Before the late 18th Century, life for the inhabitants of Marsden would have been dominated by the poor soil and inhospitable terrain, which would both have made agriculture difficult.
David Woodhead notes (Marsden 1690-1750: a dual economy) that the historical data is incomplete, so that it appears that by the 18th Century, farming was of minimal importance in Marsden, and the bulk of the population was involved in the manufacture of cloth.
However, he also notes that Probate Inventories of the time suggest the opposite to be true, and that most people depended on the land, chiefly stock-rearing, for their subsistence. Most Marsden inhabitants, then, seemed to be dependent on two livelihoods to make a living - textiles and agriculture.
Traders seem to have been the wealthiest people in the community, but even they drew some of their income from the land.
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