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This article argues that historians have paid insufficient attention to the agrarian roots of early modern English famines. While not dismissing the insights arising from entitlements theory, the article takes issue with recent writings that have explained the famine of 1622-3 in north-west England as an entitlements crisis. It offers new empirical evidence from an estate in east Lancashire to demonstrate the scale of the crisis in the early 1620s, using estate accounts to produce new price data and estimates of productivity. On the basis of oat tithe data, the scale of the shortfall in foodstuffs in the harvest of 1621 is demonstrated as being probably in the region of a third; that of the following year has to be inferred from price data. The evidence shows that the crisis was not limited to the arable economy, but was followed by an extensive restocking of the pastoral economy. The article therefore makes a contribution to the growing interest in weather as an exogenous factor.