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Land Enclosures and Threshing Machines

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Land Enclosures and Threshing Machines - Lesson Summary

After the 1780s for the first time in England’s history, rapid population growth was met by an increase in grain production. The increase in grain production was achieved through simple innovations as crop rotation. Clover and turnip was introduced and grown in abundance.

Crop rotation and enclosures were beneficial to the rich landlords and for their grain production but the life of the poor became more miserable. The poor were driven out from the common lands. Some areas like Midlands were more affected by the age of enclosures than their surrounding counties.

People started migrating to the southern counties of England to find work as agricultural labourers. They still faced the trouble of finding secure jobs. The rich landlords started the practice of hiring labourers only during the harvest season to cut costs and increase their profits.

The Napoleonic Wars brought further agony for the poor as the price of food grains sky rocketed during this time. The landlords began buying new threshing machines to avoid dependence on hired labour.

The introduction of threshing machines sparked riots across the country. The English landlords across the country received threatening letters signed by a mythical Captain Swing. Known as Captain Swing Riots rioters instilled a fear amongst the rich landlords burning their fields and breaking their threshing machines.

With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, food grains from Europe started flowing in and the grain prices fell, causing an Agricultural Depression. The landlords were forced to reduce the area under cultivation.


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