The Economic Organisation of England: An Outline History

By William Ashley | Go to book overview

LECTURE VI
Agricultural Estates and English Self-
Government

In this lecture I intend to deal with the distribution and cultivation of agricultural land in England during the centuries since the Revolution of 1688. We are compelled to take that starting point, though we should like to go further back, because we there get some sort of statistical basis in the calculations of the contemporary statistician, Gregory King. According to his estimate, there was the a population in England and Wales of five and a half millions. Out of these, more man four and a half millions, if we may trust his calculations, were still maintained by agriculture, and not half a million by manufacture and' internal trade. Some three-quarters of a century later, Arthur Young , the celebrated author of the agricultural Tours, writing in 1769, estimated the population as being then at least eight and a half millions, and of these he ascribed hardly more than three millions to agriculture, and just three millions to manufactures. Neither of these estimates is likely to be very close; but if they at all approximate to the truth, they indicate not only a very great increase in the manufacturing population, but also a considerable decline, positive as well as comparative, in the rural population.

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