Residence and Kinship in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, 1558-1804
This study of the parish of Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, is mainly intended to contribute to the current debate about rural industry and the circumstances under which it became a full factory industry in some areas but not in others. Stonehouse is in the upper Stroudwater district, a former centre of the cloth industry. While other regions began to produce lighter fabrics, Stroudwater continued to specialise in woollen broadcloth. During the seventeenth century the whole district developed an expertise in producing coloured cloth. Factory mills were established after 1800, but by 1850 the local industry was declining in the face of competition from Yorkshire. Any population sample taken in the district during the early-modern period might therefore be expected to show numerical and social domination by cloth workers. To test this expectation, a sample was constructed from manorial resiant lists, which offer unusual scope in this parish for identifying men and placing them in properties. The enquiry looked for the incidence of male and female kinship-links in the passage of property between residents, to see whether kinship gave property resources, and consequently social influence, to workers in the cloth industry rather than to those in other occupations. The expected domination of property and society before 1800 by cloth industry workers in Stonehouse was found to be no more than proportional to their numerical presence, and the same applied to other occupations. Kinship networks had produced a mixed society which was cautious about change, a possible factor in the eventual decline of large-scale cloth production in Stroudwater.
Hudson, J., University of Bristol. Department of Historical Studies