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Enclosure or Inclosure is a term, used in English landownership, that refers to the appropriation of "waste" or "
common land Common land is land owned by a person or collectively by a number of persons, over which other persons have certain common rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect wood, or to cut turf for fuel. A person who has a r ...
" enclosing it and by doing so depriving commoners of their ancient rights of access and privilege. Agreements to enclose land could be either through a "formal" or "informal" process. The process could normally be accomplished in three ways. First there was the creation of "closes", taken out of larger common fields by their owners. Secondly, there was enclosure by proprietors, owners who acted together, usually small farmers or squires, leading to the enclosure of whole parishes. Finally there were enclosures by Acts of Parliament. The primary reason for enclosure was to improve the efficiency of the agriculture. However, there were other motives too, one example being that the value of the land enclosed would be substantially increased. There were social consequences to the policy, with many protests at the removal of rights from the common people. Enclosure riots are seen by historians as 'the pre-eminent form' of social protest from the 1530s to 1640s.


History

After
William I William I (c. 1028Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first House of Normandy, Norman List of English monarchs, monarch of Engla ...

William I
invaded and conquered England in 1066, he distributed the land amongst 180 barons, who held the land as
tenants A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to hold land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property In English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which i ...
. However he promised the English people that he would keep the laws of
Edward the Confessor Edward the Confessor ( ang, Ēadƿeard Andettere ; la, Eduardus Confessor , ; 1003 – 5 January 1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the so ...

Edward the Confessor
. Thus commoners were still able to exercise their ancient customary rights. Land ownership, in the UK, is still based on the
feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5t ...
introduced by the
Normans The Normans (: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were a arising in the medieval from the intermingling between settlers and indigenous and . The term is also used to denote emigrants from the duchy who conquered oth ...

Normans
where all land was owned by the Crown. The original contract bound the people who occupied the land to provide some form of service. This evolved into a financial agreement that avoided or replaced the service. Following the introduction of the feudal system, there was an increase in the economic growth and urban expansion of the country. In the 13th century successful Lords did very well financially, however the peasants faced with ever increasing costs did not, and their landholding dwindled. But after outbreaks of the
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a pandemic occurring in from 1346 to 1353. It is the recorded in human history, causing the death of people in and , peaking in from 1347 to 1351. Bubo ...

Black Death
in the middle of the 14th century there was a major decline in population and crop yields.The decline in population left surviving farm workers in great demand. Landowners had to face the choice of raising wages to compete for workers or letting their lands go unused. Wages for labourers rose and translated into
inflation In economics, inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a r ...

inflation
across the economy. The ensuing difficulties in hiring labour has been seen as causing the abandonment of land and the demise of the feudal system, although some historians have suggested that the effects of the Black Death may have only sped up the process. From as early as the 12th century agricultural land had been enclosed. However, the history of enclosure in England is different from region to region. Parts of south-east England (notably sections of
Essex Essex () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Rob ...

Essex
and
Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived ...

Kent
) retained the pre-Roman
Celtic field Celtic field is an old name for traces of early (prehistoric) agricultural field systemThe study of field systems (collections of fields) in landscape history Landscape history is the study of the way in which humanity has changed the physical appe ...
system of farming in small enclosed fields. Similarly in much of west and north-west England, fields were either never open, or were enclosed early. The primary area of field management, known as the "open field system", was in the lowland areas of England in a broad band from
Yorkshire Yorkshire (; abbreviated Yorks), formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the most northern area of England. There are three ...

Yorkshire
and
Lincolnshire Lincolnshire (abbreviated Lincs.) is a in the of , with a long coastline on the to the east. It borders to the south-east, to the south, to the south-west, and to the west, to the north-west, and the to the north. It also borders ...

Lincolnshire
diagonally across England to the south, taking in parts of Norfolk and Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, large areas of the Midlands, and most of south central England.


Definitions

Enclosure *Was the removal of common rights that people held over farm lands and parish commons. *It was the reallocation of scattered strips of land into large new fields that were enclosed either by hedges, walls or fences. *The newly created enclosed fields were reserved for the sole use of individual owners or their tenants. Villagers *
Lord of the Manor Lord of the manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of until the in 1066, consisted of various kingdoms until 927, when it was ...
* Freeholders or
Yeoman Yeoman was first documented in mid-14th-century England, referring to the middle ranks of servants in an English royal or noble household. was the name applied to groups of freeborn engaged as household guards, or raised as an army during ti ...

Yeoman
ry. Proprietors of large and small properties *
Copyhold Copyhold Land tenure, tenure was a form of Custom (law), customary tenure of real property, land common in England from the Middle Ages. The land was held according to the custom of the Manorialism, manor, and the mode of landholding took its name ...
ers. *
Tenant farmers A tenant farmer is one who resides on land owned by a landlord A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, land, or real estate which is Renting, rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a Leasehold estat ...
* Cottagers/ Cottar *
Squatters Squatting is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not Land ownership and tenure, own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use. The United Nations estim ...
* Farm servants living in their employers' house


Methods of enclosure

There were essentially two broad categories of enclosure, these were 'formal’ or ‘informal’ agreements. Formal enclosure was achieved either through act of parliament from 1836 onwards, or by a written agreement signed by all parties involved. The written record would probably also include a map. With informal agreements there was either minimal or no written record other than occasionally a map of the agreement. The most straightforward informal enclosure was though 'unity of possession'. Under this, if an individual managed to acquire all the disparate strips of land in an area and consolidate them in one whole piece, for example a manor, then any communal rights would cease to exist as there was no one to exercise them.


Open field system

Before the enclosures in England, "
common Common may refer to: Places * Common, a townland in County Tyrone County Tyrone (; ) is one of the thirty-two counties of Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, ...
" land was under the control of the manorial lord. The usual manor consisted of two elements, the peasant tenantry and the lord's holding, known as the ''
demesne A demesne ( ) or domain was all the land retained and managed by a lord of the manor Lord of the manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries f ...
'' farm. The land the lord held was for his benefit and was farmed by his own direct employees or by hired labour. The tenant farmers had to pay rent. This could either be cash, labour or produce. Tenants had certain rights such as
pasture Pasture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...

pasture
,
pannage Pannage (also referred to as Eichelmast/Eckerich in Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria, Slovenia & Croatia) is the practice of releasing livestock-domestic pig, pigs in a forest, so that they can feed on fallen acorns, beechm ...

pannage
, or
estovers In English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written ...
that could be held by neighbouring properties, or (occasionally) ''in gross'' by all manorial tenants. "Waste" land was often very narrow areas, typically less than wide) in awkward locations (such as cliff edges, or inconveniently shaped manorial borders), but also could be bare rock, it was not officially used by anyone, and so was often "farmed" by landless peasants. The remaining land was organised into a large number of narrow strips, each tenant possessing several disparate strips throughout the manor, as would the manorial lord. The
open-field system Image:Plan mediaeval manor.jpg, 300px, Generic map of a medieval Manorialism, manor, showing strip farming. The mustard-colored areas are part of the demesne, the hatching, hatched areas part of the glebe. William R. Shepherd, ''Historical Atlas'' ...
was administered by manorial courts, which exercised some collective control. The land in a
manor Manor may refer to: Land tenure *Manor, the land belonging to the Lord of the manor under manorialism in parts of medieval Europe, notably England *Manor house, the main residence of the lord of the manor *Lord of the manor, the landholder of a ma ...
under this system would consist of: * Two or three very large common fields * Several very large common hay meadows * Closes * In some cases, a
park A park is an area of natural, semi-natural or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is ti ...

park
* Common ''waste''. What might now be termed a single field would have been divided under this system among the lord and his tenants; poorer peasants (
serfs Serfdom was the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism, and similar systems. It was a condition of debt bondage and indentured servitude with similarities to and differences from slavery, which developed ...
or
copyhold Copyhold tenure Tenure is a category of academic appointment existing in some countries. A tenured post is an indefinite academic appointment that can be terminated only for cause or under extraordinary circumstances, such as financial exigency ...
ers, depending on the era) were allowed to live on the strips owned by the lord in return for cultivating his land. The open-field system was probably a development of the earlier Celtic field system, which it replaced. The open field system used a three-field crop rotation system.
Barley Barley (''Hordeum vulgare''), a member of the grass family Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recogn ...

Barley
,
oats The oat (''Avena sativa''), sometimes called the common oat, is a species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...

oats
, or
legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, ...

legume
s would be planted in one field in spring, wheat or
rye Rye (''Secale cereale'') is a grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of monocotyledonous flowering plants known as grasses. It includes the cereal grasses, bamboo Bamboos are a diverse group of ev ...

rye
in the second field in the autumn. There was no such thing as artificial fertilizer in mediaeval England, so the continual use of arable land for crops would exhaust the fertility of the soil. The open-field system solved that problem. It did this by allowing the third field, of the arable land, to be uncultivated each year and use that "fallow" field for grazing animals, on the stubble of the old crop. The manure the animals produced in the fallow field would help restore its fertility. The following year, the fields for planting and fallow would be rotated. The very nature of the three field rotation system imposed a discipline on lord and tenants in their management of the arable land. Every one had the freedom to do what they liked with their own land but had to follow the rhythms of the rotation system. The land-holding tenants had
livestock Livestock are the domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable ...
, including sheep, pigs,
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large s. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily and the most widespread species of the genus '. In , adult females a ...

cattle
, horses,
ox
ox
en, and
poultry Poultry () are domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable s ...

poultry
, and after harvest, the fields became 'common' so they could graze animals on that land. There are still examples of villages that use the open field system, one example being
Laxton, Nottinghamshire Laxton is a small village in the civil parish of Laxton and Moorhouse in the English county of Nottinghamshire, situated about 25 miles northeast of Nottingham city centre. The population of the civil parish (including Ompton and Ossington) at th ...
.


The end of the Open Field system

Seeking better financial returns, landowners looked for more efficient farming techniques. They saw enclosure as a way to improve efficiency, however it was not simply the fencing of existing holdings; there was also a fundamental change in agricultural practice. One of the most important innovations was the development of the Norfolk four-course system, which greatly increased crop and livestock yields by improving soil fertility and reducing
fallow Fallow is a farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in ...

fallow
periods. Wheat was grown in the first year, turnips in the second, followed by barley, with clover and ryegrass in the third. The clover and ryegrass were grazed or cut for feed in the fourth year. The turnips were used for feeding cattle and sheep in the winter. The practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons helped to restore plant nutrients and reduce the build-up of pathogens and pests. The system also improves soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants. For example, turnips can recover nutrients from deep under the soil. Planting crops such as turnips and clover was not realistic under the open field system , because the unrestricted access to the field meant that other villagers' livestock would graze on the turnips. Another important feature of the Norfolk system was that it used labour at times when demand was not at peak levels. From as early as the 12th century, some open fields in Britain were being enclosed into individually owned fields. After the
Statute of Merton The Statute of Merton or Provisions of Merton (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
in 1235 manorial lords were able to reorganize strips of land such that they were brought together in one contiguous block. Copyholders had a "customary tenancy" on their piece of land that was legally enforceable. The problem was that a "copyhold tenancy" was only valid for the holders life. The heir would not have the right to inheritance although usually by custom, in exchange for a fee (known as a fine), the heir could have the copyhold transferred. To remove their customary rights, the landlords converted the copyhold into a leasehold tenancy. Leasehold removed the customary rights but the advantage to the tenant was that the land could be inherited. There was a significant rise in enclosure during the
Tudor period The Tudor period occurred between 1485 and 1603 in History of England, England and Wales and includes the Elizabethan period during the reign of Elizabeth I until 1603. The Tudor period coincides with the dynasty of the House of Tudor in England ...
. Enclosure was quite often undertaken unilaterally by the landowner, sometimes illegally. The widespread eviction of people from their lands resulted in the collapse of the open field system in those areas. The deprivations of the displaced workers has been seen by historians as a cause of subsequent social unrest.


Legislation

In Tudor England the ever increasing demand for wool had a dramatic effect on the landscape. The attraction of large profits to be made from wool encouraged manorial lords to enclose common land and convert it from arable to (mainly) sheep pasture. The consequent eviction of commoners or villagers from their homes and loss of their livelihoods became an important political issue for the Tudors. The resulting depopulation was financially disadvantageous to the Crown. The authorities were concerned that many of the people subsequently dispossessed would become vagabonds and thieves. Also the
depopulation A population decline (sometimes underpopulation or depopulation or population collapse) in human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, ...

depopulation
of villages would produce a weakened workforce and enfeeble the military strength of the state. From the time of Henry VII, Parliament began passing Acts either to stop enclosure, to limit its effects, or at least to fine those responsible. The so-called 'tillage acts', were passed between 1489 and 1597. The people who were responsible for the enforcement of the Acts were the same people who were actually opposed to them. Consequently, the Acts were not strictly enforced. Ultimately with rising popular opposition to sheep farming, a statute in 1533 restricted the size of flocks of sheep to no more than 2400. Then in 1549 an Act was introduced that imposed a
poll tax A poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual (typically every adult), without reference to income or resources. Head taxes were important sources of revenue for many governments fr ...
on sheep that was coupled with a levy on home produced cloth. The result made sheep farming less profitable. However, in the end it was market forces that were responsible for stopping the conversion of arable into pasture. An increase in corn prices during the second half of the 16th century made arable farming more attractive, so although enclosures continued the emphasis was more on efficient use of the arable land.


Parliamentary Inclosure Acts

Historically, the initiative to enclose land came either from a landowner hoping to maximise rental from their estate, or a tenant farmer wanting to improve their farm. Before the 17th century enclosures were generally by informal agreement. When they first introduced enclosure by Act of Parliament the informal method continued too. The first enclosure by Act of Parliament was in 1604 and was for
Radipole Radipole is a part of the district of Weymouth and Portland in the county of Dorset, England. History It was formerly an independent parish, until abolished as a separate local government unit in 1933. It remains a separate ecclesiastical parish. ...
,
Dorset Dorset (; archaically In language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed ...

Dorset
. This was followed by many more Parliamentary Acts and by the 1750s the Parliamentary System became the more usual method. The
Inclosure Act 1773 The Inclosure Act 1773 (13 Geo 3. c. 81) (also known as the Enclosure Act 1773) is an Act of the Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislature, legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament ...
created a law that enabled "enclosure" of land, at the same time removing the right of
commoners '' A commoner, also known as the ''common man'', ''commoners'', the ''common people'' or the ''masses'', is an ordinary person in a community or nation who does not have any significant social status, especially one who is a member of neither Roya ...
' access. Although there was usually compensation, it was often in the form of a smaller and poorer quality plot of land. Between 1604 and 1914 there were more than 5,200 enclosure bills which amounted to of land that equated to approximately one fifth of the total area of England. Parliamentary enclosure was also used for the division and privatisation of common "wastes" such as
fen A fen is a type of peat-accumulating wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a sy ...

fen
s,
marshes A marsh is a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months). Flooding results in oxygen-free (Anoxic waters, anoxic) processes prevailin ...
,
heathland A heath () is a shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominance (ecology), dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, Herbaceous plant, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland m ...
,
downland , Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight () is a Counties of England, ceremonial county and the List of islands of England, largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between two and five miles off the coast of H ...
and
moors '' of Alfonso X, c. 1285 The term Moor is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors init ...
.


Commissioners of Enclosure

The statutory process included the appointment of commissioners.The Commissioners of Enclosure had absolute authority to enclose and redistribute common and open fields from around 1745 until the General Enclosure Act of 1845. After the 1845 Act permanent commissioners were appointed who could approve Enclosures without having to submit to Parliament. The Rev. William Homer was a Commissioner and he provided a job description in 1766: After 1899, the Board of Agriculture, which later became the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, inherited the powers of the Enclosure Commissioners. One of the objectives of enclosure was to improve local roads. Commissioners were given authorisation to replace old roads and country lanes with new roads that were wider and straighter than those they replaced.


Enclosure roads

The road system of England had been problematic for some time. An 1852 government report described the condition of a road between Surrey and Sussex as ''"very ruinous and almost impassable."'' In 1749
Horace Walpole Horatio Walpole (), 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797), better known as Horace Walpole, was an English writer, art historian, man of letters An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and ...

Horace Walpole
wrote to a friend complaining that if he desired good roads ''"never to go into Sussex"'' and another writer said that the ''"Sussex road is an almost insuperable evil"''. The problem was that country lanes were worn out and this had been compounded by the movement of cattle. Thus the commissioners were given powers to build wide straight roads that would allow for the passage of cattle. The completed new roads would be subject to inspection by the local Justices, to make sure they were of a suitable standard. In the late eighteenth century the width of the enclosure roads was at least , but from the 1790s this was decreased to , and later 30 feet as the normal maximum width. Straight roads of early origin, if not Roman were probably enclosure roads. They were established in the period between 1750 and 1850. The building of the new roads, especially when linked up with new roads in neighbouring parishs and ultimately the
turnpike Turnpike often refers to: * A type of gate, another word for a turnstile * In the United States, a toll road Turnpike may also refer to: Roads United Kingdom * Turnpike trust, a body set up by an Act of Parliament, with powers to collect road tol ...
s, was a permanent improvement to the road system of the country.


Social and economic factors

The social and economic consequences of Enclosure has been much discussed by historians. In the Tudor period Sir
Thomas More Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), venerated in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian chur ...

Thomas More
in his ''
Utopia A utopia ( ) typically describes an imaginary community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct f ...

Utopia
'' said: An anonymous poem, known as "Stealing the Common from the Goose", has come to represent the opposition to the enclosure movement in the 18th century: According to one academic: In 1770
Oliver Goldsmith Oliver Goldsmith (10 November 1728 – 4 April 1774) was an Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of p ...

Oliver Goldsmith
wrote the poem ''
The Deserted Village ''The Deserted Village'' is a poem by Oliver Goldsmith published in 1770. It is a work of social commentary, and condemns rural depopulation and the pursuit of excessive wealth. The poem is written in heroic couplets, and describes the declin ...
'', in it condemns rural depopulation, the enclosure of common land, the creation of
landscape gardens The English landscape garden, also called English landscape park or simply the English garden (french: Jardin à l'anglaise, it, Giardino all'inglese, german: Englischer Landschaftsgarten, pt, Jardim inglês, es, Jardín inglés), is a style ...
and the pursuit of excessive wealth. During the 19th and early 20th century historians generally had sympathy for the cottagers who rented their dwellings from the manorial lord and also the landless labourers.
John John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) * John (surname), including a list of people who have the name John John may also refer to: New Testament Works ...
and
Barbara Hammond Lucy Barbara Hammond (née Bradby, 1873–1961) was an English social historian who researched and wrote many influential books with her husband, John Lawrence Hammond, including the ''Labourer'' trilogy about the impact of enclosure and the Indus ...
said that "enclosure was fatal to three classes: the small farmer, the cottager and the squatter." "Before enclosure the cottager was a labourer with land; after enclosure he was a labourer without land." Marxist historians, such as Barrington Moore Jr., focused on enclosure as a part of the class conflict that eventually eliminated the English peasantry and saw the emergence of the
bourgeoisie Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguisti ...

bourgeoisie
. From this viewpoint, the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country A country is a distinct territory, ...
provided the basis for a major acceleration of enclosures. The parliamentary leaders supported the rights of landlords ''vis-a-vis'' the King, whose
Star Chamber The Star Chamber (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roma ...
court, abolished in 1641, had provided the primary legal brake on the enclosure process. By dealing an ultimately crippling blow to the monarchy (which, even after the
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
, no longer posed a significant challenge to enclosures) the Civil War paved the way for the eventual rise to power in the 18th century of what has been called a "committee of Landlords", a prelude to the UK's parliamentary system. After 1650 with the increase in corn prices and the drop in wool prices the focus shifted to implementation of new agricultural techniques, including fertilizer, new crops, and crop rotation, all of which greatly increased the profitability of large-scale farms. The enclosure movement probably peaked from 1760 to 1832; by the latter date it had essentially completed the destruction of the medieval peasant community.Surplus peasant labour moved into the towns to become industrial workers. In contrast to the Hammonds' 1911 analysis of the events, critically J. D. Chambers and G. E. Mingay, suggested that the Hammonds exaggerated the costs of change when in reality enclosure meant more food for the growing population, more land under cultivation and on balance, more employment in the countryside. The ability to enclose land and raise rents certainly made the enterprise more profitable.
Arnold Toynbee Arnold Toynbee (; 23 August 18529 March 1883) was a British economic historian also noted for his social commitment and desire to improve the living conditions of the working classes. Life and career Toynbee was born in London, the son of the ...
considered that the main feature distinguishing English agriculture was the massive reduction in common land between the middle of the 18th to the middle of the 19th century. The major advantages of the enclosures were: *Effective crop rotation; *Saving of time in travelling between dispersed fields; and *The ending of constant quarrels over boundaries and rights of pasture in the meadows and stubbles. He writes: "The result was a great increase in agricultural produce. The landowners having separated their plots from those of their neighbours and having consolidated them could pursue any method of tillage they preferred. Alternate and convertible husbandry … came in. The manure of the cattle enriched the arable land and grass crops on the ploughed-up and manured land were much better than were those on the constant pasture." Since the late 20th century, those contentions have been challenged by a new class of historians. The Enclosure movement has been seen by some as causing the destruction of the traditional peasant way of life, however miserable. Landless peasants could no longer maintain an economic independence so had to become labourers. Historians and economists such as M.E.Turner and D. McCloskey have examined the available contemporary data and concluded that the difference in efficiency between the open field system and enclosure is not so plain and obvious.


Social unrest


Enclosure riots

After the Black Death, during the 14th to 17th centuries, landowners started to convert arable land over to sheep, with legal support from the
Statute of Merton The Statute of Merton or Provisions of Merton (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
of 1235. Villages were depopulated. The peasantry responded with a series of revolts. In the 1381
Peasants' Revolt The Peasants' Revolt, also named Wat Tyler's Rebellion or the Great Rising, was a major uprising across large parts of England in 1381. The revolt had various causes, including the socio-economic and political tensions generated by the Black ...
, enclosure was one of the side issues. However, in
Jack Cade's rebellion Jack Cade's Rebellion was a popular revolt in 1450 against the government of England, which took place in the southeast of the country between the months of April and July. It stemmed from local grievances regarding the corruption, maladmini ...
of 1450 land rights were a prominent demand and by the time of
Kett's Rebellion Kett's Rebellion was a revolt in Norfolk Norfolk () is a rural and non-metropolitan county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TC ...
of 1549 enclosure was a main issue, as it was in the Captain Pouch revolts of 1604-1607 when the terms "leveller" and "digger" appeared, referring to those who levelled the ditches and fences erected by enclosers. D. C. Coleman writes that "many troubles arose over the loss of common rights" with resentment and hardship coming from various channels including the "loss of ancient rights in the woodlands to cut underwood, to run pigs". The protests against enclosure was not just confined to the countryside. Enclosure riots also occurred in towns and cities across England in the late 15th and early 16th century. The urban unrest was distributed across the whole of the country from York in the north, to Southampton in the south and Gloucester in the west, to Colchester in the east. The urban rioters were not necessarily agricultural workers but consisted of artisanal workers such as butchers, shoemakers, plumbers, clothmakers, millers, weavers, glovers, shearmen, barbers, cappers, tanners and glaziers.


Midland Revolt

In May and June 1607 the villages of Cotesbach (Leicestershire); Ladbroke, Hillmorton and Chilvers Coton (Warwickshire); and Haselbech, Rushton and Pytchley (Northamptonshire) saw protests against enclosures and depopulation. The rioting that took place became known as the Midland Revolt and drew considerable popular support from the local people. It was led by John Reynolds, otherwise known as 'Captain Pouch' who was thought to be an itinerant pedlar or tinker, by trade, and said to have originated from
Desborough Desborough, a town in Northamptonshire Northamptonshire (; abbreviated Northants.), archaically known as the County of Northampton, is a county in the East Midlands of England. In 2015 it had a population of 723,000. The county A coun ...
, Northamptonshire. He told the protesters he had authority from the King and the Lord of Heaven to destroy enclosures and promised to protect protesters by the contents of his pouch, carried by his side, which he said would keep them from all harm (after he was captured, his pouch was opened; all that was in it was a piece of mouldy cheese). A curfew was imposed in the city of Leicester, as it was feared citizens would stream out of the city to join the riots. A
gibbet A gibbet is any instrument of public execution (including guillotine A guillotine ( , also , ) is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (p ...
was erected in
Leicester Leicester is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routled ...

Leicester
as a warning, and was pulled down by the citizens.


Newton Rebellion: 8 June 1607

The Newton Rebellion was one of the last times that the non-mining commoners of England and the gentry were in open, armed conflict. Things had come to a head in early June.
James I
James I
issued a Proclamation and ordered his Deputy Lieutenants in Northamptonshire to put down the riots. It is recorded that women and children were part of the protest. Over a thousand had gathered at
Newton Newton most commonly refers to: * Isaac Newton (1642–1726/1727), English scientist * Newton (unit), SI unit of force named after Isaac Newton Newton may also refer to: Arts and entertainment * Newton (film), ''Newton'' (film), a 2017 Indian fil ...
, near Kettering, pulling down hedges and filling ditches, to protest against the enclosures of Thomas Tresham. The Treshams were unpopular for their voracious enclosing of land – the family at Newton and their better-known Roman Catholic cousins at nearby Rushton, the family of
Francis Tresham Francis Tresham ( 1567 – 23 December 1605), eldest son of Thomas Tresham (died 1605), Thomas Tresham and Merial Throckmorton, was a member of the group of English provincial Catholic Church, Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of ...

Francis Tresham
, who had been involved two years earlier in the Gunpowder Plot and had by announcement died in London's
Tower A tower is a tall structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of ru ...

Tower
. Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton was vilified as 'the most odious man' in
Northamptonshire Northamptonshire (; abbreviated Northants.), archaically known as the County of Northampton, is a historic county in the East Midlands The East Midlands is one of nine official regions of England at the ITL 1 statistical regions of England ...

Northamptonshire
. The old Roman Catholic gentry family of the Treshams had long argued with the emerging Puritan gentry family, the Montagus of
Boughton
Boughton
, about territory. Now Tresham of Newton was enclosing common land – The Brand Common – that had been part of Rockingham Forest. Edward Montagu, one of the Deputy Lieutenants, had stood up against enclosure in Parliament some years earlier, but was now placed by the King in the position effectively of defending the Treshams. The local armed bands and militia refused the call-up, so the landowners were forced to use their own servants to suppress the rioters on 8 June 1607. The Royal Proclamation of King James was read twice. The rioters continued in their actions, although at the second reading some ran away. The gentry and their forces charged. A pitched battle ensued in which 40–50 people were killed; the ringleaders were hanged and quartered. A much-later memorial stone to those killed stands at the former church of St Faith, Newton, Northamptonshire. The Tresham family declined soon after 1607. The Montagu family went on through marriage to become the Dukes of Buccleuch, enlarging the wealth of the senior branch substantially.


Western Rising 1630–32 and forest enclosure

Although Royal forests were not technically commons, they were used as such from at least the 1500s onwards. By the 1600s, when Stuart Kings examined their estates to find new revenues, it had become necessary to offer compensation to at least some of those using the lands as commons when the forests were divided and enclosed. The majority of the disafforestation took place between 1629 and 1640, during
Charles I of England Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the begins with , who initially ruled , one of the which later made up modern England. Alfred styled himself King of the from a ...

Charles I of England
's
Personal Rule The Personal Rule (also known as the Eleven Years' Tyranny) was the period from 1629 to 1640, when King Charles I of England Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the ...
. Most of the beneficiaries were Royal courtiers, who paid large sums to enclose and sublet the forests. Those dispossessed of the commons, especially recent cottagers and those who were outside of tenanted lands belonging to manors, were granted little or no compensation, and rioted in response.


See also

* * ** the * * * * * * *


In other countries

* *


Notes


Citations


References

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External links


Laxton (open field village)


* ttp://www.newtonrebels.org/rebels/index.htm Newton Rebels 1607 re-enactors site {{Agriculture in the United Kingdom * English property law History of agriculture