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Open-Field Farms and Pasture Commons (1793-1815)

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Type: Book Chapter
Author: Prothero, R. E.
Book Title: English Farming Past and Present
Publisher: Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd
Location: London
Date: 1912
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/81
Sector: Agriculture
Region: Europe
Subject(s): agriculture
Abstract: "It might perhaps be supposed that in 1793 the agricultural defects of the ancient system of open arable fields and common pasture had been remedied by experience; that open-field farmers had shared in the general progress of farming; that time alone was needed to raise them to the higher level of an improved standard; that, therefore, enclosures had ceased to be an economic necessity. In 1773, an important Act of Parliament had been passed, which attempted to help open-field farmers in adapting their inconvenient system of occupation to the improved practices of recent agriculture. Three-fourths of the partners in village-farms were empowered, with the consent of the landowner and the tithe owner, to appoint field-reeves, and through them to regulate and improve the cultivation of the open arable fields. But any arrangement made under these powers was only to last six years, and, partly for this reason, the Act seems to have been from the first almost a dead letter. At Hunmanby, on the wolds of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the provisions of the Act were certainly put in force, and it is possible that it was also applied at Wilburton in Cambridgeshire. With these exceptions, little, if any, use seems to have been made of a well-intentioned piece of legislation."

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