This paper examines genitive variation in English, using two methodological approaches. In the manual approach, we extract genitive variants from the parsed sub- corpora of the text category J (academic writing) in the B-Brown (1931), the Brown (1961) and the Frown (1991/2) corpora. Focussing on the syntactic parameter, we illustrate how the principle of end-weight gains ground from 1930 to 1990. The automatic approach implements the constraints of the manual approach, confirms the findings of the manual approach and is used to scale to British English. Methodologically, we show how to automatically sift out irrelevant corpus examples whose identification would normally need human intervention -- in particular, apparent examples of the two main genitive English constructions which are not in genuine alternation.