A Shropshire woodland community: Myddle, 1524-1701
Historians are becoming increasingly aware of the value of studying local communities as definite types. In many ways Myddle was a typical woodland community in Tudor and Stuart times, though it differed from some in having relatively few craftsmen and only a handful of dissenters. Important changes took place in the physical appearance and economy of the parish at the beginning of the period. The open-fields were abandoned when over 1,000 acres were brought into cultivation by the felling of woods and the draining of meres, and the farmers concentrated upon the rearing of beef and a pastoral economy. In the absence of the lord, the parish was led by several families of minor gentry or yeomen standing, who were often freeholders, but who rarely held land outside the parish. The small tenement-farmers were the backbone of the community, both in terms of numbers and of long-residence. They were granted security with 99-year leases determinable upon three lives, and several of these families were resident in the perish throughout the period. In 1563 there were only 54 households in the parish, but by 1672 there were at least 91 families. The increase was largely due to immigrant labourers. In the early-sixteenth century labourers formed only 7percent of the population, but by the late-seventeenth century they accounted for nearly 40 percent. Richard Gough's unique book has been the basis of the study, with manorial, ecclesiastical, and parochial records adding greatly to what he had to say. With the aid of Gough, all the families in the community have been studied, often in great detail. In this way, large and complex changes can be described, and the scope of economic history can be expanded to include the approaches of the social anthropologist, so that in the final chapter the mental world of the community is explored as far as the sources will allow.
Hey, David (David G), “A Shropshire woodland community: Myddle, 1524-1701,” Centre for English Local History Theses and Papers, accessed January 16, 2021, https://elhleics.omeka.net/items/show/4.