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Inheritance events and spending patterns in the English country house: the Leigh family of Stoneleigh Abbey, 1738–1806

Rothery, M and Stobart, JON (2012) Inheritance events and spending patterns in the English country house: the Leigh family of Stoneleigh Abbey, 1738–1806. Continuity and Change, 27 (3). pp. 379-407. ISSN 0268-4160

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Abstract

This article analyses the everyday spending patterns of the Leigh family of Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire, in relation to inheritance, demography and trusteeship. The analysis makes use of a large dataset of receipted bills along with various other types of accounts and legal documents. We show that several factors contributed to the survival and flourishing of the Leigh estates. These included, first, moderate levels of spending by successive owners of the family estates, punctuated by periodic surges in spending following inheritance events, second, demographic factors, and, third, the responsible management of the estate by trustees during periods of minority. This analysis illustrates that careful economic management, rather than conspicuous consumption, was the defining feature of wealthy landed families such as the Leighs

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