Frederic Seebohm (1833-1912)

Frederic Seebohm, born in Bradford in 1833, was an economic historian.

His book The English Village Community (publ. 1883) placed him in the foremost rank of economic historians. Before this work, the prevailing view held that primitive Anglo-Saxon society consisted of communal groups of freemen holding land in common (the mark), and that the continual aggression of native and foreign leaders the village community had degenerated into the manor, in which the tenants, originally free, became serfs. Seebohm attempted to show that there is no satisfactory ground for believing that the free community ever existed in England.

He emphasised similarities between the Roman villa and the manor, the implication being that the mediaeval manor can be explained as an amalgamation of the Roman villa with the Germanic tribal system.

Seebohm published two works dealing with early tribal relations, The Tribal System in Wales (1895) and Tribal Custom in Anglo-Saxon Law (1902).

He was the brother of the industrialist and ornithologist Henry Seebohm.

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