Enclosure Essay

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Over the decades, enclosures had been occurring in England and eventually became common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Enclosing land would close off public lands in order to benefit wealthy landowners. The Enclosure Movement allowed these landowners to better support their animals and crops that covered their land. However, enclosures did not benefit everyone in England. In fact, the peasants in rural England suffered from the negative effects of enclosure during this controversial movement.
Julian Hoppit describes enclosure in Land of Liberty? England 1689-1727 as, “the fencing or ditching of land while also bringing it more completely under individual proprietorship” (358). There were many ways to enclose land such as constructing hedges, digging ditches, building dry stone walls and other barriers. Enclosures happened on open fields and the common land. During the sixteenth century, enclosure was considered a negative event because it was connected to sheep farming, which required less labor than agricultural farming. However, by the 1700s people changed their opinions on enclosure because they saw it as a way in which agriculture could be improved.
The focus of landowners was to expand their lands and extend their estates. They strived to change the public property into their own private property. Private ownership would require responsibility, and encourage industry and innovation. Landowners took advantage of this new ownership and tried to make innovations that would benefit them and their families. However, these landowners knew they couldn’t be prejudice against the poor. Peasants worked on the common lands so the landowners knew it would affect them greatly. Population decline was the main concern that l...

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...ld of agriculture. Wealthy landowners produced new methods of farming; and the lucky peasants that did find jobs worked in factories. Land was seen as valuable when the Industrial Revolution was underway because it allowed landlords to make improvements in agriculture.
Smith says in his book This Realm of England 1399 to 1688, “The records indicate that between 1455 and 1607 in thirty-four counties only 516,573 acres of land were enclosed, or 2.76 percent of the total, and that some 50,000 persons were evicted from their property” (73). These statistics may not be extremely high, but one thing really affected the peasants--change. The peasants lives changed and not for the better. They suffered from the effects of food, jobs and land because of the Enclosure Movement. Overall, there are more cons than pros on the effect enclosures made on peasants in rural England.

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