Compulsory Enclosures

When enclosures were voluntary, then it can be supposed that people who entered into them did so for benefit. Many resisted, however, and Parliament was approached as it favoured the landed classes who wanted to make more money. This was another example of the increasingly harsh nature of Victorian Society: where those who had property prospered with increasing productivity and the rest became much poorer. Many lost access to Common Land and fled to the growing towns and cities to start a new, mechanised, industrial life.

At first enclosures were voluntary, but because they involved the loss of Common Land some people resisted. Therefore Parliament made many enclosures compulsory.

The number of enclosure acts passed by Parliament were as follows:

Using a scale of 0 to 500 in the Y axis and 1720 to 1820 (11) in the X axis, chart the rate of enclosures.

There were positive and negative views regarding the effect of enclosures:

First, Arthur Young described a Bedfordshire village, after enclosure in 1796:

Rewrite the above in your own words.

Secondly, William Cobbert described other villages in 1830:

Rewrite the above in your own words.

So although these primary scource (written at the time for a particular purpose) articles were about different villages, they nevertheless can be applied generally. There is a positive view about increased production and a negative view about the growing division between rich and favoured (who owns or rents the land) and poor (who can end up without means to earn a living).

Explain why, using the evidence of both textboxed sources above, enclosure can be seen as both positive and negative.

There was a popular rhyme of the time:

Write your own poem either favourable to or against enclosures.