Monthly Archives: June 2023

Paternalism and the politics of “toll corn” in early modern England by Hillary Taylor

More than any other commodity in early modern England, grain was embedded within a web of assumptions about the social order and the ideologies that sustained it. While historians have examined how the politics of grain supply and marketing were informed by paternalism in various ways, my article considers a topic that has received relatively little attention: toll corn and the disputes that it generated.

‘Toll corn’ — like tolls on other goods — could involve monetary payments, but the term typically referred to a portion of grain that was taken from the total amount that sellers brought to market. A wide array of tolling practices operated from one market to the next, and toll corn was put to different uses depending on who had the right to its revenue. But in some markets, it played a role in local economies of poor relief or enabled grain to be distributed to poor consumers via extra-market channels. Continue reading