In this book, first published in 1980, the author draws a vivid picture of what country life was like for the vast majority of English villagers – agricultural labourers, craftsmen and small farmers – during a period of rapid agricultural development. This study analyses the influence of the enclosure movement on farming methods and on the structure of village life, and examines the devastating effects of the Napoleonic wars on English society.
The Rural World is based on a wide range of sources, including parliamentary papers, contemporary letters, diaries and account books, and official records such as those relating to the Poor Law and the courts. It provides a fascinating overview of all aspects of rural life – from employment to home conditions, education, charity, crime, the role of religion and the influence of politics – during a critical period in English history.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations and Tables; Acknowledgements; 1. The Rural Community at the End of the Eighteenth Century 2. The Pressures of War 3. The Post-War Period 4. The Relief of the Poor 5. Village Institutions 6. Crime and Punishment 7. Politics and Protectionism: 1830s-1850s 8. The Rural Community in the Mid-Nineteenth Century; Appendices; Notes and References; Bibliography; Index