Warwickshire and the parliamentary enclosure movement

Martin, J.M. (1965). Warwickshire and the parliamentary enclosure movement. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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In this study we attempt to examine the parliamentary enclosure movement within the economic and social context of one Midland county. Emphasis is given to the diversity of its aims, character, and impact, both in point of time, and geographically within the different parts of the county. We describe the evolutionary processes at work in the countryside, affecting both rural economy and society, before the era of the Parliamentary Act and Award. We try to describe all aspects of the movement itself; the men who launched the movement, and those who carried it out; the cost of the whole process, and above all the social and economic consequences. A large part of the work is naturally devoted to the latter topics. We conclude that the men behind the movement were not usually great nobles or small freeholders, but the leading gentry and sometimes substantial yeomen. The carrying into effect of this great revolution, however, was in the hands of freeholders and tenant-farmers. The cost of the process was enormous and bore more heavily on the small men. The social consequences varied from period to period, and from district to district and sometimes parish to parish, But in at least one locality the disappearance of the small freeholder seems to have been fairly striking, and the apparent recovery of owner-occupiers in Warwickshire in the period 1790-1815 was probably a reflection of prosperity for capital-owning tenant-farmers. The lowest levels of rural society received almost no attention from parliamentary commissioners and always suffered. The landless and poor increased, though other factors, such as a striking rise in population by natural increase, were involved here. Poor expenditure per head of population was rising throughout the eighteenth century, and rose most sharply in a part of the county undergoing heavy enclosure. The economic consequences of enclosure were, over a long period of time, enormous, but the immediate consequences were better land use, and above all, dramatic rent increases. We examine the connection between enclosure and population rise in some detail and find a definite link in one locality with striking migration, though its impact on the natural increase of population is less conclusive.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12292


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