London: Longmans, Green, 1883. First edition. Illustrated with fourteen maps and plates, nine folding, some with color. Spine darkened, front hinge starting to crack, half inch split along front joint near top edge. Otherwise a very good, clean copy of a scarce book. Original brown-gray cloth with black decorative borders on spine and covers and with spine lettered in gilt and front cover in black. Ocavo. [xxii], 464 + 24 pp. publisher’s advertisements. Item #13874
Frederic Seebohm (1833-1912) was an English banker, civic leader and historian. His fame as a scholar rests upon this work, along with The Tribal System in Wales (1995) and Tribal Custom in Anglo-Saxon Law (1902). These inquiries originated from an attempt to trace the historical conditions of the problem of population in England. Seebohm became aware that it is not the simple relation between the supply of food and the demands of individuals to be fed that provides the solution to the problem, but that this solution is conditioned by the forms of economic organization. Seebohm was struck by the peculiar character of the “open-field” system of agriculture which had prevailed in England for over a thousand years and here traces English economic history and this form of communal farming back to the manorial system which, according to his views, was already in existence in the early Anglo-Saxon and Roman “villa” system. Similar work was being done at this time in France by Fustel de Coulanges and in Germany by G.F. Knapp and A. Dopsch. “In this way Seebohm’s teaching came in, as it were, on the crest of a wave of critical and constructive study” (Paul Vinogradoff writing in the D.N.B.).