I have wondered the same thing as my ancestor Samuel Joynson was a tenant farmer in
Haslington, Cheshire c1770, moved to Presteigne, Radnorshire for a few years in the 1790s
and ended in Worfield, Shropshire. How did they move all the livestock and deadstock
before railways made it easier? Did they sell up and start again? I suppose drovers
could be used for cattle and even ducks or geese, as for markets like Smithfield, and some
of the equipment could have gone by carrier or on the farmer's own carts.In this case
the three farms belonged to different landowners.As for the networks, market day must
always have meant the trading of information from a wide area and presumably hot gossip
would have spread from market to market and along the drovers' and carriers'
routes, and later the canals.In the north large areas of land were held by one person,
such as the Earl of Derby, so his land agents may have acted as a conduit for information
and perhaps tried to recruit farmers they thought would do well. Maybe land agents who
moved made use of their earlier contacts to attract good tenants for their new bosses.For
more information see Carol Beardmore, Steven King & Geoff Monks, The Land Agent in
Britain, 2016, accessible through Google.
Another Joynson ancestor of mine financed his farm by a private mortgage from a local
family who had made their money in India, so perhaps local attorneys formed another
network of literate people, this time looking for a return on capital on behalf of their
clients.Most farms changed hands around Michaelmas Day, when crops had been harvested, so
it might be worth looking in the press perhaps from late Spring onwards for adverts,
particularly in any publications aimed at farmers or stockbreeders. The British Library
catalogue used to allow searching by keyword in its 'Newspapers and Periodcals'
section, but that doesn't seem to have survived the move to Boston Spa.
I grew up in a rural area when phones were still a rarity, but information was
disseminated very fast and people were very well informed about the ramifications of
families and fortunes in all the surrounding dales. A lot of networking was done by
conductors on the Ribble buses and regular local updates arrived with the milk, post,
groceries or anything else that was delivered. You were, of course, expected to
contribute, not just listen! This must be a reflection of what had gone on for
centuries.We are limited to making what we can of such documentary sources as have
survived but, as Carol points out, these may not have been the prime sources of
information for most of our ancestors.Gwyneth Wilkie