Enclosure and improvement: an investigation into the motives for parliamentary enclosure
AbstractThis thesis establishes and examines the variety of motives for parliamentary enclosure. Its aim is not to determine their importance or frequency, except in general terms, because the detailed research of all the acts where suitable sources survive is beyond the scope of a single doctoral thesis. The, aim is rather to show the accepted view that the 'agricultural profit' motive alone (via the agency of higher prices, land values and rents) accounts for the parliamentary enclosure movement is unsatisfactory. It is argued that to understand the variety of motives for parliamentary enclosure, detailed research in estate papers, parish records and newspapers is required, rather than a statistical approach matching price rises or interest rates with the frequency of enclosure acts. The latter can establish coincidences but not definite correlations. The thesis draws together existing and often overlooked studies with extensive primary research to establish a variety of motives for enclosure apart from agricultural profit. After demonstrating the legal benefits to be derived from acts rather than agreements, other reasons for obtaining acts are examined. The most important of these motives were opening up mining areas, helping town development, funding local institutions, reducing the poor rate, allowing landscape enhancement around country seats, satisfying the desire for improvement among many landowners and increasing the supply of food at times of national crisis. It offers an alternative model to explain the phenomenon of the parliamentary enclosure movement - the notion of 'improvement' - which unites all the motives identified and was acknowledged by contemporaries as an important motivation for human enterprise.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Council for National Academic Awards for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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