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12 Engrossment, Enclosure and Resistance in the Sixteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

The crown's sympathy with arguments against enclosure in this period between 1530 and 1580 was an expression of its fear of public disorder due to starvation, dislocation and fear of invasion due to depopulation of coastal areas. This chapter examines these arguments in the light of evidence for Lydd. Most importantly for the chapter, further massive accumulations of land in the form of multiple leases by 1580 were achieved by the same families of yeomen and small gentry in Lydd's government and by wealthy immigrants. In view of the mass unrest and disorder that engrossment and enclosure had caused by this time, Protector Somerset authorised commissions into illegal enclosure in 1548. The resistance, legal and non-legal, made largely by those outside of the class of yeomen and gentry farmers and their 'lease-mongers' in this period, appears to have failed.

Keywords: enclosure; engrossment; legal resistance; Lydd; non-legal resistance; Protector Somerset; yeomen



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