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Title: A Short History of English Agriculture
Author: Curtler, W. H. R. (William Henry Ricketts), 1862-1925
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of English Agriculture" ***







'A husbandman', said Markham, 'is the master of the earth, turning
barrenness into fruitfulness, whereby all commonwealths are
maintained and upheld. His labour giveth liberty to all vocations,
arts, and trades to follow their several functions with peace and
industrie. What can we say in this world is profitable where
husbandry is wanting, it being the great nerve and sinew which
holdeth together all the joints of a monarchy?' And he is confirmed
by Young: 'Agriculture is, beyond all doubt, the foundation of every
other art, business, and profession, and it has therefore been the
ideal policy of every wise and prudent people to encourage it to the
utmost.' Yet of this important industry, still the greatest in
England, there is no history covering the whole period.

It is to remedy this defect that this book is offered, with much
diffidence, and with many thanks to Mr. C.R.L. Fletcher of Magdalen
College, Oxford, for his valuable assistance in revising the proof
sheets, and to the Rev. A.H. Johnson of All Souls for some very
useful information.

As the agriculture of the Middle Ages has often been ably described,
I have devoted the greater part of this work to the agricultural
history of the subsequent period, especially the seventeenth,
eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.


_May 22, 1909._



Communistic Farming.--Growth of the Manor.--Early Prices.--The
Organization and Agriculture of the Manor


The Thirteenth Century.--The Manor at its Zenith, with Seeds of Decay
already visible.--Walter of Henley


The Fourteenth Century.--Decline of Agriculture.--The Black Death.--
Statute of Labourers


How the Classes connected with the Land lived in the Middle Ages


The Break-up of the Manor.--Spread of Leases.--The Peasants'
Revolt.--Further Attempts to regulate Wages.--A Harvest
Home.--Beginning of the Corn Laws.--Some Surrey Manors


1400-1540. The so-called 'Golden Age of the Labourer' in a Period of
General Distress




Fitzherbert.--The Regulation of Hours and Wages


1540-1600. Progress at last--Hop-growing.--Progress of Enclosure.--
Harrison's _Description_


1540-1600. Live Stock.--Flax.--Saffron.--The Potato.--The Assessment
of Wages


1600-1700. Clover and Turnips.--Great Rise in Prices.--More
Enclosure.--A Farming Calendar


The Great Agricultural Writers of the Seventeenth Century.--Fruit-growing.
--A Seventeenth-century Orchard


The Evils of Common Fields.--Hops.--Implements.--Manures.--Gregory
King.--Corn Laws


1700-65. General Characteristics of the Eighteenth Century.--Crops.
--Cattle.--Dairying.--Poultry.--Tull and the New Husbandry.--Bad


1700-65. Townshend.--Sheep-rot.--Cattle Plague.--Fruit-growing


1765-93. Arthur Young.--Crops and their Cost.--The Labourers'
Wages and Diet.--The Prosperity of Farmers.--The Country
Squire.--Elkington.--Bakewell.--The Roads.--Coke of Holkham


1793-1815. The Great French War.--The Board of Agriculture.--High
Prices, and Heavy Taxation


Enclosure.--The Small Owner


1816-37. Depression


1837-75. Revival of Agriculture.--The Royal Agricultural
Society.--Corn Law Repeal.--A Temporary Set-back.--The Halcyon Days


1875-1908. Agricultural Distress again.--Foreign Competition.--
Agricultural Holdings Act.--New Implements.--Agricultural
Commissions.--The Situation in 1908


Imports and Exports.--Live Stock


Modern Farm Live Stock


I. Average Prices from 1259 to 1700

II. Exports and Imports of Wheat and Flour from and into England,
unimportant years omitted

III. Average Prices per Imperial Quarter of British Corn in England
and Wales, in each year from 1771 to 1907 inclusive

IV. Miscellaneous Information


1086. Domesday inquest, most cultivated land in tillage. Annual value
of land about 2d. an acre.

1216-72. Henry III. Assize of Bread and Ale.

1272-1307. Edward I. General progress. Walter of Henley.

1307. Edward II. Decline.

1315. Great famine.

1337. Export of wool prohibited.

1348-9. Black Death. Heavy blow to manorial system. Many demesne
lands let, and much land laid down to grass.

1351. Statute of Labourers.

1360. Export of corn forbidden.

1381. Villeins' revolt.

1393. Richard II allows export of corn under certain conditions.

1463. Import of wheat under 6s. 8d. prohibited.

End of fifteenth century. Increase of enclosure.

1523. Fitzherbert's _Surveying and Husbandry_.

1540. General rise in prices and rents begins.

1549. Kett's rebellion. The last attempt of the English peasant to
obtain redress by force.

1586. Potatoes introduced.

1601. Poor Law Act of Elizabeth.

1645. Turnips and clover introduced as field crops.

1662. Statute of Parochial Settlement.

1664. Importation of cattle, sheep, and swine forbidden.

1688. Bounty of 5s. per quarter on export of wheat, and high duty on

1733. Tull publishes his _Horse-hoeing Husbandry_.

1739. Great sheep-rot.

1750. Exports of corn reached their maximum.

1760. Bakewell began experimenting.

1760 (about). Industrial and agrarian revolution, and great increase
of enclosure.

1764. Elkington's new drainage system.

1773. Wheat allowed to be imported at a nominal duty of 6d. a quarter
when over 48s.

1777. Bath and West of England Society established, the first in

1789. England definitely becomes a corn-importing country.

1793. Board of Agriculture established.

1795. Speenhamland Act.

About same date swedes first grown.

1815. Duty on wheat reached its maximum.

1815-35. Agricultural distress.

1825. Export of wool allowed.

1835. Smith of Deanston, the father of modern drainage.

1838. Foundation of Royal Agricultural Society.

1846. Repeal of the Corn Laws.

1855-75. Great agricultural prosperity.

1875. English agriculture feels the full effect of unrestricted
competition with disastrous results.

  "   First Agricultural Holdings Act.

1879-80. Excessive rainfall, sheep-rot, and general distress.



When the early bands of English invaders came over to take Britain
from its Celtic owners, it is almost certain that the soil was held by
groups and not by individuals, and as this was the practice of the
conquerors also they readily fell in with the system they found.[1]
These English, unlike their descendants of to day, were a race of
countrymen and farmers and detested the towns, preferring the lands of
the Britons to the towns of the Romans. Co-operation in agriculture
was necessary because to each household were allotted separate strips
of land, nearly equal in size, in each field set apart for tillage,
and a share in the meadow and waste land. The strips of arable were
unfenced and ploughed by common teams, to which each family would

Apparently, as the land was cleared and broken up it was dealt out
acre by acre to each cultivator; and supposing each group consisted of
ten families, the typical holding of 120 acres was assigned to each
family in acre strips, and these strips were not all contiguous but
mixed up with those of other families. The reason for this mixture of
strips is obvious to any one who knows how land even in the same field
varies in quality; it was to give each family its share of both good
and bad land, for the householders were all equal and the principle on
which the original distribution of the land depended was that of
equalizing the shares of the different members of the community.[2]

In attributing ownership of lands to communities we must be careful
not to confound communities with corporations. Maitland thinks the
early land-owning communities blended the character of corporations
and of co-owners, and co-ownership is ownership by individuals.[3] The
vills or villages founded on their arrival in Britain by our English
forefathers resembled those they left at home, and even there the
strips into which the arable fields were divided were owned in
severalty by the householders of the village. There was co-operation
in working the fields but no communistic division of the crops, and
the individual's hold upon his strips developed rapidly into an
inheritable and partible ownership. 'At the opening of Anglo-Saxon
history absolute ownership of land in severalty was established and
becoming the rule.'[4]

In the management of the meadow land communal features were much more
clearly brought out; the arable was not reallotted,[5] but the meadow
was, annually; while the woods and pastures, the right of using which
belonged to the householders of the village, were owned by the village
'community'. There may have been at the time of the English conquest
Roman 'villas' with slaves and _coloni_ cultivating the owners'
demesnes, which passed bodily to the new masters; but the former
theory seems true of the greater part of the country.

At first 'extensive' cultivation was practised; that is, every year a
fresh arable field was broken up and the one cultivated last year
abandoned, for a time at all events; but gradually 'intensive' culture
superseded this, probably not till after the English had conquered the
land, and the same field was cultivated year after year.[6] After the
various families or households had finished cutting the grass in their
allotted portions of meadow, and the corn on their strips of tillage,
both grass and stubble became common land and were thrown open for the
whole community to turn their stock upon.

The size of the strips of land in the arable fields varied, but was
generally an acre, in most places a furlong (furrow long) or 220 yards
in length, and 22 yards broad; or in other words, 40 rods of 5-1/2
yards in length and 4 in breadth. There was, however, little
uniformity in measurement before the Norman Conquest, the rod by which
the furlongs and acres were measured varying in length from 12 to 24
feet, so that one acre might be four times as large as another.[7] The
acre was, roughly speaking, the amount that a team could plough in a
day, and seems to have been from early times the unit of measuring the
area of land.[8] Of necessity the real acre and the ideal acre were
also different, for the reason that the former had to contend with the
inequalities of the earth's surface and varied much when no scientific
measurement was possible. As late as 1820 the acre was of many
different sizes in England. In Bedfordshire it was 2 roods, in Dorset
134 perches instead of 160, in Lincolnshire 5 roods, in Staffordshire
2-1/4 acres. To-day the Cheshire acre is 10,240 square yards. As,
however, an acre was and is a day's ploughing for a team, we may
assume that the most usual acre was the same area then as now. There
were also half-acre strips, but whatever the size the strips were
divided one from another by narrow grass paths generally called
'balks', and at the end of a group of these strips was the 'headland'
where the plough turned, the name being common to-day. Many of these
common fields remained until well on in the nineteenth century; in
1815 half the county of Huntingdon was in this condition, and a few
still exist.[9] Cultivating the same field year after year naturally
exhausted the soil, so that the two-field system came in, under which
one was cultivated and the other left fallow; and this was followed by
the three-field system, by which two were cropped in any one year and
one lay fallow, the last-named becoming general as it yielded better
results, though the former continued, especially in the North. Under
the three-field plan the husbandman early in the autumn would plough
the field that had been lying fallow during summer, and sow wheat or
rye; in the spring he broke up the stubble of the field on which the
last wheat crop had been grown and sowed barley or oats; in June he
ploughed up the stubble of the last spring crop and fallowed the
field.[10] As soon as the crops began to grow in the arable fields and
the grass in the meadows to spring, they were carefully fenced to
prevent trespass of man and beast; and, as soon as the crops came off,
the fields became common for all the village to turn their stock upon,
the arable fields being usually common from Lammas (August 1) to
Candlemas (February 2) and the meadows from July 6, old Midsummer Day,
to Candlemas[11]; but as in this climate the season both of hay and
corn harvest varies considerably, these dates cannot have been fixed.

The stock, therefore, besides the common pasture, had after harvest
the grazing of the common arable fields and of the meadows. The common
pasture was early 'stinted' or limited, the usual custom being that
the villager could turn out as many stock as he could keep on his
holding. The trouble of pulling up and taking down these fences every
year must have been enormous, and we find legislation on this
important matter at an early date. About 700 the laws of Ine, King of
Wessex, provided that if 'churls have a common meadow or other
partible land to fence, and some have fenced their part and some have
not, and cattle stray in and eat up their common corn or grass; let
those go who own the gap and compensate to the others who have fenced
their part the damage which then may be done, and let them demand such
justice on the cattle as may be right. But if there be a beast which
breaks hedges and goes in everywhere, and he who owns it will not or
cannot restrain it, let him who finds it in his field take it and slay
it, and let the owner take its skin and flesh and forfeit the rest.'

England was not given over to one particular type of settlement,
although villages were more common than hamlets in the greater part of
the country.[12] The vill or village answers to the modern civil
parish, and the term may be applied to both the true or 'nucleated'
village of clustered houses and the village of scattered hamlets, each
of a few houses, existing chiefly on the Celtic fringe. The population
of some of the villages at the time of the Norman Conquest was
numerous, 100 households or 500 people; but the average townships
contained from 10 to 20 households.[13] There was also the single
farm, such as that at Eardisley in Herefordshire, described in
Domesday, lying in the middle of a forest, perhaps, as in other
similar cases, a pioneer settlement of some one more adventurous than
his fellows.[14]

       *       *       *       *       *

Such was the early village community in England, a community of free
landholders. But a change began early to come over it.[15] The king
would grant to a church all the rights he had in the village,
reserving only the _trinoda necessitas_, these rights including the
feorm or farm, or provender rent which the king derived from the
land--of cattle, sheep, swine, ale, honey, &c.--which he collected by
visiting his villages, thus literally eating his rents. The churchmen
did not continue these visits, they remained in their monasteries, and
had the feorm brought them regularly; they had an overseer in the
village to see to this, and so they tightened their hold on the
village. Then the smaller people, the peasants, make gifts to the
Church. They give their land, but they also want to keep it, for it is
their livelihood; so they surrender the land and take it back as a
lifelong loan. Probably on the death of the donor his heirs are
suffered to hold the land. Then labour services are substituted for
the old provender rents, and thus the Church acquires a demesne, and
thus the foundations of the manorial system, still to be traced all
over the country, were laid. Thegns, the predecessors of the Norman
barons, become the recipients of grants from the churches and from
kings, and householders 'commend' themselves and their land to them
also, so that they acquired demesnes. This 'commendation' was
furthered by the fact that during the long-drawn out conquest of
Britain the old kindred groups of the English lost their corporate
sense, and the central power being too weak to protect the ordinary
householder, who could not stand alone, he had to seek the protection
of an ecclesiastical corporation or of some thegn, first for himself
and then for his land. The jurisdictional rights of the king also
passed to the lord, whether church or thegn; then came the danegeld,
the tax for buying off the Danes that subsequently became a fixed land
tax, which was collected from the lord, as the peasants were too poor
for the State to deal with them; the lord paid the geld for their
land, consequently their land was his. In this way the free ceorl of
Anglo-Saxon times gradually becomes the 'villanus' of Domesday.
Landlordship was well established in the two centuries before the
Conquest, and the land of England more or less 'carved into
territorial lordships'.[16] Therefore when the Normans brought their
wonderful genius for organization to this country they found the
material conditions of manorial life in full growth; it was their task
to develop its legal and economic side.[17]

As the manorial system thus superimposed upon the village community
was the basis of English rural economy for centuries, there need be no
apology for describing it at some length.

The term 'manor', which came in with the Conquest,[18] has a technical
meaning in Domesday, referring to the system of taxation, and did not
always coincide with the vill or village, though it commonly did so,
except in the eastern portion of England. The village was the agrarian
unit, the manor the fiscal unit; so that where the manor comprised
more than one village, as was frequently the case, there would be more
than one village organization for working the common fields.[19]

The manor then was the 'constitutive cell' of English mediaeval
society.[20] The structure is always the same; under the headship of
the lord we find two layers of population, the villeins and the
freeholders; and the territory is divided into demesne land and
tributary land of two classes, viz. that of the villeins and that of
the freeholders. The cultivation of the demesne (which usually means
the land directly occupied and cultivated by the lord, though legally
it has a wider meaning and includes the villein tenements), depends to
a certain extent on the work supplied by the tenants of the tributary
land. Rents are collected, labour superintended, administrative
business transacted by a set of manorial officers.

We may divide the tillers of the soil at the time of Domesday into
five great classes[21] in order of dignity and freedom:

  1. Liberi homines, or freemen.
  2. Socmen.
  3. Villeins.
  4. Bordarii, cotarii, buri or coliberti.
  5. Slaves.

The two first of these classes were to be found in large numbers in
Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and
Northamptonshire. It is not easy to draw the line between them, but
the chief distinction lay in the latter being more burdened with
service and customary dues and more especially subject to the
jurisdictional authority of the lord.[22] They were both free, but
both rendered services to the lord for their land. Both the freemen
and the slaves by 1086 were rapidly decreasing in number.

The most numerous class[23] on the manors was the third, that of the
villeins or non-free tenants, who held their land by payment of
services to the lord. The position of the villein under the feudal
system is most complicated. He both was and was not a freeman. He was
absolutely at the disposal of the lord, who could sell him with his
tenement, and he could not leave his land without his lord's
permission. He laboured under many disabilities, such as the merchet
or fine for marrying his daughter, and fines for selling horse or ox.
On the other hand, he was free against every one but his lord, and
even against the lord was protected from the forfeiture of his
'wainage' or instruments of labour and from injury to life and

His usual holding was a virgate of 30 acres of arable, though the
virgate differed in size even in the same manors; but in addition to
this he would have his meadow land and his share in the common pasture
and wood, altogether about 100 acres of land. For this he rendered the
following services to the lord of the manor:

1. Week work, or labour on the lord's demesne for two or three days a
week during most of the year, and four or five days in summer. It was
not always the villein himself, however, who rendered these services,
he might send his son or even a hired labourer; and it was the holding
and not the holder that was considered primarily responsible for the
rendering of services.[25]

2. Precarii or boon days: that is, work generally during harvest, at
the lord's request, sometimes instead of week work, sometimes in

3. Gafol or tribute: fixed payments in money or kind, and such
services as 'fold soke', which forced the tenants' sheep to lie on the
lord's land for the sake of the manure; and suit of mill, by which the
tenant was bound to grind his corn in the lord's mill.

With regard to the 'boon days' in harvest, it should be remembered
that harvest time in the Middle Ages was a most important event.
Agriculture was the great industry, and when the corn was ripe the
whole village turned out to gather it, the only exceptions being the
housewives and sometimes the marriageable daughters. Even the larger
towns suspended work that the townsmen might assist in the harvest,
and our long vacation was probably intended originally to cover the
whole work of gathering in the corn and hay. On the occasion of the
'boon-day' work, the lord usually found food for the labourers which,
the Inquisition of Ardley[26] tells us, might be of the following
description: for two men, porridge of beans and peas and two loaves,
one white, the other of 'mixtil' bread; that is, wheat, barley, and
rye mixed together, with a piece of meat, and beer for their first
meal. Then in the evening they had a small loaf of mixtil bread and
two 'lescas' of cheese. While harvest work was going on the better-off
tenants, usually the free ones, were sometimes employed to ride about,
rod in hand, superintending the others.

The services of the villeins were often very comprehensive, and even
included such tasks as preparing the lord's bath; but on some manors
their services were very light.[27] When the third of the above
obligations, the gafol or tribute, was paid in kind it was most
commonly made in corn; and next came honey, one of the most important
articles of the Middle Ages, as it was used for both lighting and
sweetening purposes. Ale was also common, and poultry and eggs, and
sometimes the material for implements.

These obligations were imposed for the most part on free and unfree
tenants alike, though those of the free were much lighter than those
of the unfree; the chief difference between the two, as far as tenure
of the land went, lay in the fact that the former could exercise
proprietary rights over his holding more or less freely, the latter
had none.[28] It seems very curious to the modern mind that the
villein, a man who farmed about 100 acres of land, should have been in
such a servile condition.

The amount of work due from each villein came to be fixed by the
extent or survey of the manor, but the quality of it was not[29];
that is, each one knew how many days he had to work, but not whether
he was to plough, sow, or harrow, &c. It is surprising to find, that
on the festival days of the Church, which were very numerous and
observed as holy days, the lord lost by no work being done, and the
same was the case in wet weather.

One of the most important duties of the tenant was the 'averagium', or
duty of carrying for the lord, especially necessary when his manors
were often a long way apart. He would often have to carry corn to the
nearest town for sale, the products of one manor to another, also to
haul manure on to the demesne. If he owned neither horse nor ox, he
would sometimes have to use his own back.[30]

The holding of the villein did not admit of partition by sale or
descent, it remained undivided and entire. When the holder died all
the land went to one of the sons if there were several, often to the
youngest. The others sought work on the manor as craftsmen or
labourers, or remained on the family plot. The holding therefore might
contain more than one family, but to the lord remained one and

In the fourth class came the bordarii, the cotarii, and the coliberti
or buri; or, as we should say, the crofters, the cottagers, and the

The bordarii numbered 82,600 in Domesday, and were subject to the same
kind of services as the villeins, but the amount of the service was
considerably less.[32] Their usual holding was 5 acres, and they are
very often found on the demesne of the manor, evidently in this case
labourers on the demesne, settled in cottages and provided with a bit
of land of their own. The name failed to take root in this country,
and the bordarii seem to become villeins or cottiers.[33]

The cotarii, cottiers or cottagers, were 6,800 in number, with small
pieces of land sometimes reaching 5 acres.[34] Distinctly inferior to
the villeins, bordarii, and cottars, but distinctly superior to the
slaves, were the buri or coliberti who, with the bordars and cottars,
would form a reserve of labour to supplement the ordinary working days
at times when work was pressing, as in hay time and harvest. At the
bottom of the social ladder in Domesday came the slaves, some 25,000
in number, who in the main had no legal rights, a class which had
apparently already diminished and was diminishing in numbers, so that
for the cultivation of the demesne the lord was coming to rely more on
the labour of his tenants, and consequently the labour services of the
villeins were being augmented.[35] The agricultural labourer as we
understand him, a landless man working solely for wages in cash, was
almost unknown.

All the arrangements of the manor aimed at supplying labour for the
cultivation of the lord's demesne, and he had three chief officers to
superintend it:

1. The seneschal, who answers to our modern steward or land agent, and
where there were several manors supervised all of them. He attended to
the legal business and held the manor courts. It was his duty to be
acquainted with every particular of the manor, its cultivation,
extent, number of teams, condition of the stock, &c. He was also the
legal adviser of his lord; in fact, very much like his modern

2. The bailiff for each manor, who collected rents, went to market to
buy and sell, surveyed the timber, superintended the ploughing,
mowing, reaping, &c., that were due as services from the tenants on
the lord's demesne; and according to _Fleta_ he was to prevent their
'casting off before the work was done', and to measure it when
done.[36] And considering that those he superintended were not paid
for their work, but rendering more or less unwelcome services, his
task could not have been easy.

3. The praepositus or reeve, an office obligatory on every holder of a
certain small quantity of land; a sort of foreman nominated from among
the villeins, and to a certain extent representing their interests.
His duties were supplementary to those of the bailiff: he looked after
all the live and dead stock of the manor, saw to the manuring of the
land, kept a tally of the day's work, had charge of the granary, and
delivered therefrom corn to be baked and malt to be brewed.[37]
Besides these three officers, on a large estate there would be a
messor who took charge of the harvest, and many lesser officers, such
as those of the akermanni, or leaders of the unwieldy plough teams;
oxherds, shepherds, and swineherds to tend cattle, sheep, and pigs
when they were turned on the common fields or wandered in the waste;
also wardens of the woods and fences, often paid by a share in the
profits connected with their charge; for instance, the swineherd of
Glastonbury Abbey received a sucking-pig a year, the interior parts of
the best pig, and the tails of all the others slaughtered.[38] On the
great estates these offices tended to become hereditary, and many
families did treat them as hereditary property, and were a great
nuisance in consequence to their lords. At Glastonbury we find the
chief shepherd so important a person that he was party to an agreement
concerning a considerable quantity of land.[39] There were also on
some manors 'cadaveratores', whose duty was to look into and report on
the losses of cattle and sheep from murrain, a melancholy tale of the
unhealthy conditions of agriculture.

The supervision of the tenants was often incessant and minute.
According to the Court Rolls of the Manor of Manydown in Hampshire,
tenants were brought to book for all kinds of transgressions. The
fines are so numerous that it almost appears that every person on the
estate was amerced from time to time. In 1365 seven tenants were
convicted of having pigs in their lord's crops, one let his horse run
in the growing corn, two had cattle among the peas, four had cattle on
the lord's pasture, three had made default in rent or service, four
were convicted of assault, nine broke the assize of beer, two had
failed to repair their houses or buildings. In all thirty-four were in
trouble out of a population of some sixty families. The account is
eloquent of the irritating restrictions of the manor, and of the
inconveniences of common farming.[40]

It is impossible to compare the receipts of the lord of the manor at
this period with modern rents, or the position of the villein with the
agricultural labourer; it may be said that the lord received a labour
rent for the villein's holding, or that the villein received his
holding as wages for the services done for the lord,[41] and part of
the return due to the lord was for the use of the oxen with which he
had stocked the villein's holding.

Though in 1066 there were many free villages, yet by the time of
Domesday they were fast disappearing and there were manors everywhere,
usually coinciding with the village which we may picture to ourselves
as self-sufficing estates, often isolated by stretches of dense
woodland and moor from one another, and making each veritably a little
world in itself. At the same time it is evident from the extent of
arable land described in Domesday that many manors were not greatly
isolated, and pasture ground was often common to two or more

If we picture to ourselves the typical manor, we shall see a large
part of the lord's demesne forming a compact area within which stood
his house; this being in addition to the lord's strips in the open
fields intermixed with those of his tenants. The mansion house was
usually a very simple affair, built of wood and consisting chiefly of
a hall; which even as late as the seventeenth century in some cases
served as kitchen, dining room, parlour, and sleeping room for the
men; and one or two other rooms.[43] It is probable that in early
times the thegns possessed in most cases only one manor apiece,[44] so
that the manor house was then nearly always inhabited by the lord, but
after the Conquest, when manors were bestowed by scores and even
hundreds by William on his successful soldiers, many of them can only
have acted as the temporary lodging of the lord when he came to
collect his rent, or as the house of the bailiff. According to the
_Gerefa_, written about 1000--and there was very little alteration for
a long time afterwards--the mansion was adjacent to a court or yard
which the quadrangular homestead surrounded with its barns, horse and
cattle stalls, sheep pens and fowlhouse. Within this court were ovens,
kilns, salt-house, and malt-house, and perhaps the hayricks and wood
piles. Outside and surrounding the homestead were the enclosed arable
and grass fields of the portion of the demesne which may be called the
home farm, a kitchen garden, and probably a vineyard, then common in
England. The garden of the manor house would not have a large variety
of vegetables; some onions, leeks, mustard, peas, perhaps cabbage; and
apples, pears, cherries, probably damsons, plums,[45] strawberries,
peaches, quinces, and mulberries. Not far off was the village or town
of the tenants, the houses all clustering close together, each house
standing in a toft or yard with some buildings, and built of wood,
turf, clay, or wattles, with only one room which the tenant shared
with his live stock, as in parts of Ireland to-day. Indeed, in some
parts of Yorkshire at the beginning of the nineteenth century this
primitive simplicity still prevailed, live stock were still kept in
the house, the floors were of clay, and the family slept in boxes
round the solitary room. Examples of farmhouses clustered together at
some distance from their respective holdings still survive, though
generally built of stone. Next the village, though not always, for
they were sometimes at a distance by the banks of a stream, were the
meadows, and right round stretched the three open arable fields,
beyond which was the common pasture and wood,[46] and, encircling all,
heath, forest, and swamp, often cutting off the manor from the rest of
the world.

The basis of the whole scheme of measurement in Domesday was the hide,
usually of 120 acres, the amount of land that could be ploughed by a
team of 8 oxen in a year; a quarter of this was the virgate, an eighth
the bovate, which would therefore supply one ox to the common team.
These teams, however, varied; on the manors of S. Paul's Cathedral in
1222 they were sometimes composed of horses and oxen, or of 6 horses
only, sometimes 10 oxen.[47]

The farming year began at Michaelmas when, in addition to the sowing
of wheat and rye, the cattle were carefully stalled and fed only on
hay and straw, for roots were in the distant future, and the corn was
threshed with the flail and winnowed by hand. In the spring, after the
ploughing of the second arable field, the vineyard, where there was
one, was set out, and the open ditches, apparently the only drainage
then known, cleansed. In May it was time to set up the temporary
fences round the meadows and arable fields, and to begin fallowing the
third field.

A valuable document, describing the duties of a reeve, gives many
interesting details of eleventh-century farming:--

     'In May, June, and July one may harrow, carry out manure, set
     up sheep hurdles, shear sheep, do repairs, hedge, cut wood,
     weed, and make folds. In harvest one may reap; in August,
     September, and in October one may mow, set woad with a dibble,
     gather home many crops, thatch them and cover them over,
     cleanse the folds, prepare cattle sheds and shelters ere too
     severe a winter come to the farm, and also diligently prepare
     the soil. In winter one should plough and in severe frosts
     cleave timber, make an orchard, and do many affairs indoors,
     thresh, cleave wood, put the cattle in stalls and the swine in
     pigstyes, and provide a hen roost. In spring one should plough
     and graft, sow beans, set a vineyard, make ditches, hew wood
     for a wild deer fence; and soon after that, if the weather
     permit, set madder, sow flax seed and woad seed, plant a garden
     and do many things which I cannot fully enumerate that a good
     steward ought to provide.'[48]

The methods of cultivation were simple. The plough, if we may judge by
contemporary illustrations, had in the eleventh century a large wheel
and very short handles.[49] In the twelfth century Neckham describes
its parts: a beam, handles, tongue, mouldboard, coulter, and
share.[50] Breaking up the clods was done by the mattock or beetle,
and harrowing was done by hand with what looks like a large rake; the
scythes of the haymakers and the sickles of the reapers were very like
those that still linger on in some districts to-day.

Here is a list of tools and implements for the homestead: an axe,
adze, bill, awl, plane, saw, spokeshave, tie hook, auger, mattock,
lever, share, coulter, goad-iron, scythe, sickle, weed-hook, spade,
shovel, woad dibble, barrow, besom, beetle, rake, fork, ladder, horse
comb, shears, fire tongs, weighing scales, and a long list of spinning
implements necessary when farmers made their own clothes. The author
wisely remarks that one ought to have coverings for wains, plough
gear, harrowing tackle, &c.; and adds another list of instruments and
utensils: a caldron, kettle, ladle, pan, crock, firedog, dishes, bowls
with handles, tubs, buckets, a churn, cheese vat, baskets, crates,
bushels, sieves, seed basket, wire sieve, hair sieve, winnowing fans,
troughs, ashwood pails, hives, honey bins, beer barrels, bathing tub,
dishes, cups, strainers, candlesticks, salt cellar, spoon case, pepper
horn, footstools, chairs, basins, lamp, lantern, leathern bottles,
comb, iron bin, fodder rack, meal ark or box, oil flask, oven rake,
dung shovel; altogether a very complete list, the compiler of which
ends by saying that the reeve ought to neglect nothing that should
prove useful, not even a mousetrap, nor even, what is less, a peg for
a hasp.

Manors in 1086 were of all sizes, from one virgate to enormous
organizations like Taunton or Leominster, containing villages by the
score and hundreds of dependent holdings.[51] The ordinary size,
however, of the Domesday manor was from four to ten hides of 120 acres
each, or say from 500 to 1,200 acres,[52] and the Manor of Segenehou
in Bedfordshire may be regarded as typical. Held by Walter brother of
Seiher it had as much land as ten ploughs could work, four plough
lands belonging to the demesne and six to the villeins, of whom there
were twenty-four, with four bordarii and three serfs; thus the
villeins had 30 acres each, the normal holding. The manorial system
was in fact a combination of large farming by the lords, and small
farming by the tenants. Nor must we compare it to an ordinary estate;
for it was a dominion within which the lord had authority over
subjects of various ranks; he was not only a proprietor but a prince
with courts of his own, the arbiter of his tenants' rights as well as
owner of the land.

One of the most striking features of the Domesday survey is the large
quantity of arable land and the small quantity of meadow, which
usually was the only land whence they obtained their hay, for the
common pasture cannot often have been mown.[53] Indeed, it is
difficult to understand how they fed their stock in hard winters.

According to the returns, in many counties more acres were ploughed in
1086 than to-day; in some twice as much. In Somerset in 1086 there
were 577,000 acres of arable; in 1907, 178,967. In Gloucestershire, in
1086, 589,000 acres; in 1907, 238,456.[54] These are extreme
instances; but the preponderance of arable is startling, even if we
allow for the recent conversion of arable to pasture on account of the
low price of corn. Between the eleventh century and the sixteenth, the
laying down of land to grass must have proceeded on a gigantic scale,
for Harrison tells us that in his day England was mainly a grazing
country. No wonder Harrison's contemporaries complained of the decay
of tillage.

Mediaeval prices and statistics are, it is well known, to be taken
with great caution; but we may assume that the normal annual value of
land under cultivation in 1086 was about 2d. an acre.[55] Land indeed,
apart from the stock upon it, was worth very little: in the tenth and
eleventh centuries it appears that the hide, normally of 120 acres,
was only worth £5 to buy, apparently with the stock upon it. In the
time of Athelstan a horse was worth 120d., an ox 30d., a cow 20d., a
sheep 5d., a hog 8d., a slave £1--so that a slave was worth 8
oxen[56]; and these prices do not seem to have advanced by the
Domesday period.

According to the Pipe Roll of 1156, wheat was 1s. 6d. a quarter; but
prices then depended entirely on seasons, and we do not know whether
that was good or bad. However, many years later, in 1243 it was only
2s. a quarter at Hawsted.[57] In dear years, nearly always the result
of wet seasons, it went up enormously; in 1024 the English Chronicle
tells us the acre seed of wheat, that is about 2 bushels, sold for
4s.,[58] 3 bushels of barley for 6s. and 4 bushels of oats for 4s. In
1190 Holinshed says that, owing to a great dearth, the quarter of
wheat was 18s. 8d. The average price, however, in the twelfth century
was probably about 4s. a quarter.

In 1194 Roger of Hoveden[59] says an ox, a cow, and a plough horse
were the same price, 4s.; a sheep with fine wool 10d., with coarse
wool 6d.; a sow 12d., a boar 12d.

Sometimes prices were kept down by imports; 1258 was a bad and dear
year, 'most part of the corn rotted on the ground,' and was not all
got in till after November 1, so excessive was the wet and rain. And
upon the dearth a sore death and mortality followed for want of
necessary food to sustain the pining bodies of the poor people, who
died so thick that there were great pits made in churchyards to lay
the dead bodies in. And corn had been dearer if great store had not
come out of Almaine, but there came fifty great ships with wheat and
barley, meal and bread out of Dutchland, which greatly relieved the

Were the manors as isolated as some writers have asserted? Generally
speaking, we may say the means of communication were bad and many an
estate cut off almost completely from the outside world, yet the
manors must often have been connected by waterways, and sometimes by
good roads, with other manors and with the towns. Rivers in the Middle
Ages were far more used as means of communication than to-day, and
many streams now silted up and shallow were navigable according to
Domesday. Water carriage was, as always, much cheaper than land
carriage, and corn could be carried from Henley to London for 2d. or
3d. a quarter. The roads left by the Romans, owing to the excellence
of their construction, remained in use during the Middle Ages, and
must have been a great advantage to those living near them; but the
other roads can have been little better than mud tracks, except in the
immediate vicinity of the few large towns. The keeping of the roads in
repair, one part of the _trinoda necessitas_ was imposed on all lands;
but the results often seem to have been very indifferent, and they
appear largely to have depended on chance, or the goodwill or devotion
of neighbouring landowners.[61] Perhaps they would, except in the case
of the Roman roads, have been impassable but for the fact that the
great lords and abbots were constantly visiting their scattered
estates, and therefore were interested in keeping such roads in order.
But in those days people were contented with very little, and though
Edward I enforced the general improvement of roads in 1285, in the
fourteenth century they were decaying. Parliament adjourned thrice
between 1331 and 1380 because the state of the roads kept many of the
members away. In 1353 the high road running from Temple Bar, then the
western limit of London, to Westminster was 'so full of holes and
bogs' that the traffic was dangerous for men and carriages; and a
little later all the roads near London were so bad, that carriers 'are
oftentimes In peril of losing what they bring.' What must remote
country roads have been like when these important highways were in
this state? If members of Parliament, rich men riding good horses,
could not get to London, how did the clumsy wagons and carts of the
day fare? The Church might well pity the traveller, and class him with
the sick 'and the captive among the unfortunates whom she recommended
to the daily prayers of pious souls.'[62] Rivers were mainly crossed
by ford or ferry, though there were some excellent bridges, a few of
which still remain, maintained by the _trinoda necessitas_, by gilds,
by 'indulgences' promised to benefactors, and by toll, the right to
levy which, called pontage, was often spent otherwise than on the
repair of the bridge.

A few of the old open fields still exist, and the best surviving example
of an open-field parish is that of Laxton in Nottinghamshire.[63]
Nearly half the area of the parish remains in the form of two great
arable fields, and two smaller ones which are treated as two parts of
the third field. The different holdings, freehold and leasehold,
consist in part of strips of land scattered all over these fields. The
three-course system is rigidly adhered to, first year wheat, second
year spring corn, third year fallow.

In a corner of the parish is Laxton Heath, a common covered with
coarse grass where the sheep are grazed according to a 'stint'
recently determined upon, for when it was unstinted the common was
overstocked. The commonable meadows which the parish once had were
enclosed at a date beyond anyone's recollection, though the
neighbouring parish of Eakring still has some. There are other
enclosures in the remote parts of the parish which apparently
represent the old woodland. The inconvenience of the common-field
system was extreme. South Luffenham in Rutland, not enclosed till
1879, consisted of 1,074 acres divided among twenty-two owners into
1,238 pieces. In some places furrows served to divide the lands
instead of turf balks, which were of course always being altered.
Another difficulty arose from there being no check to high winds,
which would sometimes sweep the whole of the crops belonging to
different farmers in an inextricable heap against the nearest


[1] Vinogradoff, _Growth of the Manor_, p. 18; Medley, _Constitutional
History_, p. 15.

[2] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 257.

[3] Maitland, _Domesday Book and Beyond_, pp. 341 et seq.

[4] Stubbs, _Constitutional History_, §36.

[5] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 282,
says, 'As a rule it was not subject to redivision.'

[6] Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry and Commerce_, i. 42.

[7] Maitland, _op. cit._ p. 368.

[8] _Anonymous Treatise on Husbandry_, Royal Historical Society, pp.
xli. and 68. About 1230, Smyth, in his _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i.
113, says, 'At this time lay all lands in common fields, in one acre
or ridge, one man's intermixt with another.'

[9] See below.

[10] Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry and Commerce_, i. 74.
Maitland thinks the two-field system was as common as the three-field,
both in early and mediaeval times. _Domesday Book and Beyond_, p. 366.

[11] Nasse, _Agricultural Community of the Middle Ages_, p. 5. To-day
harvest generally commences about August 1, so that this, like the
growth of grapes in mediaeval times, seems to show our climate has
grown colder.

[12] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 264.

[13] Maitland, _op. cit._ p. 17.

[14] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 265.

[15] Maitland, _op. cit._ pp. 318 et seq.

[16] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 345.

[17] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 339.

[18] Maitland, _Domesday Book_, p. 110

[19] Vinogradoff, _op. cit._ p. 395.

[20] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, pp. 225 et seq.

[21] Maitland, _op. cit._ p. 23.

[22] Vinogradoff, _op. cit._ p. 433.

[23] In Domesday they number 108,500. Maitland, _Domesday Book_.

[24] Maitland, _op. cit._.

[25] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 300.

[26] _Domesday of S. Paul_, p. lxviii.

[27] Maitland, _Domesday Book_, p. 56.

[28] Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry and Commerce_, i. 166. In
some manors free tenants could sell their lands without the lord's
licence, in others not.

[29] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 279.

[30] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 285.

[31] Ibid. p. 246; and _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p.
448. At the end of the eighteenth century, in default of sons, lands
in some manors in Shropshire descended to the youngest
daughter.--Bishton, _General View of the Agriculture of Shropshire_,
p. 178.

[32] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 456.

[33] Maitland, Domesday Book, p. 40.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Maitland, _Domesday Book_, p. 35.

[36] _Fleta_, c. 73.

[37] _Domesday of S. Paul_, xxxv. _Fleta_, 'an anonymous work drawn up
in the thirteenth century to assist landowners in managing their
estates' says, the reeve 'shall rise early, and have the ploughs
yoked, and then walk in the fields to see that all is right and note
if the men be idle, or if they knock off work before the day's task is
fully done.'

[38] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 321.

[39] Ibid. p. 324.

[40] _Manor of Manydown_, Hampshire Record Society, p. 17. Breaking
the assize of beer meant selling it without a licence, or of bad
quality. The village pound was the consequence of the perpetual
straying of animals, and later on the vicar sometimes kept it. See
ibid. p. 104.

[41] Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry and Commerce_, i. 106.

[42] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 264.

[43] Andrews, _Old English Manor_, p. 111.

[44] _Domesday of S. Paul_, p. xxxvii.

[45] Thorold Rogers, _Agriculture and Prices_, i. 17: Cunningham,
_Industry and Commerce_, i. 55: Neckham, _De Natura Rerum_, Rolls
Series, ch. clxvi. Rogers says there were no plums, but Neckham
mentions them. See also Denton, _England in the Fifteenth Century_, p.
64. Matthew Paris says the severe winter in 1257 destroyed cherries,
plums and figs. _Chron. Maj._, Rolls Series, v. 660.

[46] Woods were used as much for pasture as for cutting timber and
underwood. Not only did the pigs feed there on the mast of oak, beech,
and chestnut, but goats and horned cattle grazed on the grassy

[47] The illustrations of contemporary MSS. usually show teams in the
plough of 2 or 4 oxen, and 4 was probably the team generally used,
according to Vinogradoff, _op. cit._ p. 253. It must, of course, have
varied according to the soil. Birch, in his _Domesday_, p. 219, says
he has never found a team of 8 in contemporary illustrations. To-day
oxen can be still seen ploughing in teams of two only. However, about
a hundred years ago, when oxen were in common use, we find teams of 8,
as in Shropshire, for a single-furrow plough, 'so as to work them
easily.' Six hours a day was the usual day's work, and when more was
required one team was worked in the morning, another in the
afternoon.--_Victoria County History: Shropshire, Agriculture_. Walter
of Henley says the team stopped work at three.

[48] Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry and Commerce_, i. 570.

[49] See the excellent reproductions of the Calendar of the Cott. MSS.
in Green's _Short History of the English People_, illustrated edition,
i. 155.

[50] _De Natura Rerum_, Rolls Series, p, 280.

[51] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 307.

[52] Ibid. p. 312. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the
smaller manors is that they were constantly being swallowed up by the

[53] As some of the common pasture was held in severalty, this may
perhaps have been mown in scarce years. Walter of Henley mentions
mowing the waste, see below, p. 34.

[54] Maitland, _Domesday Book_, 436; _Board of Agriculture Returns_,

[55] Vinogradoff, _English Society in the Eleventh Century_, p. 310;
Birch, _Domesday_, p. 183.

[56] Maitland, _Domesday Book_. 44; Cunningham, _Growth of Industry
and Commerce_, i. 171; _Domesday of S. Paul_, pp. xliii. and xci.

[57] Cullum, _History of Hawsted_, p. 181.

[58] Rolls Series, ii. 220. According to this, the price of a bushel
of wheat reckoned in modern money was £3 in that year

[59] Ibid. iii. 220.

[60] Holinshed, who is supported by William of Malmesbury in the
assertion that in time of scarcity England imported corn. Matthew
Paris, _Chron. Maj._, v. 673.

[61] Jusserand, _English Wayfaring Life_, p. 79.

[62] Jusserand, _English Wayfaring Life_, p. 89.

[63] Gilbert Slater, _The English Peasantry and the Enclosure of
Common Fields_, p. 8.



In the thirteenth century the manorial system may be said to have been
in its zenith; the description therefore of Cuxham Manor in
Oxfordshire at that date is of special interest. According to
Professor Thorold Rogers[64] there were two principal tenants, each
holding the fourth part of a military fee. The prior of Holy Trinity,
Wallingford, held a messuage, a mill, and 6 acres of land in free
alms; i.e. under no obligation or liability other than offering
prayers on behalf of the donor. A free tenant had a messuage and 3-3/4
acres, the rent of which was 3s. a year. He also had another messuage
and nine acres, for which he paid the annual rent of 1 lb. of pepper,
worth about 1s. 3d. The rector of the parish had part of a furrow,
i.e. one of the divisions of the common arable field, and paid 2d. a
year for it. Another tenant held a cottage in the demesne under the
obligation of keeping two lamps lighted in the church. Another person
was tenant-at-will of the parish mill, at a rent of 40s. a year. The
rest of the tenants were villeins or cottagers, thirteen of the former
and eight of the latter. Each of the villeins had a messuage and half
a virgate, 12 to 15 acres of arable land at least, for which his rent
was chiefly corn and labour, though there were two money payments, a
halfpenny on November 12 and a penny whenever he brewed. He had to pay
a quarter of seed wheat at Michaelmas, a peck of wheat, 4 bushels of
oats, and 3 hens on November 12, and at Christmas a cock, two hens,
and two pennyworth of bread. His labour services were to plough, sow,
and till half an acre of the lord's land, and give his work as
directed by the bailiff except on Sundays and feast days. In harvest
time he was to reap three days with one man at his own cost.

Some of these tenants held, besides their half virgates, other plots
of land for which each had to make hay for one day for the lord, with
a comrade, and received a halfpenny; also to mow, with another, three
days in harvest time, at their own charges, and another three days
when the lord fed them. After harvest six pennyworth of beer was
divided among them, each received a loaf of bread, and every evening
when work was over each reaper might carry away the largest sheaf of
corn he could lift on his sickle.

The cottagers paid from 1s. 2d. to 2s. a year for their holdings, and
were obliged to work a day or two in the hay-making, receiving
therefor a halfpenny. They also had to do from one to four days'
harvest work, during which they were fed at the lord's table. For the
rest of the year they were free labourers, tending cattle or sheep on
the common for wages or working at the various crafts usual in the
village. This manor was a small one, and contained in all twenty-four
households, numbering from sixty to seventy inhabitants.[65]

On most manors, as in Forncett,[66] which contained about 2,700 acres,
from the preponderance of arable, the chief source of income to the
lord was from the grain crops; other sources may be seen from the
following table of the lord's receipts and expenses in 1272-3:

                              £    s.    d.
  Fixed rents                18    3    7-3/4
  Farm of market              0    2    6
  Chevage[67]                 0    8    6
  Foldage                     0    3    9-1/2
  Sale of works               5   13    2-3/4
  Herbage                     1    0    4
  Hay                         2   12   11
  Turf, &c.                   1   13    6-1/2
  Underwood                   5   10    2
  Grain                      61   12    3-1/4
  Cider                       1    1   11-1/4
  Stock                       5    3    0
  Dairy                       4    3    0-3/4
  Pleas                      14    0    0
  Tallage                    16   13    4
                           £128    2    2-3/4

                              £    s.    d.

  Rents paid and allowed      0    3    2-1/2
  Ploughs and carts           2   17    4
  Buildings and walls         4    5   10-1/2
  Small necessaries           0    7   10-3/4
  Dairy                       0    4    3-1/4
  Threshing                   1   15    5-1/2
  Meadow and autumn expenses  0    1    4
  Stock                       0   16    7
  Bailiff                     1   19    0
  Steward                     1    6    9-1/2
  Grain                       8    2    4-1/2
  Expenses of acct.           1    0    8-1/2
                            £23    0    9-3/4

The manor was almost entirely self-sufficing; of necessity, for towns
were few and distant, and the roads to them bad. Each would have its
smith, millwright, thatcher, &c., paid generally in kind for their
services. There was little trade with the outside world, except for
salt--an invaluable article when meat had to be salted down every
autumn for winter use, since there were no roots to keep the cattle
on--and iron for some of the implements. Nearly everything was made in
the village.

The mediaeval system of tillage was compulsory; even the freeholders
could not manage their plots as they wished, because all the soil of
the township formed one whole and was managed by the entire village.
Even the lord[68] had to conform to the customs of the community. Any
other system than this, which must have been galling to the more
enterprising, was impossible, for as the various holdings lay in
unfenced strips all over the great common fields, individual
initiative was out of the question. As may be imagined, the great
number of strips all mixed together often led to great confusion,
sometimes 2 or 3 acres could not be found at all, and disputes owing
to careless measurement were frequent.

It is not surprising that the services by which the villeins paid rent
for their holdings to the lord very early began to be commuted for
money; it was much more convenient to both parties; and with this
change from a 'natural economy' to a 'money economy' the destruction
of the manorial system commenced, though it was to take centuries to
effect it.

The first money payments apparently date from as early as 900,[69]
but must then have been very few, and services were the rule in the
thirteenth and earlier centuries, though at the beginning of the
twelfth we find a great number of rent-paying tenants.[70] In the
fourteenth century money began to be more generally available, and the
process of commutation grew steadily; a process greatly accelerated by
the destruction of large numbers of tenants who paid rent in services
by the Black Death of 1348-9, which forced lords of manors to let
their lands for money or work them themselves with hired labour.
Before that visitation, however, it appears that commutation of labour
services for fixed annual payments had made very little progress.[71]

When these services were commuted for money in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries they were put at 1d. a day in winter, and 2d. a
day in summer, and rather more in harvest[72]; and we may put the
ordinary agricultural labourers' wages from 1250-1350 all the year
round at 2d. a day, and from 1350-1400 at 3d., but few were paid in
this way. Many were paid by the year, with allowances of food besides
and sometimes clothes, and many were in harvest at all events paid by
the piece. At Crondal in Hampshire in 1248 a carter by the year
received 4s., a herdsman 2s. 3d., a day a or dairymaid, 2s.[73] The
change to money payments was beneficial to both parties; it stopped
many of the dishonest practices of the lord's bailiff, apart from the
fact that farming by officials was an expensive method. It meant, too,
that religious festivals and bad weather would no longer diminish the
lord's profits; on the other hand, the tenant could devote himself
entirely to his holding free from annoying labour services.[74]

The state of agriculture at the time of Domesday was apparently very
low, judging by the small returns of manors,[75] but by the time of
Edward I it had made considerable progress. During the reign of Henry
III England had grown in opulence, and continued to do so under his
great son, who found time from his manifold tasks to encourage
agriculture and horticulture. Fruit and forest trees, shrubs and
flowers, were introduced from the continent, and we are told that the
hop flourished in the royal gardens.[76] At his death England was
prosperous, the people progressing in comfort, the population
advancing, the agricultural labourers were increasing in numbers, the
value of the land had risen and was rising. Then came a reaction from
which England did not recover for two centuries, and Harrison, who
wrote his description of England at the end of the sixteenth century,
says that many of the improvements began to be neglected in process of
time, so that from Henry IV till the latter end of Henry VII there was
little or no use for them in England, 'but they remained unknown.'

The Hundred Rolls of Edward I, which embody the results of the labours
of a commission appointed by that monarch to inquire into encroachments
on royal lands and royal jurisdiction, show clearly that there had
been since the Domesday Survey a very great growth in the rural
population, a sure sign that agriculture was flourishing; and on some
estates the number of free tenants had increased largely, but the
burdens of the villeins were not less onerous than they had been.

It was in the thirteenth century that the practice of keeping strict
and minute accounts became general, and the accounts of the bailiff of
those days would be a revelation to the bailiff of these.

At the same time we must not forget that the earliest improvements in
English agriculture were largely due to the monks, who from their
constant journeys abroad were able to bring back new plants and seeds;
while it is well known that many of the religious houses, the
Cistercians especially, who always settled in the remote country, were
most energetic farmers, their energy being materially assisted by
their wealth. It is said that the great Becket when he visited a
monastery did not disdain to labour in the field.

Among other benefits that the landed interest gained at this time was
the more easy transference of land provided, _inter alia_, by the
statute of _Quia Emptores_, which led to many tenants selling their
lands, provided the rights of the lord were preserved, and to a great
increase consequently of free tenants, many of whom had quite small
holdings.[77] The amalgamation of holdings by the more industrious and
skilful has, as we should expect, been a well-marked tendency all
through the history of English agriculture, and began early. For
instance, according to the records of S. Paul's Cathedral, John
Durant, whose ancestor in 1222 held only one virgate in 'Cadendon',
had in 1279 eight or ten at least. At 'Belchamp', Martin de Suthmere,
one of the free tenants, held 245 acres by himself and his tenants,
twenty-two in number, who rendered service to him; one of them being
de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who held 17 acres under Martin. To such a
position had the abler of the small holders of a century or so before
already pushed their way, in spite of the heavy hand of feudalism,
which did much to hinder individual initiative. At this period and
until Tudor times England, as regards the cultivated land, was
essentially a corn-growing country; the greater part of the lord's
demesne was arable, and the tillage fields of the villeins largely
exceeded their meadows. For instance, in 1285 the cultivated lands at
Hawsted in Suffolk were nearly all under the plough; in seven holdings
there were 968 acres of arable and only 40 of meadow, a proportion of
24 to 1. No doubt there was plenty of common pasture, but we cannot
call this cultivated land. The seven holdings were as follows:[78]


                                         Arable.    Meadow.    Wood.

  Thomas Fitzeustace, lord of the manor    240        10        10
  William Tallemache                       280        12        24
  Philip Noel                              120         4         7
  Robert de Ros                             56         3         5
  Walter de Stanton                         80         3         1
  William de Camaville                     140         6         8
  John Beylham                              52         2         3
                                           ---        --        --
                                           968        40        58

These were the larger tenants; among the smaller several had no meadow
at all.

We must not forget that the grazing of the tillage fields after the
crops were off was of great assistance to those who kept stock; for
there was plenty to eat on the stubbles. The wheat was cut high, the
straw often apparently left standing 18 inches or 2 feet high; weeds
of all kinds abounded, for the land was badly cleaned; and often only
the upper part of the high ridges, into which the land was thrown for
purposes of drainage, was cultivated, the lower parts being left to
natural grass.[79]

The greatest authority for the farming of the thirteenth century is
Walter of Henley, who wrote, about the middle of it, a work which held
the field as an agricultural textbook until Fitzherbert wrote in the
sixteenth century, and much of his advice is valuable to-day. There
was from his time until the days of William Marshall, who wrote five
centuries afterwards, a controversy as to the respective merits of
horses and oxen as draught animals, and it is a curious fact that the
later writer agreed with the earlier as to the superiority of oxen. 'A
plough of oxen', says Walter, 'will go as far in the year as a plough
of horses, because the malice of the ploughman will not allow the
plough of horses to go beyond their pace, no more than the plough of
oxen. Further, in very hard ground where the plough of horses will
stop, the plough of oxen will pass. And the horse costs more than the
ox, for he is obliged to have the sixth part of a bushel of oats every
night, worth a halfpenny at least, and twelve pennyworth of grass in
the summer. Besides, each week he costs more or less a penny a week in
shoeing, if he must be shod on all four feet;' which was not the
universal custom.

'But the ox has only to have 3-1/2 sheaves of oats per week (ten
sheaves yielding a bushel of oats), worth a penny, and the same amount
of grass as the horse.[80] And when the horse is old and worn out
there is nothing but his skin, but when the ox is old with ten
pennyworth of grass he shall be fit for the larder.'[81]

The labourer of the Middle Ages could not complain of lack of
holidays; Walter of Henley tells us that, besides Sundays, eight weeks
were lost in the year from holidays and other hindrances.[82]

He advises the sowing of spring seed on clay or on stony land early,
because if it is dry in March the ground will harden too much and the
stony ground become dry and open; therefore fore sow early that corn
may be nourished by winter moisture. Chalky and sandy ground need not
be sown early. At sowing, moreover, do not plough large furrows, but
little and well laid together, that the seed may fall evenly. Let your
land be cleaned and weeded after S. John's Day, June 24, for before
that is not a good time; and if thistles are cut before S. John's Day
'for every one will come two or three.' Do not sell your straw; if you
take away the least you lose much; words which many a landlord to-day
doubtless wishes were fixed in the minds of his tenants.

Manure should be mixed with earth, for it lasts only two or three
years by itself, but with earth it will last twice as long; for when
the manure and the earth are harrowed together the earth shall keep
the manure so that it cannot waste by descending in the soil, which it
is apt to do.

'Feed your working oxen before some one, and with chaff. Why? I will
tell you. Because it often happens that the oxherd steals the

The oxen were also to be bathed, and curried when dry with a wisp of
straw, which would cause them to lick themselves.

'Change your seed every year at Michaelmas; for seed grown on other
ground will bring more profit than that which is grown on your own.'

Apparently the only drainage then practised was that of furrow and
open ditch; and we find him saying that to free your lands from too
much water, let the marshy ground be well ridged, and the water made
to run, and so the ground may be freed from water.

Here is his estimate of the cost of wheat growing[83]:

     'You know surely that an acre sown with wheat takes three
     ploughings, except lands which are sown yearly; and that each
     ploughing is worth 6d. and the harrowing 1d., and on the acre
     it is necessary to sow at least two bushels. Now two bushels at
     Michaelmas are worth at least 12d., and weeding 1/2d., and
     reaping 5d., and carrying in August 1d., and the straw will pay
     for the threshing.'[83]

The return was wretched: 'at three times your sowing you ought to have
6 bushels, worth 3s.' The total cost is thus 3s. 1-1/2d.; and without
debiting anything for rent and manure, the loss would be 1-1/2d. an

The anonymous _Treatise on Husbandry_ of about the same date says,
however, that 'wheat ought to yield to the fifth grain, oats to the
fourth, barley to the eighth, beans and peas to the sixth.'[84] In the
years 1243-8 the average yield of wheat at Combe, Oxfordshire, was 5
bushels per acre, of barley a little over 5, oats 7. In the Manor of
Forncett, in various years from 1290 to 1306, wheat yielded about 10
bushels, oats from 12 to 16, barley 16, and peas from 4 to 12 bushels
per acre.[85]

As for the dairy, 2 cows, says Walter, should yield a wey, (2 cwt) of
cheese annually, and half a gallon of butter a week, 'if sorted out
and fed in pasture of salt marsh;' but 'in pasture of wood or in
meadows after mowing, or in stubble, it should take 3 cows for the
same.' Twenty ewes, which it was then the custom to milk, fed in
pasture of salt marsh, ought to yield the same as the 2 cows. A gallon
of butter was worth 6d., and weighed 7 lb. And the anonymous treatise
says each cow ought to yield from the day after Michaelmas until the
first kalends of May, twenty-eight weeks, 10d. more or less; and from
the first kalends of May till Michaelmas, twenty-four weeks, the milk
of a cow should be worth 3s. 6d.; and she should give also 6 stones
(14 lb. per stone) of cheese, and 'as much butter as shall make as
much cheese.'[86] It was a common practice all through the Middle
Ages, and survives in localities to-day, to let out the cows by the
year, at from 3s. to 6s. 8d. a head, often to the daya or dairymaid,
the owner supplying the food, and the lessee agreeing to restore them
in equal number and condition at the end of the term.[87] The
anonymous treatise tells us that 'if you wish to farm out your stock
you can take 4s. 6d. clear for each cow and the tithe, and for a sheep
6d. and the tithe, and a sow should bring you 6s. 6d. a year and
acquit the tithe, and each hen 9d. and the tithe; and Walter says,
'When I was bailiff the dairymaids had the geese and hens to farm, the
geese at 12d. and the hens at 3d.'

Among other information conveyed by these two treatises we learn that
the poor servants or labourers were accustomed to be fed on the
diseased sheep, salted and dried; but Walter adds, 'I do not wish you
to do this.' Nor can we point the finger of scorn at this: for in the
disastrous season of 1879 numbers of rotten sheep were sold to the
butcher and consumed by the unsuspecting public without even being
salted and dried.

He further tells us that 'you can well have 3 acres weeded for 1d.,
and an acre of meadow mown for 4d., and an acre of waste meadow for
3-1/2d. And know that 5 men can well reap and bind 2 acres a day of
each kind of corn, and where each takes 2d. a day then you must give
5d. an acre.'[88] 'One ought to thresh a quarter of wheat or rye for
2d. and a quarter of oats for 1d. A sow ought to farrow twice a year,
having each time at least 7 pigs; and each goose 5 goslings a year and
each hen 115 eggs and 7 chicks, 3 of which ought to be made capons;
and for 5 geese you must have one gander, and for 5 hens one cock.'
The laying qualities of the hen, in spite of the talk of the 200-egg
bird, were evidently as good then as to-day. In those days of
self-supporting farms it was the custom to put together the farm
implements at home, and the farmer is advised that it will be well if
he can have carters and ploughmen who should know how to work all
their own wood, though it should be necessary to pay them more.[89]
The village smith, however, seems, as we should expect, to have done
most of the iron work that was needed.[90]

These extracts have given the reader some insight into
thirteenth-century prices, prices which in the case of grain altered
very little for nearly 300 years: for instance, the average price of
wheat from 1259 to 1400 was 5s. 10-3/4d. a quarter, and from 1401 to
1540 5s. 11-3/4d.; of barley, 4s. 3-3/4d. from 1259 to 1400, 3s.
8-3/4d. from 1401 to 1540; of oats, 2s. 5-3/4d. and 2s. 2-1/4d. in the
same two periods respectively; of rye, 4s. 5d. and 4s. 7-3/4d.; and of
beans, 4s. 3-1/2d. and 3s. 9-1/4d.[91] Wheat fluctuated considerably,
being as we have seen 2s. a quarter at Hawsted in 1243 and in 1290
14s. 10d., a most exceptional price. Oxen, which were chiefly valued
as working animals, were about 13s. apiece[92]; cows, 9s. 5d. Farm
horses were of two varieties: the 'affer' or 'stott', a rough small
animal, generally worth about 13s. 5d., and the cart-horse, probably
the ancestor of our shire horses, whose average price was 19s. 4d. A
good saddle-horse fetched as much as £5. Sheep were from 1s. 2d. to
1s. 5d. each. In Hampshire in 1248 shoeing ten farm horses for the
plough for a year cost 5s.; making a gate cost 12d. As Walter of
Henley said, it cost a penny a week to shoe a horse on all four feet;
these horses must have been very roughly shod.[93] It is evident, from
what Walter of Henley says, that horses were not always shod on all
four feet, and their shoes were generally very light. The roads were
mere tracks without any metalling, so that there was little necessity
for heavy shoes; and as Professor Thorold Rogers suggests, it is quite
possible that the hoofs of our horses have become weaker by reason of
the continual paring and protection which modern shoeing involves.[94]
They weighed usually less than half a pound, and cost about 4s. a

The most striking fact about agricultural prices at this date is the
low price of land compared with that of its products. The annual rent
of land was from 4d. to 6d.[95] an acre, and it was worth about ten
years' purchase. Consequently, a quarter of wheat was often worth more
than an acre of land, a good ox three times as much, a good cart-horse
four times, while a good war-horse was worth the fee-simple of a small
farm. A greater breadth of wheat was sown than of any other crop; but
it seems that none was ever stored except in the castles and
monasteries, for in spite of successive abundant harvests a bad season
would send the price up at once. Barley was, as now, chiefly used for
making beer, which was also made from oats and wheat, of course
without hops, which were not used till the fifteenth century; and
sometimes it was made of oats, barley, and wheat, a concoction worth
3/4d. a gallon in 1283.[96] Cider was also drunk, and was sold at
Exminster in Devonshire in 1286 at 1/2d. a gallon, and apples fetched
2d. a bushel. Thorold Rogers[97] says that wheat was the chief food of
the English labourer from the earliest times until perhaps the
seventeenth century, when the enormous prices were prohibitive; but
this statement must be taken with reserve, as must that of Mr.
Prothero[98] that rye was the bread-stuff of the peasantry. Where the
labourer's food is mentioned as part of his wages, wheat, barley, and
rye all occur, wheat and rye being often mixed together as 'mixtil';
and it is most probable that in one district wheat, in another one of
the other cereals, formed his chief bread-stuff, according to the crop
best adapted to the soil of the locality.

Walter of Henley mentions wheat as if it was the chief crop, for he
selects it as best illustrating the cost of corn-growing[99]; and from
the enormous number of entries enumerated by Thorold Rogers in his
mediaeval statistics it was apparently more grown than other cereals.
The chief meat of the lower classes then, as to-day, was bacon from
the innumerable herds of swine who roamed in the woods and wastes, but
in bad years, when food was scarce, the poor ate nuts, acorns, fern
roots, bark, and vetches.[100]

As the cattle of the Middle Ages were like the mountain cattle of
to-day, so were the sheep like many of the sheep to be seen in the
Welsh mountains; yet, unlike the cattle, an attempt seems to have been
made, judging by the high price of rams, to improve the breed; but
they were probably poor animals worth from 1s. to 1s. 6d. each, with a
small fleece weighing about a pound and a half, worth 3d. a lb. or a
little more.


[64] _Six Centuries of Work and Wages_, p. 39. No one can write on
English agriculture without acknowledging a deep debt to his
monumental industry, though his opinions are often open to question.

[65] Compare the account of the manors in Huntingdonshire belonging to
Romsey Abbey given in Page _End of Villeinage in England_, pp. 28 et

[66] Davenport, _A Norfolk Manor_, p. 36; and see Hall, _Pipe Roll of
Bishopric of Winchester_, p. xxv.

[67] Chevage, poll money, paid to the lord.

[68] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 230.

[69] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 117.

[70] Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 307. On the Berkeley
estates in 1189-1220 money was so scarce with the tenants that the
rents, apparently even where services had been commuted, were commonly
paid in oxen.--Smyth, _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 101. In the
thirteenth century the labour services of the villeins were stricter
than in the eleventh. Vinogradoff, _op. cit._ 298.

[71] Page, _End of Villeinage_, p. 39.

[72] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, i. 82.

[73] Hampshire Record Society, i. 64. See Appendix, i.

[74] Hasbach, _English Agricultural Labourer_, p. 14.

[75] Hallam, _Middle Ages_, iii. 361

[76] Denton, _England in the Fifteenth Century_, p. 56.

[77] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 273.

[78] Cullum, _History of Hawsted_, 1784 ed., p. 180.

[79] Ballard, _Domesday_, p. 207.

[80] Walter of Henley, Royal Historical Society, p. 12.

[81] Walter reckons the above food of the horse at 12s. 3d., and of
the ox at 3s. 1d.; but both are wrong.

[82] Ibid. p. 15.

[83] Walter of Henley, Royal Historical Society, p. 19.

[84] Walter of Henley, Royal Historical Society, p. 71.

[85] Davenport, _A Norfolk Manor_, pp. 29 et seq. See also Hall, _Pipe
Roll of the Bishopric of Winchester_, p. xxvi, which gives an average
yield of wheat over a large area in 1298-9 at 4.3 bushels per acre.

[86] Walter of Henley, Royal Historical Society, p. 77.

[87] Thorold Rogers, _Agriculture and Prices_, i. 397; _Archaeologia_,
xviii. 281.

[88] Walter of Henley, pp. 69, 75. In Lancashire, at the end of the
thirteenth century, mowing 60-1/2 acres cost 17s. 7-1/2d. _Victoria
County History, Lancashire, Agriculture_, and _Two Compoti of the
Lancashire and Cheshire Manors of Henry de Lacy_ (Cheetham Society).

[89] Walter of Henley, p. 63.

[90] _Crondall, Records_, Hampshire Record Society, i. 65.

[91] See Thorold Rogers, various tables in vol. i. of _History of
Agriculture and Prices_. Compare these with the prices on the Berkeley
estates from 1281 to 1307, omitting years of scarcity: wheat, 2s. 4d.
to 5s.; oxen, 10s. to 12s.; cows, 9s. to 10s.; bacon hogs, 5s.; fat
sheep, 1s. 6d. to 2s.; and in the early part of Edward III's reign,
wheat, 5s. 4d. to 10s.; oxen, 14s. to 24s. Other prices about the
same.--Smyth, _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 160.

[92] If it is true, as generally stated, that the mediaeval ox was
one-third the size of his modern successor, it is apparent that he was
a very dear animal. Cattle at this date suffered from the ravages of

[93] _Crondall, Records_, Hampshire Record Society, i. 64.

[94] _History of Agriculture and Prices_, i. 528.

[95] Seebohm, _Transactions of Royal Historical Society_, New Series,
xvii. 288, says that rent in the fourteenth century was commonly 4d.;
the usual average is stated at 6d. an acre.

[96] _Domesday of S. Paul_, Camden Society, p. li.

[97] _History of Agriculture and Prices_, i. 26.

[98] _Pioneers of Agriculture_, p. 13.

[99] Ed. Lamond, Royal Historical Society, p. 19.

[100] Denton, _England in the Fifteenth Century_, p. 93.



After the death of Edward I in 1307 the progress of English
agriculture came to a standstill, and little advance was made till
after the battle of Bosworth in 1485. The weak government of Edward
II, the long French War commenced by Edward III and lasting over a
hundred years, and the Wars of the Roses, all combined to impoverish
the country. England, too, was repeatedly afflicted during the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by pestilences, sometimes caused by
famines, sometimes coming with no apparent cause; all probably
aggravated, if not caused, by the insanitary habits of the people. The
mention of plagues, indeed, at this time is so frequent that we may
call them chronic.

At this period corn and wool were the two main products of the farmer;
corn to feed his household and labourers, and wool to put money in his
pocket, a somewhat rare thing.

English wool, which came to be called 'the flower and strength and
revenue and blood of England', was famous in very early times, and was
exported long before the Conquest. In Edgar's reign the price was
fixed by law, to prevent it getting into the hands of the foreigner
too cheaply; a wey, or weigh, was to be sold for 120d.[101] Patriotic
Englishmen asserted it was the best in the world, and Henry II, Edward
III, and Edward IV are said to have improved the Spanish breed by
presents of English sheep. Spanish wool, however, was considered the
best from the earliest times until the Peninsular War, when the Saxon
and Silesian wools deposed it from its pride of place. Smith, in his
_Memoirs of Wool_,[102] is of the opinion that England 'borrowed some
parts of its breed from thence, as it certainly did the whole from one
place or another.' Spanish wool, too, was imported into England at an
early date, the manufacture of it being carried on at Andover in
1262.[103] Yet until the fourteenth century it was not produced in
sufficient quantities to compete seriously with English wool in the
markets of the Continent; and it appears to have been the long wools,
such as those of the modern Leicester and Lincoln, from which England
chiefly derived its fame as a wool-producing country.

Our early exports went to Flanders, where weaving had been introduced
a century before the Conquest, and, in spite of the growth of the
weaving industry in England, to that country the bulk of it continued
to go, all through the Middle Ages, though in the thirteenth century a
determined effort was made to divert a larger share of English wool to
Italy.[104] During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the export
of wool was frequently forbidden,[105] sometimes for political
objects, but also to gain the manufacture of cloth for England by
keeping our wool from the foreigner; but these measures did not stop
the export, they only hampered it and encouraged much smuggling. It
commanded what seems to us an astonishing price, for 3d. a lb. in the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is probably equal to nearly 4s. in
our money. Its value, and the ease with which it could be packed and
carried, made it an object of great importance to the farmer. In
1337[106] we have a schedule of the price of wool in the various
counties of England, for in that year 30,000 sacks of the best wool
was ordered to be bought in various districts by merchants for Edward
III, to provide the sinews of war against France. The price for the
best wool was to be fixed by the king, his council, and the merchants;
the 'gross' wool being bought by agreement between buyer and seller.
Of the former the highest price fixed was for the wool of Hereford,
then and for long afterwards famous for its excellent quality, 12
marks the sack of 364 lb.; and the lowest for that of the northern
counties, 5 marks the sack.

Somewhat more than a century afterwards we have another similar list
of wool prices, when in 1454 the Commons petitioned the king that 'as
the wools growing within this realm have hitherto been the great
commodity, enriching, and welfare of this land, and how of late the
price is greatly decayed so that the Commons were not able to pay
their rents to their lords', the king would fix certain prices under
which wools should not be bought. The highest price fixed was for the
wool of 'Hereford, in Leominster', £13 a sack; the lowest for that of
Suffolk, £2 12s.[107]; the average being about £4 10s.

The manorial accounts of the Knights' Hospitallers, who then held land
all over England, afford valuable information as to agriculture in
1338.[108] From these we gather that the rent of arable land varied
from 2d. to 2s. an acre; but the latter sum was very exceptional, and
there are only two instances of it given, in Lincolnshire and Kent.
Most of the tillage rented for less than 1s. an acre, more than half
being at 6d. or under, and the average about 6d. On the other hand,
meadow land is seldom of less value than 2s. an acre, and in
Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, and Norfolk rose to 3s. This is one of the
numerous proofs of the great value of meadow land at a time when hay
was almost the sole winter food of stock; in some places it was eight
or ten times as valuable as the arable.[109] The pasture on the
Hospitallers' estates was divided into several and common pasture, the
former often reaching 1s. an acre and sometimes 2s., the latter rarely
exceeding 4d. The most usual way, however, of stating the value of
pasture was by reckoning the annual cost of feeding stock per head,
cows being valued at 2s., oxen at 1s., a horse at a little less than
an ox, a sheep at 1d. The reign of Edward III was a great era for
wool-growers, and the Hospitallers at Hampton in Middlesex had a flock
of 2,000 sheep whose annual produce was six sacks of wool of 364 lb.
each, worth £4 a sack, which would make the fleeces weigh a little
more than 1 lb. each. The profit of cows on one of their manors was
reckoned at 2s. per head, on another at 3s.; and the profit of 100
sheep at 20s.[110] The wages paid to the labourers for day work were
2d. a day, and we must remember that when he was paid by the day his
wages were rightly higher than when regularly employed, for day labour
was irregular and casual. The tenants about the same date obtained the
following prices[111] for some of their stock:--

                                            £   s.  d.

  A good ox, alive, fatted on corn          1   4   0
       "       "        "  not on corn         16   0
  A fatted cow                                 12   0
  A two-year-old hog                            3   4
  A sheep and its fleece                        1   8
  A fatted sheep, shorn                         1   2
       "   goose                                0   3
  Hens, each[112]                               0   2
  20 eggs                                       0   1

In the middle of the fourteenth century occurred the famous Black
Death, the worst infliction that has ever visited England. Its story
is too well known for repetition, and it suffices to say that it was
like the bubonic plague in the East of to-day: it raged in 1348-9, and
killed from one-third to one-half of the people.[113] It is said to
have effected more important economic results than any other event in
English history. It is probable that the prices of labour were rising
before this terrible calamity; the dreadful famine of 1315-6,[114]
followed by pestilence, when wheat went up to 26s. a quarter, and
according to the contemporary chroniclers, in some cases much higher,
destroyed a large number of the population, and other plagues had done
their share to make labour scarce, but after the Black Death the
advance was strongly marked. It also accelerated the break-up of the
manorial system. A large number of the free labourers were swept away,
and their labour lost to the lord of the manor; the services of the
villeins were largely diminished from the same cause; many of the
tenants, both free and unfree, were dead, and the land thrown on the
lord's hands. Flocks and herds were wandering about over the country
because there was no one to tend them. In short, most manors were in a
state of anarchy, and their lords on the verge of ruin. It is not to
be wondered at, therefore, that they immediately adopted strong
measures to save themselves and their property and, no doubt they
thought, the whole country. Englishmen had by this time learnt to turn
to Parliament to remedy their ills, but as the plague was still raging
a proclamation was issued of which the preamble states that wages had
already gone up greatly. 'Many, seeing the necessity of masters and
great scarcity of servants, will not serve unless they get excessive
wages', and it is, therefore, hard to till the land. Every one under
the age of 60, it was ordered, free or villein, who can work, and has
no other means of livelihood, is not to refuse to work for any one who
offers the accustomed wages; no labourer is to receive more wages than
he did before the plague, and none are to give more wages under severe
penalties. But besides regulating wages, the proclamation also insists
on reasonable prices for food and the necessaries of life: it was a
fair attempt not only to protect the landlords but the labourers also,
by keeping both wages and prices at their former rate, so that its
object was not tyrannous as has been stated.[115] It was at once
disregarded, a fate which met many of the proclamations and statutes
of the Middle Ages, which often seem to have been regarded as mere
pious aspirations.

Accordingly, the Statute of 1351, 25 Edw. III, Stat. 2, c. 1, states
that the servants had paid no regard to the ordinance regulating
wages, 'but to their ease and singular covetise do withdraw themselves
unless they have livery and wages to the double or treble of that they
were wont to take'. Accordingly, it was again laid down that they were
to take liveries and wages as before the Black Death, and 'where wheat
was wont to be given they shall take for the bushel 10d. (6s. 8d. a
quarter),[116] or wheat at the will of the giver. And that they be
hired to serve by the whole year or by other usual terms, and not by
the day, and that none pay in the time of sarcling (weeding) or
hay-making but a penny a day, and a mower of meadows for the acre 5d.,
or by the day 5d., and reapers of corn in the first week of August
2d., and the second 3d., without meat or drink.' And none were to take
for the threshing of a quarter of wheat or rye more than 2d., and for
the quarter of beans, peas, and oats more than 1d. These prices are
certainly difficult to understand. Hay-making has usually been paid
for at a rate above the ordinary, because of the longer hours; and
here we find the price fixed at half the usual wages, while mowing is
five times as much, and double the price paid for reaping, though they
were normally about the same price.[117]

It is interesting to learn from the statute that there was a
considerable migration of labourers at this date for the harvest, from
Stafford, Lancaster, Derby, Craven, the Marches of Wales and Scotland,
and other places.

Such was the first attempt made to control the labourers' wages by the
legislature, and like other legislation of the kind it failed in its
object, though the attempt was honestly made; and if the rate of wages
fixed was somewhat low, its inequity was far surpassed by the
exorbitance of the labourers' demands.[118] It was an endeavour to set
aside economic laws, and its futility was rendered more certain by the
depreciation of the coinage in 1351, which led to an advance in
prices, and compelled the labourers to persevere in their demands for
higher wages.[119]

Both wages and prices, except those of grain, continued to increase,
and labour services were now largely commuted for money payments,[120]
with the result that the manorial system began to break up rapidly.

Owing to the dearth of labourers for hire, and the loss of many of the
services of their villeins, the lords found it very hard to farm their
demesne lands. It should be remembered, too, that an additional
hardship from which they suffered at this time was that the quit rents
paid to them in lieu of services by tenants who had already become
free were, owing to the rise in prices, very much depreciated. Their
chief remedy was to let their demesne lands. The condition of the
Manor of Forncett in Norfolk well illustrates the changes that were
now going on. There, in the period 1272-1307, there were many free
tenants as well as villeins, and the holdings of the latter were
small, usually only 5 acres. It is also to be noticed that in no year
were all the labour services actually performed, some were always sold
for money. Yet in the period named there was not much progress in the
general commutation of services for money payments, and the same was
the case in the manors, whose records between 1325 and 1350 Mr. Page
examined for his _End of Villeinage in England_.[121] The reaping and
binding of the entire grain crop of the demesne at Forncett was done
by the tenants exclusively, without the aid of any hired labour.[122]

However, in the period 1307-1376 the manor underwent a great change.
The economic position of the villeins, the administration of the
demesne, and the whole organization of the manor were revolutionized.
Much of the tenants' land had reverted to the lord, partly by the
deaths in the great pestilence, partly because tenants had left the
manor; they had run away and left their burdensome holdings in order
to get high wages as free labourers. This of course led to a
diminution of labour rents, so the landlord let most of the demesne
for a term of years,[123] a process which went on all over England;
and thus we have the origin of the modern tenant farmer. A fact of
much importance in connexion with the Peasants' Revolt, soon to take
place, was that the average money rent of land per acre in Forncett in
1378 was 10d., while the labour rents for land, where they were still
paid by villeins who had not commuted or run away, were, owing to the
rise in the value of labour, worth two or three times this. We cannot
wonder that the poor villeins were profoundly discontented.

On this manor, as on others, some of the villeins, in spite of the
many disadvantages under which they lay, managed to accumulate some
little wealth. In 1378 and in 1410 one bond tenant had two messuages
and 78 acres of land; in 1441 another died seized of 5 messuages and
52 acres; some had a number of servants in their households, but the
majority were very poor. There are several instances of bondmen
fleeing from the manor; and the officers of the manor failed to catch
them. This was common in other manors, and the 'withdrawal' of
villeins played a considerable part in the disappearance of serfdom
and the break-up of the system.[124] The following table shows the
gradual disappearance of villeins in the Manor of Forncett:

  In 1400 the servile families who had land numbered     16
     1500        "               "             "          8
     1525        "               "             "          5
     1550        "               "             "          3
     1575        "               "             "          0

There is no event of greater importance in the agrarian history of
England, or which has led to more important consequences, than the
dissolution of this community in the cultivation of the land, which
had been in use so long, and the establishment of the complete
independence and separation of one property from another.[125] As soon
as the manorial system began to give way, and men to have a free hand,
the substitution of large for small holdings set in with fresh vigour,
for we have already seen that it had begun. It was one of the chief
causes of the stagnation of agriculture in the Middle Ages that it lay
under the heavy hand of feudalism, by which individualism was checked
and hindered. Every one had his allotted position on the land, and it
was hard to get out of it, though some exceptional men did so; as a
rule there was no chance of striking out a new line for oneself. The
villein was bound to the lord, and no lord would willingly surrender
his services. There could be little improvement in farming when the
custom of the manor and the collective ownership of the teams bound
all to the same system of farming.[126] In fact, agriculture under
feudalism suffered from many of the evils of socialism.

But, though hard hit, the old system was to endure for many
generations, and the modern triumvirate of landlord, tenant, and
labourer was not completely established in England until the era of
the first Reform Bill.


[101] Cunningham, _Growth of English Industry and Commerce_, i. 130. A
weigh in the Middle Ages was 182 lbs., or half a sack.

[102] Second edition, i. 50 n. See also Burnley, _History of Wool_, p.

[103] Gross, _Gild Merchant_, ii. 4. It is from the Spanish merino,
crossed with Leicesters and Southdowns, that the vast Australian
flocks of to-day are descended.

[104] Cunningham, _op. cit._ i. 628.

[105] Ashley, _Early History of English Woollen Industry_, p. 34.

[106] _Calendar of Close Rolls_, 1337-9, pp. 148-9.

[107] _Rolls of Parliament_, v. 275.

[108] _The Hospitallers in England_, Camden Society.

[109] Denton, _England in the Fifteenth Century_, p. 147.

[110] _Hospitallers in England_, p. xxvi.

[111] Ibid. pp. 1, li.

[112] Poultry-keeping was wellnigh universal, judging by the number of
rents paid in fowls and eggs.

[113] 1348 seems also to have been an excessively rainy year. The wet
season was very disastrous to live stock; according to the accounts of
the manors of Christ Church, Canterbury, about this time (_Historical
MSS. Commission, 5th Report_, 444) there died of the murrain on their
estates 257 oxen, 511 cows, 4,585 sheep. Murrain was the name given to
all diseases of stock in the Middle Ages, and is of constant
occurrence in old records.

[114] The cause of this as usual was incessant rain during the greater
part of the summer; the chronicles of the time say that not only were
the crops very short but those that did grow were diseased and yielded
no nourishment. The 'murrain' was so deadly to oxen and sheep that,
according to Walsingham, dogs and ravens eating them dropped down

[115] See Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 335. Also in an age
when the idea of Competitive price had not yet been evolved, and when
regulation by authority was the custom, it was natural and right that
the Government in such a crisis should try to check the demands of
both labourers and producers, which went far beyond what employers or
consumers could pay. Putnam, _Enforcement of the Statute of
Labourers_, 220.

[116] The average price of wheat in 1351 was 10s. 2-1/2d., which went
down to 7s. 2d. next year, and 4s. 2-1/2d. the year after; but judging
by the ineffectiveness of the statute to reduce wages, it probably had
little effect in causing this fall.

[117] See Appendix I.

[118] Putnam, _op. cit._, 221. The statute for the first ten years,
however, kept wages from ascending as high as might have been the

[119] McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, i. 543, says that as the plague
diminished the number of employers as well as labourers, the demand
for labour could not have been much greater than before, and would
have had little effect on the rate of if Edward III had not debased
the coinage. But if the owners did decrease the lands would only
accumulate in fewer hands, and would still require cultivation.

[120] Page, _End of Villeinage_, pp. 59 et seq.

[121] Ibid. p. 44.

[122] _Transactions_, Royal Historical Society, New Series, xiv. 123.

[123] This had been done before, but was now much more frequent.
Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 17.

[124] 'After the Black Death the flight of villeins was extremely
common.'--Page, _op. cit._, p. 40.

[125] Nasse, _Agricultural Community of the Middle Ages_, p. 1.

[126] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 137.



The castles of the great landowners have been so often described that
there is no need to do this again. The popular idea of a baron of the
Middle Ages is of a man who when he was not fighting was jousting or
hunting. Such were, no doubt, his chief recreations; so fond was he of
hunting, indeed, that his own broad lands were not enough, and he was
a frequent trespasser on those of others; the records of the time are
full of cases which show that poaching was quite a fashionable
amusement among the upper classes. But among the barons were many men
who, like their successors to-day, did their duty as landlords. Of one
of the Lords of Berkeley in the fourteenth century, it was said he was
'sometyme in husbandry at home, sometyme at sport in the field,
sometyme in the campe, sometyme in the Court and Council of State,
with that promptness and celerity that his body might have bene
believed to be ubiquitary'. Many of them were farmers on a very large
scale, though they might not have so much time to devote to it as
those excellent landlords the monks.

Thomas Lord Berkeley, who held the Berkeley estates from 1326 to 1361,
farmed the demesnes of a quantity of manors, as was the custom, and
kept thereon great flocks of sheep, ranging from 300 to 1,500 on each
manor.[127] The stock of the Bishop of Winchester, by an inquisition
taken at his death in 1367, amounted to 127 draught horses, 1,556 head
of black cattle, and 12,104 sheep and lambs. Almost every manor had
one or two pigeon houses, and the number of pigeons reared is
astonishing; from one manor Lord Berkeley obtained 2,151 pigeons in a
single year. No one but the lord was allowed to keep them, and they
were one of the chief grievances of the villeins, who saw their seed
devoured by these pests without redress. Their dung, too, was one of
the most valued manures. Lord Berkeley, like other landlords, went
often in progress from one of his manors and farmhouses to another,
making his stay at each of them for one or two nights, overseeing and
directing the husbandry. The castle of the great noble consumed an
enormous amount of food in the course of the year; from two manors on
the Berkeley estate came to the 'standinghouse' of the lord in twelve
months, 17,000 eggs, 1,008 pigeons, 91 capons, 192 hens, 288 ducks,
388 chickens, 194 pigs, 45 calves, 315 quarters of wheat, 304 quarters
of oats; and from several other manors came the like or greater store,
besides goats, sheep, oxen, butter, cheese, nuts, honey, &c.[128] Even
the lavish hospitality of the lords, and the great number of their
retainers, must have had some difficulty in disposing of these huge

The examining of their bailiff's accounts must have taken a
considerable portion of the landlord's time, for those of each manor
were kept most minutely, and set forth, among other items, 'in what
sort he husbanded' the demesne farms, 'what sorts of cattle he kept in
them, and what kinds of graine he yearly sowed according to the
quality and condition of the ground, and how those kinds of graine
each second or third yeare were exchanged or brought from one manor to
another as the vale corne into an upland soyle, and contrarily'. And
we are told incidentally he 'set with hand, not sowed his beanes'. He
was also accustomed to move his live stock from one manor to another,
as they needed it.

The accounts also stated what days' works were due from each tenant
according to the season of the year, and at the end of each year there
was a careful valuation of live and dead stock.[129]

The difference
between the smaller gentry and the more important yeomen[130] who
farmed their own land must have been very slight. No doubt both of
them were very rough and ignorant men, who knew a great deal about the
cultivation of their land and very little about anything else. We may
be sure that the ordinary house of both was generally of wood; as
there is no stone in many parts of England, and bricks were not
reintroduced till the fourteenth century and spread slowly. Even in
Elizabeth's reign, Harrison[131] tells us that 'the ancient houses of
our gentry are yet for the most part of strong timber', and he even
thinks that houses made of oak were luxurious, for in times past men
had been contented with houses of willow, plum, and elm, but now
nothing but oak was good enough; and he quaintly says that the men who
lived in the willow houses were as tough as oak, and those who lived
in the oak as soft as willow. There are very few mansions left of the
time before Edward III, for being of timber they naturally decayed.

In a lease, dated 1152, of a manor house belonging to S. Paul's
Cathedral,[132] is a description of a manor house which contained a
hall 35 feet long, 30 feet broad, and 22 feet high; that is, 11 feet
to the tie beam and 11 feet from that to the ridge board; showing that
the roof was open and that there were no upper rooms. There was a
chamber between the hall and the thalamus or inner room which was 12
feet long, 17 feet broad, and 17 feet high, the roof being open as in
the hall; and the thalamus was 22 feet long, 16 feet broad, and 18
feet high. About the same date the Manor house of Thorp was larger,
and contained a hall, a chamber, tresantia (apparently part of the
hall or chamber separated by a screen to form an antechamber), two
private rooms, a kitchen, brew-house, malt-house, dairy, ox shed, and
three small hen-houses.

The ordinary manor house of the Middle Ages contained three rooms at
least, of mean aspect, the floor even of the hall, which was the
principal eating and sleeping room, being of dirt; and when there was
an upper room or solar added, which began to be done at the end of the
twelfth century,[133] access to it was often obtained by an outside

If the manor house belonged to the owner of many manors, it was
sometimes inhabited by his bailiff.

The barns on the demesnes were often as important buildings as the
manor houses; one at Wickham, belonging to the canons of S. Paul's[134]
in the twelfth century, was 55 feet long, 13 feet high from the floor
to the principal beam, and 10-1/2 feet more to the ridge board; the
breadth between the pillars was 19-1/2 feet, and on each side it had a
wing or aisle 6-1/2 feet wide and 6-1/2 feet high. The amount of corn
in the barn was often scored on the door-posts.[135] In the manor
houses chimneys rarely existed, the fire being made in the middle of
the hall. Even in the early seventeenth century in Cheshire there were
no chimneys in the farmhouses, and there the oxen were kept under the
same roof as the farmer and his family.[136] When chimneys did come in
they were not much thought of. 'Now we have chimneys our tenderlings
complain of rheums, catarrhs, and poses (colds);' for the smoke not
only hardened the timbers, but was said by Harrison to be an excellent
medicine for man. Instead of glass there was much lattice, and that
made either of wicker or fine rifts of oak in checkerwise, and horn
was also used. Beds, of course, were a luxury, the owner of the manor,
his guests, and retainers flung themselves down on the hall floor
after supper and all slept together, though sometimes rough mattresses
were brought in.

Furniture was rude and scanty. In 1150 the farm implements and
household furniture on the Manor of 'Waleton' was valued and consisted
of 4 carts, 3 baskets, a basket used in winnowing corn, a pair of
millstones, 10 tubs, 4 barrels, 2 boilers of lead with stoves, 2
wooden bowls, 3 three-legged tables, 20 dishes or platters, 2
tablecloths worth 6d., 6 metal bowls, half a load of the invaluable
salt, 2 axes, a table with trestles (the usual form of table), and 5
beehives made of rushes.[137] These articles were handed down from one
generation to another, and in a lease made 150 years afterwards of the
same manor most of them reappear. The greater part of the furniture,
until the fifteenth century, was most likely made by migratory
workmen, who travelled from village to village; for except the rudest
pieces it was beyond the village carpenter, and shops there were none.

It is not to be expected that when the master lived in this manner the
lot of the labourer was a very good one. His home was miserably poor,
generally of 'wattle and dab', sometimes wholly of mud and clay; many
with only one room for all purposes. A bill is still in existence for
a house, if it can be called one, built in 1306 for two labourers by
Queen's College, Oxford, which cost 20s. in all, and was a mere hovel
without floor, ceiling, or chimney.[138] Their wretched houses appear
to have been built on the bare earth, and unfloored. Perhaps as time
went on a rude upper storey was added, the floor of which was made of
rough poles or hurdles and was reached by a ladder. The furniture was
miserably poor; a few pots and pans, cups and dishes, and some tools
would exhaust the list.[139] The goods and chattels of a landless
labourer in 1431 consisted of a dish, an adze, a brass pot, 2 plates,
2 augers, an axe, a three-legged stool, and a barrel.[140] Englishmen
of all classes were hopelessly dirty in their habits; even till the
sixteenth century they were noted above other countries for the
profuseness of their diet and their unclean ways. Erasmus spoke of the
floor of his house as inconceivably filthy. To save fuel, the
labourer's family in the cold season all lay huddled in a heap on the
floor, 'pleasantly and hot', as Barclay the poet tells us; and if he
ever had a bed it was a bundle of fern or straw thrown down, with his
cloak as a coverlet, though thus he was just as well off as his social
superiors, for with them the loose cloak of the day was a common
covering for the night. He was constantly exposed to disease, for
sanitary precautions were ignored; at the entrance of his hovel was a
huge heap of decaying refuse, poisoning air and water. Even in the
sixteenth century a foreigner noticed that 'the peasants dwell in
small huts and pile up their refuse out of doors in heaps so high that
you cannot see their houses'.[141] Diseased animals were constantly
eaten, vegetables were few, and in the winter there was no fresh meat
for any one, except game and rabbits and, for the well-to-do, fish,
but we may doubt if the peasant got any but salt fish. The consequence
was that leprosy and kindred ailments were common; and we do not
wonder that plagues were frequent and slew the people like flies. The
peasants' food consisted largely of corn. In the bailiff's accounts of
the Manor of Woodstock in 1242, six servants at Handborough received
41-1/2 bushels of corn each, 2 ox herds at Combe received the same, and
4 servants at Bladon had 36 bushels each. In 1274 at Bosham, and in
1288 at Stoughton in Sussex, the allowance was the same.[142] The
writer of the anonymous _Treatise on Husbandry_ says that in his time,
the thirteenth century, the average annual allowance of corn to a
labourer was 36 bushels.[143] Fish, too, seem to have formed a large
portion of his diet; all classes ate enormous quantities of fish,
before the Reformation, in Lent and on fast days, and the labourer was
constantly given salt herrings as part of his pay. In 1359, at
Hawsted, the villeins when working were allowed 2 herrings a day, some
milk, a loaf, and some drink.[144] Eden[145] says his food consisted
of a few fish, principally herrings, a loaf of bread, and some beer;
but we must certainly add pork, which was his stand-by then as
now.[146] In the fourteenth century, at all events, there were three
kinds of bread in use--white bread, ration bread, and black bread; and
it was no doubt the latter that the peasant ate.[147] Clothing was
dear and cloth coarse, the most valuable personal property consisting
of clothing and metal vessels. Shirts were the subject of charitable
gifts.[148] By 37 Edw. III, c. 14, labourers were not to wear any
manner of cloth but 'blanket and russet wool of 12d.' and girdles of
linen. If they wore anything more extravagant it was forfeited to the

To the labourer of modern times the life of his forefathers would have
seemed unutterably dull. No books, no newspapers, no change of scene
by cheap excursions, no village school, no politics. The very
cultivation of the soil by the old three-course system was monotonous.
But there were bright spots in his existence: the village church not
only afforded him the consolations of religion but also entertainments
and society. Religion in the Middle Ages was a part of the people's
daily life, and its influence permeated even their amusements.
Miracles and mystery plays, played in the churches and churchyards,
were a common feature in village life; as were the church ales or
parish meetings held four or five times a year, where cakes and beer
were purchased from the churchwarden and consumed for the good of the
parish. Indeed, there can be no doubt that there was much more
sociability than to-day, in the country at least. Labour was lightened
by the co-operation of the common fields; common shepherds and
herdsmen watched the sheep and cattle of the different tenants, 'a
common mill ground the corn, a common oven baked the bread, a common
smith worked at a common forge.' His existence, moreover, was
enlivened by a considerable number of sports. A statute at the end of
the fourteenth century (12 Ric. II, c. 6) says he was fond of playing
at tennis(!), football, quoits, dice, casting the stone, and other
games, which this statute forbad him, and enacted that he should use
his bow and arrows on Sundays and holidays instead of such idle sport.
This is a foretaste of the modern sentiment that seeks to wean him
from watching football matches and take to miniature rifle clubs. He
was also, like some of his successors, fond of poaching, though he
appears to have been rash enough to indulge in it by day. 13 Ric. II,
c. 13, says he was prone on holidays, when good Christian people be in
church hearing divine service, to go hunting with greyhounds and other
dogs, in the parks and warrens of the lord and of others, and
sometimes these hunts were turned into conferences and conspiracies,'
for to rise and disobey their allegiance', such as preceded the
Peasants' Revolt of 1381; and accordingly no one who did not own lands
worth 40s. a year was to keep a dog to hunt, or ferrets other
'engines': the first game law on the English statute book.


[127] Smyth, _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 302. No doubt the riches of
the Berkeleys were considerably greater than those of many of the

[128] _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 166. There is no reason to doubt
Smyth, as he wrote with the original accounts before him.

[129] _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 156.

[130] The yeoman is said to have made his appearance in the fifteenth
century, but the small freeholders of the manor before that date were
to all intents and purposes yeomen. No doubt, as trade grew in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries successful tradesmen bought small
freeholds in the country and swelled the numbers of yeomen.

[131] Harrison, _Description of Britain_, F.J. Furnivall edn., p. 337.

[132] _Domesday of S. Paul_, Camden Society, p. 129.

[133] Turner, _Domestic Architecture_, i. 59.

[134] _Domesday of S. Paul_, p. 123.

[135] _Historical MSS. Commission Report_, v. 444.

[136] Ormerod, _History of Cheshire_, i. 129.

[137] _Domesday of S. Paul_, p. xcvii.

[138] Denton, _England in the Fifteenth Century_.

[139] Eden, _State of the Poor_, i. 21.

[140] See Cullum, _History of Hawsted_.

[141] Harrison, _Description of Britain_, Appendix ii, lxxxi. In some
manors, however, there were careful regulations for public health.
According to the Durham _Halmote Rolls_, published by the Surtees
Society, village officials watched over the water supply, prevented
the fouling of streams; bye-laws were enacted as to the regulation of
the common place for clothes washing, and the times for emptying and
cleansing ponds and mill-dams.

[142] Ballard, _Domesday_, Antiquary Series, p. 209.

[143] Walter of Henley, Royal Historical Society, p. 75.

[144] Cullum, _Hawsted_, 1784 ed., p. 182.

[145] _State of the Poor_, i. 15.

[146] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, i. 32.

[147] See _Knights Hospitallers in England_, Camden Society,

[148] Thorold Rogers, _op. cit._ i. 66.



We have seen that the landlords' profits were seriously diminished by
the Black Death, and they cast about them for new ways of increasing
their incomes. Arable land had been until now largely in excess of
pasture, the cultivation of corn was the chief object of agriculture,
bread forming a much larger proportion of men's diet than now. This
began to change. Much of the land was laid down to grass, and there
was a steady increase in sheep farming; thus commenced that revolution
in farming which in the sixteenth century led Harrison to say that
England was mainly a stock-raising country. The lords also let a
considerable amount of their demesne land on leases for years. 'Then
began the times to alter' says Smyth of the Lord Berkeley of the end
of the fourteenth century, 'and hee with them, and he began to tack
other men's cattle on his pasture by the week, month, and quarter, and
to sell his meadow grounds by the acre. And in the time of Henry IV
still more and more was let, and in succeeding times. As for the days'
works of the copyhold tenants, they also were turned into money.'[149]
Such leases had been used long before this, but this is the date of
their great increase. In the thirteenth century a lease of 2 acres of
arable land in Nowton, Suffolk, let the land at 6d. an acre per annum
for a term of six years.[150] It contains no clauses about
cultivation; the landlord warrants the said 2 acres to the tenant, and
the tenant agrees to give them up at the end of the term freely and
peaceably. The deed was indented, sealed, and witnessed by several
persons. The impoverished landlords also let much of their land on
stock and land leases. The custom of stocking the tenants' land was a
very ancient one: the lord had always found the oxen for the plough
teams of the villeins. In the leases of the manors of S. Paul's in the
twelfth century the tenant for life received stock both live and dead,
which when he entered was carefully enumerated in the lease, and at
the end of the tenancy he had to leave behind the same quantity.[151]
It was a common practice also, before the Black Death, for the lord to
let out cows and sheep at so much per head per annum.[152] The stock
and land lease therefore was no novelty. In 1410 there is a lease of
the demesne lands at Hawsted by which the landlord kept the manor
house and its appurtenances in his own hands, the tenant apparently
having the farm buildings, which he was to keep in repair. He was to
receive at the beginning of the term 20 cows and one bull, worth 9s.
each; 4 stotts, worth 10s. each; and 4 oxen, worth 13s. 4d. each;
which, or their value in money, were to be delivered up at the end of
the term. The tenant was also to leave at the end of the lease as many
acres well ploughed, sown, and manured as he found at the beginning.
Otherwise the landlord was not to interfere with the cultivation. If
the rent or any part thereof was in arrear for a fortnight after the
two fixed days for payment, the landlord might distrain; and if for a
month, he might re-enter: and both parties bound themselves to forfeit
the then huge sum of £100 upon the violation of any clause of the
lease.[153] There is a lease[154] of a subsequent date (the twentieth
year of Henry VIII), but one which well illustrates the custom now so
prevalent, granted by the Prior of the Monastery of Lathe in Somerset
to William Pole of Combe, Edith his wife, and Thomas his son, for
their lives. With the land went 360 wethers. For the land they paid 16
quarters of best wheat, 'purelye thressyd and wynowed,' 22 quarters of
best barley, and were to carry 4 loads of wood and fatten one ox for
the prior yearly; the ox to be fattened in stall with the best hay,
the only way then known of fattening oxen. For the flock of wethers
they paid £6 yearly. The tenants were bound to keep hedges, ditches,
and gates in repair. Also they were bound by a 'writing obligatory' in
the sum of £100 to deliver up the wether flock whole and sound, 'not
rotten, banyd,[155] nor otherwise diseased.' The consequence of the
spread of leases was that the portion of the demesne lands which the
lords farmed themselves dwindled greatly, or it was turned from arable
into grass. Stock and land leases survived in some parts till the
beginning of the eighteenth century, when it was still the custom for
the landlord to stock the land and receive half the crop for
rent.[156] According to the _Domesday of S. Paul_, in the thirteenth
century, a survey of eighteen manors containing 24,000 acres showed
three-eighths of the land in demesne, the rest in the hands of the
tenants. In 1359 the lord of the principal manor at Hawsted held in
his own hand 572 acres of arable land, worth 4d. to 6d. an acre rent,
and 50 acres of meadow, worth 2s. an acre.[157] He had also pasture
for 24 cows, which was considered worth 36s. a year, and for 12 horses
and 12 oxen worth 48s. a year, with 40 acres of wood, estimated at 1s.
an acre. In 1387, however, the arable land had decreased to 320 acres,
but the stock had increased, and now numbered 4 cart horses, 6 stotts
or smaller horses, 10 oxen, 1 bull, 26 cows, 6 heifers, 6 calves, 92
wethers, 20 hoggerells or two-year-old sheep, 1 gander, 4 geese, 30
capons, 26 hens, and only one cock. The dairy of 26 cows was let out,
according to the custom of the time, for £8 a year; and we are told
that the oxen were fed on oats, and shod in the winter only.

But if the position of the lords was severely affected by the great
pestilence that of the villeins was also. The villein himself was
becoming a copyholder; in the thirteenth century the nature of his
holding had been written on the court roll, before long he was given a
copy of the roll, and by the fifteenth century he was a
copyholder.[158] There was, too, a new spirit abroad in this century
of disorganization and reform, which stirred even the villeins with a
desire for better conditions of life. These men, thus rising to a more
assured position and animated by new hopes, saw all round them hired
labourers obtaining, in spite of the Statute of Labourers, double the
amount of wages they had formerly received, while they were bound down
to the same services as before. The advance in prices was further
increased by the king's issuing in 1351 an entirely new coinage, of
the same fineness but of less weight than the old; so that the demands
of the labourers after the Black Death were largely justified by the
depreciation in the currency.[159] There had also arisen at this time,
owing to the increase in the wealth of the country, a new class of
landlords who did not care for the old system[160]; and it is probably
these men who are meant by the statute I Ric. II, c. 6, which
complains that the villeins daily withdrew their services to their
lords at the instigation of various counsellors and abettors, who made
it appear by 'colour of certain exemplifications made out of the Book
of Domesday' that they were discharged from their services, and
moreover gathered themselves in great routs and agreed to aid each
other in resisting their lords, so that justices were appointed to
check this evil. But there were other 'counsellors and abettors' of
the Peasants' Revolt than the new landlords. One of its most
interesting features to modern readers is its thorough organization.
Travelling agents and agitators like John Ball were all over the
country, money was subscribed and collected, and everything was ripe
for the great rising of 1381, which was brought to a head by the bad
grading of the poll tax of King Richard. It has been said that the
chief grievance of the villeins was that the lords of manors were
attempting to reimpose commuted services, but judging by the petition
to the King when he met them at Mile-end there can be no doubt that
the chief grievance was the continuance of existing services. 'We
will', said they, 'that ye make us free for ever, and that we be
called no more bond, or so reputed.' Also, as Walsingham says,[161]
they were careful to destroy the rolls and ancient records whereby
their services were fixed, and to put to death persons learned in the

As every one knows, the revolt was a failure; and whether it
ultimately helped much to extinguish serfdom is doubtful. It probably,
like the pestilence, accelerated a movement which had been for some
time in progress and was inevitable. There is ample evidence to prove
that there was a very general continuance of predial services after
the revolt, though they went on rapidly decreasing. One of the chief
methods adopted by the villeins to gain their freedom was desertion,
and so common did this become that apparently the mere threat of
desertion enabled the villein to obtain almost any concession from his
lord, who was afraid lest his land should be utterly deserted. The
result was that by the middle of the fifteenth century the abolition
of labour services was approaching completion.[162] It lingered on,
and Fitzherbert lamented in Elizabeth's reign the continuance of
villeinage as a disgrace to England; but it had then nearly
disappeared, and was unheard of after the reign of James I.[163]

Seven years after the Peasants' Revolt another attempt was made to
regulate agricultural wages by the statute 12 Ric. II, c. 4, which
stated that 'the hires of the said servants and labourers have not
been put on certainty before this time', though we have seen that the
Act of 1351 tried to settle wages. In the preamble it is said that the
statute was enacted because labourers 'have refused for a long season
to work without outrageous and excessive hire', and owing to the
scarcity of labourers 'husbands' could not pay their rents, a sentence
which shows the general use of money rents.

The wages were as follows, apparently with food:--

                                                     s.  d.

  A bailiff annually, and clothing once a year       13  4
  A master hind, without clothing                    10  0
  A carter,          "        "                      10  0
  A shepherd,        "        "                      10  0
  An ox or cow herd  "        "                       6  8
  Swine herd or female labourer, without clothing     6  0
  A plough driver, without clothing                   7  0

The farm servants' food would be worth considerably more than the
actual cash he received; a quarter of wheat, barley, and rye mixed
every nine weeks was no unusual allowance, which at 4s. 4d. would be
worth about 25s. a year. He would also have his harvest allowance,
though the statute above forbids any perquisites, worth about 3s., and
sometimes it was accompanied by the gift of a pig, some beer, or some
herrings.[164] His wife also, at a time when women did the same work
as the men, could earn 1d. a day, and his boy perhaps 1/2d. If his
wages were wholly paid in money, we may say that in the last half of
the fourteenth century the ordinary labourer earned 3d. a day, so that
as corn and pork, his chief food, had not risen at all, he was much
better off than in the preceding 100 years.

Cullum, in his invaluable _History of Hawsted_, gives us a picture of
harvesting on the demesne lands in 1389 which shows an extraordinarily
busy scene. There were 200 acres of all kinds of corn to be gathered
in, and over 300 people took part; though apparently such a crowd was
only collected for the two principal days of the harvest, and it must
be remembered that the towns were emptied into the country at this
important season. The number of people for one day comprised a carter,
ploughman, head reaper, cook, baker, brewer, shepherd, daya
(dairymaid); 221 hired reapers; 44 pitchers, stackers, and reapers
(not hired, evidently villeins paying their rents by work); 22 other
reapers, hired for goodwill (_de amore_); and 20 customary tenants.
This small army of men consumed 22 bushels of wheat, 8 pennyworth of
beer, and 41 bushels of malt, worth 18s. 9-1/2d.; meat to the value of
9s. 11-1/2d.; fish and herrings, 5s. 1d.; cheese, butter, milk, and
eggs, 8s. 3-1/2d.; oatmeal, 5d. salt, 3d.; pepper and saffron, 10d.,
the latter apparently introduced into England in the time of Edward
III, and much used for cooking and medicine, but it gradually went out
of fashion, and by the end of the eighteenth century was only
cultivated in one or two counties, notably Essex where Saffron Walden
recalls its use; candles, 6d.; and 5 pairs of gloves 10d.[165]

The presentation of gloves was a common custom in England; and these
would be presented as a sign of good husbandry, as in the case of the
rural bridegroom in the account of Queen Elizabeth's visit to
Kenilworth who wore gloves to show he was a good farmer. Tusser bids
the farmer give gloves to his reapers. The custom was still observed
at Hawsted in 1784, and in Eden's time, 1797, the bursars of New
College, Oxford, presented each of their tenants with two pairs, which
the recipients displayed on the following Sunday at church by
conspicuously hanging their hands over the pew to show their
neighbours they had paid their rent. In this account of the Hawsted
harvest the large number of hired men and the few customary tenants is
noteworthy as a sign of the times, for before the Black Death the
harvest work on the demesne was the special work of the latter.

In the fourteenth century the long series of corn laws was commenced
which was to agitate Englishmen for centuries, and after an apparently
final settlement in 1846 to reappear in our day.[166] It was the
policy of Edward III to make food plentiful and cheap for the whole
nation, without special regard to the agricultural interest: and by 34
Edw. III, c. 20, the export of corn to any foreign part except Calais
and Gascony, then British possessions, or to certain places which the
king might permit, was forbidden. Richard II, however, reversed this
policy in answer to the complaints of agriculturists whose rents were
falling,[167] and endeavoured to encourage the farmer and especially
the corn-grower; for he saw the landlords turning their attention to
sheep instead of corn, owing to the high price of labour. Accordingly,
to give the corn-growers a wider market, he allowed his subjects by
the statute 17 Ric. II, c. 7, to carry corn, on paying the duties due,
to what parts they pleased, except to his enemies, subject however to
an order of the Council; and owing to the interference of the Council
the law probably became a dead letter, at all events we find it
confirmed and amended by 4 Hen. VI, c. 5.

The prohibition of export must have been a serious blow to those
counties near the sea, for it was much easier to send corn by ship to
foreign parts than over the bad roads of England to some distant
market.[168] Indeed, judging by the great and frequent discrepancy of
prices in different places at the same date, the dispatch of corn from
one inland locality to another was not very frequent. Richard also
attempted to stop the movement, which had even then set in, of the
countrymen to the growing towns, forbidding by 12 Ric. II, c. 5, those
who had served in agriculture until 12 years of age to be apprenticed
in the towns, but to 'abide in husbandry'.

One of the most unjust customs of the Middle Ages was that which bade
the tenants of manors, except those who held the _jus faldae_, fold
their sheep on the land of the lord, thus losing both the manure and
the valuable treading.[169] However, sometimes, as in Surrey, the
sheepfold was in a fixed place and the manure from it was from time to
time taken out and spread on the land.[170]

In the same district horses had been hitherto used for farm work, as
it was considered worthy of note that oxen were beginning to be added
to the horse teams. The milk of two good cows in twenty-four weeks was
considered able to make a wey of cheese, and in addition half a gallon
of butter a week; and the milk of 20 ewes was equal to that of 3 cows.

On the Manor of Flaunchford, near Reigate, the demesne land amounted
to 56 acres of arable and two meadows, but there must have been the
usual pasture in addition to keep the following head of stock: 13
cows, who in the winter were fed from the racks in the yard; 4 calves,
bought at 1s. each; 12 oxen for ploughing, whose food was oats and
hay--a very large number for 56 acres of arable, and they were
probably used on another manor; 1 stott, used for harrowing; a goat,
and a sow.

                                                   £   s.   d.

  In 1382 the total receipts of this manor were    8   1   9-1/2
  The total expenses                               7   0   5
                                 Profit           £1   1   4-1/2

  Among the receipts were:--
    For the lord's plough, let to farmers (perhaps
      this accounts for the large team of oxen kept)    6   8
    14 bushels of apples                                1   2
    5 loads of charcoal                                16   8
    A cow                                              10   0
  Among the payments:--
    For keeping plough in repair, and the wages of a
      blacksmith, one year by agreement                 6   8
    Making a new plough from the lord's timber              6
    Mowing 2 acres of meadow                            1   0
    Making and carrying hay of ditto, with
      help of lord's servants                               4
    Threshing wheat, peas, and tares, per quarter           4
       "      oats, per quarter                             1-1/2
    Winnowing 3 quarters of corn                            1
    Cutting and binding wheat and oats, per acre            6

On the Manor of Dorking the harvest lasted five weeks as a rule; the
fore feet only of oxen used for ploughing, and of heifers used for
harrowing, were shod. For washing and shearing sheep 10d. a hundred
was the price; ploughing for winter corn cost 6d. an acre, and
harrowing 1/2d. 30-1/2 acres of barley produced 41-1/2 quarters; 28
acres of oats produced 38-1/2 quarters; 13 cows were let for the
season at 5s. each. In the same reign, at Merstham, the demesne lands
of 166-1/2 acres were let on lease with all the live and dead stock,
which was valued at £22 9s. 3d., and the rent was £36 or about 4s. 4d.
an acre, an enormous price even including the stock.


[149] Smyth, _Lives of the Berkeleys_, ii. 5. There is no doubt the
lease system was growing in the thirteenth century. About 1240 the
writ _Quare ejecit infra terminum_ protected the person of a tenant
for a term of years, who formerly had been regarded as having no more
than a personal right enforceable by an action of covenant.
Vinogradoff, _Villeinage in England_, p. 330; but leases for lives and
not for years seem the rule at that date.

[150] Cullum, _Hawsted_, p. 175.

[151] See _Domesday of S. Paul_, Introduction.

[152] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, i. 25.

[153] Cullum, _Hawsted_, p. 195.

[154] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 586.

[155] Banyd, afflicted with sheep rot.

[156] Eden, _State of the Poor_, i. 55.

[157] Cullum, _Hawsted_, p. 182. Another instance of the difference in
value between arable and tillage. At the inquisition of the Manor of
Great Tey in Essex, 1326, the jury found that 500 acres of arable land
was worth 6d. an acre rent, 20 acres of meadow 3s. an acre, and 10
acres of pasture 1s. an acre. _Archaeologia_, xii. 30.

[158] Medley, _Constitutional History_, p. 52.

[159] Cunningham, _op. cit._ i. 328, and 335-6.

[160] _Domesday of S. Paul_, p. lvii.

[161] _Hist. Angl._, Rolls Series, i. 455. The other political and
social causes of the revolt do not concern us here. The attempt to
minimize its agrarian importance is strange in the light of the words
and acts above mentioned.

[162] Page, _op. cit._ p. 77.

[163] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 402, 534; _Transactions
of the Royal Historical Society_, New Series, xvii. 235. Fitzherbert
probably referred more to villein status, which continued longer than
villein tenure.

[164] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, i. 278,

[165] Harrison, _Description of Britain_, p. 233, says the produce of
an acre of saffron was usually worth £20.

[166] Exportation of corn is mentioned in 1181, when a fine was paid
to the king for licence to ship corn from Norfolk and Suffolk to
Norway.--McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, i. 345. As early as the
reign of Henry II, Henry of Huntingdon says, German silver came to buy
our most precious wool, our milk (no doubt converted into butter and
cheese), and our innumerable cattle.--Rolls Series, p. 5. In 1400, the
_Chronicle of London_ says the country was saved from dearth by the
importation of rye from Prussia.

[167] Hasbach, _op. cit._. p. 32.

[168] Lord Berkeley, about 1360, had a ship of his own for exporting
wool and corn and bringing back foreign wine and wares.--Smyth, _Lives
of the Berkeleys_, i. 365.

[169] Nasse, _Agricultural Community of the Middle Ages_, p. 66.

[170] Customs in some Surrey manors in the time of Richard II,
_Archaeologia_, xviii. 281.




In this period the average prices of grain remained almost unchanged
until the last three decades, when they began slowly and steadily to
creep up, this advance being helped to some extent by defective
harvests. In 1527, according to Holinshed it rained from April 12 to
June 3 every day or night; in May thirty hours without ceasing; and
the floods did much damage to the corn. In 1528 incessant deluges of
rain prevented the corn being sown in the spring, and grain had to be
imported from Germany. The price of wheat was a trifle higher than in
the period 1259-1400; barley, oats, and beans lower; rye higher.[171]
Oxen and cows were dearer, horses about the same, sheep a little
higher, pigs the same, poultry and eggs dearer, wool the same, cheese
and butter dearer. The price of wheat was sometimes subject to
astonishing fluctuations: in 1439 it varied from 8s. to 26s. 8d.; in
1440 from 4s. 2d. to 25s. The rent of land continued the same, arable
averaging 6d. an acre,[172] though this was partly due to the fact
that rents, although now generally paid in money, were still fixed and
customary; for the purchase value of land had now risen to twenty
years instead of twelve.[173] The art of farming hardly made any
progress, and the produce of the land was consequently about the same
or a little better than in the preceding period.[174]

At the end of the fourteenth century the ordinary wheat crop at
Hawsted was in favourable years about a quarter to the acre, but it
was often not more than 6 bushels; and this was on demesne land,
usually better tilled than non-demesne land.[175] As for the labourer,
it is well known that Thorold Rogers calls the fifteenth century his
golden age, and seeing that his days' wages, if he 'found himself',
were now 4d. and prices were hardly any higher all round than when he
earned half the money in the thirteenth century, there is much to
support his view. As to whether he was better off than the modern
labourer it is somewhat difficult to determine; as far as wages went
he certainly was, for his 4d. a day was equal to about 4s. now; it is
true that on the innumerable holidays of the Church he sometimes did
not work,[176] but no doubt he then busied himself on his bit of
common. But so many factors enter into the question of the general
material comfort of the labourer in different ages that it is almost
impossible to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Denton paints a very
gloomy picture of him at this time[177]; so does Mr. Jessop, who says,
the agricultural labourers of the fifteenth century were, compared
with those of to-day, 'more wretched in their poverty, incomparably
less prosperous in their prosperity; worse clad, worse fed, worse
housed, worse taught, worse governed; they were sufferers from
loathsome diseases, of which their descendants know nothing; the very
beasts of the field were dwarfed and stunted; the disregard of to
sell their corn at low prices to the detriment of the whole kingdom: a
typical example of the political economy of the time, which considered
the prosperity of agriculture indispensable to the welfare of the
country, even if the consumer suffered. Accordingly, it was enacted
that wheat could be exported without a licence when it was under 6s.
8d. a quarter, except to the king's enemies. On imports of corn there
had been no restriction until 1463, when 3 Edw. IV, c. 2 forbade the
import of corn when under 6s. 8d: a statute due partly to the fear
that the increase of pasture was a danger to tillage land and the
national food supply, and partly to the fact that the landed interest
had become by now fully awake to the importance of protecting
themselves by promoting the gains of the farmer.[178] It may be
doubted, however, if much wheat was imported except in emergencies at
this time, for many countries forbade export. These two statutes were
practically unaltered till 1571,[179] and by that of 1463 was
initiated the policy which held the field for nearly 400 years.

Thorold Rogers denounces the landlords for legislating with the object
of keeping up rents, but, as Mr. Cunningham has pointed out, this
ignores the fact that the land was the great fund of national wealth
from which taxation was paid; if rents therefore rose it was a gain to
the whole country, since the fund from which the revenue was drawn was

In spite of the high wages of agricultural labourers, the movement
towards the towns noticed by Richard II continued. The statute 7 Hen.
IV, c. 17, asserts that there is a great scarcity of labourers in
husbandry and that gentlemen are much impoverished by the rate of
wages; the cause of the scarcity lying in the fact that many people
were becoming weavers,[181] and it therefore re-enacted 12 Ric. II,
c. 5, which ordained that no one who had been a servant in husbandry
until 12 years old should be bound apprentice, and further enacted
that no person with less than 20s. a year in land should be able to
apprentice his son. Like many other statutes of the time this seems to
have been inoperative, for we find 23 Hen. VI, c. 12 (1444), enacting
that if a servant in husbandry purposed leaving his master he was to
give him warning, and was obliged either to engage with a new one or
continue with the old. It also regulated the wages anew, those fixed
showing a substantial increase since the statute of 1388. By the

  A bailiff was to have £1 3s. 4d., and 5s. worth of clothes.
  A chief hind, carter, or shepherd, £1, and 4s. worth of clothes.
  A common servant in husbandry, 15s., and 3s. 4d. worth of clothes.
  A woman servant, 10s., and 4s. worth of clothes.
  All with meat and drink.

By the day, in harvest, wages were to be:--

  A mower, with meat and drink, 4d.; without, 6d.
  A reaper or carter, with meat and drink, 3d.; without, 5d.
  A woman or labourer, with meat and drink, 2d.; without, 4d.

In the next reign the labourer's dress was again regulated for him,
and he was forbidden to wear any cloth exceeding 2s. a yard in price,
nor any 'close hosen', apparently tight long stockings, nor any hosen
at all which cost more than 14d.[182] Yeomen and those below them were
forbidden to wear any bolsters or stuff of wool, cotton wadding, or
other stuff in their doublets, but only lining; and somewhat
gratuitously it was ordered that no one under the degree of a
gentleman should wear pikes to his shoes.

In 1455 England's Thirty Years' War, the War of the Roses, began, and
agriculture received another set back. The view that the war was a
mere faction fight between nobles and their retainers, while the rest
of the country went about their business, is somewhat exaggerated. No
doubt, the mass of Englishmen, as in the civil war of the seventeenth
century, preferred to 'sit still', as Clarendon said, but the business
of many must have been very much upset. The various armies were
compelled to obtain their supplies from the country, and with the
lawless habits of the times plundered friend and foe alike, as
Cavalier and Roundhead did afterwards; and many a farmer must have
seen all his stock driven off and his grain seized to feed the
combatants. For instance, it was said before the battle called Easter
Day Field that all the tenants of Abbot's Ripton in Huntingdonshire
were copyholders of the Abbot of Ramsey, and the northern army lay
there so long that they impoverished the country and the tenants had
to give up their copyholds through poverty.[183] The loss of life,
too, must have told heavily on a country already suffering from
frequent pestilence. It is calculated that about one-tenth of the
whole population of the country were killed in battle or died of
wounds and disease during the war; and as these must have been nearly
all men in the prime of life, it is difficult to understand how the
effect on the labour market was not more marked. The enclosing of land
for pasture farms, which we shall next have to consider, was probably
in many cases an absolute necessity, for the number of men left to
till the soil must have been seriously diminished.


[171] See table at end of volume. The shrinkage of prices which
occurred in the fifteenth century was due to the scarcity of precious

[172] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, iv. 128.
The rent of arable land on Lord Derby's estate in Wirral in 1522 was a
little under 6d. a statute acre; of meadow, about 1s. 6d.--_Cheshire
Sheaf_ (Ser. 3), iv. 23.

[173] Thorold Rogers, _op. cit._ iv. 3.

[174] Thorold Rogers, _op. cit._ iv. 39.

[175] Cullum, _Hawsted_, p. 187. The amount of seed for the various
crops was, wheat 2 bushels per acre, barley 4, oats 2-1/2.

[176] By 4 Hen. IV, c. 14, labourers were to receive no hire for holy
days, or on the eves of feasts for more than half a day; but the
statute was largely disregarded.

[177] See _England in the Fifteenth Century_, p. 105: 'The undrained
neglected soil, the shallow stagnant waters which lay on the surface
of the ground, the unhealthy homes of all classes, insufficient and
unwholesome food, the abundance of stale fish eaten, and the scanty
supply of vegetables predisposed rural and town population to

[178] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 448.

[179] McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_ (1852), p. 412. In 1449
Parliament had decided that all foreign merchants importing corn
should spend the money so obtained on English goods to prevent it
leaving the country.--McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, i. 655.

[180] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 191.

[181] Much of the weaving, however, was done in rural districts.

[182] See 3 Edw. IV, c. 5; _Rot. Parl._ v. 105; 22 Edw. IV, c. 1.

[183] Cunningham, _op. cit._ i. 456.



We have now reached a time when the enclosure question was becoming of
paramount importance,[184] and began to cause constant anxiety to
legislators, while the writers of the day are full of it. Enclosure
was of four kinds:

  1. Enclosing the common arable fields for grazing, generally
     in large tracts.

  2. Enclosing the same by dividing them into smaller fields,
     generally of arable.

  3. Enclosing the common pasture, for grazing or tillage.

  4. Enclosing the common meadows or mowing grounds.

It is the first mainly, and to a less degree the third of these, which
were so frequent a source of complaint in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries; for the first, besides displacing the small holder, threw
out of employment a large number of people who had hitherto gained
their livelihood by the various work connected with tillage, and the
third deprived a large number of their common rights.

The first Enclosure Act was the Statute of Merton, passed in 1235, 20
Henry III, c. 4, which permitted lords of manors to add to their
demesnes such parts of the waste pasture and woods as were beyond the
needs of the tenants. There is evidence, however, that enclosure,
probably of waste land, was going on before this statute, as the
charter of John, by which all Devonshire except Dartmoor and Exmoor
was deforested, expressly forbids the making of hedges, a proof of
enclosure, in those two forests.[185] We may be sure that the needs of
the tenants were by an arbitrary lord estimated at a very low figure.
At the same time many proceeded in due legal form. Thomas, Lord
Berkeley, about the period of the Act reduced great quantities of
ground into enclosures by procuring many releases of common land from
freeholders.[186] His successor, Lord Maurice, was not so observant of
legality. He had a wood wherein many of his tenants and freeholders
had right of pasture. He wished to make this into a park, and treated
with them for that purpose; but things not going smoothly, he made the
wood into a park without their leave, and then treated with his
tenants, most of whom perforce fell in with his highhanded plan; those
who did not 'fell after upon his sonne with suits, in their small
comfort and less gaines.'[187] Sometimes the rich made the law aid
their covetousness, as did Roger Mortimer the paramour of the 'She
Wolf of France'. Some men had common of pasture in King's Norton Wood,
Worcestershire, who, when Mortimer enclosed part of their common land
with a dike, filled the dike up, for they were deprived of their
inheritance. Thereupon Mortimer brought an action of trespass against
them 'by means of jurors dwelling far from the said land', who were
put on the panel by his steward, who was also sheriff of the county,
and the commoners were convicted and cast in damages of £300, not
daring to appear at the time for fear of assault, or even death.[188]
Neither dared they say a word about the matter till Mortimer was dead,
when it is satisfactory to learn that Edward III gave them all their
money back save 20 marks. We are told that Lord Maurice Berkeley
consolidated much of his demesne lands, throwing together the
scattered strips and exchanging those that lay far apart from the
manor houses for those that lay near; trying evidently to get the home
farms into a ring fence as we should term it.[189] In this policy he
was followed by his successor Thomas the Second, who during his
ownership of the estate from 1281 to 1320, to the great profit of his
tenants and himself, encouraged them to make exchanges, so as to make
their lands lie in convenient parcels instead of scattered strips, by
which he raised the rent of an acre from 4d. and 6d. to 1s. 6d.[190]
There is a deed of enclosure made in the year 1250, preserved, by
which the free men of North Dichton 'appropriated and divided between
them and so kept for ever in fee all that place called Sywyneland,
with the moor,' and they were to have licence to appropriate that
place, which was common pasture (the boundaries of which are given),
'save, however, to the grantor William de Ros and his heirs' common of
pasture in a portion thereof named by bounds, with entry and exit for
beasts after the wheat is carried. The men of North Dichton were also
to have all the wood called Rouhowthwicke, and to do what they liked
with it.[191] In return they gave the lord 10 marks of silver and a
concession as regards a certain wood. It has been noticed that the
Black Death, besides causing many of the landlords to let their
demesnes, also made them turn much tillage into grass to save labour,
which had grown so dear. We have also seen that the statutes
regulating wages were of little effect, and they went on rising, so
that more land was laid down to grass. The landowners may be said to
have given up ordinary farming and turned to sheep raising.

English wool could always find a ready sale, although Spanish sheep
farming had developed greatly; and the profitable trade of growing
wool attracted the new capitalist class who had sprung up, so that
they often invested their recently made fortunes in it, buying up many
of the great estates that were scattered during the war.[192]

The increase of sheep farming was assisted by the fact that the
domestic system of the manufacture of wool, which supplanted the guild
system, led, owing to its rapid and successful growth, to a constant
and increasing demand for wool. At the same time this development of
the cloth industry helped to alleviate the evils it had itself caused
by giving employment to many whom the agricultural changes wholly or
partially deprived of work. 'It is important to remember, that where
peasant proprietorship and small farming did maintain their ground it
was largely due to the domestic industries which supplemented the
profits of agriculture.'[193]

Much of the land laid down to grass was demesne land, but many of the
common arable fields were enclosed and laid down. John Ross of Warwick
about 1460 compares the country as he knew it with the picture
presented by the Hundred Rolls in Edward I's time, showing how many
villages had been depopulated; and he mentions the inconvenience to
travellers in having to get down frequently to open the gates of
enclosed fields.[194]

Enclosure was really a sure sign of agricultural progress; nearly all
the agricultural writers from Fitzherbert onwards are agreed that
enclosed land produced much more than uninclosed. Fitzherbert, in the
first quarter of the sixteenth century, said an acre of land rented
for 6d. uninclosed was worth 8d. when enclosed. Gabriel Plattes, in
the seventeenth century, said an acre enclosed was worth four in
common. In fact, the history of enclosures is part of the history of
the great revolution in agriculture by which the manorial system was
converted into the modern system as we know it to-day of several
ownership and the triumvirate of landlord, tenant farmer, and
labourer. No one could have objected to the enclosure of waste; it was
that of the common arable fields and of the common pasture that
excited the indignation of contemporaries. They saw many of the small
holders displaced and the countryside depopulated; many of the
labourers were also thrown out of employment, for there was no need in
enclosed fields of the swineherd and shepherd and oxherd who had
tended the common flocks of the villagers in the old unfenced fields.
But much of the opposition was founded on ignorance and hatred of
change; England had been for ages mainly a corn-growing land, and,
many thought, ought to remain so. As a matter of fact, what much of
the arable land wanted was laying down to grass; it was worn out and
needed a rest. The common field system was wasteful; the land, for
instance, could never be properly ploughed, for the long narrow strips
could not be cross-ploughed, and much of it must have suffered
grievously from want of manure at a time when hardly any stock was
kept in the winter to make manure. The beneficial effect of the rest
is shown by the fact that at the end of the sixteenth century, when
some of the land came to be broken up, the produce per acre of wheat
had gone up largely.[195] Marling and liming the land, too, which had
been the salvation of much of it for centuries, had gone out partly
because of insecurity of tenure, partly because in the unsettled state
of England men knew not if they could reap any benefit therefrom; and
partly because, says Fitzherbert, men were lazier than their fathers.
There can be no doubt that enclosures were often accompanied with
great hardships and injustice. Dugdale, speaking of Stretton in
Warwickshire,[196] says that in Henry VII's time Thomas Twyford,
having begun the depopulation thereof, decaying four messuages and
three cottages whereunto 160 acres of 'errable' land belonged, sold it
to Henry Smith; which Henry, following that example, enclosed 640
acres of land more, whereby twelve messuages and four cottages fell to
ruins and eighty persons there inhabiting, being employed about
tillage and husbandry, were constrained to depart thence and live
miserably. By means whereof the church grew to such ruin that it was
of no other use than for the shelter of cattle. A sad picture, and
true of many districts, but much of the depopulation ascribed to
enclosures was due to the devastation of the Civil Wars.

In spite of these enclosures, which began to change the England of
open fields into the country we know of hedgerows and winding roads,
great part of the land was in a wild and uncultivated state of fen,
heath, and wood, the latter sometimes growing right up to the walls of
the towns.[197] An unbroken series of woods and fens stretched right
across England from Lincoln to the Mersey, and northwards from the
Mersey to the Solway and the Tweed; Warwickshire, Northamptonshire,
and Leicestershire were largely covered by forests, and Sherwood
Forest extended over nearly the whole of Notts. Cannock Chase was
covered with oaks, and in the forest of Needwood in Camden's time the
neighbouring gentry eagerly pursued the cheerful sport of hunting. The
great forest of Andredesweald, though much diminished, still covered a
large part of Sussex, and the Chiltern district in Bucks and
Oxfordshire was thick with woods which hid many a robber. The great
fen in the east covered 300,000 acres of land in six counties, in
spite of various efforts to reclaim the land, and was to remain in a
state of marsh and shallow water till the seventeenth century.

North and west of the great fen was Hatfield Chase, 180,000 acres
mostly swamp and bog, with here and there a strip of cultivated land,
much of which had been tilled and neglected; a great part too of
Yorkshire was swamp, heath, and forest, and of Lancashire marshes and
mosses, some of which were not drained till recent times. The best
corn-growing counties were those lying immediately to the north of
London, stretching from Suffolk to Gloucestershire, and including the
southern portions of Staffordshire and Leicestershire; Essex was a
great cheese county; Hants, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, and
Bedfordshire were famous for malt, and Leicestershire for peas and
beans. The population of England in 1485 was probably from two to two
and a half millions. At the time of Domesday it was under two
millions, and from that date increased perhaps to nearly four millions
at the time of the Black Death in 1348-9, which swept away from
one-third to one-half of the people, and repeated wars and pestilences
seem to have kept it from increasing until Tudor times. Of the whole
population no fewer than eleven-twelfths were employed in

It was sought to remedy enclosure and depopulation by legislation, and
the statute of 4 Hen. VII, c. 19, was passed, which stated in its
preamble that where in some towns (meaning townships or villages) 200
persons used to be occupied and lived by their lawful labours, now
there are occupied only two or three herdsmen, so that the residue
fall into idleness, and husbandry is greatly decayed, churches
destroyed, the bodies there buried not prayed for, the parsons and
curates wronged, and the defence of this land enfeebled and impaired;
the latter point being wisely deemed one of the most serious defects
in the new system of farming. Indeed, the encouragement of tillage was
largely prompted by the desire to see the people fed on good
home-grown corn and made strong and healthy by rural labour for the
defence of England. It therefore enacted that houses which within
three years before had been let for farms with 20 acres of tillage
land should be kept in that condition, under a penalty of forfeiting
half the profits to the king or the lord of the fee. Soon after Henry
VIII ascended the throne came another statute, 6 Hen. VIII, c. 5, that
all townships, villages, &c., decayed and turned from husbandry and
tillage into pasture, shall by the owner be rebuilt and the land made
mete for tillage within one year; and this was repeated and made
perpetual by a law of the next year.[199]

But legislation was in vain; the price of wool was now beginning to
advance so that the attraction of sheep farming was irresistible, and
laws, which asked landowners and farmers to turn from what was
profitable to what was not, were little likely to be observed,
especially as the administration of these laws was in the hands of
those whose interest it was that they should not be observed.

Their ill success, however, did not deter the Parliament from fresh
efforts. 25 Hen. VIII, c. 13, sets forth the condition of affairs in
its preamble: as many persons have accumulated into few, great
multitude of farms and great plenty of cattle, especially sheep,
putting such land as they can get into pasture, and enhanced the old
rents and raised the prices of corn, cattle, wool, and poultry almost
double, 'by reason whereof a mervaylous multitude and nombre of the
people of this realme be not able to provide drynke and clothes
necessary for themselves, but be so discoraged with myserie and
povertie that they fall dayly to thefte and robberye or pitifully dye
for hunger and colde.' So greedy and covetous were some of these
accumulators that they had as many as 24,000 sheep; and a good sheep,
that was used to be sold for 2s. 4d. or 3s. at the most, was now from
4s. to 6s.; and a stone of clothing wool, that in some shires was
accustomed to be sold for 18d. or 20d., is now 3s. 4d. to 4s.; and in
others, where it was 2s. 4d. to 3s. it is now 4s. 8d. to 5s.

It was therefore enacted that no man, with some exceptions, was to
keep more than 2,000 sheep at one time in any part of the realm,
though lambs under one year were not to count. The frequency of these
laws proves their inefficacy, and the conduct of Henry VIII was the
chief cause of it; for while Parliament was complaining of the
decrease of tillage he gave huge tracts of land taken from the
monasteries to greedy courtiers, who evicted the tenants and lived on
the profits of sheep farming.[200] For the dissolution of the
monasteries was now taking Place,[201] and the best landowners in
England, some of whom farmed their own land long after most of the lay
landlords had given it up or turned it into grass, and whose lands are
said to have fetched a higher rent than any others, were robbed and
ruined. Including the dissolution of the monasteries and the
confiscation of the chantry lands in 1549 by Edward VI, about
one-fifteenth of the land of England changed hands at this time. The
transfer of the abbey lands to Henry's favourites was very prejudicial
to farming; it was a source of serious dislocation of agricultural
industry, marked by all the inconvenience, injustice, and loss that
attends a violent transfer of property. It is probable also that many
of the monastic lands were let on stock and land leases; and the stock
was confiscated, with inevitable ruin to the tenant as well as the
landlord.[202] And not only was a serious injury wrought to
agriculture by the spoliation of a large number of landlords generally
noted for their generosity and good farming, but with the religious
houses disappeared a large number of consumers of country produce, the
amount of which may be gathered from the following list of stores of
the great Abbey of Fountains at the dissolution: 2,356 horned cattle,
1,326 sheep, 86 horses, 79 swine, and large quantities of wheat, oats,
rye, and malt, with 392 loads of hay.[203] It must indeed have seemed
to many as if the poor farmer was never to have any rest; no sooner
were the long wars over and pestilences in some sense diminished, than
the evils of enclosure and the dissolution of the monasteries came
upon him. Many ills were popularly ascribed to the fall of the
monasteries; in an old ballad in Percy's _Reliques_ one of the
characters says, in western dialect:--

     'Chill tell the what, good vellowe,
     Before the friers went hence,
     A bushel of the best wheate
     Was zold vor vorteen pence,
     And vorty eggs a penny
     That were both good and newe.'

NOTE.--If any further proof were needed of the constant attention
given by Parliament to agricultural matters, it would be furnished by
the Acts for the destruction of vermin.[204] Our forefathers had no
doubt that rooks did more harm than good, yearly destroying a
'wonderfull and marvelous greate quantitie of corne and graine'; and
destroying the 'covertures of thatched housery, bernes, rekes,
stakkes, and other such like'; so that all persons were to do their
best to kill them, 'on pain of a grevous amerciament'.


[184] Much the same tendencies were at work in other countries,
especially in Germany.

[185] Slater, _English Peasantry and Enclosure_, 248.

[186] Smyth, _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 113.

[187] _Cal. Pat. Rolls_, 1331, p. 127.

[188] _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 141.

[189] Ibid. i. 141.

[190] _Lives of the Berkeleys_, i. 160.

[191] _Historical MSS. Commission, 6th Report_, p. 359.

[192] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 379.

[193] Ashley, _English Woollen Industry_, pp. 80-1. Broadly speaking,
there are four stages in the development of industry--the family
system, the guild system, the domestic system, and the factory system.

[194] _Hist. Reg. Angl._, p. 120.

[195] Gisborne, _Agricultural Essays_, pp. 186-9.

[196] _Antiquities of Warwickshire_ 2nd ed., p. 51.

[197] Denton, _England in the Fifteenth Century_, p. 135.

[198] See Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 331; Denton,
_England in the Fifteenth Century_, p. 127.

[199] 7 Hen. VIII, c. 1.

[200] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 489.

[201] Dissolution of small monasteries, 1536; of greater, 1539-40.

[202] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, iv. 129.

[203] Dugdale, _Monasticon_, v, 291.

[204] 24 Hen. VIII, c. 10; 8 Eliz. c. 15; 14 Eliz. c. 11; 39 Eliz. c.



The farming of this period is portrayed for us by Fitzherbert, the
first agricultural writer of any merit since Walter of Henley in the
thirteenth century. He was one of the Justices of Common Pleas, and
had been a farmer for forty years before he wrote his books on
husbandry, and on surveying in 1523, so that he knew what he was
writing about; 'there is nothing touching husbandry contained in this
book but I have had experience thereof and proved the same.' In spite
of the increase of grazing in his time he says the 'plough is the most
necessarie instrument that an husbandman can occupy', and describes
those used in various counties; in Kent, for instance, 'they have some
go with wheeles as they do in many other places'; but the plough of
his time is apparently the same as that of Walter of Henley, and
altered little till the seventeenth century. The rudeness of it may be
judged from the fact that in some places it only cost 10d. or 1s.
though in other parts they were as much as 6s. or even 8s. He
says[205] it was too costly for a farmer to buy all his implements,
wherefore it is necessary for him to learn to make them, as he had
done in the Middle Ages before the era of ready-made implements, when
he always bought the materials and put them together at home. On the
vexed question of whether to use horses or oxen for ploughing, he says
it depends on the locality; for instance, oxen will plough in tough
clay and upon hilly ground, whereas horses will stand still; but
horses go faster than oxen on even ground and light ground, and are
'quicke for carriages, but they be far more costly to keep in winter.'

According to him, oxen had no shoes as horses had.[206] Here is his
description of a harrow: it is 'made of six final peeces of timber
called harow bulles, made either of ashe or oke; they be two yardes
long, and as much as the small of a man's leg; in every bulle are five
sharpe peeces of iron called harow tyndes, set somewhat a slope
forward.' This harrow, drawn by oxen, was good to break the big clods,
and then the horse harrow came after to break the smaller clods. It
differed slightly from the former, some having wooden tines. For
weeding corn the chief instrument 'is a pair of tongs made of wood,
and in dry weather ye must have a weeding hoke with a socket set upon
a staffe a yard long.'[207]

He recommends that grass be mown early, for the younger and greener
the grass is the softer and sweeter it will be when it is hay, and the
seeds will be in it instead of fallen out as when left late; advice
which many slovenly farmers need to-day. He does not approve of the
custom of reaping rye and wheat high up and mowing them after, but
advises that they be cut clean; barley and oats, however, should be
commonly mown. Both wheat and rye were to be sown at Michaelmas, and
were cast upon the fallow and ploughed under, two London bushels of
wheat and rye being the necessary amount of seed per acre. In spite of
his praise of the plough he allows that the sheep 'is the most
profitablest cattel that a man can have', and he gives a list of their
diseases, among the things that rot them being a grass called
sperewort, another called peny grass, while marshy ground, mildewed
grass, and grass growing upon fallow and therefore full of weeds were
all conducive to rot. The chief cause, however, is mildew, the sign of
whose presence is the honeydew on the oak leaves. In buying cattle to
feed the purchaser is to see that the hair stare not, and that the
beast lacks no teeth, has a broad rib, a thick hide, and be loose
skinned, for if it stick hard to his ribs he will not feed[208]; it
should be handled to see if it be soft on the forecrop, behind the
shoulder, on the hindermost rib upon the huck bone, and at the nache
by the tail. Among other diseases of cattle he mentions the gout,
'commonly in the hinder feet'; but he never knew a man who could find
a remedy. He was a great advocate of enclosures; for it was much
better to have several closes and pastures to put his cattle in, which
should be well quick-setted, ditched, and hedged, so as to divide
those of different ages, as this was more profitable than to have his
cattle go before the herdsman (in the common field).

It will be seen from the above that Fitzherbert made no idle boast in
saying he wrote of what he knew, and much of his advice is applicable
to-day, though the time is past for the farmer's wife to 'wynowe all
manner of cornes, to make malte, to shere corne, and in time of nede
to helpe her husbande to fyll the mucke wayne or dounge carte, dryve
the plough, lode heye, corne, and such other'; though she may go or
ride to the market 'to sel butter, cheese, milke, eggs, chekyns,
hennes, and geese.'[209] It appears that the horses of England at this
time had considerably deteriorated, for the statute 27 Hen. VIII, c.
6, mentions the great decay of the breed, the cause it is stated being
that 'in most places of this Realme little horsis and naggis of small
stature and valeu be suffered to depasture and also to covour marys
and felys of very small stature'; therefore owners and farmers of deer
parks shall keep in every such park two brood mares of 13 'hand
fulles' (hands) at least. Another statute, 32 Hen. VIII, c. 13, strove
to remedy this evil by enacting that no entire horse under 15 hands
was to feed on any forest, chase, waste, or common land.

This statute was a useful one, so also was 21 Hen. VIII, c. 8, which
forbade for three years the killing of calves between January 1 and
May 1, under a penalty of 6s. 8d., because so many had been killed by
'covetous persons' that the cattle of the country were dwindling in
number. Others, however, were merely meddlesome, and directed against
that unpopular man the dealer. For instance, owners refusing to sell
cattle at assessed prices were to answer first in the Star Chamber (25
Hen. VIII, c. 1); and by 3 and 4 Edw. VI, c. 19, no cattle were to be
bought but in open fair or market, and not to be resold then alive,
though a man might buy cattle anywhere for his own use. No person,
again, was to resell cattle within five weeks after he bought them (5
Edw. VI, c. 14); and a common drover had by the same Act to have a
licence from three justices before he could buy and sell cattle. We
may be sure that these laws were more honoured in the breach than in
the observance, as they deserved to be.

Hops were said to have been introduced from the Low Countries about
the middle of Henry VIII's reign; but there can be no doubt that this
is a mistake. It has been mentioned that they flourished in the
gardens of Edward I, and a distinguished authority[210] says the hop
may with probability be reckoned a native of Britain; but it was first
used as a salad or vegetable for the table, the young sprouts having
the flavour of asparagus and coming earlier. Hasted, the historian of
Kent, states[211] that a petition was presented to Parliament against
the hop plant in 1428 wherein it was called a 'wicked weed'. Harrison
says, 'Hops in time past were plentiful in this land, afterwards their
maintenance did cease, and now (cir. 1580) being revived where are
anie better to be found?'[212] Even then growers had to face foreign
competition, as the customs accounts prove that considerable
quantities were imported into England. In 1482 a cwt. was sold for 8s.
and 1 cwt. 21 lb. for 19s. 6d., an early example of that fluctuation
in price which has long characterized them.[213] Their average price
about this time seems to have been 14s. 1/2d. a cwt.

During the Tudor period the number of day labourers increased, largely
owing to the enclosures having deprived the small holder and commoner
of their land and rights. But judging by the statutes those paid
yearly and boarded in the farm house were still most numerous.

In 1495 the hours of labourers were first regulated by law. The
statute II Hen. VII, c. 22, says that 23 Hen. VI, c. 12,[214] was
insufficiently observed; and besides increasing wages slightly set
forth the following hours for work on the farm: the labourer was to be
at his work from the middle of March to the middle of September before
5 a.m., and have half an hour for breakfast and an hour and a half for
dinner and sleep, when sleep was allowed, that is from the middle of
May to the middle of August; when sleep was not allowed, an hour for
dinner and half an hour for his nonemete or lunch; and he was to work
till between 7 and 8 p.m. During the rest of the year he was to work
from daylight to dark. The attempt to regulate hours, which seem fair
and reasonable, no doubt met with better success than that to regulate
wages, for 6 Hen. VIII, c. 3 (1514), says the previous statutes had
been very much disregarded, and sets down the rates once more:--

  A bailiff's yearly wages, with diet, were to be not more
    than £1 6s. 8d., and 5s. for clothes.

  A chief hind, carter, or chief shepherd, with diet, not more
    than £1, and 5s. for clothes.

  A common servant or labourer, with diet, not more than
    16s. 8d., and 4s. for clothes.

  A woman servant, with diet, not more than 10s., and 4s.
    for clothes.

By the day, except in harvest, a common labourer from Easter to
Michaelmas was to have 2d. with food and drink, 4d. without; and from
Michaelmas to Easter 1-1/2d. with food and drink, and 3d. without. In

  A mower, with food, 4d. a day; without, 6d.
  A reaper, with food, 3d. a day; without, 5d.
  A carter, with food, 3d.; without, 5d.
  Other labourers, with food, 2-1/2d.; without, 4-1/2d.
  Women, with food, 2-1/2d.; without, 4-1/2d.


[205] _Booke of Husbandry_ (ed. 1568), fol. 5. The surveyor of
Fitzherbert's day combined some of the duties of the modern bailiff
and land agent: he bought and sold for his employer, valued his
property, and supervised the rents.

[206] _Booke of Husbandry_ (ed. 1568), fol. vi.

[207] Ibid. fol. xv.

[208] _Booke of Husbandry_ (ed. 1568), fol. xxix.

[209] Fitzherbert adds pigs and all manner of cornes, so altogether
the farmer's wife seems to have done as much as the farmer.

[210] Sir Jas. E. Smith, _English Flora_, iv. 241.

[211] _History of Kent_ (ed. 1778), i. 123.

[212] _Description of Britain_ (Furnivall ed.), p. 325.

[213] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, iii. 254.

[214] See above.




The period we have now reached was one of steady growth in the value
of land and its products. In 1543 Henry VIII, who had given away or
squandered, in addition to the great treasure left him by his thrifty
father, all the wealth obtained from the dissolution of the
monasteries, debased the coinage in order to get more money into his
insatiable hands, and prices went up in consequence. But there were
other causes: the influx of precious metals from newly discovered
America into Europe had commenced to make itself felt, and the
population of the country began to grow steadily. Also, it must not be
forgotten that the seasons, which in the early part of the century had
been normal, were for the next sixty years frequently rainy and bad.
It is unnecessary to say that this must have largely helped to raise
the price of corn. The average price of wheat from 1540-1583 was 13s.
10-1/2d. a quarter; from 1583-1702, 39s. 0-1/2d. Corn was still
subject to extraordinary fluctuations: in 1557, Holinshed says before
harvest wheat was 53s. 4d. a quarter, malt 44s. After harvest wheat
was 5s., malt 6s. 8d., the former prices being due to a terrible
drought in England. Oxen in the period 1583-1703 were worth 75s.
instead of under £1 in the period 1400-1540. Wool was from 9d. to 1s.
a lb. instead of about 3-1/2d., and all other farm products increased
with these.[215] Hops were from 1540-1582 about 26s. 8d. a cwt., and
from 1583-1700, 82s. 9-1/2d. In 1574 Reynold Scott published the first
English treatise on hops,[216] in which he says, 'one man may well
keep 2,000 hils, upon every hil well ordered you shall have 3 lb. of
hoppes at the least, one hundred pounds of these hoppes are commonly
worth 26s. 8d., one acre of ground and the third part of one man's
labour with small cost beside, shall yield unto him that ordereth the
same well, fortie marks yearly and that for ever,' an optimistic
estimate that many growers to-day would like to see realized. 'In the
preparation of a hop garden', says the same writer, 'if your ground be
grasse, it should be first sowen with hempe or beanes which maketh the
ground melowe, destroyeth weedes, and leaveth the same in good season
for this purpose.[217] At the end of Marche, repayre to some good
garden to compound with the owner for choice rootes, which in some
places will cost 5d. an hundredth. And now you must choose the biggest
rootes you can find, such as are three or four inches about, and let
every root be nine or ten inches long, and contain three joints.'
Holes were then to be dug at least 8 feet apart, one foot square, and
one foot deep, and in each two or three roots planted and well hilled
up. Tusser, however, recommended them much closer:

     'Five foot from another each hillock should stand,
     As straight as a levelled line with the hand.
     Let every hillock be four foot wide.
     Three poles to a hillock, I pas not how long,
     Shall yield the more profit set deeplie and strong.'

Three or four poles were to be set to each hill 15 or 16 feet long,
unless the ground was very rich, the poles 9 or 10 inches in
circumference at the butt, so as to last longer and stand the wind
well. After they were put up, the ground round the poles was to be
well rammed. Rushes or grass were used for tieing the hops. During
the growth of the hops, not more than two or three bines were to be
allowed to each pole; and after the first year the hills were to be
gradually raised from the alleys between the rows until, according to
the illustrations in Scott's book, they were 3 or 4 feet high, the
'greater you make your hylles the more hoppes you shall have upon
your poals'. When the time for picking came, the bines when cut were
carried to a 'floore prepared for the purpose', apparently of
hardened earth, where they were stripped into baskets, and Scott
thought that 'it is not hurtfull greatly though the smaller leaves be
mingled with the hoppes'. In wet weather the hops were to be stripped
in the house. The fire for drying hops was of wood, and some dried
their hops in the sun, both processes to us appearing very risky; as
the first would be too quick, and the latter next to impossible in
September in England. They were sometimes packed in barrels, as
Tusser tells us, 'Some close them up drie in a hogshead or vat, yet
canvas or sontage (coarse cloth) is better than that.'

By this time England had largely changed from a corn-growing to a
stock-raising country; Harrison, writing in the middle of Queen
Elizabeth's reign, says, 'the soile of Britaine is more inclined
to feeding and grazing than profitable for tillage and bearing of
corne ... and such store is there of cattle in everie place that the
fourth part of the land is scarcely manured for the provision of
graine.' But this statement seems exaggerated. We know that by
Harrison's time enclosures had affected but a small area, and the
greater part of the cultivated land was in open arable fields. The
yield of corn was now much greater than in the Middle Ages; rye or
wheat well tilled and dressed now produced 15 to 20 bushels to the
acre instead of 6 or 8, barley 36 bushels, oats 4 or 5 quarters[218],
though in the north, which was still greatly behind the rest of
England, crops were smaller. No doubt this was partly due to the
much-abused enclosures: the industrious farmer could now do what he
liked with his own, without hindrance from his lazy or unskilful
neighbour. Tusser's preference for the 'several' field is very
decided; comparing it with the 'champion' or common field he says:--

     The countrie inclosed I praise
     the tother delighteth me not,
     There swineherd that keepeth the hog
     there neetherd with cur and his horne,
     There shepherd with whistle and dog
     be fence to the medowe and corne,
     There horse being tide on a balke
     is readie with theefe for to walke,
     Where all things in common doth reste
     corne field with the pasture and meade,
     Tho' common ye do for the best
     yet what doth it stand ye in steade?
     More plentie of mutton and beefe
     corne butter and cheese of the best
     More wealth any where (to be briefe)
     more people, more handsome and prest (neat.)
     Where find ye? (go search any coaste)
     than there where enclosure is most.
     More work for the labouring man
     as well in the towne as the fielde.
     For commons these commoners crie
     inclosing they may not abide,
     Yet some be not able to bie
     a cow with her calf by her side.
     Nor laie (intend) not to live by their wurke,
     But thievishly loiter and lurke.
     What footpaths are made and how brode
     Annoiance too much to be borne,
     With horse and with cattle what rode
     is made thorowe erie man's come.

But the rich graziers boasted that they did not grow corn because
they could buy it cheaper in the market; and they are said to have
traded on the necessity of the poor farmer to sell at Michaelmas in
order to pay his rent, and when they had got the corn into their
hands they raised the price. The corn-dealers of the time were looked
upon with dislike by every one; many of the dearths then so frequent,
and nearly always caused by bad seasons, were ascribed to 'engrossers
buying of corn and witholding it for sale'. By a statute of 1552 the
freedom of internal corn trade was entirely suppressed, and no one
could carry corn from one part of England to another without a
licence, and any one who bought corn to sell it again was liable to
two months' imprisonment and forfeited his corn. Although we shall
see that this policy was reversed in the next century, the feeling
against corn-dealers survived for many years and was loudly
expressed during the Napoleonic war; indeed, we may doubt if it
is extinct to-day.

Many of the fruits and garden produce, which had been neglected since
the first Edward, had by now come into use again, 'not onlie among the
poor commons, I meane of melons, pompions, gourds, cucumbers,
radishes, skirets (probably a sort of carrot), parsneps, carrots,
cabbages, navewes (turnip radishes (?)), turnips,[219] and all kinds
of salad herbes, but also at the tables of delicate merchants,
gentlemen, and the nobilitie.'[220]

'Also we have most delicate apples, plummes, pears, walnuts, filberts,
&c., and those of sundrie sorts, planted within fortie years past, in
comparison of which most of the old trees are nothing worth: so have
we no less store of strange fruite, as abricotes, almonds, peaches,
figges, cornetrees (probably cornels) in noblemen's orchards. I have
seen capers, orenges, and lemmons, and heard of wild olives growing
here, besides other strange trees.'[221]

As a proof of the growth of grass in proportion to tillage between
the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, Eden gives several
examples,[222] of which the following are significant:--

                                           Arable.     Grass.
                                           acres.      acres.

  1339. 18 messuages in Norfolk had         160         60
  1354. a Norfolk manor                     300         59
  1395. 2 messuages in Warwickshire         400         60
  1560. 2 messuages in Warwickshire         600        660
  1567. a Norfolk estate                    200        400
  1569.    "     manor                       60         60

'Our sheepe are very excellent for sweetness of flesh, and our woolles
are preferred before those of Milesia and other places.'[223] So
thought Harrison and many English landowners and farmers too, so that
legislation was powerless to stop the spread of sheep farming. In 1517
a commission of inquiry instigated by Wolsey held inquisition on
enclosures and the decay of tillage, and it seems to have been the
only honest effort to stop the evil. It was to inquire what decays,
conversions, and park enclosures had been made since 1489, but the
result even of this attempt was small. In 1535 a fresh statute, 27
Hen. VIII, c. 22, stated that the Act limiting the number of sheep to
be kept had only been observed on lands held of the king, whereon many
houses had been rebuilt and much pasture reconverted to tillage; but
on lands holden of other lords this was not the case, therefore the
king was to have the moiety of the profits of such lands as had been
converted from tillage to pasture since 4 Hen. VII until a proper
house was built and the land returned to tillage; but the Act only
applied to fourteen counties therein enumerated. The enclosing for
sheep-runs still went on, however, often with ruthless selfishness;
houses and townships were levelled, says Sir Thomas More, and nothing
left standing except the church, which was turned into a sheep-house:

     'The towns go down, the land decays,
     Of corn-fields plain lays,
     Great men maketh nowadays
     A sheepcot of the church',

said a contemporary ballad.

Latimer wrote, 'where there were a great many householders and
inhabitants there is now but a shepherd and his dog.' 'I am sorie to
report it,' says Harrison,[224] 'but most sorrowful of all to
understand that men of great port and countenance are so far from
suffering their farmers to have anie gaine at all that they themselves
become graziers, butchers, tanners, sheepmasters, and woodmen, thereby
to enrich themselves.' The Act against pulling down farmhouses was
evaded by repairing one room for the use of a shepherd; a single
furrow was driven across a field to prove it was still under the
plough; to avoid holding illegal numbers of sheep flocks were held in
the names of sons and servants.[225] The country swarmed with heaps of
miserable paupers, 'sturdy and valiant' beggars, and thieves who,
though hanged twenty at a time on a single gallows, still infested all
the countryside, their numbers being swollen by the dissolution of the
monasteries and the breaking up of the bands of retainers kept by the
great nobles.

Rents also were rising rapidly. Latimer's account of his father's farm
is too well known to be again quoted; his opinions were shared by all
the writers of the day. Sir William Forrest, about 1540, says that
landlords now demand fourfold rents, so that the farmer has to raise
his prices in proportion, and beef and mutton were so dear that a poor
man could not 'bye a morsell'. 'Howe joyne they lordshyp to
lordshyppe, manner to manner, ferme to ferme. How do the rych men, and
especially such as be shepemongers, oppresse the king's people by
devourynge their common pastures with the shepe so that the poore are
not able to keepe a cowe, but are like to starve. And yet when was
beef ever so dere or mutton, wool now 8s. a stone.

'Now', says another, later in the century, 'I can never get a horse
shoed under 10d. or 12d., when I have also seen the common pryce was
6d. And cannot your neighbour remember that within these thirty years
I could bye the best pigge or goose that I could lay my hand on for
four pence which now costeth 12d., a good capon for 3d. or 4d., a hen
for 2d., which now costeth me double and triple.'[226]

Parliament, of course, tried to regulate the price of food; an Act of
1532, 24 Hen. VIII, c. 3, ordained that beef and pork should be 1/2d.
a lb. and mutton and veal 5/8d. a lb. The decrease in the number of
cows also received its attention; 2 and 3 Philip and Mary, c. 3,
states that forasmuch of late years a great number of persons have fed
in their pastures sheep and cattle with no regard to breeding, so that
there was great scarcity of stock, therefore for every 60 sheep kept
one milk cow shall be kept, and for every 120 sheep one calf shall be
bred, and for every 10 head of horned cattle shall be kept one milk
cow, and for every two cows so kept one calf shall be bred. The Act
was to last seven years, but 13 Eliz. c. 25 made it perpetual.

In 1549 came the rising of Robert Kett in Norfolk, the last attempt of
the English labourer to obtain redress of his wrongs by force of arms,
though Kett himself belonged to the landlord class and took the side
of the people probably by accident. The petition of grievances drawn
up by his followers aimed at diminishing the power of lords of manors
as regards enclosures, the keeping of dove-cots, and other feudal
wrongs. 'We pray', said the insurgents, 'that all bondmen may be made
free, for God made all free with His precious blood-shedding.' The
rebellion came to nothing, and some of the abuses at which it was
aimed were dying a natural death, though enclosure often acted hardly
on the poor man.

The manorial system went on steadily decaying, and by this time the
demesne lands had much diminished in area on most manors. Many parcels
had been sold to the new landlord class, who had made their fortunes
in the towns and, like most Englishmen, desired to become country

Much of the demesne had been sold in small lots to well-off tradesmen,
and as the villeins had become copyholders a large part of the land
was owned or occupied by yeomen or tenant farmers, who cultivated from
20 to 150 acres. Many of the labourers also owned or rented cottages
with 4 or 5 acres attached to them. Such was the rural society at the
end of the Tudor period. The progress of enclosures helped to destroy
this, for the labourers gradually ceased to own or occupy land, farms
increased in size, the ownership of land came to be more and more the
privilege of the rich, and people flocked in increasing numbers to the
towns.[227a] In five Norfolk manors in Elizabeth's time only from
one-seventh to one-tenth was in demesne, and little of what was left
was farmed by the lord, but let to farmers on leases.[227b] On some
manors the demesne land lay in compact blocks near the manor house; on
others it was in scattered strips of various size; in others it lay in
blocks and strips. The following particulars of a manor in Norfolk
give a good picture of an estate in 1586-8, the tenants on it, their
rank, and the size of their holdings:--

  Horstead with Staninghall, 2,746 acres.

  The tenants with messuages in the village were:--


   1. J. Topliffe, gentleman     280
   2. F. Woodhouse, Esquire      270
   3. R. Ward, gentleman         265
   4. H. Shreve                  180
   5. A. Pightling, widow        120
   6. W. Rose's heirs            110
   7. G. Berde                    60
   8. A. Thetford, gentleman      60
   9. T. Pightling                60
  10. R. Pightling                60
  11. J. Rose                     40
  12. R. Lincoln                  40
  13. W. Jeckell                  20
  14. W. Bulwer                   20
  15. E. Newerby, gentleman       15
  16. T. Barnard                  12
  17. E. Sparke                   10

There were also 12 tenants without houses, holding from 1 to 20
acres; the demesne was 230 acres; there were two glebes containing 84
acres, and town lands of 7 acres. The waste amounted to 350 acres,
which by 1599 had all disappeared.

On this manor the houses were not collected together in a village as
usual in most parts of England, but scattered about the estate. In
two other manors the amount of waste remaining at this period was
very small, but in three others little had been 'approved' and much
consequently remained; most of the 'approvements', where made, seem
to have been of long standing, and all the enclosures made were for
tillage, not for grass as we should expect. The 350 acres of waste
that remained at Horstead in 1586-8 was enclosed in 1599 by agreement
between the lords of the manor and the tenants on the following

  1. Lords to take 80 acres in severalty.

  2. Lords to reserve all rights to treasure trove, minerals,
     waifs, &c., with right of entry to take the same.

  3. All rights of pasture, shack, and foldage were to be
     extinguished on all lands in the village.

  4. The tenants were to pay an annual quit rent of £7 14s. 5d.
     for their shares of the common.

Before a man enclosed he consolidated his holding by exchange, so as
to bring it into a compact parcel instead of scattered strips, a very
lengthy process; then he ploughed up the bounds between the strips;
after which he changed the direction of the ploughing, ploughing the
land crossways, a very necessary change, as it had all been ploughed
lengthways for centuries; and lastly he erected his fences: the
bounds of the strips, however, were sometimes left to show which were
freehold and which copyhold. On the other hand, there were exceptions
to the curtailment of the demesne: on an Oxfordshire manor of the
sixteenth century the greater part of the 64 yard-lands of which it
consisted had by then passed from the possession of the peasants to
the private use of the lord of the manor.[228] To each yard-land
belonged a house and farmyard, 24 to 28-3/4 acres of arable land, a
share in the commonable meadows which for each occupier came to some 8
acres, also the right to turn out 8 oxen or cows, or 6 horses and 40
sheep on to the common pasture. Probably, as in other manors in
ancient times, each occupier had a right to as much firewood as was
necessary, and timber for building purposes and fences. The arable
land lay in numerous small plots of half an acre each and less,
mingled together in a state of great confusion, and was farmed on the
four-field system--wheat, beans, oats, fallow--though 200 years before
the three-field system had been most common in the district. Many of
the common arable fields evidently often contained, in those days of
poor cultivation and inefficient drainage, patches of boggy and poor
land which were left uncultivated.[229] In the rolls of the Manor of
Scotter in Lincolnshire, in the early part of the sixteenth century,
no one was to allow his horses to depasture in the arable fields
unless they were tethered on these bad spots to prevent them wandering
into the growing corn.[230] Many of the other regulations of this
manor throw a flood of light on the farming of the day. In 1557 it was
ordered that no man should drive his cattle unyoked through the
corn-field under a penalty of 3s. 4d. Every man shall keep a
sufficient fence against his neighbour under the same penalty. No man
shall make a footpath over the corn-field, the penalty for so doing
being 4d. Every one shall both ring and yoke their swine before S.
Ellen's Day (probably May 3), under a penalty of 6s. 8d., the custom
of yoking swine to prevent them breaking fences being common until
recent times. It was the custom in some manors to sow peas in a plot
especially set apart for the poor. Another rule was that no one should
bake or brew by night for fear of burning down the flimsy houses and
buildings. The penalty for ploughing up the balks which divided the
strips, or meere (marc) furrows as they were called in Lincolnshire,
was 2d., a very light one for so serious an offence. In 1565 a penalty
of 10s. was imposed on Thomas Dawson for breaking his hemp, i.e.
separating the fibre from the bark in his large open chimney on winter
nights, a habit which the manor courts severely punished owing to the
risk of fire, for hemp refuse is very inflammable. It 1578 it was laid
down that every one was to sow the outside portion of their arable
lands, and not leave it waste for weeds to the damage of his
neighbours; and that those who were too poor to keep sheep should not
gather wool before 8 o'clock in the morning, in reference to the
custom of allowing the poor to pick refuse wool found on bushes and
thorns, and this rule was to prevent them tearing wool from the sheep
at night under that pretext. No man was to keep any beasts apart from
the herdsman, for if the herdsman did not know the animals he could
not tell them from strays. Every one was to sweep their chimney four
times a year, for fear of sparks falling on the thatch. No man was to
suffer the nests of crows or magpies in his ground, but pull them down
before May Day. In the meadows, before each man began to mow his grass
he was to mark the exact limits of his own land with 'wadsticks' or
tall rods, so that there could be no mistake as to boundaries. The
health of the community and of the live stock also received attention:
in 1583 one Pattynson was fined 1s. for allowing a 'scabbed' horse to
go on the common; dead cattle were to be buried the day after death,
and all unwholesome meat was to be buried.

Harrison praises the farmer of his day highly: 'the soyle is even now
in these oure dayes growne to be much more fruitfulle; the cause is
that our country men are grown more skilful and careful throwe
recompense of gayne.' He was also doing well by means of his skill and
care; and in spite of the raising of rents by the much-abused
landlords; for in former times 'for all their frugality they were
scarcely able to live and pay their rents on rent day without selling
a cow or a horse'. Such also used to be their poverty, that if a
farmer went to the alehouse, 'a thing greatly used in those days,' and
there, 'in a braverie to show what store he had, did caste downe his
purse and therein a noble or 6 shillings in silver unto them, it was
very likely that all the rest could not lay downe so much against it.'
And In Henry's time, though rents of £4 had increased to £40, £50, or
£100, yet the farmer generally had at the end of his term saved six or
seven years' rent, besides a 'fair garnish of pewter on his cupboard',
and odd vessels, also 'three or four feather beds, so manie coverlids
and carpets of tapestry, a silver salt, a bowle for wine, and a dozzen
of spoones to furnish up the sute'. His food consisted principally of
beef, and 'such food as the butcher selleth', mutton, veal, lamb,
pork, besides souse, brawn, bacon, fruit, fruit pies, cheese, butter,
and eggs.[231] In feasting, the husbandman or farmer exceeded,
especially at bridals, purifications of women, and such other
meetings, where 'it is incredible to tell what meat is consumed and
spent'. But, besides these, there were many poorer farmers who lived
at home 'with hard and pinching diet'. Wheaten bread was at this time
a luxury confined to the gentility, the farmer's loaf, according to
Tusser, was sometimes wheat, sometimes rye, sometimes mastlin, a
mixture of wheat and rye, though the poorer farmer on uninclosed land
ate bread made of beans.

The poor ate bread of rye or barley, and in time of dearth of beans,
peas, and oats, and sometimes acorns.[232] According to Tusser, the
labourer was allowed roast meat twice a week,

     'Good plowmen looke weekly of custom and right,
     For roast meate on Sundaies, and Thursdaies at night';

and Latimer calls bacon 'the necessary meate' of the labourer, and it
seems to have been his great stand-by then as now. The bread and bacon
were supplemented largely by milk and porridge.[233] The statute, 24
Hen. VIII, c. 3, says that all food, and especially beef, mutton,
pork, and veal, 'which is the common feeding of mean and poor
persons.' was too dear for them to buy, and fixed the price of beef
and pork at 1/2d. a lb. and of mutton and veal at 5/8d. a lb.; but the
statute, like others of the kind, was of little avail, and the price
of beef was in the middle of the sixteenth century about 1d. a lb. or
8d. in our money. As the average price of wheat at the same date was
14s. a quarter, or about 112s. in our money, fresh meat was
comparatively much cheaper, and it is no wonder that even the farmer
could not afford wheaten bread regularly. Moryson, writing in
Elizabeth's reign, says 'Englishmen eate barley and rye brown bread,
and prefer it to white as abiding longer in the stomeck and not so
soon digested'.[234]

A tithe dispute at North Luffenham in Rutlandshire throws considerable
light on the financial position of the various classes interested in
the land about 1576. At the trial several witnesses were examined, who
all made statements as to the amount of their worldly wealth, and it
is a noteworthy fact that even the humblest had saved something;
perhaps because there was no poor law or State pension fund to
discourage thrift.[235] Thomas Blackburne, a husbandman, who had
served his master as 'chief baylie of his husbandrie', had at the end
of a long life saved £40. Another, William Walker, eighty years of
age, during forty years of service to Mr. John Wymarke had put by £10.
Robert Sculthorp, who had at one time been a farmer, was worth £26 6s.
8d., but the size of his farm is unfortunately not told us. Roland
Wymarke, a gentleman farmer, who had farmed for forty years at North
Luffenham, was little better off than Thomas Blackburne, the baylie,
for he estimated his capital at £50. £50, however, must not be taken
as representing the average wealth of a 'gentleman', though a few
hundred pounds was then considered a considerable fortune. In 1577
Thomas Corny, a prosperous landlord at Bassingthorpe, Lincolnshire,
had a house with a hall, three parlours, seven chambers, a high
garret, maid's garret, five chambers for yeomen hinds, shepherd, &c.,
two kitchens, two larders, milk-house, brew-house, buttery, and
cellar; and it was furnished with tables, carpets, cushions, pictures,
beds, curtains, chairs, chests, and numerous kitchen and other
utensils, besides a quantity of plate, which was then looked upon not
only as a useful luxury but as a safe form of investment. The small
squire was not nearly so well off as this. In 1527 the house of John
Asfordby, who was of that degree, contained a hall, parlour, small
parlour, low parlour, a chamber over the parlour, gallery chamber,
buttery, and kitchen, and furniture was scanty, but the plate cupboard
was well filled.[236] A prosperous yeoman was often comparatively
better off than the small squire. Richard Cust, of Pinchbeck in the
same county, though his house was small, consisting only of a hall,
parlour with chamber over, kitchen with chamber over, brew-house,
milne-house (mill-house), and milk-house, was richer in furniture,
possessing a folding-table, 4 chairs, 6 cushions, 27 pieces of pewter,
10 candlesticks, 4 basins, 1 laver, 6 beds, and other articles.[237]


[215] See table at end, and Thorold Rogers's prices in Vol. V. of his
great work.

[216] 'A perfite platforme of a Hoppegarden', in _Arte of Gardening_,
by R. Scott, 1574.

[217] Tusser recommends that the hopyard be dug. Thomas Tusser was
born in Essex, about 1525, and died in 1580. He led a roving life,
which included a good deal of farming; but the statement that he died
poor appears to be inaccurate. Much of his advice is not very

[218] Harrison, _Description of Britain_, p. 110.

[219] Usually grown in gardens, until the middle of the seventeenth
century. Tusser also mentions them.

[220] _Description of Britain_, ii. 324 (Furnivall ed.).

[221] Harrison, _Description of Britain_, ii. 329.

[222] _State of the Poor_, i. 48-9. Blomefield's _Norfolk_, iv. 569,
i. 51, i. 649. Dugdale, _Warwickshire_, p. 557.

[223] _Description of Britain_, iii. 5.

[224] _Description of Britain_ (ed. Furnivall), ii. 243.

[225] Froude, _History of England_, v. III.

[226] 'A compendious or brief examination of certain ordinary
complaints', quoted by Eden, _State of the Poor_, 1. 119.

[227a] _Transactions of the Royal Historical Society_ (New Series),
xix. 103.

[227b] Ibid. xi. 74 sq.

[228] Nasse, _Agricultural Community of the Middle Ages_, p. 9.
_Archaeologia_, xxxiii. 270.

[229] In the still surviving open fields at Laxton, mentioned above,
there are certain unploughed portions called 'sicks', or grassy
patches, never cultivated.--Slater, _op. cit._ p. 9.

[230] _Archaeologia_, xlvi. 374.

[231] _Description of Britain_, ii. 150.

[232] In the reign of Mary, 'the plain poor people did make very much
of acorns.' Cullum, _Hawsted_, p. 181.

[233] Eden, _State of the Poor_, i. 116.

[234] _Itinerary_, iii. 140.

[235] _Rutland Magazine_, i. 64.

[236] _Victoria County History: Lincolnshire_, ii. 331.

[237] See _Records of Cust Family_, i. 56.




The cattle and sheep of this period have generally been described as
poor animals, and no doubt they would seem small to us. To Jacob
Rathgib, a traveller, writing in 1592, they seemed worthy of praise:
'England has beautiful oxen and cows, with very large horns, low and
heavy and for the most part black; there is abundance of sheep and
wethers, which graze by themselves winter and summer without
shepherds.' The heaviest wethers, according to him, weighed 60 lb. and
had at the most 6 lb. of wool, a much heavier fleece than is generally
ascribed to them; others had 4 or 5 lb. Horses were abundant, and,
though low and small, were very fleet; the riding horses being
geldings and generally excellent. Immense numbers of swine were in the
country, 'larger than in any other.' Six years later another
traveller, Hentzner, noticed that the soil abounded with cattle, and
the inhabitants were more inclined to feeding than ploughing. He saw,
too, a Berkshire harvest-home: 'As we were returning to our inn (at
Windsor) we happened to meet some country people celebrating their
harvest-home, their last load of corn they crown with flowers, having
besides an image richly dressed by which perhaps they would signify
Ceres; this they keep moving about, while men and women, men and
maid-servants, riding through the streets in the cart, shout as loud
as they can till they arrive at the barn.' Harrison[238] tells us, no
doubt with patriotic bias, that 'our oxen are such as the like are not
to be found in any country of Europe both for greatness of body and
sweetness of flesh, their horns a yard between the tips.' Cows had
doubled in price in his time, from 26s. 8d. to 53s. 4d. 'Our horses
are high, but not of such huge greatness as in other places,' yet
remarkable for the easiness of their pace; and 5 or 6 cart-horses will
draw 30 cwt. a long journey, and a pack-horse will carry 4 cwt.
without any hurt,--a statement which is one more proof of the poorness
of the roads. The chief horse fairs were at 'Ripon, Newportpond,
Wolfpit, and Harborow,' where horse dealers were as great rogues as
ever. Pigeons were still the curse of the farmer, and their cotes were
called dens of thieves.

By the end of the sixteenth century, certainly by the first quarter of
the seventeenth, the villein, who in the Middle Ages had formed the
bulk of the population, had disappeared.[239] It is probable that even
at the beginning of the Tudor period the great majority of the bondmen
had become free, and that the serf then only formed one per cent. of
the population, and many of those had left the country and become
artizans in the towns, for personal serfdom had outlasted demesne
farming; though even there the heavy hand of the lord was upon them
and enforced the ancient customs.

In the sixteenth century flax was apparently grown upon most farms,
the statutes 34 Hen. VIII, c. 4, and 5 Eliz., c. 5, obliging every
person occupying 60 acres of tillage to have a quarter of an acre in
flax or hemp, and Moryson says the husbandmen wore garments of coarse
cloth made at home, so did their wives, and 'in generall' their linen
was coarse and made at home.[240]

     'Good flax and good hemp to have of her own
     In Maie a good housewife will see it be sowne',

sings Tusser. The statute of Henry VIII enjoined the sowing of flax
and hemp because of the great increase of idle people in the realm, to
which the numerous imports, especially linen cloth, contributed.

Saffron also was much grown, that at Saffron Walden in Essex was said
to be the best in the world, the profit from it being reckoned at £13
an acre. Its virtues were innumerable, if we may believe the
contemporary writers; it flavoured dishes, helped digestion, was good
for short wind, killed moths, helped deafness, dissolved gravel, and,
lastly, 'drunk in wine doth haste on drunkenesse.'

The most important novelty of this century was the potato, which the
colonists, sent out in 1586 by Sir Walter Raleigh, brought from
Virginia to Ireland, though it had been introduced into Europe by the
Spaniards before this. According to Gerard, the old English botanist,
it was, on its first introduction from America, only cultivated in the
gardens of the nobility and gentry as a curious exotic; and in 1606 it
occurs among the vegetables considered necessary for a nobleman's
household.[241] It is curious to find Gerard comparing it to what he
calls the 'common potato', in reality the sweet potato brought to
England by Drake and Hawkins earlier in the century. In James I's
reign the root was considered a great delicacy, and was sold to the
queen's household at 2s. a lb., an enormous price.

Like most agricultural novelties it spread very slowly, but about the
middle of the seventeenth century began to be planted out in the
fields in small patches in Lancashire, whence it spread all over the
kingdom and to France.[242] At this date it was looked upon as a very
second-rate article of food, if we may judge by the _Spectator_ (No.
232), which alludes to it as the diet of beggars. About 1690, Houghton
says, 'now they begin to spread all the kingdom over,' and recommends
them boiled or roasted and eaten with butter and sugar.[243] Eden
notes its increasing popularity during the eighteenth century, and by
his time (the end of that century) in many parts it was the staple
article of food for the poor; in Somerset the children mainly
subsisted on it, and in Devon it was made into bread. Its cultivation
on a large scale in the field did not, however, spread all over
England till the Napoleonic war, and the ignorance and prejudice
against it lasted for long; even Cobbett called it 'the lazy root,'
and whole potatoes were used for seed regardless of the number of

In 1563 was passed the famous Act, 5 Eliz., c. 4, which Thorold Rogers
has asserted to be the commencement of a conspiracy for cheating the
English workman of his wages, to tie him to the soil, to deprive him
of hope, and to degrade him into irremediable poverty.[244] The
violence of this language is a prima facie reason for doubting the
correctness of his assertion, which on examination is found to be
grossly exaggerated. Under Richard II the justices were authorized to
fix the rate of wages, provided they did not exceed the maximum fixed
by Parliament. The Elizabethan statute abolished the maximum and left
the justices to fix reasonable rates. So far from being an attempt to
keep wages down it seems to have been an honest effort to regulate
them according to prices,[245] whereas most previous statutes had
merely reduced wages. The preamble of the Act states this clearly
enough, saying that the existing laws with regard to the hiring and
wages of servants were insufficient; chiefly because the wages 'are in
dyvers places to small and not answerable to this time respecting the
advancement of prices in all things that belong to the said servants
and labourers, the said lawes cannot conveniently without the great
greefe and burden of the poore labourer and hired man be put in due
execution.' But as several of these Acts were still beneficial it was
proposed to consolidate them into one statute in order to banish
idleness, advance husbandry, and give the labourer decent wages. It
was enacted therefore that all persons between the ages of twelve
years and sixty, not being otherwise occupied, 'nor being a gentleman
born, nor having lands of the yearly value of 40s., nor goods to the
value of £10,' should be compellable to serve in husbandry with 'any
person that keepeth husbandry' by the year, and the hours of work were

The rates of wages of artificers, husbandmen, &c., were to be
ascertained yearly by the justices and the sheriff, 'if he
conveniently may,' at quarter sessions, 'calling unto them such
discrete and grave persons as they shall thinck meete and conferring
together respecting the plentie or scarcitie of the tyme and other
circumstances necessary to be considered,' and the wages fixed were to
be certified into Chancery. Then proclamations of the wages thus
determined were to be made in the cities and market towns. Every
person who gave higher wages than those established by the
proclamation was to be imprisoned for ten days and fined £5, every
receiver to be imprisoned twenty-one days. The importance still
attached to the harvest season is shown by the section that all
artificers and others were compellable to work in harvest or be put in
the stocks two days and a night. For the better advancement of
husbandry and tillage every householder farming 60 acres of tillage or
more might receive an apprentice in husbandry, but no tradesman or
merchant might take an apprentice save his own son, unless his parents
had freehold of the annual value of 40s.; and no person was to use
'any art mistery or manual occupation now in use' unless he had served
seven years' apprenticeship to it. There can be no doubt that the
clauses last quoted confined a large portion of the population to
agricultural work, but as we know that the people were deserting the
country and flocking to the towns, this must have seemed to the
framers of the law very desirable.

This method of fixing wages was in force until 1814, and its repeal
then was entirely contrary to the opinion of the artizan class; but it
may be doubted if the magistrates extensively used the powers given
them by the Act, and wages seem to have been settled generally by
competition. Several instances remain, however, of wages drawn up
under this Act. Almost immediately after it was passed, in June 1564,
the Rutland magistrates met under the Act, and stated that the prices
of linen, woollen, leather, corn, and other victuals were great, so
they drew up the following list of wages[246]:--

  A bailiff in husbandry, having charge of two plough lands,
    at least should have by the year 40s., and 8s.
    for his livery.

  A chief servant in husbandry, which can eire (plough), sow,
    mow, thresh, make a rick, thatch and hedge, and can kill
    and dress a hog, sheep, and calf, by the year 40s., and 6s.
    for his livery.

  A common servant in husbandry, which can mow, sow, thresh,
    and load a cart, and cannot expertly make a rick, hedge, and
    thatch, and cannot kill and dress a hog, sheep, or calf, by
    the year 33s. 4d., and 5s. for his livery.

  A mean servant in husbandry, which can drive the plough, pitch
    The cart, and thresh, and cannot expertly sow, mow, thresh,
    and load a cart, nor make a rick, nor thatch, by the year 24s.,
    and 5s. for his livery.

The chief shepherd is only to receive 20s. and 5s. for his livery; but
this must be an error, as in the statutes 6 Hen. VIII, c. 3, and 23
Hen. VI, c. 12, he was placed next the bailiff as we should expect.

These wages were evidently 'with diet', and show a considerable
advance on those fixed by 6 Hen. VIII, c. 3.[247] By the day the
ordinary labourer was to have 6d. in winter, 7d. in summer, and 8d. to
10d. in harvest time, 'finding himself.' A mower with meat earned 5d.,
without meat 10d. a day; a man reaper with meat 4d., without 8d.; a
woman reaper 3d., and 6d.

As the price of corn and meat was three times what it had been in the
fifteenth century, and the labourers' wages, taking into consideration
his harvest pay, not quite double, the Rutland magistrates hardly
observed the spirit of the Act. Rutland, moreover, judging by the
assessments of the time, was a county where agriculture was very
flourishing; and thirty years after we find in Yorkshire that the
winter wages of the labourer were 4d. and the summer 5d. a day: that
is, he had little more wages than in the fifteenth century, with
provisions risen threefold. At Chester at the same date his day's
wages were to be 4d. all the year round.[248] In 1610 the Rutland
magistrates at Oakham[249] decreed that an ordinary labourer was to
have 6d. a day in winter and 7d. in summer, the same wages as in 1564,
yet wheat in that year averaged 32s. 7d. a quarter. A bailiff by the
year was now advanced to 52s., a manservant of the best sort, equal no
doubt to the chief servant in husbandry, to 50s., a 'common servant'
to 40s., and a 'mean servant' to 29s., but all without livery. At
Chelmsford, in 1651, there was a very different rate fixed, the
ordinary labourer getting from 1s. to 1s. 2d. a day; but this seems to
have been exceptional, as at Warwick in 1684 he was only to have 8d.,
and as late as 1725 in Lancashire 9d. to 10d. a day.[250] In 1682, by
the Bury St. Edmunds assessment, a common labourer got 10d. a day in
winter and 1s. in summer, and a reaper in harvest 1s. 8d. By the year
a bailiff was paid £6, a carter £5, and a common servant £3 10s., of
course with food.[251] These figures clearly prove that the wages
fixed by the magistrates were often terribly inadequate, though it
must be said in their defence that the great rise in prices probably
struck them as abnormal and not likely to last. It should be
remembered, too, that besides his wages the labourer and his family
had often bye industries such as weaving to fall back upon, and in
most parts of England still a piece of common land to help him.


[238] _Description of Britain_, iii. 2.

[239] _Transactions of the Royal Historical Society_ (New Series),
xvii. 235.

[240] Moryson, _Itinerary_ (ed. 1617), iii. 179.

[241] _Archaeologia_ xiii. 371.

[242] In 1650 it was much cultivated about London.

[243] _Collections on Husbandry and Trade_, ii. 468.

[244] _Six Centuries of Work and Wages_, p. 398.

[245] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, ii. 38. The Statute of
Labourers of 1351 made the same effort, see p. 43.

[246] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, iv. 120;
and _Work and Wages_, p. 389.

[247] See above.

[248] Thorold Rogers, _Work and Wages_, pp. 390-1.

[249] _Archaeologia_, xi. 200.

[250] Thorold Rogers, _Six Centuries of Work and Wages_, p. 396.

[251] Cullum, _Hawsted_, p. 215. It is strange to find food reckoned
so highly; if the common labourer at Hawsted received his food, he was
only paid 5d. a day in winter, and 6d. in summer; if one man's food
was reckoned at half his wages, how far did the other half go in
feeding and clothing his family?




The seventeenth century was one of considerable progress in English
agriculture. The decay of common-field farming was enabling individual
enterprise to have its way. The population was rapidly growing; by
1688 the returns of the hearth tax prove that the northern counties
were nearly as thickly populated as the southern, and prices during
the first half were continually rising, though after that they
remained almost stationary, since the effect of the influx of precious
metals from the New World was exhausted. In the first half of the
century John Smyth ascribes the advance of rents to the Castilian
voyages opening the New World, whereby such floods of treasure have
flowed into Europe that the rates of Christendom are raised near

But the greatest agricultural event of the century was the
introduction of clover and the encouragement of turnips as grown in
Holland, by Sir Richard Weston, about 1645. No doubt the turnip was
already well known in England. Tusser and Fitzherbert both mention it,
apparently as a garden root only; but Gerard in his _Herbal_, 1597,
says it grew in fields 'and divers vineyards or hoppe gardens in most
places of England', which certainly points to an effort having been
made generally to use it as a field crop whenever an enclosed space
gave it some protection from the depredations of the common herds.
However, its cultivation must have declined, as long after this it was
regarded as a novelty as a field crop in most parts of England.[252]
In Holland it had been used in the field universally, and this use
with that of 'great', as it was called, or broad clover, Weston
pressed on the English farmer. But their progress was wofully slow. At
Hawsted in Suffolk clover and turnips were first sown about 1700, and
the eastern portion of England was far ahead of the north and west; as
late as 1772 Arthur Young wrote that 'sainfoin, cabbages, potatoes,
and carrots are not common crops in England; I do not imagine above
half or at most two-thirds of the nation cultivate clover.'[253] Yet
their introduction must have been of the greatest benefit to the
farmer and the public; his stock of hay was increased, he could
utilize his fallows, and keep a much larger head of stock through the
winter, who would give him a greater quantity of manure. Every one
where turnips were grown could now have fresh meat during the winter.
The slow progress of these great blessings is perhaps the strongest
testimony in our history of the innate conservatism of the farmer. The
green crop was for long considered to be suited only to the garden,
and as our forefathers were prejudiced against the spade it was
difficult to get such crops cultivated even there; but it should also
be remembered that no crop was possible in the common fields which did
not come to maturity before Lammas, unless some special agreement was
made as to it.[254] Clover, Sir Richard Weston said, thrives best when
sown on the worst and barrenest ground, which was to be pared and
burnt, and unslaked lime added to the ashes. Then it was to be well
ploughed and harrowed, and about 10 lb. of seed sown per acre in the
end of March or in April. 'It will stand five years, and then when
ploughed up will yield three or four years running rich crops of
wheat, and then a crop of oats, after which you may sow clover again.'

In the seventeenth century the practice of liming and marling, which
had been largely discontinued since the fourteenth century, was
revived (Westcote, in his _View of Devon_ in 1630, calls liming, &c.,
a new invention), and there was also a great improvement in
implements. Patents were taken out for draining machines in 1628, for
new manures in 1633-6, ploughs 1623-7 and 1634, mechanical sowing
1634-9. Only six were taken out, however, between 1640 and 1760 that
concerned agriculture.[255] The Civil War checked the improvement, for
though the great mass of the people had nothing to do with either
party, the country was of necessity in a very unsettled state, and
both sides plundered indiscriminately. Yet in some parts, as in
Devonshire, so many of the able men served in the two armies, that few
but old men, women, and children were left to manage the farms, and
even they were afraid to grow more than enough to supply themselves
since both armies seized the crops.[256] These bad effects lasted for
some time afterwards; Chapple, a Devonshire land agent of the
eighteenth century, says he had talked with people who remembered the
state of husbandry in the last ten or twelve years of the reign of
Charles II, when in many parts of Devonshire an acre or two of wheat
was esteemed a rarity.

That the rate of progress in the century was not more rapid is
attributed by Blyth to several causes[257]:--

  1. Want of leases, by which tenants were deprived of security.

  2. Discouragement to flood (irrigate) land, from the risk of
     law suits with neighbours.

  3. Intermixture of different properties in common fields.

  4. Unlimited pasturage on commons, by which they were overstocked.

  5. The want of a law compelling all men to kill moles.

  6. The excessive number of water-mills, to the great destruction
     of much gallant land.

The average price of wheat during the seventeenth century was 41s. a
quarter, of barley 22s., and oats 14s. 8-1/2d. Oxen averaged about £5
apiece, cows much less, about £3, and there was not much change in
their value during the century. Sheep were about 10s. 6d., and a
cart-horse in the first half of the century from £5 to £10, in the
second half from £8 to £15. Beef rose from 2d. a lb. in the early part
of the century to 3d. at the close of it. Wool remained stationary at
from 9d. to 1s. per lb.

[258]A proclamation of 1633 fixed the
following prices for London poulterers and victuallers:--

                                     s.   d.

  Best turkey-cock                   4    4
  Duck                                    8
  Best hen                           1    0
  3 eggs                                  1
  1 lb. best fresh butter in winter       6
  1 lb. best fresh butter in summer       5
  1 lb. best salt butter                  4-1/2
  Best fat goose                      2   0
   "   crammed capon                  2   6
   "   pullet                         1   6
   "   chicken                            6

According to the _Manydown Manor Rolls_ the Wootton churchwardens in
1600 paid from 8s. to 11s. for calves, 4s. 4d. for a fat lamb, 8s. for
a sheep, 6s. 8d. for a barren ewe, 6d. for a couple of chickens, 1s.
6d. for 500 faggots.[259]

After the restoration in 1660 another period of prosperity set
in,[260] and altogether the century was a prosperous one for farmers
and manufacturers. The newly established Royal Society materially
helped agriculture. 'Since his majesty's most happy restoration the
whole land hath been fermented and stirred up by the profitable hints
it hath received from the Royal Society, by which means parks have
been disparked, commons enclosed, woods turned into arable, and
pasture lands improved by clover, St. foine, turnips, cole-seed, and
many other good husbandries, so that the food of cattle is increased
as fast, if not faster, than the consumption, and by these means the
rent of the kingdom is far greater than ever it was.'[261] The century
was distinguished also for the curious number of cycles of good and
bad seasons; 1646-50 were years of prolonged dearth, wheat reaching an
enormous price, and 1661-2, were famine years, while the end of the
century was long famous for its barren years.

With the prices of produce rents rose enormously. Very early in the
century[262] rents of arable land had increased ninefold, since the
fifteenth century, and by 1688 Davenant and King estimated the average
rent of arable land in England at 5s. 6d. per acre and of permanent
grass at 8s. 8d. Perhaps this is too high an estimate, as on the
Belvoir estate of 17,837 acres in 1692 the rental all round was 3s.
9-1/4d. an acre for land above the average in quality, though it must
be remembered that the Earls and Dukes of Rutland were indulgent

The _History of Hawsted_ affords a valuable index of the increase of
rents at this period.[263] In 1500 the average rent was 1s. 4d. an
acre; in 1572, 39 acres of arable, meadow, and pasture were let for
2s. 3d. an acre, the landlord, it is interesting to notice, reserving
the right of hawking, netting rabbits, hunting, and fowling; and about
the same date other lands on the estate were let at 1s. 3d. and 1s.
6d. an acre, so that there had not generally been much advance since
1500, which is what we should expect, as the great rise took place at
the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth
centuries. In 1589, therefore, it is not surprising to find that 40
acres of meadow and pasture let at 5s. an acre, and in 1611 some
buildings and 155 acres of park at 11s. an acre. In 1616, 366 acres of
arable and pasture and 39 acres of meadow were valued at 12s. an acre
for letting, and the Hall Farm of 175 acres (8-1/2 acres meadow) at
10s.; and Great Pipers Farm of 138 acres (8 meadow) at 7s., while
meadow and pasture near the mansion was valued at 21s. an acre.

In 1658 the rent of the Hall Farm had advanced from 10s. an acre to
about 13s., though in 1682 it went down to 11s. 6d.[264] According to
the survey of the Manor of Manydown in Hampshire in 1650, meadow land
was worth 20s. an acre, pasture 8s. to 10s., arable from 2s. to 10s.,
the latter showing a great variation in quality.[265] In 1723 Bryers
Wood Farm at Hawsted, which had been let in 1620 for £15, was let at
£29 5s. These rents are considerably higher than the estimate of
Davenant and King; but it must be remembered that they were for land
in the parts of England, where farming was at its best, and they, in
accounting for the whole country, had to take into consideration a
vast amount of land in the north and west which was worth very little.
In the Rawlinson Collection[266] in the Bodleian Library is a rental
of Lord Kingston's estate in north Nottinghamshire in 1689, the rents
averaging 10s. an acre; but this was an exceptionally good estate,
much of the property being meadow and pasture. The farmhouses also
were above the average, while in two of the parishes the tenants had
rights of common, and in two others the tenancies were tithe free.
There was very little arable land on the estate, three small holdings
letting for 6s. 8d. an acre; and some of the pasture land was let at
14s., 15s. 6d., and even 18s. an acre. The largest farm, Saundby Hall,
of 607 acres, nearly all meadow and pasture, was 9s. 10d. an acre. The
cottages were fortunate in having pieces of land attached to them. In
Saundby, Richard Ffydall rented a cottage and 2 acres of arable land
for £1 13s. 4d.; Widow Johnson a cottage and yard for 13s. 4d.;
William Daubney a cottage with 6-1/2 acres of arable and 5-1/2 acres
of pasture for £7 18s. 6d. A farm in Scrooby, consisting of a
messuage, cottage, and 113 acres of arable, meadow, and pasture, only
let at £23.

As to the freehold value of land, in 1621, according to D'Ewes, it was
worth from sixteen to twenty years' purchase; yet, in 1688, Sir Josiah
Child said that lands now sell at twenty years' purchase, which fifty
or sixty years before sold at eight or ten; and he also states, 'the
same farms or lands to be now sold would yield treble and in some
cases six times the money they were sold for fifty years ago'.[267]
Davenant puts land at twelve years' purchase in 1600, at eighteen
years in 1688.[268] In 1729 the price of land was said to be
twenty-seven years' purchased.[269]

The legislation against laying down tillage to grass was continued
until the end of the sixteenth century. The statute 39 Eliz., c. 1,
repealed 4 Hen. VII, c. 19, and all other Acts against pulling down
houses, and provided that a house of husbandry should be a house that
hath or hath had 20 acres of arable land. All such houses which had
been destroyed during the last seven years were to be rebuilt, and if
destroyed more than seven years only one-half was to be rebuilt; but
to each of them at least 40 acres of land were to be attached.

The next statute, 39 Eliz., c. 2, sets forth once more the advantages
of tillage, viz. the increase and multiplying of people for service in
the wars, and in time of peace the employment of a greater number of
people, the keeping of people from poverty, the dispersal of the
wealth of the kingdom in many hands, and 'the standing of this realm
upon itself without depending upon foreign countries'[270]; and
therefore enacts that lands converted from tillage to pasture shall be
restored to tillage within three years, and lands then in tillage
should be so continued; but this was only to extend to twenty-three
counties, and omitted most of those in the south-west. At the
beginning of the seventeenth century a reaction set in; the price of
corn had risen immensely and continued to do so, the price of wool
remained stationary, and tillage was as profitable as grass. In 1620
Coke speaks of the man who only kept a shepherd and a dog as one who
never prospered. In 1624 several of the tillage laws were

As an example of the unenclosed fields, at the end of the sixteenth
century, we may take the common fields at Daventry, which were three
in number, containing respectively 368, 383, and 524 acres, divided
into furlongs, a term which had now a very wide signification, each of
which was subdivided into lands nearly always half an acre in extent,
several of these lands when adjoining being often held now by the same
owner. One furlong may be taken as an example. It was 37 acres 1 rood
in extent, and contained ninety-six lands, owned by seventeen people.
The meadows were divided still more minutely, some of the smaller
portions being only a quarter of an acre each. The largest meadow
contained 50 acres, divided among fifty-three people. In the manor,
besides the arable and meadow, there were 300 acres of common
pasture, a park, and a small wood. There were forty-one freeholders
and many leasehold tenants, the average freehold being 34 acres, the
average leasehold only half an acre, small holdings being the usual
feature of the unenclosed township.

In the seventeenth century the price of wool ceased to operate as a
cause of enclosure, but in many parts the change to pasture continued,
owing to the rise in price of cattle and of wages. The same reason,
too, for laying down land to grass that had been so powerful in the
preceding centuries still existed, the common arable fields needed
rest from continual cropping and poor manuring, while good crops of
corn could be grown from the virgin soil of the newly enclosed waste.
The preamble of the Durham decrees clearly states this: 'the land is
wasted and worn with continual ploweing, and thereby made bare,
barren, and very unfruitful.'[272] We may, therefore, take Coke's
words as inapplicable to many districts. In the seventeenth century
there were several methods of enclosing. Sometimes the lord of the
manor enclosed and left the land of the tenants still in common; or a
tenant enclosed piece by piece; or enclosures were made by Act of
Parliament, the earliest of which for common fields was passed in the
time of James I, a method at this period very seldom used; or there
was an agreement between lord and tenants often authorized by the
Courts of Chancery or Exchequer.

Besides enclosure, another process was going on, the consolidation of
farms by the amalgamation of small holdings into larger ones.
Farmhouses, as we see them to-day, began to appear on the holdings
thus consolidated, instead of being grouped together in villages. A
writer in 1604 says, 'we may see many of their houses built alone like
raven's nests, no birds building neere them' so unwonted was the sight
of isolated dwellings in most places at the time.

However, in 1630 Charles I went back to the policy of his forefathers
and issued letters to certain of the Midland counties ordering all
enclosures of the last two years to be removed, and Commissions were
issued to inquire into the matter in 1632, 1635, and 1636,[273] the
chief evil feared from enclosures being depopulation, and enclosers
were prosecuted in the Court of Star Chamber.

The assertion that enclosures ceased during the seventeenth century
has been proved inaccurate by modern research, and there is no doubt
that they went on continuously. In 1607, in the Midlands, the
enclosing of land produced serious armed resistance, probably because
the Midland counties were then the great corn-growing district of
England, and the change to pasture and the consolidation of farms
displaced a larger population there than elsewhere. Between 1628 and
1630 enclosures in Leicestershire, for instance, were very numerous,
no less than 10,000 acres being enclosed in that time, most of which
was converted to pasture. The attempt of the Government to check the
movement, initiated by Charles I, seems to have had considerable
effect, but died away with the Civil War, and though other attempts
were made under the Commonwealth they came to nothing, and from this
time enclosures went on unchecked by the Government,[274] and were
soon to have its active support. Yet there was a vast amount still in
common field: the whole of the cultivated land of England in 1685 was
stated by King and Davenant to amount to not much more than half the
total area, and of this cultivated portion three-fifths was still
farmed on the old common-field system. Northamptonshire,
Leicestershire, Rutland, Huntingdonshire, and Bedfordshire were
comparatively unenclosed.[275] From the books and maps of the day 'it
is clear that many routes which now pass through an endless succession
of orchards, corn-fields, hay-fields, and bean-fields then ran through
nothing but heath, swamp, and warren. In the drawings of an English
landscape made in that age for the Grand Duke Cosmo scarce a hedgerow
is to be seen.... At Enfield, hardly out of sight of the smoke of the
capital, was a region of five-and-twenty miles in circumference which
contained only three houses and scarcely any enclosed fields.'[276]
The enclosure of these areas was to be mainly the work of the latter
half of the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth

The amount of enclosure in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and the first
half of the seventeenth centuries was, according to the latest
research, much, and perhaps very naturally, exaggerated by
contemporaries. Between 1455-1607 the enclosures in twenty-four
counties are said to have amounted to some 500,000 acres, or 2.76 of
their total area,[277] but the evidence for this is by no means
conclusive. However, there seems no reason to doubt that the enclosure
of this period was but a faint beginning of that great outburst of it
that marked the agrarian revolution of the middle of the eighteenth
century, and that it was mainly confined to the Midland counties, Mr.
Johnson, in his recent Ford Lectures, has stated that the enclosure of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was not accompanied by very
much direct eviction of freeholders or bona fide copyholders of
inheritance; yet the small holder suffered in many ways, e.g. by the
lord disproving the hereditary character of the copyhold, or by
changing copyholds of inheritance into copyholds for lives or leases
for lives or years. He and his successors could then refuse to renew
at the termination of lives or years except on payment of a
practically prohibitory fine. In short, though there was not much
violation of legal right there was much injustice, and enclosure,
though its effects were exaggerated at this period, certainly tended
to displace the small landholder. It does not appear, however, that
the moderate-sized proprietors were seriously affected. Many of the
larger freeholders and copyholders on manors enclosed on their own
account, and perhaps increased at the expense of the very large and
the very small. Indeed, the decrease of small landowners was chiefly
due to political and social causes. The old self-sufficing,
agricultural economy of England, which we have seen beginning to break
up in the fourteenth century, was becoming thoroughly disintegrated.
The capitalist class was increasing; the successful merchant and
lawyer were acquiring land and becoming squires; there was an intense
land hunger. Simon Degge, wilting of Staffordshire in 1669, says that
in the previous sixty years half the lands had changed owners, not so
much as of old they were wont to do, by marriage, but by purchase; and
he notices how many lawyers and tradesmen have supplanted the

In fact, there was a much freer disposal of lands from the end of the
fifteenth century, when the famous Taltarum's case enabled entailed
estates to be barred, until the Restoration, than there has been
before or since. For these two hundred years the courts of law and
parliament resisted every effort to re-establish the system of
entails; the owners of land constantly multiplied, and this tendency
must have counteracted the displacement of the small holder by
enclosure. Sir Thomas Smith, writing towards the end of the sixteenth
century, says that it was the yeomen who bought the lands of
'unthrifty gentlemen;' and Moryson tells us that 'the buyers
(excepting lawyers) are for the most part citizens and vulgar
men'.[279] It became one of the boasts of England that she had a large
number of yeomen farming their own land. During the Civil War,
however, it became important to landowners to protect their properties
in the interest of children and descendants from forfeiture for
treason. The judges lent their aid, and the system of strict family
settlements was devised, under which the great bulk of the estates in
England are now held. This system favoured the accumulation of lands
in a few hands and the aggregation of great estates, and was largely
responsible for the disappearance of the small freeholder.

In reviewing the progress of agriculture in the seventeenth century,
the drainage of the fen country of Lincolnshire and the adjoining
counties must not be forgotten. It had been for centuries the scene of
drainage operations on a more or less extended scale, few of which,
however, met with success; but in the seventeenth century the growing
value of land caused a serious revival of these efforts. Attempts made
under Elizabeth and James I had only succeeded in rescuing a certain
amount of land for pasture,[280] but in the reign of Charles I the
scheme of Cornelius Vermuyden was more successful. His system,
however, was defective, and in the reign of Charles II the Bedford
Level was in a lamentable state and in danger of reverting to its
primitive condition. Many of the works too were destroyed by the
'stiltwalkers', and in 1793 Maxwell states that out of 44,000 acres of
fen land in Huntingdonshire only 8,000 or 10,000 were productive[281];
and in 1794 Stone tells us that the commons round the Isle of
Axholme were chiefly covered with water.[282] Still to Vermuyden and
his contemporaries must be assigned the credit of the first
comprehensive scheme for rescuing these fertile lands from the waters
that covered them.

At the commencement of this important century an old calendar of
1606[283] clearly sets forth the farming work of the year:--

January and February are the best months for ploughing for peas,
beans, and oats, and to have peas soon in the year following sow them
in the wane of the moon at S. Andrewstide before Christmas; which may
be compared to Tusser's advice for February,

     'Go plow in the stubble, for now is the season
     For sowing of fitches of beans and of peason.'

'Clean grounds of all such rubbish as briars, brambles, blackthorns,
and shrubbs' (then more often choking the ground than now), which are
to be fagoted as good fuel for baking and brewing.

'Do not plough in rainy weather, for it impoverisheth the earth.'

March and April. Take up colts from grass to be broken. Sow beans,
peas, and oats. In these months are all grounds where cattle went in
the last winter to be furthed (apparently managed) and cleared and the
mole-hills scattered, that the fresh spring of grass may grow better.
All hedges and ditches to be made betwixt 'severals', evidently
enclosures as distinguished from common fields. From March 25 to May 1
summer pastures are to be spared, that they may have time to get head
before summer cattle be put in. In the meantime such cattle are to be
bestowed in meadows till May Day, and after that date such meadows are
to be cleansed and spared until the crops of hay be taken off. From
now till midsummer sell fat cattle and sheep, and with the money buy
lean cattle and sheep. Sow barley.

May and June. Sort all cattle for their summer pasture on May Day,
viz. draught oxen by themselves, milch cows by themselves, weaning
calves, yearlings, two-year-olds, three- and four-year-olds, every
sort by themselves, which being divided in pasture fitting for them
will make larger and fairer cattle. Separate the horses in the same
way. Wash sheep and shear four or five days after, which done the wool
is to be well wound and weighed, and safely laid up in some place
where there is not too much air or it will lose weight, nor where it
is damp or it will increase too much in weight. Cleanse winter corn
from thistles and weeds.

July and August. First of all comes hay-making. In August wean lambs,
and put them in good pasture, and in winter put them in fresh pasture
until spring, and then put them with the 'holding' sheep.

In these months is corn to be 'shornne or mowen downe' (the writer, it
is to be noticed, has no preference for either method); and after the
corn is carried put draught horses and oxen into the averish (corn
stubble), to ease other pastures; and after them put hogs in. Gather
crabs in woods and hedgerows for making verjuice.

September and October. Have all plows and harrows neat and fit for
sowing of wheat, rye, mesling (wheat and rye mixed), and vetches.[284]

Pick hops. Buy store cattle, both steers and heifers, of three or four
years old, which being well wintered at grass, or on straw at the barn
doors, will be the sooner fed the summer following, and they will
sooner feed after straw than grass.

From October to May are calves to be reared, because then they be more
hardly bred and become the stronger cattle. Feed brawns, bacons,
lards, and porkets on mast if there is any, if not on corn. 'In these
months cleanse poundes or pools, this season being the driest;' an
extraordinary assertion, unless the climate has changed, seeing that
according to the monthly averages from 1841-1906, taken at the Royal
Observatory, Greenwich, October is the wettest month in the year.[285]

November and December. Sort all kinds of sheep until Lady Day, viz.
wethers by themselves, and weaning lambs by themselves; and do not put
rams to the ewes before S. Lukestide, October 18, for those lambs fall
about March 25, and if they fall before then the scarcity of grass and
the cold will so nip and chill them that they will die or be
weaklings. It is good at this time to take draught cattle and horses
from grass into the house before any great storms begin. Thrash corn
now after it hath had a good sweat in the mow, and so dried again, and
give the straw to the draught oxen and cattle at the standaxe or at
the barn doors for sparing of hay, advice which Tusser also gives:

     'Serve rie straw out first, then wheat straw and peas,
     Then ote straw and barley, then hay if ye please.'


[252] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1896, pp. 77 sq., and Gerard, _Herbal_ (ed.
1633), p. 232.

[253] About 1684, John Worlidge wrote to Houghton that sheep fatted on
clover were not such delicate meat as the heath croppers, and that
sheep fatten very well on turnips. Houghton, _Collection for
Improvement of Husbandry_, iv. 142. This is said to be the first
notice of turnips being given to sheep.

[254] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1896, p. 77. One of the proofs of the rarity
of vegetables among the poorer classes of England, especially in the
Middle Ages, is the fact that rents paid in kind never included them.

[255] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1892, p. 19.

[256] Chapple, _Review of Risdon's Survey of Devon_ (1785), p. 17 n.
_Victoria County History: Devonshire, Agriculture_.

[257] Blyth was a great advocate of enclosure. 'Live the commoners do
indeed', he says, 'very many in a mean, low condition, with hunger and
ease. Better do these in Bridewell. What they get they spend. And can
they make even at the year's rent?'

[258] Rymer, _Foedera_ (Orig. ed.), xix. 512.

[259] _Manydown Manor Rolls_, Hampshire Record Society, p. 172.

[260] Thorold Rogers, _Work and Wages_, p. 459.

[261] Houghton, _Collections, &c._, ii. 448.

[262] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, v. p. vii.
Cf. p. 139 infra.

[263] Cullum, _Hawsted_, pp. 196 et seq. In the Hawsted leases, at the
end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, it is
noteworthy that there were, at a time of repeated complaints against
laying down land to pasture, clauses against breaking up pasture land.

[264] In 1677 there were complaints of a fall in rents.

[265] _Manydown Manor Rolls_, Hampshire Record Society, pp. 178 et

[266] Rawl. A. 170, No. 101.

[267] McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, ii. 483.

[268] Ibid. ii. 630.

[269] Ibid. iii. 147. The rental of the lands in England in 1600 was
estimated by Davenant at £6,000,000, in 1688 at £14,000,000; and in
1726 by Phillips at £20,000,000. Ibid. iii. 133. In 1850, Caird
estimated it at £37,412,000.

[270] With what horror would those legislators have contemplated
England's position to-day, when a temporary loss of the command of the
sea would probably ruin the country.

[271] 21 Jac. 1, c. 28.

[272] _Transactions of the Royal Historical Society_ (New Series),
xix. 116.

[273] _Transactions of the Royal Historical Society_ (New Series),
xix. 127.

[274] Ibid. 130.

[275] See article in _Transactions of the Royal Historical Society_
(New Series), xix.

[276] Macaulay, _History of England_, ch. iii.

[277] _Quarterly Journal of Economics_, xvii. 587. Considering that
the legislature of the sixteenth century was against enclosure and
depopulation, it is hard to understand 31 Eliz., c. 7, which forbade
cottages to be erected unless 4 acres of land were attached thereto,
in order to avoid the great inconvenience caused by the 'buyldinge of
great nombers and multitude of cottages, which are daylie more and
more increased in many partes of this realme'. How was it that
cottages had increased so much in rural districts, which are of course
alluded to, in spite of enclosure?

[278] Harwood, _Erdeswick_.

[279] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 44.

[280] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 187.

[281] _General View of Hunts._, p. 8.

[282] _General View of Lincoln_, p. 29.

[283] _Farming Calendar_, from an original MS., printed in
_Archaeologia_, xiii. 373 et seq.

[284] Cf. Tusser:

'October for wheat-sowing calleth as fast';


'When wheat upon eddish (stubble), ye mind to bestowe Let that be the
first of the wheat ye do sowe';


'Who soweth in raine, he shall reap it with tears'.

[285] The writer of the diary probably meant this work should be done
in September.



The seventeenth century is distinguished by a number of agricultural
writers whose works, as they afford the best account of the farming of
the time, we may be pardoned for freely quoting. The best known of
them were, Sir John Norden, Gervase Markham, Sir Richard Weston,
Blythe, Hartlib, Sir Hugh Plat, John Evelyn, John Worlidge, and

Sir John Norden printed his _Surveyor's Dialogue_ in 1608, which is in
the form of a conversation between a farmer and a surveyor, the former
at the outset telling the latter that men of his profession were then
very unpopular because 'you pry into men's titles and estates, and
oftentimes you are the cause that men lose their land, and customs are
altered, broken, and sometimes perverted by your means. And above all,
you look into the values of men's lands, wherefore the lords of manors
do reckon their tenants to a higher rent, and therefore not only I but
many poore tenants have good cause to speak against the

The surveyor attributes the increase in prices to farmers outbidding
one another for farms, for the rents of farms and prices grow
together; a statement which seems to have been quite true and disposes
of the assertion that the landlords raised the rents unfairly, for
they were quite entitled to what rent they could get in the open
market, the farmers being presumably wise enough not to offer rents
which would preclude a profit. He further blames the farmer of his day
for being discontented with his lot: in former times 'farmers and
their wives were content with mean dyet and base attire and held their
children to some austere government, without haunting alehouses,
taverns, dice, and cards; now the husbandman will be equal to the
yeoman, the yeoman to the gentleman, the gentleman to the squire, and
there is at this day thirty times as much vainely spent in a family of
like multitude and quality as was in former ages'; a complaint that
has been common in all ages. Contrary to what is the practice to-day,
and apparently to common sense, the surveyor recommends that open
drains be made as narrow above as at the bottom, at the most not more
than a foot and a half broad.[287] Hops, he says, were then grown in
Suffolk, Essex, and Surrey, 'in your loose and spongie grounds,
trenched.' 'Carret' roots were raised in Suffolk and Essex, and
beginning to increase in all parts of the realm[288]; but if he
alludes to their cultivation in the open field the statement must be
taken with considerable qualification, as they were not so grown
generally until the end of the eighteenth century or the beginning of
the next.

Kent was then, as now, the great fruit county of England; 'above all
others I think the Kentishmen be most apt and industrious in planting
orchards with pippins and cherries, especially near the Thames about
Feversham and Sittingbourne.' But Devon and Hereford were also famous;
Westcote about 1630 says the Devonshire men had of late much enlarged
their orchards, and 'are very curious in planting and grafting all
kinds of fruit'[289]; and John Beale in 1656 tells us Hereford 'is
reputed the orchard of England'[290]; while Hartlib says there were
many orchards in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.[291] He calls
'Tandeane' near Taunton the Paradise of England, where the husbandry
was excellent, the land fruitful by nature and improved by the art and
industry of the farmers; 'they take extraordinary pains in soyling,
ploughing, and dressing their lands, and after the plow there goeth
some three or four with mattocks to break the clods and to draw up the
earth out of the furrows that the lands may lye round, and that the
water annoy not the seed (the water evidently often lying long in the
furrows between the great high ridges), and to that end they most
carefully cut gutters and trenches in all places. And for the better
enriching of their ploughing lands they cut up, cast, and carry in the
unplowed headlands and places of no use. Their hearts, hands, eyes,
and all their powers concurre in one to force the earth to yield her
utmost fruit; and the crops of wheat that rewarded this industry were
sometimes 8 and 10 quarters to an acre.

A short pamphlet called the _Fruiterer's Secrets_, published in London
in 1604, imparts some interesting and curious information about fruit
growing.[292] There were then four sorts of cherries in England,
Flemish,[293] English, Gascoyne, and black, and the preserving of them
from birds, always a burden on the grower, the author says can be done
by a gun or a sling; the worst enemies being jays and bullfinches, who
ate stones and all. Stone fruit should be gathered in dry weather, and
after the dew is off, for if gathered wet it loses colour and becomes
mildewed. If nettles newly gathered are laid at the bottom of the
basket and on the top of the fruit, they will hasten the ripening of
fruit picked unripe, and make it keep its colour.

Those English farmers who still shake their apples from the trees to
fall and be bruised on the ground had better listen to the careful
directions for placing the ladder on the trees where it will do no
damage, as to the use of the gathering hook so that the branches can
be brought within easy reach of the picker on his ladder, the wearing
of a gathering apron, and the emptying of it gently into the baskets.
Green fern has the same effect on pears packed for carriage as nettles
on stone fruit; while apples should be packed in wheat, or better
still in rye straw. For long journeys the American system of packing
in barrels is anticipated, the apples being carefully put in by hand,
and the barrels lined at both ends with straw, but not at the sides to
avoid heating, while holes should be bored at either end to prevent
heat. Pippins, John Apples, Pearmains, and other 'keepers' need not be
turned until the week before Christmas, and again at the end of March,
when they must be turned oftener; but never touch fruit during a frost
or a thaw, or in rainy weather, or it will turn black.

Hartlib, a few years after, reckoned no less than 500 sorts of apples
in England, though doubtless many of these were identical, since the
same apple often has two or three names in one parish. The best for
the table were the Jennetings, Harvey Apple, Golden Pippin, Summer and
Winter Pearmains, John Apple, &c.; for cider the Red Streak (the great
favourite), Jennet Moyle, Eliot, Stocking Apple, &c. He was told that
in Herefordshire a tenant bought the farm he rented with the fruit
crop of one year; £10 to £15 having been given per acre for cherries
and more for apples and pears. Pears for the table were the Windsor,
'Burgamet,' 'Boon Christians'! Greenfield, and others; and for perry,
which John Beale, a well-known writer of the day considered 'a weak
drink, fit for our hindes and generally refused by our gentry as
breeding wind in the stomack', the Horse Pear, Bosbury, Choak,
&c.[294] There were many kinds of plums, among them the Mistle Plum,
Damazene, Violet, and Premorden.

Four kinds of grafting were practised: in the cleft, and in the bark,
the two most usual ways; shoulder or whip grafting, and grafting by
approach,[295] the last 'where the stock you intend to graft on and the
tree from which you take your graft stand so near together that they
may be joined, then take the sprig you intend to graft and pare away
about three inches in length of the rind and wood near unto the very
pith, and cut also the stock on which you intend to graft the same
after the same manner that they may evenly join each other, and so
bind them and cover them with clay or wax.' Inoculation was also
practised, 'when the sap is at the fullest in the summer, the buds you
intend to inoculate being not too young but sufficiently grown.' For
transplanting the middle of October is recommended, and the wise
advice added, 'plant not too deep,' and in clay plant as near the
surface as possible, for the roots will seek their way downward but
rarely upward; and in transplanting 'you may prune the branches as
well as the roots of apples and pears, but not of plums.' The best
distance apart in an orchard for apples and pears was considered to be
from 20 to 30 feet, the further apart the more they benefit from the
sun and air, a piece of advice which many a subsequent planter has
neglected. For cherries and plums 15 to 20 feet was thought right.
Worlidge's directions for pruning are minute and careful, and should
be well hammered into many slovenly farmers to-day.

Cider-making was performed much as it is in old-fashioned farms
to-day, by mashing the apples in a trough by means of a millstone set
edgeways, and then pressing the juice out through hair mats, the
juice, says Hartlib, 'having been let stand a day or two and the black
scum that ariseth in that time taken off they tunne it, and in the
barrels it continueth to work some days longer, just as beer useth to
do.[296] Another method was to put the fruit in a clean vessel or
trough, and bruise or crush it with beetles, then put the crushed
fruit in a bag of hair-cloth and press it.[297] After the cider was in
the barrels there was placed in them a linen bag containing cloves,
mace, cinnamon, ginger, and lemon peel which was said to make the
cider taste as pleasantly as Rhenish wine.

Worlidge gives us what is perhaps the first mention of a poultry farm,
and strangely enough it seems to have paid. 'I have been credibly
informed that a good farm hath been wholly stocked with poultry,
spending the whole crop upon them and keeping severall to attend them,
and that it hath redounded to a very considerable improvement'.[298]
Incubators of a very rude sort were used, three or four dozen eggs
being placed in a 'lamp furnace made of a few boards', and hatched by
the heat of a lamp or candle.

It must strike the reader that the accusation levelled against the
English farmer, of having made little progress in his art from the
Middle Ages to the commencement of the reign of George III is hardly
warranted. Their knowledge and skill in their business were evidently
such as to make considerable progress inevitable, and then as now they
were in some cases assisted by their landlords, as in Herefordshire,
where Lord Scudamore, after the assassination of his friend the Duke
of Buckingham, devoted his energies to the culture of fruit, and with
other public-spirited gentlemen turned that county into 'one entire
orchard', besides improving the pastures and woods[299]; though
Hartlib laments that gentlemen try so few experiments for the
advancement of agriculture, and that both landowners and farmers
instead of communicating their knowledge to each other kept it
jealously to themselves.[300] The chief hindrance to landlord and
tenant was that the heavy hand of ancient custom lay upon them, with
its antiquated communistic system of farming, which still in the
greater part of the land of England utterly prevented good husbandry
and stifled individual effort. It was one of these Herefordshire
gentlemen. Rowland Vaughan, who in 1610 wrote what is probably the
first account of irrigation in England, though the art was mentioned
by Fitzherbert and must have been known in Devon and Hampshire long
before his time; indeed, it is another instance of the then isolation
of country districts that he speaks as if he had made a new discovery.
He tells us that 'having sojourned two years in his father's house,
wearied in doing nothing and fearing his fortunes had been overthrown,
he cast about what was best to be done to retrieve his reputation'.
And one day he saw from a mole-hill on the side of a brook on his
property a little stream of water issuing down the working of the
mole, which made the ground 'pleasing green', and from this he was led
on to what he calls 'the drowning of his lands'. This was so
successful that he improved the value of his estate from £40 to £300 a
year, and his neighbours, who of course had first scoffed at him, came
to learn from him. Not many years after 'drowning' was said to have
become one of the most universal and advantageous improvements in
England.[301] Vaughan says that he had counted as many as 300 persons
gleaning in one field after harvest, and that in the mountains near
eggs were 20 a penny, and a good bullock 26s. 3d., but this was a
backward region.[302]

Between 1617 and 1621 the price of wheat fell from 43s. 3d. to 21s. a
quarter, and immediately affected the payment of rent.[303] Mr. John
Chamberlain, in February, 1620, wrote to Sir Dudley Carleton, 'We are
here in a strange state to complain of plenty, but so it is that corn
beareth so low a price that farmers are very backward to pay their
rents and in many places plead disability: for remedy whereof the
Council have written letters into every shire to provide a granary
with a stock to buy corn and keep it for a dear year.' Sir Symonds
D'Ewes notes in his diary that 'at this time (1621) the rates of all
sorts of corn were so extremely low as it made the very prices of land
fall from twenty years' purchase to sixteen or seventeen. For the best
wheat was sold for 2s. 8d. and 2s. 6d. the bushel, the ordinary at 2s.
Barley and rye at 1s. 4d. and 1s. 3d. the bushel, and the worser of
those grains at a meaner rate, the poorer sort that would have been
glad but a few years before of coarse rye bread, did now usually
traverse the markets to find out the finer wheats as if nothing else
would please their palates'. Instead of being glad that they were for
once having a small share of the good things of this world, he
rejoices that their unthankfulness and daintiness was soon punished by
high prices and dearness of all sorts of grain.[304] The year 1630 was
the commencement of a series of dear seasons, when for nine
consecutive years the price of wheat did not fall below 40s. a quarter
and actually touched 86s. The restraints laid on corn-dealers had,
since the principles of commerce were being better understood, been
modified in 1624, but the high prices revived the old hatred against
them, and we find Sir John Wingfield writing from Rutland that he has
'taken order that ingrossers of corne shall be carefullie seen unto
and that there is no Badger (corn-dealer) licensed to carry corne out
of this countrye nor any starch made of any kind of graine'. He adds
that he had 'refrayned the maulsters from excessive making of mault,
and had suppressed 20 alehouses'.[305] However, the senseless policy
of preventing trade in corn received a severe blow from the statute 15
Car. II, c. 7, which enacted that when corn was under 48s. persons
were to be allowed to buy and store corn and sell the same again
without penalty, provided they did not sell it in the same market
within three months of buying it, a statute which Adam Smith said
contributed more to the progress of agriculture than any previous law
in the statute book.

Gervase Markham, who was born about 1568 and died in 1637, gives us a
description of the day's work of the English farmer. He is to rise at
four in the morning, feed his cattle and clean his stable. While they
are feeding he is to get his harness ready, which will take him two
hours. Then he is to have his breakfast, for which half an hour is
allowed. Getting the harness on his horses or cattle, he is to start
by seven to his work and keep at it till between two and three in the
afternoon. Then he shall bring his team home, clean them and give them
their food, dine himself, and at four go back to his cattle and give
them more fodder, and getting into his barn make ready their food for
next day, not forgetting to see them again before going to his own
supper at six. After supper he is to mend shoes by the fireside for
himself and his family, or beat and knock hemp and flax, or pitch and
stamp apples or crabs for cider or verjuice, or else grind malt, pick
candle-rushes, or 'do some husbandry office within doors till it
befall eight o'clock'. Then he shall take his lantern, visit his
cattle once more, and go with all his household to rest. The farm
roller of this time, according to Markham, was made of a round piece
of wood 30 inches in circumference, 6 feet long, having at each end a
strong pin of iron to which shafts were made fast.[306] He mentions
wooden and iron harrows, but this refers only to the tines, the wooden
ones being made of ash. From an illustration of a harrow which he
gives, it appears it was much like Fitzherbert's and many used to-day:
a wooden frame, with the teeth set perhaps more closely than ours; the
single harrow 4 feet square drawn by one horse, the double harrow 7
feet square by two oxen at least. Wheat he says, when the land is dug
15 inches deep, and the seed dibbled in, will produce twelve times as
much as when ploughed; but he admits the 'intricacy and trouble' of
this method.[307] As to the question of mowing or reaping corn, he is
of opinion that though 'it is a custom in many countries of this
kingdom not to sheare the wheat but to mow it, in my conceit it is not
so good, for it both maketh the wheate foule and full of weede'.
Barley, however, should be mown close to the ground, though many reap
it; oats too were to be mown. His directions for planting an
orchard[308] are interesting, both as showing the kinds of fruit then
grown, the number of different sorts planted together, and the growth
of the olive in England.[309] The orchard, he says, should be a
square, divided into four quarters by alleys, and in the first quarter
should be apples of all sorts, in the second pears and wardens of all
sorts, in the third quinces and chestnuts, in the fourth medlars and
services. A wall is the best fence, and on the north wall, 'against
which the sunne reflects, you shall plant the abricot, verdochio,
peache, and damaske plumbe; against the east side the white muskadine
grape, the pescod plumbe, and the Emperiale plumbe; against the west,
the grafted cherries and the olive tree; and against the south side
the almond and the figge tree.' As if this extraordinary mixture were
not enough, 'round about the skirts of the alleys' were to be planted
plums, damsons, cherries, filberts and nuts of all sorts, and the
'horse clog' and 'bulleye', the two latter being inferior wild plums.
Plums were to be 5 feet apart, apples and other large fruit 12 feet.

Young trees should be watered morning and evening in dry summers, and
old ones should have the earth dug away from the upper part of the
roots from November to March, then the earth, mixed with dung or soap
ashes, replaced. Moss was carefully to be scraped off the trees with
the back of an old knife, and, to prevent it, the trees manured with
swine's dung. Minute distinctions are given as to pruning and washing
the trees with strong brine of water and salt, either with a garden
pump placed in a tub or with 'squirtes which have many hoales', the
forerunner of modern spraying.

Cider was then mostly made in the west, as in Devonshire and Cornwall,
and perry in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire; but he leaves out
Herefordshire, where it was certainly made at this time.[310]

A curious help to fattening beasts, says Markham, is a lean horse or
two kept with them, for the beasts delight to feed with them.
Fattening cattle were to have first bite at the pastures, then draught
cattle, and then sheep; after Midsummer, when there is an
extraordinary sweetness in the grass, suffer the cattle to eat the
grass closer till Lammas (August 1). Though some do not hold with him,
he thinks reading and writing not unprofitable to a husbandman, but
not much material 'to his bailiff'; for there is more trust in an
honest score chalked on a trencher than 'in a commen writen scrowle'.
Landowners derived a good income from their woods and coppices. An
acre of underwood of twenty-one years' growth, was at this time worth
from £20 to £30; of twelve years' growth, £5 to £6; but on many of the
best lands it was only cut every thirty years.[311]

In 1742-3 oak timber was worth from 15d. to 18d. per cubic foot and
ash about 10d. During the Napoleonic war oak sold for 4s. 6d. a foot.

In Blyth's _Improver Improved_ we have one of the first accounts of
covered drains. The draining trench was to be made deep enough to go
the bottom of the 'cold spewing moist water' that feeds the flags and
the rushes; as for the width 'use thine own liberty' but be sure make
it as straight as possible. The bottom was to be filled in with
faggots or stones to a depth of 15 inches, a method in some parts
retained till comparatively modern times, with the top turf laid upon
them grass downward, and the drain filled in with the earth dug out of

A country gentleman at this date could keep up a good establishment on
an income which to-day would compel him to live economically in a
cottage. From the accounts of Mr. Master, a landowner near
Chiselhurst, it appears that a man with an income of £300 or £400 a
year could live in some luxury, keep a stud of horses, and a
considerable number of servants.[312] Some of them had no scruples
about adding to their incomes by turning corn-dealers, even selling
such small quantities as pecks of peas, bushels of rye, and half pecks
of oatmeal. From the accounts of one of them, Henry Best,[313] of
Elmswell, we learn many valuable details concerning farming in
Yorkshire about 1641. It was the custom to put the ram to the ewes
about October 18, but Best did so about Michaelmas, and generally used
one ram to 30 or 40 ewes, and he considered it necessary that the ewes
should be two-shear. 'Good handsome ewes', he says, could have been
bought at Kilham fair for 3s. 6d. each, a price far below the average
of the time. As for wages, mowers of grass had 10d. a day, and found
their own food and their scythes, which cost them about 2s. 3d. each.
Haymakers got 4d. a day, and had to 'meat themselves' and find their
own forks and rakes. Shearers or reapers were paid from 8d. to 10d.,
and found their own sickles; binders and stackers, 8d.; mowers of
'haver', or oats, 10d., a good mower cutting 4 acres a day. In 1641 he
sold oats for 14s. a quarter, best barley for 22s., rye 27s. 6d.,
wheat 30s.[314] The roads were dreadful, and produce nearly all sent
to market on pack-horses. 'Wee seldome send fewer than 8 horse loads
to the market at a time, and with them two men, for one man cannot
guide the poakes (sacks) of above four horses. When wee sende oats to
the market wee sack them up in 3 bushel poakes and lay 6 bushels on a
horse; when wee sende wheate, rye, or masseldene (rye and wheat) and
barley to market wee put it into mette poakes (2 bushel sacks),
sometimes into half quarter sacks, and these we lay on horses that are
short coupled and well backed.' When the servants got to market they
were charged a halfpenny a horse for stabling and hay, but if they
dined at the inn they paid nothing for their horses, and their dinners
cost them 4d. a head. Butter was sold by the lb., or the 'cake' of 2
lb., and in the beginning of Lent was 5d. a lb., by April 20, 3d., in
the middle of May, 2-1/2d. When William Pinder took 50 acres of land
'of my Lord Haye' he paid a fine of £60 and a rent of £40; but this
must have been an extremely choice piece of land, for arable land
rented apparently at less than 3s. an acre.[315] The rent of a cottage
was usually 10s. a year, 'though they have not so much as a yard or
any backe side belonging to them.' There is more evidence, if such
were needed, of the beneficial effect of enclosure, which was said to
treble the value of pasture. Good meadow land fetched a great price:
'The medow Sykes is about 5 acres of grounde, and was letten in the
year 1628 at £6 per annum, and in 1635 at £6 13s. 4d.

The requirements of a foreman on a farm were that he could sow, mow,
stack peas, go well with 4 horses, and be accustomed to marketing; and
for this when hired by the year he received 5 marks, and perhaps half
a crown as earnest money. The next man got 50s., the next 46s. 6d.,
the fourth 35s. 'Christopher Pearson had the first year he dwelt here
£3 5s. 0d. wages per annum and 5s. to a God's penny (earnest money);
next year he had £4 wages, and he was both a good seedsman,' before
the invention of drills a very valuable qualification, 'and did sow
all our seed both the years. When you are about to hire a servant you
are to call them aside and talk privately with them concerning their
wage, and if the servants stand in the churchyard they usually call
them aside and walk to the back side of the church and there treat of
their wage. I heard a servant asked what he could do, who made this

     "I can sowe,
     I can mowe,
     And I can stacke;
     And I can doe
     My master too
     When my master turns his backe".'

If we are to judge by the food provided for the thatchers, who were
little better than ordinary labourers, the Yorkshire farm-hand fared
well on plenty of simple food, his three meals a day consisting of
butter, milk, cheese, and either eggs, pies, or bacon, sometimes
porridge instead of milk.

Probably, however, few country gentlemen were such industrious farmers
as Best; many of them passed their days mostly in hunting and fowling
and their evenings in drinking, though we know too that there were
exceptions who did not care for this rude existence. Deer hunting, and
we must add deer poaching, was the great sport of the wealthy, but the
smaller gentry had to be content with simpler forms of the chase. For
fox hunting each squire had his own little pack, and hunted only over
his own estate and those of his friends. He had also the otter, the
badger, and the hare to amuse him. Fowling was conducted, as in the
Middle Ages, by hawk or net, for the shot gun had not yet come into
use, and was forbidden by an old law.[316] The partridge and pheasant,
as now, were the chief game birds. After the Restoration the country
gentlemen seem to have been infected by the dissipation of the Court,
and farming was left to the tenant farmer and yeoman: 'our gentry',
says Pepys, 'have grown ignorant of everything in good husbandry.'

The middle of the seventeenth century was the Golden Age of the
yeoman who owned and farmed his land; even at the end of the Stuart
period, when their decline had already begun, Gregory King estimated
their numbers at 160,000 families, or about one-seventh of the
population. The class included all those between the man who owned
freehold land worth 40s. a year and the wealthier yeoman who was
hardly distinguishable from the small gentleman. Owning their own
land they were a sturdy and independent class, and they 'took a jolly
pride in voting as in fighting on the opposite side of the
neighbouring squire'. 'The yeomanry', wrote Fuller, 'is an estate of
people almost peculiar to England;' he 'wears russet clothes but
makes golden payment, having tin in his buttons and silver in his
pocket He seldom goes abroad, and his credit stretches farther than
his travel.' The tenant farmers were nearly as numerous, King
estimating them at 150,000 families; economically they were about on
a level with the yeoman, their social standing, however, was
considerably inferior.

The greatest improvement of the seventeenth century, the introduction
from Holland of turnips and clover, was over-estimated by its author,
Sir Richard Weston; for he tells his sons that by sowing flax,
turnips, and clover they might in five years improve 500 acres of poor
land so as to bring in £7,000 a year.[317] To bring about this
desirable consummation, he provides his sons with accounts as to the
cost, one of which shows the cost of growing an acre of flax and the
profit thereon, though this gentleman's estimates are clearly

                    DR.                          £   s.  d.

  Devonshiring, i.e. paring and burning          1   0   0
  Lime                                           0  12   0
  Ploughing and harrowing                        0   6   0
  3 bushels of seed                              2   0   0
  Weeding                                        0   1   0
  Pulling and binding                            0  10   0
  Grassing the seed from the flax                0   6   0
  Watering, drying, swinging, and beating        4  10   0
                                                £9   5   0

                    CR.                          £   s.  d.

  900 lb. of flax                               40   0   0
                                                 9   5   0
                            Balance profit     £30  15   0

Turnips were to come after flax, and were to be given to the cows as
they did in Flanders; that is, wash them clean, put them in a trough
where they were to be stamped together with a spitter or small spade;
and the turnips were to be followed by clover. All these, says Weston,
were already grown in England, but 'there is as much difference
between what groweth here and there as is between the same thing which
groweth in a garden and that which groweth wild in the fields'.
Worlidge soon after recommended that clover be sown on barley or oats
about the end of March or in April, and harrowed in, or by itself; and
says, with optimism equal to Weston's, one acre of clover will feed
you as many cows as 6 acres of ordinary grass and make the milk

It has been noticed that the price of wool altered little during the
century, and from the private accounts of Sir Abel Barker[319] of
Hambleton, in the County of Rutland, we learn that in 1642 he sold his
wool to his 'loving friend Mr. William Gladstone' for £1 a tod, though
by 1648 it had gone up to 29s., a good price for those days. During
the Civil War some of Barker's horses were carried off for the service
of the State, and he values them at £8 a piece, a fair price then.
Some years later, for mowing 44 acres of grass he sets down in his
account £2 7s. 0d., for making the same £2 3s. 0d., and stacking it

Simon Hartlib, a Dutchman by birth and a friend of John Milton,
published his _Legacy_ in 1651, containing both rash statements and
useful information. We certainly cannot believe him when he states
that pasture employs more hands than tillage. His estimate of a good
crop of wheat was from 12 to 16 bushels per acre, and he speaks
strongly of the great fluctuations in prices, for he had known barley
sell at Northampton at 6d. a bushel, and within 12 months at 5s., and
wheat in London in one year varied from 3s. 6d. to 15s. a bushel. The
enormous number of dovecotes was still a great nuisance, and the
pigeons were reckoned to eat 6,000,000 quarters of grain annually.
Hartlib recommends his countrymen to sow 'a seed commonly called Saint
Foine, which in England is as much as to say Holy Hay,' as they do in
France: especially on barren lands, advice which some of them
followed, and in Wilts., soon after, sainfoin is said to have so
improved poor land that from a noble (6s. 8d.) per acre, the rent had
increased to 30s.[320] They were also to use 'another sort of fodder
which they call La Lucern at Paris for dry and barren grounds'. So
wasteful were they of labour in some parts that in Kent were to be
seen 12 horses and oxen drawing one plough.[321]

The use of the spade was long looked askance at by English husbandmen;
old men in Surrey had told Hartlib that they knew the first gardeners
that came into those parts to plant cabbages and 'colleflowers', and
to sow turnips, carrots, and parsnips, and that they gave £8 an acre
for their land. The latter statement must be an exaggeration, as it is
equivalent to a rent of about £40 in our money; but we may give some
credence to him when he says that the owner was anxious lest the spade
should spoil his ground, 'so ignorant were we of gardening in those
days.' Though it was not the case in Elizabeth's time, by now the
licorice, saffron, cherries, apples, pears, hops, and cabbages of
England were the best in the world; but many things were deficient,
for instance, many onions came from Flanders and Spain, madder from
Zealand, and roses from France.[322] 'It is a great deficiency in
England that we have not more orchards planted. It is true that in
Kent, and about London, and in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and
Worcestershire[323] there are many gallant orchards, but in other
country places they are very rare and thin, I know in Kent some
advance their ground from 5s. per acre to £5 by this means', and 30
acres of cherries near Sittingbourne had realized £1,000 in one year.
His recipe for making old fruit trees bear well savours of a time
when old women were still burnt as witches. 'First split his root,
then apply a compost of pigeon's dung, lees of wine, or stale wine,
and a little brimstone'. The tithes of wine in Gloucestershire were
'in divers parishes considerably great', and wine was then made in
Kent and Surrey, notably by Sir Peter Ricard, who made 6 or 8
hogsheads yearly.[324] There is no doubt that the vine has been grown
in the open in England from very early times until comparatively
recent ones. The Britons were taught to plant it by the Romans in A.D.
280.[325] In Domesday there are 38 examples of vineyards, chiefly in
the south central counties. Neckham, who wrote in the twelfth century,
says the vineyard was an important adjunct to the mediaeval
mansion.[326] William of Malmesbury praised the vines and wine of
Gloucestershire; and says that the vine was either allowed to trail on
the ground, or trained to small stakes fixed to each plant. Indeed,
the mention of them in mediaeval chronicles is frequent.

Two bushels of green grapes in 1332 fetched 7s. 6d.[327] Richard II
planted vines in great plenty, according to Stow, within the upper
park of Windsor, and sold some part to his people. The wine made in
England was sweetened with honey, and probably flavoured and coloured
with blackberries.[328] At the dissolution of the monasteries there
was a vineyard at Barking Nunnery. 'We might have a reasonable good
wine growing in many places of this realme', says Barnaby Googe, about
1577, 'as doubtless we had immediately after the Conquest, tyll,
partly by slothfulnesse, partly by civil discord long continued, it
was left, and so with time lost.... There is besides Nottingham an
ancient house called Chylwel in which remaineth yet as an ancient
monument in a great wyndowe of glasse, the whole order of planting,
proyning, stamping, and pressing of vines. Upon many cliffes and hills
are yet to be seen the rootes and old remaines of vines.' Plot, in his
_Natural History of Staffordshire_,[329] says 'the vine has been
improved by Sir Henry Lyttelton at Over (Upper) Arley, which is
situate low and warm, so that he has made wine there undistinguishable
from the best French by the most judicious palates, but this I suppose
was done only in some over hot summer, and Dr. Bathurst made very good
claret at Oxon in 1685, a very mean year for the purpose.' In 1720 the
famous vineyard at Bath of 6 acres, planted with the 'white muscadene'
and the 'black Chester grape,' produced 66 hogsheads of wine worth £10
a hogshead, but in unfavourable years grew very little.'[330] Mr.
Peter Collinson, writing from Middlesex in 1747, says, 'the vineyards
turn to good profit, much wine being made this year in England;' and
again in 1748, 'my vineyards are very ripe; a considerable quantity of
wine will this year be made in England.'[331] However, the attempt
made to grow vines on the undercliff at Ventnor at the end of the
eighteenth century by Sir Richard Worsley ended in dismal failure, and
it is probable that the English climate in its normal years seldom
produced good grapes out of doors whatever it may have done in
exceptionally hot ones, unless we assume that it has changed
considerably, for which there is little ground.

Hartlib was no friend of commons; they made the poor idle and trained
them for the gallows or beggary, and there were fewest poor where
there were fewest commons,[332] as in Kent--a statement re-echoed by
many observant writers; he also recommends enclosures, because they
gave warmth and consequent fertility to the soil. He tells us that an
effort had been made by James I to encourage the growth of mulberry
trees and the breeding of silkworms, the lords-lieutenant of the
different counties being urged to see to it, but it had little

The number of different sorts of wheat was by this time considerable.
Hartlib gives the white, red, bearded ('which is not subject to
mildews as others'); some sorts with two rows, others with four and
six; some with one ear on a stalk, others with two; the red stalk
wheat of Bucks; winter wheat and summer wheat. There were also twenty
varieties of peas that he knew, and the white, black, naked. Scotch,
and Poland oats. Markham adds the whole straw wheat, the great brown
pollard, the white pollard, the organ, the flaxen, and the chilter

There was a sad lack of enterprise in the breeding of stock now and
for many generations before; indeed, it may be doubted if this
important branch of farming, except perhaps in the case of sheep, was
much attended to until the time of Bakewell and the Collings. In
Elizabeth's time a Frenchman had twitted England with having only
3,000 or 4,000 horses worth anything, which was one of the reasons
that induced the Spaniards to invade us.[334] 'We are negligent, too,
in our kine, that we advance not the best species.'

The size of cattle at this date, however, seems to have been greater
than is often stated. The Report of the Select Committee on the
Cultivation of Waste Lands in 1795, states that the average weight,
dressed, of cattle at Smithfield in 1710 was only 370 lb.,[335] yet
the Household Book of Prince Henry at the commencement of the
seventeenth century says that an ox should weigh 600 lb. the four
quarters, and cost about £9 10s., a sheep about 45 lb., so that the
latter were apparently relatively smaller than the oxen. In 1603 oxen
were sold at Tostock in Suffolk weighing 1,000 lb. apiece, dead
weight.[336] According to the records of Winchester College, the oxen
sold there in the middle of the century averaged, dressed, about 575
lb.; in 1677, 35 oxen sold there averaged 730 lb. 'Some kine,' it was
said at the end of the century, 'have grown to be very bulky and a
great many are sold for £10 or £12 apiece; there was lately sold near
Bury a beast for £30, and 'twas fatted with cabbage leaves. An ox near
Ripon weighed, dressed, 13-1/4 cwt.'[337] They were, of course,
chiefly valued as beasts of draught, and no doubt the one Evelyn saw
in 1649, 'bred in Kent, 17 foot in length, and much higher than I
could reach,' was a powerful animal for this purpose. The young ones
were taught to draw by yoking two of them, together with two old ones
before and two behind, with a man on each side the young ones, 'to
keep them in order and speak them fair,' for if much beaten they
seldom did well: for the first two or three days they were worked only
three or four hours a day, but soon they worked as long as the older
ones, that is from 6 to 11, then a bait of hay and rest till 1, with
work again till 5, at least in Lancashire. They were kept in the yoke
till nine or ten years old, then turned on to the best grass in May,
and sold to the butcher.[338]


[286] _Surveyor's Dialogue_ (ed. 1608), p. 2.

[287] _Surveyor's Dialogue_, p. 188.

[288] Ibid. p. 207.

[289] _Victoria County History: Devon, Agriculture_.

[290] _Herefordshire Orchards a Pattern for All England_ (ed. 1724).

[291] See infra, p. 136.

[292] These extracts are from the original edition in the Bodleian

[293] 'The Flanders cherry excels', says Worlidge, _Syst. Agr._, p.

[294] Bradley, in 1726, gives a long list of pears all with French
names, hardly any of which are now known in England.

[295] Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 107.

[296] _Annotation upon the Legacie of Husbandry_, 1651, p. 105.

[297] Markham, i. 174 (ed. 1635).

[298] _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 152.

[299] Evelyn, _Pomona_ (ed. 1664), p. 2.

[300] _Compleat Husbandman_ (ed. 1659), p. 75.

[301] _Most Approved and Long Experienced Waterworks_. London, 1610.

[302] See Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_ (ed. 1669), p. 155.

[303] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 23.

[304] _Life of Sir S. D'Ewes_, i. 180.

[305] _Calendar of State Papers, Domestic_, 1629-31, p. 414.

[306] _Whole Art of Husbandry_ (ed. 1635), i. 50.

[307] Ibid. i. 100.

[308] Ibid. i. 121.

[309] An astonishing statement; cf. Denton, _England in the Fifteenth
Century_, p. 56, Neckham, _De Natura Rerum_, cap. clxvi. and above, p.

[310] _Whole Art of Husbandry_ (ed. 1635), i. 173.

[311] _Whole Art of Husbandry_ (ed. 1635), ii. 144. and MS. accounts
of Mr. Chevallier of Aspall Hall, Suffolk.

[312] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, v. 28.

[313] _Farming and Account Books of Henry Best of Elmswell_, 1641,
Surtees Society, xxxiii. 157.

[314] Ibid. p. 99.

[315] _Farming and Account Books of Henry Best of Elmswell_, 1641.
Surtees Society, xxxiii. 124. Many districts in the north of England
were still much behind the rest of the country.

[316] Trevelyan, _England under the Stuarts_, 8 sq. Though, as we have
seen, p. 157, the writer of the _Fruiterer's Secrets_ recommends the
gun for scaring birds in 1604.

[317] _The Husbandry of Brabant and Flanders_ (ed. 1652), p. 18.

[318] _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 26.

[319] MS. accounts of Sir Abel Barker, in the possession of G.W.P.
Conant, Esq.

[320] Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 28.

[321] _Compleat Husbandman_ (1659), p. 5.

[322] Ibid. p. 9.

[323] Cf. supra, p. 136.

[324] _Compleat Husbandman_ (1659), p. 23.

[325] _Archaeologia_, i. 324; iii. 53.

[326] _De Natura Rerum_, Rolls Ser., lxi.

[327] Denton, _England in the Fifteenth Century_, 57 n.

[328] Ibid.

[329] Ed. 1686, p. 380.

[330] R. Bradley, _A General Treatise of Husbandry_ (ed. 1726), ii.

[331] Tooke, _History of Prices_ i. 44. Brandy was made in the
eighteenth century from grapes grown in the Beaulieu vineyards in
Hampshire, and a bottle of it long kept at the abbey.--_Hampshire
Notes and Queries_, vi. 62. There are two vineyards to-day, of 2-3/4
and 4 acres respectively, on the estates of the Marquis of Bute in
Glamorganshire; but a vintage is only obtained once in four or five
years from them, and they are not profitable.

[332] _Compleat Husbandman_, 1659, p, 42.

[333] _Compleat Husbandman_, 1659, p. 57.

[334] Ibid. p. 73.

[335] In this apparently repeating Davenant's statement. See
McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_, 1852, p. 271.

[336] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, v. 332.

[337] Houghton, _Collections for Improvement of Husbandry_, i. 294.

[338] Ibid., _Collections for Husbandry and Trade_ (ed. 1728), iv.



From what has been said in the preceding pages, it will be gathered
that a vast amount of compassion has been wasted on the enclosure of
commons, for it is abundantly evident from contemporary writers that
there were a large number of people dragging out a miserable existence
on them, by living on the produce of a cow or two, or some sheep and a
few poultry, with what game they could sometimes catch, and refusing
regular work. Dymock, Hartlib's contemporary, questions 'whether
commons do not rather make poore by causing idlenesse than maintaine
them;' and he also asks how it is that there are fewest poor where
there are fewest commons.

In the common fields, too, there was continual strife and contention
caused by the infinite number of trespasses that they were subject
to.[339] The absence of hedges, too, in these great open fields was
bad for the crops, for there was nothing to mitigate drying and
scorching winds, while in the open waste and meadows the live stock
must have sadly needed shelter and shade, 'losing more flesh in one
hot day than they gained in three cool days.' Worlidge, a Hampshire
man, joins in the chorus of praise of enclosures, for they brought
employment to the poor, and maintained treble 'the number of
inhabitants' that the open fields did; and he gives further proof of
the enclosure of land in the seventeenth century, when he mentions
'the great quantities of land that have within our memories lain open,
and in common of little value, yet when enclosed have proved excellent
good land.' Why then was this most obvious improvement not more
generally effected? Because there was a great impediment to it in the
numerous interests and diversity of titles and claims to almost every
common field and piece of waste land in England, whereby one or more
envious or ignorant persons could thwart the will of the
majority.[340] Another hindrance, he says, was that many roads passed
over the commons and wastes, which a statute was needed to stop.

In the seventeenth century hop growing was not nearly so common in
England as in the preceding, when Harrison had said, in his
_Description of Britain_, 'there are few farmers or occupiers in the
country which have not gardens and hops growing of their own, and
those far better than do come from Flanders.' There seems, indeed, to
have been a prejudice against the hop; Worlidge[341] says it was
esteemed an unwholesome herb for the use it was usually put to, 'which
may also be supplied with several other wholesome and better herbs.'
John Evelyn was very much against them, probably because he was such
an advocate of cider: 'It is little more than an age,' he says, 'since
hopps transmuted our wholesome ale into beer, which doubtless much
altered our constitutions. That one ingredient, by some not unworthily
suspected, preserving drink indeed, and so by custom made agreeable,
yet repaying the pleasure with tormenting diseases, and a shorter
life, may deservedly abate our fondness for it, especially if with
this be considered likewise the casualties in planting it, as seldom
succeeding more than once in three years.'[342] The City of London
petitioned against hops as spoiling the taste of drink.

Yet its cultivation is said to have advanced the price of land to £40,
£50, and sometimes £100 an acre, the latter an almost incredible price
if we consider the value of money then. There were not enough planted
to serve the kingdom, and Flemish hops had to be imported, though not
nearly so good as English. A great deal of dishonesty, moreover, was
shown by the foreign importers, so that in 1603 a statute (1 Jac. I,
c. 18) was passed against the 'false packinge of forreine hops,' by
which it appears that the sacks were filled up with leaves, stalks,
powder, sand, straw, wood, and even soil, for increasing the weight,
by which English growers it is said lost £20,000 a year. Such hops
were to be forfeited, and brewers using them were to forfeit their
value. The chief cause of their decrease was that few farmers would
take the trouble and care required to grow them, in spite of the often
excellent prices, which at Winchester at this date averaged from 50s.
to 80s. a cwt., sometimes, however, reaching over 200s., as in 1665
and 1687, though then as now they were subject to great fluctuations,
and in 1691 were only 31s. Many, too, were discouraged by the fact
'they are the most of any plant that grows subject to the various
mutations of the air, mildews sometimes totally destroying them,' no
doubt an allusion to the aphis blight. Hop yards were often protected
at this early date by hedges of tall trees, usually ash or poplar, the
elm being disapproved of as contracting mildews. Markham[343] says
that Hertfordshire then contained as good hops as he had seen
anywhere, and there the custom was 250 hills to every rood, 'and every
hill will bear 2-1/2 lb., worth on an average 4 nobles a cwt. (a noble
= 6s. 8d.);' hills were to be 6 ft. apart at least, poles 16 to 18 ft.
long and 9 or 10 inches in circumference at the butt, of ash, oak,
beech, alder, maple or willow.

Some planted the hills in 'plain squares chequerwise, which is the
best way if you intend to plough with horses between the hills. Others
plant them in form of a quincunx, which is better for the hop, and
will do very well where your ground is but small that you may overcome
it with either the breast plough or spade.' The manure recommended by
Worlidge was good mould, or dung and earth mixed. The hills were like
mole-hills 3 feet high, and sometimes were large enough to have as
many as 20 poles, so that some hop yards must have looked very
different then from what they do now, even when poles are retained;
but from two to five poles per hill was the more usual number.
Cultivation was much the same as in Reynold Scott's time, and picking
was still done on a 'floor' prepared by levelling the hills, watering,
treading, and sweeping the ground, round which the pickers sat and
picked into baskets, but the hop crib was also used.

It was considered better not to let the hops get too ripe, as the
growers were aware of the value of a fresh, green-looking sample; and
Worlidge advises the careful exclusion of leaves and stalks, though
Markham does not agree with him. Kilns were of two sorts: the English
kiln made of wood, lath, and clay; the French of brick, lime, and
sand, not so liable to burn as the former and therefore better.[344]
One method of drying was finely to bed the kiln with wheat straw laid
on the hair-cloth, the hops being spread 8 inches thick over this,
'and then you shall keepe a fire a little more fervent than for the
drying of a kiln full of malt,' the fire not to be of wood, for that
made the hops smoky and tasted the beer, but of straw! Worlidge,
strangely, recommended the bed of the kiln to be covered with tin, as
much better than hair-cloth, for then any sort of fuel would do as
well as charcoal, since the smoke did not pass through the hops.

Besides Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire,
and Rutlandshire; Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire were recommended by
Markham for hop growing, the great hop counties of to-day being passed
over by him.

The growth of hemp and flax had by this time considerably decayed,
owing to the want of encouragement to trade in these commodities, the
lack of experience in growing them, and the tithes which in some years
amounted to more than the profits.[345] An acre of good flax was worth
from £7 to £12; but if 'wrought up fit to sell in the market' from £15
to £20.

Woad was considered a 'very rich commodity', but according to Blyth it
robbed the land if long continued upon it, although if moderately used
it prepared land for corn, drawing a 'different juice from what the
corn requires'. It more than doubled the rent of land, and had been
sold at from £6 to £20 a ton, the produce of an acre. John Lawrence,
who wrote in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, says woad
was in his time cultivated by companies of people, men, women, and
children, who hired the land, built huts, and grew and prepared the
crop for the dyer's use, then moved on to another place.[346]

There were proofs that man's inventive genius was at work among farm
implements. Worlidge mentions[347] an engine for setting corn,
invented by Gabriel Plat, made of two boards bored with wide holes 4
in. apart, set in a frame, with a funnel to each hole. It was fitted
with iron pins 5 in. long to 'play up and down', and dibble holes into
which the corn was to go from the funnels. This machine was so
intricate and clumsy that Worlidge found no use for it. However, he
recommends another instrument which certainly seems to anticipate
Tull's drill, though Tull is said to have stated when Bradley showed
him a cut of it that it was only a proposal and it never got farther
than the cut.[348] It consisted of a frame of small square pieces of
timber 2 inches thick; the breadth of the frame 2 feet, the height 18
inches, length 4 feet, placed on four good-sized wheels. In the middle
of the frame a coulter was fixed to make a furrow for the corn, which
fell through a wooden pipe behind, that dropped the corn out of a
hopper containing about a bushel, the fall of the corn from the hopper
being regulated by a wooden wheel in its neck. The same frame might
contain two coulters, pipes, and hoppers, and the instrument could be
worked with one horse and one man. It was considered a great advance
on sowing broadcast, and by the use of it 'you may also cover your
grain with any rich compost you shall prepare for that purpose, either
with pigeon dung, dry or granulated, or any other saline or lixirial
(alkaline, or of potash) substance, which may drop after the corn from
another hopper behind the one that drops the corn, or from a separate
drill'. The corn thus sown in rows was found easier to weed and hoe,
so that it is clear that this advantage was well understood before
Tull's time.

There was a great diversity of ploughs at this date, almost every
county having some variation.[349] The principal sorts were the
double-wheel plough, useful upon hard land, usually drawn with horses
or oxen two abreast, the wheels 18 in. to 20 in. high. The one-wheel
plough, which could be used on almost any sort of land; it was very
'light and nimble', so that it could be drawn by one horse and held by
one man, and thus ploughed an acre a day.

Then there was a 'plain plough without either wheel or foot', very
easy to work and fit for any lands; a double plough worked by four
horses and two men, of two kinds, one ploughing a double furrow, the
other a double depth.

There were also ploughs with a harrow attached, others constructed to
plough, sow, and harrow, but not of much value; and a turfing plough
for burning sod. Carts and waggons were of many sorts, according to
the locality, the greater wheels of the waggon being usually 18 feet
in circumference the lesser 9 feet. A useful implement was the
trenching plough used on grass land to cut out the sides of trenches
or drains, with a long handle and beam and with a coulter or knife
fixed in it and sometimes a wheel or wheels. The following is a list
of other implements then considered necessary for a farm.

  _For the field._

    Harrows          Mole spear        Beetles
    Forks            Mole traps        Roller
    Sickles          Weedhooks         Cradle scythe
    Reaphooks        Pitchforks        Seedlip[350]
    Sledds           Rakes

  _For the barn and stable._

    Flails           Pannels (pillions)   Pails
    Winnowing fan    Pack-saddles         Mane combs
    Sieves           Cart lines           Goads
    Sacks            Ladders              Yokes
    Bins             Corn measures        Wanteyes[351]
    Curry combs      Brooms               Suffingles (surcingles?)
    Whips            Skeps (baskets)      Screens for corn.

  _For the meadows and pastures._

    Scythes          Pitchforks           Cutting spade for hayrick
    Rakes            Fetters and clogs    Horse-locks.
                     Besides many tools.

A considerable variety of manures were in use, chalk, lime, marl,
fuller's earth, clay, sand, sea-weed, river-weed, oyster shells, fish,
dung, ashes, soot, salt, rags, hair, malt dust, bones, horns, and the
bark of trees. Of the oyster shells Worlidge says, 'I am credibly
informed that an ingenious gentleman living near the seaside laid on
his lands great quantities, which made his neighbours laugh at him (as
usually they do at anything besides their own clownish road or custom
of ignorance),' and after a year or two's exposure to the weather
'they exceedingly enriched his land for many years after.' The bones
then used were marrow-bones and fish bones, or 'whatever hath any
oiliness or fatness in it', but the bones of horses and other animals
were also used, burnt before being applied to the land, crushing not
being thought of till many years after.

In 1688 Gregory King,[352] who was much more accurate than most
statisticians of his time, gave the following estimate of the land of
England and Wales:--

                                   Acres.                Per acre.

  Arable                         9,000,000 worth to rent 5s. 6d.
  Pasture and meadow            12,000,000   "      "    8s. 8d.
  Woods and coppices             3,000,000   "      "    5s.
  Forests and parks              3,000,000   "      "    3s. 8d.
  Barren land                   10,000,000   "      "    1s.
  Houses, gardens, churches, &c. 1,000,000
  Water and roads                1,000,000
                      Total:    39,000,000

He valued the live stock of England and Wales at £18-1/4 millions, and
estimated the produce of the arable land in England at:

                 Million          Value
                bushels.       per bushel.

    Wheat          14            3s. 6d.
    Rye            10            2s. 6d.
    Barley         27            2s. 0d.
    Oats           16            1s. 6d.
    Peas            7            2s. 6d.
    Beans           4            2s. 6d.
    Vetches         1            2s. 6d.

The same statistician drew up a scheme of the income and expenditure
of the 'several families' in England in 1688, the population being
5-1/2 millions[353]:--

    No. of
   families             Class.                          Income.
   in class.

      160          Temporal lords                   £3,200  0  0
      800          Baronets                            880  0  0
      600          Knights                             650  0  0
    3,000          Esquires                            450  0  0
   11,000          Gentlemen                           280  0  0
    2,000          Eminent merchants                   400  0  0
    8,000          Lesser merchants                    198  0  0
   10,000          Lawyers                             154  0  0
    2,000          Eminent clergy                       72  0  0
    8,000          Lesser clergy                        50  0  0
   40,000            Freeholders of the better sort     91  0  0
  120,000            Freeholders of the lesser sort     55  0  0
  120,000          (Tenant) farmers                     42 10  0
   50,000          Shopkeepers and tradesmen            45  0  0
   60,000          Artisans                             38  0  0
  364,000          Labouring people and outservants     15  0  0
  400,000          Cottagers and paupers                 6 10  0

He calculated that the freeholder of the better sort saved on an
average £8 15s. 0d. a year per family of 7; and the lesser sort £2
15s. 0d. a year with a family of 5-1/2. The tenant farmer with a
family of 5, only saved 25s. a year, while labouring families who, he
said, averaged 3-1/2 (certainly an under estimate), lost annually 7s.,
and cottagers and paupers with families of 3-1/4 (also an under
estimate) lost 16s. 3d. a year. It will thus be seen that the tenant
farmers, labourers, and cottagers, the bulk of those who worked on the
land, were very badly off; the tenant farmer saved considerably less
than the artisan. It will also be noticed that the rural population of
England was about three-quarters of the whole.[354]

The winter of 1683-4 was marked by one of the severest frosts that
have ever visited England. Ice on the Thames is said to have been
eleven inches thick; by Jan. 9 there were streets of booths on it; and
by the 24th, the frost continuing more and more severe, all sorts of
shops and trades flourished on the river, 'even to a printing press,
where the people and ladies took a fancy to have their names printed
and the day and year set down when printed on the Thames.' Coaches
plied, there was bull-baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays and
interludes, tippling 'and other lewd places'--a regular carnival on
the water.[355] Altogether the frost which began at Christmas lasted
ninety-one days and did much damage on land, many of the trees were
split as if struck by lightning, and men and cattle perished in some
parts. Poultry and other birds and many plants and vegetables also
perished. Wheat, however, was little affected, as the average price
was under 40s. a quarter. In 1692 a series of very bad seasons
commenced, lasting, with a break in 1694, until 1698, always known as
the 'ill' or 'barren' seasons, and the cause was the usual one in
England, excessive cold and wet. In 1693 wheat was over 60s. a
quarter, and in Kent turnips were made into bread for the poor.[356]
The difference in the price of farm produce in various localities was
striking, and an eloquent testimony to the wretched means of
communication. At Newark, for instance, in 1692-3 wheat was from 36s.
to 40s. a quarter, while at Brentford it touched 76s.; next year in
the same two places it was 32s. and 86s. respectively. In 1695-6 hay
at Newark was 13s. 4d. a ton, at Northampton it was from 35s. to 40s.

In 1662 was passed the famous statute of parochial settlement, 14 Car.
II, c. 12, which forged cruel fetters for the poor, and is said to
have caused the iron of slavery to enter into the soul of the English
labourer.[357] The Act states, that the reason for passing it was the
continual increase of the poor throughout the kingdom, which had
become exceeding burdensome owing to the defects in the law. Poor
people, moreover, wandered from one parish to another in order 'to
settle where there is the best Stocke, the largest commons or wastes
to build cotages, and the most woods for them to burn and
destroy.'[358] It was therefore determined to stop these wanderings,
and most effectually was it done. Two justices were empowered to
remove any person who settled in any tenement under the yearly value
of £10 within forty days to the place where he was last legally
settled, unless he gave sufficient security for the discharge of the
parish in case he became a pauper.

It is true that certain relaxations were subsequently made. The Act of
1691, 3 W. & M., c. 2, allowed derivative settlements on payment of
taxes for one year, serving an annual office, hiring for a year, and
apprenticeship; while the Act of 1696, 8 & 9 Wm. III, c. 30, allowed
the grant of a certificate of settlement, under which safeguard the
holder could migrate to a district where his labour was required, the
new parish being assured he would not become chargeable to it, and
therefore not troubling to remove him till there was actual need: but
the statute acted as an effectual check on migration and prevented the
labourer carrying his work where it was wanted.[359] It became the
object of parishes to have as few cottages and therefore as few poor
as possible. In 'close' parishes, i.e. where all the land belonged to
one owner, as distinguished from 'open' ones where it belonged to
several, all the cottages were often pulled down so that labourers
coming to work in it had to travel long distances in all weathers. We
shall see further relaxation in the law in 1795, but it was not until
modern times that this abominable system was destroyed. The
agricultural labourer's difficulty in building a house was aggravated
by the statute 31 Eliz., c. 7, before noticed, which in order to
restrain the building of cottages enacted that none, except in towns
and certain other places, were to be built unless 4 acres of land were
attached to them, under a penalty of £10, and 40s. a month for
continuing to maintain it. This Act was not repealed until the reign
of George III. However, it seems to have been frequently winked at. In
Shropshire, for instance, the fine often was only nominal; in the
seventeenth century orders authorizing the building of cottages on the
waste were freely given by the Court of Quarter Sessions, and orders
were also made by the Court for the erection of cottages

At the restoration of Charles II the corn laws had practically been
unaltered since 1571,[361] when it had been enacted that corn might be
exported from certain ports in certain ships at all times when
proclamation was not made to the contrary, on a payment of 12d. a
quarter on wheat and 8d. a quarter on other grain. Now both export and
import were subjected to heavy duties, but these caused such high
prices in corn that they were reduced in 1663; yet high duties were
again imposed in 1673, which continued until the revolution. Then,
owing to good crops and low prices, which brought distress on the
landed interest, a new policy was introduced: export duties were
abolished and the other extreme resorted to, viz. a bounty on export
of 5s. in the quarter as long as the home price did not exceed 48s. At
the same time import duties remained high, and this system lasted till
1773. Never had the corn-growers of England been so thoroughly
protected, yet, owing to causes over which the legislators had no
control, namely bountiful seasons, the prices of wheat for the next
seventy years was from 15 to 20 per cent. cheaper than in the previous
forty. Modern economists have described this system as one of the
worst instances of a class using their legislative power to subsidize
themselves at the expense of the community. As a matter of fact it was
the firm conviction of the statesmen and economists of the time, that
husbandry, being the main industry and prop of England, and the
foundation on which the whole political power of the country was
based, should receive every encouragement. At all events, in many ways
the policy was successful.[362] It encouraged investment in land, and
materially assisted the agricultural improvement for which the
eighteenth century was noted, the export too employed English
shipping, and thus aided industry. Arthur Young said it was the
singular felicity of this country to have devised a plan which
accomplished the strange paradox of at once lowering the price of corn
and encouraging agriculture, for by the system in vogue till 1773 if
corn was scarce it was imported, while if there was a glut at home
export was assisted so that great fluctuations in price were
prevented.[363] It seemed of the utmost importance to men of that time
that England should be self-supporting and independent of possible
adversaries for the necessaries of life; the wisdom of the policy was
never questioned, and was accepted by statesmen of every party.[364]
To blame the landowners for adopting what seemed the wisest course to
every sensible person is merely an instance of partisan spite.

At the Peace of Paris in 1763 the question as to whether England or
France was to be the great colonizing country of the world was finally
settled, and a great development of English trade ensued. It was
accompanied by a great increase of population, exports of corn were
largely reduced, and the balance began to incline the other way, so
that the next Act of importance was that of 1773 which permitted the
import of foreign wheat at a nominal duty of 6d. a quarter when it was
over 48s., but prohibited export and the bounty on export when wheat
was at or above 44s. This was the nearest approach to free trade
before 1846.

The time, however, was not yet ripe for this, and the nominal duty on
imports was too small for landlords and farmers, so that in 1791 the
price when the same nominal duty was to come into force was raised to
54s., while between 50s. and 54s. a duty of 2s. 6d. was imposed, and
under 50s. a duty of 24s. 3d.; and export was allowed without bounty
when wheat was under 46s. Export of corn, however, by this time had
become a matter of little moment, England having definitely ceased to
be an exporting country after 1789.

Not only were English landowners after the Restoration anxious to
protect their corn, but they also took alarm at the imports of Irish
cattle which they said lowered English rents, so that in 1665 and 1680
(18 Car. II, c. 2, and 32 Car. II, c. 2) laws were framed absolutely
prohibiting the import of Irish cattle, sheep, and swine, as well as
of beef, pork, bacon, and mutton, and even butter and cheese. The
statute 12 Car. II, c. 4, also virtually excluded Irish wool from
England by duties amounting to prohibition. It was not until 1759 that
free imports of cattle from Ireland were allowed for five years,[365]
a period prolonged by 5 Geo. III, c. 10, and a statute of 1772.

In 1699 wool was allowed to be shipped from six specified ports in
Ireland to eight specified ports in England,[366] and by 16 Geo. II,
c. 11, wool might be sent from Ireland to any port in England under
certain restrictions.


[339] Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_ (ed. 1669), p. 10.

[340] Ibid. p. 124.

[341] Ibid. p. 124.

[342] _Pomona_ (ed. 1664), p. 1.

[343] Ed. 1635, Book i, p. 175.

[344] Markham, _op. cit._ i. 188.

[345] Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 38. Plot, however, in his
_Natural History of Staffordshire_, 1686, says hemp and flax were sown
in small quantities all over the county, p. 109.

[346] _New System of Agriculture_ (ed. 1726), p. 113. Woad is still
grown 'in some districts in England' (Morton, _Cyclopaedia of
Agriculture_, ii. 1159), but in the Agricultural Returns of 1907
apparently occupies too small an acreage to entitle it to a separate

[347] Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 43.

[348] Tull, in his _Horseshoeing Husbandry_ (p. 147), speaks of the
drill as if already in use.

[349] Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 205.

[350] The seedlip was a long-shaped basket suspended from the sower's
shoulder and was usually made of wood.

[351] Horse-girths for securing pack-saddles.

[352] Houghton, about the same time, said England contained 28 to 29
million acres, of which 12 millions lay waste (_Collections_, iv. II).
In 1907 the Board of Agriculture returned the total area of England
and Wales, excluding water, at 37,130,344 acres.

[353] Eden, _State of the Poor_, i. 228.

[354] If we allow that most of the two last classes enumerated were
country folk. For the decline of the yeoman class, see chap. xviii.

[355] Evelyn's _Diary_.

[356] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 23.

[357] Fowle, _Poor Law_, p. 63.

[358] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 66, says, 'the abuses complained of in
the preamble (of the Act) did actually exist.'

[359] Hasbach, _op. cit._ pp. 67, 134, says the statute of 1662 did
not entail so much evil by hindering migration as is generally

[360] _Shropshire County Records_: Abstracts of the orders made by the
Court of Quarter Sessions, 1638-1782, pp. xxiv, xxv.

[361] See above, p. 70. 13 Eliz., c. 13. McCulloch, _Commercial
Dictionary_ (1852), p. 412.

[362] Cunningham, _English Industry and Commerce_, ii. 371.

[363] _Political Arithmetic_, pp. 27-34, 193, 276.

[364] Lecky, _England in the Eighteenth Century_, vi. 192.

[365] McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, iii. 311.

[366] Ibid. ii. 706; iii. 221, 293.




The history of agriculture in the eighteenth century is remarkable for
several features of great importance. It first saw the application of
capital in large quantities to farming, the improvements of the time
being largely initiated by rich landowners whom Young praises rightly
as public-spirited men who deserved well of their country, though
Thorold Rogers attributes a meaner motive for the improvement of their
estates, namely, their desire not to be outshone by the wealthy
merchants.[367] They were often ably assisted by tenant farmers, many
of whom were now men with considerable capital, for whom the smaller
farms were amalgamated into large ones. After the agricultural
revolution of the latter half of the century, the tendency to
consolidate small holdings into large farms grew apace and was looked
on as a decided mark of progress. This agricultural revolution was
largely a result of the industrial revolution that then took place in
England. Owing to mechanical inventions and the consequent growth of
the factory system, the great manufacturing towns arose, whence came a
great demand for food, and, to supply this demand, farms, instead of
being small self-sufficing holdings just growing enough for the
farmer and his family and servants, grew larger, and became
manufactories of corn and meat. The century was also remarkable for
another great change. England, hitherto an exporting country, became
an importing one. The progress of the century was furthered by a band
of men whose names are, or ought to be, household words with English
farmers: Jethro Tull, Lord Townshend, Arthur Young, Bakewell, Coke of
Holkham, and the Collings. Further the century witnessed a great
number of enclosures, especially when it was drawing to its close.
According to the Report of the Committee on Waste Lands in 1797, the
number of Enclosure Acts was: under Anne, 2 Acts, enclosing 1,439
acres; under Geo. I, 16 Acts, enclosing 17,960 acres; under Geo. II,
226 Acts, enclosing 318,778 acres; from 1760 to 1797, 1,532 Acts,
enclosing 2,804,197 acres.

The period from 1700 to 1765 has been called the golden age of the
agricultural classes, as the fifteenth century has been called the
golden age of the labourer, but the farmer and landlord were often
hard pressed; rates were low, wages were fair, and the demand for the
produce of the farm constant owing to the growth of the population,
yet prices for wheat, stock, and wool were often unremunerative to the
farmer, and we are told in 1734, 'necessity has compelled our farmers
to more carefulness and frugality in laying out their money than they
were accustomed to in better times.'[368] The labourer's wages varied
according to locality. The assessment of wages by the magistrates in
Lancashire for 1725 remains, and according to that the ordinary
labourer earned 10d. a day in the summer and 9d. in the winter months,
with extras in harvest, and this may be taken as the average pay at
that date. Threshing and winnowing wheat by piece-work cost 2s. a
quarter, oats 1s. a quarter. Making a ditch 4 feet wide at the top, 18
inches wide at the bottom, and 3 feet deep, double set with quicks,
cost 1s. a rood (8 yards), 10d. if without the quick.[369] The
magistrates remarked in their proclamation on the plenty of the times
and were afraid that for the northern part of the county, which was
then very backward, the wages were too liberal. Wheat was,
unfortunately, that year 46s. 1d. a quarter, but a few years before
and after that date it was cheap--20s., 24s., 28s. a quarter--and
fresh meat was only 3d. a lb., so that their wages went a long
way.[370] A considerable portion of the wages was paid in kind, not
only in drink but in food, though this custom became less frequent as
the century went on.[371]

As for his food, Eden tells us[372] that the diet of Bedford workhouse
in 1730 was much better than that of the most industrious labourer in
his own home, and this was the diet: bread and cheese or broth for
breakfast, boiled beef hot or cold, sometimes with suet pudding for
dinner, and bread and cheese or broth for supper. This must have been
sufficiently monotonous, and we may be sure the labourer at home very
seldom had boiled beef for dinner; but in the north he was much
cleverer than his southern brother in cooking cereal foods such as
oatmeal porridge, crowdie (also of oatmeal), frumenty or barley milk,
barley broth, &c.[373]

The village of the first half of the eighteenth century contained a
much better graded society than the village of to-day. It had few
gaps, so that there was a ladder from the lowest to the highest ranks,
owing to the existence of many small holders of various degree, soon
to be diminished by enclosure and consolidation.[374]

There was a great increase in the number of live stock owing to the
spread, gradual though it was, of roots and clover, which increased
the winter food; 'of late years,' it was said in 1739, 'there have
been improvements made in the breed of sheep by changing of rams, and
sowing of turnips, grass seeds, &c.'[375] Crops, too, were improving;
and enclosed lands about 1726 were said to produce over 20 bushels of
wheat to the acre.[376]

Though the number of Enclosure Acts at the beginning of the century
was nothing like the number at the end, the process was steadily going
on, often by non-parliamentary enclosure, and was approved by nearly
every one. Some, however, were opposed to it. John Cowper, who wrote
an essay on 'Enclosing Commons' in 1732, said, a common was often the
chief support of forty or fifty poor families, and even though their
rights were bought out they were under the necessity of leaving their
old homes, for their occupation was gone; but he says nothing of the
well-known increased demand for labour on the enclosed lands. The
force of his arguments may be gauged from his answer to Lawrence's
statement that enclosure is the greatest benefit to good husbandry,
and a remedy for idleness. On the contrary, says he, who among the
country people live lazier lives than the grazier and the dairyman?
All the dairyman has to do is to call his cows together to be milked!

Worlidge in 1669 had lamented that turnips were so little grown by
English farmers in the field, and that it was a plant 'usually
nourished in gardens',[377] and in a letter to Houghton in 1684, he is
the first to mention the feeding of turnips to sheep.[378] However, in
1726 it was said that nothing of late years had turned to greater
profit to the farmer, who now found it one of his chief treasures; and
there were then three sorts: the round which was most common, the
yellow, and the long.[379] For winter use they were to be sown from
the beginning of June to the middle of August, on fallow which had
been brought to a good tilth, the seed harrowed in with a bush harrow,
and if necessary rolled. When the plants had two or three leaves each
they were to be hoed out, leaving them five or six inches apart,
though some slovenly farmers did not trouble to do this; but there is
no mention of hoeing between the rows. The fly was already recognized
as a pest, and soot and common salt were used to fight it. Folding
sheep in winter on turnips was then little practised, though Lawrence
strongly recommends it. According to Defoe,[380] Suffolk was
remarkable for being the first county where the feeding and fattening
of sheep and other cattle with turnips was first practised in England,
to the great improvement of the land, 'whence', he says, 'the practice
is spread over most of the east and south, to the great enriching of
farmers and increase of fat cattle.' There were great disputes as to
collecting the tithe, always a sore subject, on turnips; and the
custom seems to have been that if they were eaten off by store sheep
they went tithe free, if sheep were fattened on them the tithe was

Clover, the other great novelty of the seventeenth century, was now
generally sown with barley, oats, or rye grass, about 15 lb. per acre.
This amount, sown on 2 acres of barley, would next year produce 2
loads worth about £5. The next crop stood for seed, which was cut in
August, the hay being worth £9, and the seed out of it, 300 lb., was
sold much of it for 16d. a lb., the sum realized in that year from the
2 acres being £30, without counting the aftermath. At this time most
of the seed was still imported from Flanders.[382] Much of the common
and waste land of England, not previously worth 6d. an acre, had been
by 1732 vastly improved through sowing artificial grasses on it, so
that various people had gained considerable estates.[383]

Carrots were also now grown as a field crop in places, especially near
London, two sorts being known, the yellow and red, used chiefly by
farmers for feeding their hogs.[384] Of wheat the names were many, but
there were apparently only seven distinct sorts, the Double-eared,
Eggshell, Red or Kentish, Great-bearded, Pollard, Grey, and Flaxen or
Lammas.[385] The growth of saffron had declined, though the English
variety was the best in the world, according to Lawrence, and except
in Cambridgeshire and about Saffron Walden it was little known.

Though it was still some time before the days of Bakewell, increased
attention was given to cattle-breeding; it was urged that a
well-shaped bull be put to cows, one that had 'a broad and curled
forehead, long horns, fleshy neck, and a belly long and large.'[386]
Such in 1726 was the ideal type of the long-horns of the Midland and
the north, but it was noticed that of late years and especially in the
north the Dutch breed was much sought after, which had short horns and
long necks, the breed with which the Collings were to work such
wonders. The then great price of £20 had been given for a cow of this
breed. Bradley, Professor of Botany at Cambridge, and a well-known
writer on agriculture, divided the cattle of England into three sorts
according to their colour: the black, white, and red.[387] The black,
commonly the smallest, was the strongest for labour, chiefly found in
mountainous countries; also bred chiefly in Cheshire, Yorkshire,
Lancashire, and Derbyshire, sixty years before this, and in those days
Cheshire cheese came from these cattle, apparently very much like the
modern Welsh breed.[388] The white were much larger, and very common
in Lincolnshire at the end of the seventeenth century. They gave more
milk than the black sort but went dry sooner. They were also found in
Suffolk and Surrey.

The red cattle were the largest in England, their milk rich and
nourishing, so much so that it was given specially to consumptives.
They were first bred in Somerset, where in Bradley's time particular
attention was paid to their breeding, and were evidently the ancestors
of the modern Devons. About London these cows were often fed on
turnips, given them tops and all, which made their milk bitter. They
were also found in Lincolnshire and some other counties, where 'they
were fed on the marshes', and Defoe saw, in the Weald of Kent, 'large
Kentish bullocks, generally all red with their horns crooked inward.'
Bradley gives the following balance sheet for a dairy of nine cows:[389]

            DR.                                       £   s. d.

  6 months' grass keep at 1s. 6d. per week per head   17 11  0
  6 months' winter keep (straw, hay, turnips, and
     grains) at 2s. per week per head                 23  8  0
                                                     £40 19  0
  13,140 gallons of milk                             136 17  6
                                                      40 19  0
                                    Balance (profit) £95 18  6

A correspondent, however, pointed out to Bradley that this yield and
profit was far above the average, which was about £5 a cow, on whom
Bradley retorted that it could be made, though it was exceptional.

In the eighteenth century the great trade of driving Scottish cattle
to London began, Walter Scott's grandfather being the pioneer. The
route followed diverged from the Great North Road in Yorkshire in
order to avoid turnpikes, and the cattle, grazing leisurely on the
strips of grass by the roadside, generally arrived at Smithfield in
good condition.[390]

Defoe tells us that most of the Scottish cattle which came yearly
into England were brought to the village of S. Faiths, north of
Norwich, 'where the Norfolk graziers go and buy them. These Scots
runts, coming out of the cold and barren highlands, feed so eagerly on
the rich pasture in these marshes that they grow very fat. There are
above 40,000 of these Scots cattle fed in this county every year. The
gentlemen of Galloway go to England with their droves of cattle and
take the money themselves.'[391] It was no uncommon thing for a
Galloway nobleman to send 4,000 black cattle and 4,000 sheep to
England in a year, and altogether from 50,000 to 60,000 cattle were
said to come to England from Galloway yearly. Gentlemen on the Border
before the Union got a very pretty living by tolls from these cattle;
and the Earl of Carlisle made a good income in this way.

Cattle were sometimes of a great size. In 1697, in the park of Sir
John Fagg near Steyning, Defoe saw four bullocks of Sir John's own
breeding for which was refused in Defoe's hearing £26 apiece. They
were driven to Smithfield and realized £25 each, having probably sunk
on the way, but dressed they weighed 80 stone a quarter![392] These
weights must have been very exceptional, but go to prove that cattle
then could be grown to much greater size than is generally credited. A
good price for a bullock in the first half of the eighteenth century
was from £7 to £10.

The best poultry at the same date (1736) were said to be 'the
white-feathered sort', especially those that had short and white legs,
which were esteemed for the whiteness of their flesh; but those that
had long yellow legs and yellow beaks were considered good for
nothing.[393] Care was to be used in the choice of a cock, for those
of the game kind were to be avoided as unprofitable. Bradley gives a
balance sheet for 12 hens and 2 cocks who had a free run in a farmyard
and an orchard:[394]

               DR.                         £   s.  d.

  39 bushels of barley                     3   5   0
  Balance, profit                             16   0
                                          £4   1   0

               CR.                         £   s.  d.

  Eggs (number unfortunately not given)    1   5   0
  20 early chickens at 1s.                 1   0   0
  72 late chickens at 6d.                  1  16   0
                                          £4   1   0

He also recommends that in stocking a farm of £200 a year the
following poultry should be purchased:

                                    £  s. d.

  24 chickens at 4d.                   8  0
  20 geese                          1  0  0
  20 turkeys                        1  0  0
  24 ducks                            12  0
  6 pair of pigeons                   12  0

The best way to fatten chickens, according to Bradley, was to put them
in coops and feed them with barley meal, being careful to put a small
quantity of brickdust in their water to give them an appetite.[395]

On this farm were 20 acres of cow pasture besides common, and this
with some turnips kept 9 cows, which gave about three gallons of milk
a day at least, the milk being worth 1d. a quart. His pigs were of the
'Black Bantham' breed, which were better than the large sort common in
England, for the flesh was much more delicate.

Suffolk was famous for supplying London with turkeys.[396] Three
hundred droves of turkeys, each numbering from 300 to 1000, had in one
season passed over Stratford Bridge on the road from Ipswich to
London. Geese also travelled on foot to London in prodigious numbers
from Norfolk, Suffolk, and the Fen country, often 1,000 to 3,000 in a
drove, starting in August when harvest was nearly over, so that the
geese might feed on the stubble by the way; 'and thus they hold on to
the end of October, when the roads begin to be too stiff and deep for
their broad feet and short legs to march on.' There was, however, a
more rapid method of getting poultry to the great market, by means of
carts of four stages or stories, one above another, to carry the birds
in, drawn by two horses, which by means of relays travelled night and
day, and covered as much as 100 miles in two days and one night, the
driver sitting on the topmost stage.

Hop growing in 1729, according to Richard Bradley, paid well; he says,
'ground never esteemed before worth a shilling an acre per annum, is
rendered worth forty, fifty, or sometimes more pounds a year by
planting hops judiciously. An acre of hops shall bring to the owner
clear profit about £30 yearly; but I have known hop grounds that have
cleared above £50 yearly per acre.' At this date 12,000 acres in
England were planted with hops.

The great market for hops was Stourbridge Fair, once the greatest mart
in England and still preserving much of its former importance: 'there
is scarce any price fixed for hops in England till they know how they
sell in Stourbridge Fair.'[397] Thither they came from Chelmsford,
Canterbury, Maidstone, and Farnham, where the bulk of the hops in
England were then grown, though some were to be found at Wilton near
Salisbury, in Herefordshire, and Worcestershire. Round Canterbury
Defoe says there were 6,000 acres of hops, all planted within living
memory[398]; but the Maidstone district was called 'the mother of hop
grounds', and with the country round Feversham was famous for apples
and cherries.

The finest wool still, it seems, came from near Leominster, where the
sheep in Markham's time were described as small-boned and black-faced,
with a light fleece, and apparently they still had the same appearance
at the beginning of the eighteenth century[399]; and large-boned
sheep with coarser wool were to be found in the counties of Warwick,
Leicester, Buckingham, Northampton, and Nottingham; in the north of
England too were big-boned sheep with inferior wool, the largest with
coarse wool being found in the marshes of Lincolnshire.

About this time wool had fallen much in price: 'Has nobody told you,'
writes a west country farmer to his absentee landlord in 1737, 'that
wool has fallen to near half its price, and that we cannot find
purchasers for a great part of it at any price whatsoever. When most
of our estates (farms) were taken wool was generally 7d., 8d., or more
by the pound; the same is now 4d. and still falling.'[400] But the
latter price was exceptionally low; Smith[401] gives the following
average prices per tod of 28 lb.:

  1706             17s. 6d.
  1717-8         23s. to 27s.
  1737-42        11s. to 14s.
  1743               20s.
  1743-53            24s.

After 1753 it fell again, largely owing to the great plague among
cattle, which brought about a 'prodigious increase of sheep'[402];
and about 1770 Young[403] favoured corn rather than wool, for there
was always a market for the former, but the foreign demand for cloth
was diminishing, especially in the case of France, besides prohibition
of export kept down the price.[404] Yet although wool was being
deserted for corn it had in Young's time 'been so long supposed the
staple and foundation of all our wealth, that it is somewhat dangerous
to hazard an opinion not consonant to its encouragement'.

At the end of the century, however, there was a rapid increase in the
price, partly due to increased demand by spinners and weavers who,
owing to machinery, were working more economically; and partly to the
enclosure of commons, and the ploughing up of land for corn.[405]

Cheshire had long been famous for cheese. Barnaby Googe, in the last
quarter of the sixteenth century, says, 'in England the best cheese is
the Cheshyre and the Shropshyre, then the Banbury cheese, next the
Suffolk and the Essex, and the very worst the Kentish cheese.' Camden,
who died in 1623, tells us that 'the grasse and fodder (in Cheshire)
is of that goodness and vertue that cheeses be made here in great
number, and of a most pleasing and delicate taste such as all England
again affordeth not the like, no though the best dairywomen otherwise
and skillfullest in cheese making be had from hence;' and a little
later it was said no other county in the realm could compare with
Cheshire, not even that wonderful agricultural country Holland from
which England learnt so much.[406] In Lawrence's time Cheddar cheese
was also famous, and there it had long been a custom for several
neighbours to join their milk together to make cheeses, which were of
a large size, weighing from 30 lb. to 100 lb. Good cheese came also
from Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. The Cheshire men sent great
quantities by sea to London, a long and tedious voyage, or else by
land to Burton-on-Trent, and down that river to Hull and then by sea
to London. The Gloucestershire men took it to Lechlade and sent it
down the Thames; from Warwickshire it went by land all the way, or to
Oxford and thence down the Thames to London. Stilton, too, had lately
become famous, and was considered the best of all, selling for the
then great price of 1s. a lb. on the farm, and 2s. 6d. at the Bell
Inn, Stilton, where it seems to have first been sold in large
quantities, though Leicestershire perhaps claims the honour of first
making it.[407]

The eastern side of Suffolk was, in Defoe's time, famous for the best
butter and perhaps the worst cheese in England, the butter being
'barrelled and sometimes pickled up in small casks'.[408]

Rabbits were occasionally kept in large numbers for profit; at Auborne
Chase in Wilts, there was a warren of 700 acres surrounded by a
wall--a most effective way of preventing escape, but somewhat
expensive. In winter time they were fed on hay, and hazel branches
from which they ate the bark. They were never allowed to get below
8,000 head, and from these, after deducting losses by poachers,
weazles, polecats, foxes, &c., 24,000 were sold annually. These
rabbits, owing to the quality of the grass, were famous for the
sweetness of their flesh. The proprietor, Mr. Gilbert, began to kill
them at Bartholomewtide, Aug. 24, and from then to Michaelmas obtained
9s. a dozen for them delivered free in London; but those from
Michaelmas to Christmas realized 10s. 6d. a dozen.

The difference in price at the two periods is accounted for by the
fact that their skins were much better in the latter, and the rabbits
kept longer when killed; they must also have been larger. A skin
before Michaelmas was only worth 1d., but soon after nearly 6d.; and
in Hertfordshire was a warren where rabbit skins with silvery hair
fetched 1s. each.[409]

We have now reached the period when the result of Jethro Tull's
labours was given to the world, his _Horse-hoeing Husbandry_ appearing
in 1733. It is no exaggeration to say that agriculture owes more to
Tull than to any other man; the principles formulated in his famous
book revolutionized British agriculture, though we shall see that it
took a long time to do it. He has indeed been described as 'the
greatest individual improver agriculture ever knew'. He first realized
that deep and perfect pulverization is the great secret of vegetable
nutrition, and was thus led on to perfect the system of drilling seed
wide enough apart to admit of tillage in the intervals, and abandoning
the wide ridges in vogue, laid the land into narrow ridges 5 feet or 6
feet wide. He was born at Basildon in Berkshire, heir to a good
estate, and was called to the bar in 1699, but on his marriage in the
same year settled on the paternal farm of Howberry in Oxfordshire. In
his preface to his book he throws a flash of light on country life at
a time when the roads were nearly as bad as in the Middle Ages, so
that they effectually isolated different parts of England, when he
speaks of 'a long confinement within the limits of a lonely farm, in a
country where I am a stranger, having debarred me from all

He took to agriculture more by necessity than by choice, for he knew
too much 'the inconveniency and slavery attending the exorbitant power
of husbandry servants', and he further gives this extraordinary
character of the farm labourer of his day: ''Tis the most formidable
objection against our agriculture that the defection of labourers is
such that few gentlemen can keep their land in their own hands, but
let them for a little to tenants who can bear to be insulted,
assaulted, kicked, cuffed, and Bridewelled, with more patience than
gentlemen are endowed with.'[411] Tull wrote just before it became the
fashion for gentlemen to go into farming, and laments that the lands
of the country were all, or mostly, in the hands of rack-renters,
whose supposed interest it was that they should never be improved for
fear of fines and increased rents. Gentlemen then knew so little of
farming that they were unable to manage their estates. No doubt his
scathing remarks helped to initiate the well-known change in this
respect, and soon, over all England, gentlemen of education and
position were engaged in removing this reproach from their class. The
same complaint as to their ignorance of matters connected with their
land crops up again during the great French war, but they then had a
good excuse, as they were busy fighting the French.

Tull invented his drill about 1701 at Howberry. The first occasion for
making it, he says, was that it 'was very difficult to find a man that
could sow clover tolerably; they had a habit to throw it once with the
hand to two large strides and go twice in each cast; thus, with 9 or
10 lb. of seed to an acre, two-thirds of the ground was unplanted. To
remedy this I made a hopper, to be drawn by a boy, that planted an
acre sufficiently with 6 lb. of seed; but when I added to this hopper
an exceeding light plough that made 6 channels eight inches asunder,
into which 2 lb. to an acre being drilled the ground was as well
planted. This drill was easily drawn by a man, and sometimes by a

His invention was largely prompted by his desire to do without the
insolent farm servant whom he has described above, and the year after
it was invented he certainly had his wish, for they struck in a body
and were dismissed: 'it were more easy to teach the beasts of the
field than to drive the ploughman out of his way.'

His ideas were largely derived from the mechanism of the organ which,
being fond of music, he had mastered in his youth--a rotary mechanism,
which is the foundation of all agricultural sowing implements. His
first invention may be described as a drill plough to sow wheat and
turnip seed in drills three rows at a time, a harrow to cover the seed
being attached. Afterwards he invented a turnip drill, so arranged as
regards dropping the seed and its subsequent covering with soil that
half the seed should come up earlier than the rest, to enable a
portion at least to escape the dreaded fly. He was a great believer in
doing everything himself, and worked so hard at his drill that he had
to go abroad for his health. He was somewhat carried away by his
invention, and asserts that the expense of a drilled crop of wheat was
one-ninth of that sown in the old way, giving the following figures to
prove his assertion:

  _The Old Way_
                                                 £  s. d.

  Seed, 2-1/2 bushels, at 3s.                       7  6
  Three ploughings, harrrowing, and sowing         16  0
  Weeding                                           2  0
  Rent of preceding fallow                         10  0
  Manure                                         2 10  0
  Reaping                                           4  6
                                               £ 4 10  0[412]

  _The New Way_

  Seed, 3 pecks                                     2  3
  Tillage                                           4  0
  Drilling                                             6
  Weeding                                              6
  Uncovering (removing clods fallen on the wheat)      2
  Brine and lime                                       1
  Reaping                                           2  6
                                                   10  0

It should be noted that he has omitted to charge rent for the year in
which the crop was grown in both cases.

He considered fallowing and manure unnecessary, and grew without
manure 13 successive wheat crops on the same piece of ground, getting
better crops than his neighbours who pursued the ordinary course of
farming. His three great principles, indeed, were drilling, reduction
of seed, and absence of weeds, and he saw that dung was a great
carrier of the latter but lacked a due appreciation of its chemical
action. Of course, like all _improvers_, he was met with unlimited
opposition, and on the publication of his book he was assailed with
abuse, which, being a sensitive man, caused him extreme annoyance. His
health was bad, his troubles with his labourers unending, his son a
spendthrift, and he died at his now famous home, Prosperous Farm, near
Hungerford, in 1741, having said not long before his death, 'Some,
allowed as good judges, have upon a full view and examination of my
practice declared their opinion that it would one day become the
general husbandry of England.'[413] Scotland was the first to perceive
the merits of the system, and it gradually worked southwards into
England, but for many years had to fight against ignorance and
prejudice, even so intelligent a man as Arthur Young being opposed to

Farm leases had by this time assumed their modern form, and
cultivation clauses were numerous. In one of 1732, at Hawsted, the
tenant was to keep the hedges in repair, being allowed bushes and
stakes for so doing. He was also to bestow on some part of the lands
one load of good rotten muck over and above what was made on the farm
for every load of hay, straw, or stover (fodder) which he should carry
off.[414] In another of 1740, he was to leave in the last year of the
tenancy one-third of the arable land summer tilled, ploughed, and
fallowed, for which he was to be paid according to the custom of the
country. In 1753, in the lease of Pinford End Farm, there was a
penalty of £10 an acre for breaking up pasture; a great increase in
the amount of the penalty. All compost, dung, soil, and ashes arising
on the farm were to be bestowed upon it.

Only two crops successively were to be taken on any of the arable
land, but land sown with clover and rye-grass, if fed off, or with
turnips which were fed on some part of the farm, were not to count as

The ashes mentioned were those from wood, which were now carefully
looked after, as it had become the custom to sell them to the
soap-boilers, who came round to every farm collecting them. This is
the earliest mention in a Hawsted lease of rye-grass, clover, and
turnips, though clover and turnips had been first cultivated there
about 1700, and soon spread.

The winter of 1708-9 was very severe, a great frost lasting from
October until the spring; wheat was 81s. 9d. a quarter, and high
prices lasted until 1715.[415]

From 1715 to 1765 was an era of good seasons and low prices generally;
in that half-century Tooke says there were only five bad seasons. In
1732 prices of corn were very low, wheat being about 24s. a quarter,
so that we are not surprised to find that its cultivation often did
not pay at all.[416]

At Little Gadsden in Hertfordshire, in that year a fair season, and on
enclosed land, the following is the balance sheet for an acre:

                             DR.                      £  s. d.

  Rent                                                  12  0
  Dressing (manuring)                                 1  0  0
  2-1/2 bushels of seed                                  7  6
  Ploughing first time                                   6  0
      "     twice more                                   8  0
  Harrowing                                                 6
  Reaping and carrying                                   6  6
  Threshing                                              3  9
                                                      3  4  3

                             CR.            £   s. d.

  15 bushels of wheat (a poor crop, as
    20 bushels was now about the average)    2  2  0
  Straw                                        11  6

                                                      2 13  6
                             _LOSS_                     10  9

On barley, worth about £1 a quarter, the loss was 3s. 6d. an acre; on
oats, worth 13s. a quarter, however, the profit was 21s.; on beans,
26s. 6d., these being that year exceptionally good and worth 20s. a
quarter.[417] Ellis objected to the new mode of drilling wheat
because, he said, the rows are more exposed to the violence of the
winds, rains, &c., by growing apart, than if close together, when the
stalks support each other.[418] This estimate may be compared to that
of Tull for the 'old way' of sowing wheat,[419] and to the following
estimate of fifty years later in Surrey, when wheat was a much better

                            DR.                    £  s. d.

  Rent, tithe, taxes                               1  0  0
  Team, &c.                                        1  0  0
  2 bushels of seed                                  10  0
  Carting and spreading manure and water furrowing    2  6
  Brining                                                6
  Weeding                                             1  6
  Reaping and carrying                                9  0
  Threshing and cleaning                              7  6
  Binding straw                                       1  6
                                                  £3 12  6[420]

  20 bushels at 5s.                                5  0  0
  1-1/2 loads of straw                             1  2  6
                                                  £6  2  6

The profit was thus £2 10s. 0d. an acre, and for barley it was £3 3s.
6d., for oats £1 19s. 10d., for beans £1 13s. 0d.[421]

This crop of wheat was not very good, as the average in that district
was from 20 to 25 bushels per acre, and Young before this saw crops of
30 bushels per acre growing. The over frequent use of fallows, which
had so long marked agriculture, was in the early half of the
eighteenth century beginning to be strongly disapproved of. Bradley
advocated the continuous cultivation of the ground with different
kinds of crops, 'for I find', he said, 'by experience that if such
crops are sown as are full of fibrous roots, such roots greatly help
to open the parts of grounds inclining to too much stiffness.'[422]


[367] _Six Centuries of Work and Wages_, p. 472.

[368] See Baker, _Record of Seasons and Prices_, p. 185.

[369] Eden, _State of the Poor_, iii p. cvii; Thorold Rogers, _Work
and Wages_, p. 396.

[370] In Herefordshire at this time it was 1-1/2d. per lb.

[371] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 86.

[372] Eden, _op. cit._ i. 286.

[373] Ibid. i. 498.

[374] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 71.

[375] Smith, _Memoirs of Wool_, ii. 93.

[376] John Lawrence, _New System of Agriculture_, p. 45. In 1712, a
normal season, 48 acres of wheat at Southwick in Hants produced 16
bushels per acre, 45 acres of barley 12 bushels per acre, 30 acres of
oats 24 bushels per acre; at the same place 240 sheep realized 8s.
each, cows 65s., calves £1, horses £6, hay 25s. a ton (_Hampshire
Notes and Queries_, iii. 120).

[377] Worlidge, _Systema Agriculturae_, p. 42.

[378] _Collections_, iv. 142.

[379] Lawrence, _New System of Agriculture_, p. 109.

[380] _Tour_ (ed. 1724), i. 87.

[381] Ellis, _Chiltern and Vale Farming_, p. 353.

[382] Bradley, _General Treatise_, i. 175.

[383] Ellis, _Chiltern and Vale Farming_, p. 260.

[384] J. Lawrence, _New System of Agriculture_, p. 112.

[385] Ibid. p. 92. About 1757 Lucerne, hitherto little grown in
England, took its place in the rotation of crops.

[386] Ibid. p. 130.

[387] _A General Treatise on Husbandry_ (1726), i. 72; cf. c.

[388] The black cattle seem to have been spread very generally over
England, according to previous writers and to Defoe, who often
mentions them. He saw a 'prodigious quantity' in the meadows by the
Waveney in Norfolk.--_Tour_, i. 97.

[389] Bradley, _General Treatise_, i. 76.

[390] Slater, _English Peasantry_, p. 52.

[391] _Tour_ (ed. 1724), i. (1) 97, and iii. (2) 73.

[392] Ibid. i. 63.

[393] J. Lawrence, _New System of Agriculture_, p. 151.

[394] Bradley, _General Treatise_, i. 110.

[395] _Country Gentleman and Farmer's Director_ (1726), p. 7.

[396] Defoe, _Tour_, i. 87.

[397] Defoe, _Tour_ (3rd ed.), i. 81.

[398] Defoe, _Tour_ (ed. 1724), ii. 1, 134.

[399] Bradley, _General Treatise_, i. 160; see also Smith, _Memoirs of
Wool_, ii. 169, where the sheep of Leominster, of Cotteswold, and of
the Isle of Wight are said to be the best in 1719. The great market
for sheep was Weyhill Fair, and Stourbridge Fair was a great wool

[400] _The West Country Farmer, a Representation of the Decay of
Trade_, 1737.

[401] _Memoirs of Wool_, ii. 243.

[402] Ibid. ii. 399.

[403] _Farmer's Letters_ (3rd ed.), p. 27.

[404] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, ii. 384.

[405] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, ii. 458.

[406] Ormerod, _Cheshire_, i. 129. These words were written about

[407] See _Victoria County History: Rutland, Agriculture_. Stilton was
eaten in the same condition as many prefer it now, 'with the mites
round it so thick that they bring a spoon for you to eat them.'

[408] Defoe, _Tour_, i. (1) 78. Cheshire cheese was 2d. to 2-1/2d. per
lb., Cheddar 6d. to 8d. in 1724, an extraordinary difference.

[409] Bradley, i. 172.

[410] Preface to _Horse-hoeing Husbandry_, (ed. 1733).

[411] _Horse-hoeing Husbandry_, p. vi.

[412] _The West Country Farmer_, above quoted, says wheat growing (in
1737) paid little. Before a bushel can be sold it costs £4 an acre,
and the crop probably fetches half the money.

[413] _R.A.S.E. Journ._ (3rd Ser.), ii. 20.

[414] Cullum, _Hawsted_, p. 216.

[415] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 35.

[416] Wheat averaged:

1718-22 about 27s. 1730 about 30s. 1750 about 30s. 1724 " 36s. 1732 "
24s. 1755 " 35s. 1725 " 46s. 1736 " 30s. 1760 " 38s. 1726 " 35s. 1740
" 42s. 1765 " 42s. 1728 " 52s. 1744 " 23s.

[417] Ellis, _Chiltern and Vale Farming_, p. 209. Nothing is charged
for tithe and taxes.

[418] Ibid. p. 352.

[419] See above, p. 177, also p. 199 for Young's estimate in 1770.

[420] Nothing is charged for the manure which was carted and spread.

[421] John Trusler, _Practical Husbandry_, p. 28.

[422] _Country Gentleman and Farmer's Director_ (1726), p. xiii.




In 1730 Charles, second Viscount Townshend, retired from politics, on
his quarrel with his brother-in-law Walpole, who remarked that 'as
long as the firm was Townshend and Walpole the utmost harmony
prevailed, but it no sooner became Walpole and Townshend than things
went wrong'. He devoted himself to the management of his Norfolk
estates and set an example to English landlords in wisely and
diligently experimenting in farm practice which was soon followed on
all sides, the names of Lords Ducie, Peterborough, and Bolingbroke
being the best known of his fellow-labourers. A generation afterwards
Young wrote, 'half the County of Norfolk within the memory of man
yielded nothing but sheep feed, whereas those very tracts of land are
now covered with as fine barley and rye as any in the world and great
quantities of wheat besides.'[423] There can be no doubt from this
statement, made by an eyewitness of exceptional capacity, that he
commenced the work so nobly carried on by Coke. The same authority
tells us that when Townshend began his improvements near Norwich much
of the land was an extensive heath without either tree or shrub, only
a sheepwalk to another farm; so many carriages crossed it that they
would sometimes be a mile abreast of each other in pursuit of the best
track. By 1760 there was an excellent turnpike road, enclosed on each
side with a good quickset hedge, and all the land let out in
enclosures and cultivated on the Norfolk system in superior style; the
whole being let at 15s. an acre, or ten times its original value.
Townshend's two special hobbies were the field cultivation of turnips,
and improvement in the rotation of crops. Pope says his conversation
was largely of turnips, and he was so zealous in advocating them that
he was nicknamed 'Turnip Townsend'.[424] He initiated the Norfolk or
four-course system of cropping, in which roots, grasses, and cereals
were wisely blended, viz. turnips, barley, clover and rye grass,
wheat. He also reintroduced marling to the light lands of Norfolk, and
followed Tull's system of drilling and horse-hoeing turnips, with the
result that the poor land of which his estate was largely composed was
converted into good corn and cattle-growing farms. Like all the
progressive agriculturists of the day, he was an advocate of
enclosures, and he had no small share in the growth of the movement by
which, in the reigns of Anne and the first two Georges, 244 enclosure
Acts were passed and 338,177 acres enclosed. The progress of enclosure
was alleged as a proof that England was never more prosperous than
under Walpole; the number of private gentlemen in Britain of ample
estates was said to exceed that of any country in the world
proportionately, and was far greater than in the reign of Charles II.
The value of land at twenty-six or twenty-seven years' purchase was a
conclusive proof of the wealth of England.[425]

Though, however, the first half of the century was generally
prosperous there were bad times for farmer and landlord. We have seen
that wheat-growing paid little, although from 1689 to 1773 the farmer
was protected against imports and aided by a bounty on exports. In
1738 Lord Lyttelton wrote: 'In most parts of England, gentlemen's
rents are so ill paid and the weight of taxes lies so heavy upon them
that those who have nothing from the Court can scarce support their
families.'[426] Sheep in the damp climate of England have always been
subject to rot, and in 1735 there was, according to Ellis, the most
general rot in the memory of man owing to a very wet season; and, as
in the disastrous year of 1879, which must be fresh in many farmers'
memories, other animals, deer, hares, and rabbits, were affected also;
and the dead bodies of rotten sheep were so numerous in road and field
that the stench was offensive to every one. Another bad outbreak
occurred in 1747. It is well known that farmers are always grumblers,
probably with an eye to the rent; but even in these much praised times
they apparently made small profits. The west country farmer quoted
before, who had been fifty years on the same estate, and writes with
the stamp of sincerity, admits in 1737 that 'with all the skill and
diligence in the world he can hardly keep the cart upon the wheels.
Wool had gone down, wheat didn't pay and graziers were doing badly;
tho' formerly our cattle and wool was always a sure card'. He says
that the profits of grazing were reckoned at one-third of the
improvement that ensued from the grazing, but the grazier was not now
getting this. He attributed much of the distress, however, to the
extravagance of the times. Landlords, including his own, preferred
London to the country, and spent their money there. How different was
the behaviour of his landlord's grandfather. 'Many a time would his
worship send for me to go a-hunting or shooting with him; often would
he take me with him on his visits and would introduce me as his
friend. The country gentlewoman and the parson's wife, that used to
stitch for themselves, are now so hurried with dressings and visits
and other attractions that they hire an Abigail to do it.'

He thought, too, the labourers were getting too high wages; 'they are
so puffed up by our provender as to offer us their heels and threaten
on any occasion to leave us to do our work ourselves.' One would like
to hear the labourers' opinion on this point, but they were dumb. In
spite of higher wages the young men and young women flocked to the
cities, and those who remain were lazy and extravagant, even the
country wenches contending about 'double caps, huge petticoats, clock
stockings, and other trumpery'.[427]

The bounty now paid on the export of wheat was naturally resented by
the common people, as it raised the price of their bread. In 1737 a
load belonging to Farmer Waters of Burford, travelling along the road
to Redbridge for exportation, was stopped near White parish by a crowd
of people who knocked down the leading horse, broke the wagon in
pieces, cut the sacks, and strewed about the corn, with threats that
they would do the like to all who sold wheat to export.[428] While
England was paying farmers to export wheat she was also importing,
though in plentiful years importers had a very bad time. In 1730 there
were lying at Liverpool 33,000 windles (a windle--220 lb.) of imported
corn, unsaleable owing to the great crop in England.[429] The year
1740 was distinguished by one of the severest winters on record. From
January 1 to February 5 the thermometer seldom reached 32°, and the
cold was so intense that hens and ducks, even cattle in their stalls
died of it, trees were split asunder, crows and other birds fell to
the ground frozen in their flight. This extraordinary winter was
followed by a cold and late spring; no verdure had appeared by May; in
July it was still cold, and thousands of acres of turnips rotted in
the ground. Among minor misfortunes may be noticed the swarms of
grasshoppers who devastated the pastures near Bristol at the end of
August 1742,[430] and the swarms of locusts who came to England in
1748 and consumed the vegetables.[431]

The cattle plague of 1745[432] was so severe that owing to the
scarcity of stock great quantities of grass land were ploughed up,
which helped to account for the fact that in 1750 the export of corn
from England reached its maximum; though the main cause of this was
the long series of excellent seasons that set in after 1740.[433] The
cattle plague also raged in 1754 in spite of an Order in Council that
all infected cattle should be shot and buried 4 ft. deep, and pitch,
tar, rosin, and gunpowder burnt where infected cattle had died, and
cow-houses washed with vinegar and water. Such were the sanitary
precautions of the time.[434] In 1756 came another bad year, corn was
so scarce that there were many riots; the king expressed to Parliament
his concern at the suffering of the poor, and the export of corn was
temporarily prohibited. The fluctuations in price are remarkable: in
1756, before the deficiency of the harvest was realized, wheat was
22s. and it went up at the following rate: Jan., 1757, 49s.; Feb.,
51s.; March, 54s.; April, 64s.; June, 72s.

About the middle of the century, if we may judge from the _Compleat
Cyderman_ written in 1754 by experienced hands living in Devon,
Cornwall, Herefordshire, and elsewhere, fruit-growing received an
amount of attention which diminished greatly in after years. The
authors fully realized that an orchard under tillage causes apple
trees to grow as fast again as under grass, and this was well
understood and practised in Kent, where crops of corn were grown
between the trees.

A Devonshire 'cyderist' urged that orchards should be well sheltered
from the east winds, which 'bring over the narrow sea swarms of
imperceptible eggs, or insects in the air, from the vast tracts of
Tartarian and other lands, from which proceeded infinite numbers of
lice, flies, bugs, caterpillars, cobwebs, &c.' The best protection
was a screen of trees, and the best tree for the purpose, a perry pear
tree. In the hard frosts of 1709, 1716, and 1740 great numbers of
fruit and other trees had been destroyed. In Devon what was called the
'Southams method' was used for top-dressing the roots of old apple
trees, which was done in November with soil from the roads and
ditches, or lime or chalk, laid on furze sometimes, 6 inches thick,
for 4 or 5 ft. all round the trees. Great attention was paid there to
keeping the heads of fruit trees in good order, so that branches did
not interfere with each other,[435] and the heads were made to spread
as much as possible. Many of the trees were grown with the first
branches commencing 4 ft. 6 in. from the ground. It was claimed that
Devon excelled all other parts of England in the management of fruit
trees, a reputation that was not maintained, according to the works of
half a century later. The best cider apple In the county then was the
White-sour, white in colour, of a middling size, and early ripe; other
good ones were the 'Deux-Anns, Jersey, French Longtail, Royal Wilding,
Culvering, Russet, Holland Pippin, and Cowley Crab.' In Herefordshire
it was the custom to open the earth about the roots of the apple trees
and lay them bare and exposed for the 'twelve days of the Christmas
holidays', that the wind might loosen them. Then they were covered
with a compost of dung, mould, and a little lime. 'The best way' to
plant was to take off the turf and lay it by itself, then the next
earth or virgin mould, to be laid also by itself. Next put horse
litter over the bottom of the hole with some of the virgin mould on
that, on which place the tree, scattering some more virgin mould over
the roots, then spread some old horse-dung over this and upon that the
turf, leaving it in a basin shape. The ground between the trees in
Devonshire in young orchards was first planted with cabbage plants,
next year with potatoes, next with beans, and so on until the heads of
the trees became large enough, when the land was allowed to return to
pasture, a proceeding which was quite contrary to their previously
quoted assertion that tillage was best for fruit trees. The
cider-makers were quite convinced, as many are to-day, that rotten
apples were invaluable for cider, and the lady who was famous for the
best cider in the county never allowed one to be thrown away. A
generation later than this Marshall[436] noted that in Herefordshire
the management of orchards and their produce was far from being well
understood, though 'it has ever borne the name of the first cider
county'. All the old fruits were lost or declining in quality, the
famous Red Streak Apple was given up and the Squash Pear no longer
made to flourish.

As for prices, in 1707 apples were selling at Liverpool for 2s. 6d. a
bushel,[437] a very good price if we allow for the difference in the
value of money, but prices then were entirely dependent on the English
seasons; no foreign apples were imported, and a night's frost would
treble prices in a day. In 1742 at Aspall Hall, Suffolk, apples,
apparently for cider, were 10d. a bushel, in 1745 1s. a bushel, in
1746 only 4d., and in 1747 cider there was worth 6d. a gallon.[438] At
the end of the century, in 'the great hit' of 1784, common apples were
less than 6d. a bushel, the best about 2s. in 1786 the price was twice
as high, owing to a short crop. Incidentally there is mentioned in the
_Compleat Cyderman_ a novel implement, 'a most profitable new invented
five-hoe plough, that after the ground has been once ploughed with a
common plough will plough four or five acres in one day with only four
horses, and by a little alteration is fitted to hoe turnips or rape
crops as it is now practised by the ordinary farmers'; much too
favourable an estimate of the ordinary farmer, as Young found
horse-hoeing rare.

An acre of good orchard land at this time was let at £2 an acre; and
this is a fair balance sheet for an acre[439]:--

                     DR.                              £   s. d.

  Rent of one acre                                    2   0  0
  Tithe on 10 hogsheads, @ 6d.                            5  0
  Gathering, making, and carriage to and
       from the pound, @ 3s. 6d. a hogshead           1  15  0
  Racking twice, @ 6d.                                    5  0
  Casks and cooperage                                     8  0
                                                     £4  13  0

                     CR.                              £   s. d.

  10 hogsheads diminished by racking
     and waste to 8, @ 12s. 6d.                       5   0  0

Leaving a balance of 7s. for spoiling, &c., so there was not much
profit in cider-making then. The same authority sets down the cost of
planting an acre of apples as:--

                                                           £ s. d.

  132 trees, @ 2s.                                        13  4  0
      (The custom had been to plant 160 trees to
      the acre, but this was considered too close.)
  Carriage per tree, @ 2d.; manure per tree, @ 3d.;
      planting per tree, @ 3d.                             4  8  0
  Interest on £17 12s. 0d. for fifteen years before
      orchard is profitable, @ 5 per cent.                13  2  6
  Loss of half the rent of the land for
      the same period, @ 10s. an acre                      7 10  0
  Building cellarage for product per acre                  5  0  0
                                                         £43  4  6

For this outlay the landowner would gain an additional rent of £1 a
year, so that, according to this authority, growing cider fruit at
that time paid neither landlord nor tenant.


[423] _Farmer's Letters_, i. 10.

[424] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (3rd Series), iii. 1.

[425] See the _Hyp Doctor_, No. 49.

[426] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 42.

[427] Cf. this and Tull's character of servants with Defoe's
accusation of their laziness.

[428] Salisbury newspaper, quoted by Baker, _Seasons and Prices_, p.

[429] See _Autobiography of Wm. Stout_, ed. by J. Harland.

[430] _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1742.

[431] Baker, _op. cit._ p. 194.

[432] _A Defence of the Farmers of Great Britain_ (1814), p. 30.

[433] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 42.

[434] See a curious pamphlet called _An Exhortation to all People to
Consider the Afflicting Hand of God_ (1754), p. 6. The plague lasted
from 1745 to 1756.

[435] _The Compleat Cyderman_, p. 46.

[436] _Rural Economy of Gloucestershire_ (1788), ii. 206.

[437] Blundell's _Diary_, p. 55.

[438] MS. accounts of Mr. Chevallier, of Aspall Hall.

[439] _The Case with the County of Devon with respect to the New
Excise Duty on Cider_ (1763). The duty was 4s. a hogshead, but the
opposition was so strong it was taken off.




The history of English agriculture in the latter half of the
eighteenth century has been so well described by Arthur Young that any
account of it at that time must largely be an epitome of his writings.
The greatest of English writers on agriculture was born in 1741, and
began farming early; but, as he confesses himself, was a complete
failure. When he was twenty-six he took a farm of 300 acres at Samford
Hall in Essex, and after five years of it paid a farmer £100 to take
it off his hands, who thereupon made a fortune out of it. He had
already begun writing on agriculture, and it must be confessed that he
began to advise people concerning the art of agriculture on a very
limited experience. It paid him, however, much better than farming,
for between 1766 and 1775 he realized £3,000 on his works, among which
were _The Farmer's Letters_, _The Southern_, _Northern_, and _Eastern
Tours_. These are his qualifications for writing on agriculture, from
his own pen: 'I have been a farmer these many years' (he was not yet
thirty), 'and that not in a single field or two but upon a tract of
near 300 acres most part of the time. I have cultivated on various
soils most of the vegetables common in England and many never
introduced into field husbandry. I have always kept a minute register
of my business in every detail of culture, expenses, and produce, and
an accurate comparison of the old and new husbandry.'[440] It is said
that though he really understood the theory and practice of farming he
failed utterly in small economies. He was also far too vivacious and
fond of society for the monotonous work of the plain farmer. At the
same time his failures gave his observant mind a clear insight into
the principles of agriculture. He was indefatigable in inquiries,
researches, and experiments; and the best proof of the value of his
works is that they were translated into Russian, German, and French.
He tells us in the preface to _Rural Economy_ that his constant
employment for the previous seven years, 'when out of my fields, has
been registering experiments.' His pet aversions were absentee
landlords, obsolete methods of cultivation, wastes and commons, and
small holdings (though towards the end of his life he changed his
opinion as to the last); and the following, according to him, were the
especially needed improvements of the time:--

The knowledge of good rotations of crops so as to do away with
fallows, which was to be effected by the general use of turnips,
beans, peas, tares, clover, &c., as preparation for white corn;
covered drains; marling, chalking, and claying; irrigation of meadows;
cultivation of carrots, cabbages, potatoes, sainfoin, and lucerne;
ploughing, &c., with as few cattle as possible; the use of harness for
oxen; cultivation of madden liquorice, hemp, and flax where
suitable.[441] Above all, the cultivation of waste lands, which he was
to live to see so largely effected.

There was little knowledge of the various sorts of grasses at this
time, and to Young is due the credit of introducing the cocksfoot, and
crested dog's tail.

In 1790 he contemplated retiring to France or America, so heavy was
taxation in England. 'Men of large fortune and the poor', he said, in
words which many to-day will heartily endorse, 'have reason to think
the government of this country the first in the world; the middle
classes bear the brunt.' Perhaps to-day 'men of large fortune' have
altered their opinion and only 'the poor' are satisfied. However, he
only visited France, and gave us his vivid picture of that country
before the great revolution.

In 1793 the Board of Agriculture was formed, and Young was made
secretary with a salary of £400 a year.

About 1810 he wrote that the preceding half-century had been by far
the most interesting in the progress of agriculture, and ascribes the
increase of interest in it to the publication of his _Tours_. George
III told him he always took with him the _Farmer's Letters_. The
improvement, Young said, had been largely due to individual effort,
for commerce had been predominant in Parliament and agriculture had
begun to be neglected; a statement which, seeing that Parliament was
then almost entirely composed of landowners, must be accepted with
some reserve.

Young died in 1820, having been totally blind for some time, a
misfortune which did not prevent him working hard. In his well-known
_Tours_ he often had much difficulty in obtaining information, and
confesses that he was forced to make more than one farmer drunk before
he got anything out of him.

The exodus from the country to the towns then, as so often in history,
was noted by thinking people, but Young says it was merely a natural
consequence of the demand for profitable employment and was not to be
regretted; but he wrote in a time when the country population was
still numerous, and there was little danger of England becoming, what
she is to-day, a country without a solid foundation, with no reservoir
of good country blood to supply the waste of the towns.

When Young began to write, the example of Townshend and his
contemporaries was being followed on all sides, and this good movement
was stimulated by Young's writings. Farming was the reigning taste of
the day. There was scarce a nobleman without his farm, most of the
country gentlemen were farmers, and attended closely to their business
instead of leaving it to stewards, 'who governed in matters of wheat
and barley as absolutely as in covenants of leases,' and the squire
delighted in setting the country a staring at the novelties he
introduced. Even the stable and the kennel were ousted by farming from
rural talk,[442] and citizens who breathed the smoke of London five
days a week were farmers the other two, and many young fellows of
small fortune who had been brought up in the country took farms, and
the fashion was followed by doctors, lawyers, clergymen, soldiers,
sailors, and merchants. The American and French War of 1775-83 and the
great conflict with France from 1793 to 1815 were, however, to divert
many of the upper classes from agriculture, for they very properly
thought their duty was then to fight for their country; so that we
again have numerous complaints of agents and stewards managing estates
who knew nothing whatever about their business. It was not to be
wondered at that all this activity brought about considerable
progress. 'There have been,' said Young about 1770, 'more experiments,
more discoveries, and more general good sense displayed within these
ten years than in a hundred preceding ones,' a statement which perhaps
did not attach sufficient importance to the work of Townshend and his
contemporaries, and to the 'new husbandry' of Tull, which Young did
not appreciate at its full value.[443]

The place subsequently taken by the Board of Agriculture, and in our
time by the Royal Agricultural Society, was then occupied by the
Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce,
which offered premiums for such objects as the cultivation of carrots
in the field for stock, then little practised; for gathering the
different sorts of grass seeds and keeping them clean and free from
all mixture with other grasses, a very rare thing at that time; for
experiments in the comparative merits of the old and new husbandry;
for the growth of madder; £20 for a turnip-slicing machine, then
apparently unknown, and for experiments whether rolling or harrowing
grass land was better, 'at present one of the most disputed points of

In spite of this progress, many crops introduced years before were
unknown to many farmers. Sainfoin, cabbages, potatoes, carrots, were
not common crops in every part of England, though every one of them
was well known in some part or other; not more than half, or at most
two-thirds, of the nation cultivated clover. Many, however, of the
nobility and gentry in the north had grown cabbages with amazing
success, lately, 30 guineas an acre being sometimes the value of the

Half the cultivated lands, in spite of the progress of enclosure for
centuries, were still farmed on the old common-field system. When
anything out of the common was to be done on common farms, all common
work came to a standstill. 'To carry out corn stops the ploughs,
perhaps at a critical season; the fallows are frequently seen overrun
with weeds because it is seed time; in a word, some business is ever
neglected.'[444] As for the outcry against enclosing commons and
wastes, people forgot that the farmers as well as the poor had a right
of common and took special care by their large number of stock to
starve every animal the poor put on the common.[445]

About the same time that Young wrote these words there appeared a
pamphlet written by 'A Country Gentleman' on the advantages and
disadvantages of enclosing waste lands and common fields, which puts
the arguments against enclosure very forcibly.[446] The writer's
opinion was that it was clearly to the landowner's gain to promote
enclosures, but that the impropriator of tithes reaped most benefit
and the small freeholder least, because his expenses increased
inversely to the smallness of his allotment. As to diminution of
employment, he reckoned that enclosed arable employed about ten
families per 1,000 acres, open field arable twenty families, a
statement opposed to the opinion of nearly all the agricultural
writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is surely an
incontestable fact that enclosed land meant much better tillage, and
better tillage meant more labour, the excessive amount of fallow
necessary under the common-field system, from the inability to grow
roots except by special arrangement, is alone enough to prove this.
The same writer admitted that common pastures, wastes, &c., employed
only one family per 2,000 acres, but enclosed pasture five families
per 1,000 acres, and enclosed wastes sixteen families.

A 'Country Farmer', who wrote in 1786, states that many of the small
farmers displaced by enclosures sold their few possessions and
emigrated to America.[447] The growing manufacturing towns also
absorbed a considerable number. That there was a considerable amount
of hardship inflicted on small holders and commoners is certain, but
industrial progress is frequently attended by the dislocation of
industry and consequent distress; the introduction of machinery, for
instance, often causing great suffering to hand-workers, but
eventually benefiting the whole community. How many men has the
self-binding reaping machine thrown for a time out of work? So
enclosure caused distress to many individuals, but was for the good of
the whole nation. The history of enclosure is really the history of
progress in farming; the conversion of land badly tilled in the old
common fields, and of waste land little more valuable than the
prairies; into well-managed fruitful farms. That much of the
common-field land when enclosed was laid down to grass is certainly
true, and certainly inevitable if it paid best under grass.[448] No
one can expect the holders of land naturally best suited for grass to
keep it under tillage for philanthropic purposes. A vast number of the
commoners too were idle thriftless beings, whose rights on a few acres
enabled them to live a life of pilfering and poaching; and it was a
very good thing when such people were induced to lead a more regular
and respectable existence. The great blot on the process was that it
made the English labourer a landless man. Compensation was given him
at the time of enclosure in the shape of allotments or sums of money,
but the former he was generally compelled to give up owing to the
expense he had been put to at allotment, and the latter he often spent
in the public-house.

At this date the proprietors of large estates who wished to enclose by
Act of Parliament, generally settled all the particulars among
themselves before calling any meeting of the rest of the proprietors.
The small proprietor had very little say either in regulating the
clauses of the Act, or in the choice of commissioners. Any owner of
one-fifth of the land, however, could negative the measure and often
used his right to impose unreasonable clauses. It is well known that
the legal expenses and fencing were very costly. The enclosure
commissioners too often divided the land in an arbitrary and ignorant
manner, and there was no appeal from them except by filing a bill in
Chancery. Accounts were hardly ever shown by the commissioners, and if
a proprietor refused to pay the sums levied they were empowered to
distrain immediately. All these evils attending enclosure made many
who were eager to benefit by it very chary in commencing it.[449]

Then, as now, one of the commonest errors of farmers was that of
taking too much land for their capital; Young considered £6 an acre
necessary on an average, equal to more than £12 to-day; a sum which
few farmers at any time have in hand when they take a farm. As for
gentlemen farmers, who were then rushing into the business, they were
warned that they had no chance of success if they kept any company or
amused themselves with anything but their own business, unless perhaps
they had a good bailiff.

Lime, one of the most ancient of manures, was then the most commonly
used in England, 80 to 100 loads an acre being a common dressing, but
many farmers were very ignorant of its proper use. Marl, which to-day
is seldom used, was considered to last for twenty years, though for
the first year no benefit was observable, and very little the second
and the third, its value then becoming very apparent. In the last five
years, however, its value was nearly worn out. But it was much to be
questioned whether marl in its best state anywhere yields an increase
of produce equal to that which a good manuring of dung will give.[450]
Marl was applied in huge quantities on arable and grass, and often
made the latter look like arable land so thickly was it spread.

At this date (1770) the average crops on poor, and on good land were[451]:

  On land worth 5s. an acre:

    Wheat                         12 bushels per acre.
    Rye                           16    "       "
    Barley                        16    "       "
    Oats                          20    "       "
    Turnips, to the value of £1.
    Clover         "         "

  On land worth 20s. an acre:

    Wheat                         28 bushels per acre.
    Barley                        40     "      "
    Oats                          48     "      "
    Beans                         40     "      "
    Turnips, to the value of £3.
    Clover         "       "

The cost of cultivating the latter, which may be given in full, as it
affords an excellent example of the price of growing various crops,
and the methods of their cultivation at this period, was as follows:

  First year, turnips:              £   s.  d.

    Rent                            1   0   0
    Tithe and 'town charges'            8   0
    Five ploughings, @ 4s.          1   0   0
    Three harrowings                    1   0
    Seed                                    6
    Sowing                                  3
    Twice hand-hoeing                   7   0
                                  £2   16   9

It will be noticed there was no horse-hoeing.

  Second year, barley:              £   s.  d.

    Rent, tithe, &c.                1   8   0
    Three ploughings                   12   0
    Three harrowings                    1   0
    Seed                                8   0
    Sowing                                  3
    Mowing and harvesting               3   0
    Water furrowing                         6
    Threshing, @ 1s. a quarter          5   0
                                   £2  17   9

  Third year, clover:               £   s.  d.

    Rent, &c.                       1   8   0
    Seed                                5   0
    Sowing                                  3
                                   £1  13   3

  Fourth year,[452] wheat:          £   s.  d.

    Rent, &c.                       1   8   0
    One ploughing                       4   0
    Three harrowings                    1   0
    Seed                               10   0
    Sowing                                  3
    Water furrowing                         9
    Thistling                           1   6
    Reaping and harvesting              7   0
    Threshing, @ 2s. a quarter          7   0
                                   £2  19   6

  Fifth year, beans:                £   s.  d.

    Rent, &c.                       1   8   0
    Two ploughings                      8   0
    Seed, 2 bushels                     8   0
    Sowing                                  6
    Twice hand-hoeing                  12   0
    Twice horse-hoeing                  3   0
    Reaping and harvesting              8   0
    Threshing                           5   0
                                   £3  12   6

  Sixth year, oats:                 £   s.  d.

    Rent, &c.                       1   8   0
    Once ploughing                      4   0
    Two harrowings                          8
    Four bushels of seed                6   0
    Sowing                                  3
    Mowing and harvesting               3   0
    Threshing, @ 1s. a quarter          6   0
                                   £2   7  11

Good land at a high rent is always better than poor land at a low
rent; the average profit per acre on 5s. land was then about 8s. 8d.,
on 20s. land, 29s.

Grass was much more profitable than tillage, the profit on 20 acres of
arable in nine years amounted to £88, whereas on grass it was £212, or
9s. 9d. an acre per annum for the former and 23s. for the latter.[453]
Yet dairying, at all events, was then on the whole badly managed and
unprofitable. The average cow ate 2-1/2 acres of grass, and the rent
of this with labour and other expenses made the cost £5 a year per
cow, and its average produce was not worth more than £5 6s. 3d.[454]
This scanty profit was due to the fact that few farmers used roots,
cabbages, &c., for their cows, and to their wrong management of pigs,
kept on the surplus dairy food. By good management the nett return
could be made as much as £4 15s. 0d. per cow.

The management of sheep in the north of England was wretched. In
Northumberland the profit was reckoned at 1s. a head, partly derived
from cheese made from ewes' milk. The fleeces averaged 2 lb., and the
wool was so bad as not to be worth more than 3d. or 4d. per lb.[455]

Pigs could be made to pay well, as the following account testifies:

Food and produce of a sow in one year (1763), which produced seven
pigs in April and eleven in October:

            DR.              £   s.  d.

  Grains                        10   4
  Cutting a litter               1   6
  5 quarters peas            5   2   0
  10 bushels barley          1   0   0
  Expenses in selling[456]      11   6
  10 bushels peas            1   6   3
                            £8  11   7

        CR.                 £   s.  d.

  A pig                         2   3
  A fat hog                 1   9   0
  Another, 110 lb. wt.      1  12   9
  Another, 116 lb. wt.      2   0   0
  Heads                         5   3
  3 fat hogs                6   7   0
  1 fat hog                 2   0   0
  10 young pigs             4  16   6
                          £18   12  9
                            8   11  7
     Profit               £10    1  2

We have seen that Young thought little of the 'new husbandry'; he does
not even give Tull the credit of inventing the drill: 'Mr. Tull
perhaps _again_ invented it. He practised it upon an extent of ground
far beyond that of any person preceding him: the spirit of drilling
died with Mr. Tull and was not revived till within a few years.'[457]
It was doubtful if 50 acres of corn were then annually drilled in
England. Lately drilling had been revived and there were keen disputes
as to the old and new methods of husbandry, the efficacy of the new
being far from decided. The cause of the slow adoption of drill
husbandry was the inferiority of the drills hitherto invented. They
were complex in construction, expensive, and hard to procure. It
seemed impossible to make a drill or drill plough as it was called,
for such it then was--a combination of drill, plough, and
harrow--capable of sowing at various depths and widths, and at the
same time light enough for ordinary use. All the drills hitherto made
were too light to stand the rough use of farm labourers: 'common
ploughs and harrows the fellows tumble about in so violent a manner
that if they were not strength itself they would drop to pieces. In
drawing such instruments into the field the men generally mount the
horses, and drag them after them; in passing gateways twenty to one
they draw them against the gate post.' Some of 'these fellows' are
still to be seen!

Another defect in drilling was that the drill plough filled up all the
water furrows, which, at a time when drainage was often neglected,
were deemed of especial importance, and they all had to be opened

Further, said the advocates of the old husbandry, it was a question
whether all the horse-hoeings, hand-hoeings, and weedings of the new
husbandry, though undoubtedly beneficial, really paid. It was very
hard to get enough labourers for these operations. With more reason
they objected to the principles of discarding manure and sowing a
large number of white straw crops in succession, but admitted the new
system was admirably adapted for beans, turnips, cabbages, and

However, there were many followers of Tull. The Author of
_Dissertations on Rural Subjects_[458] thought the drill plough an
excellent invention, as it saved seed and facilitated hoeing; but he
said Tull's drill was defective in that the distances between the rows
could not be altered, a defect which the writer claims to have
remedied. Young's desire for a stronger drill seems to have been soon
answered, as the same writer says the barrel drill invented by
Du-Hamel and improved by Craik was strong, cheap, and easily managed.

The tendency of the latter half of the century was decidedly in favour
of larger farms; it was a bad thing for the small holders, but it was
an economic tendency which could not be resisted. The larger farmers
had more capital, were more able and ready to execute improvements;
they drained their land, others often did not; having sufficient
capital they were able both to buy and sell to the best advantage and
not sacrifice their produce at a low price to meet the rent, as the
small farmer so often did and does. They could pay better wages and so
get better men, kept more stock and better, and more efficient
implements. They also had a great advantage in being able by their
good teams to haul home plenty of purchased manure, which the small
farmer often could not do. The small tenants, who had no by-industry,
then, as now, had to work and live harder than the ordinary labourer
to pay their way.

Young calculated as early as 1768 that the average size of farms over
the greater part of England was slightly under 300 acres.[459] In his
_Tour in France_ Young, speaking of the smallness of French farms as
compared with English ones, and of the consequent great inferiority of
French farming, says, 'Where is the little farmer to be found who will
cover his whole farm with marl at the rate of 100 to 150 tons per
acre; who will drain his land at the expense of £2 to £3 an acre; who
will, to improve the breed of his sheep, give 1,000 guineas for the
use of a single ram for a single season; who will send across the
kingdom to distant provinces for new implements and for men to use
them? Deduct from agriculture all the practices that have made it
flourishing in this island, and you have precisely the management of
small farms.' In 1868 the _Report of the Commission on the Agriculture
of France_[460] agreed with Young, noting the grave consequences of
the excessive subdivision of land, loss of time, waste of labour,
difficulties in rotation of crops, and of liberty of cultivation.

For stocking an arable farm of 70 acres Young considered the following
expenditure necessary, the items of which give us interesting
information as to prices about 1770:--

                                                       £    s.  d.

  Rent, tithe, and town charges for first year         70   0   0
  Household furniture                                  30   0   0
  Wagon                                                25   0   0
  Cart with ladders                                    12   0   0
  Tumbril                                              10   0   0
  Roller for broad lands (of wood)                      2   0   0
       "     narrow   "      "                          1  15   0
  Cart harness for 4 horses                             8  17   0
  Plough     "     "                                    2  16   0
  2 ploughs                                             3   0   0
  A pair of harrows                                     1  15   0
  Screen, bushel, fan, sieves, forks, rakes, &c.        8   0   0
  Dairy furniture                                       3   0   0
  20 sacks                                              2  10   0
  4 horses                                             32   0   0
  Wear and tear, and shoeing one year                  13   0   0
  Keep of 4 horses from Michaelmas to May Day, @
      2s. 6d. each a week                              14   0   0
  5 cows                                               20   0   0
  20 sheep                                              5  10   0
  One sow                                                  15   0
  One servant's board and wages for one year           15   0   0
  A labourer's wages for one year                      20   0   0
  Seed for first year, 42 acres, @ 11s. 6d.            24   3   0
  Harvest labour                                        1  10   0
                                                     £326  11   0

Or nearly £5 an acre.

About the same date the _Complete English Farmer_ reckoned that the
occupier of a farm of 500 acres (300 arable, 200 pasture), ought to
have a capital of £1,500, and estimated that, after paying expenses
and maintaining his family, he could put by £50 a year; 'but this
capital was much beyond what farmers in general can attain to.'[461]

The controversy of horses versus oxen for working purposes was still
raging, and Young favoured the use of oxen; for the food of horses
cost more, so did their harness and their shoeing, they are much more
liable to disease, and oxen when done with could be sold for beef. One
stout lad, moreover, could attend to 8 or 10 oxen, for all he had to
do was to put their fodder in the racks and clean the shed; no
rubbing, no currying or dressing being necessary. No beasts fattened
better than oxen that had been worked. A yoke of oxen would plough as
much as a pair of horses and carry a deeper and truer furrow, while
they were just as handy as horses in wagons, carts, rollers, &c.
William Marshall, the other great agricultural writer of the end of
the eighteenth century, agreed with Young, yet in spite of all these
advantages horses were continually supplanting oxen.

Among the improvements in agriculture was the introduction of
broad-wheeled wagons; narrow-wheeled ones were usual, and these on the
turnpikes were only allowed to be drawn by 4 horses so that the load
was small, but broad-wheeled wagons might use 8 horses. The cost of
the latter was £50 against £25 for the former.[462]

Young's opinion of the labouring man, like Tull's, was not a high one.
'I never yet knew', he says, 'one instance of any poor man's working
diligently while young and in health to escape coming to the parish
when ill or old.' This is doubtless too sweeping. There must have been
others like George Barwell, whom Marshall tells of in his _Rural
Economy of the Midlands_, who had brought up a family of five or six
sons and daughters on a wage of 5s. to 7s. a week, and after they were
out in the world saved enough to support him in his old age. The
majority, however, long before the crushing times of the French War,
seem to have been thoroughly demoralized by indiscriminate parish
relief, and habitually looked to the parish to maintain them in
sickness and old age. Cullum[463] a few years later, remarks on the
poor demanding assistance without the scruple and delicacy they used
to have, and says 'the present age seems to aim at abolishing all
subordination and dependence and reducing all ranks as near a level as
possible.'! Idleness, drunkenness, and what was then often looked on
with disgust and contempt, excessive tea-drinking, were rife. Tea then
was very expensive, 8s. or 10s. a lb. being an ordinary price, so that
the poor had to put up with a very much adulterated article, most
pernicious to health. The immoderate use of this was stated to have
worse effects than the immoderate use of spirits. The consumption of
it was largely caused by the deficiency of the milk supply, owing to
the decrease of small farms; the large farmers did not retail such
small commodities as milk and butter, but sent them to the towns so
that the poor often went without.[464]

In 1767 Young found wages differing according to the distance from

                                                     s.  d.

       20 miles from London they were per week      10   9
  From 20 to 60       "       "       "              7   8
   "   60 to 110      "       "       "              6   4
   "  110 to 170      "       "       "              6   3

Giving an average of 7s. 9d. which, however, was often exceeded as
there was much piece-work which enabled the men to earn more.

Young drew up a dietary for a labourer, his wife, and a family of
three children, which he declared to be sufficient:--

                                                         £  s.  d.

  Food, 6s. per week[466]; per year                     15  12  0
  Rent                                                   1  10  0
  Clothes                                                2  10  0
  Soap and candles                                       1   5  0
  Loss of time through illness, and medicine             1   0  0
  Fuel                                                   2   0  0
                                                       £23  17  0

                                                         £  s.  d.

  The man's wages were, @ 1s. 3d. a day, for the year   19  10  0
  The woman's, @ 3-3/4d. a day, for the year             4  17  6
  The boy of fifteen could earn                          9   0  0
  The boy of ten could earn                              4   7  6
                                                       £37  15  0

Which would give the family a surplus of £13 18s. 0d. a year.

What the man's food should consist of is shown by a list of 'seven
days' messes for a stout man':--

                                                              s. d.

  1st day.  2 lb. of bread made of wheat, rye, and
              potatoes--'no bread exceeds it'                 2
            Cheese, 2 oz. @ 4d. a lb                            1/2
            Beer, 2 quarts                                    1
  2nd day.  Three messes of soup                              2
  3rd day.  Rice pudding                                      2-1/2
  4th day.  1/4 lb. of fat meat and potatoes baked together   2-3/4
            Beer                                              1
  5th day.  Rice milk                                         2
  6th day.  Same as first day                                 3-1/2
  7th day.  Potatoes, fat meat, cheese, and beer              4
                                                          1   9-1/4

As Young was a man of large practical experience we may assume that
this, though it seems a very insufficient diet, was not unlike the
food of some labourers at that date. However, the bread he recommends
was not that eaten by a large number of them. Eden[467] states that in
1764 about half the people of England were estimated to be using
wheaten bread, and at the end of the century, although prices had
risen greatly, he says that in the Home Counties wheaten bread was
universal among the peasant class. Young, indeed, acknowledges that
many insisted on wheaten bread.[468] In Suffolk, according to
Cullum,[469] pork and bacon were the labourer's delicacies, bread and
cheese his ordinary diet.

The north of England was more thrifty than the south. At the end of
the eighteenth century barley and oaten bread were much used there.
Lancashire people fed largely on oat bread, leavened and unleavened;
the 33rd Regiment, which went by the name of the 'Havercake lads', was
usually recruited from the West Riding where oat bread was in common
use, and was famous for having fine men in its ranks.[470] The
labourers of the north were also noted for their skill in making soups
in which barley was an important ingredient. In many of the southern
counties tea was drunk at breakfast, dinner, and supper by the poor,
often without milk or sugar; but alcoholic liquors were also consumed
in great quantities, the southerner apparently always drinking a
considerable amount, the northerner at rare intervals drinking deep.
The drinking in cider counties seems always to have been worse as far
as quantity goes than elsewhere, and the drink bills on farms were
enormous. Marshall says that in Gloucestershire drinking a gallon
'bottle', generally a little wooden barrel, at a draught was no
uncommon feat; and in the Vale of Evesham a labourer who wanted to be
even with his master for short payment emptied a two-gallon bottle
without taking it from his lips. Even this feat was excelled by 'four
well-seasoned yeomen, who resolved to have a fresh hogshead tapped,
and setting foot to foot emptied it at one sitting.'[471] Yet in the
beer-drinking counties great quantities were consumed; a gallon a day
per man all the year round being no uncommon allowance.[472]

The superior thrift of the north was shown in clothes as well as food,
the midland and southern labourer at the end of the century buying all
his clothes, the northerner making them almost all at home; there were
many respectable families in the north who had never bought a pair of
stockings, coat, or waistcoat in their lives, and a purchased coat was
considered a mark of extravagance and pride.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of Young's dietary is that green
vegetables are absolutely ignored. The peasant was supposed to need
them as little as in the Middle Ages.

However, Young admits that very few labourers lived as cheaply as
this, and he found the actual ordinary budget for the same family to

                                         £   s. d.

  Food, per week, 7s. 6d.; per year     19  10  0
  Beer      "     1s. 6d.     "          3  18  0
  Soap and candles                       1   5  0
  Rent                                   1  10  0
  Clothes                                2  10  0
  Fuel                                   2   0  0
  Illness, &c.                           1   0  0
  Infant                                 2  12  0
                                       £34   5  0

This, with the same Income as before, left him with a surplus of £3
10s. 0d.; but as it was not likely his wife could work all the year
round, or that both his eldest children should be boys, it appears
that his expenses must often have exceeded his income. This being so,
it is not surprising that he was often drunken and reckless, and ready
to come on the parish for relief. To labour incessantly, often with
wife and boys, to live very poorly, yet not even make both ends meet,
was enough to kill all spirit in any one.

A great evil from which the labourer suffered was the restrictions
thrown on him of settling in another parish. If he desired to take his
labour to a better market he often found it closed to him. His
marriage was discouraged,[473] because a single man did not want a
cottage and a married one did. To ease the rates there was open war
against cottages, and many were pulled down.[474] If a labourer in a
parish to which he did not legally belong signified his intention of
marrying, he immediately had notice to quit the parish and retire to
his own, unless he could procure a certificate that neither he nor his
would be chargeable. If he went to his own parish he came off very
badly, for they didn't want him, and cottages being scarce he probably
had to put up with sharing one with one or more families. Sensible men
cried out for the total abolition of the poor laws, the worst effects
of which were still to be felt.

Yet there was a considerable migration of labour at harvest time when
additional hands were needed. Labourers came from neighbouring
counties, artisans left their workshops in the towns, Scots came to
the Northern counties, Welshmen to the western, and Irishmen appeared
in many parts; and they were as a rule supplied by a contractor.[475]

London was regarded as a source of great evil to the country by
attracting the young and energetic thither. It used, men said, to be
no such easy matter to get there when a stage coach was four or five
days creeping 100 miles and fares were high; but in 1770 a country
fellow 100 miles from London jumped on a coach in the morning and for
8s. or 10s. got to town by night, 'and ten times the boasts are
sounded in the ears of country fools by those who have seen London to
induce them to quit their healthy clean fields for a region of dirt,
stink, and noise.' A prejudice might well have been entertained
against the metropolis at this time, for it literally devoured the
people of England, the deaths exceeding the births by 8,000 a year.
One of the causes that had hitherto kept people from London was the
dread of the small-pox, but that was now said to be removed by
inoculation. Among the troubles farmers had to contend with were the
audacious depredations caused by poachers, generally labourers, who
swarmed in many villages. They took the farmer's horses out of his
fields after they had done a hard day's work and rode them all night
to drive the game into their nets, blundering over the hedges,
sometimes staking the horses, riding over standing corn, or anything
that was cover for partridges, and when they had sold their ill-gotten
game spent the money openly at the nearest alehouse. Then they would
go back and work for the farmers they had robbed, drunk, asleep, or
idle the whole day. The subscription packs of foxhounds were also a
great nuisance, many of the followers being townsmen who bored through
hedges and smashed the gates and stiles, conduct not unknown to-day.
In spite of these drawbacks the long period of great abundance from
1715 to 1765 and the consequent cheapness of food with an increase of
wages was attended with a great improvement in the condition and habits
of the people. Adam Smith refers to 'the peculiarly happy circumstances
of the country'; Hallam described the reign of George II as 'the most
prosperous period that England has ever experienced'[476]; and it was
Young's opinion about 1770 that England was in a most rich and
flourishing situation, 'her agriculture is upon the whole good and
spirited and every day improving, her industrious poor are well fed,
clothed, and lodged at reasonable rates, the prices of all necessaries
being moderate, our population increasing, the price of labour
generally high.'[477] The great degree of luxury to which the country
had arrived within a few years 'is not only astonishing but almost
dreadful to think of. Time was when those articles of indulgence which
now every mechanic aims at the possession of were enjoyed only by the
baron or lord.'[478] Great towns became the winter residence of those
who could not afford London, and the country was said to be everywhere
deserted, an evil largely attributed to the improvement of posting and
coaches. The true country gentleman was seldom to be found, the
luxuries of the age had softened down the hardy roughness of former
times and the 'country, like the capital, is one scene of dissipation.'
The private gentleman of £300 or £400 a year must have his horses,
dogs, carriages, pictures, and parties, and thus goes to ruin. The
articles of living, says the same writer, were 100 per cent. dearer
than some time back. This is a very different picture from that in
which Young represents every one rushing into farming, but no doubt
depicts one phase of national life.

An excellent observer[479] noticed in 1792 that the preceding forty or
fifty years had witnessed the total destruction in England of the once
common type of the small country squire. He was:--

     'An independent gentleman of £300 per annum who commonly
     appeared in a plain drab or plush coat, large silver buttons, a
     jockey cap, and rarely without boots. His travels never
     exceeded the distance of the county town, and that only at
     assize or session time, or to attend an election. Once a week
     he commonly dined at the next market town with the attorneys
     and justices. He went to church regularly, read the weekly
     journal, settled the parochial disputes, and afterwards
     adjourned to the neighbouring alehouse, where he generally got
     drunk for the good of his country. He was commonly followed by
     a couple of greyhounds and a pointer, and announced his arrival
     at a neighbour's house by smacking his whip and giving a view
     halloo. His drink was generally ale, except on Christmas Day,
     the Fifth of November, or some other gala day, when he would
     make a bowl of strong brandy. The mansion of one of these
     squires was of plaster striped with timber, not unaptly called
     callimanco work, or of red brick with large casemented bow
     windows; a porch with seats in it and over it a study: the
     eaves of the house well inhabited by swallows, and the court
     set round with hollyhocks; near the gate a horse-block for
     mounting. The hall was furnished with flitches of bacon, and
     the mantelpiece with guns and fishing-rods of different
     dimensions, accompanied by the broadsword, partisan, and dagger
     borne by his ancestor in the Civil Wars. Against the wall was
     posted King Charles's _Golden Rules_, Vincent Wing's _Almanac_
     and a portrait of the Duke of Marlborough; in his window lay
     Baker's _Chronicle_, Foxe's _Book of Martyrs_, Glanvill _On
     Apparitions_, Quincey's _Dispensatory_, _The Complete Justice_,
     and a _Book of Farriery_. In a corner by the fireside stood a
     large wooden two-armed chair with a cushion, and within the
     chimney corner were a couple of seats. Here at Christmas he
     entertained his tenants, assembled round a glowing fire made of
     the roots of trees; and told and heard the traditionary tales
     of the village about ghosts and witches while a jorum of ale
     went round. These men and their houses are no more.'

The farmer, in some parts at all events, was becoming a more civilized
individual; the late race had lived in the midst of their enlightened
neighbours like beings of another order[480]; in their personal labour
they were indefatigable, in their fare hard, in their dress homely, in
their manners rude. The French and American War of 1775-83 was a very
prosperous time, and the farmer's mode of living greatly improved.
Farmhouses in England, it was noticed, were in general well furnished
with every convenient accommodation. Into many of them a 'barometer
had of late years been introduced'. The teapot and the mug of ale
jointly possessed the breakfast table, and meat and pudding smoked on
the board every noon. Formerly one might see at church what was the
cut of a coat half a century ago, now dress was spruce and
modern.[481] As a proof of the spirit of improvement among farmers,
Marshall instances the custom in the Midlands of placing their sons as
pupils on other farms to widen their experience. 'Their entertainments
are as expensive as they are elegant, for it is no uncommon thing for
one of these new-created farmers to spend £10 or £12, at one
entertainment, and to have the most expensive wines; to set off the
entertainment in the greatest splendour an elegant sideboard of plate
is provided in the newest fashion.'[482] As to dress, no one could
tell the farmer's daughter from the duke's. Marshall noticed that in
Warwickshire the harness of the farmer's teams was often ridiculously
ornamented, and the horses were overfed and underworked to save their
looks. Before enclosure the farmer entertained his friends with bacon
fed by himself, washed down with ale brewed from his own malt, in a
brown jug, or a glass if he was extravagant. He wore a coat of woollen
stuff, the growth of his own flock, spun by his wife and daughters,
his stockings came from the same quarter, so did the clothes of his

Some of these farmers were doing their share in helping the progress
of agriculture. In 1764 Joseph Elkington, of Princethorpe in
Warwickshire, was the first to practise the under drainage of sloping
land that was drowned by the bursting of springs. He drained some
fields at Princethorpe which were very wet, and dug a trench 4 or 5
feet deep for this purpose; but finding this did not reach the
principal body of subjacent water, he drove an iron bar 4 feet below
the bottom of his trench and on withdrawing it the water gushed out.
He was thus led to combine the system of cutting drains, aided when
necessary by auger holes. His main principles were three: (1) Finding
the main spring, or cause of the mischief. (2) Taking the level of
that spring and ascertaining its subterranean bearings, for if the
drain is cut a yard below the line of the spring the water issuing
from it cannot be reached, but on ascertaining the line by levelling
the spring can be cut effectually. (3) Using the auger to tap the
spring when the drain was not deep enough for the purpose.[483] It was
owing to the Board of Agriculture at the end of the century that he
obtained the vote of £1,000 from Parliament, and a skilful surveyor
was appointed to observe his methods and give them to the public, for
he was too ignorant himself to give an intelligible account of his
system. After the publication of the report his system was followed
generally until Smith of Deanston in 1835 gave the method now in use
to his country.

Robert Bakewell, who did more to improve live stock than any other
man, was born at Dishley, Leicestershire, in 1735, and succeeding to
the management of his father's farm in 1760 began to make experiments
in breeding.[484] He scorned the old idea that the blood must be
constantly varied by the mixture of different breeds, and his new
system differed from the old in two chief points: (1) small versus
large bone, and consequently a greater proportion of flesh and a
greater tendency to fatten; (2) permissible in-breeding versus
perpetual crossing with strange breeds. He took immense pains in
selecting the best animals to breed from, and had at Dishley a museum
of skeletons and pickled specimens for the comparison of one
generation with another, and he conducted careful post-mortem
examinations on his stock. His great production was the new Leicester
breed of sheep,[485] which in half a century spread over every part of
the United Kingdom, as well as to Europe and America, and gave England
2 lb. of meat where she had one before. Sheep at this time were
divided into two main classes: (1) short-woolled or field sheep, fed
in the open fields; (2) long-woolled or pasture sheep, fed in
enclosures. That they were not at a very high state of perfection may
be gathered from this description of the chief variety of the latter,
the 'Warwickshire' breed: 'his frame large and loose, his bones heavy,
his legs long and thick, his chine as well as his rump as sharp as a
hatchet, his skin rattling on his ribs like a skeleton covered with
parchments.' The origin of the new Leicester sheep is uncertain, but
apparently the old Lincoln breed was the basis of it, though this,
like other large breeds of English sheep, was itself an introduction
of the last half century. The new sheep was described as having a
clean head, straight broad flat back, barrel-like body, fine small
eyes, thin feet, mutton fat, fine-grained and of good flavour, wool 8
lb. to the fleece, and wethers at two years old weighed from 20 to 30
lb. a quarter.

By 1770 his rams were hired for 25 guineas a season, and soon after he
made £3,000 a year by their hire, one named 'Two-pounder' bringing him
1,200 guineas in one year.

One of his theories was that the poorer the land the more it demanded
well-made sheep, which is no doubt true to a certain extent; but it
has been proved conclusively since that the quality of the breed
gradually drops to the level of the land unless artificially assisted.
At his death he left two distinct breeds of sheep, for he improved on
his own new Leicester, so that the improved became the 'New Leicester'
and the former the 'Old Leicester.' However, at the time and,
afterwards, his sheep were generally called 'New Leicesters', and
sometimes the 'Dishley breed'. There was much prejudice among farmers
against the new breed; in the Midlands most of the farmers would have
nothing to do with them, and 'their grounds were stocked with
creatures that would disgrace the meanest lands in the kingdom.' Yet
in April, 1786, yearling wethers of the new breed were sold for 28s.
while those of the old were 16s.

The cattle which he set to work to improve were the famous old longhorn
breed, the prevailing breed of the Midlands, which had already been
considerably improved by Webster of Canley in Warwickshire, and
others, especially in Lancashire and the north. The kind of cattle
esteemed hitherto had been 'the large, long-bodied, big-boned, coarse,
flat-sided kind, and often lyery or black-fleshed.'[486] He founded
his herd upon two heifers of Webster's and a bull from Westmoreland,
and from these bred all his cattle. The celebrated bull 'Twopenny' was
a son of the Westmoreland bull and one of these heifers, who came to
be celebrated in agricultural history as 'Old Comely', for she was
slaughtered at the age of twenty-six. He bred his cattle so that they
produced an enormous amount of fat, as hitherto there had been a
difficulty in producing animals to fatten readily; but this he pushed
to too great an extreme, so that there has been a reaction. The
following is a description of a six-year-old bull, got by 'Twopenny'
out of a Canley cow: 'His head, chest, and neck remarkably fine and
clean; his chest extraordinarily deep; his brisket bearing down to his
knees; his chine thin, loin narrow at the chine, but remarkably wide
at the hips. Quarters long, round bones snug, but thighs rather full
and remarkably let down. The carcase throughout, chine excepted,
large, roomy, deep, and well spread.'[487] The new longhorn, however
good for the grazier, was not a good milker. Bakewell was a great
believer in straw as a food, and strongly objected to having it
trodden into manure; his beasts were largely fed on it, in such small
quantities that they greedily ate what was before them and wasted
little. His activity was not confined to the breeding of cattle and
sheep, for he also produced a breed of black horses, thick and short
in the body, with very short legs and very powerful, two ploughing 4
acres a day, a statement which seems much exaggerated; and was famous
for his skill in irrigating meadows, by which he could cut grass four
times a year. He was a firm believer in the wisdom of treating stock
gently and kindly, and his sheep were kept as clean as racehorses. A
visitor to Dishley saw a bull of huge proportions, with enormous
horns, led about by a boy of seven. He travelled much, and admired the
farms of Norfolk most in England, and those of Holland and Flanders
abroad, founding his own system on these. It was his opinion that the
Devon breed of cattle were incapable of improvement by a cross of any
other breed, and that from the West Highland heifer the best breed of
cattle might be produced.

He died in 1795, and apparently did not keep what he made, owing
largely to his boundless hospitality, which had entertained Russian
princes, German royal dukes, English peers, and travellers from all
countries. His breed of cattle has completely disappeared, unless
traces survive in the lately resuscitated longhorn breed, but his
principles are still acted upon, viz. the correlation of form, and the
practice of consanguineous breeding under certain conditions.

Bakewell's earliest pupil was George Culley, who devoted himself to
improving the breed of cattle, and became one of the most famous
agriculturists at the end of the eighteenth and the commencement of
the nineteenth centuries. Another farmer to whom English agriculture
owes much was John Ellman of Glynde, born in 1753, who by careful
selection firmly established the reputation of the Southdown sheep
which had previously been hardly recognized. He was one of the
founders of the Smithfield Cattle Show in 1793, which helped
materially to improve the live stock of the country.

The relations between landlord and tenant, judging from the accounts
of contemporary writers, were generally good. Leases were less
frequent than agreements voidable by six months' notice on either
side, and when there was a tenancy-at-will the tenant who entered as a
young man was often expected to hand on the holding to his posterity,
and therefore executed improvements at his own cost, so complete was
the trust between landlord and tenant. Tenants then did much that they
would refuse to do to-day, as the following lease, common in the
Midlands in 1786, shows[488]:

  Tenant agrees to take, &c., and to pay the stipulated rent
    within forty days, without any deduction for taxes, and
    double rent so long as he continues to hold after notice

  To repair buildings, accidents by fire excepted.

  To repair gates and fences.

  When required, to cut and plash the hedges, and make the
    ditches 3 feet by 2 feet, or pay or cause to be paid to
    the landlord 1s. per rood for such as shall not be done
    after three months' notice has been given in writing.

  Not to break up certain lands specified in the schedule,
    'under £20 an acre.'

  Not to plough more than a specified number of acres of the
    rest of the land in any one year, under the same penalty.

  To forfeit the same sum for every acre that shall be ploughed
    for any longer time than three crops successively, without
    making a clean summer fallow thereof after the third

  And the like sum for every acre over and above a specified
    number (clover excepted) that shall be mown in any one

  At the time of laying down arable lands to grass he shall
    manure them with 8 quarters of lime per acre, and sow
    the same with 12 lb. of clover seeds, and one bushel of
    rye-grass per acre.

  Shall spend on the premises all hay, straw, and manure, or
      leave them at the end of the term.

  Tenant on quitting to be allowed for hay left on the premises,
      for clover and rye-grass sown in the last year, and for all
      fallows made within that time.'[489]

A striking picture of the conditions prevailing in many parts of
England at this period is given by Mr. Loch in his account of the
estates of the Marquis of Stafford.[490] When this nobleman inherited
his property in Staffordshire and Shropshire, much of the land, as in
other parts of England, was held on leases for three lives, a system
said to have been ruinous in its effects. Although the farms were held
at one-third of their value, nothing could be worse than the course of
cultivation pursued, no improvements were carried out, and all that
could be hoped for was that the land would not be entirely run out
when the lease expired. The closes were extremely small and of the
most irregular shape; the straggling fences occupied a large portion
of the land; the crookedness of the ditches, by keeping the water
stagnant, added to, rather than relieved, the wetness of the soil.
Farms were much scattered, and to enable the occupiers to get at their
land, lanes wound backwards and forwards from field to field, covering
a large quantity of ground.

It is to the great credit of the Marquis of Stafford that this
miserable state of things was swept away. Lands were laid together,
the size of the fields enlarged, hedges and ditches straightened, the
drainage conducted according to a uniform plan, new and substantial
buildings erected, indeed the whole countryside transformed.

Another evil custom on the estate had been to permit huts of miserable
construction to be erected to the number of several hundreds by the
poorest, and in many instances the most profligate, of the population.
They were not regularly entered in the rental account, but had a
nominal payment fixed upon them which was paid annually at the court
leet. These cottages were built on the sides of the roads and on the
lord's waste, which was gradually absorbed by the encroachment, which
the occupiers of these huts made from time to time by enclosing the
land that lay next them. These wretched holdings gradually fell into
the hands of a body of middlemen, who underlet them at an extravagant
rent to the occupiers; and these men began to consider that they had
an interest independent of the landlord, and had at times actually
mortgaged, sold, and devised it. This abuse was also put an end to,
the cottagers being made immediate tenants of the landlord, to their
great gain, but to this day small aggregations of houses in Shropshire
called 'Heaths' mark the encroachments of these squatters on the
roadside wastes. This class, indeed, has been well known in England
since the Middle Ages. Norden speaks of them in 1602, and so do many
subsequent writers. Numbers of small holdings exist to-day obtained in
this manner, and the custom must to some extent have counteracted the
effect of enclosure.[491]

The roads of England up to the end of the eighteenth century were
generally in a disgraceful condition. Some improvement was effected in
the latter half of the century, but it was not until the days of
Telford and Macadam that they assumed the appearance with which we are
familiar; and long after that, though the main roads were excellent,
the by-roads were often atrocious, as readers of such books as
_Handley Cross_, written in the middle of the nineteenth century, will

Defoe in his tour in 1724 found the road between S. Albans and
Nottingham 'perfectly frightful,' and the great number of horses
killed by the 'labour of these heavy ways a great charge to the
country'. He notes, however, an improvement from turnpikes. Many of
the roads were much worn by the continual passing of droves of heavy
cattle on their way to London. Sheep could not travel in the winter to
London as the roads were too heavy, so that the price of mutton at
that season in town was high. Breeders were often compelled to sell
them cheap before they got to London, because the roads became
impassable for their flocks when the bad weather set in.[492]

In 1734 Lord Cathcart wrote in his diary: 'All went well until I
arrived within 3 miles of Doncaster, when suddenly my horse fell with
a crash and with me under him. I fancied myself crushed to death. I
slept at Doncaster and had a bad night. I was so bad all day, that I
could get no further than Wetherby. Next day I was all right again. I
had another terrible fall between North Allerton and Darlington, but
was not a bit the worse.'[493]

It was owing to this defective condition of the roads that the prices
of corn still differed greatly in various localities; there would be a
glut in one place and a deficiency in another, with no means of
equalizing matters. To the same cause must be attributed in great
measure the slow progress made in the improvement of agriculture. New
discoveries travelled very slowly; the expense of procuring manure
beyond that produced on the farm was prohibitive; and the uncertain
returns which arose from such confined markets caused the farmer to
lack both spirit and ability to exert himself in the cultivation of
his land.[494] Therefore farming was limited to procuring the
subsistence of particular farms rather than feeding the public. The
opposition to better roads was due in great measure to the landowners,
who feared that if the markets in their neighbourhood were rendered
accessible to distant farmers their estates would suffer. But they
were not alone in their opposition; in the reign of Queen Anne the
people of Northampton were against any improvement in the navigation
of the Nene, because they feared that corn from Huntingdon and
Cambridge would come up the river and spoil their market.[495] Horner
was very enthusiastic over the improvement recently effected: 'our
very carriages travel with almost winged expedition between every town
of consequence in the kingdom and the metropolis' and inland
navigation was soon likely to be established in every part, in
consequence of which the demand for the produce of the land increased
and the land itself became more valuable and rents rose. 'There never
was a more astonishing revolution accomplished in the internal system
of any country'; and the carriage of grain was effected with half the
former number of horses.

It is clear, however, that he was easily satisfied, and this opinion
must be compared with the statements of Young and Marshall, who were
continually travelling all over England some time after it was
written, and found the roads, in many parts, in a very bad state.

Even near London they were often terrible. 'Of all the cursed roads
that ever disgraced this kingdom in the very ages of barbarism, none
ever equalled that from Billericay to the King's Head at Tilbury.[496]
It is for near 12 miles so narrow that a mouse cannot pass by any
carriage. I saw a fellow creep under his wagon to assist me to lift,
if possible, my chaise over a hedge. The ruts are of an incredible
depth, and everywhere chalk wagons were stuck fast till 20 or 30
horses tacked to each drew them out one by one' Others said that
turnpike roads were the enemies of cheapness; as soon as they opened
up secluded spots, low prices vanished and all tended to one level.
Owing to the work of Telford and Macadam, the high roads by the first
quarter of the nineteenth century attained a high pitch of excellence;
and were thronged with traffic, coaches, postchaises, private
carriages, equestrians, carts and wagons: so animated a sight that our
forefathers built small houses called 'gazebos' on the sides of the
road, where they met to take tea and watch the ever varying stream. It
should not be forgotten, too, that the inns, where numbers of horses
put up, were splendid markets for the farmers' oats, hay, and straw.

The seasons in the latter part of the eighteenth century were
distinguished for being frequently bad. In 1774 Gilbert White wrote,
'Such a run of wet seasons as we have had the last ten or eleven years
would have produced a famine a century or two ago.' Owing to the
dearness of bread in 1767 riots broke out in many places, many lives
were lost, and the gaols were filled with prisoners.[497] 1779 was,
however, a year of great fertility and prices were low all round:
wheat 33s. 8d., barley 26s., oats 13s. 6d., wool 12s. a tod of 28 lb.:
and there were many complaints of ruined farmers and distressed
landlords. Though England was now becoming an importing country, the
amount of corn imported was insufficient to have any appreciable
effect on prices, which were mainly influenced by the seasons, as the
following instance of the fluctuations caused by a single bad season
(1782) testifies[498]:

  Prices after harvest of 1781.      Prices after harvest of 1782.

                         £ s. d.                             £  s. d.

  Wheat, per bushel        5  0       Wheat, per bushel        10  6
  Barley     "             2  9       Barley     "              7  2
  Dutch oats for seed      1  8       Dutch oats for seed       3  6
  Clover seed, per cwt. 1 11  6       Clover seed, per cwt.  5 10  0

The summer of 1783 was amazing and portentous and full of horrible
phenomena, according to White, with a peculiar haze or smoky fog
prevailing for many weeks. 'The sun at noon looked as blank as a
clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground
and floors of rooms.' This was succeeded by a very severe winter, the
thermometer on December 10 being 1° below zero; the worst since

In 1788 occurred a severe drought in the summer, 5,000 horned cattle
perishing for lack of water.[499] In 1791 there was a remarkable
change of temperature in the middle of June, the thermometer in a few
days falling from 75° to 25°, and the hills of Kent and Surrey were
covered with snow.

We have now to deal with one of those landowners whose great example
is one of the glories of English agriculture. Coke of Holkham began
his great agricultural work about 1776 on an estate where, as old Lady
Townshend said, 'all you will see will be one blade of grass and two
rabbits fighting for that;' in fact it was little better than a rabbit
warren. It has been said that all the wheat consumed in the county of
Norfolk was at this time imported from abroad; but this is in direct
contradiction to Young's assertion, already noted, that there were in
1767 great quantities of wheat besides other crops in the county.
Coke's estate indeed seems to have been considerably behind many parts
of the shire when he began his farming career.[500] When Coke came
into his estate, in five leases which were about to expire the farms
were held at 3s. 6d. an acre; and in the previous leases they had been
1s. 6d. an acre. We may judge of the quality of this land by comparing
it with the average rent of 10s. which Young says prevailed at this
time. With a view to remedy this state of things he studied the
agriculture of other counties, and his observations thereon reveal a
very poor kind of farming in many places: in Cheshire the rich pasture
was wasted and the poor impoverished by sheer ignorance, in Yorkshire
luxuriant grass was understocked, in Shropshire there were hardly any
sheep; in his own part of Norfolk the usual rotation was three white
straw crops and then broadcast turnips.[501] This Coke changed to two
white crops and two years pasture, and he dug up and brought to the
surface the rich marl which lay under the flint and sand, so that
clover and grasses began to grow. So successful was he in this that in
1796 he cut nearly 400 tons of sainfoin from 104 acres of land
previously valued at 12s. an acre. He increased his flock of sheep
from 800 worthless animals with backs as narrow as rabbits, the
description of the Norfolk sheep of the day, to 2,500 good Southdowns.
Encouraged by the Duke of Bedford, another great agriculturist, he
started a herd of North Devons, and, fattening two Devons against one
Shorthorn, found the former weighed 140 stone, the latter 110, and the
Shorthorn had eaten more food than the two Devons. However, a single
experiment of this kind is not very conclusive.

The ploughs of Norfolk were, as in many other counties, absurdly
over-horsed, from three to five being used when only two were
necessary; so Coke set the example of using two whenever possible, and
won a bet with Sir John Sebright by ploughing an acre of stiff land in
Hertfordshire in a day with a pair of horses. He transformed the bleak
bare countryside by planting 50 acres of trees every year until he had
3,000 acres well covered, and in 1832 had probably the unique
experience of embarking in a ship which was built of oak grown from
the acorns he had himself planted.[502] Between 1776 and 1842 (the
date of his death) he is said to have spent £536,992 on improving his
estate, without reckoning the large sums spent on his house and
demesne, the home farm, and his marsh farm of 459 acres. This
expenditure paid in the long run, but when he entered upon it, it must
have seemed very doubtful if this would be the case. A good
understanding between landlord and tenant was the basis of his policy,
and to further this he let his farms on long leases, at moderate
rents, with few restrictions. When farmers improved their holdings on
his estate the rent was not raised on them, so that the estate
benefited greatly, and good tenants were often rewarded by having
excellent houses built for them; so good, indeed, that his political
opponents the Tories, whom he, as a staunch Whig detested, made it one
of their complaints against him that he built palaces for farmhouses.
At first he met with that stolid opposition to progress which seems
the particular characteristic of the farmer. For sixteen years no one
followed him in the use of the drill, though it was no new thing; and
when it was adopted he reckoned its use spread at the rate of a mile a
year. Yet eventually he had his reward; his estate came to command the
pick of English tenant farmers, who never left it except through old
age, and would never live under any other landlord. Even the Radical
Cobbett, to whom, as to most of his party, landlords were, and are,
the objects of inveterate hatred, said that every one who knew him
spoke of him with affection. Coke was the first to distinguish between
the adaptability of the different kinds of grass seeds to different
soils, and thereby made the hitherto barren lands of his estate better
pasture land than that of many rich counties. Carelessness about the
quality of grasses sown was universal for a long time. The farmer took
his seeds from his own foul hayrick, or sent to his neighbour for a
supply of rubbish; even Bakewell derived his stock from his hayloft.
It was not until the Society for the Encouragement of Arts offered
prizes for clean hay seeds that some improvement was noticeable. In
Norfolk, as in other parts of England, there was at this time a strong
prejudice against potatoes; the villagers of Holkham refused to have
anything to do with them, but Coke's invincible persistency overcame
this unreasoning dislike and soon they refused to do without them.

Coke was a great advocate for sowing wheat early and very thick in the
rows, and for cutting it when ear and stem were green and the grain
soft, declaring that by so doing he got 2s. a quarter more for it; he
also believed in the early cutting of oats and peas. It was his custom
to drill 4 bushels of wheat per acre, which he said prevented
tillering and mildew. He was the first to grow swedes on a large
scale.[503] The famous Holkham Sheep-shearings, known locally as
'Coke's Clippings', which began in 1778 and lasted till 1821, arose
from his practice of gathering farmers together for consultation on
matters agricultural, and developed into world-famous meetings
attended by all nationalities and all ranks, men journeying from
America especially to attend them, and Lafayette expressed it as one
of his great regrets that he had never attended one. At these
gatherings all were equal, the suggestion of the smallest tenant
farmer was listened to with respect, and the same courtesy and
hospitality were shown to all whether prince or farmer. At the last
meeting in 1821 no less than 7,000 people were present. His skill,
energy, and perseverance worked a revolution in the crops; his own
wheat crops were from 10 to 12 coombs an acre, his barley sometimes
nearly 20. The annual income of timber and underwood was £2,700, and
from 1776 to 1816 he increased the rent roll of his estate from £2,200
to £20,000, which, even after allowing for the great advance in prices
during that period, is a wonderful rise. It is a very significant fact
that there was not an alehouse on the estate, and in connexion with
this, and with the fact that his improvements made a constant demand
for labour, we are not surprised to learn that the workhouse was
pulled down as useless, for it was always empty, and this at a time
when the working-classes of England were pauperized to an alarming
degree. The year 1818 was one of terrible distress all over England in
country and town, yet at his sheep-shearing of that year Coke was
enabled to say he had trebled the population of his estate and not a
single person was out of employment, though everywhere else farmers
were turning off hands and cutting down wages. Principally through his
agency, between 1804 and 1821, no less than 153 enclosures took place
in Norfolk, while between 1790 and 1810, 2,000,000 acres of waste land
in England were brought under cultivation largely by his efforts. He
is said, indeed, to have transformed agriculture throughout England,
and, but for that, the country would not have been able to grow enough
food for its support during the war with Napoleon, and must have


[440] _Northern Tour_, i. 9. For an interesting account of Young, see
_R.A.S.E. Journal_ (3rd Series), iv. 1.

[441] In 1726 Bradley had urged the use of liquorice, madder, woad,
and caraway as improvers of the land in the Preface to the _Country

[442] _Rural Economy_ (1771), pp. 173-5. Trusler, who wrote in 1780,
mentions 'the general rage for farming throughout the
kingdom.'--_Practical Husbandry_, p. I.

[443] In 1780 Sir Thomas Bernard, travelling through Northumberland,
saw 'luxuriant plantations, neat hedges, rich crops of corn,
comfortable farmhouses' in a county whereof the greater part was
barren moor dearly rented at 1s. 6d. an acre thirty years before, and
he said the county had increased in annual value fourfold,
(Contemporary MS., unpublished.)

[444] _Rural Economy_, p. 26.

[445] _Farmer's Letters_ (3rd ed.), p. 89.

[446] Slater, _English Peasantry and Enclosure_, p. 95.

[447] Ibid. p. 101.

[448] Young, _Northern Tour_, iv. 340, about 1770 estimates the
cultivated land of England to be half pasture and half arable, and, in
the absence of reliable statistics, his opinion on this point is
certainly the best available. The conversion of a large portion of the
richer land from arable to grass in the eighteenth century was
compensated for, according to Young, by the conversion, on enclosure,
of poor sandy soils and heaths or moors into corn land. Hasbach, _op.
cit._ pp. 370-1.

[449] Young, _Northern Tour_, i. 222.

[450] _Rural Economy_, p. 252.

[451] Ibid. p. 271.

[452] Cf. above, p. 180.

[453] _Farmer's Letters_ (3rd ed), p. 372.

[454] _Northern Tour_, iv. 167.

[455] Ibid. iv. 186.

[456] This large item is explained by the fact that a bailiff was
employed to sell, and no bailiff could find customers 'without feeling
the same drought as stage coachmen when they see a sign'.--Young,
_Farmer's Letters_, p. 403.

[457] _Rural Economy_, p. 314.

[458] 1775, pp. x-xiii.

[459] _Northern Tour_, iv. 192-202.

[460] See _Parliamentary Reports Commission_ (1881), xvi. 260.

[461] _Dissertations on Rural Subjects_, p. 278.

[462] _Farmer's Letters_, p. 433.

[463] _History of Hawsted_, p. 169.

[464] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 127; Kent, _Hints to Gentlemen_, p. 152.

[465] _Southern Tour_, p. 324. He says nothing of the manufacturing
towns, which had not yet began to influence the wages of farm
labourers near them as they soon afterwards did.

[466] Some prices at this time were: bread per lb., 2d.; butter,
5-1/2d. to 8d.; cheese, 3-1/2d. to 4d.; beef, 3d. to 5d.; mutton,
3-1/2d. to 5d.

[467] _State of the Poor_, i. 562.

[468] According to Walter Harte, though the yeoman in the middle of
the seventeenth century ate bread of rye and barley (maslin), in 1766
even the poor cottagers looked upon it with horror and demanded best
wheaten bread. Yet in 1766 the quartern loaf in London was 1s.
6d.--Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 68.

[469] _History of Hawsted_, p. 184.

[470] Eden, _State of the Poor_, i. 513.

[471] _Rural Economy of Gloucestershire_, i. 53.

[472] Eden, _op. cit._ i. 547.

[473] _Farmer's Letters_, i. 300

[474] The pulling down of cottages began to be complained of in the
seventeenth century; they harboured the poor, who were a charge upon
the parish, and repairs were saved.--_Transactions Royal Historical
Society_ (New Series), xix. 120.

[475] Hasbach, _op. cit._ 82; Clarke, _General View of Herefordshire_,
p. 29; Marshall, _Review of Northern Department_, p. 375.

[476] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 50; Hallam, _Constitutional
History_, iii. 302.

[477] _Northern Tour_, iv. 420. The increase in population in the
first half of the eighteenth century was slow; after the Peace of
Paris in 1763, when the commerce and manufactures of the country were
extended in an unprecedented degree, it was rapid.

[478] _The Way to be Rich and Respectable_, London, 1780.

[479] Grose, _Olio_, pp. 41-4; Lecky, _History of England in
Eighteenth Century_, vi. 169 et. seq.

[480] Cullum, _History of Hawsted_, p. 219.

[481] Cullum, _History of Hawsted_, p. 225.

[482] _Thoughts on Enclosure, by a Country Farmer_ (1786), p. 21.

[483] Johnstone, _Account of Elkington's Draining_ (1797), pp. 8-9.

[484] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1894), p. 11, from which this account of
Bakewell is mainly taken.

[485] According to some, Joseph Allom originated the breed, and
Bakewell vastly improved it. We may safely give the chief credit to so
careful and gifted a breeder as Bakewell.

[486] _Culley on Live Stock_ (1807), p. 56.

[487] Marshall, _Rural Economy of the Midland Counties_, i. 273.

[488] _Victoria County History: Warwickshire, Agriculture_.

[489] In Lancashire at this date it was not uncommon, when a tenant
wished for his farm or a particular field to be improved by draining,
marling, liming, or laying down to grass, to hand it over to the
landlord for the process; who, when completed, returned it to the
tenant with an advanced rent of 10 per cent. upon the
improvements.--Marshall, _Review of Reports to Board of Agriculture_
(under Lancashire).

[490] 1820, p. 173 et seq.

[491] See Hasbach, _op. cit._ pp. 77 sq.; _Annals of Agriculture_,
xxxvi. 497; Scrutton, _Commons and Common Fields_, p. 139.

[492] Defoe, _Tour_, ii. 178 et seq.

[493] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (3rd Ser.), ii. 9.

[494] Horner, _Inquiry into the Means of Preserving the Public Roads_
(1767), pp. 4 et seq.

[495] _Victoria County History: Northants._, ii. 250.

[496] Young, _Southern Tour_ (ed. 2), p. 88.

[497] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 68. It is difficult to understand
the price of the quartern loaf, 1s. 6d. in 1766, as wheat was only
43s. 1d. a quarter. Prices of wheat in these years were:

            s.  d.

     1767   47  4
     1768   53  9
     1769   40  7
     1770   43  6
     1771   47  2
     1772   50  8
     1773   51  0
     1774   52  8
     1775   48  4
     1776   38  2
     1777   45  6
     1778   42  0
     1779   33  8

These returns differ from those of the Board of Agriculture; see
Appendix III.

[498] _Annals of Agriculture_, iii. 366.

[499] Baker, _Seasons and Prices_, pp. 224 et seq.

[500] A. Stirling, _Coke of Holkham_, i. 249.

[501] But in other parts of it the cultivation of turnips was well
understood, for the _Complete Farmer_, s.v. _Turnips_ (ed. 3), says
that about 1750 Norfolk farmers boasted that turnips had doubled the
value of their holdings, and Norfolk men were famous for understanding
hoeing and thinning, which were little practised elsewhere. Further,
Young, _Southern Tour_, p. 273, says: 'the extensive use of turnips is
known but little of except in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. I found no
farmers but in these counties that understood anything of fatting
cattle with them; feeding lean sheep being the only use they put them

[502] A. Stirling, _op. cit._ i. 264.

[503] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1895), p. 12.




This period, that of the great war with France, was one generally of
high prices and prosperity for landowners and farmers. It was a
prosperity, however, that was largely fictitious, and when the high
prices of the war time were over, it was succeeded by many disastrous
years. The prosperity, too, was also largely neutralized by a crushing
weight of taxation and rates, while the labourer, although his wages
were increased, found prices grow at a much greater rate, and it was,
as Thorold Rogers has said, the most miserable period in his history.

Its commencement was marked by the foundation of the Board of
Agriculture. On May 15, 1793, Sir John Sinclair[504] moved in the
House of Commons, 'that His Majesty would take into his consideration
the advantages which might be derived from the establishment of such a
board, for though in some particular districts improved methods of
cultivating the soil were practised, yet in the greatest part of these
kingdoms the principles of agriculture are not sufficiently
understood, nor are the implements of husbandry or the stock of the
farmer brought to that perfection of which they are capable. His
Majesty's faithful Commons were persuaded that if it were founded a
spirit of improvement might be encouraged, which would result in
important national benefits.

The motion was carried by 101 to 26. By its charter the board
consisted of a president, 16 ex-officio and 30 ordinary members, with
honorary and corresponding members. It was not a Government department
in the modern sense of the term, but a society for the encouragement
of agriculture, as the Royal Society is for the encouragement of
science. It was, indeed, supported by parliamentary grants, receiving
a sum of £3,000 a year, but the Government had only a limited control
over its affairs through the ex-officio members, among whom were the
Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Lord Chancellor, the First
Lord of the Admiralty, and the Speaker.

The first president was Sir John Sinclair, and the first secretary
Arthur Young, with a salary of £400 a year, which he thought
insufficient.[505] The first task of the new board was that of
preparing statistical accounts of English agriculture, and it was
intended to take in hand the commutation of tithes, which would have
been a great boon to farmers, with whom the prevailing system of
collecting tithes was very unpopular; but the Primate's opposition
stopped this. The board appointed lecturers, procured a reward for
Elkington for his draining system, encouraged Macadam in his plans for
improving roads, and Meikle the inventor of the thrashing machine, and
obtained the removal of taxes on draining tiles, and other taxes
injurious to agriculture. It also recommended the allotment system,
and Sinclair desired 3 acres and a cow for every industrious cottager.
During the abnormally high prices of provisions from 1794-6, the
quartern loaf in London in 1795 being 1s. 6d., though next year it
dropped to 7-3/4d.,[506] the board made experiments in making bread
with substitutes for wheat, which resulted in a public exhibition of
eighty different sorts of bread. Its efforts were generally followed
by increased zeal among agriculturists; but Sinclair, an able but
impetuous man,[507] appears to have taken things too much into his own
hands and pushed them too speedily.

Financial difficulties came, chiefly owing to the cost of the surveys,
which had been hurried on with undue haste and often with great
carelessness, the surveyors sometimes being men who knew nothing of
the subject.

Sinclair was deposed from the presidency in 1798, and succeeded by
Lord Somerville. He again was succeeded by Lord Carrington, under
whose presidency the board offered premiums (the first of £200), owing
to the high price of wheat and consequent distress, for essays on the
best means of converting certain portions of grass land into tillage
without exhausting the soil, and of returning the same to grass, after
a certain period, in an improved state, or at least without injury.
The general report, based on the information derived from these
essays, states that no high price of corn or temporary distress would
justify the ploughing up of old meadows or rich pastures, and that on
certain soils well adapted to grass age improves the quality of the
pasture to a degree which no system of management on lands broken up
and laid down can equal. In spite of this, the cupidity of landowners
and farmers, when wheat was a guinea a bushel or at prices near it,
led to the ploughing up of much splendid grass land, which was never
laid down again until, perhaps in recent years, owing to the low price
of grain; so that some of the land at all events has, owing to bad
times, returned to the state best suited to it.

The board looked upon the enclosure and cultivation of waste lands,
which in England they estimated at 6,000,000 acres,[508] as a panacea
for the prevailing distress, and after much opposition they managed to
pass through both Houses in 1801 a Bill cheapening and facilitating
the process of parliamentary enclosure. This Act, 41 Geo. III, c. 109,
'extracted a number of clauses from various private Acts and enacted
that they should hold good in all cases where the special Act did not
expressly provide to the contrary.' Another benefit rendered to
agriculture was the establishment in 1803 of lectures on agricultural
chemistry, the first lecturer engaged being Mr., afterwards Sir
Humphry, Davy, who may be regarded as the father of agricultural

In 1806 Sinclair was re-elected president, and his second term was
mainly devoted to completing the agricultural surveys of the different
counties, which, before his retirement in 1813, he had with one or two
exceptions the satisfaction of seeing finished. Though over-impetuous,
he rendered valuable service to agriculture, not only by his own
energy but by stirring up energy in others; as William Wilberforce the
philanthrophist said, 'I have myself seen collected in that small room
several of the noblemen and gentlemen of the greatest properties in
the British Isles, all of them catching and cultivating an
agricultural spirit, and going forth to spend in the employment of
labourers, and I hope in the improvement of land, immense sums which
might otherwise have been lavished on hounds and horses, or squandered
on theatricals.'

Among the numerous subjects into which the board inquired was the
divining rod for finding water, which was tested in Hyde Park in 1801,
and successfully stood the test. In 1805, Davy the chemist reported on
a substance in South America called 'guana', which he had analysed and
found to contain one-third of ammoniacal salt with other salts and
carbon, but its use was not to come for another generation. From the
time of Sinclair's retirement in 1813 the board declined. Arthur
Young, its secretary, had become blind and his capacity therefore
impaired. One year its lack of energy was shown by the return of
£2,000 of the Government grant to the Treasury because it had nothing
to spend it on. The Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, was against it,
the clergy feared the commutation of tithe which the board advocated,
the legal profession was against the Enclosure Act, the landed
interest thought the surveys were intended for purposes of taxation;
and the grant being withdrawn, an effort to maintain the board by
voluntary subscription failed, so that it dissolved in 1822, after
doing much valuable work for English agriculture.

Before its extinction it had held in 1821, at Aldridge's Repository,
the first national agricultural show. £685 was given in prizes, and
the entries included 10 bulls, 9 cows and heifers, several fat steers
and cows, 7 pens of Leicester and Cotswold rams and ewes; 12 pens of
Down, and 9 or 10 pens of Merino rams and ewes.[509] Most of the
cattle shown were Shorthorn, or Durham, as they were then called, with
some Herefords, Devons, Longhorns, and Alderneys. There were also
exhibits of grass, turnip-seed, roots, and implements.

This first national show had been preceded by many local ones.[510]
The end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries
saw the establishment all over England of farmers' clubs, cattle
shows, and ploughing matches.

The period now before us is marked by the great work of the Collings,
who next to Bakewell did most to improve the cattle of the United
Kingdom. Charles Colling was born in 1751, and the scene of his famous
labours was Ketton near Darlington. He had learnt from Bakewell the
all-importance of quality in cattle, and determined to improve the
local Shorthorn breed near his own home, which had been described in
1744 as 'the most profitable beasts for the dairyman, butcher, and
grazier, with their wide bags, short horns, and large bodies.' He was
to make these 'profitable beasts' the best all-round cattle in the
world, and to succeed where George Culley had failed. The first bull
of merit he possessed was 'Hubback',[511] described as a little
yellow, red, and white five-year-old, which was mated with cows
afterwards to be famous, named Duchess, Daisy, Cherry, and Lady
Maynard. At first Colling was against in-breeding, and not until 1793
did he adopt it, more by accident than intention, but the experiment
being successful he became an enthusiast. The experiment was the
putting of Phoenix to Lord Bolingbroke, who was both her half-brother
and her nephew, and the result was the famous Favourite. A young
farmer who saw Favourite and his sister at Darlington in 1799, was so
struck by them that he paid Colling the first 100 guineas ever given
for a Shorthorn cow.[512]

One of Hubback's daughters had in 1795, by Favourite, a roan calf
which grew to be the celebrated Durham Ox, which at five and a half
years weighed 3,024 lb., and was sold for £140. It was sold again for
£250, the second purchaser refusing £2,000 for it, and taking it round
England on show made a profitable business out of it, in one day in
London making £97. A still more famous animal was the bull Comet, born
1804, which at the great sale in 1810 fetched 1,000 guineas. This bull
was the crowning triumph of Colling's career and the result of very
close breeding, being described as the best bull ever seen, with a
fine masculine head, broad and deep chest, shoulders well laid back,
loins good, hind-quarters long, straight and well packed, thighs
thick, with nice straight hocks and hind legs. Perhaps Colling thought
he had pursued in-and-in breeding too far, at all events in 1810 he
dispersed his famous herd. The sale was held at a most propitious
time, for the Durham Ox had advertised the name of Colling far and
wide, and owing to the war prices were very high. Comet fetched 1,000
guineas, and the other forty-seven lots averaged £151 8s. 5d., an
unheard-of sale, yet all the auctioneer got was 5 guineas, much of the
work of the sale falling on the owner, and the former sold the stock
with a sand-glass.

After the sale at Ketton, Brampton, the farm of Charles's brother
Robert, became the centre of interest to the Shorthorn world. Robert
obtained excellent prices for his stock, five daughters of his famous
bull George fetching 200 guineas each. Probably he, like his brother,
pursued in-and-in breeding too far, and in 1818 there was another
great sale; but war-prices had gone and agriculture was depressed, so
that the cattle fetched less than at Ketton, but still averaged £128
14s. 9d. for 61 lots, and 22 rams averaged £39 6s. 4d. Robert died in
1820, his brother in 1836.

It cannot be said that the Collings were the founders of a new breed
of cattle; they were the collectors and preservers of an ancient breed
that might otherwise have disappeared.[513] The object of good
breeders was now to get their cattle fat at an early age, and they so
far succeeded as to sell three-year-old steers for £20 apiece,
generally fed thus: in the first winter, hay and turnips; the
following summer, coarse pasture; the second winter, straw in the
foldyard and a few turnips; next summer, tolerable good pasture; and
the third winter, as many turnips as they could eat.[514]

Cattle at this time were classified thus: Shorthorns, Devons, Sussex,
Herefords (the two latter said by Culley to be varieties of the
Devon), Longhorned, Galloway or Polled, Suffolk Duns, Kyloes, and

Sheep thus: the Dishley Breed (New Leicesters), Lincolns, Teeswaters,
Devonshire Notts, Exmoor, Dorsetshire, Herefordshire, Southdown,
Norfolk, Heath, Herdwick, Cheviot, Dunfaced, Shetland, Irish.[515]

With the increased demand for corn and meat from the towns the
necessity of new and better implements became apparent, and many
patents were taken out: by Praed, for drill ploughs, in 1781; by
Horn, for sowing machines, in 1784; by Heaton, for harrows, in 1787;
for sowing machines, by Sandilands, 1788; for reaping machines, by
Boyce, 1799; winnowing machines, by Cooch, 1800; haymakers, by Salmon,
1816; and for scarifiers, chaff-cutters, turnip-slicers, and
food-crushers.[516] But the great innovation was the threshing machine
of Meikle. Like most inventions, it had forerunners. The first
threshing machine is mentioned in the _Select Transactions of the
Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland_,
published in 1743 by Maxwell. It was invented by Michael Menzies, and
by it one man could do the work of six. One machine was worked by a
great water-wheel and triddles, another by a little wheel of 3 feet
diameter, moved by a small quantity of water. The first attempts to
substitute horse or other power for manual in threshing were directed
to the revolution of jointed flails, which should strike the floor on
which the corn was spread, but this proved unsatisfactory, so that
rubbing the grain out of the straw by revolving cylinders was
tried,[517] Young, in his northern tour, met a Mr. Clarke at Belford
in Northumberland, who was famous for mechanics,[518] among his
inventions being a threshing machine worked by one horse, which does
not seem to have effected much. Eventually Mr. A. Meikle, of Houston
Mill near Haddington, in 1798 erected a machine the principles of
which, much modified, are those of to-day; and in 1803 Mr. Aitchison,
of Drumore in East Lothian, first applied steam to threshing. It was
some time, however, before this beneficent invention was generally
used, and when the machines were used they were usually driven by
horse--or water-power until about 1850. In 1883 Messrs. Howard, of
Bedford, adapted a sheaf-binding apparatus to the threshing machine.
With new implements came new crops; the Swede turnip was grown on some
farms in Notts just before 1800, but it is not known who introduced
it.[519] The mangel wurzel was introduced about 1780-5 by Parkyns, and
prickly comfrey in 1811.

The year 1795 was one of great scarcity owing to the wet and stormy
summer, and in August wheat went up to 108s. a quarter.[520] As usual
many other causes but the right one were put forth, and the old
accusations of monopoly, forestalling, and regrating were heard again.
The war with France, with more reason, was considered to have helped
in raising prices, but the chief cause was the bad season. The members
of both Houses of Parliament bound themselves to reduce the
consumption of bread in their homes by one-third, and recommended
others to a similar reduction. It was a period of terrible distress
for the agricultural labourer. His wages were about 9s. a week, and it
was impossible for him to live on them, so that what is known as 'the
allowance system' came in. At Speenhamland in Berkshire, in this year,
the magistrates agreed that it was not expedient to help the labourer
by regulating his wages according to the statute of Elizabeth, but
recommended the farmers to increase their pay in proportion to the
present price of provisions, and they also granted relief to all poor
and industrious men according to the price of bread. They were merely
giving effect to Gilbert's Act of 1782, which legalized the
supplementing of the wages of able-bodied men from the rates, and the
decision was nicknamed the 'Speenhamland Act' because it was so
generally followed. However well meant, the effect was most
demoralizing and the English labourer, already too prone to look to
the State for help, was induced to depend less on his own exertions.
The real remedy would have been a substantial increase of his scanty
wages. As it was, landowner and farmer were often paying the labourer
in rates money that would far better have come to him in wages, and
the rates in some districts became so burdensome that land was thrown
out of cultivation. In the same year as the Speenhamland Act the
statute 36 Geo. III, c. 23, forbade the removal of persons from any
parish until they were in actual need of support; but although the law
was thus relaxed, the fixed principle which caused the refusal of all
permanent relief to labourers who had no settlement in the parish
acted as a very efficient check on migration, though, as we have seen,
it did not entirely check it. In 1796 the question of regulating the
labourers' wages by Parliament was raised; but Pitt, remembering such
schemes had always failed, was hostile, and the matter dropped.[521]
In the same year Eden made his inquiries concerning the rate of wages
and the cost of living. In Bedford, he found the agricultural labourer
was getting 1s. 2d. a day and beer, with extras in harvest[522]; but
bacon was 10d. a lb. and wheat 12s. a bushel. However, parish
allowances were liberal, a man, his wife, and four children sometimes
receiving 11s. a week from that source.

In Cumberland the labourer was being paid 10d. to 1s. a day with food,
or 1s. 6d. to 1s. 8d. without; in Hertfordshire, 1s. 6d. a day; in
Suffolk, 1s. 4d. a day and beer.

Nearly everywhere his expenditure was much in excess of his earnings,
the yearly budgets of fifty-three families in twelve different
counties showed generally large annual deficiencies, amounting in one
case to £21 18s. 4d. In one case in Lindsey, where the deficiency was
small, the family lived on bread alone. The factory system, too, had
already deprived the labourer of many of his by-industries, and thus
helped the pauperism for which landlord and farmer had to pay in

About 1788 Sir William Young proposed to send the unemployed labourers
round to the parishioners to get work, their wages being paid by their
employers and by the parish. This method of obtaining work was known
as the 'roundsman system'.[523]

Landlords, however, and farmers were profiting greatly by the high
prices, which fortunately received a check by the abundant harvest of
1796, which, with large imports,[524] caused the price of wheat to
fall to 57s. 3d., and in 1798 to 47s. 10d. It is difficult to conceive
what instability, speculation, and disaster such fluctuations must
have led to. In 1797 the Bank Restriction Act was passed, suspending
cash payments, and thereby causing a huge growth in credit
transactions, a great factor in the inflated prosperity of this
period. In January, 1799, wool was 2s. a lb., and prices at

                              s. d.        s. d.

  Beef, per stone of 8 lb.    3  0    to   3  4
  Mutton      "        "      3  0     "   4  2
  Pork        "        "      2  8     "   3  8

The summer of that year was uninterruptedly wet; some corn in the
north was uncut in November, so that wheat went up to 94s. 2d., and in
June, 1800, was 134s. 5d., the scarcity being aggravated by the
Russian Government laying an embargo on British shipping.[525] Yet
Pitt denied that the high prices were due to the war.[526] They were
due, indeed, to several causes:

  1. Frequent years of scarcity.

  2. Increase of consumption, owing to the great growth of
     the manufacturing population, England during the war having
     almost a monopoly of the trade of Europe.

  3. Napoleon's obstructions to importation.

  4. The unprecedented fall of foreign exchanges.

  5. The rise in the price of labour, scanty as it was.

  6. Suspension of cash payments, which produced a medium
     of circulation of an unlimited nature, and led to speculation.[527]

In March, 1801, wheat was 156s.; beef at Smithfield, 5s. to 6s. 6d. a
stone; and mutton, 6s. 6d. to 8s. A rise in wages was allowed on all
sides to be imperative, but the labourer even now got on an average
little more than 9s. a week,[528] a very inadequate pittance, though
generally supplemented by the parish. Arthur Young[529] tells of a
person living near Bury in 1801, who, before the era of high prices,
earned 5s. a week, and with that could purchase:

  A bushel of wheat.
        "      malt.
  1 lb. of butter.
  1 lb. of cheese.
  A pennyworth of tobacco.

But in 1801 the same articles cost him:

                             s. d.

  A bushel of wheat         16  0
       "      malt           9  0
  1 lb. of butter            1  0
  1 lb. of cheese               4
  Tobacco                       1
                         £1  6  5

His wages were now 9s., and his allowance from the rates 6s., so that
there was a deficiency of 11s. 5d.

The increase in the cost of living in the last thirty years is
further illustrated by the following table:

                        1773.       1793.       1799.       1800.
                       £  s. d.    £  s. d.    £  s. d.    £  s. d.

  Coomb of malt          12  0     1  3  0     1  3  0     2  0  0
  Chaldron of coals    1 11  6     2  0  6     2  6  0     2 11  0
  Coomb of oats           5  0       13  0       16  0     1  1  0
  Load of hay          2  2  0     4 10  0     5  5  0     7  0  0
  Meat, per lb.              4           5           7           9
  Butter,  "                 6          11          11        1  4
  Loaf sugar, per lb.        8        1  0        1  3        1  4
  Poor rates, in the £    1  0        2  6        3  0        5  0

It was again proposed by Mr. Whitbread in the House of Commons that
wages should be regulated by the price of provisions, and a minimum
wage fixed; but there was enough sense in the House to reject this
return to obsolete methods.

After March, 1801, prices commenced to fall, owing to a favourable
season and the reopening of the Baltic ports, which allowed imports to
come in more freely, for most of our foreign corn at this time came
from Germany and Denmark. At the end of the year wheat averaged 75s.
6d., and with fair seasons it came down in the beginning of 1804 to
49s. 6d. Beef at Smithfield was from 4s. to 5s. 4d. a stone, mutton
from 4s. to 4s. 6d.[530] This great drop in prices was accompanied by
an increase in wages, the labourer from 1804 to 1810 getting on an
average 12s. a week[531]; the cost of implements rose, so did the rate
of interest, and the cry of agricultural distress in 1804 was heard
everywhere. More protection was demanded by those interested in the
land, and accordingly a duty of 24s. 3d. was imposed when the price
was 63s. or under; a bounty was paid on export when it was 40s. or
under; and wheat might be exported without bounty up to 54s.

However, 1804 was a very deficient harvest, owing to blight and
mildew, and by the end of the year wheat was 86s. 2d. The harvests
till 1808 were not as bad as that of 1804, but not good enough to
lower the prices. Also, owing to the Berlin and Milan Decrees of
Napoleon and the Non-intercourse Act of the United States of America,
imports were restricted so that at the end of 1808 wheat was 92s. In
this year the exports of wheat exceeded the imports, but it was due to
the requirements of our army in Spain; and 1789 was the last year when
exports were greater under normal circumstances.[532] 1809 was a bad
harvest, so was 1810; in the former rot being very prevalent among
sheep; and by August, 1810, hay was £11 a load and wheat 116s., only
large imports (1,567,126 quarters) preventing a famine. Down wool was
2s. 1d. per lb., beef and mutton 8-1/2d., cheese 8d.[533]

In 1811 the whole of July and part of August were wet and cold; and
in August, 1812, wheat averaged 155s., the finest Dantzic selling at
Mark Lane for 180s., and oats reached 84s. As our imports of corn then
chiefly came from the north-west of Europe, which has a climate very
similar to our own, crops there were often deficient from bad seasons
in the same years as our own, and the price consequently high. On the
other hand, it is a proof that produce will find the best market
regardless of hindrances, that much of our corn at this time came from
France. Corn in 1813 was seized on with such avidity that there was no
need to show samples. As high prices had now prevailed for some time
and were still rising, landlords and farmers jumped to the conclusion
that they would be permanent; so that this is the period when rents
experienced their greatest increase, in some cases having increased
fivefold since 1790, and speculations in land were most general. Land
sold for forty years' purchase, many men of spirit and adventure very
different from farmers 'were tempted to risk their property in
agricultural speculations',[534] and large sums were sunk in lands and
improvements in the spirit of mercantile enterprise. The land was
considered as a kind of manufacturing establishment, and 'such powers
of capital and labour were applied as forced almost sterility itself
to become fertile.' Even good pastures were ploughed up to grow wheat
at a guinea a bushel, and much worthless land was sown with corn.
Manure was procured from the most remote quarters, and we are told a
new science rose up, agricultural chemistry, which, 'with much
frivolity and many refinements remote from common sense, was not
without great operation on the productive powers of land.'

Land jobbing and speculation became general, and credit came to the
aid of capital. The larger farmers, as we have seen, were before the
war inclined to an extravagance that amazed their older
contemporaries; now we are told, some insisted on being called
esquire, and some kept liveried servants.[535]

It is somewhat curious to learn that one of the drawbacks from which
farmers suffered at this time was the ravages of pigeons, which seem
to have been as numerous as in the Middle Ages, when the lord's
dovecote was the scourge of the villein's crops. In 1813 there was
said to be 20,000 pigeon houses in England and Wales, each on an
average containing 100 pairs of old pigeons.[536]

Another pest was the large number of 'vermin', whose destruction had
long before been considered important enough to demand the attention
of the legislature.[537] Some parishes devoted large portions of their
funds to this object; in 1786 East Budleigh in Devonshire, out of a
total receipt of £20 1s. 8-1/2d., voted £5 10s. for vermin killing.
That now sacred animal the fox was then treated with scant respect,
farmers and landlords paying for his destruction as 'vermin'[538]; the
parish accounts of Ashburton in Devonshire, for instance, from
1761-1820 include payments for killing 18 foxes and 4 vixens, with no
less than 153 badgers.

But the edifice of artificial prosperity was already tottering. After
1812 prices fell steadily,[539] the abundant harvest of 1813 and the
opening of the continental ports accelerated this, and by December,
1813, wheat was 73s. 3d. Yet agriculture had made solid progress. The
Committee of the House of Commons which inquired into the state of the
corn trade in 1813 stated that through the extension of, and
improvements in, agriculture the agricultural produce of the kingdom
had increased one-fourth in the preceding ten years.[540] The high
prices had attracted a large amount of capital to the land, so that
there was very rapid and extensive progress, the methods of tillage
were improved, large tracts of inferior pasture converted into arable,
much, however, of which was soon to revert to weeds; there were many
enclosures, and many fens, commons, and wastes reclaimed. But there
was a reverse side to this picture of prosperity, even in the case of
landlord and farmer. The burden of taxation was crushing; a
contemporary writer, a farmer of twenty-five years standing,[541]
wrote that, with the land tax remaining the same, there was a high
property tax, house and window taxes were doubled, poor rates in some
places trebled, highway, church, and constable rates doubled and
trebled, and there were oppressive taxes on malt and horses, both nags
and farm animals. A man renting a farm at £70 and keeping two
farm-horses, a nag, and a dog, would pay taxes for them of £5 0s. 6d.,
a fourteenth of his rent.[542] Indeed, poor rates of 16s. and 20s. in
the £ were known,[543] and they were occasionally more than the whole
rent received by the landlord forty years before. A Devonshire
landowner complained that seven-sixteenths out of the annual value of
every estate in the county was taken from owners and occupiers in
direct taxes.[544] And the Committee on Agricultural Depression of
1822 asserted that during the war taxes and rates were quadrupled.[545]
Blacksmiths, whitesmiths, collar makers, ropers, carpenters, and many
other tradesmen with whom the farmer dealt, raised their prices
threefold; and it was openly asserted that the high prices of grain
and stock were not proportionate to the increase of other prices. Much
of the grass land broken up in the earlier years of the war was before
the close in a miserable condition, for it was cropped year after year
without manure, and was worn out. On the whole it may be doubted if
the bulk of the farmers of England made large profits during the war;
many no doubt profited by the extraordinary fluctuations in prices,
and it was those men who 'kept liveried servants'; but there must have
been many who lost heavily by the same means, and the rise of rent,
taxes, rates, labour, and tradesmen's prices largely discounted the
prices of corn and stock. The landowners at this period have generally
been described as flourishing at the expense of the community, but
their increased rents were greatly neutralized by the weight of
taxation and the general rise in prices. A contemporary writer says
that owing to the heavy taxes, even in the war time, he 'often had not
a shilling at the end of the year.'[546]

The following accounts, drawn up in 1805,[547] do not show that
farmers were making much money with wheat at 10s. a bushel:

Account of the culture of an acre of wheat on good fallow land:

       Dr.                       £  s. d.

  Two years' rent                2  0  0
  Hauling dung from fold           10  0
  Four ploughings                2  0  0
  Two harrowings                    4  0
  Lime                           1 18  0
  Seed, 2-1/2 bushels            1  5  0
  Reaping                           5  0
  Threshing                        10  0
  Wages                             5  0
  Tithes and taxes                 15  0
                                £9 12  0

             Cr.                 £  s. d.

  20 bushels of wheat at 10s    10  0  0
  The straw was set against
  the value of the dung.
  The tailend wheat was
  Eaten by the family!
                               £10  0  0

And on a farm on good land in the same county the following would be
the annual balance sheet at the same date:

                      Dr.                           £   s. d.

  Rent                                             200  0  0
  Tithes                                            40  0  0
  Wages                                             58  0  0
  Extra harvestmen                                   7  0  0
  Tradesmen's bills                                 50  0  0
  Taxes and rates                                   58  0  0
  Malt, hops, and cider                             60  0  0
  Lime                                              20  0  0
  Hop poles                                         10  0  0
  Expenses at fairs and markets                      8  0  0
  Clothing, groceries, &c., for the family          45  0  0
  Interest on £1,500 capital, at 5 per cent.        75  0  0
  Sundries                                          15  0  0
                                                  £646  0  0

                  Cr.                               £   s. d.

  360 bushels of wheat, @ 10 s.                    180  0  0
  300 bushels of barley, @ 6s.                      90  0  0
  100 bushels of peas, @ 6s.                        30  0  0
  20 cwt. hops                                      60  0  0
  Sale of oxen, cows and calves                    150  0  0
  Profits from sheep                               100  0  0
     "    from pigs, poultry, dairy, and sundries   50  0  0
                                                  £660  0  0

According to this the farmer did little more than pay rent, interest
on capital, and get a living. Yet prices of what he had to sell had
gone up greatly: wheat in Herefordshire in 1760 was 3s. a bushel, in
1805, 10s.; butcher's meat in 1760 was 1-1/2d. a lb., in 1804, 7d.;
fresh butter 4-1/2d. in 1760, 1s. 3d. in 1804; a fat goose in Hereford
market in 1740, 10d.; 1760, 1s.; 1804, 4s.; a couple of fowls in 1740,
6d.; 1760, 7d.; 1804, 2s. 4d.[548] The winter of 1813-4 was
extraordinarily severe, and the wheat crop was seriously injured, but
the increased breadth of cultivation, a large surplus, and great
importations kept the price down. Many sheep, however, were killed by
the hard winter, which also reduced the quality of the cattle, so that
meat was higher in 1814 than at any previous period.[549] At
Smithfield beef was 6s. to 7s. a stone, mutton 7s. to 8s. 6d. With the
peace of 1814 the fictitious prosperity came to an end, a large amount
of paper was withdrawn from circulation, which lowered the price of
all commodities, and a large number of country banks failed. The first
sufferers were the agricultural classes, who happened at that time to
hold larger supplies than usual, the value of which fell at once; the
incomes of all were diminished, and the capital of many
annihilated.[550] At the same time the demand for our manufactures
from abroad fell off; the towns were impoverished, and bought less
from the farmer.

The short period of war in 1815 had little effect on prices, and in
January, 1816, wheat was 52s. 6d., and the prices of live stock had
fallen considerably. In 1815 protection reached its highest limit, the
Act of that year prohibiting import of wheat when the price was under
80s. a quarter, and other grain in proportion.[551] However, it was of
no avail; and in the beginning of 1816 the complaints of agricultural
distress were so loud and deep that the Board of Agriculture issued
circular letters to every part of the kingdom, asking for information
on the state of agriculture.

According to the answers given, rent had already fallen on an average
25 per cent. and agriculture was in a 'deplorable state.'[552]
Bankruptcies, seizures, executions, imprisonments, were rife, many
farmers had become parish paupers. Rent was much in arrear, tithes and
poor rates unpaid, improvements generally discontinued, live stock
diminished; alarming gangs of poachers and other depredators ranged
the country. The loss was greater on arable than on grass land, and
'flock farms' had suffered less than others, though they had begun to
feel it heavily.

All classes connected with the land suffered severely; the landlords
could not get many of their rents; the farmer's stock had depreciated
40 per cent.[553]; many labourers, who during the war had been getting
from 15s. to 16s. a week and 18s. in summer,[554] were walking the
country searching for employment. Many tenants threw up their farms,
and it was often noticed that landlords, 'knowing very little of
agriculture and taken by surprise,' could not manage the farms thrown
on their hands, and they went uncultivated. Some farmers paid up their
rent to date, sold their stock, and went off without any notice;
others, less scrupulous, drove off their stock and moved their
household furniture in the night without settling.[555]

Farmers and landowners were asked to state the remedies required. Some
asked for more rent reduction and further prohibition of import, but
the most general cry was for the lessening of taxation.

A Herefordshire farmer[556] stated that in 1815 the taxes on a farm of
300 acres in that county were:

                                                     £    s.  d.

  Property tax, landlord and tenant                  95  16  10
  Great tithes                                       64  17   6
  Lesser tithes                                      29  15   0
  Land tax                                           14   0   0
  Window lights                                      24   1   6
  Poor rates, landlord                               10   0   0
       "      tenant                                 40   0   0
  Cart-horse duty, landlord, 3 horses                 2  11   0
  Two saddle horses, landlord                         9   0   0
  Gig                                                 6   6   0
  Cart-horse duty,[557] tenant                        7   2   0
  One saddle horse, tenant                            2  13   6
  Landlord's malt duty on 60 bushels of barley       21   0   0
  Tenant's duty for making 120 bushels of
    barley into malt                                 42   0   0
  New rate for building shire hall, paid by landlord  9   0   0
          "           "           "         tenant    3   0   0
  Surcharge                                           2   8   0
                                                   £383  11   4

The parish of Kentchurch, in Herefordshire, paid in direct taxes a
greater sum than the lands of the whole parish could be let for.

Another very general complaint was of the collection of tithe in kind,
a most awkward and offensive method, causing great expense and waste,
which, however, had given way in many places to compounding.

Such is the picture of agriculture after twenty years of high prices
and protection.[558] One may naturally ask, if much money had been
made by farmers during these years, where had it all gone to that they
were reduced at the first breath of adversity to such straits? Some
allowance must be made for the fact that these accounts come from
those interested in the land, who were always ready to make the most
of misfortune with a view to further protection, and the farmer is a
notorious grumbler. It seems, however, that most landlords and tenants
believed that the high prices would last for ever, and lived
accordingly, and, as we have seen, many made no profit at all because
of their increased burdens. As a matter of fact, both were grumbling
because prices had come back to their natural level after an unnatural

Hemp at this date was still grown in Lincolnshire and Somerset, and
Marshall tells us that in 1803 there was a considerable quantity of
hemp grown in Shropshire.[560] In that county there was a small plot
of ground, called 'the hemp-yard,' appendant to almost every
farm-house and to many of the best sort of cottages. Whenever a
cottager had 10 or 15 perches of land to his cottage, worth from 1s.
6d. to 2s. 6d. a year, with the aid of his wife's industry it enabled
him to pay his rent. A peck of hempseed, costing 2s., sowed about 10
perches of land, and this produced from 24 to 36 lb. of tow when
dressed and fit for spinning. A dozen pounds of tow made 10 ells of
cloth, worth generally about 3s. an ell. Thus a good crop on 10
perches of land brought in £4 10s. 0d., half of which was nett profit.
The hemp was pulled a little before harvest, and immediately spread on
grass land, where it lay for a month or six weeks. The more rain there
was the sooner it was ready to take off the grass. When the rind
peeled easily from the woody part, it was, on a dry day, taken into
the house, and when harvest was over well dried in fine weather and
dressed, being then fit for the tow dresser, who prepared it for
spinning. After the crop of hemp the land was sown with turnips, a
valuable resource for the winter.

Since 1815 little hemp or flax has been grown in England[561]; in 1907
there were, according to the Agricultural Returns, 355 acres of flax
grown in England, and hemp was not mentioned.


[504] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1896, p. 1, and 1898, p. 1.

[505] _Autobiography_, p. 242.

[506] Eden, _State of the Poor_, i. 18.

[507] 'Had his industry been under the direction of a better
judgement, he would have been an admirable president.'--Young,
_Autobiography_, p. 316.

[508] _The Report of the Committee on Waste Lands_, 1795, estimated
wastes and commons at 7,800,000 acres, p. 221.

[509] The Merino was largely imported into England by the efforts of
George III, and a Merino Society was formed in 1811; but many
circumstances made it of such little profit to cultivate it in
preference to native breeds, that it was diverted to
Australia.--Burnley, _History of Wool_, p. 17.

[510] The first, the Bath and West of England, was established in

[511] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1899, p. 7.

[512] Higher prices had been realized for the improved Longhorns; in
1791, at the sale of Mr. Fowler of Little Rollright, Sultan a
two-year-old bull fetched 210 guineas, and a cow 260 guineas; and at
Mr. Paget's sale in 1793, a bull of the same breed sold for 400
guineas.--_Culley on Live Stock_, p. 59.

[513] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1899, p. 28.

[514] _Culley on Live Stock_ (1807), pp. 46-7.

[515] _Culley on Live Stock_, p. vi.

[516] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1892, p. 27.

[517] Morton, _Cyclopaedia of Agriculture_, ii. 964.

[518] _Northern Tour_, iii. 49. Clarke also experimented on the effect
of electricity on vegetables, electrifying turnips in boxes with the
result that growth was quickened and weight increased.

[519] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1896, p, 93.

[520] Tooke, _History of Prices_, p. 182.

[521] _Autobiography of A. Young_, p. 256.

[522] _State of the Poor_, i. 565 et seq.; Thorold Rogers, _Work and
Wages_, p. 487. It is difficult to calculate the exact income of the
labourer; besides extras in harvest, and relief from the parish, he
might have a small holding, or common rights, also payments in kind
and the earnings of his wife and children.

[523] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 181; Eden, _op. cit._ li. 27.

[524] Imports of wheat and flour in 1796 were 879,200 quarters.

[525] Yet imports were comparatively large; 1,264,520 quarters of
wheat, against 463,185 quarters in 1799.

[526] Tooke, _History of Prices_, p. 219.

[527] _Farmer's Magazine_, 1817, p. 60.

[528] Thorold Rogers, _Work and Wages_, c. 18.

[529] _Annals of Agriculture_, xxxvii. 265. In 1805, in Herefordshire,
the labourer was getting about 6s. 6d. a week--See Duncumb, _General
View of Agriculture of Herefordshire_. Those who lived in the
farm-house often fared best: in 1808 the diet of a Hampshire farm
servant was, for breakfast, bacon, bread, and skim milk; for lunch,
bread and cheese and small beer; for dinner, between 3 p.m. and 4
p.m., pickled pork or bacon with potatoes, cabbages, turnips, or
greens, and broths of wheat-flour and garden stuff. Supper consisted
of bread and cheese and a pint of ale. His bread was usually made of
wheat, which, considering the price, is remarkable. On Sundays he had
fresh meat. The farmers lived in many cases little better; a statement
which must be compared with others ascribing great extravagance to
them.--Vancouver, _General View of the Agriculture of Hants_ (1808),
p. 383.

[530] Tooke, _History of Prices_, i. 236.

[531] Thorold Rogers, _Work and Wages_, c. 18. In many cases he was
getting 15s. and 16s. a week all the year round. The Parliamentary
Committee of 1822 put his wages during the war at from 15s. to 16s. a
week. _Parliamentary Reports Committees_, v. 72; but it is difficult
to say how much he received as wages, and how much as parish relief.
Recruiting for the war helped to raise wages, as did the increased
growth of corn.

[532] McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_ (1847), p. 438. See Appendix,

[533] Tooke, i. 319, and _Pamphleteer_, vi. 200 (A. Young). Since
1770, says the latter, labour by 1810-11 had doubled, but meat had
risen 146 per cent., cheese 153 per cent., bread 100 per cent. Wages
therefore had not risen in proportion to prices.

[534] _Inquiry into Agricultural Distress_ (1822), p. 38.

[535] _Thoughts on Present Depressed State of Agricultural Industry_
(1817), p. 6.

[536] Vancouver, _General View of the Agriculture of Devon_, p. 357.

[537] See 14 Eliz., c. 11, and 39 Eliz., c. 18.

[538] _Transactions of the Devon Association_, xxix. 291-349.

[539] Average annual prices of wheat were: 1812, 126s. 6d.; 1813,
109s. 9d.; 1814, 74s. 4d.; 1815, 65s. 7d.

[540] Porter, _Progress of the Nation_, p. 149.

[541] _A Defence of the Farmers and Landowners of Great Britain_
(1814), p. 49.

[542] Ibid. p. x.

[543] Ibid. p. 7.

[544] _Agricultural State of the Kingdom_, p. 67.

[545] _Parliamentary Reports (Committees)_, v. 72.

[546] _Thoughts on the Present Depressed State of the Agricultural
Interest_ (1817), p. 4.

[547] Duncumb, _General View of the Agriculture of Hereford_, 1805.
The writer of _A Defence of the Farmers and Landowners of Great
Britain_ (1814) puts the average crop of wheat in the United Kingdom
at 15 or 16 bushels an acre, p. 28. A very low estimate.

[548] Duncumb, _General View of the Agriculture of Hereford_, p. 140.

[549] Tooke, _History of Prices_, ii. 4.

[550] _Farmer's Magazine_ (1817), p. 69.

[551] The duties were often evaded by smuggling; coasting vessels met
the foreign corn ships at sea, received their cargoes, and landed them
so as to escape the duty.

[552] _Agricultural State of the Kingdom_, p. 5.

[553] _Observations for the Use of Landed Gentlemen_ (1817), p. 7.

[554] _Defence of the Farmers, &c._ (1814); and _Parliamentary
Reports_, v. 72.

[555] _Agricultural State of the Kingdom_, p. 64.

[556] Ibid. p. 105.

[557] The agricultural horse tax was repealed in 1821, the tax on
ponies and mules in 1823.

[558] There were some exceptions, but the overwhelming majority of
replies to the letters were couched in the above spirit.

[559] At a time when landlords formed the majority in Parliament, it
is curious to find a substantial farmer asserting that 'the landed
interest has been, since the corn law of 1773, held in a state of
complete vassalage to the commercial and manufacturing, and the
farmers of the country in a state very little superior to that of
Polish peasants.'

[560] _Review of Western Department_, pp. 249, 250.

[561] Morton, _Cyclopaedia of Agriculture_, ii. 26.



The war period was one of great activity in enclosure; from 1798 to
1810 there were 956 Bills; from 1811-20, 771.[562]

It must be remembered, however, that the number of Acts is not a
conclusive test of the amount of enclosure, as there was a large
amount that was non-parliamentary: by the principal landlord, and by
freeholders who agreed to amicable changes and transfer, as at
Pickering, in Yorkshire.[563] Roughly speaking, about one-third of the
Acts were for enclosing commonable waste, the rest for enclosing open
and commonable fields and lands.[564] Owing to the expense an Act was
only obtained in the last resource. It was also because of the
expense[565] that many landlords desirous to enclose were unable to do
so, and therefore devoted their attention to the improvement of the
common fields. That agriculture benefited by enclosure there is no
possible doubt, but it was attended with great hardships. The
landowner generally gained, for his rents increased largely. In
twenty-three parishes of Lincolnshire, for instance, his rents doubled
on enclosure. But the expenses were so heavy that his gain was often
very small, and sometimes he was a loser by the process. As for the
farmers, the poorer ones suffered, for more capital was needed for
enclosed lands, and the process generally was so slow, taking from
two to six years before the final award was given, that many farmers
were thrown out in the management of their farms, for they did not
know where their future lands would be allotted. That the poor
suffered greatly is indubitable: 'By nineteen Enclosure Acts out of
twenty the poor are injured, in some cases grossly injured,' wrote
Young in 1801.[566] In the Acts it was endeavoured to treat them
fairly,[567] and allotments were made to them, or money paid on
enclosure in lieu of their rights of common, or small plots of land;
but the expense of enclosing small allotments was proportionately very
great, generally too great, and they had to be sold, while the sums of
money were often spent in the alehouse. The results of sixty-eight
Acts were investigated in the eastern counties, with the result that
in all but fifteen the poor were injured. It was generally found that
they had lost their cows.

Its effect on the smallholder is well described by Davis in his
_Report on Wilts_.[568] There, before enclosure, the tenants usually
occupied yard-lands consisting of a homestead, 2 acres of meadow, 18
acres of arable, generally in eighteen or twenty strips, with a right
on the common meadows, common fields and downs for 40 sheep, and as
many cattle as the tenant could winter with the fodder he grew. The 40
sheep were kept by a common shepherd with the common herd, were taken
every day to the downs and brought back every night to be folded on
the arable fields, the rule being to fold 1,000 sheep on a 'tenantry'
acre (three-quarters of a statute acre) every night.[569] In breeding
sheep regard was had to 'folding quality,' i.e. the propensity to
drop manure only after being folded at night, as much as to quality
and quantity of wool and meat. On enclosure the common flock was
broken up. The small farmer had no longer any common to turn his
horses on. The down on which he fed his sheep was largely curtailed,
the common shepherd was abolished, and the farmer had too few sheep to
enable him individually to employ a shepherd. Therefore he had to part
with his flock. Having no cow common and very little pasture land he
could not keep cows. In such circumstances the small farmer, after a
few years, succumbed and became a labourer, or emigrated, or went to
the towns.

In a pamphlet called _The Case of Labourers in Husbandry_, 1795, the
Rev. David Davies said, 'by enclosure an amazing number of people have
been reduced from a comfortable state of partial independence to the
precarious condition of mere hirelings, who when out of work
immediately come on the parish.' It has often been said that the poor
were robbed of their share in the land by the landowners; but as a
matter of fact it was the expense of securing the compensation allowed
them, much greater in proportion on small holdings than on large,
which went into the pockets of surveyors and lawyers, that did this.
It was also often through the farmer that the labourer was deprived of
his land when he had retained an acre or two after enclosure. Wishing
to make the labourer dependent on him, he persuaded the agent to let
the cottages with the farm, and the agent in order to avoid collecting
a number of small rents consented. As soon as the farmer had the
cottages he took the land from them and added it to his own. The
peasant's losses engaged the serious attention of many landlords; near
Tewkesbury, in 1773, the lord of the manor on enclosure, besides
reserving 25 acres for the use of the poor, allowed land to each
cottage sufficient to keep a horse or a cow, often added a small
building, and gave stocks for raising orchards. Even some of the
idlest were thereby made industrious, poor rates sank to 4d. in the £,
though the population increased, and the labourer always had for sale
some poultry, or the produce of his cow, or some fruit.[570]

In 1800 the Board of Agriculture, composed almost entirely of
landowners, noticing that the poor of Rutland and Lincolnshire, who
had land for one or two cows and some potatoes, had not applied for
poor relief, offered a gold medal for the most satisfactory account of
the best means of supporting cows on poor land, in a method applicable
to cottagers.[571] Young recommended that in the case of extensive
wastes every cottage on enclosure should be secured sufficient land on
which to keep a cow, the land to be inalienable from the cottage and
the ownership vested in the parish.

Lord Winchelsea[572] urged that a good garden should always go with a
cottage, and set the example himself, one which has been generally
followed in England by the greater landlords with much success. As may
be imagined, these schemes or others similar to them were put into
effect by the conscientious and energetic, but not by the apathetic
and careless. Further, an Act was passed in the fifty-ninth year of
George III, which enabled parishes to lease or buy 20 acres of land
for the employment of their poor.

In many cases, it must be allowed, the grazing of the commons was
often worth very little. Let one man, it was said in 1795, put a cow
on a common in spring for nothing, and let another pay a farmer 1s.
6d. a week to keep a cow of equal value on enclosed land. When both
are driven to market at Michaelmas the extra weight of the latter will
more than repay the cost of the keep, while her flow of milk meanwhile
has been much superior.

The Committee on Waste Lands of 1795 attributed the great increase in
the weight of cattle not only to the improved methods of breeding, but
to their being fed on good enclosed lands instead of wastes and
commons.[573] Even when commons were stinted they were in general
overstocked, while disease was always being spread with enormous loss
to the commoners. The larger holders, too, who had common rights,
often crowded out the smaller.

There were often, as we have seen, a large number of 'squatters' on
commons who had seized and occupied land without any legal title. As a
rule, if these people had been in possession twenty-one years their
title was respected; if not, no regard was very justly paid to them on
enclosure, and they were deprived of what they had seized.

Eden wrote when enclosure was at its height; he was a competent and
accurate observer, and this is his picture of the 'commoner':[574]
'The advantages which cottagers and poor people derive from commons
and wastes are rather apparent than real; instead of sticking
regularly to labour they waste their time in picking up a few dry
sticks or in grubbing on some bleak moor. Their starved pig or two,
together with a few wandering goslings, besides involving them in
perpetual altercations with their neighbours, are dearly paid for in
care, time, and bought food. There are thousands and thousands of
acres in the kingdom, now the sorry pastures of geese, hogs, asses,
half-grown horses, and half-starved cattle, which want but to be
enclosed to be as rich as any land now in tillage.'

Enclosure worked an important social revolution. Before it the
entirely landless labourer was rare: he nearly always had some holding
in the common field or a right on the common pasture. With enclosure
his holding or right had generally disappeared, and he deteriorated
socially. It was very unfortunate, too, that when enclosure was most
active domestic industries, such as weaving, decayed, and deprived the
labourer and his family of a badly needed addition to his scanty

In its physical and moral effects the system of domestic manufactures
was immensely preferable to that of the crowded factory, while
economically it enabled the tillers of the soil to exist on farms
which could not support them by agriculture alone.

This uprooting of a great part of the agricultural population from the
soil by irresistible economic causes brought with it grave moral
evils, and created divisions and antagonisms of interest from which we
are suffering to-day.[575] If some such scheme as that of Arthur Young
or Lord Winchelsea had been universally adopted, this blot on an
inevitable movement might have been removed, and a healthy rural
population planted on English soil. Another result followed, the
labourer no longer boarded as a rule in his employer's house, where
the farmer worked and lived with his men; the tie of mutual interest
was loosened, and he worked for this or that master indifferently. One
advantage, however, arose, in that, having to find a home of his own,
he married early, but this was vitiated by his knowledge that the
parish would support his children, on which knowledge he was induced
to rely.

On the other hand, the farmer often rose in the social scale. With
the abandonment of the handicaps and restrictions of the common-field
system the efficient came more speedily to the front. It was they who
had amassed capital, and capital was now needed more than ever, so
they added field to field, and consolidated holdings.

The Act of 1845 did away with the necessity for private Enclosure
Acts, still further reducing the expense; and since that date there
have been 80,000 or 90,000 acres of common arable fields and meadows
enclosed without parliamentary sanction, and 139,517 acres of the same
have been enclosed with it,[576] besides many acres of commons and

In the _Report of the Committee of Enclosures_ of 1844,[577] there is
a curious description of the way in which common fields were sometimes
allotted. There were in some open fields, lands called 'panes',
containing forty or sixty different lands, and on a certain day the
best man of the parish appeared to take possession of any lot he
thought fit. If his right was called in question there was a fight for
it, and the survivor took the first lot, and so they went on through
the parish. There was also the old 'lot meadow' in which the owners
drew lots for choice of portions. On some of the grazing lands the
right of grazing sheep belonged to a man called a 'flockmaster', who
during certain months of the year had the exclusive right of turning
his sheep on all the lands of the parish.

Closely connected with the subject of enclosure is that of the partial
disappearance of the small owner, both the yeoman who farmed his own
little estate and the peasant proprietor. We have noticed above[578]
Gregory King's statement as to the number of small freeholders in
England in 1688, no less than 160,000, or with their families about
one-seventh of the population of the country. This date, that of the
Revolution, marks an epoch in their history, for from that time they
began to diminish in proportion to the population. Their number in
1688 is a sufficient answer to the exaggerated statement of
contemporaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as to the
depopulation caused by enclosures. Chamberlayne, in his _State of
Great Britain_, published at about the same time as Gregory King's
figures, says there were more freeholders in England than in any
country of like extent in Europe: '£40 or £50 a year is very ordinary,
£100 or £200 in some counties is not rare, sometimes in Kent and in
the Weald of Sussex £500 or £600 per annum, and £3,000 or £4,000 of
stock.' In the first quarter of the eighteenth century he was a
prominent figure. Defoe[579] describes the number and prosperity of
the Greycoats of Kent (as they were called from their homespun
garments), 'whose interest is so considerable that whoever they vote
for is always sure to carry it.'

Why has this sturdy class so dwindled in numbers, and left England
infinitely the weaker for their decrease? The causes are several;
social, economic, and political. The chief, perhaps, is the peculiar
form of Government which came in with the Revolution. The landed
gentry by that event became supreme, the national and local
administration was entirely in their hands, and land being the
foundation of social and political influence was eagerly sought by
them where it was not already in their hands.[580] At the same time
the successful business men, whose numbers now increased rapidly from
the development of trade, bought land to 'make themselves gentlemen'.
Both these classes bought out the yeomen, who do not seem to have been
very loath to part with their land. The recently devised system of
strict family settlements enabled the old and the new gentlemen to
keep this land in their families. The complicated title to land made
its transfer difficult and costly, so that there was little breaking
up of estates to correspond with the constant buying up of small
owners. To the smaller freeholder, as has been noticed, the enclosure
of waste land did much harm, for it was necessary to his holding.
Again, smaller arable farms did not pay as well as large ones, so they
tended to disappear. The decay of home industries was also a heavy
blow to the smaller yeoman and the peasant proprietor.

Under this combination of circumstances many of the yeomen left the
land. Yet though Young, less than a century after King and Davenant,
said that the small freeholder had practically disappeared, there were
at the end of the eighteenth century many left all over England, who
however largely disappeared during the war and in the bad times after
the war.[581] But a contrary tendency was at work which helped to
replenish the class. The desire of the Englishman for land is not
confined to the wealthy classes. At the end of the eighteenth century
men who had made small fortunes in trade were buying small properties
and taking the place of the yeomen.[582] In the great French War of
1793-1815, many yeomen, attracted by the high prices of land, sold
their properties, but at the same time many farmers, attracted by the
high prices of produce, which had often enriched them, bought
land.[583] During the 'good times' of 1853-75 many small holders, like
those of Axholme, noticed in the _Report_ of the Agricultural
Commission of 1893, bought land.

A new class of small owners also has sprung up, who, dwelling in or
near towns and railway stations, have bought small freeholds. The
return of the owners of land of 1872-6 gave the following numbers of
those owning land in England and Wales[584]:

  Total number of owners of:               Number.    Acreage.

                 less than one acre        703,289    151,171
                 1 acre and under 10       121,983    478,679
                10       "        50        72,640  1,750,079
                50       "       100        25,839  1,791,605
               100       "       500        32,317  6,827,346

The great majority of the first class here enumerated, those owning
less than one acre, do not concern us, as they were evidently merely
houses and gardens not of an agricultural character, but a large
number of the second class and most of the other three must have been
agricultural, though unfortunately no distinction is made. It will be
seen, therefore, that there were a considerable number of small
owners in England in 1872, and their numbers have probably increased
since. Many of them, however, are of the new class mentioned above,
and there appears to be no doubt that the number of the peasant
proprietors and of the yeomen of the old sort has much diminished,
especially in proportion to the growth of population.


[562] Cf. supra, p. 163.

[563] R. Marshall, _Rural Economy of Yorkshire_, p. 17 et seq.

[564] Slater, _English Peasantry and Enclosure_, p. 7.

[565] It was stated in the _Report of the Committee on Enclosures_
(1844), p. 31, that the ordinary expense of obtaining an Enclosure Act
was from £1,000 to £1,500. In 1814 the enclosure of three farms,
amounting to 570 acres, including subdivision fences and money paid to
a tenant for relinquishing his agreement, cost the landlord nearly
£4,000.--_Agricultural State of the Kingdom_ (1816), p. 116.

[566] _Enquiry into the Propriety of Supplying Wastes to the better
Support of the Poor_, p. 42.

[567] The usual clause in Enclosure Acts stated that the land should
be 'allotted according to the several and respective rights of _all_
who had rights and interests' in the enclosed property, and expenses
were to be borne 'in proportion to the respective shares of the people

[568] pp. 8 et seq. Slater, _op. cit._ p. 113.

[569] Cf. Marshall's account of the common-field townships in
Hampshire at the end of the eighteenth century. Each occupier of land
in the common fields contributed to the town flock a number of sheep
in proportion to his holding, which were placed under a shepherd who
fed them and folded them on all parts of the township. A similar
practice was observed with the common herd of cows, which were placed
under one cowherd who tended them by day and brought them back at
night to be milked, distributing them among their respective owners,
and in the morning they were collected by the sound of the
horn.--_Rural Economy of Southern Counties_, ii. 351.

[570] _Report of Committee on Waste Lands_ (1795), p. 204. Ground was
frequently left by the Acts for the erection of cottages for the poor,
and special allotments were made to Guardians for the use of the poor,
in addition to the land allotted to all according to their respective
claims. Can any one doubt that if there had been a systematic robbery
of the smaller holders on enclosure they would not have risen 'en

[571] Slater, _op. cit._ p. 133.

[572] _Agricultural State of the Kingdom_ (1816), p. 8.

[573] _Report_, p. 204.

[574] _State of the Poor_, pp. i, xviii.

[575] Lecky, _England in the Eighteenth Century_, vi. 191.

[576] Slater, _op. cit._ p. 191.

[577] _Report_, p. 27.

[578] _See_ above. Another estimate puts them at 180,000.

[579] _Tour_, i. (2), 37, 38.

[580] Toynbee, _Industrial Revolution_, p. 62.

[581] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 71.

[582] Marshall, _Review of Agriculture, Reports Western Department_,
p. 18.

[583] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. 32.

[584] _Parliamentary Accounts and Papers_, lxxx. 21. The number of
those owning over 500 acres does not concern the small owner or the
yeoman class, but they were: from 500 acres to 1,000, 4,799; from
1,000 to 2,000, 2,719; from 2,000 to 5,000, 1,815; from 5,000 to
10,000, 581; from 10,000 to 20,000, 223; from 20,000 to 50,000, 66;
from 50,000 to 100,000, 3; over 100,000, 1. For the numbers of the
'holdings' of various sizes in 1875 and 1907 see below, p. 334. The
term 'holdings', however, includes freeholds and leaseholds.




The summer of 1816 was wretched; the distress, aggravated by the bad
season, caused riots everywhere. At Bideford the mob interfered to
prevent the export of a cargo of potatoes; at Bridport they broke
into the bakers' shops. Incendiary fires broke out night after night
in the eastern counties. At Swanage six people out of seven were
paupers, and in one parish in Cambridgeshire every person but one was
a pauper or a bankrupt.[585] Corn rose again: by June, 1817, it was 117s.,
but fell to 77s. in September.

In 1818 occurred a drought of four months, lasting from May till
September, and great preparations were made to ward off the expected
famine; immense quantities of wheat came from the Baltic, of maize
from America, and beans and maize from Italy and Egypt, with hay from
New York, as it was selling at £10 a ton. However, rain fell in
September, brown fields suddenly became green, turnips sprang up
where none had appeared, and even spring corn that had lain in the
parched ground began to grow, so the fear of scarcity passed.

In 1822 came a good season, which produced a great crop of wheat; in
the lifetime of the existing generation old men declared that such a
harvest had been known only once before; imports also came from
Ireland to the amount of nearly a million quarters, so that the price
at the end of the year was 38s., and the average price for the year
was 44s. 7d. Beef went down to 2s. 5d. a stone and mutton to 2s. 2d.
The cry of agricultural distress again rose loudly. Farmers were
still, though some of the war taxes had been remitted, heavily taxed;
for the taxes on malt, soap, salt, candles, leather, all pressed
heavily.[586] The chief cause of the distress was the long-felt
reaction after the war, but it was aggravated by the return to cash
payments in 1819. Gold had fallen to its real value, and the fall in
gold had been followed by a fall in the prices of every other
article.[587] The produce of many thousand acres in England did not
sell that year for as much money as was expended in growing it,
without reckoning rent, taxes, and interest on capital.[588] Estates
worth £3,000 a year, says the same writer, some years since, were now
worth £1,000. Bacon had gone down from 6s. 6d. to 2s. 4d. a stone;
Southdown ewes from 50s. to 15s., and lambs from 42s. to 5s.

A Dorset farmer told the Parliamentary committee that since 1815 he
knew of fifty farmers, farming 24,000 acres, who had failed

In the _Tyne Mercury_ of October 30, 1821, it was recorded that Mr.
Thos. Cooper of Bow purchased 3 milch cows and 40 sheep for £18 16s.
6d. which sum four years previously would only have bought their
skins. Prime beef was sold in Salisbury market at 4d. retail, and good
joints of mutton at 3-1/2d.[590] Everywhere the farmers were
complaining bitterly, but 'hanging on like sailors to the masts or
hull of a wreck'. In Sussex labourers were being employed to dig holes
and fill them in again, proof enough of distress but also of great
folly. Many thousands of acres were now a mass of thistles and weeds,
once fair grass land ploughed up during the war for wheat, and
abandoned at the fall of prices. There were no less than 475 petitions
on agricultural distress presented to the House from 1820 to March 31,
1822. In 1822, it was proposed that the Government should purchase
wheat grown in England to the value of one million sterling and store
it; also that when the average price of wheat was under 60s. the
Government should advance money on such corn grown in the United
Kingdom as should be deposited in certain warehouses, to an extent not
exceeding two-thirds the value of the corn.[591] There were not
wanting men, however, who put the other side of the question. In a
tract called _The Refutation of the Arguments used on the Subject of
the Agricultural Petition_, written in 1819, it was said that the
increase in the farmer's expenditure was the cause of his discontent.
'He now assumes the manners and demands the equipage of a gentleman,
keeps a table like his landlord, anticipates seasons in their
productions, is as choice in his wines, his horses, and his
furniture.' Let him be more thrifty. 'Let him dismiss his steward, a
character a few years back only known to the great landowner, and
cease from degrading the British farmer into a synonym for
prodigality.' Lord Liverpool, in the House of Lords, in a speech which
roused great opposition among agriculturists, minimized the distress;
distress there was, he admitted, but it was not confined to England,
it was world-wide; neither was it produced by excessive taxation, for
since 1815 taxation had been reduced 25 per cent., while though rents
and prices had fallen they were much higher than before the war.
Another writer said at the time, 'Individuals of all classes have of
late been as it were inflated above their natural size: let this
unnatural growth be reduced; let them resume their proper places and
appearances, and the quantum of substantial enjoyment, real comfort
and happiness, will not be found lessened.' It was also asserted that
the taxes on malt, leather, soap, salt, and candles, were not very

The persistent cries of distress produced a Bill giving still further
protection to corn-growers, which was fortunately not carried into
effect. There was no doubt, however, about the reality of the crisis
through which the landed classes were passing. Many of the landowners
were heavily in debt. Mortgages had been multiplied during the war,
and while prices were high payment of interest was easy; but when
prices fell and the tenant threw up his farm, the landlord could not
throw over the mortgage, and the interest hung like a dead weight
round his neck.[592]

The price to which wheat fell at the end of 1822 was to be the lowest
for some years; it soon recovered, and until 1834 the average annual
prices ranged from 53s. to 68s. 6d., while in 1825 beef at Smithfield
was 5s. and mutton 5s. 4d. a stone.

In 1823 there was a marked improvement, and the king's speech
congratulated the country on 'the gradual abatement of those
difficulties under which agriculture has so long suffered.'[593] In
1824 'agriculture was recovering from the depression under which it
laboured.'[594] In 1825 it was said, 'there never was a period in the
history of this country when all the great interests of the nation
were in so thriving a condition.'[595] In that year over-speculation
produced a panic and agricultural distress was again evident. In 1826
Cobbett said, 'the present stock of the farms is not in one-half the
cases the property of the farmer, it is borrowed stock.'[596] In 1828
all the farmers in Kent were said to be insolvent.[597]

At the meeting of Parliament in 1830 the king lamented the state of
affairs, and ascribed it to unfavourable seasons and other causes
beyond the reach of legislative remedy. Many had learnt that high
protection was no protection for farmers, and it was stated more than
once that the large foreign supply of grain, though only then about
one-third of the home-grown, depressed our markets. At the same time,
it must be admitted that agriculture, like all other industries, was
suffering from the crisis of 1825. In 1830, the country was filled
with unrest, in which the farm labourer shared. His motives, however,
were hardly political. He had a rooted belief that machinery was
injuring him, the threshing machine especially; and he avenged himself
by burning the ricks of obnoxious farmers. Letters were sent to
employers demanding higher wages and the disuse of machines, and
notices signed 'Swing' were affixed to gates and buildings. Night
after night incendiary fires broke out, and emboldened by impunity the
rioters proceeded to pillage by day. In Hampshire they moved in bodies
1,500 strong. A special Commission was appointed, and the disorders
put down at last with a firm hand. In 1828 there had been a relaxation
in the duties on corn, the object of the Act passed in that year being
to secure the farmer a constant price of 8s. a bushel instead of 10s.
as in 1815, and by a sliding scale to prevent the disastrous
fluctuations in prices. The best proof of its failure is afforded by
the appointment of another parliamentary committee in 1833 to inquire
into the distressed state of agriculture. At this inquiry many
witnesses asserted that the cultivation of inferior soils and heavy
clays had diminished from one-fourth to one-fifth.[598] It was also
asserted that farmers were paying rent out of capital.[599] Tooke,
however, thought there was much exaggeration of the distress, which
was proved by the way the farmers weathered the low prices of 1835,
when wheat, after a succession of four remarkably good seasons,
averaged 39s. 4d. for the year. In these abundant years, too, he
asserts that the home supply was equal to the demand,[600] though the
committee of 1833 had stated that this had ceased to be the
case.[601] Another committee, the last for many years, sat in 1835 to
consider the distress; but although prices were low the whole tenor of
the evidence established the improvement of farming, the extension of
cultivation, and the increase of produce, and it was noticed at this
time that towns dependent on agriculture were uniformly

On the whole, in spite of exaggeration from interested motives, the
distress for the twenty years after the battle of Waterloo was real
and deep; twenty years of depression succeeded the same period of
false exaltation. The progress, too, during that time was real, and
made, as was remarked, _because_ of adversity. From this time
agriculture slowly revived.

On one point both of the two last committees were agreed, that the
condition of the labourer was improved, and they said he was better
off than at any former period, for his wages remained the same, while
prices of necessaries had fallen. That his wages went further is true,
but they were still miserably low, and he was often housed worse than
the animals on the farm. 'Wattle and dab' (or mud and straw) formed
the walls of his cottage, the floors were often of mud, and all ages
and both sexes frequently slept in one room. A block of ten cottages
were put up in the parish of Holmer[603] at the commencement of the
nineteenth century, which were said to have combined 'comfort,
convenience, and economy;' they each contained one room 12 feet by 14
feet and 6 feet high with a bedroom over, and cost £32 10s. each. They
were evidently considered quite superior dwellings, far better than
the ordinary run of labourer's cottages. Cobbett gives us a picture of
some in Leicestershire in 1826; 'hovels made of mud and straw, bits of
glass, or of old cast-off windows, without frames or hinges
frequently, and merely stuck in the mud wall. Enter them and look at
the bits of chairs or stools, the wretched boards tacked together to
serve for a table, the floor of pebble, broken brick, or of the bare
ground; look at the thing called a bed, and survey the rags on the
backs of the wretched inhabitants.'[604] The chief exceptions to this
state of affairs were the estates of many of the great landlords. On
that of the Earl of Winchelsea in Rutland, the cottages he had built
contained a kitchen, parlour, dairy, two bedrooms, and a cow-house,
and several had small holdings attached of from 5 to 20 acres.[605]
Not long before, wages in Hampshire and Wiltshire were 5s. and 6s. a

In 1822 it was stated that 'beef and mutton are things the taste of
which was unknown to the mass of labourers. No one has lived more in
cottages than I, and I declare solemnly I never remember once to have
seen such a thing.'[607] A group of women labourers, whom Cobbett saw
by the roadside in Hampshire, presented 'such an assemblage of rags as
I never saw before even amongst the hoppers at Farnham.'[608]

The labourer's wages may have gone a little further, but he had lost
his by-industries, his bit of land and rights of common, and would
have had a very different tale to tell from that of the framers of the
reports above quoted.

In spite of the complaints made that the improvements of the coaches
and of the roads drew the countryman to the towns, many stirred hardly
at all from their native parish, and their lives were now infinitely
duller than in the Middle Ages. The great event of the year was the
harvest home, which was usually a scene of great merry-making. In
Devonshire, when a farmer's wheat was ripe he sent round notice to the
neighbourhood, and men and women from all sides came to reap the crop.
As early as eleven or twelve, so much ale and cider had been drunk
that the shouts and ribald jokes of the company were heard to a
considerable distance, attracting more helpers, who came from far and
near, but none were allowed to come after 12 o'clock. Between 12 and 1
came dinner, with copious libations of ale and cider, which lasted
till 2, when reaping was resumed and went on without interruption
except from the squabbles of the company till 5, when what were called
'drinkings', or more food and drink, were taken into the field and
consumed. After this the corn reaped was bound into sheaves till
evening, when after the sport of throwing their reaping hooks at a
sheaf which had been set up as a mark for a prize, all proceeded to
supper and more ale and cider till the small hours.[609]

No wages were paid at these harvestings, but the unlimited amount of
eating and drinking was very expensive, and about this date the
practice of using hired labour had largely superseded this old custom.

The close of this period was marked by two Acts of great benefit to
farmers: the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 (4 & 5 Wm. IV, c. 76),
which reduced the rates,[610] and marked 'the beginning of a period
of slow recovery in the labourer's standard of life, moral and
material, though at first it brought him not a little adversity'[611];
and the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 (6 & 7 Wm. IV, c. 71), which
substituted for the tithe paid in kind or the fluctuating commuted
tithe, a tithe rent charge equivalent to the market value, on a
septennial average, of the exact quantities of wheat, barley, and
oats, which made up the legal tithes by the estimate in 1836. Thus was
removed a perpetual source of dispute and antagonism between
tithe-payer and tithe-owner. The system hitherto pursued, moreover,
was wasteful. In exceptionally favourable circumstances the clergy did
not receive more than two-thirds of the value of the tithe in kind.
The delays were a frequent source of loss. In rainy weather, when the
farmer desired to get his crops in quickly, he was obliged to shock
his crops, give the tithe-owners notice to set out their tithes, and
wait for their arrival; in the meantime the crop, perhaps, being badly


[585] Walpole, _History of England_, i. 161.

[586] _Inquiry into Agricultural Distress_ (1822), p. 40.

[587] Walpole, _op. cit._ ii. 22.

[588] _A Letter to the Earl of Liverpool by an Old Tory_, 1822. The
Committee on Agricultural Distress found that farmers were paying rent
out of capital (_Parliamentary Reports. Committees_, v. 71), and that
leases fixed on the basis of the high prices of the war meant ruin to
the farmer if held to his engagement.

[589] _Parliamentary Reports, Committees_, ix. 138.

[590] Cobbett, _Rural Rides_ (ed. 1885), i. 3, 16.

[591] _Report of the Committee on Agricultural Depression_ (1822), pp.
3, 4.

[592] Walpole, _History of England_, ii. 23.

[593] _Hansard_, ix. 1544.

[594] Ibid. x. 1, 2.

[595] Ibid. xii. 1.

[596] _Rural Rides_, ii. 199.

[597] Walpole, _History of England_, ii. 526. The distress was
aggravated by rot among sheep, which is said to have destroyed
one-fourth of those in the kingdom. See _Parliamentary Reports,
Commissioners_ (1836), viii (2), p. 198.

[598] Tooke, _History of Prices_, ii. 227.

[599] _Report_ of 1833, p. 6.

[600] Tooke, _History of Prices_, ii, 238.

[601] Imports fell considerably at this date; they were:

     1832   1,254,351 quarters.
     1833   1,166,457    "
     1834     981,486    "
     1835     750,808    "
     1836     861,156    "
     1837   1,109,492    "
     1838   1,923,400    "

There were also considerable exports:

     1832     289,558 quarters.
     1833      96,212    "
     1834     159,482    "
     1835     134,076    "
     1836     256,978    "
     1837     308,420    "
     1838     158,621    "

McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_ (1847), p. 438.

[602] Porter, _Progress of the Nation_, p. 151.

[603] See Duncumb, _General View of Herefordshire_, (1805).

[604] Rural Rides, ii. 348.

[605] London, _Encyclopaedia of Agriculture_ (1831), p. 1156.

[606] Cobbett, _Rural Rides_, i. 149. The average, however, now was
about 9s.; see _Parliamentary Reports_, v. 72.

[607] _A Letter to the Earl of Liverpool by an Old Tory_ (1822), p.

[608] _Rural Rides_, i. 18.

[609] Moore, _History of Devonshire_, i. 430.

[610] By this Act and the various amending Acts the law of settlement,
so long a burden on the labourer, is now settled thus: a settlement
may be acquired by birth, parentage, marriage, renting a tenement, by
being bound apprentice and inhabiting, by estate, payment of taxes,
and by residence.--Stephen, _Commentaries on the Laws of England_
(1903), iii. 87.

[611] Hasbach, _op. cit._ p. 217.

[612] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1901), p. 9.




The revival of agriculture roughly coincided with the accession of
Queen Victoria.

It was proved that Scotch farmers who had farmed highly had weathered
the storm. Instead of repeatedly calling on Parliament to help them
they had helped themselves, by spending large sums in draining and
manuring the land; they had adopted the subsoil plough, and the
drainage system of Smith of Deanston, used machinery to economize
labour, and improved the breed of stock. This was an object-lesson
for the English farmer, and he began to profit by it. It was high
time that he did. In spite of the undoubted progress made, farming
was still often terribly backward. Little or no machinery was used,
implements were often bad, teams too large, drilling little
practised, drainage utterly inefficient; in fact, while one farmer
used all the improvements made, a hundred had little to do with them.
But better times were at hand.

About 1835 Elkington's system of drainage, which among the more
advanced agriculturists, at any rate, had been used for half a
century, was superseded by that of James Smith of Deanston, a system
of thorough drainage and deep ploughing, which effected a complete
revolution in the art of draining, and holds the field to-day.
Hitherto the draining of land had been done by a few drains where they
were thought necessary, which was often a failure. Smith initiated a
complete system of parallel underground drains, near enough to each,
other to catch all the superfluous water, running into a main drain
which ran along the lowest part of the ground. His system has also
been called 'furrow or frequent draining', as the drains were
generally laid in the furrows from two to two-and-a-half feet deep at
short intervals. Even then the tributary drains were at first filled
in with stones 12 inches deep, as they had been for centuries, and
sometimes with thorns, or even turves, as tiles were still expensive;
and the main was made of stonework. However, the invention of machines
for making tiles cheapened them, and the substitution of cylindrical
pipes for horse-shoe tiles laid on flat soles still further lowered
the cost and increased the efficiency.[613] In 1848, Peel introduced
Government Drainage Loans, repayable by twenty-two instalments of 6
1/2 per cent. This was consequently an era of extensive drainage works
all over England, which sorely needed it; but even now the work was
often badly done. In some cases it was the custom for the tenant to
put in as many tiles as his landlord gave him, and they were often
merely buried. At Stratfieldsaye, for instance, where the Iron Duke
was a generous and capable landlord, the drains were sometimes a foot
deep, while others were 6 feet deep and 60 feet apart,[614] although
the soil required nothing of the kind.

Vast sums were also spent on farm-buildings, still often old and
rickety, with deficient and insanitary accommodation; in Devonshire
the farmer was bound by his lease to repair 'old mud and wooden
houses', at a cost of 10 per cent. on his rent, and there were many
such all over England. Farm-buildings were often at the extreme end
of the holding, the cattle were crowded together in draughty sheds,
and the farmyard was generally a mass of filth and spoiling manure,
spoiling because all the liquid was draining away from it into the
pool where the live stock drank; a picture, alas, often true to-day.
It was to bring the great mass of landlords and farmers into line with
those who had made the most of what progress there had been, that the
Royal Society was founded in 1838, in imitation of the Highland
Society, but also owing to the realization of the great benefits
conferred on farming during the last half-century by the exertions of
Agricultural Societies, the Smithfield Club Shows having especially
aided the breeding of live stock.

Writing on the subject of the Society, Mr. Handley[615] spoke of the
wretched modes of farming still to be seen in the country, especially
in the case of arable land, though there had been a marked improvement
in the breeding of stock. Prejudice, as ever, was rampant. Bone
manure, though in the previous twenty years it had worked wonders, was
in many parts unused. It was felt that what the English farmer needed
was 'practice with science'. The first President of the Society was
Earl Spencer, and it at once set vigorously to work, recommending
prizes for essays on twenty-four subjects, some of which are in the
first volume of the Society's Journal. Prizes were also offered for
the best draining-plough, the best implement for crushing gorse, for a
ploughing match to be held at the first country meeting of the Society
fixed at Oxford in 1839, for the best cultivated farm in Oxfordshire
and the adjacent counties, and for the invention of any new
agricultural implement.

In 1840 the Society was granted a charter under the title of the Royal
Agricultural Society of England, and its career since then has been
one of continued usefulness, and forms a prominent feature in the
agricultural history of the times.

In 1839[616] the first country meeting of the Society was held at
Oxford, and its 247 entries of live stock and 54 of implements were
described as constituting a show of unprecedented magnitude. According
to _Bell's Weekly Messenger_ for July 22, 1839, the show for some time
had been the all-absorbing topic of conversation not only among
agriculturists, but among the community at large, and the first day
20,000 people attended the show, many having come great distances by
road. Everybody and every exhibit had to get to Oxford by road; some
Shorthorn cattle, belonging to the famous Thomas Bates of
Kirkleavington, took nearly three weeks on the road, coming from
London to Aylesbury by canal. But such a journey was not unusual then,
for cattle were often two or three weeks on the road to great fairs,
and stood the journey best on hay; it was surprising how fresh and
sound they finished.[617] The show ground covered 7 acres, and among
the implements tested was a subsoil plough, Biddell's Scarifier, and a
drill for depositing manure after turnips. There were only six classes
for cattle--Shorthorns, Herefords, Devons, Cattle of any other breed,
Dairy Cattle, and Oxen; one class for horses, and three for
sheep--Leicesters, Southdown or other Short Wool, and Long Woolled;
with one for pigs.[618] The Shorthorns, with the exception of the
Kirkleavingtons, were bred in the neighbourhood, and many good judges
said long afterwards that a finer lot had not been seen since. The
Duchesses especially impressed all who saw them. The rest of the live
stock was in no way remarkable.

From this small beginning, then thought so much of, the show grew
fast, and the Warwick meeting[619] of 1892, after several years of
agricultural depression, illustrates the excellent work of the Society
and the enormous progress made by English agriculture. The show ground
covered 90 acres; horses were now divided into Thoroughbred Stallions,
Hunters, Coach Horses, Hackneys, Ponies, Harness Horses and Ponies,
Shires, Clydesdales, Suffolks, and Agricultural Horses. Cattle were
classified as Shorthorns, Herefords, Devons, Sussex, Longhorns
(described as few in number and of no particular quality, 'a breed
which has now been many years on the wane', but has recently been
revived),[620] Welsh, Red Polled, Jerseys, Guernseys, Kerry and

The increased variety of sheep was also striking; Leicesters,
Cotswolds, Lincolns, Oxford Downs, Shropshires, Southdowns, Hampshire
Downs, Suffolks, Border Leicesters, Clun Forest, and Welsh Mountain.

Pigs were divided into Large, Middle, and Small white Berkshires, any
other black breed, and Tamworths.

Altogether the total number of stock exhibited was 1,858, and the
number of implements was 5,430.

In 1840 appeared Liebig's _Chemistry in its Application to Agriculture
and Physiology_, tracing the relations between the nutrition of plants
and the composition of the soil, a book which was received with
enthusiasm, and completely changed the attitude which agriculturists
generally had maintained towards chemistry; one of contempt, founded
on ignorance.

But, as Mr. Prothero has said,[621] 'if the new agriculture was born
in the laboratory of Glissen, it grew into strength at the
experimental station of Rothamsted.' There, for more than half a
century, Lawes and Gilbert conducted experiments, of vast benefit to
agriculture, in the objects, method, and effect of manuring; the
scientific bases for the rotation of crops, and the results of various
foods on animals in the production of meat, milk, and manure.

The use of artificial manures now spread rapidly; bones, used long
before uncrushed, are said to have been first crushed in 1772, and
their value was realized by Coke of Holkham, but for long they were
crushed by hammer or horse mill, and their use was consequently
limited. Then iron rollers worked by steam ground them cheaply and
effectively, and their use soon spread, though it was not till about
1840 that it can be said to have become general. Its effects were
often described as wonderful. In Cheshire, cheese-making had
exhausted the soil, and it was said that by boning and draining an
additional cow could be kept for every 4 acres, and tenants readily
paid 7 per cent. to their landlords for expenditure in bone manure.
Its use had indeed raised many struggling farmers to comparative
independence.[622] A very large quantity of the bones used came from
South America.[623] Porter also noticed that 'since 1840 an extensive
trade has been carried on in an article called Guano', the guana of
Davy, 'from the islands of the Pacific and off the coast of Africa'.
Nitrate of soda was just coming in, but was not much used till some
years later. In 1840 Liebig suggested the treatment of bones with
sulphuric acid, and in 1843 Lawes patented the process and set up his
works at Deptford.[624]

Italian rye grass, not to be confounded with the old English ray
grass, had been introduced by Thomson of Banchory, in 1834, from
Munich;[625] and though the swede was known at the end of the
eighteenth century, in many parts it had only just become common. In
Notts it was in 1844 described as having recently become 'the
sheet-anchor of the farmer'.[626] In Cheshire a writer at the same
date said, 'in the year 1814 there were not 5 acres of Swedish turnips
grown in the parish where I reside; now there are from 60 to 80, and
in many parts of the county the increase has been in a much greater

About this time a remedy was found in the south for leaving the land
idle during the nine months between harvesting the corn crop in
August, and sowing the turnip crop in the following June, by sowing
rye, which was eaten green by the sheep in May, a good preparation for
the succeeding winter crop. Turnip cutters were at last being used,
and corn and cake crushers soon followed.

The seasons from 1838 to 1841 were bad, and must be characterized as
a period of dearth, wheat keeping at a good price.[628] That of 1844-5
was remarkable for the first general appearance of the potato disease,
not only in these islands but on the continent of Europe.[629] In
August, 1846, the worst apprehensions of the failure of the crop were
more than realized, and the terrible results in Ireland are well
known. In the early part of 1847 there was a fear of scarcity in corn,
and the price of wheat rose to 102s. 5d. in spite of an importation of
4,500,000 quarters, but this was largely owing to the absence of any
reliable agricultural statistics, which were not furnished till 1866,
and the price soon fell.[630]

We have now reached the period of free trade, when the Corn Laws,
which had protected agriculture more or less effectually for so long,
were definitely abandoned. That they had failed to prevent great
fluctuations in the price of corn is abundantly evident, it is also
equally evident that they kept up the average price; in the ten years
from 1837 to 1846, the average price of wheat was 58s. 7d. a quarter,
in the seven years from 1848 to 1853, the average price was 48s.

The average imports of wheat and flour for the same period were
2,161,813 and 4,401,000 quarters respectively. But to obtain the real
effect of free trade on prices, the prices for the period between 1815
and 1846 must be compared with those between 1846 and the present day,
when the fall is enormous.

The Act of 1815, which Tooke said had failed to secure any one of the
objects aimed at by its promoters, had received two important
alterations. In 1828 (9 Geo. IV, c. 60) a duty of 36s. 8d. was imposed
when the price was 50s., decreasing to 1s. when it was 73s.

In 1843 (5 Vict. c. 14) a duty of 20s. was imposed when the price was
50s., and the duty became 7s. when the price reached 65s.

A contemporary writer denies that these duties benefited the farmer at
all: 'if the present shifting scale of duty was intended to protect
the farmer, keep the prices of corn steady, insure a supply to the
consumer at a moderate price, and benefit the revenue, it has signally
failed. During the continuation of the Corn Laws the farmers have
suffered the greatest privations. The variations in price have been
extreme, and when a supply of foreign corn has been required it has
only reached the consumer at a high price, and benefited the revenue
little.'[632] Rents of farms were often calculated not on the market
price of wheat, but on the price thought to be fixed by the duties,
which was occasionally much higher.[633]

It was also said that but for the restrictions that had been imposed
in the supposed interests of agriculture, the skill and enterprise of
farmers would have been better directed than it had been. By means of
these restrictions and the consequent enhancement of the cost of
living, the cultivation of the land had been injuriously restricted,
for the energies of farmers had been limited to producing certain
descriptions of food, and they had neglected others which would have
been far[634] more profitable. The landlord had profited by higher
rents, but, according to Caird, a most competent observer, had
generally speaking been induced by a reliance on protection to neglect
his duty to his estates, so that buildings were poor, and drainage
neglected. The labourer was little if any better off than eighty years
before. It was a mystery even to farmers how they lived in many parts
of the country; 'our common drink,' said one, 'is burnt crust tea, we
never know what it is to get enough to eat.'[635] Against these
disadvantages can only be put the fact that protection had kept up the
price of corn, a calamity for the mass of the people.

The amount of wheat imported into England before the era of Corn Law
repeal was inconsiderable. Mr. Porter has shown[636] how very small a
proportion of wheat used in this country was imported from 1801-44.
From 1801 to 1810 the average annual import of wheat into the kingdom
was 600,946 quarters, or a little over a peck annually per head, the
average annual consumption per head being about eight bushels. Between
1811 and 1820 the average importation was 458,578 quarters, or for the
increased population a gallon-and-a-half per head, and the same share
for each person was imported in the next decade 1821-30. From 1831-40
the average imports arose to 607,638 quarters, or two-and-a-quarter
gallons per head, and in 1841-4 an average import of 1,901,495
quarters raised the average supply to four-and-a-half gallons per
person, still a very small proportion of the amount consumed.

In 1836 a small association had been formed in London for advocating
the repeal of the Corn Laws, and in 1838 a similar association was
formed in Manchester.[637] At one of its earliest meetings appeared
Richard Cobden, under whose guidance the association became the
Anti-Corn Law League, and at whose invitation John Bright joined the
League. Under these two men the Anti-Corn Law League commenced its
great agitation, its object being 'to convince the manufacturer that
the Corn Laws were interfering with the growth of trade, to persuade
the people that they were raising the price of food, to teach the
agriculturist that they had not even the solitary merit of securing a
fixed price for corn'. The country was deluged with pamphlets, backed
up by constant public meetings; and these efforts, aided by
unfavourable seasons, convinced many of the errors of protection. In
1840 the League spent £5,700 in distributing 160,000 circulars and
150,000 pamphlets, and in delivering 400 lectures to 800,000 people.
Bakers were persuaded to bake taxed and untaxed shilling loaves, and,
on the purchaser choosing the larger, to demand the tax from the
landlord; in 1843 the League collected £50,000, next year £100,000,
and in 1845 £250,000 in support of their agitation.

Yet for some years they had little success in Parliament; even in 1842
Peel only amended the laws; and it was not until 1846 that, convinced
by the League's arguments, as he himself confessed, and stimulated by
the famine in Ireland, he introduced the famous Act, 9 & 10 Vict. c.

By this the maximum duty on imported wheat was at once to be reduced
to 10s. a quarter when the price was under 48s., to 5s. on barley when
the price was under 26s., and to 4s. on oats when the price was under
18s., with lower duties as prices rose above these figures, but the
most important part of the Act was that on February 1, 1849, these
duties were to cease, and only a nominal duty of 1s. a quarter on
foreign corn be retained, which was abolished in 1860.

By 9 and 10 Vict. c. 23 the duties on live stock were also abolished
entirely. Down to 1842 the importation of horned cattle, sheep, hogs,
and other animals used as food was strictly prohibited,[638] but in
that year the prohibition was withdrawn and they were allowed to enter
the country on a payment of 20s. a head on oxen and bulls, 15s. on
cows, 3s. on sheep, 5s. on hogs; which duties continued till 1846.

It is interesting to find that so shrewd an observer as McCulloch did
not expect any great increase in the imports of live animals from the
reduction of the duties, but he anticipated a great increase in salted
meat from abroad; cold storage being then undreamt of.

The full effect of this momentous change was not to be felt for a
generation, but the immediate effect was an agricultural panic
apparently justified by falling prices. In 1850 wheat averaged 40s.
3d. and in 1851 38s. 6d. On the other hand, stock farmers were doing
well. But on the corn lands the prices of the protection era had to
come down; many farms were thrown up, some arable turned into pasture;
distress was widespread. Owing to the depressed state of agriculture
in 1850, the _Times_ sent James Caird on a tour through England, and
one of the most important conclusions arrived at in his account of his
tour is, that owing to protection, the majority of landowners had
neglected their land; but another cause of neglect was that the great
body of English landlords knew nothing of the management of their
estates, and committed it to agents who knew little more and merely
received the rents. The important business of being a landowner is the
only one for which no special training is provided. Many of the
landlords, however, then, as now, were unable to improve their estates
if they desired to do so, as they were hopelessly encumbered, and the
expense of sale was almost prohibitive. The contrast between good and
bad farmers was more marked in 1850 than to-day, the efforts of the
Royal Agricultural Society to raise the general standard of farming
had not yet borne much fruit. In many counties, side by side, were
farmers who used every modern improvement, and those who still
employed the methods of the eighteenth century: on one farm wheat
producing 40 bushels an acre, threshed by steam at a cost of 3s. 6d.,
on the next 20 bushels to the acre threshed by the flail at a cost of

Drainage in the counties where it was needed had made considerable
progress, the removal of useless hedgerows often crowded with timber,
that kept the sun from the crops and whose roots absorbed much of the
nourishment of the soil, was slowly extending, but farm-buildings
almost everywhere were defective. 'The inconvenient ill-arranged
hovels, the rickety wood and thatch barns and sheds devoid of every
known improvement for economizing labour, food, and manure, which are
to be met with in every county in England, are a reproach to the
landlords in the eyes of all good farmers.'[640] The farm-buildings of
Belgium, Holland, France, and the Rhenish Provinces were much
superior. In parts of England indeed no progress seems to have been
made for generations at this date. Thousands of acres of peat moss in
Lancashire were unreclaimed, and many parts of the Fylde district were
difficult even to traverse. Even in Warwickshire, in the heart of
England, between Knowle and Tamworth, instead of signs of industry and
improvement were narrow winding lanes leading to nothing, traversed by
lean pigs and rough cattle, broad copse-like hedges, small and
irregular fields of couch, amidst which straggled the stalks of some
smothered cereal; these with gipsy encampments and the occasional
sound of the poacher's gun from woods and thickets around were the
characteristics of the district.[641]

Leases were the exception throughout England, though more prevalent in
the west.[642] The greater proportion of farms were held on yearly
agreements terminable by six months' notice on either side, a system
preferred by the landlord as enabling him to retain a greater hold
over his land, and acquiesced in by the tenant because of easy rents.
In spite of this insecurity of tenure and the absence of Agricultural
Holdings Acts, the tenants invested their capital largely with no
other security than the landlord's character, 'for in no country of
the world does the character of any class of men stand so high for
fair and generous dealing as that of the great body of the English

The custom of tenant-right was unknown except in certain counties,
Surrey, Sussex, the Weald of Kent, Lincoln, North Notts, and in part
of the West Riding of Yorkshire.[643] Where it existed, the
agriculture was on the whole inferior to that of the districts where
it did not, and it had frequently led to fraud in a greater or less
degree. Many farmers were in the practice of 'working up to a
quitting', or making a profit by the difference which their ingenuity
and that of their valuer enabled them to demand at leaving as compared
with what they paid on entry. The best farmers as well as the
landlords were said to be disgusted with the system. The dislike for
leases in the days immediately before the repeal of the Corn Laws was
partly due to the uncertainty how long protection would last; but
chiefly then, as afterwards, to the fact that if a man improved his
farm under a lease he had nearly always to pay an increased rent on
renewal, but if he held from year to year his improvement, if any, was
so gradual and imperceptible that it was hardly noticed and the rent
was not raised. It may also be attributable to the modern
disinclination to be bound down to a particular spot for a long
period. At all events, the general dislike of farmers for leases is a
curious commentary on the assertions of those writers who said that
leases were his chief necessity.

The disparity of the labourer's wages in 1850 was most remarkable,
ranging from 15s. a week in parts of Lancashire to 6s. in South Wilts,
the average of the northern counties being 11s. 6d., and of the
southern 8s. 5d. a difference due wholly to the influence of
manufactures, which is still further proved by the fact that in
Lancashire in 1770 wages were below the average for England. In fact
since Young's time wages in the north had increased 66 per cent., in
the south only 14 per cent. In Berkshire and Wiltshire there had been
no increase in that period, and in Suffolk an actual decrease. It is
not surprising to learn that in some southern counties wages were not
sufficient for healthy sustenance, and the consequence was, that
there, the average amount of poor relief per head of population was
8s. 8-1/2d., but in the north 4s. 7-3/4d., and the percentage of
paupers was twice as great in the former as in the latter. This was
mainly due to two causes: (1) the ratepayers of parishes in the south
were accustomed to divide among themselves the surplus labour, not
according to their requirements but in proportion to the size of their
farms, so that a farmer who was a good economist of labour was reduced
by this system to the same level as his unskilful neighbours, and the
labourer himself had no motive to do his best, as every one, good and
bad, was employed at the same rate. (2) To the system of close and
open parishes, by which large proprietors could drive the labourer
from the parish where he worked to live in some distant village in
case he should become chargeable to the rates, so that it was a common
thing to see labourers walking three or four miles each day to their
work and back, and in one county farmers provided donkeys for them.
Between 1840 and 1850 the labourer had, however, already benefited by
free trade, for the price of many articles he consumed fell 30%; on
the other hand the rent of his cottage in eighty years had increased
100%, and meat 70%, which however did not, unfortunately, affect him
much. The great development of railway construction also helped him by
absorbing much surplus labour, and the work of his wife and children
was more freely exploited at this date to swell the family

The great difference between the wages of the north and the south is
a clear proof that the wages of the agricultural labourer are not
dependent on the prices of agricultural produce, for those were the
same in both regions. It was unmistakably due to the greater demand
for labour in the north.

The housing of the labourer was, especially in the south, often a
black blot on English civilization. From many instances collected by
an inquirer in 1844 the following may be taken. At Stourpaine in
Dorset, one bedroom in a cottage contained three beds occupied by
eleven people of all ages and both sexes, with no curtain or partition
whatever. At Milton Abbas, on the average of the last census there
were thirty-six persons in each house, and so crowded were they that
cottagers with a desire for decency would combine and place all the
males in one cottage, and all the females in another. But this was
rare, and licentiousness and immorality of the worst kind were

As for the farmer, the stock raiser was doing better than the corn
grower. The following table shows the rent of cultivated land per
acre, the produce of wheat per acre in bushels, the price of
provisions, wages of labour, and rent of cottages in England at the
date of Young's tours, about 1770, and of Caird's in 1850[647]:

             Rent of           Produce of
          cultivated land        Wheat            Price per lb. of
            per acre.          per acre.      Bread.   Meat.   Butter.

  1770    13s.  4d.            23            1-1/2d.  3-1/4d.    6d.
  1850    26s. 10d.            26-3/4[646]   1-1/4d.  5d.        1s.

              Price of Wool   Cottage          Labourer's wages
              per lb.         rents.             per week.

  1770         5-1/2d.        34s. 8d.           7s. 3d.
  1850           1s.          74s. 6d.           9s. 7d.

Thus in eighty years the average rent of arable land rose 100%, the
average wheat crop 14%, while the price of bread had decreased 16%.
But meat had increased 70%, wool over 100%, butter 100%. The chief
benefit to the farmer therefore lay in the increased value of live
stock and its products, and it was found then, as in the present
depression, that the holders of strong wheat land suffered most, which
was further illustrated by the fact that the rent of the corn-growing
counties of the east coast averaged 23s. 8d. per acre; that of the
mixed corn and grass counties in the midlands and west, 31s. 5d.

Writing in 1847, Porter said rents had doubled since 1790.[648] In
Essex farms could be pointed out which were let in 1790 at less than
10s. an acre, but during the war at from 45s. to 50s. In 1818 the rent
went down to 35s., and in 1847 was 20s.

In Berks. and Wilts. farms let at 14s. per acre in 1790, rose by 1810
to 70s., or fivefold; sank in 1820 to 50s., and in 1847 to 30s. In
Staffordshire farms on one estate let for 8s. an acre in 1790, rose
during the war to 35s., and at the peace were lowered to 20s., at
which price they remained. Owing to better farming light soils had
been applied to uses for which heavy lands alone had formerly been
considered fit, with a considerable increase of rent.

On the Duke of Rutland's[649] Belvoir estate, of from 18,000 to 20,000
acres of above average quality, rents were in--

  1799           19s. 3-3/4d. an acre.
  1812           25s. 8-3/4d.    "
  1830           25s. 1-3/4d.    "
  1850           36s. 8d.        "

But the Dukes of Rutland were indulgent landlords and evidently took
no undue advantage of the high prices during the war, a policy whose
wisdom was fully justified afterwards.

It was the opinion of most competent judges, even after the abolition
of the Corn Laws, that English land would continue to rise in value.
Porter stated that the United Kingdom could never be habitually
dependent on the soil of other countries for the food of its people,
there was not enough shipping to transport it if it could.[650]

Caird prophesied that in the next eighty years the value of land in
England would more than double. The wellnigh universal opinion was
that as the land of England could not increase, and the population was
constantly increasing, land must become dearer. Men failed to foresee
the opening of millions of acres of virgin soil in other parts of the
world, and the improvement of transport to such an extent that wheat
has occasionally been carried as ballast. About twenty-five or thirty
years after these prophecies their fallacy began to be cruelly

About 1853[652] matters began to mend, chiefly owing to the great
expansion in trade that followed the great gold discoveries in America
and Australia. Then, came the Crimean War, with the closing of the
Baltic to the export of Russian corn, wheat in 1855 averaging 74s.
8d., and in the next decade the American War crippled another
competitor, the imports of wheat from the United States sinking from
16,140,000 cwt in 1862, to 635,000 cwt. in 1866. From 1853 until 1875
English agriculture prospered exceedingly, assisted largely by good
seasons. Between 1854 and 1865 there were ten good harvests, and only
two below the average. Prices of produce rose almost continuously, and
the price and rent of land with them. The trade of the country was
good, and the demand for the farmer's products steadily grew; the
capital value of the land, live stock, and crops upon it, increased in
this period by £445,000,000.[653]

It appeared as if the abolition of the Corn Laws was not to have any
great effect after all.

Now at last the great body of farmers began to approach the standard
set them long before by the more energetic and enterprising. Early
maturity in finishing live stock for the market by scientific feeding
probably added a fourth to their weight The produce of crops per acre
grew, and drainage and improvements were carried out on all sides, the
greatest improvement being made in the cultivation and management of
strong lands, of which drainage was the foundation, and enabled the
occupier to add swedes to his course of cropping.[654]

It was in this period that Shorthorns, Herefords, and Devons attained
a standard of excellence which has made them sought after by the whole
world; and other breeds were perfected, the Sussex and Aberdeen Angus
especially; while in sheep the improvement was perhaps even
greater.[655] The improved Lincolns, Oxford Downs, Hampshire Downs,
and Shropshires took their place as standard breeds at this period. In
1866, after many years of expectation and disappointment,
agriculturists were furnished with statistics which are trustworthy
for practical purpose, but are somewhat vitiated by the fact that the
live stock census was taken on March 5, which obviously omitted a
large number of young stock; so that those for 1867, when the census
was taken on June 25, are better for purposes of comparison with those
of subsequent years, when the census has been taken on June 4 or 5.
Between 1867 and 1878 the cattle in England and Wales had increased
from 4,013,564 to 4,642,641, though sheep had diminished from
22,025,498 to 21,369,810.[656] The total acreage under cultivation had
increased from 25,451,526 acres to 27,164,326 acres in the same

There was, however, one black shadow in this fair picture: in 1865
England was invaded by the rinderpest, which spread with alarming
rapidity, killing 2,000 cows in a month from its first appearance, and
within six months infecting thirty-six counties.[657] The alarm was
general, and town and country meetings were held in the various
districts where the disease appeared to concert measures of defence.
The Privy Council issued an order empowering Justices to appoint
inspectors authorized to seize and slaughter any animal labouring
under such diseases; but, in spite of this, the plague raged with
redoubled fury throughout September. There was gross mismanagement in
combating it, for the inspectors were often ignorant men, and no
compensation was paid for slaughter, so that farmers often sold off
most of their diseased stock before hoisting the black flag. The
ravages of the disease in the London cow-houses was fearful, as might
be expected, and they are said to have been left empty; by no means an
unmixed evil, as the keeping of cow-houses in towns was a glaring
defiance of the most obvious sanitary laws. In October a Commission
was appointed to investigate the origin and nature of the disease, and
the first return showed a total of 17,673 animals attacked. By March
9, 1866, 117,664 animals had died from the plague, and 26,135 been
killed in the attempt to stay it. By the end of August the disease had
been brought within very narrow limits, and was eventually stamped out
by the resolute slaughter of all infected animals. By November 24 the
number of diseased animals that had died or been killed was
209,332,[658] and the loss to the nation was reckoned at £3,000,000.
The disease was brought by animals exported from Russia, who came from
Revel, via the Baltic, to Hull. In 1872, cattle brought to the same
port infected the cattle of the East Riding of Yorkshire, but this
outbreak was checked before much damage had been done, and since 1877
there has been no trace of this dreaded disease in the kingdom. The
cattle plague, rinderpest, or steppe murrain, is said[659] to have
first appeared in England in 1665, the year of the Great Plague, and
reappeared in 1714, when it came from Holland, but did little damage,
being chiefly confined to the neighbourhood of London. The next
outbreak was in 1745, and lasted for twelve years, undoubtedly coming
from Holland; it is said to have caused such destruction among the
cattle, that much of the grass land in England was ploughed up and
planted with corn, so that the exports of grain increased largely. In
1769 it came again, but only affected a few localities, and
disappeared in 1771, not to return till 1865.

Foot and mouth disease was first observed in England in 1839,[660]
and it was malignant in 1840-1, when cattle, sheep, and pigs were
attacked as they were during the serious outbreak of 1871-2. In 1883
no less than 219,289 cattle were attacked, besides 217,492 sheep, and
24,332 pigs, when the disease was worse than it has ever been in
England. Since then, though there have been occasional outbreaks, it
has much abated. Another dread scourge of cattle, pleuro-pneumonia,
was at its worst in 1872, a most calamitous year in this respect, when
7,983 cattle were attacked. In 1890 the Board of Agriculture assumed
powers with respect to it under the Diseases of Animals Act of that
year, and their consequent action has been attended with great success
in getting rid of the disease.

At the end of this halcyon period farmers had to contend with a new
difficulty, the demand for higher wages by their labourers at the
instigation of Joseph Arch.[661] This famous agitator was born at
Barford in Warwickshire in 1826, and as a boy worked for neighbouring
farmers, educating himself in his spare time. The miserable state of
the labourer which he saw all around him entered into his soul, meat
was rarely seen on his table, even bacon was a luxury in many
cottages. Tea was 6s. to 7s. a lb., sugar 8d., and other prices in
proportion; the labourers stole turnips for food, and every other man
was a poacher. Arch made himself master of everything he undertook,
became famous as a hedger, mower, and ploughman, and being
consequently employed all over the Midlands and South Wales, began to
gauge the discontent of the labourer who was then voiceless, voteless,
and hopeless. His wages by 1872 had increased to 12s. a week, but had
not kept pace with the rise in prices. Bread was 7-1/2d. a loaf; the
labourer had lost the benefit of his children's labour, for they had
now all gone to school; his food was 'usually potatoes, dry bread,
greens, herbs, "kettle broth" made by putting bread in the kettle,
weak tea, bacon sometimes, fresh meat hardly ever.'[662] It is
difficult to realize that at the end of the third quarter of the
nineteenth century, when Gladstone said the prosperity of the country
was advancing 'by leaps and bounds', that any class of the community
_in full work_ could live under such wretched conditions. Arch came to
the conclusion that labour could only improve its position when
organized, and the Agricultural Labourers' Union was initiated in
1872. Not that the idea of obtaining better conditions by combination
was new to the rural labourer. It was attempted in 1832 in Dorset, but
speedily crushed, and not till 1865 was a new union founded in
Scotland, which was followed by a strike in Buckinghamshire in 1867,
and the foundation of a union in Herefordshire in 1871.[663] It was
determined to ask for 16s. a week and a 9-1/2 hours' working day,
which the farmers refused to grant, and the men struck. The agitation
spread all over England, and was often conducted unwisely and with a
bitter spirit, but the labourer was embittered by generations of
sordid misery. Very reluctantly the farmers gave way, and generally
speaking wages went up during the agitation to 14s. or 15s. a week,
though Arch himself admits that even during the height of it they were
often only 11s. and 12s. With the bad times, about 1879, wages began
to fall again, and men were leaving the Agricultural Union; by 1882
Arch says many were again taking what the farmer chose to give. From
1884 the Union steadily declined, and after a temporary revival about
1890, practically collapsed in 1894. Other unions had been started,
but were then going down hill, and in 1906 only two remained in a
moribund condition. Their main object, to raise the labourer's wages,
was largely counteracted by the acute depression in agriculture, and
though there has since been considerable recovery, there are districts
in England to-day where he only gets 11s. and 12s. a week.

The Labourers' Union helped to deal a severe blow to the 'gang
system', which had grown up at the beginning of the century (when the
high corn prices led to the breaking up of land where there were no
labourers, so that 'gangs' were collected to cultivate it[664]), by
which overseers, often coarse bullies, employed and sweated gangs
sometimes numbering 60 or 70 persons, including small children, and
women, the latter frequently very bad specimens of their sex. These
gangs went turnip-singling, bean-dropping, weeding &c., while
pea-picking gangs ran to 400 or 500. Though some of these gangs were
properly managed, the system was a bad one, and the Union and the
Education Acts helped its disappearance.


[613] Cylindrical pipes came in about 1843, though they had been
recommended in 1727 by Switzer.

[614] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1st series), xxii. 260.

[615] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1890, pp. 1 sq.

[616] Ibid., 1894, pp. 205 sq.

[617] McCombie, _Cattle and Cattle Breeders_, p. 33.

[618] These classes, however, did not comprise all the then known
breeds of live stock.

[619] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1892, pp. 479 sq.

[620] At the show at Birmingham In 1898 there were 22 entries of
Longhorns; in 1899 a Longhorn Cattle Society was established, and the
herd-book resuscitated. More than twenty herds of the breed are now
well established.

[621] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1901, p. 24.

[622] Caird, _English Agriculture in 1850-1_, pp. 252 sq.

[623] Porter, _Progress of the Nation_, p. 142.

[624] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1901, p. 25.

[625] Ibid. 1896, p. 96.

[626] Ibid. (1st ser.), vi. 2.

[627] Ibid. (1st ser.), v. 102.

[628] 1838, 64s. 7d; 1839, 70s. 8d.; 1840, 66s. 4d.; 1841, 64s. 4d.

[629] Tooke, _History of Prices_, iv. 19.

[630] C. Wren Hoskyns, _Agricultural Statistics_, p. 5.

[631] The abnormal prices during the Crimean War cannot fairly be
taken into account. The home and foreign supplies of wheat and flour
from 1839-46 were:--

               Home Supplies.   Foreign Supplies.
                   qrs.               qrs.

     1839-40     4,022,000         1,762,482
     1840-1      3,870,648         1,925,241
     1841-2      3,626,173         2,985,422
     1842-3      5,078,989         2,405,217
     1843-4      5,213,454         1,606,912
     1844-5      6,664,368           476,190
     1845-6      5,699,969         2,732,134

      (Tooke, _History of Prices_, iv. 414.)

1844-5 was a very abundant crop, and the threatened repeal of the Corn
Laws induced farmers to send all the corn possible to market.

[632] Tooke, _History of Prices_, iv. 32.

[633] Cobden's Speech, March 12, 1844.

[634] Tooke, _History of Prices_, iv. 142.

[635] From evidence collected by Mr. Austin in the southern counties.

[636] _Progress of Nation_, pp. 137 sq. For the amount imported before
that date, see Appendix 2.

[637] Walpole, _History of England_, iv. 63 sq. Cobden apparently
never contemplated such low prices for corn as have prevailed since
1883. In his speech of March 12, 1844, he mentioned 50s. a quarter as
a probable price under free trade, and he died before the full effect
of foreign competition was felt by the English farmer.

[638] McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_, 1847, p. 274. See below, pp.
325 sq.

[639] Caird, _English Agriculture in 1850-1_, p. 498.

[640] Ibid. p. 490.

[641] _Victoria County History: Warwickshire_, ii. 277.

[642] Caird, _op. cit._, p. 481.

[643] Caird, _op. cit._ p. 507.

[644] Hasbach, _op. cit._ pp. 220, 226.

[645] Cobden's Speech, March 12, 1844.

[646] Mr. Pusey, one of the best informed agriculturists of the day,
estimated the produce of wheat per acre in 1840 at 26
bushels.--_R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1890, p. 20.

[647] Caird, _English Farming in 1850-1_, p. 474.

[648] _Progress of the Nation_.

[649] Thorold Rogers, _History of Agriculture and Prices_, v. 29.

[650] _Progress of the Nation_, pp. 137-9.

[651] Yet as the growth of population overtakes the corn and meat
supply, these prophets may in the end prove correct.

[652] The Great Exhibition of 1851 was said to have widely diffused
the use of improved implements.--_R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1856, p. 54.

[653] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1890, p. 34.

[654] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1856, p. 60.

[655] Ibid. 1901, p. 30. See below, p. 343.

[656] _Board of Agriculture Returns_, 1878, and _R.A.S.E. Journal_,
1868, p. 239. Young estimated the number of cattle in England in 1770
at 2,852,048, including 684,491 draught cattle.--_Eastern Tour_, iv.

[657] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, (2nd ser.), ii. 230.

[658] Ibid. iii. 430.

[659] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (2nd ser.), ii. 270.

[660] See _Autobiography of Joseph Arch_.

[661] Ibid. ix. 274.

[662] In many districts, however, his food was better than this.

[663] Hasbach, _op. cit._, pp. 276-7.

[664] Hasbach, _op. cit._, pp. 193, et seq. The Gangs Act (30 & 31
Vict. c. 130) had already brought the system under control.




About the year 1875 the good times came to an end. The full force of
free trade was at last felt. The seasons assisted the decline, and
there was now no compensation in the shape of higher prices. In the
eight years between 1874 and 1882 there were only two good crops. A
new and formidable competitor had entered the field; between 1860 and
1880 the produce of wheat in the United States had trebled. Vast
stretches of virgin soil were opened up with the most astonishing
rapidity by railroads, and European immigrants poured in. The cost of
transport fell greatly, and England was flooded with foreign corn and
meat. English land which had to support the landlord, the tithe-owner,
the land agent, the farmer, the labourer, and a large army of
paupers,[665] had to compete with land where often one man was owner,
farmer, and labourer, with no tithe and no poor rates. Yet prices held
up fairly well until 1884, when there was a collapse from which they
have not yet recovered. In 1877 wheat was 56s. 9d., in 1883 41s. 7d.,
and in 1884 35s. 8d.; by 1894 the average price for the year was 22s.

Farmers' capital was reduced from 30 to 50 per cent., and rents and
the purchase value of land in a similar proportion. Poor clays only
fit for wheat and beans went out of cultivation, though much has since
been laid down to grass, and much has 'tumbled down'. In fact most of
the increased value of the good period between 1853-75 disappeared.

The year 1879 will long be remembered as 'the Black Year'. It was the
worst of a succession of wet seasons in the midland, western and
southern counties of England, the average rainfall being one-fourth
above the average, and 1880 was little better. The land, saturated and
chilled, produced coarser herbage, the finer grasses languished or
were destroyed, fodder and grain were imperfectly matured. Mould and
ergot were prevalent among plants, and flukes producing liver-rot
among live stock, especially sheep. In 1879 in England and Wales
3,000,000 sheep died or were sacrificed from rot,[667] by 1881
5,000,000 had perished at an estimated loss of £10,000,000, and many,
alas! were sent to market full of disease. Cattle also were infected,
and hares, rabbits, and deer suffered. In some cases entire flocks of
sheep disappeared. The disease was naturally worst on low-lying and
ill-drained pastures, but occurred even on the drier uplands hitherto
perfectly free from liver-rot, carried thither no doubt by the
droppings of infected sheep, hares, and rabbits, and perhaps by the
feet of men and animals. Apart from medicine, concentrated dry food
given systematically, the regular use of common salt, and of course
removal from low-lying and damp lands, were found the best

Besides this great calamity, this year was distinguished by one of the
worst harvests of the century, outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, of
pleuro-pneumonia, and a disastrous attack of foot-rot. The misfortunes
of the landed interest produced a Commission in 1879 under the Duke of
Richmond, which conducted a most laborious and comprehensive inquiry.
Their report, issued in 1882, stated that they were unanimously
convinced of the great intensity and extent of the distress that had
fallen upon the agricultural community. Owner and occupier had alike
been involved. Yet, though agricultural distress had prevailed over
the whole country, the degree had varied in different counties, and in
some cases in different parts of the same counties. Cheshire, for
instance, had not suffered to anything like the same extent as other
counties, nor was the depression so severe in Cumberland,
Westmoreland, Northumberland, and parts of Yorkshire. The rainfall had
been less in the northern counties. In the midlands, the eastern, and
most of the southern counties the distress was severe, in Essex the
state of agriculture was deplorable, but Kent, Devon, and Cornwall
were not hardly hit.[668]

The chief causes of the depression were said to be these:--

  1. The succession of unfavourable seasons, causing crops
     deficient in quantity and quality, and losses of live stock.

  2. Low prices, partly due to foreign imports and partly to
     the inferior quality of the home production.

  3. Increased cost of production.

  4. Increased pressure of local taxation by the imposition
     of new rates, viz. the education rate and the sanitary rate;
     and the increase of old rates, especially the highway rate, in
     consequence of the abolition of turnpikes. Some exceptionally
     bad instances of this were given. In the parish of
     Didmarton, Gloucestershire, the average amount of rates paid
     for the five years ending March 31, 1858, was £26 6s. 3d.,
     for the five years ending March 31, 1878, £118 11s. 7d. In
     the Northleach Union the rates had increased thus in decennial
     periods from 1850:--

         1850-1     £5,471
         1860-1      5,534
         1870-1      8,525
         1878-9     10,089

     On one small property in Staffordshire the increase of rates,
     other than poor rates, amounted to 3s. 6d. in the £ on the
     rateable value.

  5. Excessive rates charged by railway companies for the
     conveyance of produce, and preferential rates given to foreign
     agricultural produce; the railway companies alleging, in defence
     of this, that foreign produce was consigned in much greater
     bulk, by few consignors, than home grown, and could be conveyed
     much more economically than if picked up at different
     stations in small quantities.

As to the effect of restrictive covenants on the depression, the
balance of evidence did not incline either way.[669]

The Agricultural Holdings Act of 1875 was stated to have done much
good in the matter of compensation to tenants for improvements,
notwithstanding its merely permissive character, as it had reversed
the presumption of law in relation to improvements effected by the
tenant, prescribed the amount of compensation, and the mode in which
it should be given.

As to the important subject of freedom of cropping and sale of
produce, there were diverse opinions, some advocating it wholly,
others not believing in it at all, others saying each landlord and
each tenant should make their own bargains since each farm stands on
its own footing, others again favouring modified restrictions. The
preponderance of opinion was in favour of a modification of the law of

The Commission further said that the pressure of foreign competition
was greatly in excess of the anticipations of the supporters and of
the apprehensions of the opponents of Corn Law Repeal; if it had not
been for this, English farmers would have been partly compensated for
the deficient yield by higher prices. On the other hand, the farmer
had had the advantage of an increased and cheapened supply of feeding
stuffs, such as maize, linseed and cotton cakes, and of artificial
manures imported from abroad. At the same time the benefit to the
community from cheap food was immense. It seemed just, however, that
as agriculture was suffering from low prices, by which the country
gained as a whole, that the proportion of taxation imposed on the land
should be lessened; it was especially unjust that personal property
was exempted from local rates, contrary to the Act of 43 Eliz. c. 2,
and the whole burden thrown on real property. The difficulties of
farmers were aggravated by the high price of labour, which had
increased 25 per cent. in twenty years, largely owing to the
competition of other industries, and at the same time become less
efficient. As provisions were cheap, and employment abundant, the
labourer had been scarcely affected by the distress. His cottage,
however, especially if in the hands of a small owner, with neither the
means nor the will to expend money on improvements, was often still
very defective.

Farmers were already complaining of the results of the new system of
education, for which they had to pay, while it deprived them of the
labour of boys, and drained from the land the sources of future labour
by making the young discontented with farm work. The Commission denied
that rents had been unduly raised previous to 1875[670]; and in the
exceptional cases where they had been, it was due to the imprudent
competition of tenant farmers encouraged by advances made by country
bankers, the sudden withdrawal of which had greatly contributed to the
present distress. Districts where dairying was carried on had suffered
least, yet the yield of milk was much diminished, and the quality
deteriorated, owing to the inferiority of grass from a continuance of
wet seasons. The production and sale of milk was increasing largely,
so that the attention of farmers and landlords was being drawn to this
important branch of farming, milk-sellers necessarily suffering less
from foreign competition than any other farmers.

Let us turn once more to the hop yards: in 1878 the acreage of hops in
England reached its maximum. We have seen that in the first half of
the eighteenth century hop yards covered 12,000 acres; which between
1750 and 1780 increased to 25,000, and by 1800 to 32,000. In 1878,
71,789 acres were grown. The great increase prior to that year was due
to the abolition of the excise duty in 1862, which on an average was
equal to an annual charge of nearly £7 an acre.[671] This encouraged
hop-growing more than the taking off of the import duty in the same
year discouraged it. In 1882 there was a very small crop in England,
which raised the average price to £18 10s. a cwt.; some choice samples
fetching £30 a cwt.; growers who had good crops realizing much more
than the freehold value of the hop yards. This, however, was most
unfortunate for them, as it led to a great increase in the use of hop
substitutes, such as quassia, chiretta, colombo, gentian, &c., which,
with the decreasing consumption of beer and the demand for lighter
beer, has done more than foreign competition to lower the price and
thereby cause so large an area to be grubbed up as unprofitable, that
in 1907 it was reduced to 44,938 acres. Yet the quality of the hops
has in the last generation greatly improved in condition, quality, and
appearance. Growers also have in the same period often incurred great
expense in substituting various methods of wire-work for poles; and
washing, generally with quassia chips and soft soap and water, has
become wellnigh universal, so that the expense of growing the crop has
increased, while the price has been falling.[672] The crop has always
been an expensive one to grow; Marshall in 1798 put it at £20 an acre,
exclusive of picking, drying, and marketing[673]; and Young estimated
the total cost at the same date at £31 10s. an acre[674]; to-day £40
an acre is by no means an outside price. It may be some encouragement
to growers to remember that hops have always been subject to great
fluctuations in price; between 1693 and 1700, for instance, they
varied from 40s. to 240s. a cwt., so that they may yet see them at a
remunerative figure. 'Upon the whole', says an eighteenth-century
writer, 'though many have acquired large estates by hops, their real
advantage is perhaps questionable. By engrossing the attention of the
farmer they withdraw him from slower and more certain sources of
wealth, and encourage him to rely too much upon chance for his rent,
rather than the honest labour of the plough. To the landlord the
cultivation of hops is an evil, defrauding the arable land of its
proper quantity of manure and thereby impoverishing his estate.'

It was by this time the general opinion of men with a thorough
experience of farming, that in many parts of Great Britain no
sufficient compensation was secured to the tenant for his unexhausted
improvements. In some counties and districts this compensation was
given by established customs, in others customs existed which were
insufficient, in many they did not exist at all. It must be confessed
that often when a tenant leaves his farm there is more compensation
due to the landlord than to the tenant. Human nature being what it is,
the temptation to get as much out of the land just before leaving it
is wellnigh irresistible to many farmers.

In these days, when the landlord is often called upon by the tenant to
do what the tenant used to do himself, the question of compensation to
the tenant must on many estates appear to the landlord extremely
ironical. It is, in the greater number of cases, the landlord who
should receive compensation, and not the tenant; and though he has
power to demand it, such power is over and over again not put in

At the same time there are bad men in the landlord class as in any
other, and from them the tenant required protection. By the
Agricultural Holdings (England) Act of 1875, 38 & 39 Vict. c. 92,
improvements for which compensation could be claimed by the tenant
were divided into three classes. First class improvements, such as
drainage of land, erection or enlargement of buildings, laying down of
permanent pasture, &c., required the previous consent in writing of
the landlord to entitle the tenant to compensation. Second class
improvements, such as boning of land with undissolved bones, chalking,
claying, liming, and marling the land, the latter now hardly ever
practised, required notice in writing by the tenant to the landlord of
his intention, and if notice to quit had been given or received, the
consent in writing of the landlord was necessary. For third class
improvements, such as the application to the land of purchased manure,
and consumption on the holding by cattle, sheep, or pigs, of cake or
other feeding stuff not produced on the holding, no consent or notice
was required. Improvements in the first class were deemed to be
exhausted in twenty years, in the second in seven, and in the third in
two. It was the opinion of the Richmond Commission of 1879 that,
notwithstanding the beneficial effects of this Act, no sufficient
compensation for his unexhausted improvements was secured to the

The landlord and tenant also might agree in writing that the Act
should not apply to their contract of tenancy, so in 1883 when the
Agricultural Holdings Act of that year (46 & 47 Vict. c. 61)[675] was
passed, it was made compulsory as far as regarded compensation, and
the time limit as regards the tenant's claims for improvements was
abolished, the basis for compensation for all improvements recognized
by the Act being laid down as 'the value of the improvement to an
incoming tenant'. Improvements for which compensation could be claimed
were again divided into three classes as before, but the drainage of
land was placed in the second class instead of the first, and so only
required notice to the landlord. This was the only improvement in the
second class; the other improvements which had been in the second
class in the Act of 1875 were now placed in the third, where no
consent or notice was required.

The Act also effected three other important alterations in the law;
first, as to 'Notices to Quit', a year's notice being necessary where
half a year's notice had been sufficient, though this section might be
excluded by agreement; secondly, after January 1, 1885, the landlord
could only distrain for one year's rent instead of six years as
formerly; and thirdly, as to fixtures. These formerly became the
property of the landlord on the determination of the tenancy, but by
14 & 15 Vict. c. 25 an agricultural tenant was enabled to remove
fixtures put up by him with the consent of his landlord for
agricultural purposes. Now all fixtures erected after the commencement
of the Act were the property of and removable by the tenant, but the
landlord might elect to purchase them.

This Act was amended by the Act of 1900 (63 & 64 Vict. 50), and has
been much altered by the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1906 (6 Edw.
VII, c. 56), which has treated the landlord with a degree of severity,
which considering the excellent relations that have for the most part
existed between English landlords and tenants for generations, is
utterly unwarranted. In several respects indeed he has been treated by
the Act as if the land did not belong to him, while freedom of
contract, until recent years one of the most cherished principles of
our law, is arbitrarily interfered with. The chief alterations made by
the Act of 1906 were:--

1. _Improvements._--By the Act of 1883, in the valuation for
improvements under the first schedule, such part of the improvement as
is justly due to the inherent capabilities of the soil was not
credited to the tenant This provision is repealed by the Act of 1906,
in reference to which it must be said that the latent fertility of the
soil, sometimes very considerable, may be developed by a small outlay
on the part of the tenant for which outlay he is certainly entitled to
compensation. But the greater part of the improvement may be due to
the soil which belongs to the landlord, yet the Act credits the tenant
with the whole of this improvement. An addition is made to the list of
improvements which a tenant may make without his landlord's consent
and for which he is entitled on quitting to compensation, viz. repairs
to buildings, being buildings necessary for the proper working of the
holding, other than repairs which the tenant is obliged to execute.

2. _Damage by Game._ A tenant may now claim compensation for damage to
crops by deer, pheasants, partridges, grouse, and black game.

3. _Freedom of Cropping and Disposal of Produce._ Prior to this Act it
had been the custom for generations to insert covenants in agreements
providing for the proper cultivation of the farm; as, for instance,
forbidding the removal from the holding of hay, straw, roots, green
crops, and manure made on the farm. These and other covenants were
merely in the interests of good farming, and to prevent the soil
deteriorating. In recent times vexatious covenants formerly inserted
had practically disappeared, and where still existing were seldom
enforced. By this Act, notwithstanding any custom of the country or
any contract or agreement, the tenant may follow any system of
cropping, and dispose of any of his produce as he pleases, but after
so doing he must make suitable and adequate provision to protect the
farm from injury thereby: a proviso vague and difficult to enforce,
and not sufficient to prevent an unscrupulous tenant greatly injuring
his farm.

4. _Compensation for unreasonable disturbance._ If a landlord without
good cause, and for reasons inconsistent with good estate management,
terminates a tenancy by notice to quit; or refuses to grant a renewal
of the tenancy if so requested at least one year before the expiration
thereof; or if a tenant quits his holding in consequence of a demand
by the landlord for an increased rent, such demand being due to an
increased value in the holding owing to improvements done by the
tenant; in either of such events the tenant is entitled to

This compensation for disturbance is in direct opposition to the
recommendation of the Commission of 1894,[676] and seems to be an
unwarrantable interference with the owner's management of his own

Another benefit, and one long needed, was conferred on farmers by the
Ground Game Act of 1880, 43 & 44 Vict., c. 47. Before the Act the
tenant had by common law the exclusive right to the game, including
hares and rabbits, unless it was reserved to the landlord, which was
usually the case. By this Act the right to kill ground game, which
often worked terrible havoc in the tenant's crops, was rendered
inseparable from the occupation of the land, though the owner may
reserve to himself a concurrent right. One consequence of this Act has
been that the hare has disappeared from many parts of England.

The greatest improvement in implements during this period was in the
direction of reaping and mowing machines, which have now attained a
high degree of perfection. As early as 1780 the Society of Arts
offered a gold medal for a reaping machine, but it was not till 1812
that John Common of Denwick, Northumberland, invented a machine which
embodied all the essential principles of the modern reaper. Popular
hostility to the machine was so great that Common made his early
trials by moonlight, and he ceased from working on them.[677] His
machine was improved by the Browns of Alnwick, who sold some numbers
in 1822, and shortly afterwards emigrated to Canada taking with them
models of Common's reapers. McCormick, the reputed inventor of the
reaping machine, knew the Browns, and obtained from them a model of
Common's machine which was almost certainly the father of the famous
machine exhibited by him at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Various
other inventors have assisted in improving this implement, and in 1873
the first wire binder was exhibited in Europe by the American, W.A.
Wood, wire soon giving place to string owing to the outcry of farmers
and millers. The self-binding reaper is the most ingenious of
agricultural machines, and has been of enormous benefit to farmers in
saving labour. Though the hay-tedding machine was invented in 1814 it
is only during the last thirty years that its use has become common,
the spread of the mowing machine making it a necessity, cutting the
grass so fast that only a very large number of men with the old forks
could keep up with it. The tedder also rendered raking by hand too
slow, and the horse-rake, patented first in 1841, has immensely
improved in the last thirty years.

Another enormous labour saver is the hay and straw elevator, having
endless chains furnished with carrying forks at intervals of a few
feet, driven by horse gear. The steam cultivator invented by John
Fowler is much used, but cannot be said to have superseded the
ordinary working stock of the farm, though for deep ploughing on large
farms of heavy land it is invaluable. Improvements in dairying
appliances have also been great, but the English farmer has generally
fought shy of factories or creameries, so that his butter still lacks
the uniform quality of his foreign rivals.

In manures the most important innovation in the last generation has
been the constantly growing use of basic slag, formerly left neglected
at the pit mouth and now generally recognized as a wonderful producer
of clover.

Most of the suggestions of the Commission of 1879 were carried into
effect. Rents were largely reduced, so that between 1880 and 1884 the
annual value of agricultural land in England sank £5,750,000.[678]
Grants were made by the Government in aid of local burdens, cottages
were improved although the landowners' capital was constantly
dwindling, Settled Land Acts assisted the transfer of limited estates,
a Minister of Agriculture was appointed in 1889, and in 1891 the
payment of the tithe was transferred from the tenant to the landlord,
which generally meant that the whole burden was now borne by the

Still foreign imports continued to pour in and prices to fall. Wheat
land, which was subject to the fiercest competition, began to be
converted to other uses, and between 1878 and 1907 had fallen in
England from 3,041,214 acres to 1,537,208, most of it being converted
to pasture or 'tumbling down' to grass, while a large quantity was
used for oats. The price of live stock was now falling greatly before
increasing imports of live animals and dead meat, while cheese,
butter, wool, and fruit were also pouring in. Farming, too, was now
suffering from a new enemy, gambling in farm produce, which began to
show itself about 1880 and has since materially contributed to
lowering prices.[679] The enormous gold premium in the Argentine
Republic, with the steady fall in silver, was another factor. As Mr.
Prothero says, 'Enterprise gradually weakened, landlords lost their
ability to help, and farmers their recuperative power. The capital
both of landlords and tenants was so reduced that neither could afford
to spend an unnecessary penny. Land deteriorated in condition,
drainage was practically discontinued ... less cake and less manure
were bought, labour bills were reduced, and the number of males
employed in farming dwindled as the wheat area contracted.'[680] The
year 1893 was remarkable for a prolonged drought in the spring; from
March 2 to May 14 hardly any rain fell, and live stock were much
reduced in quality from the parching of the herbage, while in many
parts the difficulty of supplying them with water was immense.

In the same year another Commission on Agriculture was appointed,
whose description of the condition of agriculture was a lamentable
one. The Commission in their final report[681] stated that the seasons
since 1882 had on the whole been satisfactory from an agricultural
point of view, and the evidence brought forward showed that the
existing depression was to be mainly attributed to the fall in prices
of farm produce. This fall had been most marked in the case of grain,
particularly wheat, and wool also had fallen heavily. It was not
surprising therefore to find that the arable counties[682] had
suffered most; in counties where dairying, market gardening, poultry
farming, and other special industries prevailed the distress was less
acute, but no part of the country could be said to have escaped. In
north Devon, noted for stock rearing, rents had only fallen 10 to 15
per cent. since 1881, and in many cases there had been no reduction at
all. In Herefordshire and Worcestershire good grass lands, hop lands,
and dairy farms had maintained their rents in many instances, and the
reductions had apparently seldom exceeded 15 per cent.; on the heavy
arable lands, however, the reduction was from 20 to 40 per cent.

In Cheshire, devoted mainly to dairying, there had been no general
reduction of rent, though there had been remissions, and in some cases
reductions, of 10 per cent.

In fact, grazing and dairy lands, which comprise so large an area of
the northern and western counties, were not badly affected, though the
depreciation in the value of live stock and the fall in wool had
considerably diminished farm profits and rents. But of the eastern
counties, those in which there are still large quantities of arable
land, a different tale was told. In Essex much of the clay land was
going out of cultivation; many farms, after lying derelict for a few
years, were let as grass runs for stock at a nominal rent The rent of
an estate near Chelmsford of 1,418 acres had fallen from £1,314 in
1879 to £415 in 1892, or from 18s. 6d. an acre to 5s. 10d.[683] The
net rental of another had fallen from £7,682 in 1881 to £2,224 in
1892, and the landlord's income from his estate of 13,009 acres in
1892-3 was 1s. an acre. The balance sheet of the estate for the same
year is an eloquent example of the landowner's profits in these
depressed times[684]:

  11:12 AM 7/25/2005RECEIPTS.
                                      £    s.  d.

  Tithe received                     798   5   9
  Cottage rents                      495   8   6
  Garden    "                        213   5  10
  Estate    "                      7,452  14   8
  Tithes refunded by tenants         530  15   2
                                  £9,490   9  11

                                      £    s.  d.

  Tithe, rates and taxes           2,964   1   9
  Rent-charge and fee farm rents     179   0   4
  Gates and fencing                    8   7   8
  Estate repairs and buildings     4,350  12   8
  Draining                           170   6   1
  Brickyard                          170   1   8
  Management                         936  14   7
  Insurances                          58  11   5
  Balance profit                     652  13   9
                                  £9,490   9  11

In the great agricultural county of Lincoln rents had fallen from 30
to 75 per cent.[685] The average amount realized on an acre of wheat
had fallen from £10 6s. 3d. in 1873-7 to £2 18s. 11d. in 1892[686];
and the fall in the price of cattle between 1882 and 1893 was a little
over 30 per cent. Many of the large farmers in Lincolnshire before
1875 had lived in considerable comfort and even luxury, as became men
who had invested large sums, sometimes £20,000, in their business.
They had carriages, hunters, and servants, and gave their children an
excellent start in life. But all this was changed; a day's hunting
occasionally was the utmost they could afford, and wives and daughters
took the work from the servants. The small farmers had suffered more
than the large ones, and the condition of the small freeholders was
said to be deplorable; a fact to be noted by those who think small
holdings a panacea for distress.[687]

Even near Boston, where the soil is favourable for market gardening,
the evidence of the small holder was 'singularly unanimous' as to
their unfortunate condition. The small occupiers were better off than
the freeholders, because their rents had been reduced and they could
leave their farms if they did not pay; but their position was very
unsatisfactory. From the evidence given to the assistant commissioner
it is clear that the small occupier and freeholder could only get on
by working harder and living harder than the labourer. 'We all live
hard and never see fresh meat,' said one. 'We can't afford butcher's
meat,' said another. Another said, 'In the summer I work from 4 a.m.
to 8 p.m., and often do not take more than an hour off for meals. That
is penal servitude, except you have your liberty. A foreman who earns
£1 a week is better off than I am. He has no anxiety, and not half the
work.' These instances could be multiplied many times, so that it is
not surprising that the children of these men have flocked to the

In Norfolk, 'twenty or thirty years ago, no class connected with the
land held their heads higher' than the farmers. Many of them owned the
whole or a part of the land they farmed, and lived in good style. All
this was now largely changed. 'The typical Norfolk farmer of to-day is
a harassed and hardworking man,' engaged in the struggle to make both
ends meet. Many were ruined.

However, there were farmers who, by skill, enterprise, and careful
management, made their business pay even in these times, such as the
tenant of the farm at Papplewick in Nottinghamshire who gained the
first prize in the Royal Agricultural Society's farm competition in
1888.[688]. This farm consisted of 522 acres, of which only 61 were
grass, but chiefly owing to the trouble taken in growing fine root
crops, a large number of live stock were annually purchased and sold
off, the following balance sheet showing a profit of £3 1s. 0d. per

                           DR.                            £

  Rent, tithes, rates, taxes, &c.                        278
  Wages                                                  387
  Purchase of cake, corn, seeds, manure, &c.             688
  Purchase of live stock                               2,654
  Profit                                               1,589

                            CR.                           £

  Corn, hay, potatoes, and like product sold             655
  Live stock, poultry, dairy produce, and wool sold    4,941

The reductions of rents in various counties were estimated thus[689]:

                       Per cent.                 Per cent.

  Northumberland       20 to 25     Hereford     20 to  30
  Cumberland           20 to 40     Somerset     20 to  40
  York                 10 to 50     Oxford       25 to  50
  Lancaster             5 to 30     Suffolk      up to  70
  Stafford             10 to 25     Essex        25 to 100
  Leicester               40        Kent         15 to 100
  Nottingham           14 to 50     Hants        25 to 100
  Warwick              25 to 60     Wilts        10 to  75
  Huntington           40 to 50     Devon        10 to  25
  Derby                14 to 25     Cornwall     10 to 100

This large reduction in the rent rolls of landowners has materially
affected their position and weakened their power. Many, indeed, have
been driven from their estates, while others can only live on them by
letting the mansion house and the shooting, and occupying some small
house on the lands they are reluctant to leave. The agricultural
depression, which set in about 1875, may in short be said to have
effected a minor social revolution, and to have completed the ruin of
the old landed aristocracy as a class. The depreciation of their
rents may be judged from the following figures[690]:

  Gross annual value of lands, including
  tithes, under Schedule A in England.             Decrease.

       1879-80               1893-4            Amount.   Per cent.
          £                     £                 £

      48,533,340            36,999,846       11,533,494      23.7

These figures, however, are far from indicating the full extent of
the decline in the rental value of purely agricultural land, as they
include ornamental grounds, gardens, and other properties, and do not
take into account temporary remissions of rent. Sir James Caird, as
early as 1886, estimated the average reduction on agricultural rents
at 30 per cent.

The loss in the capital value of land has inevitably been great from
this reduction in rents, and has been aggravated by the fact that the
confidence of the public in agricultural land as an investment has
been much shaken. In 1875 thirty years' purchase on the gross annual
value of land was the capital value, in 1894 only eighteen years'
purchase; and whereas the capital value of land in the United Kingdom
was in 1875 £2,007,330,000, in 1894 it was £1,001,829,212, a decrease
of 49.6 per cent. Moreover, landlords have incurred increased
expenditure on repairs, drainage, and buildings, and taxation has
grown enormously. On the occupiers of land the effect of the
depression was no less serious, their profits having fallen on an
average 40 per cent.[691] Occupying owners had suffered as much as any
other class, both yeomen who farmed considerable farms and small
freeholders. Many of the former had bought land in the good times when
land was dear and left a large portion of the purchase money on
mortgage, with the result that the interest on the mortgage was now
more than the rent of the land.[692]

They were thus worse off than the tenant farmer, for they paid a
higher rent in the shape of interest; moreover, they could not leave
their land, for it could only be sold at a ruinous loss. The
'statesmen' of Cumberland were weighed down by the same burdens and
their disappearance furthered; for instance, in the parish of Abbey
Quarter, between 1780 and 1812 their number decreased from 51 to 38.
By 1837 it was 30; by 1864, 21; and in 1894 only 9 remained.

The small freeholders were also largely burdened with mortgages, and
even in the Isle of Axholme were said to have suffered more than any
other class; largely because of their passion for acquiring land at
high prices, leaving most of the purchase money on mortgage, and
starting with insufficient capital.

As regards the agricultural labourer, the chief effect of the
depression had been a reduction of the number employed and a
consequent decrease in the regularity of employment. [693]

Their material condition had everywhere improved, though there were
still striking differences in the wages paid in different parts; and
the improvement, though partly due to increased earnings, was mainly
attributable to the cheapening of the necessaries of life.[694] The
great majority of ordinary labourers were hired by the week, except
those boarded in the farm-house, who were generally hired by the year.
Men, also, who looked after the live stock were hired by the year.
Weekly wages ranged from 10s. in Wilts, and Dorset to 18s. in
Lancashire, and averaged 13s. 6d. for the whole country.

The fall in the prices of agricultural produce is best represented in
tabular form:


              Wheat.      Barley.       Oats.
              s.  d.       s.  d.       s.  d.

  1876-8     49   9       38   4       25   6
  1893-5     24   1       24   0       16   9

Thus wheat had fallen 53 per cent., barley 37, and oats 34.


           Inferior quality.  Second quality.  First quality.

                  s.  d.            s.  d.          s.  d.

  1876-8          4   5             5   6           6   0
  1893-5          2   8             4   0           4   7

Or a fall of 24 per cent. in the best quality, and 40 per cent. in
inferior grades.

The decline in the prices of all classes of sheep amounted on the
average to from so to 30 per cent., and in the price of wool of from
40 to 50 per cent.; that is, from an average of 1s. 6d. a lb. in
1874-6, to a little over 9d. in 1893-5.

Milk, butter, and cheese were stated to have fallen from 25 to 33 per
cent. between 1874 and 1891, and there had been a further fall since.
In districts, however, near large towns there had been much less
reduction in the price of milk.

This general fall in prices seems to have been directly connected with
the increase of foreign competition.[695] Wheat has been most affected
by this development, and at the date of the Commission the home
production had sunk to 25 per cent. of the total quantity needed for
consumption. Other home-grown cereals had not been similarly
displaced, but the large consumption of maize had affected the price
of feeding barley and oats. As regards meat, while foreign beef and
mutton had seriously affected the price of inferior British grades,
the influence on superior qualities had been much less marked. Foreign
competition had been, on the whole, perhaps more severe in pork than
in other classes of meat, but had been confined mainly to bacon and

The successful competition of the foreigner in our butter and cheese
markets was attributed mainly to the fact that the dairy industry is
better organized abroad than in Great Britain.

The Commission found that another cause of the depression was the
increased cost of production, not so much from the increase of wages,
as from the smaller amount of work done for a given sum. Where wages
in the previous twenty years had remained stationary, the cost of work
had increased because the labourer did not work so hard or so well as
his forefathers.

The following table[696] is a striking proof of the increased ratio of
the cost of labour to gross profits:

                                                             Ratio of
                                          Average             cost of
        Acreage  Period      Average       annual   Average    labour
             of      of        gross      cost of  cost per  to gross
  County. farm.   acct.      profit.      labour.     acre.  profits.

                           £   s. d.     £  s. d.    s.  d.  Per cent.

  Suffolk   590 1839-43  1,577 13  3    773 11  0    26   2     49.03
                1863-67  1,545  0  9    836  9  0    28   4     54.07
                1871-75  1,725  0  1  1,026 14  8    35   2     59.48
                1890-94    728 10  5    973  1  5    33   0    133.50

On a farm in Wilts., between 1858 and 1893, the ratio of the cost of
labour to gross profits had increased from 47.0 per cent. to 88.3 per
cent.; on one in Hampshire, between 1873 and 1890, from 44.4 per
cent. to 184.3 per cent.; and many similar instances are given,
illustrating very forcibly the economic revolution which has led to
the transfer of a larger share of the produce of the land to the

On the other hand, this Commission found, like the last, that the
farmer had derived considerable benefit from the decrease in cost of
cake and artificial manure, while the low price of corn had led to
its being largely used in place of linseed and cotton cakes.

Before leaving the subject of this famous Commission it is well to
state the answer of Sir John Lawes, than whom there was no higher
authority, to the oft-repeated assertion that high farming would
counteract low prices. 'The result of all our experiments,' he said,
'is that the reverse is the case. As you increase your crops so each
bushel after a certain amount costs you more and more ... the last
bushel always costs you more than all the others.' As prices went
lower 'we must contract our farming to what I should call the average
of the seasons'; and in the corn districts, the higher the farmer had
farmed his land by adding manure the worse had been the financial

In 1896 the injustice of the incidence of rates on agricultural land
was partly remedied, the occupier being relieved of half the rates on
the land apart from the buildings, which Act was continued in
1901.[698] But the system is still inequitable, for a farmer who pays
a rent of £240 a year even now probably pays more rates than the
occupier of a house rated at £120 a year. Yet the farmer's income
would very likely not be more than £200 a year, whereas the occupier
of the house rated at £120 might have an income of £2,000 a year.

In 1901 and 1902 Mr. Rider Haggard, following in the footsteps of
Young, Marshall, and Caird, made an agricultural tour through England.
He considered that, after foreign competition, the great danger to
English farming was the lack of labour,[699] for young men and women
were everywhere leaving the country for the towns, attracted by the
nominally high wages, often delusive, and by the glamour of the
pavement. Yet the labourer has come better out of the depression of
the last generation than either landowner or farmer: he is better
housed, better fed, better clothed, better paid, but filled with
discontent. Since Mr. Haggard wrote, however, there seems to be a
reaction, small indeed but still marked, against the townward
movement, and in most places the supply of labour is sufficient. The
quality, however, is almost universally described as inferior; the
labourer takes no pride in his work, and good hedgers, thatchers,
milkers, and men who understand live stock are hard to obtain[700];
and the reason for this is in large measure due to the modern system
of education which keeps a boy from farm work until he is too old to
take to it. His wages to-day in most parts are good; near
manufacturing towns the ordinary farm hand is paid from 18s. to 20s. a
week with extras in harvest, and in purely agricultural districts from
13s. to 15s. a week, often with a cottage rent free at the lower
figure. His cottage has improved vastly, especially on large estates,
though often leaving much to be desired, and the rent usually paid is
£4 or £5 a year, rising to £7 and £8 near large towns. The wise custom
of giving him a garden has spread, and is nearly always found to be
much more helpful than an allotment. The superior or more skilled
workmen,[701] such as the wagoner, stockman, or shepherd, earns in
agricultural counties like Herefordshire from 14s. to 18s. a week, and
in manufacturing counties like Lancashire from 20s. to 22s. a week,
with extras such as 3d. a lamb in lambing time. At the lower wages he
often has a cottage and garden rent free.

The improved methods of cutting and harvesting crops have so enabled
the farmer to economize labour that the once familiar figure of the
Irish labourer with his knee-breeches and tall hat, who came over for
the harvest, has almost disappeared. Women, who formerly shared with
the men most of the farm work, now are little seen in most parts of
England at work in the fields, and are better occupied in attending to
their homes.

The divorce of the labourer from the land by enclosure had early
exercised men's minds, and many efforts were made to remedy this.
About 1836 especially, several landowners in various parts of England
introduced allotments, and the movement spread rapidly, so that in
1893 the Royal Commission on Labour stated that in most places the
supply was equal to or in excess of the demand.[702] However, previous
Allotments and Small Holdings Acts not being considered so successful
as was desired, in 1907 an effort was made to give more effect to the
cry of 'back to the land' by a Small Holdings and Allotments Act[703]
which enables County Councils to purchase land by agreement or take it
on lease, and, if unable to acquire it by agreement, to do so
compulsorily, in order to provide small holdings for persons desiring
to lease them. The County Council may also arrange with any Borough
Council or Urban District Council to act as its agent in providing and
managing small holdings. The duty of supplying allotments rests in the
first instance with the Rural Parish Councils, though if they do not
take proper steps to provide allotments, the County Council may itself
provide them.

It is a praiseworthy effort, though marked by arbitrary methods and
that contempt for the rights of property, provided it belongs to some
one else, that is a characteristic of to-day. That it will succeed
where the small holder has some other trade, and in exceptionally
favoured situations, is very probable; most of the small holders who
were successful before the Act had something to fall back upon: they
were dealers, hawkers, butchers, small tradesmen, &c. There is no
doubt, too, that an allotment helps both the town artisan and the
country labourer to tide over slack times. Whether it will succeed in
planting a rural population on English soil is another matter. It is a
consummation devoutly to be wished, for a country without a sound
reserve of healthy country-people is bound to deteriorate. The small
holder, pure and simple, without any by-industry, has hitherto only
been able to keep his head above water by a life which without
exaggeration may be called one of incessant toil and frequent
privation, such a life as the great mass of our 'febrile factory
element' could not endure. And if there is one tendency more marked
than another in the history of English agriculture, it is the
disappearance of the small holding. In the Middle Ages it is probable
that the average size of a man's farm was 30 acres, with its attendant
waste and wood; since then amalgamation has been almost constant.

It is true that the occupier of a few acres often brings to bear on it
an amount of industry which is greater in proportion than that
bestowed on a large farm; but the large farmer has, as Young pointed
out long ago, very great advantages. He is nearly always a man of
superior intelligence and training. He has more capital, and can buy
and sell in the best markets; he can purchase better stock, and save
labour and the cost of production by using the best machinery. By
buying in large quantities he gets manures, cakes, seeds, &c., better
and cheaper than the small holder.

Besides the small holders who have outside industries to fall back
upon, those who are aided by some exceptionally favourable element in
the soil or climate, or proximity to good markets, should do well. Yet
in the Isle of Axholme, the paradise of small holders, we have seen
that the Commission of 1894 reported that distress was severe. This,
however, seems to have been largely due to the exaggerated land-hunger
in the good times, which induced the tenants to buy lands at too high
a price; and under normal conditions, such as they are now returning
to, the tenants seem to thrive. In this district the preference for
ownership as opposed to tenancy is, in spite of recent experiences,
unqualified, though it is admitted that the best way is to begin by
renting and save enough to buy.[704] The soil is peculiarly favourable
to the production of celery and early potatoes; and large tracts of
land are divided into unfenced strips locally known as 'selions' of
from a quarter of an acre to 3 acres each, cultivated by men who live
in the villages, each having one or more strips, some as much as 20
acres, and it is considered that 10 acres is the smallest area on
which a man can support a family without any other industry to help

Yet in the fen districts and on the marsh lands between Boston and the
east coast of Lincolnshire, where the land is naturally very
productive, many people are making livings out of 5 or 6 acres, mainly
by celery and early potatoes.[705] Other districts adapted naturally
to small holdings are those of Rock and Far Forest, the famous Vale of
Evesham, the Sandy and Biggleswade district of Bedfordshire; Upwey,
Dorset; Calstock and St. Dominick, Cornwall; Wisbech, Cambridgeshire;
and Tiptree, Essex. Apart, however, from by-industries, and
exceptional climate, soil, and situation, the small holding for the
purpose of raising corn and meat, as distinguished from that which is
devoted to dairying, fruit-growing, and market gardening, does not
seem to-day to have much chance of success. If farms were still
self-sufficing, and simply provided food and clothing for the farmer,
the small producer even of corn and meat might do as well as the
larger farmer on a lower scale, but such conditions have gone; all
holdings now are chiefly manufactories of food, and the smaller
manufactory has little chance in competition with the greater.

The example of foreign countries is usually held up to Englishmen in
this connexion, and the argument naturally used is that 'if small
holdings answer in France and Belgium, why can they not do so in
England?' On this point the testimony of Sir John Lawes is worth
quoting.[706] 'In most, if not in all continental countries' he says,
'the success of small holdings depends very materially on whether or
not the soil and the climate are suitable for what may be called
industrial crops: such as tobacco, hops, sugar beet, colza, flax,
hemp, grapes, and other fruit and vegetables; where these conditions
do not exist the condition of the cultivators is such _as would not be
tolerated in this country_.' That is the reason probably why small
holdings, apart from exceptional conditions, do not answer in England;
the Englishman of to-day is not anxious to face the hard and grinding
conditions under which the continental small holder lives.

Since Mr. Haggard's tour the black clouds which have so long lowered
over agriculture have shown signs of lifting. Rents have been adjusted
to a figure at which the farmer has some chance of competing with the
foreigner,[707] though the price of grain keeps wretchedly low; stock
has improved, and there is undoubtedly to-day (1908) a brisker demand
for farms, and in some localities rents have even advanced slightly.
The yeoman--that is, the man who owns and farms his own land, perhaps
the most sound and independent class in the community--has,
unfortunately for England, largely disappeared. Even of those who
remain, some prefer to let their property and rent holdings from
others! It has been noticed that the labourer's lot has improved in
this generation of adversity; and well it might, for his previous
condition was miserable in the extreme. The farmers have suffered
severely, many losing all their capital and becoming farm labourers.
The landlords have suffered most; they have not been able to throw up
their land like the farmer, and until quite recently have watched it
becoming poorer and poorer. The depression, in short, has driven from
their estates many who had owned them for generations. Those who have
survived have usually been men with incomes from other sources than
land, and they have generally deserved well of their country by
keeping their estates in good condition in spite of falling rents and
increasing taxation.

No class of men, indeed, have been more virulently and consistently
abused than the landlords of England, and none with less justice.
There have been many who have forgotten that property has its duties
as well as its rights; they have erred like other men, but as a rule
they play their part well. Even the worst are to some extent obliged
by their very position to be public spirited, for the mere possession
of an estate involves the employment of a number of people in healthy
outdoor occupations which Englishmen to-day so especially need to
counteract the degenerating influences of town life. Many of the great
estates[708] are carried on at a positive loss to their owners, and it
may be doubted whether agricultural property pays the possessor a
return of 2 per cent. per annum; which is as much as to say that the
landlord furnishes the tenant with capital in the form of land at that
rate for the purpose of his business. What other class is content with
such a scanty return? They are often charged with not managing their
estates on business principles, and no charge is worse founded. It
would be a sad day for the tenants on many an estate if they were
managed on commercial lines. One of the first results would be that
many properties would be given up as a dead loss. They could only be
made to pay by raising the rents or cutting down the ever-recurring
expenditure on repairs and buildings which are necessary for the
welfare of the tenants. The Duke of Bedford, in his _Story of a Great
Estate_, has said that the rent has completely disappeared from three
of his estates. On the Thorney and Woburn estates over £750,000 was
spent on new works and permanent improvements alone between 1816 and
1895, and the result, owing to agricultural depression and increased
burdens on the land, was a net loss of £7,000 a year; and every one
with any knowledge of the management of land knows that this is no
isolated case, though it may be on an exceptionally large scale. Where
would many tenants be if commercial principles ruled on rent audit
days? The larger English landlords of to-day are as a rule not
dependent on their rent rolls. To their great advantage, and to the
advantage of their tenants, they generally own other property, so that
they need not regard the land as a commercial investment. They can
therefore support the necessary outlay on a large estate, the capital
expenditure on improvements of all kinds, and thus relieve the tenant
of any expense of this kind. The farms are let at moderate, not rack
rents, such as the tenants can easily pay. Also the landlord can make
large reductions of rent in years of exceptional distress.[709] Rents
are generally collected three months after they are due, a
considerable concession; and even then arrears are numerous, for any
reasonable excuse for being behind with the rent is generously
listened to. It is owing to forbearance in this and other matters that
the relations between landlord and tenant are generally excellent.
Where are the best farm buildings, where the best cottages, where does
the owner carry on a home farm often for the assistance of the tenant
by letting him have the use of entire horses, well-bred bulls, and
rams, if not on the larger estates? The restrictions in leases, so
much decried of late years, were nearly always in the interest of good
farming, and their abolition will lead to the deterioration of many a

Bacon said, 'Where men of great wealth do stoop to husbandry, it
multiplieth riches exceedingly' and wiser words were never uttered.
Yet these are the men who are singled out for attack by agitators, who
are only listened to because the greater number of modern Englishmen
are ignorant of the land and everything connected with it. At a time
when rents have dwindled, in some cases almost to vanishing point,
taxation has increased, and confiscatory schemes and meddlesome
restrictions have frightened away capital from the land. Many of the
landlords of England would clearly gain by casting off the burden of
their heavily weighted property, but they nearly all stick nobly to
their duty, and hope for that restoration of confidence in the
sanctity of property and of respect for freedom of contract which
would do so much towards the rehabilitation of what is still the
greatest and most important industry in the country.


[665] And an ever increasing burden of taxation.

[666] See Appendix III.

[667] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1881, pp. 142, 199.

[668] _Parliamentary Reports of Commissioners_, 1882, xiv. pp. 9 sq.

[669] _Parliamentary Reports of Commissioners_, 1882, xiv. 14.

[670] The rise between 1857 and 1878 has been estimated at 20 per
cent., and between 1867 and 1877 at 11-1/2 per cent. Hasbach, _op.
cit._, p. 291.

[671] _R.A.S.E. Journal_, 1890, p. 324.

[672] See infra, p. 330.

[673] _Rural Economy of Southern Counties_, i. 285-6.

[674] _Victoria County History: Hereford, Agriculture_.

[675] In one respect the Act of 1883 restricted the rights of tenants
to compensation, for while the Act of 1875 had expressly reserved the
rights of the parties under 'custom of the country', the Act of 1883
provided that a tenant 'shall not claim compensation by custom or
otherwise than in manner authorized by this Act for any improvement
for which he is entitled to compensation under this Act' (§ 57).

[676] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. 96.

[677] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1892), p. 63.

[678] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1901), p. 33. Cf. infra, p. 310.

[679] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1893), p. 286; (1894), p. 677. Sometimes to
artificially raising them.

[680] Ibid. (1901), p. 34.

[681] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv.

[682] Broadly speaking, the arable section, or eastern group, included
the counties of Bedford, Berks., Bucks, Cambridge, Essex, Hants,
Hertford, Huntingdon, Kent, Leicester, Lincoln, Middlesex, Norfolk,
Northampton, Notts, Oxford, Rutland, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwick,
and the East Riding of York; the grass section, or western group,
included the remaining counties.

[683] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1894), xvi. (1), App. B.

[684] Ibid. App. B. iii.

[685] Ibid. (1895), xvi. 169.

[686] Ibid. p. 164.

[687] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1895), xvi. 187-8.

[688] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (2nd ser.), xxiv. 538

[689] Ibid. (1894), p. 681.

[690] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. 22. Cf. p.
319 n.

[691] Ibid. pp. 30-1.

[692] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. 31.

[693] Ibid. p. 37:


   1871.     1881.     1891.     1901.

  996,642   890,174   798,912   595,702

The figures for 1901 are from Summary Tables, _Parliamentary Blue
Book_ (C, d. 1, 523), p. 202, Table xxxvi.

[694] According to the Report of the Royal Commission on Labour,
1893-4, the labourer was 'better fed, better dressed, his education
and language improved, his amusements less gross, his cottage
generally improved, though generally on small estates there were many
bad ones still'.--_Parliamentary Reports_, 1893, xxxv. Index 5 et seq.

[695] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. 53, 85. Sir
Robert Giffen suggested that the decline in the price of wheat pay be
partly attributed to the great increase in the supply and consumption
of meat.

[696] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. App. iii.
Table viii. From an examination of the accounts of seventy-seven
farms, the average expenditure on labour was found to be 31.4 per
cent. of the total outlay.

[697] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. 106. But see
above, p. 271.

[698] 59 & 60 Vict., c. 16; I Edw. VII, c. 13.

[699] _Rural England_, ii. 539. Yet the census returns of 1871, 1881,
and 1891 gave no support to the idea that _young_ men were leaving
agriculture for the towns. See _Parl. Reports_ (1893), xxxviii. (2)

[700] The author speaks from information derived from answers to
questions addressed to landowners, farmers, and agents in many parts
of England, to whom he is greatly indebted.

[701] It is, however, a fallacy to assume, as is nearly always done,
that the ordinary farm labourer, at all events of the old type, is
unskilled. A good man, who can plough well, thatch, hedge, ditch, and
do the innumerable tasks required on a farm efficiently, is a much
more skilled worker than many who are so called in the towns.

[702] _Parl. Reports_ (1893), xxxv. Index.

[703] 7 Edw. VII, c. 54, amending the Allotments Acts of 1887 and 1890
and the Small Holdings Act of 1892. The Allotments Act of 1887 defined
an 'allotment' as any parcel of land of not more than 2 acres held by
a tenant under a landlord; but for the purposes of the Acts of 1892
and 1907 a 'small holding' means an agricultural holding which exceeds
one acre and either does not exceed 50 acres or, if exceeding 50
acres, is of an annual value not exceeding £50. At the same time the
Act defines an allotment as a holding of any size up to 5 acres, so
that up to that size a parcel of land may be treated as a small
holding or an allotment.

[704] Jebb, _Small Holdings_, p. 25.

[705] Jebb, _op. cit._, p. 28.

[706] _Allotments and Small Holdings_ (1892), p. 19 et seq.

[707] The gross income derived from the ownership of lands in Great
Britain, as returned under Schedule A of the Income Tax, decreased
from £51,811,234 in 1876-7 to £36,609,884 in 1905-6. In 1850 Caird
estimated the rental of English land, exclusive of Middlesex, at
£37,412,000. Cf. above, p. 310.

[708] According to the Commission of 1894, the amount expended on
improvements and repairs alone on some great estates was: On Lord
Derby's, in Lancashire, of 43,217 acres, £200,000 in twelve years, or
£16,500, or 7s. 8d. an acre, each year. On Lord Sefton's, of 18,000
acres, £286,000 in twenty-two years, or about £13,000, or 14s. an
acre, each year. On the Earl of Ancaster's estates in Lincolnshire, of
53,993 acres, £689,000 was spent in twelve years, or 11s. 7d. an acre
each year; and many similar instances are given.--_Parliamentary
Reports, Commissioners_ (1897), xv. 287-9.

[709] Shaw Lefevre, _Agrarian Tenures_, p. 19.



It is a curious fact that the barriers which protected the British
farmer were thrown down shortly before he became by unforeseen causes
exposed to the competition of the whole world. Down to 1846 Germany
supplied more than half the wheat that was imported into England,
Denmark sent more than Russia, and the United States hardly any.
Other competitors who have since arisen were then unknown. By the end
of the next decade Russia and the United States sent large
quantities, as may be gathered from the following table [710]:

  THE SEVEN YEARS 1859-1865.

  Russia                                        5,350,861
  Denmark and the Duchies                         969,890
  Germany                                       6,358,229
  France                                        3,828,691
  Spain                                           331,463
  Wallachia and Moldavia                          295,475
  Turkish dominions, not otherwise specified      528,568
  Egypt                                         1,423,193
  Canada                                        2,223,809
  United States                                10,080,911
  Other countries                               1,036,968

In the years 1871-5 the United States held the first place, Russia
came next, and Germany third with only about one-sixth of the
American imports, and Canada was running Germany close. Other
formidable competitors were now arising, and by 1901 the chief
importing countries[711] were:


  Argentina                                  8,309,706
  Russia[712]                                2,580,805
  United States of America                  66,855,025
  Australia                                  6,197,019
  Canada                                     8,577,960
  India                                      3,341,500

Since then the imports of wheat and flour from the United States have
decreased, and in 1904 India took the first place, Russia the second,
Argentina the third, and the United States the fourth. However, in
1907 the United States sent more than any other country, followed by
Argentina, India, Canada, Russia, and Australia, in the order named.

It is probable in the near future that the imports from the United
States will decline considerably, for in the last quarter of a
century its population has increased 68 per cent. and its wheat area
only 25 per cent. On the other hand, the population of Canada
increased 33 per cent. and her wheat area 158 per cent. in the same
time; while in Argentina an addition of 70 per cent. to the
population has been accompanied by an increase of the wheat area from
half a million to fourteen million acres. It is probable also that
India and Australia will continue to send large supplies, and there
are said to be vast wheat-growing tracts opened up by the Siberian
Railway, so that there seems little chance of wheat rising very much
in price for many years to come, apart from exceptional causes such
as bad seasons and 'corners'.

McCulloch, writing in 1843,[713] says that, except Denmark and
Ireland, no country of Western Europe 'has been in the habit of
exporting cattle'. Danish cattle, however, could rarely be sold in
London at a profit, and Irish cattle alone disturbed the equanimity
of the English farmer.

For a few years after the repeal of the corn laws and of the
prohibition of imports of live stock, the imports of live stock, meat,
and dairy produce were, except from Ireland, almost nil[714]; since
then they have increased enormously, and in 1907 the value of live
cattle, sheep, and pigs imported was £8,273,640, not so great,
however, as some years before, owing to restrictions imposed; but this
decrease has been made up by the increase in the imports of meat,
which in 1907 touched their highest figure of 18.751,555 cwt, valued
at the large sum of £41,697,905.[715]

Forty years ago hardly any foreign butter or cheese was imported;
to-day it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that not one hundredth
part of the butter eaten in London is British; in 1907 the amount of
butter imported was 4,310,156 cwt., and of cheese, 2,372,233 cwt. The
increase in the imports was largely assisted by the fact that in the
last half of the nineteenth century English farmers had directed their
attention chiefly to meat-producing animals and neglected the milch
cow. However, of late years great efforts have been made to recover
lost ground, and in England the number of cows and heifers in milk or
in calf has increased from 1,567,789 in 1878 to 2,020,340 in 1906.

The regulation of the imports and exports of live stock did not
concern the legislature so early as those of corn. One of the earliest
statutes on the subject is II Hen. VII, c. 13, which forbade the
export of horses and of mares worth more than 6s. 8d., because many
had been conveyed out of the land, so that there were few left for its
defence and the price of horses had been thereby increased. A
subsequent statute, 22 Hen. VIII, c. 7, says this law was disobeyed by
many who secretly exported horses, so it was enacted that no one
should export a horse without a licence; and 1 Edw. VI, c. 5,
continued this. But after this date the export of horses does not seem
to have occupied the attention of Parliament.

22 Hen. VIII, c. 7, also forbade the export of cattle and sheep
without a licence because so many had been carried out of the realm
that victual was scarce and cattle dear. By 22 Car. II, c. 13, oxen
might be exported on payment of a duty of 1s. each, the last statute
on the subject.

As for sheep, their export without the king's licence had been
forbidden by 3 Hen. VI, c. 2, because men had been in the habit of
taking them to Flanders and other countries, where they sheared them
and sold the wool and the mutton. 8 Eliz., c. 3, forbade their export,
and 13 and 14 Car. II, c. 18, declared the export of sheep and wool a

The importation of cattle was forbidden by 15 Car. II, c. 7, which
stated that the 'comeing in of late of vast numbers of cattle already
fatted' had caused 'a very great part of the land of this kingdom to
be much fallen and like dayly to fall more in their rents and values';
therefore every head of great cattle imported was to pay 20s. to the
king, 10s. to the informer, and 10s. to the poor after July 1, 1664.
By 18 Car. II, c. 2, the importation of cattle was declared a common
nuisance, and if any cattle, sheep, or swine were imported they were
to be seized and forfeited. By 32 Car. II, c. 2, this was made
perpetual and continued in force till 1842, though it was repealed as
to Ireland, as we have seen.[716]

It appears from the laws dealing with the matter that in the time of
the Plantagenets England exported butter and cheese. In the reign of
Edward III they were merchandise of the staple, and therefore when
exported had to go to Calais when the staple was fixed there. This
caused great damage, it is said, to divers persons in England, for the
butter and cheese would not keep until buyers came; therefore 3 Hen.
VI, c 4, enacted that the chancellor might grant licence to export
butter and cheese to other places than to the staple.

The regulation of the export of wool frequently occupied the attention
of Parliament It has been noticed[717] that the laws of Edgar fixed
its price for export, and Henry of Huntingdon mentions its export in
the twelfth century, while during the reign of Edward I it was for
some time forbidden except by licence, which led to its being smuggled
out in wine casks.[718] The _Hundred Rolls_ give the names of several
Italian merchants who were engaged in buying wool for export, the
ecclesiastical houses, especially the Cistercians, furnishing a great
quantity, and the chief port then for the wool trade was Boston, The
export was again prohibited in 1337, the great object being to make
the foreigner pay dearly for our staple product: an object which was
certainly effected, for when Queen Philippa redeemed her crown from
pawn at Cologne in 1342 by a quantity of English wool, 1s. 3-1/2d. a
lb. was the price, and it was even said to sell in Flanders at 3s. a
lb., a price which, expressed in modern money, seems fabulous.[719]
However, in the next reign English wool began to decline in price,
owing probably to changes in fashion, but the long wools maintained
their superiority and their export was forbidden by Henry VI and

In the reign of James I it was confessed 'that the cloth of this
kingdom hath wanted both estimation and vent in foreign parts, and
that the wools are fallen from their stated values', so that export
was prohibited entirely; and 13 and 14 Car. II, c. 18, declared the
export of wool a felony, though 7 and 8 Will. III, c. 28, says this
did not deter people from exporting it, so that the law was made more
stringent on the subject, and export continued to be forbidden until
1825.[721] In a letter written in 1677 the fall of rents in England,
which had caused the value of estates to sink from twenty-one to
sixteen or seventeen years' purchase, is ascribed mainly to the low
price of wool,[722] owing to the prohibition of export and increased
imports from Ireland and Spain. It was now, said the writer, worth 7d.
instead of 12d., and a great quantity of Spanish wool was being sold
in England at low rates. These 'low rates' were 2s. and 2s. 2d. a lb.
for the best wool, whereas in 1660 the best Spanish wool was 4s. and
4s. 2d. a lb.

We have seen[723] that Spanish wool was imported into England in the
Middle Ages. In 1677, according to Smith,[724] England imported 2,000
bags of 200 lb. each from Spain[725]; in the three years 1709-11,
14,000 bags; in the three years 1713-14, 20,000 bags; and about 1730
some came from Jamaica, Maryland, and Virginia, and down to 1802
imports were free.[726] In that year a duty of 5s. 3d. a cwt. was
imposed, which in 1819 was raised to 56s. a cwt., which, however, was
reduced to 1d. a lb. on 1s. wool and 1/2d. a lb. on wool under 1s. in
1824. In 1825 colonial wool was admitted free, and in 1844 the duty
taken off altogether, and imports from our colonies and foreign
countries soon assumed enormous proportions. Down to 1814 nearly all
our imports of wool came from Spain; after that the greater part came
from Germany and the East Indies; but Russia and India soon began to
send large quantities, and in recent times Australasia has been our
chief importer, in 1907 sending 321,470,554 lb., while New Zealand
sent 158,406,255 lb. out of a total import of 764,286,625 lb. About
1800 our imports of wool were 8,609,368 lb.![727] Of our enormous
imports of wool, however, a very large quantity is re-exported.

In 1828 it was stated before the House of Lords that English wool had
deteriorated considerably during the previous thirty years, owing
chiefly to the farmer increasing the weight of the carcase and the
quantity of wool, so that fineness of fleece was injured. The great
extension of turnips and the introduction of a large breed of sheep
also appeared to have lessened the value of the fleece, yet English
wool to-day still commands a high price in comparison with that of
other countries, though the price in recent years has declined
greatly; in 1871 it was 1s. 5-1/2d. a lb., in 1872 1s. 9-1/2d., in
1873 1s. 7d. In 1907 Leicester wool was 12-1/2d., Southdown 14d. to
15d., and Lincoln 12d. a lb.; Australian at the same date being 11d.,
and New Zealand 11-1/2d.

The fruit-grower has also had to contend with an enormous foreign
supply, which nearly always has a better appearance than that grown in
these islands, though the quality is often inferior. In 1860 apples
were included with other raw fruits in the returns, so that the exact
figures are not given, but apparently about 500,000 cwt. came in; by
1903 this had increased to 4,569,546 bushels, and in 1907 3,526,232
bushels arrived. Enormous foreign supplies of grapes, pears, plums,
cherries, and even strawberries have also combined to keep the home
price down.

The decrease in the acreage of hops, from its maximum of 71,789 acres
in 1878 to 44,938 in 1907, was ascribed by the recent Commission to
the lessening demand for beer in England, the demand for lighter kinds
of beer, and the use of hop substitutes, and not to increase in
foreign competition; which the following figures seem to bear out:


  1861                                                   149,176
  1867                                                   296,117
  1869                                                   322,515
  1870                                                   127,853
  1875                                                   256,444
  1877 (the year before the record acreage planted)      250,039
  1879                                                   262,765
  1903                                                   113,998
  1904                                                   313,667
  1905                                                   108,953
  1906                                                   232,619
  1907                                                   202,324

In recent years they have been a loss to the grower; as the average
crop is a little under 9 cwt. per acre, and the total cost of growing
and marketing from £35 to £45 an acre, it is obvious that prices of
about £3 per cwt., which have ruled lately, are unremunerative.

However disastrous to the farmer and landowner, the increased
quantities and low prices of food thus obtained have been of
inestimable benefit to the crowded population of England. In 1851 the
whole corn supply, both English and foreign, afforded 317 lb. per
annum per head of the population of 27 millions. In 1889 the total
supply gave 400 lb. per head to a population of 37-1/2 millions at a
greatly reduced cost.[728] The supply of animal food presents similar
contrasts; in 1851 each person obtained 90 lb., in 1889 115 lb. The
average value of the imports of food per head in the period 1859-65
was about 25s.; in the period 1901-7, 65s.[729] The products which
have stood best against foreign competition are fresh milk, hay and
straw, the softer kinds of fruit that will not bear carriage well, and
stock of the finest quality. These islands still maintain their great
reputation for the excellent quality of their live stock, and exports,
chiefly of pedigree animals, touched their highest figure in 1906:

                                            Average per
                 No.        Total Value.       head.
                                £                 £

  Cattle        5,616        327,335             58
  Sheep        12,716        204,061             16
  Pigs          2,221         20,292              9


  Acreage under crops and
    grass in England           24,312,033

  _Corn crops._
  Wheat                         2,987,129
  Barley or bere                2,000,531
  Oats                          1,489,999
  Rye                              48,604
  Beans                           470,153
  Peas                            306,356
                         Total  7,302,772

  _Green crops._
  Potatoes                        303,964
  Turnips and swedes            1,495,885
  Mangels                         348,289
  Carrots                          14,445
  Cabbage, kohl rabi, and rape    176,218
  Vetches and other green crops   420,373
                          Total 2,759,174

  Flax                              7,210
  Hops                             71,239
  Barefallow or uncropped arable  576,235
  Clover, sainfoin, and
    grasses under rotation      2,737,387
                  Total arable 13,454,017

  Permanent grass, exclusive
    of mountain or heath land  10,858,016


  Total acreage under
    crops and grass            24,585,455

  _Corn crops._
  Wheat                         1,537,208
  Barley                        1,411,163
  Oats                          1,967,682
  Rye                              53,837
  Beans                           296,186
  Peas                            164,326
                         Total  5,430,402

  Potatoes                        381,891
  Turnips and swedes            1,058,292
  Mangels                         436,193
  Cabbage                          65,262
  Kohl rabi                        20,572
  Rape                             79,913
  Vetches or tares                145,067
  Lucerne                          63,379
  Hops                             44,938
  Small fruit                      73,372
  Clover, sainfoin, and
    grasses under rotation      2,611,722
  Other crops                     117,914
  Bare fallow                     248,678
                  Total arable 10,777,595
               Permanent grass 13,807,860

  The small fruit was divided into:
    Strawberries                   23,623
    Raspberries                     6,479-1/2
    Currants and gooseberries      24,178-3/4
    Others                         19,090

As arable land has suffered much more than grass from foreign
imports, it was inevitable that this country should become more
pastoral; in 1877 the arable land of England amounted to 13,454,017
acres, and permanent grass to 10,858,016. By 1907 this was
practically reversed, the permanent grass amounting to 13,807,860
acres and the arable to 10,777,595. In corn crops the great decrease
has been in the acreage of wheat, but barley, beans, and peas have
also diminished, while oats have increased. In green crops there has
been a great decrease in turnips and swedes, compensated to some
extent by an increase in mangels, and a sad decrease in hops. The
changes in thirty years can be gathered from the tables of the Board
of Agriculture given on p. 331.

In 1877 no separate return of small fruit was made, but in 1878 the
orchards of England, including fruit trees of any kind, covered
161,228 acres, which by 1907 had grown to a total area under fruit of
294,910 acres, among which were 168,576 acres of apples, 8,365 of
pears, 11,952 of cherries, and 14,571 of plums. Much of the small
fruit is included in the orchards.

'Other crops' were further divided into:


  Carrots                   11,897
  Onions                     3,416
  Buckwheat                  5,226
  Flax                         355
  Others                    97,020

The average yield per acre of various crops in England for the ten
years 1897-1906 was:


  Wheat                                         31.1[731]
  Barley                                        32.88
  Oats                                          41.38
  Beans                                         29.28
  Peas                                          27.15


  Potatoes                                        5.74
  Turnips and swedes                             12.19
  Mangels                                        19.24


  Hay from clover, and grasses under rotation    29.40
  Hay from permanent grass                       24.33
  Hops                                            8.81

The live stock in 1877 consisted of:

  Horses used solely for purposes of agriculture         761,089
  Unbroken horses and mares kept solely for breeding     309,119
  Cattle. Cows and heifers in milk or in calf          1,557,574
          Two years old and over                       1,072,407
          Under two years of age                       1,349,669
  Sheep                                               18,330,377
  Pigs                                                 2,114,751

In 1907:

  Horses used solely for agriculture                     863,817
  Unbroken                                               325,330
  Cattle. Cows and heifers in milk or in calf          2,032,284
          Two years old and over                       1,043,034
          Under two years of age                       1,912,413
  Sheep[732]                                          15,098,928
  Pigs                                                 2,257,136

The decrease in sheep and the increase in cattle and horses (though
of late years the latter have shown a tendency to decrease) are to be

The number of live stock per 1,000 acres of cultivated land in the
United Kingdom and other countries is:

  Country.            Cattle.    Sheep.    Pigs.    Total.

  United Kingdom        247       619        76       942
  Belgium               411        54       240       705
  Denmark               264       126       209       599
  France                167       207        88       462
  Germany               221        90       216       527
  Holland               322       116       164       602

It will be observed that in cattle the United Kingdom comes out
badly, but is pre-eminent in sheep and has the largest total; though,
as cattle require more acreage, Belgium nearly equals its aggregate
produce for 1,000 acres.

As regards prices at the two periods 1871-5 and 1906-7, if we take
100 as the price at the former the following are the prices at the

  Beef          71
  Mutton        93
  Bacon        121
  Wheat         56
  Butter        97
  Cheese       100

Turning once more to the occupation of land, the percentage of land
occupied by owners in 1907 in England was 12.4, the rest being
occupied by tenants, and the following is a statement of the number
of agricultural holdings of various sizes in 1875 and 1907:


  50 acres    50 to    100 to   300 to   500 to   Above
  and         100      300      500      1,000    1,000
  under.      acres.   acres.   acres.   acres.   acres.

  293,469    44,842   58,450   11,245    3,871     463


    Above 1 and      Above 5 and     Above 50 and       Above
  not exceeding    not exceeding    not exceeding         300
       5 acres.        50 acres.       300 acres.      acres.

    80,921             165,975            109,927      14,652


[710] McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_ (1882), p. 449.

[711] See _Returns of the Board of Agriculture_.

[712] The imports from Russia were that year exceptionally small.

[713] McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_ (1852), p. 274.

[714] In 1860 the number of live cattle imported was 104,569; in 1897,
618,321; in 1907, 472,015.

[715] In 1860 the quantity of beef imported was 283,332 cwt.; in 1907,
6,033,736 cwt.

[716] See above.

[717] Supra, p. 38.

[718] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, i. 176, 192; _Hundred
Rolls_, i. 405, 414.

[719] Burnley, _History of Wool_, p. 65.

[720] Ibid. p. 70.

[721] Cf. supra, p. 172.

[722] Smith, _Memoirs of Wool_, i. 222.

[723] See above.

[724] Smith, _Memoirs of Wool_, ii. 252.

[725] McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, iii. 156.

[726] McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_, p. 1431. For imports see
Appendix, p. 354.

[727] Of which 6,000,000 lb. came from Spain. The first Spanish Merino
sheep were introduced into Australia in 1797. See Cunningham,
_Industry and Commerce_, ii. 538, and cf. below.

[728] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1890), p. 29.

[729] _Board of Agriculture Returns_ (1907), p. 187.

[730] Cf. Appendix IV.

[731] In 1907 the average wheat crop was 33.96 bushels per acre in
England and 39.18 in Scotland. The average yield per acre of wheat in
Holland is 34.1 bushels; Belgium, 34; Germany, 30.3; Denmark, 28.2
France, 197.

[732] The total number of sheep in Great Britain in 1877 was
28,161,164; in 1907, 26,115,455. In 1688 Youatt estimates it at
12,000,000; In 1741, 17,000,000; in 1800 26,000,000; in 1830

[733] Unfortunately the class 50 acres and under at this time included
holdings _under_ one acre, so that it is useless for the comparison of
the number of small holdings at the two dates, for in 1907 none appear
under one acre.




Arthur Young at the end of the eighteenth century found only two
kinds of cart horses worthy of mention, the Shire and the Suffolk
Punch; to-day, besides these two, we have the Clydesdale.

The Shire horse, according to Sir Walter Gilbey, is the purest
survival of the Great Horse of mediaeval times, known also as the War
Horse, and the Old English Black Horse. It is the largest of draught
horses, attaining a height of 17 to 17.3 hands and a weight of 2,200
lb., its general characteristics being immense strength, symmetrical
proportions, bold free action, and docile disposition. In 1878 the
Shire Horse Society was established to improve the breed, and
distribute sound and healthy sires through the country.

The Clydesdale, whose native home is the valley of the Clyde, is not
so large as the Shire, but strong, active, and a fine worker. They
are either derived from a cross between Flemish stallions and
Lanarkshire mares, or are an improvement of the old Lanark breed.[734]

The Suffolk Punch looks what he is-a thorough farm horse. He stands
lower than the two former breeds, but weighs heavily, often 2,000 lb.
They are generally chestnut or light dun in colour, and their legs
are without the feather of the Clydesdale and Shire. They have been
long associated with Suffolk, and were mentioned by Camden in 1586.
According to the Suffolk _Stud Book_ of 1880, the Suffolk horses
of to-day are with few exceptions the descendants in the direct male
line of the original breed described by Arthur Young.


What was the original breed of cattle in this island is uncertain. The
Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in
1887 favours the view that the herds of wild cattle, such as still
exist at Chillingham, represent the original breed of Great Britain.
It states that the 'urus' was the only indigenous wild ox in this
country, and the source of all our domesticated breeds as well as of
the few wild ones that remain, such as the Chillingham breed, which is
small, white, with the inside of the ear red, and a brownish muzzle.
Some, however, assert they are merely the descendants of a
domesticated breed run wild, which have reverted somewhat to the
ancient type.[735]

According to Thorold Rogers, the cattle of the Middle Ages were small
rough animals like the mountain breeds of to-day, and at the end of
the sixteenth century we have seen they had large horns, were low and
heavy, and for the most part black.[736] The great variety of cattle
in Great Britain may be due to their being the descendants of several
species, or to difference of climate and soil, or to spontaneous
variation, but the chief cause is the diligent selection of breeders.
Marshall is quite positive[737] that the Hereford, Devon, Sussex, and
the black mountain breeds of Scotland and Wales are all descended from
the original native breed of this island, that the Shorthorns came
from the Continent, and the Longhorns probably from Ireland. Bradley's
division of cattle into black, white, and red tells us little.[738]
There was very little attempt at improvement until the middle of the
eighteenth century, for peace was necessary for long continued
effort, and 1746, the date of Culloden, the last battle fought on
British soil, may be taken practically as the commencement of the era
of progress.

The Shorthorn is the most famous and widely-spread breed of this
country, if not in the world; it exceeds in number any other breed in
the United Kingdom, and most cross-breds have Shorthorn blood in them.
It adapts itself to any climate, and is equally noted for beef-making
and milk-yielding.

The origin of the Shorthorns is uncertain; they originated from the
Teeswater and Holderness varieties, but where these came from is a
matter of dispute. Young, in his _Northern Tour_,[739] says, 'In
Yorkshire the common breed was the short-horned kind of cattle called
Holderness, but really the Dutch sort'; and many have said the
Holderness and the Teeswater breeds both came from Holland, and were
practically the same, while others assert the original home of the
Teeswaters was the West Highlands.[740]

John Lawrence speaks of the Dutch breed with short horns in 1726;[741]
but, unless they were smuggled over, it certainly seems strange that
any Dutch cattle should have been imported in the eighteenth century,
for the importation of cattle was strictly forbidden during the whole
century. It was George Culley's opinion that they came from Holland,
because few were found except along the eastern coast; he also knew
farmers who went over to Holland to buy bulls.[742]

Be this as it may, it was the cattle of the Teeswater district in
Durham that the Collings improved, and they are still called Durhams
in many parts. The work of the Collings[743] was carried on by Thomas
Booth, who farmed his own estate of Killerby in Yorkshire, where he
turned his attention to Shorthorns about 1790, and by 1814 he was as
well known as the Collings. He improved the Shorthorns by reducing the
bone, especially the length and coarseness of the legs, the too
prominent hips, and the heavy shoulder bones. In 1819 he removed to
Warlaby, and died there in 1835, having given up the Killerby estate
to his son John, who with his brother Richard ably sustained their
father's reputation. 'Booth strains' equally with 'Bates strains', the
results of the work of Bates of Kirkleavington, whose cattle we have
seen at the Oxford Show in 1839, and whose herd was dispersed in 1850,
have been the foundation of many famous herds, and can be traced in
many a pedigree animal of to-day.

The palmy days of the Shorthorns were the 'seventies' of the last
century, when they made fabulous prices. At the great sale at New York
Mills, in 1873, eleven females of the Duchess tribe averaged £4,522
14s. 2d., and one cow sold for £8,458 6s. 8d. In 1877 Mr. Loder bought
Third Duchess of Hillhurst for 4,100 guineas; in 1876 Lord Bective
gave 4,300 guineas for Fifth Duchess of Hillhurst, then 16 months old;
and in 1875 the bull Duke of Connaught sold for 4,500 guineas. It was
not likely that with the advent of bad times these prices would
continue, and nothing like them in the Shorthorn world has occurred


Herefordshire cattle have long been famous as one of the finest
breeds in the world. Marshall, writing in 1788, does not hesitate to
say, 'The Herefordshire breed of cattle, taking it all in all, may
without risque be deemed the first breed of cattle in the land.'
Their origin has been accounted for in various ways. Some say they
were originally brown or reddish-brown from Normandy or Devon, others
that they came from Wales, while it is recorded that Lord Scudamore
in the latter half of the seventeenth century introduced red cows
with white faces from Flanders. However, they do not emerge from
obscurity until about the middle of the eighteenth century, when
Messrs. Tomkins, Weyman, Yeomans, Hewer, and Tully devoted their
energies to establishing a county breed. There were four varieties of
Herefords, which have now practically merged into the red with white
face, mane, and throat: the mottle face, with red marks intermixed
with the parts usually white; the dark greys; light greys; and the
red with the white face. The rivalry between the breeders of the
white and the mottle faces almost caused the failure of the Herd-Book
commenced in 1845 by Mr. Eyton. The mottle-faced party seems to have
been then the most influential, but the dark and light grey varieties
also had strong adherents. In 1857 Mr. Duckham took over the
management of the Herd-Book, and to his exertions the breed owes a
deep debt of gratitude. One of the greatest supporters of the
Herefordshire breed was Mr. Westcar of Creslow, who, starting in
1779, attended Hereford October Fair for forty years, and when the
Smithfield Show commenced in 1799 won innumerable first prizes there
with Herefordshire cattle. Between 1799 and 1811 twenty of his
Herefordshire prize oxen averaged £106 6s. each, and at the sale of
Mr. Ben Tomkins's herd after his death in 1819 twenty-eight breeding
animals averaged £152, one cow fetching £262 15s. Herefords are
famous for their feeding qualities at grass, and good stores are
scarce, the best being fattened on their native pastures. They are
not only almost the only breed in their own county, but few English
counties south of Shropshire are without them; they have done well in
Ireland, and in Canada, the United States, South America, and
Australia have attained great success. They are not so well qualified
for crossing as Shorthorns, but have blended well with that breed,
and produced good crosses with Ayrshires and Jerseys, but not with
Devons. It has been said that they are not a favourite sort with
London butchers, as they require time to ripen, which does not suit a
hurrying age. Hence they probably flourished best under the old
school of graziers, who sometimes kept them to six or seven years
old. At all events they are a very fine breed for beef purposes,
their meat being particularly tender, juicy, and fine-grained. They
are seldom kept for dairy purposes, being poor milkers; consequently
the calf is nearly always allowed to run with the dam, which accounts
for the fact that one seldom sees pure-bred Herefords that are not
well grown. The highest price paid for a Hereford was 4,000 guineas
for Lord Wilton in 1884.


The cattle of North Devon can be traced as the peculiar breed of the
county from which they take their name from the earliest records.
Bradley mentioned the red cattle of Somerset in 1726, and no doubt
there were many in Devonshire.[745] William Marshall states (1805),
and he is supported by subsequent writers, that 'they are of the
middle horn class', and in his time so nearly resembled the
Herefordshire breed in frame, colour, and horn, as not to be
distinguishable from them, except in the greater cleanness of the head
and fore-quarters, and their smaller size. Yet they could not have had
the white faces and throats of the Herefords, as they have always been
famous for their uniformity in colour--a fine dark red.[746] He also
compares them to the cattle of Sussex and the native cattle of
Norfolk.[747] The Devons then differed very much in different parts of
the county; those of North Devon taking the lead, being 'nearly what
cattle ought to be'. They were, considered as draught animals, the
best workers anywhere beyond all comparison, though rather small, for
which deficiency they made up in exertion and agility. As dairy cattle
they were not very good, since rearing for the east country graziers
had long been the main object of Devon cattle farmers, but as grazing
cattle they were excellent.

Vancouver, a few years after this, praised their activity in work and
their unrivalled aptitude to fatten, but says they were then
declining in their general standard of excellence, and in numbers,
owing to the great demand for them from other parts of England, where
the buyers (Mr. Coke, who had established a valuable herd of them,
and others) spared neither pains nor price to obtain those of the
highest excellence.

This danger was clearly perceived by Francis Quartly of Molland, who
set to work to remedy it by systematically buying the choicest cows he
could procure. As the reputation and perhaps continuance of the Devon
breed is due to him more than to any other man, his account of his own
efforts on behalf of it is specially valuable.[748] At the end of the
eighteenth century the principal North Devon yeomen were all breeders,
and every week you might see in the Molton Market, their natural
locality, animals that would now be called choice. There were few
cattle shows in those days, and therefore the relative value of
animals was not so easily tested. The war prices tempted many farmers
to sell their best bulls and cows out of the district, so that good
animals were becoming scarce, and the breed generally going back. Mr.
Quartly therefore for years bought all the best animals he could find
with rare skill and judgement, and continued to improve his stock till
he brought it to perfection. About the year 1834 cattle shows began at
Exeter, and for the first year or two Mr. Quartly did not compete;
then he allowed his nephews to enter in all the classes, and they
brought home all the prizes. This lead they kept, and at the Royal
Show at Exeter in 1850 their stock obtained nine out of the ten prizes
for Devons. The _Devon Herd-Book_ was first published in 1851 by
Captain T.T. Davy, and a writer in 1858 says that of twenty-nine
prize bulls in the first three volumes twenty-seven were descended
from the Quartly bull Forester, and of thirty-four prize cows
twenty-nine from the cow Curly, also of their stock.

Among other famous breeders of Devons contemporary with Quartly were
Messrs. Merson, Davy, Michael Thorne, Yapp, Buckingham, the Halses,
and George Turner.

In 1829 Moore says, 'The young heifers of North Devon, with their
taper legs, the exact symmetry of their form, and their clear coats of
dark red, are pictures of elegance.' Their superiority for grazing and
draught was proved by the high prices demanded for them, but they were
not equally esteemed as dairy animals,[749] though of late years this
reproach has been removed. The ploughing of two acres of fallow land
was the common work of four oxen, which, when fattened at five years
old, would reach eleven score a quarter.

Since the publication of the Herd-Book, Devons have spread all over
the world, to Mexico, Jamaica, Canada, Australia, France, and United
States, and the fact that in their original home they have been
largely kept by tenant farmers proves them a good rent-paying breed.
Yet it cannot be pretended that away from their native country they
are as much valued as the Shorthorn and Hereford.

The South Hams breed of South Devon is a distinct variety, though it
is believed to be descended from the 'Rubies'[750] and apparently has
at some time been crossed with the Guernsey; they are good milkers and
attain a great size, but the quality of the meat is decidedly inferior
to that of North Devon.

From the earliest times the real Devon colour has been red, varying
from a dark to a lighter or almost chestnut shade; half a century ago
the lighter ones were more numerous than at present, and they are
often of richer quality though less hardy than the dark ones.

The Sussex is larger and coarser than the Devon, of a deep brown
chestnut colour, very hardy, a beef-producing but not a milk-yielding

Longhorns,[751] a generation ago nearly extinct, once the favourite
cattle of the midlands and portions of the north, are descended from a
breed long established in the Craven district of Yorkshire. 'The true
Lancashire,' said Young in 1770, 'were Longhorns, and in Derbyshire
were a bastard sort of Lancashires.'[752] It was this breed that
Bakewell improved, and of late years great efforts, chiefly in
Warwickshire and Leicestershire, have been made to revive it.

The Red Polled, or Norfolk Polled, is the only hornless breed of
English cattle, and they are good milkers and fatteners.

The Lincoln Red is a small red variety of the Shorthorn.

Many of the Welsh breeds have spread into the adjacent parts of
England, and may be classified as North and South Welsh, or Angleseys
and Castle Martins; black in colour, and generally with long horns.

The Scottish cattle--the Aberdeen Angus, the Galloways, the Highland
breed, and the Ayrshires--are also seen in England, but not so often
as the Jerseys and Guernseys from the Channel Islands, while the
small Dexters and Kerrys from Ireland are favourites with some
English farmers.


The sheep of the British Isles may be divided into three main

1. Longwools, containing Leicesters, Border Leicester's, Cotswolds,
Lincolns, Kentish, Devon Longwool, South Devon, Wensleydale, and

2. Shortwools: the Oxford Downs, Southdowns, Shropshires, Hampshire
Downs, Suffolks, Ryelands, Somerset and Dorset Horned, and Clun

3. Mountain breeds: Cheviots, Blackfaced Mountain, Herdwick, Lonk,
Dartmoor, Exmoor, Welsh Mountain, and Limestone.

These are all English except the Border Leicester, Cheviot, and
Blackfaced Mountain, which are Scotch; the Welsh Mountain is of
course Welsh, and the Roscommon Irish.

1. The Leicesters, the largest and in many respects the most
important of British longwool sheep, are the sheep which Bakewell
improved so greatly. They are capable of being brought to a great
weight, and their long fine wool averages 7 lb. to the fleece.

The Border Leicesters are an offshoot of the last named, bred on the
Scottish Border, and originating from the flock which George and
Matthew Culley in 1767 took from the Tees to the Tweed.

The Cotswolds have been on the Gloucestershire hills for ages, and
have long been famous for the length of their fleece, hardiness, and
breeding qualities.

The Lincoln is the result of the old native breed of the county
improved by Leicester blood. They have larger heads and denser and
heavier wool than the Leicesters, averaging 8 to 9 lb. to the fleece,
but have been known to yield 14 lb.

The Kentish or Romney Marsh have long existed in the district whence
they obtain their name, but are not much known away from that

The Devon Longwool is a result of the infusion of Leicester blood
among the old Bampton stock of Devonshire called Bampton Notts or
polled sheep.

The South Devons or South Hams are another local breed, and are a
result of the improvement of the South Hams Notts by the Leicester.

The Wensleydales are descendants of the old Teeswater breed, itself a
variety of the old Leicester and improved by the new Leicesters of

2. Oxford Downs, a modern black-faced breed, now widely spread all
over the midland counties, are a mixture of Cotswolds with Hampshire
Downs and Southdowns, and originated at the beginning of Queen
Victoria's reign, but were not definitely so called till 1857. This
cross of two distinct varieties, the long and the short wool, has
approximated to the shortwool type.

The Southdown, formerly Sussex Down, an old breed bred for ages on
the chalky soils of the South Downs, is 'perhaps', says Youatt, 'the
most valuable breed in the kingdom.' It was to John Ellman of Glynde,
at the end of the eighteenth century, that they owe their present
perfection, and they have exercised as much influence among the
shortwools as the Leicesters among the longwools.

The Shropshire sheep is a descendant of the original Longmynd or old
Shropshire sheep, which began to be crossed by the Southdown at the
commencement of the nineteenth century.[753] They were recognized as a
distinct breed in 1853, and since then have become one of the most
valued breeds, combining the symmetry and quality of the Southdown
with the weight of the Cotswold and the fattening tendency of the
Leicester, with a hardier constitution.

The Hampshire Down is another instance of the widespread influence of
the Southdown, being the result of crossing that breed with the old
Wiltshire sheep, which had long curling horns, and the Berkshire
Knott. They are heavier than the Shropshire, and are perhaps more
distinguished for early maturity than any other breed.

The Suffolk is derived from the old horned Norfolk ewe mated with the
Southdown, and was first granted its name in 1859.

The Ryeland is a small, hornless, white-faced breed which has been in
Herefordshire for centuries, but of late years has dwindled in numbers
before the advent of the Shropshire.

The Somerset and Dorset Horned is another old breed, preserved in a
pure state, much improved in modern times, and very hardy.

The Clun Forest breed of West Shropshire and the adjacent parts of
Wales is a mixture of the Ryeland, Shropshire, and Welsh breeds.

3. The Cheviot is found on both sides of the hills of that name,
though Northumberland is said to be its original home, and it was
improved in the eighteenth century by crossing with the Lincoln.

The Blackfaced Mountain breed is found chiefly in Scotland, but
thrives on the bleak grazing lands of the north of England.

The Herdwicks' home is the hills of Cumberland and Westmoreland,
where they are hardy enough to fatten on the poor, thin pasture.

The Lonk is the largest mountain breed, belonging to the fells of
Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The Dartmoors and Exmoors almost certainly came from one stock,
though the former are now the larger, and are the few real survivors
of the old forest or mountain breeds of England. The Exmoor is
horned, the Dartmoor hornless.

The Welsh Mountain is a small, hardy, soft-woolled breed, their
mutton having the best flavour of any sheep, and their wool making
the famous Welsh flannel.

The Limestone is little known outside the fells of Westmoreland.


Our pigs may be roughly divided into white, black, and red; the first
comprising the Large, Middle, and Small Whites, formerly called
Yorkshires; the second the Small Black (Suffolk or Essex), the Large
Black only recently recognized, but apparently very ancient, and the
Berkshire, which often has white marks on face, legs, or tail. The
red is the Tamworth, one of the oldest breeds, its skin being red
with dark spots.


[734] Youatt, _Complete Grazier_ (1900), p. 388; cf. pp. 104-5.

[735] Youatt, _Complete Grazier_ (1900), p. 6.

[736] See above.

[737] _Rural Economy of West of England_, i. 235 cf. above, p. 235.

[738] See above.

[739] ii. 126; about 1770.

[740] Youatt, _Complete Grazier_, p. 18, and see 'Druid', _Saddle and

[741] Cf. supra, p. 167.

[742] _Culley on Live Stock_ (1807), p. 42.

[743] See p. 233.

[744] Much of these accounts of Herefords and Devons is from the
author's articles in the _Victoria County History_.

[745] See above.

[746] Risdon, _Survey_ (1810), Introd. p. viii.

[747] _Rural Economy of West of England_, i. 235. Risdon says of
Devonshire: 'As to cattle, no part of the Kingdom is better supplied
with beasts of all sorts, whether for profit or pleasure,' those for
pleasure being apparently wild ones kept in parks.--Chapple's _Review
of Risdon's Survey_, p. 23.

[748] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1st ser.), xi. 680. See also ibid. xix. 368,
and (2nd ser.) v. 107; xiv. 663; xx. 691.

[749] _History of Devon_, i. 456.

[750] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (3rd ser.), i. 527.

[751] See above.

[752] _Northern Tour_, ii. 126.

[753] _R.A.S.E. Journal_ (1858), p. 42.




                  WHEAT.          BARLEY.        OATS.

  1259-1400    5s. 10-3/4d.    4s. 3-3/4d.    2s.  5-3/4d.
  1401-1540    5s. 11-3/4d.    3s. 8-3/4d.    2s.  2-1/4d.
  1541-82     13s. 10-1/2d.    8s. 5-3/4d.    5s.  5-1/2d.
  1583-1700   39s.  0-1/2d.   21s. 4d.       13s. 10d.

                  RYE.            BEANS.

  1259-1400    4s. 4-7/8d.     4s. 3-1/2d.
  1401-1540    4s. 7-3/4d.     3s. 9-1/4d.
  1541-82        --            9s. 1-1/2d.
  1583-1700      --           22s. 3-1/4d.


                OXEN.             COWS.      CART HORSES.[755]

  1259-1400   13s. 1-1/4d.       9s. 5d.     16s. 4d.
  1401-1540   moderate increase    14s.      unaltered
  1541-82         55s.             32s.      great increase
  1583-1700      100s.             60s.      1580-1640  £5 to £10
                                             1640-1700  £8 to £15

              SHEEP.              LAMBS.      (GROWN).         BOARS.

  1259-1400   1s. 2d. to 1s. 5d.    8d.          3s.           4s. 7d.
  1401-1540   moderate increase     9d.       unaltered           6s.
  1541-82     3s. to  4s. 6d.   2s. to 3s.  6s. 8d. to 8s.        --
  1583-1700     10s. 7d.            --               great increase


                HENS.        DUCKS.      GEESE.      EGGS.

  1259-1400     1-6/8d.          2d.     3-5/8d.     4-1/2d. per 120
  1401-1540     2-1/4d.      2-1/4d.     4-3/4d.     6-1/2d     "
  1541-82       4-3/4d.      4-3/4d.        10d.     7-1/2d.    "
  1583-1700     8d.-1s.      9-1/4d.         2s.     3s. 3d.    "

              WOOL.          CHEESE.             BUTTER.
              Per lb.

  1259-1400   3-5/7d.     4-1/2d. per 7 lb.   4-3/4d. per 7 lb.
  1401-1540   3-5/7d.       1/2d. per lb.         1d. per lb.
  1541-82     7-1/2d.         1d.    "            3d.    "
  1583-1702   9d.-1s.     3-1/2d.    "        4-1/2d.    "

                  HAY.              HOPS.
                  Per load.         Per cwt.

  1259-1400        3s. 8d.            --
  1401-1540    unaltered 14s.       0-1/2d.
  1541-82          9s. 6d.          26s. 8d.
  1583-1702       26s. 4d.          82s. 9d.


               Reaping          Reaping                  Labourer per
                 wheat           oats         Mowing      day without
               per acre.        per acre.    per acre.       food.

  1261-1350     5-5/8d.          4-7/8d.      5-1/4d.        2d.
  1351-1400     8-1/2d.          8-1/4d.      7d.            3d.
  1401-1540     9-3/4d.          8-1/4d.      8-1/8d.        4d.
  1541-82        --[756]           --           --            6-1/2d.
  1583-1640      --                --          1s. 7d.        8-1/2d.
  1640-1700      --                --          1s. 8d.        10d.


                        To Rent.                    To Buy.
                  Arable.       Grass.

  1261-1350       4d.-6d.       1s.-2s.        12 years' purchase
  1351-1400         6d.           2s.                  "
  1401-1540         6d.           2s.             15-20 years
  1541-82           slight increase                unaltered
  1583-1640         great increase                 20 years
  1641-1700         5s.           8s.                 "
  1770                    10s.                     30 years


[754] Summarized from Thorold Rogers' prices in his _History of
Agriculture and Prices_, with some alterations.

[755] Affri, 13s. 5d. cart horses, 19s. 4d. A good saddle horse about
1300 was worth £5. By 1580 it was worth £10 to £15, by 1700 £20 to

[756] A decided increase, but prices fluctuate so much that it is hard
to strike an average.



           Exports.      Imports.
           Quarters.     Quarters.

  1697      14,699           400
  1703     166,615            50
  1717      22,954          none
  1728       3,817        74,574
  1733     427,199             7
  1750     947,602           279

  Great Britain.
  1757      11,545       141,562
  1758       9,234        20,353
  1761     441,956          none
  1767       5,071       497,905
  1770      75,449            34
  1775      91,037       560,988
  1776     210,664        20,578
  1780     224,059         3,915
  1786     205,466        51,463
  1787     120,536        59,339
  1789     140,014       112,656
  1791      70,626       469,056
  1796      24,679       879,200
  1801      28,406     1,424,765
  1808      98,005        84,889
  1810      75,785     1,567,126
  1815     227,947       384,475
  1825      38,796       787,606
  1837     308,420     1,109,492
  1839      42,512     3,110,729
  1842      68,047     3,111,290

The above figures are taken from McCulloch's _Commercial
Dictionary_, 1847, p. 438, and agree roughly with those given by
McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, iii. 674, and iv. 216 and 532.

After 1842, exports played a very small part, and imports continued
to increase; in 1847, 4,612,110 _quarters_ of wheat and flour
came in; and the following figures show their growth in recent


     1861-5        34,651,549
     1866-70       37,273,678
     1871-5        50,495,127
     1876-80       63,309,874
     1881-5        77,285,881
     1886-90       77,794,380
     1891-5        96,582,863
     1896-1900     95,956,376
     1901-5       111,638,817

With regard to the exports and imports of all kinds of corn, large
quantities were exported in the first half of the eighteenth century.
In 1733, 800,000 quarters were sent to France, Portugal, Spain, and
Italy,[757] and exports reached their maximum in 1750 with 1,667,778
quarters, but by 1760 had decreased to 600,000, and after that fell
considerably; in 1771, for instance, the first year of the corn
register, they only amounted to 81,665 quarters, whereas imports were
203,122. The figures of the imports were swollen by the large
quantities of oats which came into England at this time. The following
years are typical of the fluctuations in the trade:--

                  Exports.             Imports.
  1774             47,961              803,844
  1776            376,249              444,121
  1780            400,408              219,093
  1782            278,955              133,663
  1783            104,274              852,389
  1784-8      large excess of imports, mainly oats
  1789            652,764              478,426

the last year when exports of all kinds of corn exceeded imports.[758]

To sum up, according to these figures, England's exports of wheat
regularly exceeded her imports from 1697 until 1757, with the
exception of the years 1728-9; then they fluctuated till 1789, the
last year in which exports of wheat exceeded imports, and as the same
year is the last time when our exports of all kinds of corn exceeded
our imports, England at that date ceased to be an exporting country.[759]


[757] McPherson, _Annals of Commerce_, iii. 198.

[758] Ibid. iii. 674; iv. 216, 532.

[759] The excess of exports of wheat in 1808 was accidentally due to
the requirements of the army in Spain.



           s. d.     s. d.     s. d.

  1771     48  7     26  5     17  2
  1772     52  3     26  1     16  8
  1773     52  7     29  2     17  8
  1774     54  3     29  4     18  4
  1775     49 10     26  9     17  0

  1776     39  4     20  9     15  5
  1777     46 11     21  1     16  1
  1778     43  3     23  4     15  7
  1779     34  8     20  1     14  5
  1780     36  9     17  6     13  2

  1781     46  0     17  8     14  1
  1782     49  3     23  2     15  7
  1783     54  3     31  3     20  5
  1784     50  4     28  8     18 10
  1785     43  1     24  9     17  8

  1786     40  0     25  1     18  6
  1787     42  5     23  4     17  2
  1788     46  4     22  8     16  1
  1789     52  9     23  6     16  6
  1790     54  9     26  3     19  5

  1791     48  7     26 10     18  1
  1792     43  0     27  7     16  9
  1793     49  3     31  1     20  6
  1794     52  3     31  9     21  3
  1795     75  2     37  5     24  5

  1796     78  7     35  4     21 10
  1797     53  9     27  2     16  3
  1798     51 10     29  0     19  5
  1799     69  0     36  2     27  6
  1800    113 10     59 10     39  4

  1801    119  6     68  6     37  0
  1802     69 10     33  4     20  4
  1803     58 10     25  4     21  6
  1804     62  3     31  0     24  3
  1805     89  9     44  6     28  4

  1806     79  1     38  8     27  7
  1807     75  4     39  4     28  4
  1808     81  4     43  5     33  4
  1809     97  4     47  0     31  5
  1810    106  5     48  1     28  7

  1811     95  3     42  3     27  7
  1812    126  6     66  9     44  6
  1813    109  9     58  6     38  6
  1814     74  4     37  4     25  8
  1815     65  7     30  3     23  7

  1816     78  6     33 11     27  2
  1817     96 11     49  4     32  5
  1818     86  3     53 10     32  5
  1819     74  6     45  9     28  2
  1820     67 10     33 10     24  2

  1821     56  1     26  0     19  6
  1822     44  7     21 10     18  1
  1823     53  4     31  6     22 11
  1824     63 11     36  4     24 10
  1825     68  6     40  0     25  8

  1826     58  8     34  4     26  8
  1827     58  6     37  7     28  2
  1828     60  5     32 10     22  6
  1829     66  3     32  6     22  9
  1830     64  3     32  7     24  5

  1831     66  4     38  0     25  4
  1832     58  8     33  1     20  5
  1833     52 11     27  6     18  5
  1834     46  2     29  0     20 11
  1835     39  4     29 11     22  0

  1836     48  6     32 10     23  1
  1837     55 10     30  4     23  1
  1838     64  7     31  5     22  5
  1839     70  8     39  6     25 11
  1840     66  4     36  5     25  8

  1841     64  4     32 10     22  5
  1842     57  3     27  6     19  3
  1843     50  1     29  6     18  4
  1844     51  3     33  8     20  7
  1845     50 10     31  8     22  6

  1846     54  8     32  8     23  8
  1847     69  9     44  2     28  8
  1848     50  6     31  6     20  6
  1849     44  3     27  9     17  6
  1850     40  3     23  5     16  5

  1851     38  6     24  9     18  7
  1852     40  9     28  6     19  1
  1853     53  3     33  2     21  0
  1854     72  5     36  0     27 11
  1855     74  8     34  9     27  5

  1856     69  2     41  1     25  2
  1857     56  4     42  1     25  0
  1858     44  2     34  8     24  6
  1859     43  9     33  6     23  2
  1860     53  3     36  7     24  5

  1861     55  4     36  1     23  9
  1862     55  5     35  1     22  7
  1863     44  9     33 11     21  2
  1864     40  2     29 11     20  1
  1865     41 10     29  9     21 10

  1866     49 11     37  5     24  7
  1867     64  5     40  0     26  0
  1868     63  9     43  0     28  1
  1869     48  2     39  5     26  0
  1870     46 11     34  7     22 10

  1871     56  8     36  2     25  2
  1872     57  0     37  4     23  2
  1873     58  8     40  5     25  5
  1874     55  9     44 11     28 10
  1875     45  2     38  5     28  8

  1876     46  2     35  2     26  3
  1877     56  9     39  8     25 11
  1878     46  5     40  2     24  4
  1879     43 10     34  0     21  9
  1880     44  4     33  1     23  1

  1881     45  4     31 11     21  9
  1882     45  1     31  2     21 10
  1883     41  7     31 10     21  5
  1884     35  8     30  8     20  3
  1885     32 10     30  1     20  7

  1886     31  0     26  7     19  0
  1887     32  6     25  4     16  3
  1888     31 10     27 10     16  9
  1889     29  9     25 10     17  9
  1890     31 11     28  8     18  7

  1891     37  0     28  2     20  0
  1892     30  3     26  2     19 10
  1893     26  4     25  7     18  9
  1894     22 10     24  6     17  1
  1895     23  1     21 11     14  6

  1896     26  2     22 11     14  9
  1897     30  2     23  6     16 11
  1898     34  0     27  2     18  5
  1899     25  8     25  7     17  0
  1900     26 11     24 11     17  7

  1901     26  9     25  2     18  5
  1902     28  1     25  8     20  2
  1903     26  9     22  8     17  2
  1904     28  4     22  4     16  4
  1905     29  8     24  4     17  4

  1906     28  3     24  2     18  4
  1907     30  7     25  1     18 10



Gregory King, at the end of the seventeenth century, estimated the
acreage of England and Wales at 39,000,000--not at all a bad
estimate, the area, excluding water, according to the Board of
Agriculture Returns of 1907, being 37,130,344. The different
estimates by Grew, Templeman, Petty, Young, Halley, Middleton, and
others varied between 31,648,000 and 46,916,000 acres. The last, that
of Arthur Young, was actually adopted by Pitt for his estimate of the

       *       *       *       *       *

Caird in 1850[761] estimated the cultivated lands of England at
27,000,000 acres (in 1907 they were 24,585,455 acres), cultivated

  Permanent grass      13,333,000
  Arable               13,667,000

the latter being divided as follows:--

                                    Acres.    Bushels     Produce,
                                              per acre.   quarters.

  Wheat                           3,416,750      27      11,531,531
  Barley                          1,416,750      38       6,729,562
  Oats and rye                    2,000,000      44      11,000,000
  Clover and seeds                2,277,750
  Beans and peas                  1,139,000      30       4,271,250
  Turnips, marigolds, & potatoes  2,116,750
  Rape and fallow                 1,300,000

Davenant, at the end of the seventeenth century, made the following
estimate showing the importance of wool in English trade[762]:--

  Annual income of England        £43,000,000
  Yearly rent of land              10,000,000
  Value of wool shorn yearly        2,000,000
    "      woollen manufactures    10,000,000

Thus the rents of land formed nearly one-fourth the total income of
the country, and wool paid one-fifth of the rents.[763]

In the eighteenth century a great quantity of wool was smuggled out
of England in defiance of the law; in the space of four months in
1754, 4,000 tods was 'run' into Boulogne.[764]



  1766          1,926,000
  1771          1,829,000
  1780            323,000
  1790          2,582,000
  1800          8,609,000
  1810         10,914,000
  1820          9,775,000
  1830         32,305,000
  1840         49,436,000
  1850         74,326,000
  1855         99,300,000
  1857        127,390,000


                                                               s.  d.

  Day labourer, per day, in winter                             1   4
       "           "     in summer                             1   6
  Reaping wheat, per acre                                      7   0
        "          "      and according to the crop up to     12   0
  Mowing barley, per acre                                      2   6
     "   oats,     "                               1s. 6d. to  2   0
     "   grass     "                                           2   6
  Hand-hoeing turnips, per acre, first time                    6   0
           "              "      second time                   4   0
  Thatching hayricks, per square of 100 ft.                    1   0
  Washing and shearing sheep, per score                        3   0
  Ploughing light land, per acre                               5   0
      "     stiff   "     "                           7s. to  10   0
  Common hurdles, each                                             5


In 1816 there were said to be 589,374 occupiers of land in Great

  With incomes under £50              114,778
  Between £50 and £150                432,534
  Over £150                            42,062

In 1907 there were 510,954 occupiers of one acre and more.


        Bailiff.   Shepherd.   Labourer.   Woman.   Boy.

  1800    £20         £16         £12        £8      £6
  1850     40          25          20        10       8
  1880     52          36          30        15      10

The average annual cost of living of an agricultural family of five
was in 1823 £31, in 1883, £37.


 Periods.    Wheat.     Meat.      Wool.      Wages.     Horses.

 1200-99     5-1/2          ...        3-1/2       ...
 1300-99     6-1/4          ...        4-3/4       ...
 1400-99     3              ...        5-1/2       ...
 1500-99     6              ...        5-1/2       ...
 1600-99     9-1/4          ...        8           ...
 1700-66     7-3/4       7-1/2     12         10          15-3/4
 1767-89    11          11-1/2     15-1/3     12-1/2      17-1/4
 1790-1803  13          16-1/2     16-1/6     16-3/4      19-1/2
 1804-10    20          20         20         20          20

Thus wheat in 1804-10 had risen 233 per cent. since the sixteenth


The following table, published by Mr. Barton in 1817,[768] shows
the depreciation of the labourer's wages in purchasing power between
1742 and 1808:--

             Weekly      Price of    Wages in
  Period.     pay.        wheat.     pints of
              s.  d.      s.   d.     bread.

  1742-52     6   0       30   0        102
  1761-70     7   6       42   6         90
  1780-90     8   0       51   2         80
  1795-9      9   0       70   8         65
  1800-8     11   0       86   8         60

In answer to inquiries sent by the Poor Law Commissioners in 1834 to
900 parishes in England the average weekly wages of labourers were--

  in summer,
                                                  s.     d.

         in 254 parishes, with beer or cider      10   4-3/4
            522    "      without beer or cider   10   5-1/2

  in winter,

         in 200    "      with beer or cider       9   2-1/4
            544    "      without beer or cider    9   11-3/4

The annual average inclusive earnings of the labourer

                                           £     s.   d.

  himself were stated at                   27   17   10
  and of his wife and children             13   19   10
                                           41   17    8

It will thus be seen that the wife and children provided a third of
the income. The majority of the parishes said the labourer could
maintain his family on these wages.

Here is the weekly budget of a labourer with an average family in

            Cr.            s.  d.

  Wages                    15  0
  Garden                    1  6
  Extras                    1  0
                           17  6

            Dr.             s. d.

  Rent                      1  7-1/2
  Bread                     6  0
  Bacon                     2  6
  Tea and sugar             1  3
  Cheese                    1  6
  Butter                    1  6
  Fuel                      1  3
  Candles and soap          0  6
  Clothes                   1  6
  Schooling                 0  3
  Sundries                  0  6
                           18  4-1/2

There is no fresh meat, and it is hard to say where any economy could
be practised.


           £    s.   d.

   1730    1    5    8
   1740    1    8    0
   1750    1    6    6
   1760    1   11    6
   1770    1    8    6
   1780    1   12    6
   1790    1   16   10
   1800    4    4
   1810    3   12    0
   1815    3    8    0
   1820    3   10    4
   1825    2   19    6
   1830    2    3    6
   1835    2    0    7
   1840    2   14    0
   1842    2   12    8


[760] C. Wren Hoskyns, _Pamphlet on Agricultural Statistics_, p. 19.

[761] _English Agriculture in 1850-1_, p. 521. Cf. above, p. 331.

[762] Smith, _Memoirs of Wool_, i. 157.

[763] In 1908 the rental of agricultural land was 3-1/2 per cent. of
the total income of the country. See _The Times_ May 13, 1909.

[764] Ibid. ii. 264.

[765] Cunningham, _Industry and Commerce_, ii. 693. Cf. above, p. 328.

[766] Trusler, _Practical Husbandry_, p. 153.

[767] Farmer's Magazine (1817), p. 6. Statistics at this date,
however, must be taken with caution. They were usually estimates. Cf.
above, p. 334, for holdings in England.

[768] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1881), xvi, 305.

[769] _Parliamentary Reports, Commissioners_ (1881), xvi. 310.

[770] McCulloch, _Commercial Dictionary_ (1852), p. 271.



Abbot's Ripton, 72.

Aberdeen Angus cattle, 288, 343.

Accounts, keeping, 29, 49.

Accumulation of estates, 123.

Acre, 2; tenantry, 253.

Advantages of large farms, 202.

Affer, the, 35.

Agricultural Holdings Acts, 283, 296, 299-303.

Agricultural revolution, the, of eighteenth century, 162.

  state of, 28, 38, 111, 113, 115, 123, 132, 160, 162, 192, 204,
    211, 221, 229, 244, 245, 250, 265, 267, 274, 287, 305;
  seventeenth-century writers on, 127;
  state of, in eighteenth century, 162, 192, 221, 229;
  nineteenth, 244, 245, 262-70, 271, 287.

Aitchison, 237.

Akermanni, 13.

Alderney cattle, 233.

Ale, 10.

Allotments, 196, 230, 253, 255n., 315-7.

Allowance system, 237.

Allowances, parish, 238, 241, 257, 284.

Almaine, corn from, 20.

Almonds, 93, 136.

Amalgamation of farms, 29, 46, 47, 95, 119, 120, 162, 202, 258, 317.

  gold discoveries in, 287;
  imports from, 262, 293, 323-4.

Ancaster, Earl of, estate of, 321.

Andover, 39.

Anti-Corn Law League, 280.

Apples, 15, 65, 93, 129, 130, 131, 135-6, 143, 171, 186-9, 329, 332.
  (_See_ Prices.)

Apprentices, 108.

Apricots, 93, 136.

Arable district of England (1893), 306n.

Arable fields, 1, 2, 4, 16, 73.

Arable land, 56, 99, 100, 195;
  amount of, in 1688, 155;
  decrease of, 59;
  extent of, in Domesday, 19;
  in 1770, 199;
  in 1850, 353;
  in 1877 and 1907, 332;
  preponderance of, 25, 30;
  produce of, in 1688, 155;
  suffers more than grass, 248, 266, 281, 285, 286, 306;
  value of, 19, 40, 58, 115-7, 139.

Arch, Joseph, 290-2.

Ardley, Inquisition of, 9.

Argentina, imports from, 324.

Arley, Upper, wine made at, 145.

Artificial grasses, _see_ Clover, improve commons, 166.

Ash timber, value of, 137.

Assize of beer, 13, 14n.

Association, British, 336.

Average crops of corn (1770), 197.
  (_See under_ Wheat, Oats, Barley, &c.)

Average size of farms in 1768, 202.

Averagium, 10.

Australia, gold discoveries in, 287;
  imports from, 324;
  sheep introduced into, 328;
  wool from, 328.

Axholme, 123, 260, 311, 318.

Ayrshires, 339, 343.


Bacon, Lord, 322,

Bacon, 'the necessary meate' of the labourer, 102, 140;
  price of, _see_ Prices.

Badger, a corn dealer, 134.

Bailiff, 12, 29, 49, 51, 61, 71, 103, 109, 110, 137, 139, 355.

Bakewell, 146, 163-7, 214-7, 226, 233, 343, 344.

Balance sheet, estate, 307;
  farm, in 1805, 247;
  in 1888, 309.

Balks, 3.

Ball, John, 60.

Banbury cheese, 173.

Bank Restriction Act, 239, 240, 263.

Barking Nunnery, vineyard at, 144.

Barley, 20, 33, 36, 65, 91, 124, 135, 142, 155, 182, 227, 331-2, 353;
  cost of, per acre, 198;
  produce, per acre, 165n., 197-8;
  profit on, 179, 180. (_See_ Prices.)

Barns, size of, 51.

Barren years at end of seventeenth century, 115, 157.

Basic slag, 304.

Bassingthorpe, 103.

Bates, Thomas, 274, 338.

Bath, wine made at, 145.

Beale, John, 128, 130.

Beans, 17, 33, 49, 124, 155, 187, 201, 262, 331-2, 353;
  cost of growing, 199;
  profit on, 180. (_See_ Prices.)

Bedford, Duke of, 225, 318, 321.

Bedfordshire, 3, 18, 79, 120, 123, 238, 306.

Beef, price of, _see_ Prices.

Beer, 36, 329.

  live stock in, 334;
  wheat crops in, 332n.

Belvoir estate, 115, 286.

Berkeley estates, 3, 27n., 35n., 48, 56, 64, 74, 75.

Berkshire, 104, 175, 237, 284, 286, 306n.

Berkshire Knotts, 345;
  pigs, 346.

Berlin decrees, 242.

Best, Henry, accounts of, 138-40.

Bideford, 262.

Biggleswade, 318.

Birds eating fruit, 129.

Black Death, 27, 41-3, 59, 75.

Black Year, the, 294.

Blight, Hop, 150.

Blyth, 113, 127, 137, 152.

Board of Agriculture, 192, 193, 214, 229-33, 255;
  (Government), 290.

Bones for manure, 154-5, 273, 275-6, 299.

Booth, Thomas, 337-8.

Bordarii, 8, 11.

Boston, 308, 318, 327.

Boys' wages, 206.

Bradley, 152, 167, 168-9, 170, 171, 181, 336.

Brampton, 235.

Bread, different kinds of, 54, 102, 206-7, 230;
  rye, 101, 134, 206;
  wheaten, a luxury, 101;
  common, 207, 240;
  made of turnips, 157;
  price of (_see_ Prices).

Breeding of stock, 37, 146, 167, 215-7, 256, 273.

Brentford, 157.

Bridport, 262.

Bright, John, 280.

Buckinghamshire, 78, 146, 172, 291, 306n.

Buckwheat, 332.

Budget, labourer's weekly, 206, 208, 356.

Buildings, farm, and repairs, 51, 272, 279, 282, 299, 302, 307, 310.

Bull, description of a (1726), 167.

Burford, riot at, 185.

Buri, 8, 11.

Bury St. Edmunds, 110, 147.

Butter, 33, 63n., 66, 114, 138, 140, 161, 174, 205, 206n., 241, 247
  (_see_ Prices), 304, 305, 313, 325;
  exports of, 326-7.

By-industries of peasant, 110, 239, 250, 257, 260, 269, 317.


Cabbages, 112, 143, 187, 191, 194, 200, 201, 331.

Cadaveratores, 13.

Caird, Sir James, 279, 281, 285, 287, 310, 314, 319n.

Cake, 296, 300, 305, 314.

Calstock, 318.

Calves, killing of, forbidden, 86;
  rearing, 125.

Cambridgeshire, 79, 151, 167, 222, 262, 306n., 318.

Camden, 173, 335.

Canada, imports from, 323-4.

Canterbury, hops from, 171.

Capital of farmers, 197, 203-4.

Carrington, Lord, 231.

Carrots, 112, 128, 143, 167, 191, 194, 331. 332.

Carter, wages of, 110.

Cart-horses, price of, 35, 114.

Carts, 153.

Cattle, Chillingham, 336;
  diseases, 85;
  export of, 326, 330;
  improvement in, 336, 337, 338 (_see_ Cattle, size of);
  number of, in 1867 and 1878, 288;
  in 1907, 333-4;
  original breed of, 336;
  price of, _see_ Prices;
  size of, 37, 104, 146, 169, 288, 336, 342;
  separation of, for summer pasture, 124;
  sorts of (1726), 167 (_see under_ Various breeds);
  about 1800, 235;
  in 1839, 274;
  in 1892, 274, 336;
  time to buy, 125. (_See_ Bakewell, Collings, Exports, _and_ Imports.)

Cattle plagues, of eighteenth century, 172, 185-6, 290;
  of nineteenth century, 289-90, 294.

Cauliflowers, 143.

Causes of high prices at end of eighteenth century, 240.

Celery, 318.

Chamberlayne, 259.

Cheddar cheese, 173.

Cheese, 33, 63n., 66, 161, 173, 174, 200, 206n., 276, 305, 313, 325.
  (_See_ Prices, Exports, _and_ Imports.)

Chelmsford, 110, 171, 307.

Chemistry, agricultural, 232, 243, 275.

Cherries, 15, 129, 130, 131, 136, 143, 171, 329, 332.

Cheshire, 3, 110, 167, 173, 224, 276, 295, 306.

Chestnuts, 136.

Cheviots, 344, 346,

Child, Josiah, 117.

Christ Church, Canterbury, 42.

Cider, 37, 130, 131, 135-6, 149, 187-9, 207, 269.

Cistercians, good farmers, 29, 327.

Civil War, checks improvement, 113;
  family settlements after, 123.

Claret made in Oxfordshire, 145.

Clarke, 236.

Close parishes, 158, 284.

Cloth made in England, 69, 70.

Clothes, part of wages, 28, 109;
  of labourer, 54, 71, 109, 185, 206-8, 211, 311;
  of farmer, 105, 213.

Clover, cost of growing, 198;
  extent of, 331, 333, 353;
  introduced, 111, 112;
  spread of, 115, 141-2, 164, 166, 178, 179, 191, 194;
  seed, price of, 223;
  sown with corn, 166.

Clun Forest sheep, 344, 346.

Clydesdale horse, 335.

Cobbett, 107, 226, 265, 268.

Cobden, Richard, 279n., 280, 285n.

Coinage, depreciation of, 44, 59, 89.

Coke of Holkham, 163, 182, 224-8, 275, 341.

'Coke's Clippings', 227.

Coleseed, 115.

Coliberti, 8.

Collings, the, 146, 163, 167, 233-5, 337.

Combe, 53.

'Comet,' 234, 235.

Commissions, Royal, on Agriculture, &c., 260, 266, 289, 294-6, 300, 303,
  304, 305, 311-14, 316, 318, 320, 329.

Committees, Parliamentary, 256, 258, 263n., 266, 267.

Common, John, 303.

Common fields, 22, 26, 78, 112, 113, 118-9, 120, 194, 253, 258.

Common land, 3, 145, 148;
  evils of, 148, 194, 256, 257;
  improvement of, 166.

Common pasture, _see_ Pasture _and_ Meadows.

Commons, advantages of, 165;
  extent of, in 1795, 231;
  rights of, lost, 253.

Communities and corporations contrasted, 2.

Commutation of labour services for money, 27, 45.

Compensation for improvements, 296, 299-302.

Competition, foreign, 296, 297, 312, 315, 319, 323-30.

Consolidation of farms, _see_ Amalgamation.

Contractors for labour, 209.

Co-operation in agriculture, 1.

Copyholders, 59, 121-2.

Corn laws, 63, 64, 69, 70, 159, 160, 242, 248, 250, 265-6, 277-80.

Cornwall, 136, 186, 295, 309, 318.

Cost of living (1773-1800), 241.

Cotarii, 8, 11, 25.

Cotswold sheep, 233, 275, 343, 344;
  wool, famous, 172.

Cottages, 52, 117, 121n., 139, 158, 159, 206, 209, 250, 254, 255,
  267-8, 285, 297, 304, 311n., 315-6.

Court Rolls, of Manydown, 13.

Cowper, John, 165.

Cows, decrease in number of, 96;
  increase, 325;
  let out by the year, 34, 57, 65;
  yield of, 33, 64. (_See_ Prices of Cattle.)

Craik improves drill, 202.

Craven, migration from, 44.

Crimean War, effect of, 277n., 287.

Crondall, 28.

Crows' and magpies' nests to be destroyed, 100.

Culley, George, 217, 234, 337, 344.

Cultivated land, amount of, in 1685, 120;
  in 1867, 288.

Cultivation, Walter of Henley on, 32;
  of England, in 1688, 155;
  the old and new ways of, 177, 180, 194, 200-2.

Cultivation, clauses, 57, 178, 218, 296, 302, 322.

Cumberland, 238, 295, 309, 311, 346.

Currants, 331.

Custom of the country, 299, 300n., 302 (_see_ Tenant right).

Cuxham, manor of, 24.

Cylindrical drain pipes, 272.


Dairy, the, and dairying, 33, 59, 168, 170, 173, 199-200, 297, 307,
  306, 313, 319, 325, 340-1.
  (_See_ Butter, Cheese, _and_ Milk.)

Damsons, 15, 136.

Danegeld, 6.

Dartmoor sheep, 344, 346.

Davenant, 115, 117, 120, 260, 354.

Daventry, common fields at, 115, 117, 120, 260, 354.

Davy, Sir H., 232, 276;
  T.T., 342.

Dealers, legislation against, 86, 93, 134;
  complaints against, 237.

Defoe, Daniel, 166, 168, 169, 171, 174, 220, 259.

Degge, Simon, 122.

Demesne, 7, 15, 30, 45, 56, 58, 65, 74, 97, 99.

Denmark, imports from, 241, 262, 323-4;
  livestock in, 334;
  wheat crops in, 332n.

Depression, agricultural, 163, 183, 184, 223, 228, 242, 248,
  262-70, 281, 292, 293-6, 305-14.

Derby, Lord, estate of, 320n.

Derbyshire, 44, 167, 309, 343.

Devon cattle, 168, 217, 225, 233, 274, 288, 336, 339, 340-3.
  (_See_ Southams.)

Devon sheep, 343, 344.

Devonshire, 37, 73, 107, 113, 128, 132, 136, 186, 187, 244, 245, 269,
  272, 295, 306, 309, 338.

Devonshiring, 141.

D'Ewes, Sir S., quoted, 117, 133.

Dexters, 343.

Dibbling wheat, 135.

Digging for wheat, 135.

Diseases of Animals Act (1890), 290.

Dishley, 214-6.

Distress, law of, 296, 301;
  periods of, 42, 68 (_see_ Depression, agricultural), 237, 242.

Divining rod, 232.

Domesday, 5, 14, 16, 19, 60, 79, 144.

Doncaster, roads near, 221.

Dorking, manor of, 65.

Dorset, 3, 263, 285, 291, 312, 318;
  sheep, 344, 346.

Dovecotes, _see_ Pigeons.

Drainage, 16, 32, 113, 128, 129, 137, 154, 163, 201, 202, 213-4, 219, 230,
  271, 273, 279, 282, 288, 299, 300, 305, 307, 310.

Drills, 113, 152, 175-7, 180, 183, 200-2, 226, 227, 271, 274.

Drinking habits, 207-8, 269.

Drying hops, 151.

Duchesses, the, 234, 274, 338.

Duckham, Mr., 339.

Ducks, 170 (_see_ Poultry).

Dugdale, 77.

Du-Hamel, 202.

Durham, 119, 337.

Durham ox, 234, 235.

Dutch breed of cattle, _see_ Shorthorns.


Eakring, common meadows at, 22.

Eardisley, 5.

East Indies, wool from, 328.

Eden, account of potatoes, 106, 207, 238, 256.

Education Acts, 292, 297.

Egypt, imports from, 323.

Eighteenth century, general characteristics of, 162.

Electricity applied to vegetables, 236.

Elevator, hay and straw, 304.

Elkington of Princethorpe, 213-4, 230, 271.

Ellis, Chiltern and Vale Farming, 180.

Ellman, John, 217, 345.

Enclosers prosecuted in Star Chamber, 120.

Enclosure, 74-82, 85, 92, 96, 97, 119, 173, 182, 194, 228, 252-261;
  agreement as to, 98;
  acts of, 119, 163, 196, 231, 233, 252, 253, 258;
  amount of, exaggerated, 121;
  different kinds of, 73, 119, 165, 196;
  eighteenth century, 163, 165, 173, 182, 183, 194, 196, 253;
  evils of, 194, 195, 252-3, 254-61, 316;
  expense of, 196, 252;
  non-parliamentary,165, 253;
  a deed of, 75;
  a sign of progress, 76, 114, 139, 145-8, 253;
  legislation against, 79, 80, 120;
  checked, 120.

England, appearance of, in fifteenth century, 78;
  in the seventeenth, 120-1.

English invaders, 1.

Entails, barred, 122.

Essex, 62, 78, 106, 128, 173, 190, 225, 286, 295, 306, 309, 319.

Estates, great, accumulation of, 123;
  advantages of, 322;
  often a loss, 321.

Evelyn, John, 127, 149.

Evesham, Vale of, 318.

Ewes, milking of, 33, 64, 200.

Exhibition, Great, 287, 304.

Exmoor sheep, 344, 346.

Exporting country, England ceases to be an, 161, 163.

Exports of butter and cheese, 326-7.

Exports of corn, 63n., 64, 70, 159-161, 183, 185, 242, 267, 348-9;
  reaches its maximum, 186;
  of livestock, 325-6;
  of wool, 39, 69, 172, 327.

Extensive cultivation, 2.

Extent of the Manor, 10.

Eyton, Mr., 339.


Faggots, price of, 114.

Fairs for hops, 171;
  horses, 105;
  sheep, 172n.;
  wool, 172n.

Fallows, utilized, 112, 177, 181, 191, 195;
  in 1877, 1907, 331;
  in 1850, 353.

Families employed on common and on enclosed land, 195.

Farm or feorm, 5.

Farmer, day's work of, in seventeenth century, 134;
  discontent of, 127-8, 184;
  financial position of, 101, 103, 156, 162, 184, 195, 204, 212-3, 243,
    247, 257-8, 264-5, 293, 307, 308, 310, 320;
  growing more skilful, 101, 132.

_Farmer's Letters_, Young's, 192.

Farmhouses, 51, 101, 116, 119, 213, 226.

Farming, bad, 273, 281;
  improvement in, 28, 111, 113, 115, 132, 160, 162, 192, 204, 211, 221,
    229, 244, 265, 267, 271, 274, 275, 281, 288.

Farming calendar, 17, 124.

Farms, in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 116-7;
  size of (1768), 202.

Farnham, hops, 171.

Fashion, farming becomes the, 192, 193.

Fattening oxen, 31, 58, 125, 136-7, 166, 214, 216, 225n., 235, 288;
  sheep, 112, 166, 225n.;
  chickens, 170.

'Favourite', 234.

Feeding pigs, 16, 125.

Fences, legislation as to, 4.

Fens, the, 78, 123, 170, 318.

Feversham, fruit growing near, 128, 171.

Fifteenth century, character of, 68.

Figs, 15, 93, 136.

Filberts, 93, 136.

Fitzherbert, 31, 61, 76, 77, 83-5, 111, 132, 135.

Fixtures, 301.

Flanders, cattle, 338;
  clover from, 111, 166;
  hops from, 86, 150;
  wool exported to, 39, 327;
  sheep exported to, 326.

Flax, 17, 105, 135, 141, 151-2, 191, 251, 331, 332.

Fleece, weight of, 37, 41, 104, 200, 215.

Fleta, quoted, 12, 13.

Floor, for hop-picking, 91, 151.

Flour, exports and imports of, 348-9.

Fluctuations in price of corn, 35, 66, 89, 133, 142, 157, 186, 221,
  223, 277.

Fold soke, 9.

Folding quality, of sheep, 253.

Food, labourer's, 9, 25, 34, 37, 53, 54, 61, 62, 102, 110, 134,
    139-40, 164, 200-8, 211, 240n., 268, 290-1, 297, 308, 311;
  farmer's, 101, 128, 213, 240n., 246, 308.

Foot-and-mouth disease, _see_ Cattle Plagues.

Foot-rot, 294.

Foreman, requirements of, 139.

Forncett, manor of, 25, 45, 46.

Fountains Abbey, 81.

Four-course rotation, 183.

Four-field system, 99.

Fourteenth century, characteristics of, 38.

Fowler, John, 304.

Fox, the, 140, 244.

France, exports to, 349;
  imports from, 243, 323;
  livestock in, 334;
  small holders of, 202-3;
  wheat crops in, 332.

Freeholders, _see also_ Yeoman, 119, 121-2.

Freemen, 7.

Free tenants, 24, 29, 45.

Free trade, 161, 277-81, 323;
  effect of, 281, 284, 288, 293, 296.

French War, great, _see_ Wars.

Fruit, 15, 93, 128, 143;
  imports of 305.

Fruit-growing in seventeenth century, 129-131, 132, 136;
  in eighteenth century, 171, 186-9;
  in nineteenth century, 319, 329, 330.

Furlongs, 3, 118.

Furniture of manor house, 52;
  labourer's home, 52.


Gafol, 9, 10.

Galloway cattle, 169, 343.

Game, damage by, 302.

Game law, the first, 55.

Gang system, 292.

Geese, 34, 170. (_See_ Poultry.)

Gentry, at the Revolution, 156;
  estates of under Walpole, 183;
  status of 50, 97;
  supplanted, 122, 128, 137, 140, 156, 184, 211, 312, 310.
 (_See_ Landlords _and_ Squire).

Gerard, 106, 111.

'Gerefa, the', 15.

Germany, exports to, 63;
  imports from, 20, 66, 69, 241, 243, 262, 323-4, 328;
  livestock in, 334;
  wheat crops in, 332n.

Gilbert, 275.

Gilbert's Act, 237.

Gilbey, Sir W.,335.

Glamorganshire, vineyards in, 145.

Glastonbury Abbey, 13.

Gleaning, 133.

Gloucestershire, 19, 78, 128, 136, 143, 144, 173, 207, 295, 344.

Gloves, gifts of, 62.

Gold premium, 305.

Googe, Barnaby, 144, 173.

Gooseberries, 331.

Grafting in seventeenth century, 130.

Grain crops, chief source of lord's income, 25.

Grapes, 136, 329 (_see_ Vineyards).

Grass, acreage under, in 1877 and 1907, 331-2;
  in 1850, 353;
  arable land laid down to, 56, 58, 75, 79, 91, 93-4, 117-9, 120, 196,
    219, 231, 305;
  converting, to tillage, 231, 263;
  more profitable than arable, 199;
  seeds, 165, 191, 194, 226-7.

Grass land, price of, _see_ Pasture and meadow, price of;
  ploughed up, 186, 218, 245.

Grass section of England in 1893, 306n.

Grasshoppers, plague of, 185.

Graziers, profits of, 184,

Greycoats of Kent, 259.

Ground Game Act, 303.

Guano, 232, 276.

Guernsey cattle, 342, 343.

Gun, the, in seventeenth century, 140.


Haggard, Rider, Mr., 314-5.

Hallam, 210.

Hambleton, Sir A. Barker of, 142.

Hamlets, 5.

Hampshire, 28, 36, 79, 116, 132, 145, 165n., 240, 253, 266, 268, 306n.,
    309, 314;
  sheep, 275, 288, 344, 345.

Handborough, 53.

Harrison, 'Description of England,' 19, 28, 50, 56, 86, 91, 95, 101,
  104, 149.

Harrow, the, and harrowing, 17, 65, 84, 125, 135, 141, 153-4, 166,
  176, 176, 179, 194, 201, 203, 246.

Hartlib, Simon, 127, 128, 130, 131, 132, 142-3.

Harvest, importance of, 9, 108.

Harvest homes, 104, 269.

Harvest work, 25, 62, 125, 138, 209.

Hatfield Chase, 78.

Hawsted, 20, 30, 35, 54, 57, 58, 62, 63, 67, 112, 115, 116, 178,
  179, 205, 207.

Hay, 112;
  price of, _see_ Prices;
  carrying off, 178, 219, 302;
  imports of, 262.

Hay tedder, 304.

Haymaking, 4, 44, 124, 125, 138, 142.

Headlands, 3.

'Heaths', Shropshire, 220.

Hedges, 124, 148, 150, 163, 178, 282.

Hemp, 100, 105, 135, 151.

Henley, Walter of, 19n., 31, 36, 83.

Henry of Huntingdon, 327.

Hens, number of eggs from, 35.

Herdwick sheep, 344, 346.

Hereford cattle, 233, 235, 274, 288, 336, 338-40, 342.

Herefordshire, 5, 40, 128, 130, 132, 136, 143, 171, 186-7, 188, 240,
  247, 249, 250, 267, 291, 306, 309, 316.

Hertfordshire, 150, 174, 179, 225, 238, 306n.

Hentzner's description of English fanning, 104.

Hide, 16.

Highland, West, cattle, 217, 343.

Hoeing, 153, 166, 188, 201-2, 354;
  horse, 198, 201.

Holder, the small, 73, 76, 119, 121-2, 164, 191, 195, 202, 205, 220,
    253-61, 268, 308, 310, 311, 316-9;
  decrease of, causes of, 122, 259;
  new class of, 260.

Holderness cattle, 337.

Holdings, various sizes of, 334.

  Shorthorns from, 337;
  live stock in, 334;
  wheat crops in, 332n.

Honey, 10, 144.

Hops, 28, 86-7, 89-91, 111, 125, 128, 143, 149, 150, 171, 297-9,
    329-30, 331;
  acreage of, in 1729, 171, 297-8, 329;
  average crop, 333;
  duty on, 297-8;
  imports of, 329-30;
  profit on, 90, 150, 171, 298-9, 330;
  substitutes, 298, 329.

Horse fairs, 105.

Horse shoes, 36.

  deterioration of; 85, 146;
  export of, 325-6;
  kinds of, 274, 335;
  number of, 333;
  size of, 104, 105, 217;
  tax on, 249;
  working powers of, 31, 153, 204.
  (_See_ Prices.)

Houghton, account of potatoes, 106, 127, 165.

Houses, wooden, 50 (_see_ Farmhouses);
  of the squire and yeoman, 103, 212.

Housing cattle and horses, 126.

Howberry, 175-6.

'Hubback', 234.

Hundred Rolls, 28, 76, 327.

Hunting, 140, 210.

Huntingdonshire, 3, 25n., 72, 120, 123, 222, 306n., 309.

Hurdles, 354.

Husbandry, old and new, _see_ Cultivation.


Implements, cost of, rises, 242;
  in seventeenth century, 135, 152-3, 154;
  in eighteenth century, 188, 194, 203, 229, 236;
  in nineteenth century, 271, 273-5, 276, 287n., 303-4, 316;
  improvement in, 113;
  list of, in eleventh century, 17-52;
  prices of, 83, 138.

Importing country, England becomes an, 163.

Imports cause low prices, 295.

  of clover seed, 166;
  of corn, 20, 63n., 66, 69, 70, 159-61, 183, 184, 223, 224, 230, 240,
    241-4, 247, 248, 249, 262, 266, 267, 277-80, 287, 293, 305, 323-4,
    330, 348-9;
  of dairy produce, 325;
  of fruit, 188, 329;
  of hops, 150;
  of linen, 105;
  of livestock, 161, 280-1, 305, 324-6, 337;
  of meat, 161, 305, 325, 330;
  of wool, 39, 161, 305, 328, 354.

Improvements, amount expended in, 320-1;
  needed in eighteenth century, 191;
  in farming in eighteenth century, 192 (_see_ Agriculture, state of), 193,
    204 (_see_ Farming).

Inbreeding, Bakewell and, 214;
  the Collings and, 234-5.

Income and expenditure of landed classes (1688), 156.

Incubators, early, 132.

  imports from, 324;
  wool from, 328.

Ine, laws of, as to fencing, 5.

Inherent capabilities of the soil, 301.

Inns, markets for produce, 323.

Inoculation of fruit trees, 131.

Intensive cultivation, 2.

Irish imports, 161, 262, 324-5, 328;
  labourers, 209, 306.

Irrigation, 113, 132, 217.

Isle of Wight, 172n.

Italy, exports to, 349;
  wool exported to, 39, 327.


Jamaica, wool from, 328.

Jersey cattle, 275, 339, (_See_ Alderney.)

Jus faldae, 64.

Justices regulate wages, 107.


Kent, 40, 128, 143-7, 157, 171, 173, 186, 259, 265, 283, 295, 306n., 309.

  cattle, 168;
  sheep, 343, 344.

Kerry cattle, 343.

Kett, rising of, 96.

Ketton, 233, 235.

Kilns, hop, 151.

King's, Gregory, statistics, 120, 140, 141, 155, 258-9, 260, 353.

Kingston, Lord, estate rents of, 116.

Knights Hospitallers' estates, 40.


  cost of, per acre, 313;
  services, 6, 12, 25, 27, 42, 45, 56, 61.

Labourer, character of, in eighteenth century, 175, 184, 201, 204,
    205, 210;
  condition of, at end of eighteenth century, 237-9;
  condition of, in nineteenth century, 257, 266-8, 269, 270, 279,
    283-4, 285, 290-2, 297, 311-2, 313-4, 315, 320, 355;
  decrease of, 305, 311n., 315;
  life of, in Middle Ages,53, 54, 67, 71, 103;
  made a land-less man by enclosure, 196, 257;
  number of (1688), 156;
  savings of, 102-3, 156;
  sports of, 55;
  the home of the, 52, 158;
  wages of, _see_ Wages.

Lambs, to fall March 25, 126.

Lammas, 4, 112, 137.

Lancashire, 44, 78, 106, 110, 147, 163, 167, 207, 216, 219, 282,
  283, 284, 309, 312, 316, 320, 343, 346.

Land, value of, 19, 36, 40, 66, 117, 133, 149, 183, 243, 286-7,
  293, 304, 310, 328, 348.

  absentee, 184, 191;
  of the fourteenth century, 48;
  new class of, 59;
  houses of the 103 (_see_ Cottages);
  improve estates, 132, 162, 224, 232, 255, 268, 320;
  protectionists, 160-1;
  ignorant of estate management, 175, 193, 249, 281;
  in nineteenth century, 265, 281, 304, 307, 309, 320-2;
  position, weakened, 309;
  relations of, and tenant, 218, 226, 282-3, 299, 301, 322;
  suffered most from present depression, 320;
  reserve sporting rights, 115;
  take to farming, 182.

Landlordship, 6.

Lawes, Sir John, 275, 276, 314, 319.

Lawrence, John, 152, 165, 166, 167, 173, 337.

Laxton, Notts, 22.

Leases,45, 56, 57, 65, 81, 97, 113, 115-6, 121-2, 178, 218, 219,
  263n., 272, 282, 283.

Leicester sheep, 215-6, 235, 274, 275, 343, 344.

Leicestershire, 8, 78, 79, 120, 151, 172, 174, 214-6, 268, 306n.,
  309, 343.

'Lemmons', 93.

  manor of, 18;
  wool, 40, 171, 172n.

Liberi homines, 7.

Liebig, 275, 276.

Lime, 112, 141, 177, 187, 197.

Limestone sheep, 344, 346.

Liming the land, 77, 113, 218, 219, 246, 300.

  red cattle, 343;
  sheep, 215, 235, 275, 288, 343, 344, 346.

Lincolnshire, 3, 8, 40, 99, 100, 103, 123, 151, 168, 172, 250, 252, 255,
  283, 306n., 307, 318, 321.

Liquorice, 143, 191.

  apples at, 188;
  wheat at, 185.

Liverpool, Lord, 232, 264.

Live stock,
  depreciation of, 306, 330;
  exports of, 325-6, 330;
  number of (1877 and 1907), 333-4;
  in England (1688), 155, 164;
  duty on, repealed, 280.

Locusts in England, 185.

  affects wages, 205;
  attracts country folk, 209, 210;
  potato grown near, 106;
  carrots grown near, 167, 168;
  roads near, 222;
  sheep and cattle driven to, 221.

Longhorn cattle, 167, 216-7, 233, 234, 274, 275n., 336, 343.

Longmynd, 345.

Lonk sheep, 344, 346.

Lord of the manor, 6, 14, 19, 25, 42, 121, 127, 255;
  small holder suffers at his hand, 121.

'Lord Wilton', 340.

Lucerne, 143, 167n., 191, 201.

  South, 22;
  North, 103.

Luxury, spread of, an, 243, 264.

  Sir H., 145;
  Lord, 183.


Macadam, 220, 223, 230.

Machinery, use of, 271.

Madder, 17, 143, 191, 194.

Maidstone hops, 171.

Maize, imports of, 262, 296, 313.

Mangolds, 237, 331-2, 333, 353.

Manor, regulations of the, 13, 99.

Manor, the typical, 14.

Manorial balance sheets, 26, 65.

Manorial system, 6, 7, 18, 24, 45, 76, 97.

Manors, 6, 7, 14, 18, 25, 42, 45, 65, 97, 99, 118.

Mansion house, 14, 50.

Manufactures, influence of, on wages, 284, 297, 315.

Manures, 113, 119, 136, 144, 150-4, 177, 178, 179, 187, 191, 197, 201,
  219, 221, 254, 275-6, 296, 299, 300, 304, 305, 314.

Manydown, Hants, 13.

Market gardening, 306, 308, 319.

Markham, Gervase, 127, 134-7, 146, 151, 171.

Marling, 77, 113, 183, 191, 197, 202, 219, 300.

Marshall, William, 188, 204, 207, 213, 222, 298, 314, 336, 338, 340.

Maryland, wool from, 328.

Mattocks for breaking clods, 129.

McCormick, 303.

McCulloch, 281, 324, 349.

Meadowland, 2, 19, 22, 40, 58, 155.

  16, 30, 73, 99, 100, 118, 124, 148, 253, 258;
  value of, 40, 58, 115-6, 139, 231.

Meat, imports of, 161, 305, 325.

Medlars, 136.

Meikle, 230, 236.

Menzies, 236.

Merino sheep, 233, 328n.

Messor, the, 13.

Middlesex, 41, 145, 306n.

Midland counties,
  enclosure in, 120;
  sheep in, 216, 218.

Migration of labourers, 44, 158n., 209, 238.

Milk, 63n., 168 (_see_ Dairy), 170, 205, 275, 297, 330.

Mill, suit of, 9.

Mills, excessive number of, 114.

Minimum wage proposed, 241.

Minister of Agriculture, 305.

Mixtil, or mastlin, or mesling, 9, 102, 125, 138, 207n.

Moles, 114, 124.

Molton Market, 341.

Monasteries, 68, 81.

Money payments, 24, 27, 45, 56.

Mortimer abuses the law, 74.

Moryson, 102, 105, 122.

Mountain sheep, 344, 346.

Mowing corn,
  Fitzherbert's advice, 84, 125, 135, 138, 199, 354;
  machines for, 303-4.

Mowing grass,
  cost of, 34, 44, 65, 71, 109, 138, 142, 348, 354;
  Fitzherbert's advice, 84.

Mulberries, 15, 146.

Murrain, 13, 42n., 68.

Mutton, price of, _see_ Prices.


New world, influx of precious metals from, 89, 111.

New Zealand, wool from, 328.

Newark, 157.

Nitrate of soda, 276.

Non-intercourse Act of United States, 242.

Norden, Sir John, 127-8, 220.

Norfolk, 8, 40, 45, 63n., 94, 96, 97, 167n., 169, 170, 182, 217,
  224-8, 306n., 308, 340.

Norfolk, or four-course rotation, 183.

Normandy, 338.

  difference of wages between, and South, 283-5;
  superior thrift in, 207-8.

Northamptonshire, 8, 78, 79, 120, 151, 157, 172, 222, 306n.

Northleach, rates at, 295.

Northumberland, 193n., 256, 295, 303, 309, 346.

Norwich, 169, 182.

Nottinghamshire, 8, 22, 78, 116, 144, 172, 237, 276, 283, 306n., 308, 309.

Nowton, Suffolk, 57.

Nucleated villages, 5.

Nuts, 136.


Oak timber,
  value of, 137;
  Coke's, 225-6.

Oakham, 110.

Oats, 20, 33, 65, 91, 124, 135-8, 142, 155, 227, 305, 331-2, 353;
  cost of growing, in 1770, 199;
  produce, per acre, in 1712, 105n.;
  in 1770, 197-9;
  profit on, 180. (_See_ Prices.)

Occupiers of land, 355.

'Old Comely', 216.

Olives, 93, 136.

Onions, 143, 332.

Open parishes, 158, 284.

Oranges, 93.

Orchards, 17, 128, 131, 143, 186, 188, 255, 332;
  seventeenth century, 135-6.

Owners and occupiers, percentage of, 334.

Owners of Land, return, 260-1.

Owners, small, _see_ Holders, small.

Ox teams, 16, 31, 64, 84, 143, 147, 153, 191, 204, 340.

  description of, in 1592, 104;
  value of, 19, 20, 35, 57, 66, 114. (_See_ Cattle, price of.)

Oxford, 63, 273, 338.

Oxford Down sheep, 275, 288, 344, 345.

Oxfordshire, 24, 40, 78, 99, 145, 151.


Pack-horses, use of, 138.

Packing fruit in seventeenth century, 129, 130.

Paring and burning, 141, 153.

Parsnips, 143.

Pasture, breaking up, 218.

  common, 2, 4, 16, 19, 73, 99, 113, 195;
  often worth little, 256;
  permanent, in Holdings Act, 299;
  extent of, in 1688, 155;
  in 1770, 196;
  ploughed up during French War, 243;
  sparing, 124.

Pasture land, price of, 41, 59, 115-7, 139.

Patents, 113, 236.

Peaches, 15, 93, 136.

Pears, 15, 93, 130, 131, 136, 143, 329, 333.

Peas, 33, 69, 124, 155, 200, 227, 331-2, 353.

Peasants' revolt, 60.

Peel's drainage loans, 272.

Penalty for breaking up pasture, 178.

Perry, 130.

Pestilences, 38, 42, 68, 79.

Piecework, 28, 163, 206.

Pigeons, number of, 49, 96, 105, 143, 244, 274, 275.

  export of, 330;
  feeding, 16, 125;
  foot-and-mouth disease attacks, 290;
  import of, 326;
  number of, 333-4;
  profit on, in 1763, 200;
  size of, in 1592, 104;
  value of, 20, 35n., 96, 200-3;
  varieties of, 170, 346.
  (_See_ Prices.)

Pinchbeck, 103.

Pitt, William, 238, 239.

Plat, Sir Hugh, 127, 152.

Plattes, Gabriel, 76, 127.

Pleuro-pneumonia, _see_ Cattle plagues.

Plot, 145.

Plough, eleventh- and twelfth-century, 17.

  cost of, 33, 65, 135, 141, 177, 179, 246;
  months for, 17, 124.

Ploughland, the, 16, 18.

Ploughs and ploughing, 65, 83, 113, 125, 129, 135, 143, 150,
  153, 177, 191, 203, 217, 218, 225, 273, 342, 354.

Plums, 15, 93, 130, 131, 136, 329, 332.

Poaching, 48;
  by labourers, 55, 210, 248, 282, 291.

Population of England, 79, 89, 111, 120, 140, 156, 160, 163, 211, 240, 287.

Pork, price of, _see_ Prices.

Porter, 'Progress of Nation,' 276, 279, 286, 287.

Portugal, exports to, 349.

Potatoes, 106, 107, 112, 187, 191, 194, 227, 318, 331-3, 353;
  disease, 277.

Poultry, 41n., 66, 80, 132, 169, 170 (_see_ Prices);
  carrying, to London,171.

Praepositus, 12.

Precarii, or boon days, 9.

Precious metals,
  influx of, 89, 111;
  scarcity of, 66n.

  Apples, 15, 65, 188, 189.
  Bacon and pork, 96, 102, 238, 239, 263, 313, 334.
  Barley, 20, 35, 69, 114, 133, 138, 142, 155, 179, 223, 247,
    312, 347, 350-3.
  Beans, 35, 155, 180, 347.
  Beef, 96, 102, 114, 164, 206n., 239, 240, 241, 242, 247, 262, 263, 265.
  Bread, 206n., 207n., 223, 230, 242n., 280, 285, 286, 291.
  Butter, 33, 66, 114, 206n., 241, 247, 285-6, 312, 334, 347.
  Carts, 203.
  Cattle, 19, 20, 35, 41, 65, 89, 105, 114, 119, 133, 146, 163, 165n.,
    167, 169, 203, 235, 263, 307, 312, 347.
  Cheese, 173-4, 206n., 241, 242, 312, 334, 347.
  Clover, 166.
  Eighteenth century, 145, 160, 163, 164, 165n., 166, 167, 169, 170,
    172, 173-4, 179, 180, 186, 188, 189, 200, 203, 206n., 222, 223, 227,
    229, 230, 231, 237, 238, 239, 240, 285, 341, 355.
  Fifteenth century, 40, 66, 69, 355.
  Fourteenth century, 39, 40, 41, 59, 65, 327, 355.
  Grapes, 144.
  Harness, 203.
  Hay, 157, 165n., 166, 241-2, 262, 347.
  Hops, 87, 89, 150, 247, 298, 330, 347.
  Horses, 19, 20, 35, 36, 114, 142, 165n., 203, 347, 355.
  Implements, 83, 138.
  Malt, 89, 240, 241.
  Milk, 168, 170, 312.
  Mutton, 96, 10-2, 206n., 239, 240, 241, 247, 262, 263, 265, 313, 334.
  Nineteenth century, 227, 235, 240, 242-4, 245, 247-8, 262, 263, 264-6,
    267, 277-81, 285, 287, 293, 295, 296, 305, 306, 307, 312, 324,
    329, 330, 334.
  Oats, 20, 35, 69, 114, 138, 155, 180, 223, 241, 312, 347, 350-3.
  Peas, 69, 155, 200, 247.
  Pedigree cattle, 234, 235.
  Pigs, 20, 41, 96, 200, 203, 347.
  Potatoes, 106.
  Poultry and eggs, 41, 96, 114, 133, 170, 247, 347.
  Rams, 202, 215, 235.
  Rollers, 203.
  Rye, 4, 16, 91, 125, 133, 138, 155, 347.
  Saffron, 106.
  Seventeenth century, 89, 110, 111, 114, 118, 119, 127, 133-4, 138,
    142, 144, 146, 150, 152, 157, 159, 160, 328, 355.
  Sheep, 20, 3511., 36, 41, 80, 114, 138, 165n., 203, 206n., 263,
    312, 347.
  Sixteenth century, 80, 87, 89, 95, 96, 102-6, 109, 355.
  Straw, 179, 180.
  Tenth century, 19.
  Thirteenth century, 33, 35, 39, 355.
  Twelfth century, 20.
  Vetches, 155.
  Waggons, 203-4.
  Wheat, 20, 35, 66, 69, 89, 110, 114, 133, 134, 138, 142, 155,
    157, 160, 163, 164, 179, 186, 223, 231, 237, 238, 239, 240,
    241, 242-4, 247-8, 262, 265, 277-8, 281, 293, 306, 312,
    334, 347, 350-3, 355.
  Wine, 145.
  Wool, 39, 40, 80, 89, 96, 114, 118, 119, 142, 163, 172, 173,
    223, 239, 242, 285-6, 306, 312, 327, 328, 329, 347.

Prickly comfrey, 237.

Proclamation as to wages and prices, 42.

Production, increased cost of, 295, 313.

  agricultural, 28, 101, 114, 103, 183, 210-1, 229, 243-4, 246,
    264, 287;
  during French War, 243-6, 247, 264.

Protecting fruit from blight, Sec., 187.

 effect of, 250, 278-9, 281;
  highest limit of, 248; 265, 266, 277-9.

Provender rents, 6.

Pruning fruit trees, 131, 136.

Pulverization of soil, 175.


Quarter Sessions, assessment of wages by, 108.

Quartly, Francis, 341.

Quiet Emptores, statute of, 29.

Quinces, 15, 136.

Quit, notice to, 300, 301, 302.


  rearing, 174;
  reserved to landlord, 115.

Railway rates, 295-6.

Rake, horse, 304.

Raleigh introduces potatoes, 106.

  ewes to, 126, 138;
  price of, 202, 215, 235.

Ramsey, 72.

Raspberries, 331.

Rates, 229, 238, 241, 245, 247, 248, 249, 255, 269, 284, 295, 296,
  307, 314.

Rathgib, Jacob, 104.,

  cost of, 34, 44, 65, 71, 109, 110, 138, 177, 179, 180, 246, 348, 354;
  machines, 303-4;
  time for, 124;
  versus mowing corn, 135.

Red Polled cattle, 343.

Reeve, 12;
  duties of a, 17.

Reigate, Flaunchford near, 64.

  Twelfth century, 27.
  Thirteenth century, 36, 57, 75, 348.
  Fourteenth century, 40, 41, 46, 65, 75, 348.
  Fifteenth century, 57, 58, 66, 348.
  Sixteenth century, 66, 76, 95, 115, 116, 348.
  Seventeenth century, 115, 116, 117, 127, 133, 139, 143, 155, 161,
    348, 354.
  Eighteenth century, 116, 177, 179, 183, 189, 193n., 224, 227, 328,
  Nineteenth century, 243, 246, 248, 264, 266, 278, 285-6, 287, 297,
    304, 306-9, 310, 319n., 321-2.

Repairs, _see_ Buildings, farm.

Restrictive covenants, _see_ Cultivation clauses.

Revival, recent, in agriculture, 320.

Revolt, Peasants', 60.

Revolution, agricultural and industrial, 162.

Ridges, high, 129, 175.

Rinderpest, _see_ Cattle plagues.

Riots, 185, 223, 262, 366,

Ripon, 147.

Roads, 21, 68, 105, 138, 171, 175, 182, 204, 210, 219, 220-3, 269,
  274, 295.

Rock and Far Forest district, 318,

Rogers, Thorold, 107, 229.

Roller, farm, in seventeenth century, 135.

Rolling, 166, 194.

Romney Marsh sheep, 344.

Romsey Abbey, 15n.

Roots, few, used for cows, 200 (_see_ Turnips).

Roscommon sheep, 343.

Roses, 143.

Ross, John, of Warwick, 76.

Rot, _see_ Sheep rot.

Rotation of crops (_see_ Four-course and Three-field system) 225, 275.

Rothamsted, 275.

Roundsman system, 239.

Royal Agrlctttonal Society, 273-4, 281, 308.

Royal Society, helps agriculture, 114.

  imports rom, 323-4;
  wool from, 328.

Rutland, 22, 102, 109, 110, 120, 134, 143, 151, 255, 268, 306n.;
  Dukes of, 115, 286.

Rye, 4, 16, 91, 125, 133, 138, 155;
  in Norfolk, 182, 276;
  produce, per acre, in 1770, 197.

Rye-grass, 178-9, 218, 276.

Ryeland sheep, 344, 345, 346.


Saffron, 62, 106, 143, 167;
  Walden, 106, 167.

Sainfoin, 112, 115, 143, 191, 194, 225, 331.

Saint Paul's, manors of, 16, 29, 50, 57, 58.

Sales, famous, 234n., 235, 338, 339.

Salt, value of, 26.

Samford Hall, 190.

  cattle of, 336, 343;
  wheat crop in, 332n.

Scott, Reynold, 89, 151.

Scottish cattle, 168-9.

Scudamore, Lord, 132, 3^8.

  bad, 20, 42n., 66, 69, 89, 115, 157, 179, 184, 185, 186, 210,
    223, 224, 237, 239, 242, 243, 247, 262, 265, 277, 292, 293,
    294, 295, 297, 305;
  good, 239, 244, 262, 266, 287.

  amount of, for wheat, 33, 67n.,84, 177, 179, 180, 227, 246;
  for clover, 112, 166, 176, 218;
  clover, price of, 166.

Sefton, Lord, estate of, 320n.

Selions, 318.

Self-binding reaper, 304.

Seneschal, 12.

Settled Land Acts, 305.

Settlement, law of parochial, 157-8, 209, 238, 269n., 284.

Settlements, family, 123, 259-60.

Seventeenth century, characteristics of, 111.

Sheaf-binding apparatus, 237.

Shearing sheep, 125.

Sheep, 94, 104, 126, 137, 146, 161, 200, 225, 233, 236, 263, 274,
    275, 288, 290;
  diseases of, 84;
  export of, 326, 330 (_see_ Live stock);
  improvement of, 37, 164, 202;
  number of,
    in 1867, 288;
    in 1877 and 1907, 333-4;
  price of, _see_ Prices;
  varieties of, 171, 172, 215-7, 233, 235, 275, 288, 343-6;
  washing, cost of, 65, 125, 354.

Sheep-rot, 184, 242, 265n., 294.

Shepherd, wages of, 61, 71, 87, 109.

Shire horse, 35, 335;
  Society, 335.

Shoeing, 36, 65, 84, 203.

Shorthorn cattle, 167, 225, 233-5, 274, 288, 336-8, 339, 342.

Shows, Agricultural, 233, 273-5, 341.

Shropshire, 11n., 16n., 159, 173, 219, 220, 225, 250, 339;
  sheep, 275, 288, 344, 345, 346.

Siberian Railway, 324.

Sicks, uncultivated patches, 99n.

Sinclair, Sir J., 229, 230, 232.

Sittingboume, 128, 143.

Sixteenth century, character of, 89.

Slaves, 8, 11, 20.

Smith, Adam, 134, 210.

Smith of Deanston, 214, 271-2.

Smithfield, 168, 169;
  cattle show, 218, 273, 339;
  prices at, 239, 240, 241, 247, 265.

Smyth, John, 111.

Society, Royal Agricultural, 193.

Society for Encouragement of Arts, &c., 194> 227, 303.

Socmen, 7.

Somerset, 19, 58, 107, 168, 250, 309, 340;
  sheep, 344.

Somerville, Loid, 231.

Southams cattle, 342.

Southdown sheep, 217, 225, 233, 236, 263, 274, 275, 344, 345.

Spade, prejudice against, 112, 143;
  for hops, 150.

  exports to, 349;
  imports from, 323.

Spanish wool, 38-9, 328.

  in land, 243;
  in produce, 305.

Speenhamland Act, 237-8.

Spencer, Earl, 273.

Sporting rights reserved, 115.

Spraying fruit, 136.

Squatters, 220, 256.

Squire, the, 103, 128, 137, 140, 193, 211-2.

Stafford, Marquis of, 219.

Staffordshire, 3, 44, 78, 122, 219, 286, 295, 309.

Statesmen, 311.

Statistics, agricultural, 230, 231, 232, 277, 288 (_see_ King, Gregory),
  331-2, 353.

Statute of labourers, 43.

Statutes _quoted_:
  20 Hen. III. c. 4, 73.
  25 Edw. III. 2. c. 1, 43.
  34 Edw. III. c. 20, 63.
  12 Ric. II. c. 4, 61.
  12 Ric. II. c. 5, 64.
  12 Ric. II. c. 6, 55.
  13 Ric. II. c. 13, 55.
  15 Ric. II. c. 5, 71.
  17 Ric. II. c. 7, 63.
  4 Hen. IV. c. 14, 67n.
  7 Hen. IV. c. 17, 70.
  9 Hen. V. c. 5, 68n.
  3 Hen. VI. c. 2, 326.
  3 Hen. VI. c. 4, 327.
  4 Hen. VI. c. 5, 64.
  15 Hen. VI. c. 2, 69.
  23 Hen. VI. c. 12, 71, 87.
  3 Edw. IV. c. 2, 70.
  3 Edw. IV. c. 5, 7in.
  22 Edw. IV. c. 1, 7in.
  4 Hen. VII. c. 19, 79, 94, 117.
  11 Hen. VII. c. 13, 325.
  11 Hen. VII. c. 22, 87.
  6 Hen. VIII. c. 3, 87.
  6 Hen. VIII. c. 5, 79.
  21 Hen. VIII. c. 8, 86.
  22 Hen. VIII. c. 7, 326.
  24 Hen. VIII c. 3, 102.
  24 Hen. VIII. c. 4, 105.
  24 Hen. VIII. c. 10, 82n.
  25 Hen, VIII. c. 1, 86.
  25 Hen. VIII. c. 13, 80.
  27 Hen. VIII. c. 6, 85.
  27 Hen. VIII. c. 22, 94.
  32 Hen. VIII. c. 13, 85.
  I Edw. VI. c. 5, 326.
  3 and 4 Edw. VI. c. 19, 86.
  5 Edw. VI. c. 14, 86.
  2 and 3 Phil. and Mary, c. 3, 96.
  5 Eliz. c. 4, 107.
  5 Eliz. c. 5, 105.
  8 Eliz. c. 3, 326.
  8 Eliz. c. 15, 82n.
  13 Eliz. c. 25, 96.
  14 Eliz. c. 11, 82n.
  31 Eliz. c. 7, 121n., 159.
  39 Eliz. c. 1, 117.
  39 Eliz, c. 2, 118.
  39 Eliz. c. 18, 82n.
  43 Eliz. c. 2, 296.
  1 Jac. I. c. 18, 150.
  21 Jac. I. c. 28, 118n.
  12 Car. II. c. 4, 161.
  13 and 14 Car. II. c. 18, 326, 327.
  14 Car. II. c. 12, 157.
  15 Car. II. c. 7, 134, 326.
  18 Car. II. c. 2, 161, 326.
  22 Car. II. c. 13, 326.
  32 Car. II. c. 2, 161, 326.
  3 W. and M. c. 2, 158.
  8 and 9 W. and M. c. 30, 158.
  7 and 8 Wm. III. c. 28, 327.
  36 Geo. III. c. 23, 238.
  41 Geo. III. c. 109, 231-2.
  9 Geo. IV. c. 60, 278.
  4 and 5 Wm. IV. c. 76, 269.
  6 and 7 Wm. IV. c. 71, 270.
  5 Vict. c. 14, 278.
  9 and 10 Vict. c. 22, 280.
  9 and 10 Vict. c. 23, 280.
  14 and 15 Vict. c. 25, 301.
  30 and 31 Vict. c. 130, 292.
  38 and 39 Vict. c. 92, 299.
  43 and 44 Vict. c. 47, 303.
  46 and 47 Vict. c. 61, 300.
  59 and 60 Vict. c. 16, 314n.
  63 and 64 Vict. c. 50, 301.
  1 Edw. VII. c. 13, 314n.
  6 Edw. VII. c. 56, 301.
  7 Edw. VII. c. 54, 316.

  applied to threshing, 237;
  cultivator, 304.

Stilton cheese, 173-4.

Stinting the common pasture, 4.

Stock and land leases, 57.

Stocking a farm, 170, 203.

Stores, public grain, 133, 264.

Stott, the, or affer, 35, 57, 65.

Stourbridge Fair, 171, 172n.

Stratfieldsaye, 272.

  as winter food for cattle, 126, 217;
  carrying off, 178, 219, 302;
  price of, 179, 180, 330.

Strawberries, 15, 329, 331.

Stubble, grazing of, 4, 125.

Suffolk, 8, 30, 40, 57, 63n., 78, 112, 128, 147, 166, 168, 170,
    173, 174, 188, 207, 225, 238, 284, 306n., 309, 313;
  Punch, 335;
  sheep, 275, 344, 345.

Supplies of com per head, 330 (_see_ Wheat, home supplies).

Surrey, 64, 128, 143, 144, 168, 180, 283, 306n.

Surveyor, the seventeeiith-century, 127.

Sussex, 54, 78, 259, 263, 283, 306n.;
  cattle, 274, 288, 336, 340, 343.

Swanage, 262.

Swedes, 227, 237, 276, 288, 331-2, 333.

'Swing' riots, 266.


Taltarum's case, effect of, 122.

Tamworth pigs, 346.

  manor of, 18;
  good fanning near, 128.

Taxes, 247, 263-4, 307, 310;
  weight of, 183, 191, 229, 245, 246, 249, 250, 263, 320, 321.

  drinking, 205, 207, 213, 291;
  price of, 205.

Teams, composition of, 16.

Telford, 220, 222.

Tenant farmers,
  assist in agricultural progress, 162;
  number of, 141, 156;
  origin of, 46, 119.

Tenant-right, 283.

Teeswater cattle, 337.

Tewkesbury, 255.

Thatchers, 139, 354.

Thomson of Banchory, 276.

Thorney and Woburn estates, 321.

Three-field system, 4, 99.

  cost of, 34, 44, 65, 163, 179, 180, 198-9, 246;
  machine, 230, 236-7, 282;
  time for, 17, 126.

  decrease of, 79, 80, 94;
  encouragement of, 79, 108, 117-8;
  reaction against, 118.
  (_See_ Arable, _and_ Grass.)

Timber (_see_ Oak timber), 227;
  spoils crops, 282.

Tiptree, 319.

  dispute, 102;
  on turnips, 166;
  rent charge, 270.

Tithes, 116, 144, 151, 189, 195, 230, 332, 247, 248, 249, 250,
  270, 305, 307.

Tooke, 179, 266.

_Tours_, Young's, 190, 192.

Towns, movement of rural population towards, 64, 70, 108, 185, 192,
  195, 209, 315, 316-7.

Townshend, Lord, 163, 182-3, 192, 193.

_Treatise on Husbandry_, 33, 54.

Tull, Jethro, 152, 163, 174-7, 178, 180, 183, 193, 200-1, 204.

Turkeys, 170.

Turkish dominions, imports from, 323.

Turnip cutters, 276.

Turnip fly, remedies for, 166.

Turnips, 93, 111, 112, 115, 141, 143, 157, 164, 166, 168, 178, 183,
    251, 331-2, 333;
  cost of growing, in 1770, 198;
  injure wool, 329;
  sheep first fattened on, 112;
  spread of, in eighteenth century, 165, 166, 179, 191, 194, 200,
    201, 225;
  varieties of, in 1720, 165.

Tusser, 63, 90, 91, 92, 101, 102, 105, 111, 124, 126.

Two-field system, 3.

'Twopenny', 216.


Underwood, value of, in seventeenth century, 137.

Unions, Agricultural Labourers', 291-2.

United States, _see_ America.

Unreasonable disturbance, 302.

Upwey, 318.


Vanghan, Rowland, 132-3.

Vegetables, 15, 93, 106, 112n., 143, 236n.

Ventnor, vineyard at, 145.

Vermin, destruction of, 82, 100, 244.

Vermuyden, Cornelius, 123.

Vetches, 125, 155, 331.

Village, the, of the eighteenth century, 164.

Village smith, the, 35.

Villeins, 6, 7, 8, 18, 24, 29, 42, 45;
  disappearance of, 46, 59, 60, 105.

Vills or villages, 2, 5, 7, 15, 98, 119.

Vineyards, 15, 16, 111, 144-5.

Virgate, 8.

  potatoes from, 106;
  wool from, 328.


  Twelfth century, 27.
  Thirteenth century, 27, 28, 34, 348, 355.
  Fourteenth century, 27, 28, 41, 43, 59, 61, 62, 348, 355.
  Fifteenth century, 67, 71, 348, 355.
  Sixteenth century, 67, 87, 348, 355.
  Seventeenth century, 119, 138, 139, 348, 355.
  Eighteenth century, 163, 164, 184, 203, 205-6, 210, 237,
    238, 240, 285, 348, 354-5.
  Nineteenth century, 241, 242, 249, 267, 268, 283-4, 285, 290-2, 297,
    309, 311, 312, 313, 315, 355, 356.

  on a farm in 1805, 247;
  regulated by statute, 43, 61, 71, 87;
    by Justices, 107, 109, 110.

Waggons, 153, 204.

Wainage, 8.

Wales, cattle of, 167, 336, 338, 343.

Wallachia and Moldavia, imports from, 323.

Walsingham states demands of villeins, 60.

Wars, effect of, 38, 68, 71, 193, 205, 212, 229, 237, 260, 286, 287, 341.

Warwickshire, 40, 77, 78, 94, 110, 172, 173, 213, 215, 216, 272, 282,
  290, 306n., 309, 343.

Waste land, 231;
  committee on, 255n., 256;
  good crops from the, 119;
  Young and, 191.

Water carriage, cheapness of, 21, 173.

Weaning lambs, time for, 125.

Weaving, 70, 76, 110, 257.

Webster of Canley, 216.

Weeding hook and tongs, 84, 152.

Weeds, 125, 180, 201.

Week work, 8.

Welsh mountain sheep, 344, 346.

Wensleydale sheep, 343, 345.

Westcar of Creslow, 339.

Westcote, 128.

Westmoreland, 216, 295, 346.

Weston, Sir R., introduces clover, 111, 127, 141.

Weyhill Fair, 172.

  acreage tinder, in 1907, 331-2;
  consumption of, per head, 279;
  cost of growing, 177, 180, 198, 199, 246, 307;
  crops, 33, 67, 77, 91, 129, 142, 155, 165, 179, 180, 197-9, 227,
     246, 282, 285, 286, 332;
  cultivation of, 4, 16, 32, 36, 113, 125, 135, 177-9, 180, 184, 353;
  different kinds of, 146, 107;
  home supplies of, 277, 279, 313, 330;
  price of, _see_ Prices.

White, Gilbert, 223.

Wilton, hops near, 171.

Wiltshire, 143, 174, 253, 268, 283, 286, 309, 312, 313;
  sheep, 345.

Winchelsea, Lord, 255, 257, 268.

Winchester, 147, 150.

Wine, 144-5.

Wire binder, 304.

Wirral, 66.

Wisbech, 318.

Woad, 17, 152.

Women, work of, on the farm, 62, 85, 206, 316.

Wood, W. A., 304.

Woods, 2, 16, 59, 74, 78, 115, 125, 136, 155.

Woodstock, 53.

Wool, 37, 38-41, 69, 75, 80, 94, 104, 114, 118, 119, 142, 161,
    163, 171-3, 184, 223, 285, 329, 354, 355;
  export of, _see_ Exports;
  import of, _see_ Imports;
  price of, _see_ Prices.

  custom of picking refuse, 100;
  storing, 125.

Worcestershire, 74, 128, 136, 143, 171, 306.

Work, hours of, 87, 147, 291.

Worlidge, John, 127, 131, 132, 142-8, 150-4, 165.

Worsley, Sir R., 145.


Yeoman, the, 50, 71, 123, 128, 140, 156, 207, 258-61, 310, 320;
  house of, 103.

Yeomen purchase lands of gentry, 122.

Yorkshire, 15, 78, 110, 138-9, 167, 168, 207, 225, 253, 283, 295, 306n.,
  309, 337, 343, 346.

Young, Arthur, 160, 162, 163, 172, 180, 182, 188, 190-3, 194, 197, 200-6,
    210, 211, 222, 224, 230, 232, 236, 240, 253, 255, 257, 260, 284,
    285, 288n., 298, 314, 317, 335, 336, 337, 343, 353, 355;
  opposed to drilling, 178;
  pet aversions of, 191;
  statements of, as to growth of clover, 112.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of English Agriculture" ***

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