04 July 2012

Agricultural Records in Britain:18th-century events

Continuing with some of the 18th century entries I found more interesting in the book Agricultural Records in Britain: A.D. 220 - 1977, by Stratton and Brown.

1700: There were estimated to be 330,000 farmers and 573,000 agricultural day laborers in England and Wales.
1710: Winnowing fans were introduced in Scotland by James Meikle, after a visit to Holland.
1714: A serious epidemic of cattle plague (Rinderpest) occurred in July.
1716: On September 14 the bed of the Thames lay dry above and below London Bridge. This was caused by a combination of drought, strong westerly winds and high tides.
1730: In this year Viscount Charles Townsend, having lost his position as Prime Minister, retired to his estate at Raynham in Norfolk and began his notable land improvement schemes.
1731: Jethro Tull published his classic, The New Horse Houghing Husbandry.
1734: Flourishing trade in export of grain and malt. Wheat exports reached 498,195 quarters.
1737: Food riots occurred, directed against the export of grain. A load of wheat being taken from Salisbury to Southampton in May was stopped and smashed, the corn being scattered about the road.
1740: Jethro Tull died.
1741: The sheep population of Great Britain was estimated as 16,640,000.
1745. The beginning of a severe epidemic of rinderpest among cattle, which lasted for at least 10 years. This started a movement to plow pastures and convert them to arable land, a trend which had the effect of depressing the price of grain.
1746: More outbreaks of rinderpest. First act of Parliament for suppression of the disease and payment of compensation.
1748: A swarm of locusts reached England on August 4, settling on vegetable crops.
1750: William Marshall, visiting Devonshire, found not one wheeled carriage in the whole country (sic), everything being carried by sledges or pack horses.
1753: Rinderpest still raging.
1756: Prices rose alarmingly, and food riots occurred. Exports of grain temporarily prohibited.
1757: Rinderpest plague now declining.
1760: Estimated to be 365,000 farmers and 200,000 agricultural day laborers in England and Wales.
About this date farmers in Norfolk started to use oilcake for fattening bullocks.
1766: The exportation of corn was prohibited.
1768: Food riots in many places.
1769: Rinderpest struck again in autumn, and it was a hard year for sheep-rot.
1770: Wheeled, vehicles introduced to Devon and Cornwall about this date.
Importation of China pigs on a large scale began.
Rinderpest outbreak stamped out by rigorous application of the slaughter policy.
1773: More food riots.
1782: Caterpillars destroyed thousands of acres of turnips in Norfolk.
1784: Caterpillars destroyed thousands of acres of turnips in Norfolk, again.
1786: The mangold was introduced into England from France.
A threshing mill was invented in Scotland by Andrew Meikle.
1789: Merino sheep were imported from Spain by George III.
1791: The Veterinary College was founded in London.
1795: The Speenhamland system was introduced, whereby farm workers were entitled to a weekly sum, either from their own labour or the parish rates. The effect of this piece of well-intentioned legislation was to reduce most of the laboring population to the status of paupers. The system was worked out by magistrates and others at Speenhamland, near Newbury, Berkshire on May 6.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems strange that the people in Devon were not using any wheels for transport. It makes my ancestors' lives seem even more basic than I thought.