian preoccupations only form a part. A feature which strikes one forcefully when working on ecclesiastical records is that there was a constant battle between the sacred and the profane, both in relation to time and space. Certain times were 'holy' and religious, particularly the Sabbath, and these-should not be profaned by certain behaviour. This topic has attracted considerable attention from national historians (Hill 1964: ch. 5) for the seventeenth century, but the local battle between Sabbath breakers, those who married in forbidden seasons, or failed to keep the Lenten food prohibitions would make a most interesting study. In Earls Colne over fifty persons were presented during the years 1580-1640 for breaking the Sabbath by engaging in a number of activities from football to harvesting. Most of them conceded the general necessity of the rule, but pleaded special circumstances. For example, in 1636 Edward Harris was presented for selling beer in the time of divine service, and his wife came to court and explained that she and her husband were at church, and that 'there came one for a little beer for one that was sick, which was (taken) by a little girl that she left at home'. Another index of attitudes would be the observance of the prohibited marriage seasons. It has already been shown that in seventeenth-century France, whereas county people abstained from marriages in Lent, in Paris this was not observed (Goubert 1960: ii, 66). In the northern parish of Lupton during the years 1650-1720 some 89 marriages were recorded, including 8 Quaker marriages. Not a single one took place in March, which was prohibited for marriages as part of Lent. In the south, of 283 marriages in Earls Colne between 1642 and 1720, 18 of the marriages occurred in March. In this case there was a total absence of March weddings in the period 1667-94, but they were spread out evenly over the rest of the period. Further study would show who deviated from the rules and might suggest changing patterns.
We might go beyond the forbidden seasons, to look at whether folk traditions concerning lucky 'or unlucky days also influenced behaviour (Thomas 1971:,735-45). If we look at the days on which the vital events of baptism, marriage and burial occurred in the two areas, we find the following. In Lupton between 1661 and 1700, marriages occurred on every day of the week, with the notable exception of Friday, on which there was only one marriage, as opposed to 10 on Sunday, and 11 on Thursday. There was no especial favourite. In Earls Colne over the period 1691-1700, no marriages occurred on Friday, while Thursday with 15 marriages (other days averaging about 4) was very popular. Turning to baptisms for the same periods, in Lupton Friday was again unpopular with only 3 baptisms, whereas other weekdays averaged 11. But by far the most popular day was Sunday with 149 baptisms. In Earls Colne there was a contrast in that Friday was not avoided and though Sunday was popular with 82 baptisms compared with an average of 25 for weekdays, the situation was not as extreme as in Lupton. Burials in Lupton were the one event which seemed to be spread out randomly over the week, with no concentration or absence on particular days, suggesting that the interment was not delayed. Again, Earls Colne was not exactly similar in that though the burials were spread out evenly over the rest of the week, Friday had a total of 15 burials which was less than half the average for the rest of the week. Further analysis of the people who chose lucky or unlucky days should be possible, and the small numbers improved by taking the whole of Kirkby Lonsdale rather than just Lupton.
There was also a division of space into holy and profane, though we find in the church records a notable disregard in practice for the sanctity of holy ground. The churchyard in Earls Colne was used for football, as a fighting area, a place to graze pigs, and for many other purposes. The church itself was the scene of scuffles, a repository for weapons and firefighting equipment and in an extreme case a William Allen was presented in 1637 'for pissing in the clock chamber so that it ran down and annoyed the church'. The aura of grave sanctity and holy dread which tends to surround such buildings now may well be a fairly recent phenomenon, the result of their growing disuse and nineteenth-century romanticism.
One reason for treating the church and the churchyard with care was that they were the repository of the dead, the bridge between the living and the world of spirits. The attitude towards death and the dead in the past is an intriguing subject and one where information from local records can only partially fill in the picture. One aspect upon which local records throw light is the cost of funeral rites. Such expenses, an indirect index of how much a society values the dead, are sometimes recorded in inventories and accounts. In-the 144 Lupton inventories, 19 mention funeral costs. The sums vary from 20s.to E7, with a modal average of about E3. When we compare this with the total value of just the movable goods of the deceased, which in these cases averaged over E72, it will be seen that, especially in comparison with some societies where there is a vast expenditure in funeral ritual, little was spent. Given the cost of digging the grave, the coffin, the woollen or linen shroud, it is likely that a very large number of guests could normally have been entertained. Indeed the documents are singularly silent concerning the wake and the mourning relatives whom one would find in neighbouring Celtic societies. Secondary sources have, so far, shown little evidence of keening in England, or elaborate ritual.
Another curious feature in a comparative perspective concerns the placing of the graves. Wills sometimes lay down specific instructions as to where individuals were to be buried. The usual formula was that it was to be in a certain churchyard and occasionally near a deceased spouse or parent. A walk round the graveyards of these parishes, as well as published studies of graveyard inscriptions suggest only a little patterning of the graves and then mainly for gentry families. In death, as in life it seems, the kinship pattern produced no discrete groupings.
Nor is there evidence of any especial interest in the dead once they had departed. Although witches and witchcraft were important as supernatural forces, the fear of ancestral curses, or of ghosts, both of which are very important in other religious systems, find little reflection in local records, or at the national level. Instead, the graves seem to have been under the charge of officials, the churchwardens, and no money was usually left for their upkeep in wills, except a gain amongst the gentry. Their condition, as shown in ecclesiastical visitations, was frequently very bad, the graves decayed, rooted up by livestock, the stones upturned, the grass uncut. We need to be aware of the distortions caused by local records and need to set them against the occasional remarkable accounts of beliefs concerning death and the dead which survive for later periods (Atkinson 1891: 213-33). Yet even the intimate diary of Ralph Josselin, though it gives a moving picture of individual grief and mourning over children and near friends, and of the pomp of gentry funerals, reveals no interest whatsoever in the activities and fate of ancestors or the dead. Once a person was buried, he or she seems to have had little effect on the living.
It has been impossible in this brief survey to cover more than a small number of the topics upon which local records throw light. Amongst those areas which could be enlivened by local evidence are the following: concepts of purity and impurity, of decency and indecency, of private and public behaviour; attitudes to the poor, women, children and other weak groups; leisure, games, ritual. The world of prayer, spells, magic, astrology, fairies and demons which we now know surrounded the physical world of the past is also largely missing from this survey. Local records would not answer any questions in these fields in much detail, but a combination of such with other sources would help to probe into the unspoken and hence unwritten assumptions of a vanished society. Such records are also amenable to linguistic-analysis , and to examination by those who are interested in subjects varying from what makes people laugh to what symbols they manipulate. We have only just begun to explore the value of the documents relating to particular reconstructed communities, whether they be in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England, medieval Italy, or eighteenth-century India.