On the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the British Agricultural History Society in 1977, William N. Parker published an article in which he pointed out that there are still important unanswered questions about the English agricultural revolution, 1750-1850. For example:
By what means was Britain’s growing population fed in these critical decades before the massive imports of overseas meat and grain? Could not some balance sheet be constructed to show the relative importance of dietary changes—whether restrictions or improvements (pace Hartwell, Hobsbawm)—increased grain yields and meat supplies at home, Irish and other imports, and finally the new crops and abandonment of fallow?… Did turnips or clover or both together feed by way of meat-animals or richer and better tilled soil for the grain crop—30 percent of the population increase or 80 percent of it in the Industrial Revolution?
The standard generalization is that in the first half of the nineteenth century, when the population of England and Wales doubled, this substantial addition to numbers, thanks to the agricultural revolution, was fed out of domestic sources. E.L. Jones concluded as follows:
The total population of England and Wales, which had been 11,004,000 in 1815, reached 14,928,000 in 1836 and this enormous increase was fed. It was fed from home supplies, with no sustained help from imports and clearly without the per