Cottage and squatter settlement and encroachment on common waste in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: some evidence from Shropshire

James Bowen

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    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article examines the local impact of cottage building on common wasteland in the wood-pasture countryside of the county of Shropshire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Based on the study of written documentary records, contemporary accounts and original maps, it examines the process of cottage building on commons in both rural agrarian and industrial contexts, exploring case studies of cottage settlement in a range of localities within Shropshire including forest, heathland, woodland and wetland areas. It outlines the character of the cottage economy and considers the regulation of cottages in relation to statute law concerning cottage building, poor relief and vagrancy. It complements the existing body of local and regional studies of cottage building, providing insight into the everyday lives of cottagers who built their cottages and encroached on common land, relying on commons access for their survival. Despite the informal existence of cottages and the fragile lives of those who inhabited them, it argues that it is possible to recover a picture of the impact of cottage settlement at a local level, and its significance as part of the development of the landscape.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-32
    Number of pages22
    JournalLocal Population Studies
    Volume93
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014

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