Finance, marriage and the land: a comparative analysis of three estates in southern England, 1642-1850

  • Linda James

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this study is to examine the analyses the socio-economic effects which finance, marriage and land have on three different families over a time period of two hundred years; from 1642-1850. Three estates in southern England were chosen where the same family had occupied their estates continuously since 1700. The three estates were Wardour and Pythouse near Tisbury in Wiltshire, and Shillinglee on the Surrey/Sussex border. Socially the people owning the estates were from different backgrounds: the Arundells at Wardour were an old landed family originating in Cornwall who had moved to Wiltshire in the 15th century, the Benetts at Pythouse had been yeomen farmers in Wiltshire before the 15th century and the Turnours at Shillinglee were descended from wealthy merchants and professional workers in the City of London.
    This study examines different aspects of their lives including their financial position, settlements and their landholdings, but also considers their housing, responsibilities and religious affiliation. Comparisons are made between the three estates to ascertain whether their social origins made any difference to the decisions they made concerning their overall lifestyle, and how they solved them.
    The families' origins were found to affect the ways in which they lived their lives between 1642 and 1850. The Arundells found it difficult to adapt to the social and economic changes in England, and failed to match their lifestyle to their falling income. London continued to be an important part in the lives of the Turnours; even after Shillinglee House had been built. They too built up serious debts, which they had difficulties clearing. The Benetts, despite rising both socially and economically, continued see farming as their main occupation. Although, like the other families, they had serious debts on occasions they tried to clear them in each generation.
    It is concluded that the original socio-economic background of each family had a considerable effect on the ways in the decisions they made concerning finance, marriage and the land. The Arundells appear to have maintained the same lifestyle and despite several financially advantageous marriages, their debts continued to increase, making it necessary for the sale of many outlying estates. The Arundells' Catholic faith, however, put some constraints on their lifestyle. The Turnours during the time span of this study acquired a title which, in effect, moved them into a different socio-economic group. The land, however, was never an important part of their life and they continued to spend most of their life in London. The Benetts were influenced by their origins, and despite rising fortunes and positions of responsibility, remained true to the land.

    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorJohn Chapman (Supervisor)

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