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|Title:||The development of agriculture and the diffusion of agricultural innovation in Northumberland 1750-1850|
|Abstract:||The subject of this study is not quite as disjointed as its title suggests. It was thought unrealistic to present an investigation of agricultural change without an accompanying study of the agriculture that was changing. Hence the study is as agricultural as it is geographical or historical and no apology is made for this. It is only regretted that a deeper and more practical understanding of agricultural problems was not available to determine more subtlep though perhaps significantg agricultural change* The author is in no doubt that much of the material, used would have been more ably handled by an agriculýuristq as would much else have received more competent treatment from an economist. Yet it is unlikely that either would have embarked on the problem as a whole and, investigation has therefore fallen to a discipline of more catholio characteristics. The study is not primarily ponceraed with innovation theory. Perhaps the greatest mistake the historian can make - and the historical geographer is as much historian as geographer - is to apply the conditions of the present, its values and way of thinkingg to the past. That the 18th century Northumberland farmer knew nothing of itnovation theory is not important, One might as well argue that because a 17th century ship's captain knew nothing of mercantilism there was no such thing as a mercantilist system. What is important is that as the captain did not think in terms of mercantilism neither did the farmer think in terms of innovation and it is unrealistic to make even a tacit assumption that he did. Moreoverg data comparable. with that from which modeza innovation theory is derived is simply not available for 18th century Northumberland and even if it were# it would be a transgression of the rules of historical enquiry to presume blithely that conclusions derived from studies of mode= conditions are equally applicable to the past, Northumberland in the period from 1750 to 1850 was a foreign place whose inhabitants were motivated by values. and inclinations very different from our own. For a Duke of Norihumberland to control the votes of his tenants and to evict those who voted the wrong way was . quite proper in the opinion of both landlord and tenant. The whole community at Seaton Delaval enjoyed the amual entertainment in which children raced to see who could bite the heads from the greatest number of captive sparrows. It is unreasonable to assume that these people saw change in exactly the same light as people today. As nam-modifies the conditions in which he livesp so he iss, at least in parto conditioned by his surroundings. As he modifies his surroundings, so the changýd surroundings change him. There are no immutable constants and it is folly to imagine history as a pageant in which Everyman simply alters scene and costume in his movement through time. Consequently# agricultural change in North: umberland in the period from 1750 to 1850 has been consideredp inasmuch as it is possibleg from the point of view of contemporaries. Hence the concera with prevailing agricultural conditions, economic constraints and incentivesp and with general historical circumstances, not to produco a study-that is less geographicalp but one that is realistic and accurate, but still geographical.|
|Appears in Collections:||School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development|
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