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Chaplin S Gothic and the Rule of the Law, Palgrave Macmillan. Ashgate Pub Limited. Chapters 5 Chaplin S Theorising Romanticism. In: Chaplin S Teaching Romanticism. In: Chaplin S Gothic Shakespeare. In: Chaplin S Silence, sublimity, and suppression in the Romantic period.
In: Chaplin S The influence and anxiety of the British romantics: spectres of romanticism. Law and Critique , vol. Feminist Legal Studies , vol. In: Chaplin S Women and the Gothic. Chaplin S Contemporary gothic and the law. Chaplin S Ann Radcliffe and romantic-era fiction. Although it can be suggested that the most vital role played by. The key determinant of aristocratic status was land, but estates were family concerns, inherited in trust for future generations, and burdening the current owner with a responsibility to conserve, improve, and develop the property.
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Only a few owners managed to escape the implications of inheritance; on the other hand, the majority of landlords did not choose to extend their financial commitments beyond the confines of their own territory. Since most aristocrats leased a proportion of their resources, and spent considerable periods of time in London, the spas, and other urban centres, it was not difficult to gain an impression of neglected interests.
If they failed to appoint stewards, or to keep track of their managers' activities, then accusations of neglect hold good. In most cases, however, this was not the case. Landlords went to considerable lengths to appoint trustworthy and competent managers; they took a close interest in how estate affairs were conducted, and the relations between tenants and managers; and they took all the vital decisions about investment.
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Although seldom receiving more than rudimentary training for these tasks, the majority willingly - if sometimes apprehensively - came to grips with the increasing complexity which characterised the running of an estate during the nineteenth century. As a result they were able to let their farms on the most advantageous terms, to exploit the mineral potential beneath their property, and to cash-in on alternative opportunities thrown up for example by the possession of land in the growing industrial towns.
At the same time, the restriction of interests to their own territory ensured that aristocrats had a consistent but carefully defined role. They were happy to exploit, or to promote the exploitation of their resources, especially coal and other minerals, to take responsibility for the roads, and to lay down the ground plans for urban development. By contrast, manufacturing industry, artificial communications such as canals and railways, and urban building, they left to entrepreneurs.
Their prime responsibility lay with their wholly-owned resources, and since the capital value of these constituted by far the largest single economic holding in the country their contribution was necessarily significant. By the main innovations of the English agricultural revolution were already in place, but during the following century the aristo-.
Although the bulk of enclosure, either by agreement or by Parliamentary means, was completed by around , the economic demands of agriculture continued ever upwards. Better drainage and improved farm buildings cost money, but were unavoidable if good tenants were to be attracted and rents were to be maintained. By the s it was argued that the demands on landlords were such that they simply did not have the finance to undertake further improvements.
State help - partly as a sop to the landed interest for the repeal of the Corn Laws in - and the activities of private improvement companies, made capital available for estate improvements. The expected rate of return on drainage schemes seldom exceeded 3 per cent, and on one group of estates covering 5 per cent of the land area, between and it amounted to no more than 2. Despite poor returns the level of investment increased in the course of time. Farmers and landowners alike prospered in the boom conditions of the Napoleonic war years, but following the cessation of hostilities in depression set in.
It was widely believed that heavy landlord investment was crucial if good tenants were to be attracted and kept. Once begun there proved to be no turning back. The remnants of enclosure, responsibility for drainage and farm buildings, and for the introduction of new scientific methods and mechanical aids, all fell squarely onto the landlord's shoulders. The majority of the burden was imposed in the second half of the century. In the middle decades, "high farming" induced landlords to invest in their farms.
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On the. Manvers estate in north Nottinghamshire repairs and improvements amounted to 17 per cent of gross rental between and but per cent between and ; while on the dukes of Bedfords' Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire estates new works and improvements increased from 5 per cent in the s to 7 per cent in the s, to 30 per cent in the s, and to. For those landowners anticipating some respite, the s brought instead prolonged agricultural depression, and with it the need to invest further.
Moreover, investment had to continue at a time when landowners found themselves with falling rent rolls, and declining capital values, which for those with debts in the first place - even if they had been acquired to finance agricultural improvements during the heady years of "high farming" - could produce severe pressure on resources. Since depression largely resulted from falling cereal prices, grassing down became an attractive option, but it was expensive and not always successful. In the twenty years after investment amounted to High farming was certainly not inhibited by a shortage of capital, and the poor returns may point to overcapitalization during these decades.
In the closing decades of the century money was channelled into agriculture which might have been better employed in other sectors of the economy - where it would undoubtedly have attracted better returns - although since part of the investment must have accrued to tenants the policy may also have helped to reduce the flight of farmers from the land. Apart from agriculture the main aristocratic entrepreneurial role involved working with the materials available on a landed estate, and promoting schemes in which landlords believed themselves to have a particular interest. Consequently they were to be found mining coal and ironstone, improving the road network, and laying down plans for urban development on their property.
By contrast, manufacturing industry, canal building, and town construction they left largely to merchant-manufacturers and industrialists. From this standpoint it is hardly surprising that aristocrats were to be found at their most active in mining and heavy industry, either taking a positive lead themselves, or leasing the resources to entrepreneurs. By the early nineteenth century only the wealthiest and most successful had stayed the course. Landowners had played a vital role in the early stages of coal and iron mining, financing exploratory trials, and backing dubious technological improvement.
By about , however, the capital requirement, the problem of finding reliable managers, and simple loss of interest, had led to the majority of resources being leased. In it was claimed that only five of the 41 Tyneside colliery owners were working their resources directly, and just three out of eighteen on the Wear; and nationwide by it was estimated that a mere 5 per cent of resources was still worked by the proprietors.
It would be wrong to suggest from this that the aristocracy had simply opted out, apparently immune to the demands of industrialization. As coal mining became technologically more sophisticated during the eighteenth century it also became more expensive, and the capital sums involved were either beyond the resources of individuals, or else it made sense to share the burden around. Under these circumstances it is hardly surprising that many landowners opted for leasing their resources, and thereby spreading the burden of financial responsibility.
But such a decision was not taken lightly. Landlords had to consider the loss they might sustain from leaving the industry, the return to be expected from alternative capital investments, and the problems of attracting reliable tenants. Covenants had to be carefully worded to cover the best interests of owner and tenant alike.
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Few leases absolved the owner of all responsibility. A colliery could only be let if resources were proven which meant that the owner had first to venture capital in exploratory trials. Nor was it unknown for owners to provide financial help during the course of a. In difficult times it might even be necessary to resume direct working; thus the earls Fitzwilliam kept Elsecar ironworks going between and , and direct iron working was resumed in on the Dudley estate in the west Midlands.
If, however, there is an area in which aristocrats appear to be open to accusations of neglect it is in regard to manufacturing industry. Landowners were primarily concerned with their estates, and they fought shy of entrepreneurial roles which took them beyond the confines of the park walls. In the West Riding of Yorkshire less than 6 per cent of pre textile mills in the area belonged to landowners, and relatively few landlords who built mills actually operated them.
Among early modern European nobilities, for example, periodic attempts by governments to prevent participation in handicraft manufacture, retailing and domestic trade, did not extend to exploiting the non- edible products of the soil, and as a result nobles were to be found at their most active in mining and heavy industry. Whether aristocrats worked their minerals directly or leased the resources, they enured that the vital fuel coal and raw material ironstone of the industrial revolution was raised from beneath their estates.
If they refused to accept the whole cost themselves, given the sums involved by the nineteenth century, they can hardly be accused of neglecting the resources. Better to lease than to refuse any mining at all. Many of these changes depended on improved transport facilities, and aristocrats often found themselves drawn into promoting or supporting changes in order to protect or to develop their existing interests. By turnpiking of the roads and the construction of canals had brought a considerable improvement to English communications during the previous century, but the most revolutionary and costly changes were still to come.