Before the late 18th Century, life for the inhabitants of Marsden would have been domonated 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.
The traditional settlement pattern remained the same until the 19th Century. Marsden itself was no more or less important than any of the scattered farmsteads in the hills.
In 1801 a quarter of the English population was urban. By the end of the 19th Century England became the first country in the history of the world to have most of its population living in towns. Immigration from Scotland and Ireland and a staggering rate of reproduction meant that a population of 9 million in 1801 went to 18 million in 1851 then to 36 million by 1911.
From "The Making of the English" by Jeremy Paxman
Queen Elizabeth sold the manor of Marsden to one Edward Jones, for £29. Later, the manor passed to the Greenwoods, and by the 18th Century, it was owned by the Radcliffe family.
The 19th century was a period of massive change. The population expanded to work in the many new textile mills, mainly living in Marsden village in terraced housing. The Colne valley became the heart of the country's woollen textile industry.
In 1841 there were 474 inhabited.