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 Jovis, 9°Decembris. 1830.
The Marquess of Salisbury in the Chair.
The Reverend Charles Wetherell is called in, and examined as follows:
You are Rector of Byfield, in Northamptonshire?
Are you a Magistrate?
Are you resident at Byfield?
In what Part of Northamptonshire is Byfield?
The Southern Part, near Daventry; that is our Post Town.
Is there any Land in your Parish occupied by the Poor for their own Benefit?
By whom is it let to them, and in what Quantities?
It is let by myself, and in Quarter and Half Acres.
At what Rents?
At a Rent of 50s. per Acre, which was the Rent the Farmer paid.
How long have the Cottagers held it?
Since the Commencement of the Year 1825.
What Results have you experienced from those Lettings?
The Results have not been exactly what I had anticipated. I had hoped to see a considerable Reduction in the Poor Rates; but the letting of Land to the Poor does not thoroughly satisfy me; let in that Manner, at least.
To what Cause do you attribute that?
In a great measure to an Attempt on the Part of the Farmers to take advantage of every Act of Charity, so that I find them disposed to say to a poor Man who wants Employment, "Go to the Rector." When I first let the Land to the Poor, an Understanding took place between the Farmers and myself, that they would employ a Labourer who took a Quarter or Half an Acre of Land from me, to benefit himself, before they employed another Labourer, in order to encourage a Man who was attempting by extra Industry to benefit himself.
Have they not done so?
They have not done so to the Extent I expected. They have not employed them in preference, but have rather endeavoured to say to a poor Man, "As you have this Advantage, you are not in such great Need of Employment; go work in your Garden Plot." It is sometimes a Source of Reproach to them.
Do you mean to say that they have refused Parish Employment, or that they have refused to employ them on their own Farms, in consequence of their holding those Plots?
They have refused to employ them on their own Farms in some Instances; and, because there was a Necessity of Relief, they have compelled the Men to go to work upon the Roads. There is an enormous Evil in that Permission, which I believe is a Portion of the Poor Law at present, that Labourers may be employed upon the Roads.
At what Wages are they employed upon the Roads?
In some measure according to their Necessities; a single Man and a married Man would have different Wages: I should say, from 4s. to 6s., and in some Cases 7s.
Is there any further Allowance made in proportion to the Family?
Possibly there may be with respect to those who work upon the Roads, but not with respect to those who have Garden Plots, and are in regular Employment.
When they unite the Two Characters of working upon the Roads and having Gardens, is there then no Difference made between married and single Persons?
Yes, certainly; a married Man has more; but in general we have found that the Advantage a Man has in receiving a Garden Plot is sufficient to prevent his coming, for an extra Child or two, for what is called Head Money.
What Wages are the Farmers in the habit of paying to the Persons employed upon their Farms?
I should presume about 8s. to 10s.
Wet and dry, or only on fine Days?
If it is a wet Day, they send them to work upon the Roads; if it is a fine Day, they employ them upon the Land; but not in all Cases.
Do they send their own Workmen to work on the Roads on a wet Day?
No; only the occasional Labourer: the Man cannot work exactly upon the Roads on a wet Day, therefore he does nothing, but he receives his Pay from the Parish Book under the Description of Employment upon the Roads, or "Employment."
Under whose Charge are the Labourers employed on the Road set to work?
They are supposed to be under the Assistant Overseer's Inspection; but they have appointed One of the Workmen themselves to superintend the others. This is such an enormous Evil in our Parish, that we have just agreed, in connection with another Parish, to have an Assistant Surveyor of the Roads, whose Office, I trust, will be superseded by another Plan, which has been lately tried, for the first Time, during these Six Weeks, in our Parish; a sort of Labour Rate, not sanctioned by the Law certainly, but to try how far, if it can be consented to among the Farmers themselves, it may be beneficial towards the Employment of Labourers on the Land instead of the Roads.
What are the Rates in your Parish?
The Rates last Year were Seven Levies at One Shilling in the Pound, on a Survey taken at the Time of the Inclosure, about Fifty Years since.
At the full Rent put down in that Survey, or any Proportion?
At the full Rent at the Time of the Inclosure.
How large is the Parish?
Nearly 3,000 Acres.
What is about the present Rent of the Parish?
I do not think I can state that, there are so many Farmers who are Proprietors of Land.
You have stated the Rent of the Land you have let to the Poor to be 50s., at the same Rate it was let to the Farmer; is the Land much of the same Quality in the Parish, or does it vary?
That is some of the very best Land in the Parish. There are some small Quantities let at a higher Rent. There were about Two or Three and forty Acres let at that Price, and the Farmer gave it up for the Benefit of the Poor. It is near the Village.
Is there a large Portion of inferior Land?
There is some, but it varies a good deal.
What Proportion is the Assessment supposed to bear to the real Value of the Land?
I should think it has increased nearly Three Fifths.
Do you know at what Amount your own Land is stated in the Valuation made Fifty Years ago?
That Part which is let to the Poor is valued, I believe, at 21s. or 22s. I presume it has increased about Three Fifths.
Has any large Quantity of Land been brought into Cultivation within the last Fifty Years?
It was all brought into Cultivation at the Time of the Inclosure, Fifty Years ago.
What Proportion does the Land which was inclosed under the Act Fifty Years ago bear to the whole Extent of Land in the Parish?
I cannot state the Proportion, as I did not know the Parish at that Time.
Do you pay Taxes out of the 50s. a Year you get as Rent; the Poor Rate, and the Highway Rate, and so on?
I do pay a Highway Rate, but the Parish agreed not to ask for the Levy of the Poor Rate.
Then it is free of Rate?
Yes; it is a Field of only Twenty-five Acres, which I let to the Poor.
Have you let it to them Tithe-free?
Yes; it is Rectorial Land.
What is the Population of the Parish?
According to the last Census, in the Year 1821, the Number was 913.
Has it considerably increased since that Time?
I think not.
How many Labourers are there generally out of Employment during the Winter Months?
I hardly know how to answer that Question exactly; there are more unemployed in the Summer than in the Winter.
How many Labourers are generally employed during the Summer Months?
I can state the Amount of Money paid for Labourers not employed regularly on the Land; what is paid in the Shape of Relief. It was 250l. last Year for the whole Year. I think the Proportions were 133l. for the Summer, and 117l. for the Winter Half Year.
What was the whole Money raised by the Poor's Rates last Year?
I believe about 877l.
What was the Amount of the County Rate?
I cannot state.
Was there any Stone Warden's Rate or Highway Rate besides?
A Highway Rate for the Repair of the Roads, but not for digging Stone, I believe.
What Amount was raised for the Highway Rate?
I am not prepared to say.
Was that Sum of Money applied to the Payment of unemployed Labourers, or in what Manner was it applied?
250l. were applied to unemployed Labourers, Men who applied to the Overseers for Employment or Relief.
Were they able-bodied Men?
Not the whole of them able-bodied Men, but some aged Men whom the Farmers are not willing generally to employ upon the Land, and who were sent to the Overseer, who desired them to go on the Road.
When you state that that Sum of Money was paid to unemployed Labourers, do you mean that it was taken out of the Highway Rate or out of the Poor Rate?
Out of the Poor Rate.
You do not know how the Highway Rate was applied?
I do not.
Was any Part of that applied to the Payment of unemployed Labourers?
I believe not.
Have you any Method to propose to render the letting the Land in Plots to the Labouring Poor more extensively and permanently beneficial?
I would beg to call your Lordships Attention first to the Select Vestry Act, in which Permission is given to the Overseers to take a Portion of Land, and to let it in Plots to the Poor, under the Thirteenth Section; that Permission, I presume, has not been generally adopted.
It is not adopted in your Parish?
It is not; it is adopted in only One Parish with which I am at all acquainted; but it appears to me that the letting of Land to the Poor is popular, both among the Poor and among the Nobility and Gentry and Clergy, with the Expectation of benefiting the poorer Population to a large Extent, and in the Hope of effecting a Reduction in the Poor Rate. It appears to me that the View we are almost compelled to take of the Poor Rate does not afford us a correct Estimation of it; that which is now paid for the Relief of the Labourer is mixed up with that which is paid for the Relief of the aged and sick and impotent, who come more especially under the Act of the 43d of Queen Elizabeth. If there were by any Return to either House of Parliament a Separation of those Two Items of the Poor Rate, a more correct View might be taken of the Evil which exists, and which might possibly be remedied. I would humbly represent that it has appeared to me that something in the Shape of a Labour Rate would be very beneficial to compel the Employment of Labourers upon the Land. I should then respectfully propose, that Land should be let to young Men in a Parish, who are coming forward into Life, and who should be under an Obligation to deposit a Portion of the Return they receive from that Land in a Friendly Society, that they may put by something towards old Age. I should presume that a Labouring Man having Half an Acre of Land at a Rent which a Farmer would pay ought to be able to clear on an Average Five Pounds per Annum.
Do you know any Fact which leads you to that Conclusion?
With respect to my own Labourers, who have Half an Acre of Land, the general Estimate I should make in respect of their Profit would be, at a low Average, Five Pounds. This Year one Man said to me, I would not take Ten Pounds for my Crop on my Half Acre of Land: and I have known them sometimes to clear Five Pounds by a Quarter of an Acre of Land under Spade Culture. As far as we are able to ascertain, it seems that the letting of Land to the Poor has not effected an Object which it was hoped it would effect; I think it appears from Mr. Estcourt's Case, and some others, which have been tried in the County: in my own Parish it has certainly failed of accomplishing that Reduction of the Poor's Rate which I had hoped. In attempting to let more Land to the Poor, I am hesitating, because I do not find those beneficial Results I had hoped. I should like to see established a Combination of the Two Systems already sanctioned by Parliament; that is, the Friendly Society System and the Garden Plot System. If there be any Land in the Parish belonging to the Poor, and which is omitted to be taken by the Overseers and let out to the Poor, it appears to me there should be some degree of Compulsion, and the Poor should be compelled by Contract, on entering upon such Land, to lay by a Proportion of their Profits towards old Age; or it might be taken of him in the Shape of Rent, and deposited on his Account. Your Lordships have, no doubt, seen a Plan for Friendly Societies on the System of the late Act of Parliament, drawn out by The Reverend Mr. Becher, Prebend of the Collegiate Church of Southwell, in Nottinghamshire.
You have stated that the Effect of letting Land to the Poor has not been to reduce the Rates as you had expected it would do; in consequence of that which you state to be an Advantage accruing to them, have the Comforts of the Poor been materially increased?
Then the Effect of letting Land to them has been to increase their Comforts, but not to reduce the Rates?
Just so; and by increasing their Comforts now, when they become old and not able to cultivate the Land perhaps so satisfactorily, they will come upon the Parish possibly for a larger Sum, having had their Comforts increased, than if they had not had the Land; especially if the Land should be taken from them, they would be thrown as a heavier Burthen upon the Parish. I wish to make the Benefit more permanent.
How do they cultivate this Land in your Parish?
With the Spade.
In what Manner do they cultivate it; what do they grow?
The general Habit is to divide the Plot into about Three Parts; One Part is manured and set the first Year with Potatoes, the next Year it is sown with Wheat, and the third with Peas or Barley or Vegetables.
Where do they procure the Manure?
The Potatoes, and the Bran from the Barley and Wheat, enable them to keep a Pig, and the Manure is made by the Straw; which I consider to be almost a necessary Part of the letting of Land to the Poor at any Time - to enable them to procure the Manure.
How much Wheat do they grow; how many Bushels did they procure the last Year, for instance?
I cannot say.
Do you conceive that the Men who have Land let to them in your own Parish are better off than others?
Then might not that have been the Motive of the Farmers for not giving them the Preference?
It might have been their Motive; but it is contrary to the Agreement the Farmers entered into.
What Service would be a Labour Rate, if you do not fix the Amount of Wages to be given?
It appears to me to be very necessary that the Amount of Wages should be fixed by a sufficient Authority for the whole Parish - the Authority of a Magistrate; and in order to carry this System into Effect, I should have proposed that Commissioners should be appointed who had a sufficient Interest in the Land.
Are not Friendly Societies in general very badly managed?
In point of fact, are there not many of them now in a State of Insolvency?
I should presume so; but the System which is adopted by The Reverend Mr. Becher is calculated so correctly as to prevent the Danger of Insolvency.
In point of fact, the Friendly Societies go on very well until there is great Distress, or till a great Number of the People become old; is not that the Case?
That is the Case in the Calculations made by the old Societies.
Have not the old Tables been allowed to be defective?
Certainly; because in my own Parish a Man is required to pay to a Friendly Society only 13s. a Year, and that will not be sufficient to ensure him Relief in Sickness and Casualties.
What is he to receive in case of Necessity?
Seven Shillings a Week in case of Sickness.
In point of fact, do you not believe that there would be hardly a Friendly Society now left in existence if One Clause did not generally appear in the Rules of those Friendly Societies, that if a Man proposes to dissolve the Society, his making that Motion excludes him from all future Benefit?
Most probably so.
In point of fact, instead of being at this Moment a Blessing to the Poor they are very much the reverse, are they not?
I can speak decidedly with respect to my Experience of the one in my own Parish.
Are not the Friendly Societies generally held in Public Houses?
Is it not notorious that more Money is collected in those Public Houses than is for the Benefit or could be the original Intention of those Societies?
After they have been in existence for a certain Time, and they have arrived at the Summit, and begin to go down hill, perhaps their Annual Dinner costs more than the Receipts of the whole Year.
Mr. Becher's Scheme excludes, or professes to exclude, all those Inconveniences, does it not?
Yes, it does.
You conceive that Mr. Becher's Plan would supersede most of the Inconveniences of the present System?
Certainly. I had thought of the Importance of such a System before I knew of his Plan being in existence, as the Savings Bank did not seem calculated to reach the Circumstances of the Labourer.
You stated that if a single Man had Half an Acre of Land let to him, you thought his net Profits ought to be 5£.?
If that Man got full Employment in the Parish, you think he might lay by a certain Sum of Money in a Friendly Society?
Yes; 2l. or 2l. 10s.
Would you make it compulsory on the Parish to give that Man Labour?
Would you also fix the Amount of Wages to be given to that Man?
Would you fix the Amount of Rent a Landlord should ask?
The Commissioners should every Seven Years regulate the Rate of Rent for the Garden Plots.
Do you know what the Profits of the Farmer are?
Something respecting them, but not very precisely.
Do you think they are in a prosperous Situation at this Moment?
No; I think the Farmer is the Sufferer at present; that the Price of Labour is too high in proportion to the Price of Produce.
Have you made any Calculation to prove to the Committee that a Labourer can make 5£. net Profit a Year on Half an Acre of Land, for which he pays 25s. in your own Parish?
I have not done it this Year; neither have I generally made that Calculation, excepting from their own Statement to me of how much they have cleared; they have represented their Profits to be from 7£. to 10£. With respect to the Rent - I apprehend it is not so much after the Reduction of the Rent.
How many Bushels of Wheat do you think those Persons grow upon their Land per Acre; can you furnish a Statement of what they did grow last Year?
Not at present; I could procure such Information against another Day.
The Witness is requested to procure that Information, and furnish the same to the Committee.
Do those People you have let those Half Acres of Land to pay any thing for their Cottages?
What Rent do they pay annually for their Cottages?
Perhaps from 2l. to 3l. 10s.
Have they any Gardens attached to them?
In some Instances very small Gardens.
How far distant is the Land they rent from their Cottages?
A Quarter of a Mile, perhaps, from the nearer, and Half a Mile from the farther Part of the Village.
Are those Plots of Land fenced in, or open?
You stated that the Farmers in your District were in the habit of giving the Labourers 9s. a Week?
That is about the Average Price of Wages.
You have stated, that in a wet Day it was the Practice of the Farmer to send those Labourers to work upon the Roads?
Not all of them; some of their Labourers; particularly any of those they have taken occasionally: they generally have some who are accounted regular Labourers; something like the Carter, the Thresher, and so on.
How much do the Men receive when they are so sent upon the Road on a wet Day?
Perhaps 10d. or 1s. a Day.
Do they do much for it?
They sit by the Road Side and smoke a Pipe, do not continue the full Time, and do very little Work.
What do they give in your District for threshing, this Year?
It is generally done by Grate Work.
How much can an able-bodied good Thresher gain in a Week?
Between 11s. and 12s.
Do you know the Amount paid by the Quarter for threshing?
I cannot recollect at present.
How many Men are generally out of Employ during the Winter Months?
I should presume generally between Twenty and Thirty.
What do the Labourers that are in Employment regularly by the Farmers live upon?
Bacon, Bread and Potatoes are the principal Articles.
What do their Families live upon?
The same, with the Addition of Tea.
How do the Men employed upon the Roads exist upon the small Sum given to them?
They are very liable to get into Debt.
Do you find that the Men to whom you give Plots of Land are more industrious and better Men than those who have not had the Land given to them?
The Farmers in the Parish generally represent them to be improved in those Particulars.
Are the Men very eager to get Possession of those Plots of Land?
Very eager; so that I am continually applied to by Persons who have not had Land, and they will invent a little Tale to make me suppose that a Plot will be vacant, that such a Person is about to give up his Plot; and I think at this Time I could let from Fifteen to Twenty Half Acres; but I am rather wishing to wait to see whether any thing can be possibly done with respect to such a kind of Friendly Society as would run parallel with the Garden Plots.
You would wish to combine the letting of such Plots with the Payment by the Tenants of a Part to the Friendly Society?
Do you mean to say that the Labourers in your Neighbourhood are enabled to have a Meat Meal a Day?
Generally speaking, they have a Meal of Meat for Supper, if not for Dinner; they take a small Piece of Bacon out to the Field with them generally for Dinner. Then, perhaps, the Poor of my Parish are not in so destitute a Condition as in many others; there is much done for them in Schools and Clothing Societies, and Arrangements are made for their having Coals in Summer, so that they have not to pay for them in the Winter; which, together with the Garden Produce, prevents their being in so destitute a Condition as in some other Parts.
Is yours an Agricultural Parish?
Is the Land Arable or Pasture?
Is it generally good?
Is the Rate established on the Grass Land as well as the Arable?
What do you reckon to be the full Pay of a good Labourer?
From 10s. to 12s.
Do the Farmers pay at that Rate?
Very nearly; but not in all Instances; only to some of the best Labourers.
Is it the Practice in your County for the Parish to send Men on what is called the Round?
That has been abolished in my Parish.
What is done with the Men out of Employment in the Parish, and who apply for Relief?
They are all sent upon the Roads.
At what Rate are they paid?
From 4s. to 6s. a Week.
Are they expected to work for that Pay the same as other Labourers?
That is not attended to with so much Precision as perhaps it might be.
They are merely sent on the Road as a Pretence, and are not overlooked?
You say there are fewer Men out of Employ in the Winter than in the Summer in your Parish; to what is that owing?
I should presume that it is in consequence of the Threshing.
Are there any Threshing Machines in your Parish?
None belonging to any Farmer in the Parish; now and then one has been brought into the Parish, when a Farmer has wished to thresh out Corn in a very hasty Manner; but the general Report of the Farmers is, that it is not beneficial, on account of the breaking of the Straw.
Is not the Man whom a Farmer employs to thresh, a Man in whom he has more Confidence than the Generality of his Labourers?
Is there any Magistrate resident in this Parish?
What is the Custom with respect to Parish Relief in case of a Labourer being dissatisfied with the Pay he receives; does the Magistrate make a Calculation of the Number of People in the Family in proportion to the Sum received?
Do you know what is reckoned to be sufficient for the Support of a Family?
I have in my Hand the Regulation made by the Magistrates; they have agreed to give a Man and his Wife 7s.
To make up the Sum received for the Road 7s.?
Yes. A Man and his Wife and One Child, 8s.; the Wages of young Men above Twenty-one Years of Age to be made up to 5s.; above Fourteen and under Twenty-one, 4s.; between the Ages of Ten and Fourteen, 3s. per Week: the Magistrates recommend to good and industrious Labourers 10s. per Week.
Is that higher than the Scale heretofore allowed by the Magistrates?
I presume, very much the same; this was put into my Hand last Saturday by the Overseer.
The Question referred to the Rate of Allowance previous to the last few Weeks?
I have been from Home for the last Two Months, but I am not aware that there is much Difference.
How many Half Acres have you let?
The whole Field contains Twenty-five Acres, and there are Seventy Tenants upon it.
Had you much Difficulty in procuring the Assent of the Farmers to the Plan of a Labour Rate?
What is the Difference between the Rate raised on the Grass Land and that raised on the Arable Land?
I am not prepared to answer that Question, but will procure a Copy of the Plan.
Is there any Land called Poor's Land belonging to the Parish?
There is: there are Two Plots of Land; the one is to amend the Foot Road or Causeway, and the other to provide Fuel for the Poor.
To whom is that Land let out?
It is generally let once a Year by a Public Auction to Farmers.
No Portion of it is let out to Labourers?
No; for it is rather inconveniently situated, as is frequently the Case with Inclosures.
Do the Cottages in your Parish generally belong to the great Proprietors of Land, or not?
They belong to a great many different Persons; not principally to the large Owners.
You stated that the Rent of the Cottages varies from 2l. to 3l. 10s.?
Those that let at 2l. generally are without a Garden, probably?
Yes, and very small and inconvenient.
Have those let at 3l. and 3l. 10s. generally a small Garden?
Is that about an Eighth of an Acre?
Not so much as that; much smaller than that. There has been Land let in my Parish to the Poor for the Growth of Potatoes this Year at the Rent of 10l. per Acre.
Are not Potatoes reckoned a very exhausting Crop?
It has been generally supposed to be so; but the Poor have found that manuring the Land for Potatoes, it will produce Wheat afterwards.
Do you think the Land you have let is deteriorated or improved since you let it to the Poor?
You state the Land has been let for Potatoe Ground at a Rent of 10l. an Acre; does it consist generally of Slips of Land?
No; a regular Portion of Land out of the midst of a Field.
Was that good Land?
Very good Land, taken by some of the Poor who could not procure Garden Plots. I have asked whether it was greatly to their Benefit; they have said, "We do not expect to gain much by it, but we do not know how to do without Potatoes."
Is Fuel cheap in your Neighbourhood?
We can procure Staffordshire Coals, and have them brought up within Five Miles at 1s. a Hundred, that is 20s. a Ton; then there are Five Miles Land Carriage.
How much does it cost bringing them those Five Miles?
Do the Farmers prosecute that Course of Husbandry at all you have referred to of having Potatoes first and Wheat afterwards?
In some of the smaller Farms they have let their Land for Potatoes, and do not consider it at all injured afterwards for a Wheat Crop.
Have you heard whether the Men taking the Land at 10l. an Acre have made good their Engagements; have paid their Rent?
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
The Witness afterwards delivers in the following Statements; which are read.
Statement of the Produce of Half an Acre in the Parish of Byfield, cultivated by Spade Husbandry.
What Quantity of Manure is supposed sufficient to keep the Half Acre in Cultivation?
Four large Loads for the Third Part of Half an Acre of good Dung, or Four Quarters of Lime, will be sufficient to keep the Ground in a good State of Cultivation: that is equal to Twentyfour Loads per Acre.
N.B.-In the above Statement no Value is put upon the Straw, and it should be observed, that the Opportunity afforded by this System of enabling the Labourer to keep a Pig considerably augments the Profit.
At a Vestry held at Byfield, pursuant to Notice, on the 16th Day of October 1830, it is resolved to adopt the following System for the Management of the Poor during the present Winter; viz.
The Overseers or their Deputy are to make out Two Lists of the Labourers, and a List of Boys between the Ages of Ten and Sixteen, the Sons of Labourers or depending upon daily Labour for their Subsistence. The first shall contain all those married Men with Families who are capable of regular Labour. The second those who, from Age, Infirmity, or other Causes, are not likely to obtain Wages as high as the former. Lists having been made out and laid before the Vestry, and having been now carefully corrected by them, are adopted; from Time to Time they shall be corrected by the Vestry, by striking out or inserting other Names, as Occasion may require.
This Plan shall commence on Monday the 18th of October; and the Overseers, at the Expiration of every Six Weeks, shall pay to the Occupiers, out of the Poor Rate, the following Allowances for Labourers and Boys, viz. for those contained in the first List of able Labourers the Sum of 9d. per Day; and for those contained in the second List, the Sum of 6d. per Day; and for Boys the Sum of 2d. Provided that the Sums to be allowed within each Period of Six Weeks shall in no Case exceed the Amount which each Occupier is liable to pay to a Rate at One Shilling in the Pound.
But no Allowance shall be made for Labourers or Boys whose Wages, bonâ fide paid, shall not be at least 1s. 4d. per Day for the first List, and 1s. for the second, and for the Boys 4d. respectively; or unless they are really employed by the Party, and not transferred or let out by him to any other Person.
The Periods of Six Weeks shall be kept distinct, and no Labourers employed in any one of them shall be claimed for in any other.
The Allowance to Persons holding Farms, of which more than One Half in Quantity is in permanent Pasture or Meadow, or Farms not exceeding 150l. per Annum, shall be 10d. per Day for the first List, instead of 9d., and 7d. per Day for the second List, instead of 6d.; but no Difference shall be made in respect to Boys.
The Claims for additional Allowance by Pasture Farmers or by small Farmers shall be previously submitted to and decided upon by the Vestry, and an Order made to the Overseer to make the Allowance accordingly.
The Overseer shall provide a Book, to be prepared in a Form hereunto annexed, marked 1, and insert therein the Names of the Labourers contained in the Two Lists approved of by the Vestry, for whom Allowances are to be made, and at the End of each Week they shall inquire from them, or learn by other Means, the Names of the Occupiers by whom they have been each Day employed; and at the End of each Six Weeks they shall obtain from each Occupier an Account of his Claims for Labourers employed by him, and shall carefully insert the same in the proper Column of the Book.
Within One Week after the End of every Six Weeks the Overseers shall make out from that Book an Account of the Allowance to which every Occupier is entitled, and shall enter the same either in a separate Book or in a separate Part of the same Book, according to the Form hereunto annexed, marked 2, and shall lay the same before the Vestry, and shall extract therefrom and deliver to each Occupier a Statement of the Allowance to which he is entitled for the last Period of Six Weeks.
Every Occupier claiming further Allowance shall appeal to the next Vestry, which shall decide all Disputes conclusively, confirm the Overseers Account, with such Corrections as they see fit, and direct the Allowance to be paid. The Sum Total of such Payments for every Six Weeks, being so confirmed, shall then be carried to the general Account of Disbursements.
The Book containing Names of the Labourers in both the Lists shall be open at all reasonable Times to the Inspection of all Persons assessed to the Poor Rate, and their Agents.
No Relief, in addition to Wages, shall be given to Labourers employed, or who have had the Opportunity of Employment, under this Plan, or who have been discharged for Misconduct, unless by the express Order of a Magistrate, except the usual Provision for large Families, common to all the Labourers in the Parish.
SIX WEEKS ACCOUNT of ALLOWANCES to OCCUPIERS, ending Saturday, 27th November 1830.
Richard Pollen Esquire is called in, and examined as follows:
You are Chairman of the Quarter Sessions of Hampshire?
You have paid much Attention to the Administration of the Poor Laws in Hampshire?
Yes, I have, considerably; but the Information I could give would be more applied to Spade Cultivation in North Wiltshire. I have attended a good deal to that Subject in North Wiltshire for Ten Years, and I think it has been exceedingly successful in that Part of the Country. I came to some Property about Sixteen or Eighteen Years ago, which had been particularly neglected; a good deal of it is very poor wet Land. Amongst other Soil there was a considerable Heath, that I inclosed about the Year 1820, and applied a certain Portion of it to the Cottagers who lived in my Village.
What is the Parish?
It is in the Parish of Malmesbury, in the Tithing of Rodbourne; that Tithing consisted of about 1,500 Acres; a Portion of it was Dairy Country, about 1,000 Acres Grass Land, about 350 Arable, about 50 Wood and Waste Land, and about 100 Acres of Heath.
What was the Population of the Tithing?
About 160, as nearly as I can remember; and I should say about Eighteen Cottage Families. I set apart Eight Acres of this poor Land to dedicate to this Purpose for the poor Cottagers, and I gave them all as nearly as I could make it about Half an Acre apiece. I gave them only Half an Acre because I did not wish it to interfere with their earning the common Wages of Labour in the Tithing, and also considering that Half an Acre was quite as much as a poor Family could possibly cultivate and manure with any Prospect of Success; that was in the Year 1820: this Plan has been pursued until the Year 1830, and very successfully, in my Opinion. I should, perhaps, state to your Lordships, that when I first came to this Estate it was particularly neglected; my Relation from whom I got the Property had been a Widow, I think, Sixty Years, and had never more than once, if once, visited the Property; there was no resident Clergyman in the Village, and no Mansion House of any Description; and I should say that the Population of the Village at that Time were particularly dishonest, very great Thieves: the greatest Number of them were Poachers, and a very uncivilized Set of People altogether. I pursued this Plan for Ten Years, and I can say now that the People are perfectly reformed; I think they are particularly honest and laborious, and industrious and contented.
What were the Wages of Labour when you came there?
I do not exactly recollect; but I should say, in the last Year, to a married Man, in the Winter, they were about 1s. 4d. or 1s. 5d. a Day; I am not certain, but I think the Pay of a single Man not more than 9d. a Day.
Are you speaking of Wages as paid by the Parish or by the Farmer when the Men were in their Employ?
I speak of Wages paid by the Farmer when they have been in their Employ.
Do the Farmers make a Difference between a married and a single Man, or is the Difference made up out of the Rates?
I am not quite certain; but I should think, in most Instances, the Difference is made up out of the Rates.
What were the Rates in that Parish when you commenced this System?
I would beg to state, that there is a very large Portion of Land which belonged to my Parish, but not in my Tithing, namely, near the Town of Malmesbury, which is a Borough Town, to the Amount of 500 Acres. The Year after my own Inclosure, namely 1821, it was inclosed by Act of Parliament. The Persons entitled to Common Rights over that Land were the Inhabitants of the Borough of Malmesbury; I think they are called Capital Burgesses, Burgesses, Landholders and Commoners. Under that Act Twelve Trustees were appointed, and a Clause to this Effect was inserted in the Act of Parliament (it was divided into 280 Shares); there was a certain Quantity reserved, I think Fifty Acres, to pay contingent Expences, and, of course, a certain Portion kept apart for Roads and Fences, and so on. That Clause was to this Effect, that it prevented any Person having One of those Shares or Allotments "from selling, letting, mortgaging, or converting their Portion into any thing but Tillage or Garden, without the Consent of the Trustees;" in other Words, it obliged them to cultivate it for their own individual Support. In 1819, which was the Year immediately before the Inclosure of my particular Tithing, the Rates of the whole Parish amounted, in the Year ending the 25th of March, to 2,074l. 1s. 3d., and in the Year ending the 25th of March last they amounted to 1,424l. 18s. Now, undoubtedly, during those Eleven Years, the Rates would have become much more heavy than they were in the preceding Ten Years, and for this Reason, that there were a great many more Payments made out of the Assessment for the Poor to Agricultural Labourers than there had been for any Ten preceding Years: that would arise from various Causes; among others, that the Farmers were very much depressed, and had pursued that System of making up Wages out of the Rates much more than they had ever done in my Recollection at any previous Period. Your Lordships will perceive here that there was a Difference of 649£. 2s. 8d. in those Rates, which I attribute, certainly, to the System of having given this Land, not only in my own Tithing, but in the Part of the Parish contiguous to the Town of Malmesbury, to the poor People. I will beg to state a very beneficial Result which, in my Opinion, arises from giving such Persons small Pieces of Land. In my Part of Wiltshire a great Part consists of Dairy Land: after the End of October, when the Wheat Sowing is over, there is very little absolutely necessary Labour for the poor People, with the Exception of hedging and ditching; that is the Period of the Year when those Things are done: as to draining or extra Labour, I do not think, at present, the Farmers are in a Situation to extend that in any very great Measure; I think that the Farmer cannot afford extra Labour, nor, to any Extent, draining; in point of fact, they certainly do not drain to any Extent now, however valuable a Labour it would be in that wet Country. I think one other beneficial Result would take place from this System, that certainly for Six Weeks in the Winter, which is the Season when we all know it is exceedingly difficult for a Labourer to get Work,-at that Season, too, in which the Farmer is particularly niggard in giving Employment to the Labourer if he can help it,-for Six Weeks at least of that Time a Pauper, having Half an Acre of Land, would be usefully employed in digging out the Furrows on his Piece of Wheat, and digging his Ground for the Spring Crop of Potatoes. I also would wish to state in what Way I have, generally speaking, desired them to cultivate that Half Acre: Half of that they employ to Wheat generally, and Half to Potatoes; those Crops are perhaps once in Three Years changed to Peas, Beans, or Oats.
Is there any Mansion House built in this Tithing since you first came into Possession of the Property?
Yes; in the Year 1820 I fitted up a Cottage for my own Residence in this Parish for the Autumn Months.
Do you not conceive that the Tithing has been much benefited by your residing there?
Certainly, I do.
That would account for some Part of the Benefit which has accrued to the People in their good Conduct as well as pecuniary Benefit?
Yes, I think so, certainly. I should also state as a Fact, that in the Year 1820, when I came to reside in the Tithing, no one of the Persons whom I now call my pauper Tenants had either a Pigstye or a Pig.
From your having given a good deal of Attention to the Subject, you have ameliorated the Condition of the Labourers in your Parish?
I have. I should also state that I am not at all aware, except in one Instance, of those Persons having applied for Parish Relief during that Time, and that was a Man of Seventy-five Years of Age, who broke his Arm by tumbling over a Rail, and he had 5s. given him by the Parish, and that was all. I should say, as far as I can form an Opinion, that the System of Spade Husbandry is very far preferable to giving a Person an Opportunity of keeping a Cow; and I would state this from Circumstances which have occurred under my own Observation. The only Man in my Parish who attempted to keep a Cow had 40£. in Money when he got the Cow; he has been undoubtedly entirely ruined; he has lost all his Money, and his Cow is now sold. I should state One of the Difficulties that a Man would have in keeping a Cow, which has been felt in this Instance; in the first place, it is a Speculation of rather too much Magnitude for a common Labourer; the Price of the Cow must be an Objection, and a Man must have Fodder and some kind of Yard for the Winter for the Animal; and if by Accident the Cow dies, it is utterly impossible for that Man to replace his Stock; besides, it is an Affair requiring rather too much Time and Attention for a common Labourer, for he will have no Time to earn pecuniary Wages, which I think very essential. My Reason for particularly saying this is, that I think if a Pauper has sufficient Land or a Cow, for instance, to make him above receiving the common Wages of Farmers, and not willing to be employed by them as a weekly Labourer, that directly sets the Farmers very much against the System, they being, I need hardly say, sufficiently prejudiced against it already. I am quite aware this System may not suit all Countries; mine is partly Grass and partly Corn; but I am quite sure, from a Ten Years Experience, that it would suit many Countries, and those like my own it undoubtedly would suit. I would also state, that One of the great Evils in my Part of the Country is decidedly the Rent of Cottages. I know in many Instances the System of Spade Husbandry has failed; but I should say, amongst others, for One of these Four Reasons; at least it has been so in all the Cases I have personally investigated:-first, the Rental in many Parts of Wiltshire. Much of the Land is let to the Paupers for Spade Husbandry by the Farmers, sometimes by under-letting, sometimes by Yeomen who have a Portion of Land. They let it out in this Way, but they often make a large Rent by it; they let it at the Rate of 40s. or at least 30s. an Acre; that would cease immediately to be a Boon to a poor Person: in my Opinion 40s. is a great deal too much; and from the Avidity of those Persons to try this System, they will give any thing which is asked; I have known them give 60s. an Acre for it. Another great Difficulty in this System is the Situation with regard to the Land and the Cottage in which the Man may live. One of the great Difficulties I have found is the carting out of the Manure for those People; the Manure which is produced by their Pig is all they have; the Farmers are very much prejudiced upon that Subject, and as they must be the Persons to lend the Team in the Winter, they charge them very high for it. I think, for instance, in my Tithing they charge in a short Winter's Day for a Cart and Two Horses at the Rate of 12s. a Day, which is enormous; and I have had serious Thoughts of setting up a Cart and Horse for those poor People, and let it be employed at any other Time, in any other Way, and receive for a Cart and One Horse 3s. or 3s. 6d. a Day. I should say to any Gentleman living in the Neighbourhood, and having a Farm in hand, that would be very easily accomplished. I consider that the Situation of the Land to the Cottage is therefore very important, because if it is very near, of course a Cart with Two Horses at 12s. would do twice the Work. In many of the Cases of Failure which I have inquired into, I have generally found the Land selected for the poor People exceedingly bad, probably the worst in the Parish, and at a great Distance from their respective Cottages. On an Average, the Land I gave to the Paupers was about a Quarter of a Mile from each Cottage.
Is it open or inclosed Land?
It is now inclosed, but was open in 1820; I inclosed it at my own Expence. Those Half Acres were not fenced, there were merely Landmarks, so that each Person knew his own Portion; it would be too expensive to inclose every Half Acre.
Do you receive any Rent from it now?
Yes. It was then in a State of Furze and Briers, and wet, and I let it at the same Rent as I did that to my Farmer, 16s. an Acre, to be broken up and cleansed from the Furze and Briers. I let it to the Farmers for a Term of Fourteen Years; I let it to the Cottagers at the same Rent, but without any Term. During the whole of the Ten Years the Rent has been most cheerfully paid. Then I should say, thirdly, in regard to Causes of Failure, I have known this done, that upon a Pauper taking possession, the Terms have been what I call rather oppressive and illiberal; it has been said, "If you ever apply for Parish Relief under any Circumstances, you shall immediately quit the Land." I think this so alarms their Jealousies, that they think it a mere Scheme on the Part of the Orders above them to get rid of their legal Right, namely, Parish Relief; and for that Reason I think they have frequently refused it. In the fourth place, I should say that the Quantity, generally speaking, is too large; more than Half an Acre I consider too large for the Two Reasons I have already given; namely, that a Cottager and his Family cannot manure and manage more than Half an Acre, and that if he had more than Half an Acre, perhaps he would feel himself in some Degree independent of the Farmer's Employ. I stated just now that I thought One great Source of Evil in the Country is the Rent of Cottages; I am afraid it would be very difficult in many Cases to prevent that, and for this Reason: a great Quantity of those Houses belong to old Servants, for instance, and Masons and Carpenters, who frequently speculate in that Way. I should say that the Income of a vast Number of Persons in that Class of Life proceeds from their possessing Houses of that Description, for which they ask a most enormous Rent. In the neighbouring Tithing to mine a great Number of Houses, I believe, are not in hand; they do not belong to the great Proprietors; they are some of them Copyholds and Leaseholds, which I have occasion to know belong to some of the Persons of the Description I mention; several to old Servants. 5l. and as much as 6l. is the Rent for some of those Cottages, with scarcely any Garden at all; not bigger than this Table.
Do not they take in Lodgers?
I think not; they are very small.
Are they newly run up?
No; they are old, but of very small Dimensions. That is an Evil, of course, that the great Proprietor cannot correct, for the Property of the Person happening to have them cannot be interfered with. I merely state that as an Evil, and it is certainly one of great Extent, and I am afraid very difficult to remedy, unless large Landed Proprietors in future should be rather averse to granting Portions of the Waste to Speculators of this Description. Applications are often made in this Way to Stewards and Agents, and one is not aware at the Time of the Evil one is entailing on one's Parish by granting Pieces of Waste (unless under very severe Stipulations) to be built upon in this Way; undoubtedly they are the Origin of a great deal of Pauperism and Misery. In the Parish of Malmesbury, of which I have stated the Common to have been broken up, 280 Shares produced considerably more than, I think, a correct Quantity to give to a poor Person; I think, according to a rude Calculation, that would give them more than an Acre apiece, after deducting for Roads and Hedges and Ditches, and so on. It was impossible to prevent that in this Instance, because they had Rights which nobody could control as belonging to the Borough, and in the next place it was absolutely necessary to fence all those Portions given to Persons in Perpetuity, therefore, probably confining it to Half an Acre in that Case would have been preposterous; the Expence of fencing and allotting those small Portions would have been very great. There is another Reason I should state why I think, under the Circumstances of the Place I particularly allude to, more than Half an Acre might not be injurious; in the first place it was so contiguous to the Town that Manure might almost always be bought sufficient for the Extent of each Allotment very cheaply; and in a Town of that kind one of my Objections would not apply, namely, that there was no predial Employment, no farming Labour to be obtained.
The Witness is requested to furnish an Account of the Cropping of the Land, and the Produce. (See Appendix.)
Have any of your pauper Tenants joined in the late Disturbances in the County of Wilts?
None; on the contrary they have come forward to a Man to defend Property if necessary; there has been within Seven Miles of this Place some Disturbances, at a Place called Sherston, but they did not at all join it.
Are you acquainted with the Mode of Life of those Cottagers?
Yes, I am.
Were you acquainted with it when first you came into that County?
I should rather wish to speak from the Year 1820, because from 1820 to 1830 it has been under my personal Observation.
Have you observed that their Condition and Conduct have materially improved since they have been in Possession of that Land?
Is that Improvement going on, or is it stationary?
I should say that that Comfort is not stationary; One of the Reasons is, that, in the first place, the Quantity of Potatoes they grow upon that Portion of Land produces, with the Corn which they grow on the other Quarter of the Acre, nearly enough for the Sustenance of the Family during the whole Year, or a great Way towards it.
Can you state the Wages?
The Wages last Year were about 1s. 4d. or 1s. 5d. a Day to a married Man, and about 9d. or 10d. to a single Man. In that Tithing particularly it is very much the System, which I have strongly inculcated, to do the Work by Task Work; in almost all Cases the quarrying, (for we have a good many Stone Quarries there, and it is a very wet Country, and necessary to repair our Roads a good deal,)-in all those Cases the Work is done by Measurement.
Are there many Persons employed by the Parish entirely for the Winter Months?
I do not know, for I am not residing in the Country in the Winter, being called to London by professional Engagements.
Is it the prevailing Practice of the Parishes round you to make a Distinction between a married Man and an unmarried Man?
Decidedly. I should state, always accompanied with this very unfortunate Recommendation to the single Man, that if he is not satisfied he may go to some other Place where they can do better, when in the next Parish there is precisely the same System of Expulsion pursued. I have heard it distinctly stated at a Meeting of Magistrates, when single Men came to complain of their Wages, as a Recommendation to fight out, as it is called, and go elsewhere.
What is the lowest Wages you have known given to able-bodied Men in that Country?
Sixpence a Day.
Is it not conversant with your Knowledge that that is very much the Practice throughout Hampshire?
I cannot answer to Hampshire, not residing there.
The Farmers employ some Men probably to work by Piece in hedging and ditching?
Do they pay by the Rod?
Yes; what we call in that Country the Lug.
How much a Lug do the Farmers pay for that Operation?
For hedging and ditching, having had some done on my own Account last Year, I paid the same as the Farmers did; I paid 2½d. a Lug.
How much at that Rate could a Man earn in the course of a Day?
I am not competent to answer that Question.
When first you had the Farm you now have, did you pay any larger Sum for that Operation?
No; I think I paid the same. I have no Farm; I have merely Wood Lands in my own Occupation.
Is it the Case, generally, that the Rate is the same?
No; I think that within these Ten Years there has been a Reduction.
Can you state the Proportion in which that Labour has been reduced?
I should suppose that there has been a Difference of 1s. 6d. a Week, or thereabouts.
Upon the whole are the Wages of Labourers employed by Farmers very much decreased within the last Ten Years?
Yes, I should think so.
Can you state the Proportions?
I should say generally not more than 1s. 6d. a Week.
That would be about a Seventh or an Eighth?
Yes; 2d. or 3d. a Day.
During those Ten Years, have the Necessaries of Life been diminished in Price?
Do you imagine that the Reduction in the Necessaries of Life has been equal to the Reduction in the Price of Labour?
I should think nearly so; I refer particularly to what is very much the Food of that Part of the Country - Cheese and Butter; they eat very little Meat.
Yes, particularly Clothes of all Descriptions.
In your Judgment, is the Labourer now worse off in point of Wages than he was Ten Years ago?
Upon the whole, I think he is, rather.
From whence does that arise?
I think Labour is so much more scarce, that he does not get constant Employment through the Winter.
If he got constant Employment throughout the Winter, he would be as well off as he was Ten Years ago?
I think he would.
There are a great many more Labourers in the Parish now than there is Employment for among the Farmers?
I think there is not, in my Tithing, more than ought to be employed, provided the Farmer was in good Case: if the Times were good for the Farmer, I think he would employ all that there are.
If the Farmer got a better Price for his Produce, he would employ more?
Has there been any Reduction of Rent within your Parish?
A very considerable Reduction, speaking of my own Experience; I have reduced from Ten to Thirty per Cent.
Has that enabled the Farmers to employ a greater Quantity of Labourers upon their Farms?
It ought to have done so; but I should say it has not made a great deal of Difference. I have reduced my Rents at this Moment Twenty per Cent.; probably there is not a single Man employed now more than there was Four Years ago.
Previous to reducing your Rent, how much an Acre, on an Average, did you get for your Land?
I should say, towards 30s. an Acre, Tithe-free. I am Proprietor of the Great Tithes.
How long had it been let at that Rent?
It commenced being let at that Rent in the Year 1820.
At how much had it been let at the dearest Times?
I cannot state that, for a great Part of the Tithing was held by different Persons, Copyhold and Leasehold. It had been very much the Custom of my Relation, whom I succeeded, who was Lady of the Manor, to grant Copyholds and Leaseholds, which I bought up to make the Inclosure more convenient to myself.
Was the Land that belonged to your Relation, and which was let by her to common Farmers, let at a higher Rent previous to the Year 1820?
No; lower; the Rent was actually raised in the Year 1820.
Was it on any Lease that they held it previously?
They had had no Lease, but held from Year to Year; it was therefore most execrably farmed.
In what Proportion was it raised in the Year 1820?
I do not know what it was let for before.
Was it raised, in your Judgment, more than it has since been lowered?
Certainly not; not more than Twenty per Cent.
Having reduced your Rent to the same Standard, or nearly so, as it was previous to the Year 1820, the Result has not been that the Farmers have employed more Labourers on the Land?
I think not.
Though you have made a Reduction of Twenty per Cent., do you think that Reduction has done more than keep pace with the Reduction of the Price of Agricultural Produce?
No, certainly not.
Do you think the Farmers, in consequence of that Reduction, are able to employ a greater Number of Labourers than they were able to do before that Reduction was rendered necessary?
Our staple Commodity there is Cheese. I should say Cheese at this Moment is selling at 46s. a Hundred; Two Years ago it was selling at 66s.; there has been an amazing Variation in that particular Produce: therefore all our Labourers Wages, and Reductions of Labour, and so on, are generally calculated on the Price of Cheese, and not on the Price of Corn.
From whatever Cause, the Farmer, notwithstanding the Rent is reduced, is not able to employ more Labourers than he was before you reduced your Rent?
He does not; whether he is able to do so I cannot say.
Ten Years ago could the Wives and Families of any of the Cottagers upon that Estate earn any Money by Work of their own?
Yes; Lace-making was very common in that Country.
Has it ceased?
No, it has not; but I believe in hardly any Case now do they get Money for that Work; they get it all out in Goods; they go to the Shops at Malmesbury, and sell so much Lace for so much Clothes or Food.
Those Clothes or that Food will be of some Value?
Can you at all estimate how much, probably, a Woman without a Child in her Arms can earn in that Way?
Is that a material Assistance to a Labourer in providing for his Family?
Was that Amount greater Ten Years ago than it is now?
A great deal: perhaps I should state, that I have conversed with some of the Women in my Parish upon that Subject, and they have generally told me it is more profitable now for them to assist in the Cultivation of this Half Acre than it is to make Lace.
Supposing you had an Opportunity of affixing a Piece of Ground to a Cottage, which would be employed as Garden Ground only, and you had an Opportunity at the same Time of giving One of those Portions of Land at some Distance to another Cottage; which Cottage do you think would have the most profitable Piece of Land?
That to which the Land was most contiguous.
And that employed in growing Garden Produce rather than Corn?
I do not know that that would be the Case, for in my Country they never sell the Produce; they always consume it; supposing it was all Vegetables, I do not think it would stand them so much in Stead as if a Part was Corn.
With respect to the Families of those Persons who have Land, what becomes of the young Men of the Families; do they leave the Parish, or remain?
I think they generally leave the Parish.
Have you any Idea where they go to?
No. I think a great many of them have come to Town during the Improvements of the Metropolis.
Has there been any great Increase of those Persons since you have had recourse to this Experiment?
I think not; but I have been very cautious in building new Cottages; though I have been tempted by the Offer of very great Rents, I have never done it. I have repaired those which were dilapidated; but I have in no instance built new Cottages.
You stated that the Rent had been increased in 1820. From your Observation of Land in the immediate Neighbourhood, do you conceive that was an Exception from the general System of the Country, owing to very bad Management the long Time it had been in the Hands of a Lady?
It rather proceeded from Two Circumstances. Your Lordships are aware that a Tenant not having the Benefit of a Lease would not give, generally speaking, so much Rent. A good deal had depended upon my Predecessor's Life; and when I gave them a Fourteen Years Lease, they gave me a larger Rent. I do not think it was at all higher than the neighbouring Land, considering that it was chiefly Grass Land.
What Proportion does the Produce upon this Half Acre of Land bear to Land in the Occupation of the Farmers?
I should say at least One Fourth Increase; and this Year One of those Proportions, in which, by way of Change, the Crop was Oats, it produced the most magnificent Oats I ever saw; I think they were nearly Six Feet high.
Is the Manure from One Pig sufficient for a Quarter of an Acre?
I think so; for the Stubble from this Quarter of an Acre is very carefully collected and stacked; then the Potatoe Stalk is given to the Pig, and the Manure of the Pig is of a peculiarly strong Quality; therefore I should say a Pig does produce sufficient, or very nearly sufficient, to manure that Portion of Land. There is another Source from whence they will get some Manure; our Roads are of Limestone, and it was with the greatest Difficulty I could get the Farmers to think of scraping the Roads; the poor People, however, have scraped them, and it has proved an excellent Manure, mixed with the other Material from the Ditches and Drainings around these Plots, once in Two Years.
The Measure of the Quantity of Land which would be useful to a Cottager is that which he can properly manure?
Yes; and with the Qualification that it should not be so much as would make him in the least independent of Farmers Labour.
Do you think the Population is greater since the last Census?
I do not; but perhaps, for the Reason I have given; I have studiously avoided increasing the Number of Cottages.
You find the young Men get off?
Yes, they certainly do.
They, perhaps, get off more easily from being better educated?
Some of the young Men of my Parish have enlisted; some of them go to Tetbury, where there is a large Fair held in the Autumn, and enlist there; they are sometimes bought off again.
The Wages being so low, and the Rents of Cottages which do not belong to yourself so high, probably many of them are paid out of the Poor's Rate?
Certainly, they are; and I have frequent Applications to build a Cottage on a little Piece of Waste, wherever it may appear, a Man offering to give me a large Rent; and if the Waste belonged to a common Farmer he would probably accept the Offer: it requires some Self-denial not to run into that Temptation.
Are those Rents paid directly out of the Poor's Rates?
In some Cases they certainly are; and I think in many Cases the Parish Officers undertake to say, if a Man is industrious, and keeps himself off the Parish, and does not come for any thing else, they will pay his Rent for him.
You do not interfere much in the Distribution of the Poor's Rates?
I do not; there is some little Difficulty, this Parish consisting of Four Tithings, belonging to different Individuals.
The Poor's Rates are levied on the Whole?
Yes; and mixed in one general Fund, and administered at the Head Quarters, if I may so call it - the Town of Malmesbury.
You have said that the Farmers do not drain so much as they did formerly, and might with Advantage; do you conceive that the Agriculture in that Part of the Country is deteriorating?
I should say, on my own Estate, from the Three very wet Summers we have had, the Land is materially deteriorated, and that that can be cured only by extensive draining. The Answer I get from my Tenants when I propose that is, that they cannot afford it.
Any Deterioration which takes place in Agriculture has arisen more from the Three last Seasons than from other Circumstances?
Yes, in a Grass Country; and the Price of our staple Commodity, Cheese, has decreased most wonderfully.
Do you apprehend that if the Farmers had been in good Case at the present Time, they would have obviated the Inconveniences which would have arisen from the bad Seasons?
In a great Measure I think they would. From the depressed State of Agricultural Produce they do not make their Ditches so well as they did; they would sooner give a Man 1½d. a Rod to do it imperfectly, than give him 2d. a Rod to do it perfectly.
Do you think that the Farmers have been more in the habit of running their Land hard than they used to be?
I cannot say that.
What Soil is the Inclosure to which you have referred?
Boggy light black Soil; the rest of my Land is very stiff Clay.
Would the stiff Clay be equally applicable to the Purpose of Spade Husbandry as the light Land to which you have alluded?
I have some very stiff Land applied to that Purpose, and I hear no Complaints.
Has the Produce of the Dairy diminished or increased during the Three last wet Seasons?
How do you account for its bearing a lower Price as the Quantity has diminished?
I do not know; one great Source of our Sale for Cheese used to be Scotland; that appears to have ceased.
Has the Importation of Irish Cattle interfered with you?
Very materially indeed.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Mr. Robert Chick is called in, and examined as follows:
What are you?
A Drysalter and Agent.
Where do you reside?
At Mitcham, in Surrey.
Have you had any particular Acquaintance with the Poor Laws?
I have paid very great Attention to them, and attended Vestries.
What is the Population of that Parish?
According to the Census in 1811 the Number of Males was 2,188; the Number of Females 2,265.
Is there a large Proportion of that Population now out of Employment?
The greatest Proportion; Working Classes.
Can you state the Proportion at the present Moment out of Employment?
There are about 110 in the Workhouse; Pensioners out-doors about Seventy; I cannot recollect the exact Number; and about Nineteen or Twenty apply at the Vestry once a Fortnight.
On what Ground do they apply?
No Employment, though willing to work.
Have they been out of Employment all the Summer?
A great Proportion of them.
Of what Class of Persons are they?
They used to be in the manufacturing Districts - the Printing and Bleaching Grounds; the greatest Proportion of them now are Labouring Men.
What is the customary Rate of Wages now in the Parish?
12s., 15s., and 18s. for working Ground.
How are the Persons employed by the Parish?
In digging Gravel.
Are they employed by the Job?
They have not been; they have been turned altogether on the Road, Ten or Fifteen, to do as they pleased; and many of them have sworn they would not work at all at the low Wages.
At what Rate are they paid by the Parish?
I have a Table here of the Payments.
The same is delivered in and read, and is as follows:
Vestry Room, Feb. 17, 1830.
At a Special Vestry held this Day, pursuant to Notice given in the Church on Sunday last, and which was numerously attended, the following Scale of Wages for Paupers employed by the Parish Officers was unanimously agreed to: -
The Hours of Work to be from Eight o'Clock in the Morning until Five in the Evening.
Signed by Order,
John Chart, Vestry Clerk.
By whose Order is that printed Statement made out?
By that of the Vestry.
Has that received any Sanction from the Magistrates?
I do not know that.
Do the Magistrates order Relief in Cases where they think the Wages insufficient?
Yes, they do; but if a poor Man makes an Application to the Magistrate, he pays Attention to what the Overseer says, and he is sent back to Mitcham Parish, and is sent to Bear Lane; that is considered a Place of Punishment; a House kept in Saint George's Fields for a great many dissolute Characters of London and the Country; any disorderly Characters are sent to this House. There are others farmed not so.
Is it a Place of Confinement or a Workhouse?
A Workhouse, farmed at 4s. 6d. and 5s. per Head per Week, and the Description of Persons generally very bad.
How do you know how they are kept?
I have a Copy of the Bill of Fare.
Did you take it from the Books?
I took it from Thomas Howard a Pauper; I took it in the Presence of a Magistrate, and I asked the Man whether he was willing to be sworn to it; he said he was; he was a Music Master attending Families at Mitcham, and in consequence of his Misfortunes came upon the Parish; he was a very respectable Man once, I considered.
What is the Amount of Rate levied in the Parish of Mitcham?
It was above 3,229l. 8s. 6d. in 1828; in 1829 it was 4,050l. 7s. 1d.; it had increased about 820l. 18s. 7d. the last Year, and that was principally for casual and other Relief.
What are the Rents of Cottages in that Neighbourhood?
Rather high for small Cottages; the Rents have been doubled within Forty Years. I was born where I live now. They were 5l. a Year, and were raised to 2l. in 10l. for Taxes, in consequence of the Poor's Rates. In consequence of a Local Act there were a great Number of those Cottages set down poor, and there was a Local Act of Parliament to make the Landlord pay for all the Cottages he held. All Persons not rated at 18l. a Year are not eligible to be at the Vestry unless they are Leaseholders.
The Exclusion from the Vestry is of Inhabitants not rated?
In all Cases are the Rates paid by the Landlord when under 18l. a Year?
They must be rated at 24l., because the usual Plan is Three Fourths of the Rent.
How many Shillings in the Pound were levied this Year?
In general it is 1s. 6d. in the Pound; 6th January, 2s.; 8th April, 1s. 6d.; in July 8th, 2s.; in October 14th, 2s.; then we have another in January, about the 7th.
When was the Parish valued?
The Survey was about Thirteen Years ago. We can only get at Things by Hearsay, but that cost about 300£. or 400£.; and that Survey is not paid for yet, I believe.
Was the Property included in that Survey chiefly Land, or Buildings and Manufactories?
I cannot speak to that; we have never been able to see that; the Survey is not to be found: that is our Grievance. There are a certain Class of Men govern the Parish, and we can get no Information, except by Accident. The Vestry is of very little Use to us.
Have you ever appealed against the Rates?
Has any Appeal ever been entered into on the Ground of improper Value?
I believe there has, by Mr. Dagleish; but that is Nine or Ten Years ago, or more.
What was the Result of that Appeal?
I did not attend at the Parish Meetings at that Time; I was not eligible to attend at the Vestry 'till Seven Years past, but lived with my Father. I think I can speak to the Affairs of the Parish as much as any one for a Hundred Years past.
Have you never heard what was the Result of this Appeal?
No; but I can speak to the Fact that there are a many Houses, &c. not rated at present.
Are you not aware that it is in the Power of any Person paying to the Rates to appeal against any Rate by which he imagines himself to be aggrieved?
We are perfectly aware of that; but we conceive it quite useless; that we should be so harassed by Law, no one would attend to it.
Do you suppose that the Poor are in a worse Situation as to their Comforts now than they were when the Rate of Wages was much higher?
They never were so badly off as they are now.
You think that the Necessaries of Life have not fallen in Price in proportion to the Wages?
By no means; they used to have 10s. or 12s. a Week upon the Roads, and it is reduced to nothing almost now.
Supposing you or any other Individual in the Parish had to employ able-bodied Men to perform Work for you, is there any great Difference in the Wages of such a Person during the last Ten Years?
I should pay 2s. 6d. per Day and 3s. for Labour.
What did they ask for that Ten Years ago?
I do not think they asked much more Ten Years ago than they do now.
Then your Observation with respect to the Decrease of the Value of Labour compared to the Decrease in the Price of Provisions applies only to those Persons who are employed by the Parish upon the Roads?
It is decreased in this kind of way; formerly Masters used to keep Men a Number of Years, probably 'till they died; but now, directly they get a little slack in Work, they say, "We have no Employment for you," and send them to the Parish.
Are the Wages of those Men who are kept decreased?
I do not think they are, a great many of them.
Those Men who are kept are paid as high Wages as they used to be Ten Years ago?
Are there more Labourers to be employed in your Parish than can find Employment?
Probably not, if properly managed; but as Circumstances are, it is so.
When you say if they were properly managed, what do you refer to?
We have a great deal of Waste Land, and it is the Opinion of the best informed, that if we were to set them upon that, it would be the most profitable Mode.
You say that Persons employ less Hands than they used to do; what is the Reason of that?
The Fall in the Price of Produce.
You speak now of Agricultural Labourers?
We have not much Agricultural; we have what we call Physic Gardens; Liquorice, and other Things, for the Chemists, Distillers, &c.
The Price of that Produce has considerably decreased?
It is reduced, some of it, from 70s. to 1l. 1s.
That prevents those Persons who hold that Land employing so many Labourers as they used to do?
There is a great deal of that Land does not pay for the Cultivation and Labour.
Are you at all aware of the Rent of that Land?
Yes; some 4l. and 5l. an Acre, and some as low as 40s.
Is the Rent the same now as it was Ten Years ago?
Some of it.
Not generally speaking.
Has there been no Reduction made in it within the last few Years?
Very little, that I have heard of.
How comes it, that if the Value of the Produce has so much decreased, the Persons who hold the Land have not obtained a Reduction of Rent during that Time?
Great Part of it is Leasehold.
For what length of Time?
I cannot answer that Question.
Has any of it been out of Lease within the last Ten Years?
Did that Land so out of Lease let again for nearly the same Rent as it paid before?
A great deal less.
How much less?
Land at 4l. an Acre has been reduced to 40s. within these Two Years.
Has the Occupier of that Land, since his Rent was reduced, employed more Labour upon it?
I do not know that; I know he has brought it into an excellent State of Cultivation, and produced finer Crops than were ever produced before.
Do you know whether he has paid more for the Labour employed upon it that he did previous to the Reduction of his Rent?
The Farm was let to a Gentleman; he had it on Lease for a certain Time; it did not pay its Expences: the Landlord then let it to this Man at a great Reduction of Rent; he came from another Farm.
Is there more Labour employed upon that Piece of Land now than there was previous to the Reduction of Rent?
I should think twice the Number of Labourers.
Was it in very bad Condition before?
Nothing but Weeds and Couch Grass.
Was the Person who had it in an insolvent State?
He was a Gentleman who took it for Amusement, and tried to make it pay, but it would not.
Is that the only instance you know of Land in that Parish being let at a reduced Rent?
There is other Land also let at a reduced Rent.
Can you speak of any Land not so peculiarly circumstanced?
I can speak to one Portion of Land close by my House; that was a Lease granted about Eighty Years back at 25s. an Acre; the Persons went to the Dean or other Person of Oxford, and got a renewed Lease at a fair Rent, about Eighteen to Twenty-five Years back. The Rent was afterwards, as Grass Land, advanced to 6l. an Acre; and this Land is let at the present Time at 5l. an Acre on a Lease, and is not worth 40s.
It has been since reduced to 5£.?
Is there more Labour employed upon it now the Rent is 5l. a Year than when the Rent was 6£. a Year?
Yes, there is; it fell into fresh Hands, and has been cultivated.
Was it in bad Cultivation before?
It was Meadow Land - Grass Land; it has Turnips upon it now.
It has been since ploughed up?
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Tuesday next, Twelve o'Clock.