Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain, 1700-1850

By M. J. Daunton | Go to book overview

conclusion that 'the major economic consequence of the enclosure of open field arable in the eighteenth century was to redistribute the existing agricultural income, not to create additional income by raising efficiency'. 41 Ricardo would not have been surprised, and even Young, the arch-advocate of enclosure, hinted at the possibility of redistribution. 'If profit be measured by a percentage on the capital employed, the old system might, at the old rents, exceed the profits of the new; and this is certainly the farmers' view of the comparison.' 42 He nevertheless went on to argue that higher rents reflected efficiency; there was a discrepancy between his data and his ideology. He took high rents as a sign of progress, and emphasized the introduction of new crops such as clover and turnips as a result of the initiative of landlords, who merited their higher rents as the agents of modernization. In fact, parliamentary enclosure was a final step in a long process of change which produced a further small increment of improvement rather than a sudden, revolutionary change in farming and spectacular gains in output. Its most important outcome was to increase the share of income taken by the landed élite; it was part of the creation of a more hierarchical rural society of large landed estates and tenant farmers facing a mass of landless labourers. The rise of the great estates, enclosure, and clearances produced a major change in rural society, but were not crucial to the improvement of yields and output. Perhaps Ricardo and the late nineteenth-century critics of landowners were right: they obtained an unearned increment which could be appropriated through taxation. In the early nineteenth century, the outcome was very different, for landowners instead shifted the burden of taxation to other groups in society, and maintained their higher rents by protection. The redistribution of income, and its maintenance by state policy, had serious political and economic repercussions, leading to radical attacks and demands for parliamentary reform to make policy more accountable, and encouraging a shift from domestic markets to exports.


NOTES
1.
J. M. Neeson, "'The Opponents of Enclosure in Eighteenth-Century Northamptonshire'", Past and Present, 105 ( 1984), 139.
2.
E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class ( 1963), 218.
3.
E. P. Thompson, "'The Grid of Inheritance'", in J. Goody et al. (eds.), Family and Inheritance ( Cambridge, 1976), 337.
4.
M. A. Havinden, "'Agricultural Progress in Open-Field Oxfordshire'", Agricultural History Review, 9 ( 1961), 79.
5.
D. N. McCloskey, 'English Open-Fields as Behaviour towards Risk', Research in Economic History, 1 ( 1976); C. J. Dahlman, The Open Fields and Beyond: A Property Rights Analysis of an Economic Institution ( Cambridge, 1980).
6.
J. A. Yelling, Common Field and Enclosure in England, 1450-1850 ( 1977), 71.

-117-

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Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain, 1700-1850
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • List of Tables xiii
  • Chapter I - Introduction: the Possibilities of Growth 1
  • Notes 19
  • Further Reading 21
  • Part I - Agriculture and Rural Society 23
  • Chapter 2 - Agricultural Production: the Limits of Growth? 25
  • Conclusion 56
  • Notes 57
  • Further Reading 58
  • Chapter 3 - The Rise of the Great Estates and the Decline of the Yeoman 61
  • Notes 87
  • Further Reading 88
  • Chapter 4 - Open Fields and Enclosure: the Demise of Commonality 92
  • Notes 117
  • Further Reading 119
  • Part II - Industry and Urban Society 123
  • Chapter 5 - Diversities of Industrialization 125
  • Notes 145
  • Further Reading 146
  • Chapter 6 - The Domestic System of Manufactures 148
  • Conclusion 169
  • Notes 170
  • Further Reading 171
  • Chapter 7 - The Coming of the Factory 201
  • Chapter 8 - Furnaces, Forges, and Mines 206
  • Conclusion 232
  • Further Reading 234
  • Chapter 9 - Capital and Credit: Financing Industrialization 260
  • Further Reading 261
  • Part III - Integrating the Economy 265
  • Chapter 10 - Integration and Specialization 267
  • Notes 283
  • Further Reading 283
  • Chapter II - Transport 285
  • Conclusion 314
  • Notes 314
  • Chapter 12 - Merchants and Marketing 318
  • Conclusion 338
  • Notes 338
  • Further Reading 339
  • Chapter 13 - Banks and Money 342
  • Conclusion 357
  • Notes 358
  • Further Reading 359
  • Further Reading 361
  • Further Reading 382
  • Further Reading 383
  • Part IV - Poverty, Prosperity, and Population 385
  • Chapter 15 - Births, Marriages, and Deaths 387
  • Notes 415
  • Further Reading 416
  • Chapter 16 - The Standard of Living and the Social History of Wages 441
  • Chapter 17 - Poor Relief and Charity 447
  • Notes 471
  • Further Reading 472
  • Part V - Public Policy and the State 475
  • Chapter 18 - The Visible Hand: the State and the Economy 477
  • Notes 502
  • Further Reading 503
  • Chapter 19 - Taxation and Public Finance 507
  • Further Reading 530
  • Further Reading 530
  • Notes 557
  • Further Reading 558
  • Chapter 21 - Conclusion 565
  • Notes 566
  • Chronology 567
  • Statistical Appendix 573
  • Index 591
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