In the 16th cent. landlords tried to enclose their land in order to keep more sheep. This process was condemned by the church and opposed by the government, which passed legislation designed to prevent enclosure. By the 1630s and beyond government opposition was breaking down, and a good deal of ‘by agreement’ enclosure took place in the period c.1630–c.1750, with large areas of land, particularly in the midlands, being converted from mixed arable farming to pasture. The extent of ‘by agreement’ enclosure is still debated, largely because it was not necessarily recorded.
From 1750, and in complete contrast to the 16th-cent. practice, Parliament began to pass bills to allow for the enclosure of the land under certain clearly defined conditions. As a result, between 1750 and 1830 in England more than 4,000 enclosure Acts were passed, and approximately 6.8 million acres across the country subjected to enclosure. In rough terms 21 per cent of the land area of Britain was enclosed by parliamentary Act in this period. The process varied regionally, the Welsh borders and south-eastern England experiencing very little enclosure, while more than half the land surface was enclosed by Act in Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, and Oxfordshire. The process continued through the 19th cent. with another 3 per cent of the land area enclosed by 1914, when there were hardly any open fields remaining. Only in the Nottinghamshire village of Laxton does a common field system continue to operate to this day.
Enclosure in Scotland occurred primarily in the 18th cent., in the Lowlands in the 1760s and 1770s and in the uplands at the end of the century. The extent of enclosure was rather less than in England, at least in terms of the acreage involved, but then again the area of land available in Scotland to enclosed farms was relatively small. It also seems likely that enclosure in Scotland was frequently the final deed in a long-drawn-out process of change.
"enclosures." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enclosures
"enclosures." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enclosures
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.