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Lords, land and livelihood : a study into the estate management of the lesser lay tenants-in-chief in Kent before the Black Death, c.1246-1348

Everett, V (1995) Lords, land and livelihood : a study into the estate management of the lesser lay tenants-in-chief in Kent before the Black Death, c.1246-1348. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94334) (KAR id:94334)

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This thesis is a study of the estate economy of the lesser lay gentry in Kent c.1246- 1348, based on an analysis of data from 280 surveys relating to more than 160 estates augmented by detailed case studies. Over this period the demesne management on many great estates became increasingly market-oriented and it has also been argued that peasant involvement in buying and selling of produce grew, it being crucial to their survival. In this work it is argued that, in Kent, the lesser gentry were not so concerned with a market economy. The typical estate was contained within a radius of about five miles, with management policies which emphasised supplying the needs of the household. Where the gentry did use the market was in the purchase of land. Many lords were also able to increase their demesnes in this way. Case-studies are made of two successful families. The demesne was important on estates of all sizes, typically accounting for 40%-60% of the total value of a manor. On many estates, most of the demesne produce appears to have been sent to the household. Also important for the supply of provisions was the manorial garden and a survey is made of this resource. Analysis is made of the opportunities for income from woodland. It is found this was managed as a long term asset and rarely 'wasted'. A survey is made of the rent and court income to be made from tenants. This was restricted by the customary rights of the Kentish peasant. Labour services, for example, were light, particularly on manors of 'recent' origin. The costs of labour are analysed for demesnes of different sizes. Investment in the local community, in the form of mills and markets, is analysed. Many lords engaged successfully in the former but only the higher aristocracy could guarantee a return from the latter. Finally, a model of the smaller lay estate is proposed, with the conclusion that, in a majority of cases, the estate was managed primarily to feed the household. If the capacity for demesne production grew, so did household size, to reflect the enhanced status of the lord in the locality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94334
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: History
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2022 14:49 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 11:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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