The landed gentry of lowlands Ashburton County, 1890-1896
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The large landowners of the south are a group of vital importance to the study of nineteenth-century New Zealand. Throughout the colonial period they played a heavily disproportionate role in the country’s politics, commerce, developing agriculture and society. The aim of this thesis is to subject a small section of the large landowning group to detailed analysis. It is an attempt to study a part,to make 11useful and accurate" statements and generalisations, and so throw light upon the whole, as has been suggested by W.H. Oliver in his paper, Towards a New History. The part chosen was lowlands Ashburton county. Ashburton county is a particularly convenient sub-region, as its political borders have remained unchanged since its first creation as a county. This provides an unusual stability and a firm base for statistics. In addition, the county has recently been the subject of a detailed and scholarly history by the late W.H. Scatter, which enabled this thesis to proceed from an already well-_prepared field. Ashburton county was also, in many respects, a "typical" southern county in the nineties, with a matured economic and social pattern common throughout the lowlands areas of theSouth Island and south-eastern North Island.