Prof. John H. Munro



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QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
1. Did Enclosures necessarily mean displacement and ‘depopulation’ of small farmers -- both tenants and smallholder owner-occupiers? Did Enclosures and the subsequent agrarian changes, from ca. 1750 to ca. 1850, mean an absolute or relative decrease in the numbers of people engaged in the agricultural sector?
2. Agriculture and the Labour Supply: what became of those small farmers who were dispossessed, displaced by Enclosures and subsequent agrarian changes, ca. 1750 - ca. 1850? Consider in terms of the following questions:
(a) Did Enclosures create an industrial proletariat or an agricultural proletariat, or a mixture of the two?
(b) If the absolute number of those engaged in the agricultural sector did not fall (before 1850), was the chief (social) significance of Enclosures the change in property rights and social ties to the land? Did many of those, formerly tenants in open-field farming or small holder owner-occupiers, become hired field-hands on large, enclosed commercial farms?
(c) How many of those small farmers dispossessed, bought out, or otherwise encouraged to leave their holdings became a source of labour for urban industries -- or rural industries? Were those industrial workers of agrarian origins driven into or attracted into their new industrial employment? Were they compelled to become industrial workers by having their holdings expropriated; or were many poor farmers and field-hands lured into industrial employment by the prospect of higher wages?
(d) Where did the industries, rural and urban, of the Industrial Revolution era secure their labour supplies? From displaced farmers, the victims of Enclosure; from the younger sons of continuing farmers, younger sons no longer needed on the land; from demographic growth -- from natural population increases, especially in the urban areas themselves?
3. What was the relationship between demographic growth, Enclosures and agrarian changes (agricultural growth), and industrial growth--urban industrialization in particular, from ca. 1750 to ca. 1850?
4. In the context of British economic development from ca. 1750 to ca. 1850, discuss the possible economic and social ‘benefits and costs’ of Enclosures for each of the following categories:
(a) landlords and their tenants-in-chief;

(b) freeholder or smallholder ‘owner-occupiers’;

(c) freeholder tenants: both those who hired labour, and those who depended chiefly on the labour of their own family;

(d) leaseholder tenants;

(e) copyholders: by inheritance, for lives (one to three lives), at will;

(f) cottars or cottagers;

(g) hired agricultural labourers, field hands;

(h) agricultural ‘servants’, hired on annual contracts and living and working as part of the farm family.


5. In the same context as the above question, discuss the changing economic and social ‘benefits and costs’ of the traditional open-field or common-field system of farming, especially for the peasant tenants of the manorial, or formerly manorial villages. Why did this system of landholding and farming persist for so long?
6. Did Parliamentary enclosures, ca. 1750 - ca. 1830, protect the rights of the tenants, any property rights of the tenants, any property rights at all? Who really paid for the costs of such enclosures (including the Enclosure Commissions' costs)?
7. What were the prime motives for and causes of the 18th century Enclosures? Discuss in terms of the following theories, comparing, contrasting, and if possible reconciling some of their elements:
(a) the Marxian theories of expropriation: to capture the economic rent on land; to transfer income from the peasantry (smallholders and tenant farmers) to the landlords.
(b) the demographic theories: a reorganization of landholdings and farming methods necessitated by the growing pressures of population--both of people and livestock: demographic pressures forcing a more rational allocation of resources in agriculture (land, labour, capital).
(c) the market theories: that a combination of rising agricultural prices [see demographic theories in b], improved communications and transportation facilities, urbanization, and economic development in general promoted commercialized farming, which in turn induced Enclosures and agricultural improvements. Or more simply, and related to both (a) and (b), rising prices augmented the economic rent on existing productive lands and so encouraged landlords to enclose to capture such rising rents.
(d) theories focusing on technology and productivity: that more enlightened, better educated landlords enclosed open- field lands and wastelands, etc. in order to implement more advanced farming techniques, placing land under single management (and thus necessarily enclosed) to ensure such implementation and ‘progress.’
Are all these theories necessarily exclusive or inconsistent with each other? In your discussion, try to determine (i.e. explain) both the timing and the location of the enclosures.
8. Compare and contrast both the economic and social consequences of enclosures that involved:
(a) enclosures of pasture and woodlands of the village ‘commons’
(b) enclosures of wastelands, or reclamations of fens and wastes
(c) engrossing of the arable strips in the open- fields
(d) enclosures principally for pastoral (livestock) farming or those for arable primarily, or those for ‘convertible husbandry’ (mixed farming).

9. Explain the regional differences in English enclosures: in the Midlands, in the south-west, the south-east, and the North; and the differences relating to England's ‘scarp and vale’ topography.


10. In what respects, both in terms of causes and of the consequences (economic and social), did the Enclosures of the Industrial Revolution era (ca. 1750-1830) resemble and/or differ from the earlier enclosures, especially those of the Tudor-Stuart era? How significant were the enclosures of the ‘in between’ period of the 17th century: how did they differ from the earlier and later enclosures in terms of causes and consequences (and forms). How much land remained to be enclosed by 1750?
11. Were enclosures of the Industrial Revolution era and the associated technical changes, where evident and relevant, designed more to economize on land or on labour? Over time, what changes occurred in the land:labour ratio? Explain those changes and their consequences.
12. Were Enclosures necessary -- a necessary co-requisite for modern industrialization, specifically in Great Britain?

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