The present volume, the sixth in the Wiltshire series to be published, has been
prepared under the superintendence of the Wiltshire Victoria County History
Committee. The origin and constitution of that committee are described in the
Editorial Note prefixed to the Victoria History of Wiltshire, Volume VII. The
committee have been good enough to continue, and, indeed, have once again
augmented their generous grant for the support of a local editor and assistant
editor, and have thus enabled the University of London to continue to play their
equally important part.
As was explained in the Editorial Note to Volume II, the plan of the Victoria
History of Wiltshire is to trace the history of the county in all its aspects until
1086, and then to branch out into ecclesiastical, economic and social, and parliamentary and administrative studies, each group of subjects occupying a single
volume. All these volumes were planned together in 1948, and many of the
articles were delivered soon after. Not all the volumes could be edited and published simultaneously, and the need to make progress with the preceding five has
unfortunately postponed the editing of this one. This delay has perhaps resulted
in a certain unevenness of treatment.
The economic chapters in the present volume do not, in design, depart radically from the agrarian and industrial chapters in earlier volumes of the History.
They are, however, fuller. The chapter called 'Social and Economic History',
characteristic of older volumes, is here replaced by a short introductory synthesis
of the economic sections and by a few special sections on particular aspects of
social history. The old chapter called 'forestry' has been replaced by a study,
both topographical and institutional, of the forests before disafforestation; it does
not touch upon the economic exploitation of woodlands.
The editors are much indebted to the owners of the large agricultural estates
and industrial enterprises lying within the county for allowing their records to
be examined and thus enriching the quality of the articles. The services in this
direction of the Marquess of Ailesbury, the Marquess of Bath, the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, the Earl of Cardigan, and Lord Herbert have been
especially noteworthy. The kindness of other owners is acknowledged in footnotes. Thanks no less sincere are also due to the Wiltshire County Archivist
(Mr. M. G. Rathbone) and the Hon. Librarian of the Wiltshire Archaeological
and Natural History Society (Mr. R. E. Sandall) for their patient help.