WE may now sum up and see what answers we are able to provide for the three questions with which we began:
  1. (1)

    The extent of the decline: the available statistics can give us no accurate idea of the extent of the decline of small farms in general, but certainly small farms were still numerous in the late nineteenth century, perhaps mainly in the areas where for natural reasons they had always been strong. They did not disappear, therefore, although for technical and commercial reasons the long-term trend was in favour of larger units. Over the country as a whole the small owner-occupiers had already declined to possession of a very low proportion of the cultivated acreage in the later eighteenth century (probably some 11–14 per cent); and they had only a slightly lower proportion in the late nineteenth century; their main decline certainly predates the later eighteenth century.

  2. (2)

    The period of decline: modern understanding of the slow pace of the ‘agricultural revolution’ and of the effects of parliamentary enclosures does not, in general, support the old view that a major decline of small farmers occurred between 1760 and 1830.


Copyright information

© The Economic History Society 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. E. Mingay
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KentCanterburyUK

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