Surviving the seventeenth century in Dorset parishes

Thursday 1 June
Hampshire Record Office, Sussex Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8TH

​Talk by Trixie Gadd (University of Leicester)

Following the establishment of parochial tithes in the early middle ages, clergymen’s economic survival relied inherently on income from the land. Incumbents cultivated glebe land belonging to the church, and parishioners paid a tenth of their agricultural produce to support their parish priest. By the seventeenth century, this system had been complicated by transfers of tithe rights to lay ownership and conversions into fixed monetary amounts.

This paper focuses on the landscape of seventeenth-century Dorset and its effects on clerical livings. It explores the impact of different landscape types on whether clergymen were able (or inclined) to survive on their glebe and tithe revenues or relied on alternative sources of income, and on their economic security during the turmoils of the 1640s and 1650s. It also examines the impact of Dorset's topography on parish-level, regional, and even international communications. Differences are found between Dorset’s chalk downland, clay vales and heathland in terms of clergymen’s standards of living and their likelihood of being ejected from their incumbencies.

This paper draws on Trixie’s ongoing PhD research at the University of Leicester, which examines a broader range of factors that impacted on clergymen’s survival from the perspectives of ecclesiastical administration, geography and topology, social networks, and the changing political and religious climate throughout the seventeenth century.

This event is part of the Wessex Centre for History and Archaeology. For more information about the centre, click here

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