At the beginning of the eighteenth century more than half the population of England worked on the land or in a trade, such as milling, that was connected with agriculture.
Most of the Land was owned by rich aristocrats of gentry who rented it out to tenant farmers.
These famers paid labourers to work for them.
In much of England, farming used the "open field" system,
which involved dividing a village's fields into strips with every farmer having strips in each field. Every four years one of the village's fields were left fallow. That meant nothing was grown in it.
Instead it was left to recover. As well as the fields which were cultivated there was also common land on which all villagers had the right to graze their livestock.
From the beginning of the eighteenth century, the population began to grow rapidly and more food was needed.
This caused food prices to rise.
Some farmers began to look at ways of growing more food and making more money.
One way was to "enclose" land putting hedges round fields and farming them as one unit instead of in strips. As wealthy landowners began to enclose more and more land, they were able to use more efficient farming methods and needed fewer labourers.
Some unscrupulous landowners also enclosed common land, so the ordinary farm labourers were doubly hit.Now they had nowhere to graze their own animals.
Enclosure led to improvements in farming techniques. In norfolk, a system of rotating crops, so that there was no need to rest the land for a year, helped boost production. This was also a time when new machinery began to be introduced into farming. A seed drill was invented to sow under the soil, ploughsn became lighter...