1) People formerly used the word ‘country’ of the district in which they lived and grew up.
It was an area larger than the parish and might include several market towns but it had no defined boundaries: it was home to neighbours, family, friends, and working companions
a region defined by common experience. Within such regions there were local customs that governed social life and working practices: 1455 I wite for my sone Cristofere that he have the principalles of my gudes as the custom of the countree is, Kirkby Fleetham. From the Tudor period such customs gave way reluctantly to statutory requirements. For example, the first Act that sought to regulate wood management nationwide was passed in 1543, after which the practices were subject to the law, in theory at least. The conflict between ‘the custom of the country’ and ‘the King his statute’ is then apparent in the wording of documents. In 1527, before the passing of the Act, Sir Godfrey Foljambe leased his springwoods to Richard Beaumont of Whitley and the deed required the purchaser to work after the use and custom of the contree : similarly, in c.1540 any lessee of Hampall high woode was to leave the woods accordynge to the custome of the countre. A deed of 1549, just after the Act, compromised by ordering the purchasers to wave the woods accordynge to the Kyng his statute and the custom of the countre. In coal-mining no similar law was passed and local practices carried on into the nineteenth century: 1653 liberty to … Sinck or make any Colle Pittes or Collery … according to the Custome of the Countrey, Ingleton
1713 the pitt has been shamefully wrought, much longer than usual or necessary considering the custom of the country and the thinness of the coal beds, Shibden
1797 sunk and worked in an ingenious and workmanlike manner according to the custom of the country, Shibden. An item under ‘board’ is evidence that customs were broken but the West Riding cannot be compared with the Forest of Dean or the lead-mining areas of Mendip, Derbyshire and Alston Moor, in all of which mining was subject to long-established laws and practices.