Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

. (page 26 of 185)
Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 26 of 185)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


petual rent reserved to the vendor. Further,
the simple plan of the sale of building plots for
a lump sum is probably growing in favor, par-
ticularly in suburban districts developed by land
companies. A company of this kind has no
family pride in the preservation of its estate,
nor does it wish to realize an improved value
after three generations.

(2) Country. — In the country districts the
long leasehold system is unknown. The ordi-
nary English farmer usually does not hold a
lease for any fixed term of years, but has
merely a tenancy from year to year determinable
by 12 months' notice. As a rule all the farm
buildings have been supplied by the landlord.
The tendency of modern legislation ia to give
the agricultural tenant security for the value of
his improvements, but the old law, which treats
whatever is built or planted on land as an ac-
cretion to the land, and therefore the property
of the landlord, still governs in the main the
relationship of landlord and tenant.

The tie of landlord and tenant in the country
districts is for good and for evil, not merely
economic. The landlords are the social mag-
nates of the countryside. As unpaid magis-
trates they have had up till now (1906) prac-
tically a monopoly of the ordinary dispensation
of all minor criminal and some civil justice.
On the other hand, in bad years they are ex-
pected by the common opinion of the country-
side to allow and do allow considerable
reductions on the agreed rent A 'good land-
lord" is the man who is always ready to aid
his tenants in sundry ways. On well-managed
estates, the system works easily. The system,
however, is one which for its success depends
on the peculiar social conditions which have
hitherto prevailed in rural England, and its
transplantation to Ireland, where these condi-



Digitized by



Google



GREAT BRITAIN —THE ENGLISH LAND LAW



tions did not exist, had results disastrous for
both countries.

Sporting Rights.— In England the love of
sport has been a prominent characteristic of
the landholding class throughout all history;
it is practically the universal custom for a land-
lord to reserve the sporting rights over agri-
cultural land. If he does not exercise them
himself, he lets them to some other person.
Where sporting rights are reserved the tenant
has no right to kill pheasants or partridges, but
the Ground Game Act of 1880 empowers the
tenant himself, and one other person authorized
by him in writing, to shoot hares and rabbits
on his land whether sporting rights are reserved
or not, and whatever the terms of the tenancy
agreement

Land and The State; Taxation. — The tax-
ation of land is a question that is complicated
by some historical anomalies. (1) Land Tax. —
The burden commonly known as Land Tax
represents historically the surviving portion of
a general tax in the nature of an income tax
imposed both on real and personal estate in the
year 1692; but it has for many years been a
mere stereotyped incumbrance redeemable by
the landholder, and charged on the value of the
land as in the year 1692. On most urban land
the tax has been redeemed. (2) Income Tax.
— Incomes derived from land, i. e. the net rent
of land, are liable to income tax equally with
incomes derived from other sources. (3) Death
Duties. — Before 1894 land escaped the greater
part of the death duties imposed on personal
property, but since the Finance Act of that year
all species of property are in this respect on
an equality. (4) Local Taxation. — On the
other hand a man's liability to local, as distinct
from imperial, taxation is estimated by the value
of the real property (i. e. land and buildings)
which he occupies, no account (in spite of some
earlier statutory provisions to the contrary) be-
ing taken of his personal property. On agricul-
tural land, by an Act of Parliament passed in
1896, only half the ordinary rate is paid. But
no contribution is made to local taxation in
respect of the capital value of land, or of land
which is not occupied, however high may be its
value.

Other Rights of the State.— The feudal prin-
ciple of the # ultimate ownership^ of the King has
produced little or no effect in giving to the
State which the King personifies, rights over
English land. The modern State has practically
no mineral rights. The precious metals, gold
and silver, which for commercial purposes are
practically not found in Great Britain, are in
law Crown property and can only be worked un-
der license from the Crown. But all other min-
erals belong to the tenant in fee simple of the
soil who leases or works them for his own
private benefit. The Crown lands in England
<are small in extent; ownership by local author-
ities is still in its infancy. There js no prairie
land to grant to railway pioneers or new set-
tlers. When land is wanted for the purpose of
nome undertaking of a public nature — such as
a railway, waterworks, or the site of a post-
office — it has, as a rule, to be purchased by the
company, or authority concerned, under statutory
machinery, by which the fair value of the land
lias to be paid, plus 10 per cent, compensation
Vol. 10 — 7



for compulsory sale. In the year 1887 the
principle of compulsory acquisition was, sub-
ject to many safeguards, extended to the ac-
quisition by a local authority of land to be
let in very small quantities, called allotments,
to agricultural laborers or others for culti-
vation. The Irish Land Purchase Act of 1903
proceeded on the principle of a loan by the
State to a tenant who wished to purchase his
holding from his landlord, and agreed with
him as to the price. It did not directly involve
either public ownership or compulsory ac-
quisition.

Transfer. — In recent years several attempts,
culminating in the Land 1 ransfer Act 1897, have
been made to induce English landholders to
abandon the present system of private transfer
of land for a system based on a Land Registry.
Under the present system whenever land is sold
or mortgaged, it is necessary for the purchaser
or mortgagee to satisfy himself as to the title
by going into all dealings with the land for a
period which may be as long as 40 years. This
is an expensive process, but it has been en-
deared by centuries of experience to English
landholders and lawyers. At the present time,
a public Land Registry has been substituted for
the old system only in London. The principle
of the new system is to enter the name of the
proprietor of (or rather the person entitled to
sell) every piece of land on a register and
to make land transferable by the person regis-
tered by means of a fresh entry on the registry,
as if it were so much stock in the funds. The
extension of this system to the rest of the
country is a question of time; but in legal mat-
ters time moves slowly.

Trend of the Law. — Recent developments of
the law have in nearly all cases tended to re-
strict the freedom of the individual in relation
to land. Neither in town nor country are land-
lord and tenant allowed to make what bargain
they choose; it is assumed that the economic
inferiority of the tenant places him at too great
a disadvantage for it to be possible for him
to make a contract fair to himself, and so ben-
eficial to the community. Men are no longer
allowed to settle their land in such a way as
to make it unsalable, and the community has
asserted the right to dispossess the individual,
not only for definite works of a public nature,
but in order to provide its poorer members with
an interest in the land. It has also compelled
land owners in the Metropolis to abandon the
old system of private conveyance and mortgage
for a system which is in a sense public* as it
is worked by public officials, and which may
thus be regarded as a kind of reversion to the
old method of public transfer. The same system
will also in time form — what is badly wanted
— a new and more accurate < Domesday Book.*
Finally, modern legislation has put an end to the
former advantage of land in respect of taxation
and so claimed a larger share in real property
directly for the State. The simplification of the
land laws may be said to be one aspect of this
change; intricacy and subtlety of phrase and
interpretation may be tolerated by a private
owner as the price of the liberty of complicated
dispositions and of secrecy, but these niceties
are inconsistent with the uniformity which must
accompany public control



Digitized by



Google



GREAT BRITAIN— THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY — AGRICULTURE



Bibliography. — For more detailed informa-
tion the reader may be referred to the following
works: General Authorities: Joshua Williams,
'Principles of the Law of Real Property*
(20th ed. by T. Cyprian Williams, London
1906), (the leading textbook on the subject as a
whole) ; Blackstone's 'Commentaries on the
Laws of England > (1st ed Oxford 1765) (still
the best literary statement of English Law) ;
B rod rick, ( English Land and English Land-
lords > (London 1881) (a good discussion of
the social and economic aspects) ; Sir F. Pol-
lock, ( The Land Laws ) ; ( English Citizen
Series,* 3d ed. 1896 (a compendious statement
of the law intended primarily for laymen) ;
< Reports of the Real Property Commission >
(Parliamentary Papers, London 1829-1833)
(the foundation of the highly important Land
Law legislation of the Reform Bill period).

History: Sir K. E. Digby, <History of the
Law of Real Property* (5th ed. Oxford 1897);
Sir F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, < History
of English Law before the Time of Edward
L> (2d ed. Cambridge 1898).

Early Institutions: F. Seebohm, <The Eng-
lish Village Community* (3d ed. London 1884) ;
P. Vinogradoff, 'Villainage in England* (Ox-
ford 1892) ; P. Vinogradoff, <The Growth of the
Manor* (London, New York 1905) ; F. W.
Maitland, ( Domesday Book and Beyond* (Cam-
bridge 1897), and 'Township and Borough*
(Cambridge 1898); 'The Selden Society Pub-
lications* (1887 and following years, Quaritch,
London).

Some Legal Text Books: 'Coke upon Lyttel-
ton* (15th and 16th century Law of Land ; 16th
ed. with Hargrave and Butler's Notes 1809) ;
H. W. Challis, 'The Law of Real Property*
(2d ed. London 1892) ; ( Dart on Vendor and
Purchaser* (7th ed. 1905) ; 'Woodfall Land-
lord and Tenant* (17th ed. by J. M. Lely,
London 1902) ; H. S. Theobald, K. C, <The Law
of Land* (London 1902) ; Ephinstone's intro-
duction to Conveyancing* (5th ed. London
1900) ; ( Wolstenholme on the Conveyancing and
Settled Land Acts* (9th ed. by B. L. Cherry and
A. E. Russell, Lor don 1905) ; < Elton on Copy-
holds* (2d e J . London 1893); ( The Land
Transfer Acts, 1875 and 1897* (2d ed. by C. F.
Brickdale, London 1905) ; Cootes' 'Law of
Mortgages* (7th ed. by S. E. Williams, London
1904). J. Fischer Williams,

Fellow of New College, Oxford; Barrister-at-
Law.

22 (b). Great Britain — The Eighteenth
Century — Agriculture. Between 1700 and 1815
English agriculture changed its whole charac-
ter. England became a great corn exporting
country and continued so up to 1773. Great
agricultural improvements were carried through,
stock breeding became scientific, waste land was
broken up, large portions of the fens were
drained, big farms with enterprising up-to-date
farmers became the object of every landlord and
the agricultural system which had come down
from Anglo-Saxon days, and which still pre-
vailed over large parts of England, was given
up. English farming became intensive in char-
acter instead of mainly extensive. The social
effecjts of the change involved the disappearance
or degradation of the landowning peasantry or



yeoman class. On the other hand it was onij
by means of the great increase in agricultural
produce that England was not starved into sub-
mission during the Napoleonic wars. The
changes in agriculture of that century meant
ultimately nothing more nor less than national
independence.

One of the main objects of English poliey
had been for centuries the encouragement oi
agriculture. A sufficient food supply raised at
home deprived the enemy of the power ol
cutting off supplies from abroad. Moreover
agriculture was considered the best breeding
ground of good soldiers. Corn also was an
excellent commodity for ships to carry, and the
encouragement of corn export formed part oi
the Navigation policy of the realm. The great
attention bestowed by successive governments
upon agriculture was the most original part of
English policy. Her seamanship she copied
from Holland, her industrial protection from
France; but while every other country aimed at
preventing the export of corn so as to have a
sufficient food supply, England deliberately
stimulated export believing mat thereby farm-
ing would be best encouraged.

This policy reached its most complete ex-
pression in the Corn Bounty Act (L Wm. and
Mary, c.12) of 1689, by which, when the |>rlce
of wheat was at or below 48 shillings (and pro-
portionately for other grains) a bounty was
given on export.

The result of this law was to attract capital
into farming. Men who sunk money in im-
provements were assured of a price which
should not fall below 48 shillings and under the
stimulus of this certainty a great agricultural
revolution began. There grew up gradually a
class of capitalist formers and ^spirited land-
lords* who were willing to carry out experi-
ments. The result was that by 1770 England
not only produced food for a population that
had doubled itself, but was the granary ol
Europe.

One of the great improvements of the 18th
century was, for example, the manuring of
land, by which Arthur Young calculated that
three or four hundred thousand acres of waste
were turned into gardens. A revolution in fod-
der was brought about by the introduction of
turnips and clover, while careful attention to
grass seeds resulted in good hay on which cattle
could be kept in condition in winter. Previous
to the introduction of winter roots the majority
of the beasts had to be killed in the autunm and
salted down, while the remainder declined in
weight through sheer starvation. This annual
loss was now averted and a supply of fresh meat
secured all the year round.

It therefore became worth while to improve
the breed of the animals themselves. Bakewell
of Dishleyand Coke of Holkham wrought a
revolution in English life with their Leicester
and Southdown sheep and Devon cattle, Ani-
mals were now raised primarily for food instead
of for their wool or hides, they were ready for
the market sooner and the average size of
cattle doubled and trebled. Thus a larger food
supply was secured, and the great stockbreeders
wrought a change the effects of which were
as far reaching as those of Watt and Arkwright.

Before however this scientific far**ng could



Digitized by



Google



GREAT BRITAIN — THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY — AGRICULTURE



become general it had to become known* Roads
were undeveloped, people in one county could
not know what was passing in another, there
was no agricultural newspaper — no machinery
to make this knowledge common property.
Moreover with the inherent conservatism of the
agricultural class h needs something more than
mere knowledge to make a farmer change his
ways.

The- necessary diffusion of information was
carried out largely by Arthur Young and the
Board of Agriculture, while the stimulus of the
great wars and the shortage in the food supply
provided a powerful incentive for improvement
by means of high prices. Moreover, the growth
of the iron and coal trade had led to the cut-
ting of canals, and internal communications of
all kinds were improved. People could get
about ; great towns began to grow up, provid-
ing an ever increasing market for food stuffs.
It therefore became more and more worth while
to effect improvements, and scientific agriculture
became a patriotic hobby. The King himself
wrote articles for agricultural newspapers and
the great agricultural meetings and cattle shows
put a spirit of emulation into farmers.

The chief obstacle to betterment lay how-
ever in the fact that much of the land was owned
by small farmers who simply had not the
capital to get good stock, implements, seeds and
manures. Moreover, the system of farming
among the peasantry was that of farming in
strips, each man having about thirty strips of
land but no two lying together. These strips
were separated from one another by turf balks,
and after the hay and corn harvest had been
gathered all the animals were turned indis-
criminately over the open fields. The system
was most wasteful. It was quite impossible to
adopt improved methods of cultivation on half
acre strips. No winter crops could be grown
because the cattle ranged all over the fields
from September to February. No improvements
in breed could be carried out when good cattle
were exposed to the infection of the mangy
village herds with their foot and mouth disease.
No drainage could be attempted since the out-
fall would be on some neighbor's strip. The
loss of time involved in going from piece to
piece, and in carting little bits of hay and corn
from different places, to say nothing of the
waste of numerous footpaths and the endless
disputes over real or fancied encroachments,
made the system one which in the interest of
good farming it was highly desirable to displace.
It was established by the Board of Agriculture
that tenants lived comfortably on enclosed land
rented at 10/6 an acre who had starved on open
farms at 2/6 an acre and that enclosed lana at
20/- an acre was cheaper than open land
at 8/-.

The famine years of 1795, 1800 and 1801
made the prosperity of agriculture a pressing
national question. Enclosures were pushed on
rapidly, partly by the agreement of the parties
concerned, but mainly by private Acts of Par-
liament The general result was that the scat-
tered strips were given up and each farmer
received an equivalent in a compact little hold-
ing all in one place.

Between 1770 and 1799, 1,375 enclosure bills
were passed, between 1800 and 1819, 1,700.



Altogether it has been calculated that over
2,500,000 acres were affected by the Acts prior
to 1801.

The result meant better farming, but it also
involved great loss to the peasant and the
laborer. The fees of the commissioners for re-
distributing the lands, the legal expenses of
getting a private Act, the cost of hedging the
new farm, all bore hardly on the yeoman. Even
when he had survived the actual enclosure he
found it hopeless to compete with the capitalist
farmer. The stuff he could raise would not
bring a remunerative price in competition with
that of the large producers. He was moreover
hard hit by the loss of the bye employments of
spinning and weaving which were tending to
become more and more factory industries-
Many of the yeomen sold their little farms to
large landowners who were only too anxious to
throw them together into big ones in order to
realize the high prices during the war perioo^
Moreover the new men who were making their
money in cotton were glad to buy land for the
sake of social position. With an increasing
struggle for existence on the one hand and the
prospect of a good sale on the other the small 3
farmers sold their holdings and disappeared..
Those that held on were so hard hit by the great
depression in agriculture after 1815 that they
too were forced to succumb. Hence England
between 1770-1815 became predominantly the
land of the capitalist farmer.

The laborers, too, suffered considerably,
since when the land was enclosed they lost many
little perquisites such as turning out a cow
on the waste or gathering fuel. But more im-
portant than all was the fact that the laborer
lost the chance of rising in the world. The
small farmer had ceased practically to exist and
the laborers never could hope to get together
capital enough to take a big farm.

But without the improvements of those years
England could not have held out against
Napoleon. She would simply have surrendered
from famine when the Baltic corn was cut off.

The stimulus of the Corn Bounty Act started
the agricultural revolution, the great wars com-
pleted it. The result was an enormous advance
in farming but great social distress ; the extinc-
tion of the peasant proprietor, but the ultimate
safety of England.

Bibliography.— Cunningham, W., ( Growth of
English Industry and Commerce — Modern
Times> (1903); Defoe, D., <Tour Through the
Whole Island of Great Britain ) (1724) ; in-
quiry into the Reasons for and Against Inclosing
the Open Fields' (1767); General Report on
Enclosures Drawn up by the Board of Agricul-
ture 1 (1808); Nicholson, J. S., <The History
of the English Corn Laws ) (1004); Prothero,
R. E., < Pioneers and Progress of English Farm-
ing' ; Pennington, W., Reflections on the
Various Advantages Resulting from the Drain-
ing. Indorsing and Allotting of Large Commons
and Common Fields* (1760) ; Young. A., < Tour
Throueh the Southern Counties of England ' ;
Tour Through the North of England> (1771),
and <The Farmers Letters and the People of
England' (1768).

Lilian Knowles.
Appointed Lecturer in Modem Economic His*

tory, University of London.



Digitized by



Google



GREAT BRJTAIN — AGRICULTURE



22 (c). Great Britain — Agriculture. His-
tory.— The close of the 18th century saw the
English system of farming fully established,
with its characteristic division of the landed
interest into the three classes of landlord
capitalists, tenant farmers, and laborers.
Agricultural improvement had indeed made
great strides during the 18th century, and in
some parts of the country, as in Norfolk and
Herts, the change from the old open field
system to large enclosed farms had already
been accomplished, but it was the high prices
for food, prevailing at a time when the rapid
growth of a manufacturing population coin-
cided with the Napoleonic wars, which finally
swept away the village-community style of farm-
ing and replaced it by the large tenant hold-
ings as known to-day. The old system, while
it supported a good many poor men on the
land, was a very inefficient method of feed-
ing the nation. The first condition of
agricultural improvement was the investment
of capital in the land, and the most eco-
nomical way of doing it has proved to be to
allow the landlord to use his money on the
permanent amelioration of his property,
leaving the whole of the tenant's resources
free to be employed in his business of farm-
ing. It should perhaps be explained that on
an ordinary Scotch or English estate, the land-
lord bears the cost of all the work which may
be supposed to permanently increase the letting
value of the farm. He, for example, erects
all the buildings required by the tenant, and
supplies the latter with timber and other ma-
terials for their repair ; he finds wood and gates
for fencing, tiles for draining; in many cases
he even provides the fruit trees that are to
be planted, and the seed for land that is to
be laid down in permanent grass. The ad-
vantage of this system lies in the fact that the
tenant's capital is kept in a liquid condition; he
becomes a manufacturer of meal and corn,
who hires land and buildings as tools in his
business, and how well it has succeeded may be
learned by comparing the results attained by
British farming with those of other coun-
tries. In Great Britain the average yield
of wheat for the last ten years has been
32 bushels per acre, as against a world's
average of about 12 bushels, a French
average of 20, a United States average of
13; the only countries with a similar large
yield being Germany and Belgium with 28
bushels per acre. A comparison of other
crops would b' even more favorable to
Great Britain. The development of im-
proved breeds of live stock and superior
strains of crops, as will be recounted in a
later section, has been made possible by the
existence of a race of tenant farmers with
both the means and the temperament to
speculate in the development of their in-
dustry. The system has of course its draw-
backs; it demands that the landlord should
possess capital and some understanding of
the agricultural situation; it lacks flexibility
when a great economic change takes place
like the fall in prices after 1876; it en-
courages too conservative a style of farm-
ing, for it checks the initiative of tenants by
giving small security that they will reap the



benefit of any increase in the value of the
farm due to their improvements. Its intense



Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 26 of 185)