Socio-Economic History

Vol. 63, No. 5

Jinzo FUKAI and Yoshio TAGAMI
An environmental study of fluctuations in the size of the fishing catch and the fishing population of the port of Himi in Etchu Province during the Tempo Famines (1834-1836)

Changes in the natural environment can produce famines which threaten the lives of urban populations which are not self-sufficient in food production. This paper examines the relation between fluctuations in the size of fishing catches and the political action taken by urban fishing populations during the Tempo Famines as a case study in environmental history.

First the paper determines the climatic trends and sizes of fishing catches in the port of Himi during the Tempo era (1830-1844), and establishes the correlation between the two. It was found that the size of the two main catches of the port of Himi, that is yellow-tail and sardines, fluctuated alternately with each other during the 1830s. From 1837, it was also found that although summers were cool and winters were abnormally cold, autumn (the fishing season for yellow-tail) was warm, resulting in large catches of yellow-tail. On the other hand, the fishing season for sardines was winter, and the cold winters resulted in poor catches of sardines. Furthermore, there was no year during the Tempo Famines when a large catch was recorded for both yellow-tail and sardines, and this led to a fall in the incomes of fishing families. At the same time, the crop failures of the period resulted in high rice prices, which further lowered the purchasing power of fishing families. This situation resulted in fishing families having to resort to mendicancy for a living, and was also the reason behind a number of disturbances which occurred in this period.

Further, this paper shows that the participants in disturbances in the port of Himi were fishing people. The fishing people participating in such disturbances organized themselves in groups according to their place of residence, and did not extend their organization networks to include farming families.

Man-Han SIU
Foreign investment and the raising of capital in Shanghai in late imperial China, with special reference to the process leading to the rubber shares crisis of 1910

This article is an attempt to interpret the process which led to the rubber shares crisis of 1910, the most serious financial crisis in Shanghai since it had become a treaty port in 1842, by examining foreign investment and the raising of capital in the city.

After the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, the amount of foreign investment in China increased greatly, and half of it went to Shanghai. With most countries moving towards the international gold standard, however, the value of silver against gold fell continuously, discouraging long-term investment in countries which had adopted the silver standard, such as China. The only way to evade exchange losses was to raise capital locally by borrowing from banks or issuing shares and debentures. For the foreign companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the issue of shares was the more important way of raising funds.

The first section of the article contains a comprehensive picture of the companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The second section examines the role played by institutions closely involved with the stock market and the characteristics of the investors. As the capital market developed, it became easier to raise capital, but speculative activities also increased. This is well illustrated by the rubber crisis of 1910, which is discussed in the third section. In conclusion, it can be said that because it was managed by foreigners, the stock market in Shanghai was linked closely with the world and was strongly influenced by changes in the world market.

Kinship and inheritance in sixteenth and seventeenth century Willingham

This paper investigates kinship structure and inheritance customs in Willingham, a parish on the edge of the Fens. This parish experienced extensive immigration in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The development of common land use and the fragmentation of land holdings in a relatively short period affected kinship structure and inheritance customs. Furthermore, while the numbers of immigrants and emigrants increased, family size decreased. Simultaneously, collaboration between kinsfolk occurred, transcending differences in size of land-holding and/or social status. The latter was based on responsibility for family maintenance and influenced generation succession. In this perspective inheritance customs changed qualitatively.

Nearly half of the testators do not fit the common image; that is they consist of fathers with underaged children and testators without heirs, mainly bachelors. There is also a difference in the content of wills between those belonging to the second half of the sixteenth century and those written later. Whereas the age of inheritance varied in the former period, in the seventeenth century the age was commonly twenty-one years, the original age for the upper class. Furthermore, in the latter half of the sixteenth century there were many references to three degrees, especially in the wills of testators with underaged children. In the seventeenth century, however, references decreased to just two degrees. These illustrate how inheritance customs, through the process of documentation, gradually became formalised and detached from real life. At this particular time we find an increasing number of references to unborn children as benefactors. This symbolises the hopes of Willingham inhabitants for family maintenance. Thus, formal inheritance customs and informal bequests, which were originally quite different, overlapped in the sixteenth century, but became detached again in the seventeenth. In the early modern period, critical changes in local economic life seem to have taken place more rapidly than is generally believed.

Michifumi ISODA
The marriage system of samurai society: the case of Okayama domain, 1807-1871

This article is a statistical analysis of the marriage system of early modern Japanese samurai society. Research into marital behavior in Okayama han (domain) produces the following picture:

(1) It is obvious that samurai selected their wives from extremely narrow social circles. They seldom married above or beneath their status. In fact, in 90% of samurai marriages, the income gap between the husband's and wife's families did not exceed 50%.

(2) Samurai usually married the daughters or sisters of samurai of the same status and domain. But samurai who belonged to small domains occasionally asked for wives from elsewhere. In the case of Okayama han, samurai had marital networks among neighboring domain settlements on a radius of 60 km from Okayama.

(3) Upper-class samurai, who rode horses, seldom married rural farmers or urban merchants, But such marriages were seen among the lowest class of samurai, foot soldiers.