Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 63, 1830-1831. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].
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Die Martis, 7° Decembris 1830.
The Marquess of Salisbury in the Chair.
The Reverend James Beard is called in, and is examined as follows:
You are a Clergyman and Magistrate of the County of Bedford?
What is the Name of your Parish?
Can you state the Population of that Parish?
What Number of Acres are there in the Parish?
Is it principally Pasture or ploughed Land?
Two Thirds Arable.
Have you many Persons out of Employment during the Winter?
About One Fourth, in the dead Time of the Winter.
Have they sufficient Employment during the Summer Months?
In what Manner are the Poor employed during the Winter Time by the Parish?
In digging Gravel and taking care of the Roads.
Can you state what Rate of Wages they receive when so employed by the Parish?
8s. per Week the married Men, with Families; a single Man, until this last Week, 3s., 3s. 6d., and possibly 4s.
Are they employed by the Grate when working for the Parish?
No Difference is made between their Earnings, whether they work hard or not?
Not the least.
In the Case of those Labourers who are in regular Employment with the Farmers, is the Parish in the habit of contributing towards the Support of their Families?
Do they do so of their own Accord, or by Order of the Magistrates?
It has been so long the Custom that I cannot say from whence it arose; it has been the Custom for Twelve Years, to my Knowledge.
Do many Cases come before you, as a Magistrate, of such Applications?
I should think sometimes from Twenty to Thirty in the Day; not of my own Parish, but I am speaking of the County at large.
Is there any Scale by which you afford them Relief?
1s. 10d. per Head at present; if the Scale will not make 1s. 10d., I have made it 1s. 10d.
You mean 1s. 10d. per Man?
Yes, per Head; generally speaking, therefore, the Overseers make it 2s. per Head.
Is there any printed Scale given out by the Magistrates, from their Petty Sessions or General Sessions, of the Allowances?
No; but the Overseers know, according to the Price of the Quartern Loaf. I never saw a printed Scale, though I have no doubt they have a written one; but that has not been circulated by the Magistrates.
Are the Committee to understand that the Magistrates all act in the same Manner you do upon that Subject?
At the Two Divisions that I act in that is always the Case.
Are you acquainted with any Parish which is peculiarly ill managed; and if so, state the Circumstances?
There are about 160 Labourers in the Parish of Marston; generally from Seventy to Eighty out of Employment nearly the Year round. One great Cause was this: at the Time of the Inclosure, which I think was about Six or Seven and twenty Years ago, the Parish at the Time of the Inclosure being about Three Fourths Arable, and owing to a Dispute which took place between the Steward of a large Proprietor and the Rector, Two Thirds of the Parish, or more than that, was laid down into Grass. A great deal of that Land would be far more advantageous in a State of Plough than of Grass, and which having changed Hands now, the Property being sold, I have no doubt a great deal of it will immediately be broken up.
Can you state what Quantity of Acres there are in the Parish?
What is the gross Population of the Parish?
Are you acquainted with the Rates of Wages which are paid by that Parish?
The same as I stated before.
Is there any Manufactory whatever in your Parish?
How many Shillings in the Pound have the Rates been?
At Rack Rent?
Yes, at Rack Rent.
Are you able to state what they were before the Inclosure?
I am not.
Have they increased much within the last Ten Years?
I think from about 1,700l. to 2,400l. a Year.
Has the Number of Persons unemployed in the Parish increased in the like Proportion?
How many Labourers were unemployed Ten Years ago?
I cannot charge my Memory with that.
Are more employed now than then?
Now, far less.
To what Circumstance do you attribute that?
The Farmers being poorer. I have a Paper which the Overseer gave to me on Saturday Night. (Producing the same.)
It appears that the Poor's Rates in 1829 were somewhat about 2,100l., and in 1830, 2,392l. Can you state any Reason for that Increase?
They have progressively increased every Year.
From what Circumstance has that arisen?
The Poverty of the Farmers.
More Persons have been out of Employment during the last Year?
Has the Population increased within the last Year?
To what Extent?
Can you state what Number of Marriages have taken place in the Parish of Marston?
Are you aware what was the Population of the Parish of Marston in the Year 1810?
I am not; I think about 750.
Are the same Persons acting as Farmers in the Parish now as were a Dozen Years ago?
To what Circumstance do you attribute the Poverty which you state to be increasing among them?
All the Produce of Grass Land, Butter and Pork, &c. &c. have sunk 25 per Cent. within the last Three Years.
Is it not a Parish very unfit for grazing?
The Majority of the Land in Grass there certainly is; but there is the best Land in England there.
That which has been recently laid down is very unfit?
Does not that Land feel the Depreciation of grazing more than the richer and better Quality of Soil?
Far; so much so that Tenants would be glad to give a higher Price for the Land if they could break up certain Parts of their Land.
From what Cause is so large a Proportion of the Arable Land laid down into Pasture?
A Disagreement with the Rector.
What Proportion of your able-bodied Labourers in your own Parish were out of Employment last Year?
I should think from the Month of November to the End of January nearer Thirty than Twenty.
Out of how many?
Out of 130.
Have you adopted any Means of providing Employment for those Labourers?
I have endeavoured to do it.
State the Circumstances under which you have done it?
My Parish is an open Field Parish, and we have Seventy or Eighty Acres of Grass Common Land in it. Three Years ago, I called the Parishioners together, being very anxious to put Part of this into Cultivation for the Benefit of the Poor and the Relief of the Parish. Out of Twenty-two Occupiers, One and twenty agreed, but the Twenty-second, having the Power of turning his Stock in, he declared he would, and of course put a complete Stop to any thing of Spade Husbandry. However, last Week I called the Parish together, and there was the same Unanimity, and that Individual did not disagree. The married Labourers have now got a Rood of Land each allotted to them on Saturday, and the single Men Half a Rood, at the Rate of 10s. an Acre.
To work for the Parish, or to work on their own Account?
On their own Account, under certain Rules.
Can you state those Rules?
They are printed, but I have not a Copy with me; I can furnish it on a future Day.
The Witness is directed to furnish a Copy of the Rules. (See Appendix.)
Is it intended to make Advances to the Labourers to enable them to cultivate this Land?
I have done it myself individually out of my own Pocket; that is to say, I have advanced Twenty Pounds towards fencing of the Land, and given every Man a new Spade.
Is it in the Contemplation of the Parish to take any Land beyond this Allotment, to employ the Labourers during the Winter?
Not at present.
Is it intended to employ those Labourers on the Roads during the Winter?
It is; and there are at this Moment about Thirty.
Can you state any Particulars as to the Expenditure upon those Roads?
No; the Accounts are so mixed up. The Fact is, the Roads are made by the Overseer. I am one of the Surveyors; but all the Labour is done by the Overseer.
How are the Accounts charged in the Parish Books?
Each Labourer's Day is put down, "At Work upon the Roads," or, "Sifting Gravel," separately.
Is this Expence charged to the Stone or Way Warden's Account, or to the Poor's Rates?
To the Poor's Rates.
Is there any Levy made on the Parish in the Shape of Stone Warden's Rate?
A Sixpenny one.
How is that expended?
We have had new Roads to make, and therefore the Rate has frequently gone in the Payment of Land; and we have also had Two or Three Indictments, and of course the Payment of Costs have been considerable upon those; but very little of the Rate has gone towards the actual Labour of making the Roads.
Can you state any Particulars as to the Employment of Labourers on the Roads in the Parish of Kempston?
The last Year in the mere Gravel-digging that Parish expended 750£.; and I am sure I am not saying too much when I state I could get the same Gravel dug for 50l.
Can you state what the Wages paid to the Labourers were in that Parish for that Work?
The married Men 8s. per Week; making up their Families to the Amount I stated before.
Have there been many Marriages of late Years in the Parish of Cranfield?
There have been only Two within the last Eight Months.
What Bench of Magistrates do you attend?
Woburn and Ampthill.
If a Man gets 1s. 10d. per Head per Week for his Family, is it the Practice of the Magistrates to order further Relief?
I have not done so until within the last Three Weeks.
Are there many Labourers and their Families who existed previously to the last Three Weeks on 1s. 10d. per Head?
Last Wednesday I went, according to the Direction of the Lord Lieutenant, to swear in Special Constables. I met Ten Farmers, whom I swore in; they had brought Seventy-four Labourers also to be sworn in. Upon the Labourers being asked at the Door, they would not come in. I went out to them, and asked them the Reason; they said they wanted Food; upon which I selected Four of the most intelligent of the Party. I asked them to go into a private Room. I inquired the Character of the Men from the Farmers; and they said they were very honest industrious Men. They gave me the Earnings of themselves, their Wives, and their Children; they did not quite come to 2s. per Head per Week of the Four Families; they were the best and most industrious Labourers in the Parish. I went in to the Farmers, and told them it was morally impossible to expect those Labourers to go on at that Rate of Wages, and I trusted they would not think me unreasonable in begging of them to give them 2s. 6d. a Head per Week; that is to say, a married Labourer to have 9s.; a single Man of Twenty, 6s. per Week; a single Man of Eighteen, 5s. per Week; that if a married Labourer has 9s., and has Two or Three Children, they would make it up 2s. 6d. per Head; if there were Six of them, that would be 15s. per Week. The Farmers having consented, I went out to the Labourers, and spoke to them; and I never saw a Body of People so thankful in my Life. This is the Parish of Lidlington.
You stated that many of the Men are employed on the Road in some of the Parishes in your Neighbourhood?
Are they so employed for the Purpose of giving them Employment, or because the Roads require that Number to repair them?
Merely to keep them employed.
In your own Parish, are the Arable Lands in as high a State of Cultivation now as they were Ten Years ago?
Notwithstanding the Poverty of the Farmers?
I think the Arable Land is. I am speaking only of my own Parish, when I say that.
Are you acquainted with any Parish where Land has been cultivated by the Spade by the Poor for any considerable Time?
The Duke of Bedford has a Parish, about Seven Miles from me, in which he has kindly allotted a Quantity of Land to the Poor for Two Years.
Can you state what the Effect of that Allotment has been?
Exceedingly beneficial to the Poor.
Has it had any Effect in the Diminution of Rates in those Parishes?
I cannot answer that Question; it is merely Hearsay; but I have been told that it has.
To whom is the Rent paid for the Common Land allotted to the Poor?
The Parish Account; but there is only just as much as will cover the Outgoings.
You state in the Parish of Cranfield there are now about One Fourth of the Labourers out of Employment?
Can you state how long that has been the Case?
It is always the Case nearly from the Middle of November to February.
For how many Years has that been the Case?
I can answer for the last Twelve Years.
Do you know as to that Parish before that Time?
I do not.
You do not know whether there are more out of Employment now than there were previously?
Certainly there are.
How do you account for there being more out of Employment now than when you first became acquainted with the Parish?
The Farmers are poorer.
When did you begin to perceive that the Poverty of the Farmers had diminished the Number of Agricultural Labourers?
It certainly has been very materially augmented since the Currency Question.
Can you state the Proportion?
Yet you say the Lands are equally well cultivated?
Are there any Arable Lands thrown out of Cultivation?
No; the Truth is there is a great deal more Labour got for the Money.
The poor People work cheaper?
Yes; the poor People work cheaper - a great deal cheaper, the Competition of Labour is so great.
Have you formed any Opinion whether there has been a proportionate Diminution in the Price of Articles supplied to the Poor?
I think there has in my Neighbourhood.
Then they are equally as well off, in your Opinion, with the low Wages as with high?
Oh dear no.
If there has been a proportionate Diminution in the Price of Articles which the Poor require to that in the Wages of Labour, how do you account for their not being in the same State?
One great Cause is, that the Lace Trade was an exceedingly good one, and now a Woman must work very hard to get a Halfpenny an Hour, Sixpence a Day.
You say there has been no Land thrown out of Cultivation that you are aware of in this Parish?
None that I am aware of.
Are there any other Reasons for the Labourers being worse off now than when the Wages were higher and Provisions dearer?
Formerly the Labourer could get Employment, now he cannot at any Price.
Have you any Means of collecting from the Farmers, whether, considering the present Price of Produce, they should be able to continue these Payments which you say is so good-naturedly proposed by them?
They in a Body told me that they could not; and my Answer to them was this: "Then as the Labourers have come to me in a Body," as they had Ninety in a Body at my House, "you must go in a Body to your Landlords."
Have Cottage Rents fallen in proportion to the Fall in the other Necessaries of the Labourer?
Decidedly not; and nothing oppresses the Labourer more than the present Price of Cottage Rents.
From what Cause do you suppose Cottage Rents have not fallen in proportion to the other Payments of the Labourers?
That as Population has increased the Cottages have not increased in Number so much, and therefore there has been a Demand for them, and consequently a Shilling a Week is almost the least Rent which a Labourer can get a Cottage for.
Does a Family of Five Persons consume as much Corn now as a Family of the same Number and of the same Ages did Fifteen or Twenty Years ago?
That is a Question that I cannot answer. Previously to Twelve Years ago I hardly knew a Labourer.
Take it Twelve Years ago?
No, I do not think he does.
Can you say in what Proportion that Consumption has diminished?
There is Land laid down to Grass in the Parish adjoining you; does that form a large Proportion of the Land in the Parish?
Is that owing in some degree to the Demand for Tithe?
That was the original Cause, I am told; but it is Six and twenty Years ago.
If the Land was not liable to Tithe, would much of the Land in that Parish be cultivated in Corn, and more Labourers be required, and more Capital employed?
I think that would be the Case.
Is the Quantity of Corn grown diminished in England generally, as far as your Observation extends?
I should decidedly say, as to the whole of Bedfordshire, the County is very much improved in Agriculture, and the Crops much better within the last Twelve Years, because Labour is so cheap that it can be got for less than Half the Price.
That increased Produce has arisen from the Application of increased Labour?
Is it not your Opinion that greater Application to the Soil of Bedfordshire would continue to increase the Productiveness of it?
I have not the least Doubt of that.
Is not your Opinion that if the Occupiers throughout Bedfordshire had Capital and Means to apply the Labour to the Cultivation of the Land, that would not exhaust the entire disposable Labour even at this Moment?
I have not the least Doubt of that.
If you are rightly understood, all the present Difficulties, as applicable to the Employment of Labour, would cease if the Occupiers had sufficient Capital?
Are you of opinion, that, having sufficient Capital, the Farmers could use that Capital profitably in the Employment of all those Labourers?
Certainly. I have never found the Parish in which the whole of the Labourers could not be employed beneficially, if the Farmers had Capital, and the Labour were rightly distributed.
You mean that that could be so employed as to produce to the Farmer a Sum equivalent to the increased Cost of employing so many more Labourers?
Yes, certainly; a profitable Application of Capital.
How do you account for the Diminution of the Capital of the Farmer?
The Increase of Poor's Rates, and that from the Increase of Taxation upon Property.
To what Period do you refer in that Answer?
Formerly a Bushel of Corn supported a Labourer; he got as much per Week as the Price of a Bushel of Corn; but owing to all the exciseable Articles being so heavy, Soap, Candles, Tea and various Articles of Consumption, of course he requires more than the Value of a Bushel of Corn now.
What Periods of Time are you comparing?
I certainly cannot state the Date.
Do you speak of Fifteen Years back?
Longer than that.
What is the general Food of the Labourers in your Part of the Country?
Nothing but Bread.
What have they to drink?
They have no Cheese?
Very little. I have watched One and twenty Men dine together; I have seen Twenty of them eat Bread with what we call Seam, which is a little Fat rendered down.
Where did you see them dine together?
At the Gravel Pit.
What have they in their Cottages when they dine there?
They very rarely do.
What have their Families?
From what I have seen, I should think, the Women, Bread and Tea.
What is the Price of the Tea the Cottagers use?
I cannot say.
What was the Food of Labourers Twelve Years ago?
I was then living in the North of England.
How long ago is it since you first became acquainted with this Parish?
What was the Food of the Labourers then?
A little Pork, frequently.
Is that the only Difference between their present Food and that they had at that Time?
The Farmers, and almost the whole of the Agricultural Persons, lived entirely on Pork in that District.
Twelve Years ago they had the Addition of Pork to their Bread, and now they have none?
Can you state what the Labourers Wages in this Parish were Twelve Years ago?
I gave them 10s. 6d.
To the same Description of Men to whom you gave 10s. 6d. what do you give now?
8s. up to the last Week.
Has there been any Difference in the Price of Clothing of the Labourers within the last Twelve Years?
Has it increased or diminished?
Diminished very materially.
Is there any other Article in which the Price paid by the Labourer now has been diminished within the last Twelve Years; Pork, for instance?
Certainly; but he does not get any; if he did he would pay Twenty-five per Cent. less than he would then.
Is there any other Article in common Use with the Labourer which he can get cheaper than he did Twelve Years ago?
Is the Sum the Labourer gets now sufficient to purchase as much of the Necessaries of Life as the 10s. 6d. he got Twelve Years ago?
As far as the Man is concerned; the great Evil arises from the Poverty of the Woman, she earns so little by her Lace.
Then the Man gets a Rate of Wages which will procure for him as many Necessaries of Life now as he had Twelve Years ago?
I do not think he is quite so well off, but there is not so very great a Difference in the Man.
The Poverty that has fallen on the lower Class of Persons in that Parish arises from the Want of Employment to the Women and Children which they had Twelve Years ago?
Yes, in a great measure.
Are the Men in as constant Work now as they were Twelve Years ago?
Nothing like it; it is the Competition of Labour which has produced that Change.
To whom do the Cottages generally belong in your Parish?
A Variety of Persons.
Are they generally Persons to whom the greater Part of the Land belongs?
Are they Cottages built on Speculation?
They are Cottages built on Speculation.
Are they let to the Farmers to lodge their Labourers in, or do the Labourers take them from the Persons owning them?
The Labourers invariably.
Are there no Cottages attached to the Farms?
Is it the Custom in your Parish for the Rents of those Cottages to be paid out of the Poor's Rate?
It is, sometimes.
In such Cases the Occupier is excused from paying Rates at all?
What Description of Persons are they to whom those Cottages belong?
Joiners, Bricklayers, small Tradesmen, frequently speculate, so that by expending 30£. on a Cottage they are able to get 50s. or 3l. a Year.
They charge a Rent to pay them for the Expenditure of the Capital on the Cottage, whatever it may be?
Has any Attempt been made to lower those Rents?
You spoke of the Parish of Lidlington, and your having recommended to the Farmers to go to the Landlords in a Body to have their Rents lowered; can you state what the average Rent per Acre in that Parish is?
No, I cannot.
Do you know whether it is considered as a highly-rented Parish, or otherwise?
I believe it is highly rented.
When you proposed this to the Farmers, what Answer did they make?
They said, they must and would; and that the Labourers Cause was theirs.
Do you know what the Rent of that Parish was Twelve Years ago?
No; Rents are generally kept secret.
Do you believe, generally speaking, that Rents have been raised within the last Twelve Years in your Parish?
I know that in the Case of one Purchase, which was 12,000l., the Individual borrowed 6,000l. to purchase Land that he gave 12,000l. for, and I think he would have Difficulty to make more than the Interest of the 6,000l.
Take an instance of Land held Twelve Years ago by an Individual in that Parish; is the Rent now as high as it was Twelve Years ago?
I do not know.
Can you state whether Land in your own Parish held Twelve Years ago on a certain Rent is let now at the same Rent?
Certainly not; the Rent has diminished.
To what Extent?
Is the Amount of the Money raised for Poor's Rates within your Parish more than it was Twelve Years ago?
Can you give the Committee any Idea of the Proportion?
I think at about Eleven to Fifteen.
You have said that you employed the Poor, not employed by the Farmers, on the Roads, getting Gravel, and so on; are they paid by the Way Warden or the Overseer of the Poor?
By the Overseer of the Poor.
Is the Work done on the Roads necessary for the proper Maintenance of the Roads?
Are your Roads in a better Condition now than they were Twelve Years ago?
A great deal.
Is the Sum of Money which has been raised for the Repair of the Roads within your Parish greater now than it was Twelve Years ago?
The Difference between a Three-penny and a Sixpenny Rate.
Is that Difference between the Three-pence and Sixpence sufficient to pay for the additional Labour employed?
Nothing like it.
In fact, supposing your Roads to be in their former State, and to have been indicted, would you not be obliged to levy a considerably larger Proportion of Money for the Highway Rate than you were accustomed to do in the Parish at that Time?
Certainly. We have done the Work of Two Indictments by that Labour.
Is that generally the Case in Bedfordshire, that your Roads are very much improved within the last Twelve Years?
Beyond any County in England.
Were not your Roads Twelve Years ago in a very bad State indeed?
So as to render Communications throughout the County very inconvenient?
Can you state what Proportion of Money raised by the Poor Rate is expended upon this Labour that is employed upon the Roads?
Can you state to the Committee whether the Money actually employed in the Relief of the Poor, independently of that paid for the Work upon the Roads, is greater now than it was Twelve Years ago in your Parish?
In any considerable Proportion?
Do not Houses built by Joiners and Carpenters pay Nine or Ten per Cent. Interest?
Do they go on increasing the Number of them?
Yes; and I told the Labourers in a Body, that if they came to the Farmers for an Increase of Pay, they must go to the Landlords and ask for a Reduction of their Rent.
You have a greater Number of Labourers in the Parish than can meet with beneficial Employment?
Could not the Roads have been put in the State they now are at much less Expence than they have cost by the Employment of Paupers?
Therefore, in point of fact, the Paupers are employed upon the Roads, not because the Roads require Repair, but because the Farmers are anxious to give Employment to the People, who, if not employed upon the Roads, would have no Employment at all?
Are not the Roads in a better State than it is necessary they should be for the Use of the Public, in consequence of this Application of Labour?
I think a Road can scarcely be too good.
What Rate of Wages have single Men of Eighteen received within the last Three Years, when employed on the Roads?
3s. a Week.
Do you think it possible that a Person of that Age can subsist, with tolerable Comfort, on 3s. a Week?
What Rate of Wages do they now receive?
I asked the Farmers, without compelling them as a Magistrate, to increase those of Eighteen to 5s., and those of Twenty to 6s. a Week.
Do you consider such Increase of Wages to be sufficient?
They were very well satisfied.
Have all the Wages been increased in that Parish, for single Men as well as married Men?
What is the general State of the Farmers in that Parish; is it conceived to be prosperous, or the reverse?
Quite the reverse.
Do you conceive it possible that the Farmers will be able to pay those increased Wages of Labour to those employed by them or on the Roads?
Do you happen to know whether in your Parish the Farmers pay with Difficulty the present Amount of Poor's Rates?
The greatest possible; that is to say, that several of them are summoned every Time the Rate is claimed.
Are you able to form any Judgment as to the Diminution of Rental of that Parish arising from the increased Wages of Labour?
I should think One Fourth.
You were understood to state that the general Rate of Cottage Rents in your Neighbourhood was from 2£. 10s. to 3l. per Year?
A Labourer would not think of occupying one higher.
You stated that in some Instances those Rents are paid out of the Poor's Rates?
The Expence of building such Cottages seldom exceeds 30l., probably?
That I conceive is the outside Expence.
So that the Rent asked is not more than Ten per Cent. on the Expence of building such a Cottage?
No. There are also the Repairs going on.
Will not the Diminution of Five and twenty per Cent. upon the Rental occasion a great Reduction in the Expenditure and Consumption of the Landholders in that Parish?
There are no resident Individuals in the Parish but the Farmers.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Thomas Law Hodges Esquire, a Member of the House of Commons, attending, is called in, and examined as follows:
You are one of the Members of Parliament for the County of Kent?
In what Part of Kent do you reside?
In the Weald of Kent.
Are you an acting Magistrate of the Division in which you reside?
Can you inform the Committee what the State and Condition of the Labourers in that Division was during the last Winter, as compared with any former Period, Ten or Twelve Years ago?
Very little different from what it was Ten or Twelve Years ago.
Are there more out of Employment now than there were Ten or Twelve Years ago?
Not so many.
The Question refers to the Period previous to the Disturbances?
Yes. I will explain the Reason; because about Four or Five Years ago I put in practice Emigration to a very great Extent, from my Parish.
Where did you send them to?
They all went, with the Exception of One Family, to New York.
Will you state the System you pursued upon that Occasion?
I found the Parish burthened with a Number of Persons who could not get Employment at any Part of the Year; and when the Autumn came, and throughout the Winter, there were from Thirty to Eighty Persons out of Work in the Parish in which I lived. I considered that was an intolerable Evil. I was very desirous of knowing whether the Government intended to adopt any Mode of National Emigration; and finding that it was not likely to be the Case, and finding also that the Continuance of such a Body of unemployed Persons would, at no very distant Day, consume all the Produce of the Parish, that there would be nothing left for Rent or Tithe or any thing else, it appeared to me that an immediate Remedy was necessary to relieve the Parish of that Burthen, and in the course of Two Years 149 Persons emigrated to America - Men, Women, and Children; and in consequence of that we have now comparatively but few Persons out of Work, and our Poor Rates have materially decreased.
What Proportion do the 149 Persons bear to the whole Population of the Parish?
The Parish contained 1,746 Inhabitants at the Time of the Census in 1821.
Were the Persons you sent out to America the best or the worst Labourers in your Parish?
As soon as that Measure was agreed to, I offered to the Parish to advance all the Money; this of course did away with the Difficulties on the Part of the Farmers, who would have been distressed to have provided it; and they all concurred in assuring me that the Money should be repaid by regular Instalments, and that they would also pay me Four per Cent. Interest for the Money until paid off. This Michaelmas, I believe, the whole will be paid off.
What did it cost?
1,197£. 4s. 3d. This is a Paper containing the Sums, showing what Proportions emigrated in the Years ending April 1827, 1828, 1829, and 1830; those in 1829 and 1830 were very few indeed; only Four, in fact. The principal Emigration was in 1827 and 1828.
Have you any Objection to put in that Paper?
Not the least. I wish to explain, that the Sum we agreed on for Repayment was at the Rate of 1s. per Head per Week, which we considered was less than they would have cost the Parish if they had remained with us.
The Paper is delivered in, and read, and is as follows:
Benenden Emigration Accounts - County of Kent.
Showing the Number of Persons who have emigrated in the Years ending April 1827, 1828, 1829 and 1830; the Average Cost per Head; the Total Amount of Expence (which Amounts were borrowed by the Parish Officers at the Rate of Four per Cent. per Annum); the Sums repaid, at the Rate of 1s. per Head per Week; the Annual Expenditure for the Relief of the Poor from Lady Day 1824 to Lady Day 1830, including Emigration Expences; and the Annual Expenditure, exclusive of Emigration Expences.
The Assessed Annual Rental of the Parish of Benenden is 3,200l.
The Sum repaid in the Year ending Lady Day 1830 should have been £335 8s. 0d., but in consequence of the great Difficulty experienced by the Overseers in collecting the Rates, owing to the severe Losses sustained by the Occupiers from the Blight in Hops and Corn, the Rot in Sheep, &c. &c., in 1829, the Rate of Repayment during the Six Winter Months was reduced from 1s. to 6d. per Head per Week. It is now generally admitted, even by those who at first opposed the Measure of Emigration, that the Parties emigrating would have cost the Parish more than 1s. per Week if they had remained at Home, independently of the Increase in the Numbers of Parishioners which might be expected to take place from so many young Couples. Those who emigrated in 1827 embarked at London for New York, U.S. Those in 1828 at Liverpool, also for New York, except One Family that preferred going to Canada.
An Assistant Overseer was appointed in 1824, who has continued in office to the present Time, and who has acted on an uniform System of Relief during the whole Time; consequently the great Decrease in the Rates must have been occasioned by the Decrease in the surplus Hands. During a great Portion of the Years 1825-6 there were from Seventy to Ninety able-bodied Men on the Parish Books, for Want of Employ. Since Fifty-six of them have emigrated, it is a rare Circumstance to have any out of Work, except in severe Weather, which is a convincing Proof that Ten surplus Hands will generally create Fifteen.
The greater Part of the Land in Benenden is occupied by Tenants at Will; and notwithstanding the heavy Expences which have been incurred by the Emigration System, the foregoing Figures show that all Rate-payers in the Parish will be very considerable Gainers, even if they quit their respective Occupations immediately the whole Debt is discharged, or if they had quitted at any Period since 1827.
Hemsted, June 1830.Thos. Law Hodges.
Had you any Assistance from Government?
What were the Inducements offered to each Individual?
As soon as we had settled among ourselves the Mode in which the Money should be advanced and repaid, the next Point was to propose it to the Men; and I think I may say that nearly the whole Population volunteered instantly to such an Extent that it appeared practicable and easy to comprehend in the Number of Emigrants every Labourer of indifferent Character in the Parish. To this Proposition I instantly and decidedly objected; observing, that if this is to be a Benefit to the Men, the good Man has a better Right to it than the bad Character, and my Impression was, (having remarked this Parish for very nearly Eight and forty Years, and for a great many Years of that Period we had not what I may call bad Characters,) that if the Number of Workmen in the Parish were reduced down to such an Amount as to balance the Demand and the Supply, those called bad Characters, by having Plenty of Work, would become as good as any others, and I am happy to say that has turned out to be the Fact generally.
Have you heard how those Men who have been sent out by that Parish have prospered in America?
Extremely well. I ought to add that Three Men came back the following Year: one of them was a Man who had not his Health at all; the Country disagreed with him; and Two Men took to drinking when they got to America. The Americans do not at all approve of drunken Men, and they had strong Hints from them that they might as well come back; and when they returned, the Overseer came to me in great Alarm, and stated that Three of the Men were come back again, and he apprehended that more would follow. I said it was not at all likely; for the Letters they sent show that they are not only quite comfortable, but are delighted with their Situation, and are strongly urging their Friends to come out to them. The Fact is, that they are all doing exceedingly well. I recommended to the Overseer to employ those Men, and to give them the same Wages as others were receiving; but that he should put this to them, that as they had received so much Money from the Parish, at their own Request, to take them to America, the Parish would and should receive that Money, at the Rate of a Shilling a Week, 'till that Debt was paid. The Men looked a little grave about it at first, but they agreed to it. The Money was stopped, and I believe to a great Extent liquidated. I thought that was quite in the Spirit of the Act made some Years ago, brought in, I think, by Mr. Sturges Bourne, authorizing Loans to be made to Men to assist them in Business. Nobody could compel those Men to go; but it was reasonable, that if, by their Misconduct or changing their Minds, they came back to be a Burthen, that they should repay the Money.
What is the Rate of Wages in your Parish?
The Rate of Wages was 12s. a Week' till Two Years ago. The Farmers then became so distressed that we reduced them to Half a Guinea a Week, with the Promise, that if Times mended they should be raised again. Accordingly, about Six Weeks or Two Months ago, long before any Disturbances took place in the County of Kent, we happened to have a remarkably good Hop Year in the Weald of Kent; the Farmers had received more Money than they had for several Years past; and I proposed to them that they should redeem their Pledge to the Men, and give them 12s. a Week. There was not the least Objection; they were raised to 12s. a Week, which they are now receiving.
Have any of the Men in your Parish joined the illegal Assemblies?
About a Fortnight or Three Weeks since I had Notice of their Intention of assembling, and I was requested to come down. I could not go, having particular Business in London; but I wrote down to my Son, and a neighbouring Magistrate, to request that they would attend, and state to the Men, that I thought it was rather unreasonable and rather ungrateful to make a Disturbance, especially in my Absence; that I recommended to them to disperse, and wait 'till I came down, which would be in about a Week. They did meet that Morning, and an Extract of that Letter was read to them. They said it was very reasonable, and they all went Home; but about Five o'Clock in the same Evening, Men came in from other Parishes, and pressed them away from their Work. They surrounded a Public House in the Village where my Rent Audit is held. Almost all the Tenants had paid their Rent and gone away; but there were Five or Six left, with my Son and Mr. Forbes, a neighbouring Magistrate. At this Time there were perhaps Seventy or Eighty Men assembled inside and outside the House. Some of them were in Liquor, and they made a great Noise, and at last forced the Door, and drove my Son and the other Magistrate, and the Five or Six Tenants who remained, into the Corner of the Room, where they held them at bay some Time. My Son said he had my Directions not to comply with any Demand they might make, and that no Force whatever should induce him to swerve from those Directions; that they had better quietly disperse, and go Home, or some serious Consequences might arise. He was very firm about it, and contrived to get a Note through the Window to his Servant, who rode off with it to a neighbouring Magistrate, who in an Hour's Time came with Assistance. The Mob was instantly dispersed, and Five Men sent to Maidstone, to take their Trials for a Riot. I went down Four or Five Days afterwards, and found the Men very much ashamed of what had taken place, urging in extenuation that they were forced by others to quit their Work; and finding they were really ashamed of what had occurred, and anxious to evince their Sincerity, I swore in upwards of 100 of them as Special Constables immediately, and all the Farmers in the Parish.
Have you any Spade Husbandry in your Parish?
We have had, but only at Times of the Year when Men have been out of Work.
Do you give large Gardens to any of them?
They all have Gardens; but very large Gardens, or small Lots of Land, in that Neighbourhood, do not benefit the Labourer, for the Land in general is so stiff that it can be worked only with Horse Power.
Are you aware of the Rent the Labourers pay for their Cottages?
They vary in almost every Parish. In mine they are generally at 1s. a Week; there may be a few as high as 1s. 6d., and possibly 2s. I have heard, in other Parishes, of some as high as 2s. and even 2s. 6d. a Week, generally.
Are the Cottages in your Parish your own Property?
A great many of them are my own Property, and they are let at 1s. a Week. A great Part of them have Three Bed-rooms, which I think to be requisite to the decent Living of a Family.
Have they Gardens to them?
Yes; as much as they can cultivate well.
Have there been Instances in your Parish, or in the neighbouring Parishes, of Rents being paid out of the Poor Rates?
In my own Parish it is not the Case; it was formerly; but that System has been put an end to, and I believe in almost all the neighbouring Parishes.
As a Magistrate, have you been accustomed to order the Overseer to give Relief, unless the Pauper is residing in his own Parish?
In the Division in which you act, what is the usual Allowance to a Man and his Family per Head a Week?
That depends upon the Number of his Family. For 12s. a Week he is expected to maintain himself, his Wife, and I think Three Children. They have a great deal of Piece-work, as it is called, in that District; in fact, they often earn as much Money in Winter as they do in Summer. There is a great deal of Woodcutting: they earn 2s. 3d. or 2s. 6d. a Day at that Work. In the Summer there is Timber-felling, Bark-stripping, and there is Hopwork. That, though the Wages may be called 12s. a Week, a good Labourer does not earn so little as 14s. or 15s. a Week all the Year round, when in regular Employ.
Is it the Practice of that Part of the County to employ Men on the Roads who have no other Employment?
A certain Number.
Very few. That District does not supply Stones; the Roads there are a good deal made by Sea Beach, which requires no manual Labour; but in the different Divisions of the County where Stone is dug, I am sorry to say, they are employed in great Numbers; and there is one Practice particularly which I always reprobated, and when I had the Honour of being the Chairman of Quarter Sessions in West Kent, in Charges to the Grand Juries, I frequently took occasion to deprecate-the Practice of employing Boys to break Stones on the Turnpike Roads. If Persons are out of Employment, it would be much better to take the middle-aged and old Men, and let the Boys be distributed among the Farmers, to learn the Farming Business, for by thus neglecting the rural Education of the Boys Parishes will not in future have a Labourer able to build a Haystack.
In your Parish, does a single Man universally receive the same Wages as a married Man with a Family?
I believe, universally. I make no Difference; I pay them all alike, unless they are out of Work; if Work is slack, it is open then to Farmers to make a Bargain with a single Man for Half a Guinea a Week.
Are there many Men in your Parish out of Work?
Very few indeed; I believe none now, nor have there been all the Year.
Generally speaking, in your Parish, a Man receives Wages according to the Work he has performed, and not according to the Family he has to maintain?
You have removed the Excess of Pauper Population by Emigration; what Means have you taken to prevent that Void being supplied by an Increase of Numbers?
In some Instances Cottages have been taken down; but I have relied more upon the general Improvement of the Condition of the Labourers, to induce them to take their Situation into consideration, and not to engage in those early and inconsiderate Marriages which, while we were oppressed by a great Amount of Population, and consequent Want of Employment were constantly taking place.
Were the Cottages more thickly inhabited before this than they are now?
You have endeavoured to keep One Family to One Cottage since that?
I think that has been more the Practice latterly, but without any particular System adopted on my Part or any body's else.
What have been the Wages in the Western Part of Kent?
I cannot answer that Question accurately, they have varied so much. In the Line of Country between Maidstone and Ashford they have been very low, as I have been informed.
Has there been a Difficulty to find Employment even at those low Wages?
Very much so. I have seen, in the above District, (which is a horrible and disgusting Sight,) Men harnessed to Waggons drawing Stones. I do not mean that that was continued long, but I have seen it in travelling along that Line of the County. I believe it has been discontinued entirely, and for some Time past.
Is it the Practice in your Parish for Men to receive larger Sums for Harvest Work?
You do not include those Sums in the 12s. per Week?
No; when I mentioned, as Piece-work, the Wood-cutting, the Timber-felling and Hop-work, I ought to have included the Harvest-work.
What do they receive for Harvest-work?
It varies, according to the Stoutness of the Crop.
When Labourers are hired for the Harvest Month, what Wages do they receive?
They are not hired for the Harvest Month; the Work is put out to them by the Piece, and we have no Strangers come into the Parish for Harvest-work; it is done by our own People.
Do the Magistrates make use of a Table of Bread Money, or a System of that kind, in regulating Wages?
No, not at all. That was the System of Relief acted on during the very distressed Times Ten or Twelve Years ago; but the Magistrates found it so full of Objection that they discontinued it, leaving each Parish to regulate its own Poor according to its own Circumstances, reserving to themselves a Right of Appeal, if any Party were aggrieved.
They do not interfere indirectly to regulate the Price of Wages?
No, certainly not.
In the Paper you have put in you state the assessed Annual Rental of the Parish at 3,200l.; do you mean at a Rack Rent?
Yes; I should say now quite a Rack Rent; I do not believe that now any Farm in my Parish would let at a greater Sum. Before the Emigration took place it would have been difficult to have procured responsible Tenants for Farms who would engage to give a Rent equal to the Sum at which they were assessed in the Poor Book.
In the Year 1825 the Annual Expenditure appears to have been 2,975l. 19s. 6d., being at the Rate of about 18s. in the Pound on the Rack Rent?
Yes, that was the Case; and it has been as high as 19s. 6d. in the Pound.
Exclusive of Emigration Expences, you have now reduced the whole Expenditure to 1,933l.?
According to the Return made up to Easter 1830.
That being about 13s. in the Pound?
In your Parish have the Women and Children any Employment?
They have, in the Hop Season, when they sometimes earn a considerable Sum of Money; a few also get Work in the Woods in the Winter, by scraping the Bark from the green Hop-poles.
They are able to earn something towards the Maintenance of their Family?
Can you give the Committee any Idea of the Amount in the course of a Year?
No; it varies very much. If a Woman has a sucking Child, she cannot do much. Here and there a Woman is in Circumstances able to turn out to work; but I should say they do not in general turn out to work as they do in some other Counties.
You said that in your Cottages you gave Three Bed-rooms?
Yes, in almost every one.
What Number of Sitting Rooms?
A Kitchen and a Wash-house.
Of what Materials are those Cottages composed?
Brick and Timber; they are extremely good Cottages.
Can you give an Idea of the Cost of that Description of Cottages?
If built new, upwards of 1001; from 100l. to 150l.
They pay you a Shilling a Week Rent?
Yes; it is a very losing Concern.
How much Garden Ground do you give them with each Cottage?
Quite as much as they can cultivate well. The Poor, in my Part of the Country, do not covet large Gardens; if they have sufficient to supply them with Vegetables they do not want more; the Ground is too stiff to make it at all desirable.
At the Rents those Persons pay for your Cottage it would not be worth any Person's while to build a Cottage on Speculation?
Not at those Rents; but no doubt it would be a most desirable Thing if the Mode of rating Cottages could be altered by Law, and Landlords should be made liable to the Rate, and not the Tenant; for in a great Number of Instances I have known speculating Carpenters and Bricklayers, who have built, out of Barracks pulled down, a Parcel of Cottages, relying on the Poor's Rate for the Rent, and demanding high Rents. I think it would check it, if the Landlord were made liable for the Rate; and that the Landlord should not have the Power of Appeal against the Assessment unless he could shew that the Sum at which he is assessed is greater than the Amount of Rents paid or agreed to be paid.
Are there any Cottages in your Parish built by the Description of Persons to whom you allude?
No, I do not think there are.
Are you Owner of the whole Parish, or what Proportion?
More than Half.
Is the rest of the Parish held by Owners of considerable Properties, or small Freeholds?
With the Exception of a Farm belonging to Lord Cornwallis, I believe the Lands are held either by the Farmers themselves or Persons not having any considerable Estate.
Have those Landed Persons whom you have named any Cottages upon their Properties?
What sort of Rent do the Tenants of those Cottages pay?
I hardly know what; I believe they have been generally reduced, for the Rents required formerly bore no Proportion to the reduced Wages the Labourers were receiving.
Have the Rents received by Landlords in your Parish been decreased within the last Twelve Years?
Can you state the Proportion?
I think my own Rents have been reduced Forty per Cent.
Have you any Reason to think that the Rents of other Landlords in your Parish have been equally decreased?
I have no doubt of it; but I cannot state the Amount exactly.
Had there been any Reductions of Rent in your Parish from the End of the War to Twelve Years ago?
I really forget the precise Periods when these Reductions took place.
You cannot tell whether the Rents, as they were Twelve Years ago, stood at the War Price?
I forget the exact Time when the first Abatement took place; it was done by a Per-centage; Ten per Cent. and Fifteen per Cent. and so on.
And Abatements have been made at different Times, amounting together to Forty per Cent.?
Have you any Difficulty now in obtaining your Rent?
This Michaelmas is the first Rental for several Years past that has been paid without Arrears, nearly amounting to One Third in some Years, and One Half in others.
With respect to an able-bodied Labourer, what Wages did he receive Twelve Years ago?
Twelve Shillings a Week.
What does the same Description of Man receive now?
Do you speak to merely your own Parish, or others in your Neighbourhood?
My own Parish.
Is the Rate of Wages much higher in your Parish than in the neighbouring Parishes?
Then an able-bodied Man in your District can obtain Twelve Shillings a Week?
Has not the Price of many of the Articles which the Labourer has to purchase decreased very considerably within the last Twelve Years?
Then in point of fact an able-bodied Labourer is not worse off now than he was Twelve Years ago?
Where he can get constant Work.
Supposing there to be only Labour in a Parish sufficient to maintain Ten Men, whereas there are Twenty Labourers in want of Employment, have not the Wages of the Ten Men so employed been decreased in that Parish?
Can you state the Proportion in which in such Parish the Wages have been decreased?
Not accurately; I have heard of various Sums, even down so low as 5s. 6d. per Week for an able-bodied Labourer.
For such a Man as you would pay 12s. a Week for in your Parish?
What is the general Food of the Labourers in your Parish?
Wheaten Bread, of the finest Quality.
Do they eat no Meat?
The People who get the Wages of the Amount I have stated, and are constantly employed, do get Meat.
Are the Women employed in making Lace, or any Business they can carry on in their own Houses?
I know of no domestic Manufacture whatever in that District.
What do the Women live upon generally?
They live as the Men do; but all drink Tea, the Men and all; but they would drink Beer if the Malt Tax was taken off; they would then brew their own Beer, which would be a decided Advantage, and they would have the Grains of that Malt for their Pig, which would be a considerable additional Benefit to the Labourer.
Since you have had recourse to the Emigration System in your Parish, have the Morals of your Parish improved?
Certainly; and I prove that in this Way: before that took place, petty Thefts, and even considerable ones, were constantly taking place; since that Time they have been very rare.
Has any other Parish in your Neighbourhood followed your Example?
Have you pressed it upon the other Parishes to do so?
They are all desirous of it; but the Difficulties are so great that they have not been able to accomplish it. One of the principal Difficulties arises, not from Unwillingness of the Parties to go, but from the great Hazard that attends the Advance of Money; for, as your Lordships know, it is an illegal Measure altogether, and there is no sort of Security for the Repayment of the Money beyond that of a good Feeling of those benefited by it, viz. the Rate Payers.
Any Person objecting to that Employment of the Poor Rates would prevent it?
Yes; and the Person would lose all his Money. But in my Parish any Farmer quitting the Parish at any one Year after the Emigration began would have been a Gainer, because the Rates were falling all the Time.
You attribute it to a Fear of that sort that your Example has not been followed by other Parishes?
Yes; because I know of Instances of Men who have been willing to advance the Money, but when the Parish were called together some were unwilling to concur.
You have spoken of the State of Labour in your own Parish; is there full Employment in the surrounding Parishes?
Just at this Moment there is, but all in consequence of the riotous Assemblages which have taken place, by which many Parishes have been compelled to agree to certain Terms with the Labourers which it is manifest they cannot fulfil. Unless these extorted Treaties, by which these Parishes have been compell'ed to raise Wages to 2s. 3d. a Day, and 1s. 6d. a Week for a Third Child, (which in a Parish next to mine makes a Difference of 1,200l. in the course of the Year,) can be annulled, and this ought to be done by mutual Consent, as it is for mutual Benefit, I know very well these Parishes will become absolutely insolvent.
You say that the Labourers have not been so fully employed in some of the adjoining Parishes; has not that occasioned an immense Increase of Crime in those Parishes?
In the District, generally, I am afraid it has.
How do you account for more Persons being out of Employ now than there were in former Times?
Prices have been much lower; the Farmers have been receiving less Money, and have all got poorer.
That in your Opinion is the Reason that the Persons have been turned out of Employment?
The only Reason.
Can you state the Proportion of the Population out of Employment in consequence of the Circumstances to which you have referred?
I cannot answer that Question satisfactorily, because it varies so much at this Moment, owing to the Treaties I have mentioned. I believe they are all employed; they may continue so for a few Weeks; then there will be a greater Proportion out of Employ than ever.
You stated that the Cottages were sometimes made from Barracks that have been taken down; do you conceive the Barracks having existed in the Country during the War brought an unnatural Influx of Labourers into that Country, beyond what you would have had but for the War?
No doubt the Population in that County received a great Increase during the War, from a Variety of Causes; there were amazing extensive Government Works going on for many Years; the Rate of Wages that was paid for those Works was quite enormous, and that induced a great Number of Persons to come into the County, and induced a great Number of Persons to leave Agricultural Employment, and to get into that Description of Employment. They married in consequence of that, having an Idea that there was to be the same Demand for Labour for ever, and therefore were under no sort of Apprehension as to the Want of Work for their Children; and there was another great Draft on the Men of that County, by volunteering from the Militia; the Battalion to which I belonged for several Years sent Four entire Battalions, of 1,000 Men each, to the Line, and those Men were all filled up from the County.
You attribute a great deal of your present Difficulty in your County to superabundant Population?
No doubt; and if your Lordships will give me Leave I will state what occurs to me as the principal Cause of that Pressure now, beyond what I think it was formerly. I have always remarked, there was a Tendency in the County to increase in Population beyond a regular Demand for their Labour; and formerly the young Men in any Parish, when they found Work slack, packed up their little Necessaries, and went off to London and to other great Towns, where they constantly got Employment, and we heard no more of them; but of late Years this Town particularly, and others, are so blocked up by Irish Labourers that few Englishmen now find Employment out of their own Parishes, and are consequently retained in their own Parishes, which are thus deprived of the old Channels by which their increased Population, from Time to Time, was drawn off; and I do not apprehend that any other Cure can be found than by that most just and necessary Measure, the Establishment of a Poor Law for Ireland.
Is it your Opinion that the Surplus of Labour has increased very materially owing to the Difficulties of Occupiers of Land?
If the Occupiers of Land had adequate Capital to employ the entire present Labour in the surrounding District, is it your Opinion that Capital might be profitably employed in the Occupation of the same, and the Employment of those Labourers?
At the present Prices, I doubt whether it would, because the Prices which have taken place for some Years past have destroyed the Capital of the Farmer.
The Question assumes a sufficient Capital?
But that would not continue unless it produced a Return.
Your Opinion is that it would not produce a Return and give an average Profit of Stock?
Are the Lands so well cultivated as they were some Years ago?
Not half so well; and that I have remarked in many Counties in England, that the State of Agriculture is getting much worse, and the Country getting out of Cultivation generally.
You stated the Case of a Parish in which the increased Expence arising from the increased Wages of Labour would amount to about 1,200l. a Year; do you know what is the Rental of that Parish?
I think it is higher than the Parish of Benenden.
Do you know what the Rental is?
I think it is between 3,000£. and 4,000l a Year.
Do you consider it utterly impossible for Farmers to pay for any Continuance those increased Wages of Labour?
I am sure they cannot.
Are you acquainted with the State of the Parish of Lenham?
Not at all.
Is there any Land in your Neighbourhood wholly unoccupied and uncultivated?
There are many Farms in that District that are thrown upon the Landlords Hands.
How long have they so continued?
In the course of this Autumn; that was the First Time I heard of it to any great Extent.
Are the Farmers in your Neighbourhood supposed to be in prosperous Circumstances, or the reverse?
Very much the reverse.
Do you know what Wages of Labour were 'till lately paid in the neighbouring Parishes to Persons employed upon the Roads?
Has much Arable Land in your Parish, or in the neighbouring Parishes, been converted into Pasture?
I think not a great deal.
Has any Quantity been planted of late?
Some, I believe, but not sufficient to make any great Difference.
What Number of Acres are there in your Parish?
I think, about 6,000.
What is the County Rate of your Parish?
That I cannot state; it is paid from the Poor Book.
Can you state what the County Rate is in the Pound?
There is a heavy County Rate at present, occasioned by building a new County Lunatic Asylum; but Half of it is paid by the Landlord, under a Local Act of Parliament.
Is any Allowance paid in aid of Wages in the Parish?
Oh yes, in all the Parishes, and must be so; that is the great Grievance of the present Time, that the Wages that a Man earns cannot by possibility keep his Family, if that Family exceeds Three Children.
Twelve Years ago, was there any considerable Portion of your Parish out of Employment?
I have no doubt of it, but I cannot state the Proportion; it has been so I think very nearly since the Peace.
Did the System of giving Parish Allowances in aid of Wages exist at that Time?
It has existed ever since the Year 1797 or 1798, when Corn rose up to Thirty or Forty Pounds a Load; previous to that Time, from the Year 1783, which is the earliest Time that I recollect the Parish, to 1793 or 1794, or perhaps 1795, very little Variation took place in the Condition of the Labourers. The Labourers at that Time were universally, without any Exception, able to maintain themselves by the Wages they received; and that can be proved by many Witnesses as old as myself, and by reference to the Poor Rates at that Time; the Poor Rates were such a mere Trifle that it is quite clear no Part of the Wages of the Labourers could have been taken from that Fund during that Period.
Are you aware what the Average Price of Wheat was at that Period?
No, I cannot tell.
Was it much dearer at that Time, or at all dearer, than it is at the present Moment?
I think it was cheaper.
Can you state what was the Rate of Wages at that Time?
Less than now, considerably. I think in my Parish there were Three Periods of the Year, and they were paid, according to those Periods, 1s. a Day, 1s. 3d. a Day, and 1s. 6d. a Day; 1s. 6d. a Day was the highest; and notwithstanding that there was scarcely an Instance of any Man ever going directly to the Poor's Rate; but in the event of a very large Family, Seven or Eight or Nine Children, they had a few Peas or a little Barley given them about Christmas Time, to fatten a Pig; a little Assistance might have been given towards the Rent, but that could have been but trifling, the Amount of the Rate was so small.
Is the Disproportion between the Rate of Wages now and the Price of Wheat greater than it was at the Period to which you have just alluded?
I cannot say, but whatever that Proportion may be it will not show of itself the relative Condition of the Labourer, for the Money went so much further at the former Period than it does now.
In what respect did it go further?
The Taxation of the Country was so much less. Money then bought more Goods than it will now.
What particular Articles were bought at a cheaper Rate then than are at present?
Malt, Candles, Soap, and Articles of ordinary Consumption. Tea, I remember, they never drank at all; I never saw a Teapot in any Man's Cottage at that Time.
Do they drink Tea now?
What is the Price of the Tea they drink?
I cannot say.
Did they brew at that Time?
Every Labourer who kept House brewed then.
Has the Use of Coffee been introduced among the Labourers?
Is that superseding the Use of Tea amongst them?
Not in that District.
Was not the Clothing of that Day much stronger, and did it not go much further than that of the present Day?
If the Disproportion was not so great, for what Reason cannot a Labourer live on 12s. a Week without Parish Assistance, when he could live without Parish Assistance at the Period to which you have been referring from 1787 to 1797?
I apprehend it proceeds from the Effect of indirect Taxation; he pays no direct Taxes.
Are you of opinion that if the Farmers were in prosperous Circumstances they would be able to pay those increased Wages of Labour?
They would be in prosperous Circumstances if they received remunerating Prices?
When you say that a Labourer has 12s. a Week, the Committee are to understand it is 12s. a Week they receive plus the Allowance out of the Poor's Rate?
Yes; in the Case of a Labourer having a larger Family than Three Children. A single Man would get 12s.
If you pay 12s. to a single Man in your Parish, and the Wages to single Men in the neighbouring Parish are only 5s. 6d. a Week, do the Farmers in your Parish never employ Labourers out of the neighbouring Parish?
Very rarely, because every Labourer so introduced would displace a Parishioner, and he would fall upon the Rate.
That operates sufficiently to prevent the Introduction of Labourers from other Parishes?
You state that the Land in Kent is in a worse Condition of Cultivation than it was Fifteen Years ago?
Generally; there are certain Districts still highly cultivated; there are the Hop Districts about Maidstone and Canterbury.
Is the Produce in Corn less than it was Fifteen Years ago?
In the Weald of Kent, much less.
Do Farmers keep less Stock than they used to do?
Much less in that District.
Your Parish is probably a better Parish than a great many, from your residing in it, and attending yourself to the Condition of the Labouring Classes?
I should think so.
As the Law now is, after a Man has left the Country, are you still bound to relieve him when he returns?
You stated you thought that it might be advisable to authorize the levying Rates in some Instances on the Landlords instead of the Tenants?
In the Case of the Cottages.
Are you not of opinion that it would be fair, in that Case, to give the Landlord the summary Power of Re-entry?
Has not the Act authorizing Payments to Prosecutors and Witnesses, in case of Misdemeanors, increased your County Rates?
Are you able to give an Opinion of the Reduction which must be made in Rents in consequence of the increased Wages to Labourers?
I cannot answer that Question, because the Circumstances are of so recent an Origin that we can hardly tell at what Point it is going to settle.
Have you any Knowledge what the Annual Rent of a Cottage was between 1783 and 1793?
In the Parish in which I live, I should think about 30s. or 40s. a Year.
It is now 52s.?
At that Time did not a much greater Proportion of Cottages belong to the large Proprietors of Land than do now?
I do not imagine there were nearly so many Cottages then as there are now; that has arisen from the altered State of the Agricultural Population altogether. At the Period alluded to, it was the Habit of the Farmer to keep within his own Family nearly all the Workmen he required, domesticated with his Family, and subject to its Rules and Regulations. Of course Cottages at that Time were not in demand; and I know, in my own Parish, several Cottages which belonged to my Father were standing tenantless; the single Men did not care to encumber themselves with Marriage, and remained very happily in their Masters Families as Servants; they allowed their Wages to accumulate until they were enabled to marry with Comfort, which they did; and within my own Knowledge, with the Exception of Three or Four, I can remember all the Farmers in my Parish to have sprung from Labourers; but that State of Things has entirely gone by, and the Labourers are inhabiting Cottages, instead of residing, as they used to do, in the Families of their Masters.
Is the Land divided into different Portions?
Not materially changed; there is some Change in Forty Years, but not in any very great Degree, in that District.
Are they generally large or small Farms?
Small. Two hundred Acres is considered a large Farm.
Is there not another Circumstance which has increased the County Rate; taking off Rewards which used to be paid at the Exchequer?
I am not able to say, of my own Knowledge, whether it has or not.
You say that the Produce of Corn is considerably less in the District in which you reside than formerly; to what do you attribute that?
To the Loss of Capital on the Part of the Farmer.
And to the Employment of fewer Labourers?
The Employment of fewer Labourers follows the Loss of Capital.
The Loss of Capital you attribute to the Want of remunerating Prices?
Yes; his Capital has been dwindling gradually away 'till it is gone down to nothing.
Is it habitual for the Farmer of one Parish not to employ Labourers in another Parish?
That is the general Rule; there are some Exceptions. There are a few Men belonging to another Parish in my own, and very excellent Men they are; but where there are in a Parish more Labourers than are wanted, it is manifestly not to any Advantage to import foreign Labour.
Are you aware of any Arrangement having been made lately in any Parts of Kent, in respect of those for whom Labour could not be provided, by the Farmers (who had no Occasion for those Labourers) employing them merely for the Purpose of preventing their being out of Employ, and thus being on the Poor's Rate?
For many Years past it is generally done.
Do you conceive that the present Laws of Settlement operate in any degree to prevent the Circulation of Labour, and the Relief of Parishes who may find themselves overburthened with Population?
I do not think it does; I think the greatest Impediment to the County in which I live is the immense Immigration of Irish Labourers, who fill the Places in which the surplus Population have been hitherto employed.
To what Circumstance do you attribute the Disuse of the Farmers having the Men in their own House?
That occurred in the early Part of the War, when the Wages rose, and the Demand for Labour in the County of Kent, in consequence of Government Works, was very great. The Wages that a Servant received in a Farmer's Family bore no Proportion to those he got out of it; he became dissatisfied with his Situation; and the Farmer, in consequence of the Alteration of Circumstances, and the high Prices which prevailed during the War, got above his Situation, and was ready to part with all his Men, whom he considered rather Incumbrances and Annoyances to him; and thus, by mutual Consent, the Masters and the Labourers parted. The Origin of this unfortunate Change is to be traced to the early Part of the late War.
During the Time of high Prices, did the Farmer very much change his Mode of Living?
In that Part of the Country I think less than in other Parts; but they were all then desirous of being disencumbered from their Farm Servants in their Houses, and they lived more expensively.
Can you give the Committee any Idea of the Proportion that the Land in Wood bears to the Arable and Pasture Land in your Parish?
Without speaking very accurately, I should think that the Wood Land is something approaching One Third of the whole 6,000 Acres.
Can you state the Proportion between the Hop Lands and others?
Is there any considerable Proportion of that Hop Land?
The Impression upon my Mind is, that there are 300 Acres of Hop Ground in the Parish.
That bears a higher Price than common Arable Land?
In fixing the Rent of a Farm, that is taken into consideration, and a round Sum agreed for the whole Farm. The Hop Ground varies; sometimes it is more, sometimes it is less; it is constantly varying in Quantity.
A Farm, with a Piece of Hop Ground attached to it, lets at a higher Price than one without a Piece of Hop Ground attached to it?
Not in all Cases; the Hop Trade has been a very losing Trade of late Years.
You state the Number of Acres in your Parish to be 6,000, the Rental about 3,000, making the Rental on the Average Ten Shillings?
Yes; and that is quite the Average of the Rental of that whole District.
Supposing the Labourer to be paid after the Rate of 12s. per Week, and Prices to remain as they are at present, do you think that the Capital employed in Farming can yield any thing like a Profit?
For several Years past it has not; the Rents have been paid out of the Tenant's Capital, and not out of Profit.
The Result of that must be, in the End, that Land would bear no Rent at all.
Unless there is some Check to this falling State of Agriculture.
Therefore a Labourer in point of fact receiving 12s. per Week receives a Remuneration for his Labour such as will not enable the Landlord to obtain a Rent for his Land or a Farmer to obtain a proper Interest for his Capital?
At the present Rate of Wages it is manifest they cannot be paid.
Supposing Rent to be given up entirely, could the Wages be paid out of poor Land?
I should think not; for several Years past little or no Rent has been paid, and the Poor's Rate paid with the utmost Difficulty.
Has not the Distress of the Farmers proportionably increased the Distress of the Tradesmen and Shopkeepers?
Certainly; one follows the other.
And therefore decreased their Means of meeting their Expences?
Do you, on a Cultivation properly conducted, know what Number of Men must be employed on a certain Number of Acres?
I cannot answer that Question without a good deal of Consideration; but they require a great deal more Hand Labour in that District than in other Countries.
It is a stiff cold Clay Soil?
You do not conceive that in your Parish at present there is any Superabundance of Labour?
I think there is, notwithstanding the Effort I made Three or Four Years ago; and it is manifest that it must be annually increasing, and that the Measure will have to be repeated; because, unless we can get Employment for the Hands that are increasing upon us, (whether from Vaccination or from any other Cause I cannot say,) they will accumulate upon us, and we must have a fresh Swarm off the Hive.
Assuming for a Moment that you have by Emigration reduced your Population to that Limit which is actually necessary for the good Cultivation of that Parish, could you cultivate, at the present immediate Prices of Labour, to any Profit to the Cultivator?
With us the Profit a good deal depends upon the State of the Hop Cultivation; and I should say, that if the Hop Trade in general was favourable that we could; but if we have no Hops, with so large a Population, then we should be troubled to employ them at all; and the mere Cultivation of Corn, in a District requiring Four Horses to plough instead of Two,-there cannot be much Profit in growing Corn in these Times.
Is not the Cultivation of Hops a very precarious Culture?
Very much so.
Is it not a Fact that you cannot cultivate an Acre of Hops without laying out Forty Pounds an Acre, independent of picking, drying, and Duty?
With us it is about Thirty Pounds; in some Parts I believe it is Forty; there is an annual Expence of Thirty Pounds an Acre in my District, whether there is any Crop or not. We have been reproached for addicting ourselves to that which is so uncertain; but Hops must be grown, and are as necessary as Malt; and that particular District having so much Wood in it, there would be no Market for the Wood unless we grow Hops, and we should lose all those Sources of Labour we have now if that Cultivation was at an end.
In the Year 1801 and 1811 was the Population of your Parish larger than was necessary for the good Cultivation of the Soil?
In the Year 1801, certainly not.
It appears in 1801 that the Population was 1,300; in 1811, 1,322; that in 1821 it was 1,746. Supposing the Population not to have increased, and in the Year 1830 to have been diminished to the Extent of 149 by Emigration, there would still apparently remain 297 more Persons in the Parish than there were in 1801; is there any Increase of Cultivation in the Parish which can possibly employ this Number of Persons?
There is a larger Surface of Hop Grounds, and there has an improved Method of Agriculture been adopted, I apprehend; but if the Discouragements on Agriculture were removed, that County would produce more, and be susceptible of employing a greater Number of Labourers.
Taking those Circumstances into consideration, could the Parish afford profitable Employment to 1,600 Persons; that is 300 more than in 1801?
That depends upon Prices; if the Prices warranted it I have no doubt they would be profitably employed.
Are the Tithes heavy in your Neighbourhood?
In some Parishes they are.
Has any Reduction been made in the Tithes?
The Value of the Tithes where it has been subject to Composition has depended upon Prices.
No Tithe is payable on Wood Land?
None in the Weald of Kent.
Do you consider the last Two or Three Years as average Crops in your Neighbourhood, or that the Prices have been forced up by inadequate Produce?
The last Three Years have been the worst that I can remember in the County of Kent, owing to the Rot in Sheep, and wet Summers producing miserable Crops of Corn.
When was the Valuation of your Parish taken on which the Rates are assessed?
I forget in what Year, but it was in some Year during the War.
Was it early or late in the War?
It was during the Subsistence of the Property Tax.
When you spoke of Rental at 3,000l. did you refer to the Rental on Land, or including Houses?
You are understood to state, that although Allowance is made in your Parish and adjoining Parishes in aid of Wages, it is not according to any Scale which exists, but in the Nature of occasional Relief?
I think, unless in some Cases of Workmen, and Men in a better Situation, all the Families having above Three Children in some way or other get assisted.
According to special Circumstances?
Yes, just so; the Overseers observe no Rule at all; they look at a Man's Circumstances, and give what they think necessary.
The Rate has been observed to increase less in Parishes where Allowance has been made from special Circumstances than where a Scale has obtained?
There has been no Scale admitted in that District for some Years; Ten Years ago at least it was put an end to.
Have the Farmers agreed to pay the increased Rate of Wages, hoping for Relief from Parliament?
I have not been present at any of their Meetings, and therefore cannot speak to that; but they are looking for Relief somewhere or other.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned 'till To-morrow, Twelve o'Clock.