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‘To whom it doth belong’: highways, law and governance in the parish of Halifax, c.1550-1700

Recorded on 15 December 2022

Speaker: Murray Seccombe (Lancaster)

Ever since the Webbs, Tudor highway legislation has been perceived as foreshadowing the use of the parish for implementing statutory policy at local level. This paper will summarise research findings that qualify this view by emphasising the continuing and creative role of manorial courts in managing nuisances and highway repairs across the industrialising townships of Halifax parish. Both tenurial and local (township) liabilities were invoked to help maintain and strengthen a network that served the changing needs brought on by social and economic change. The co-option of manors and township officeholders for infrastructural management created a formative, but hitherto largely unrecognised, opportunity for strengthening local governance capacity. This adds nuance and depth to conceptualisations of state formation developed by Steve Hindle and Mike Braddick.

IHR Seminar SeriesTransport & Mobility History