An analysis of probate inventories from the Runcorn area, 1602-1766
AbstractThis dissertation is a qualitative, rather than quantitative analysis of one hundred and one probate inventories from the Runcorn area, dating from 1602, to 1766. It aims to assess three main themes; the relationship between non-elite people and their physical surroundings; their relationships with each other; and the level and nature of the area's isolation from other regions. Results of work carried out on probate inventories from other parts of the country are used to provide comparisons to conclusions drawn from the local inventories. The opening chapter provides a brief historical background. Evidence from contemporary sources is used to illustrate the local landscape of the period, and broad, perceptions of Runcorn's history are considered and challenged here. In chapter 2, artisans' retention of agricultural interests is addressed, alongside the level of yeomens' diversification into other economic areas than farming. Conclusions drawn here help illustrate the similarities between the economic activity local non-elites', and those elsewhere. Chapter 3 addresses the issues of debt and investment, widows, and low valued inventories. The evidence from these 'exceptional' inventories helps provide a picture of tensions within the local community, as well as a snapshot of the domestic arrangements of some of its poorer members. The final chapter examines the contents and functions of rooms within non-elite homes. Evidence is found which indicates a later evolution in domestic practices, suggesting a certain level of insulation from outside forces. Conversely, ownership patterns of certain goods indicate a significant level of communication with other areas. The appendices contain a list of the inventories used (including testators' occupations and home township), and three charts, showing their distribution; by decade, occupation, and settlement.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionProbate records subject to Crown copyright.
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