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Presented by 

IT. D. J. McDougal 

English & I- 

27 Broad Strict Oxford 

An Introduction to the Industrial and 
Social History of England 

An Introduction 

to the 

Industrial and Social History 
of England 







All rights reserved 

COPYRIGHT, 1901 AND 1920, 

Set up and electrotyped. Published April, 1901. Reprinted 
January, October, 1905; November, 1906; October, 1907; July, 
1908; February, 1909; January, April, December, 1910. 

Revisea edition, August, 1920, 

Nortnooti IDrrss 

J. S. Cashing Co. Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 


THIS text-book is intended for college and high-school classes. 
Most of the facts stated in it have become, through the researches 
and publications of recent years, such commonplace knowledge 
that a reference to authority in each case has not seemed neces- 
sary. Statements on more doubtful points, and such personal 
opinions as I have had occasion to express, although not sup- 
ported by references, are based on a somewhat careful study of 
the sources. To each chapter is subjoined a bibliographical 
paragraph with the titles of the most important secondary 
authorities. These works will furnish a fuller account of the 
matters that have been treated in outline in this book, indicate 
the original sources, and give opportunity and suggestions for 
further study. An introductory chapter and a series of narra- 
tive paragraphs prefixed to other chapters are given with the 
object of correlating matters of economic and social history 
with other aspects of the life of the nation. 

My obligation and gratitude are due, as are those of all 
later students, to the group of scholars who have within our 
own time laid the foundations of the study of economic history, 
and whose names and books will be found referred to in the 
bibliographical paragraphs. 


January, 1901. 


DURING the well-nigh twenty years that have passed since 
this text-book was published, events in the industrial and social 
world have gone far to transform modern society. An effort 
has been made to describe these changes of our own time in the 
last two chapters of this revised edition. The events of this 
period have also made it possible to see more clearly the char- 
acter and tendency of somewhat earlier changes. The whole 
period since the Industrial Revolution has therefore been re- 
written and rearranged chronologically in the last four chapters 
of the book. 

Although several excellent text-books have appeared since 
the first edition of this, there has unfortunately been less 
detailed study of economic history than of some other phases. 
There seems, therefore, no sufficient reason for changing materi- 
ally the earlier parts of the book. 


July, 1920. 




1. The Geography of England . i 

2. Prehistoric Britain 4 

3. Roman Britain 5 

4. Early Saxon England 8 

5. Danish and Late Saxon England 12 

6. The Period following the Norman Conquest .... 14 

7. The Period of the Early Angevin Kings, 1154-1338 . . .21 


8. The Mediaeval Village 29 

9. The Vill as an Agricultural System 31 

10. Classes of People on the Manor 35 

11. The Manor Courts 41 

12. The Manor as an Estate of a Lord 44 

13. Bibliography 46 


14. The Town Government 50 

15. The Gild Merchant 51 

16. The Craft Gilds 54 

17. Non-industrial Gilds 60 

18. Bibliography 62 



19. Markets and Fairs 63 

20. Trade Relations between Towns 67 


x Contents 


21. Foreign Trading Relations 68 

22. The Italian and Eastern Trade 72 

23. The Flanders Trade and the Staple 74 

24. The Hanse Trade 76 

25. Foreigners settled in England 77 

26. Bibliography 81 


Economic CJianges of the Later Fourteenth and Early Fifteenth 

27. National Affairs from 1338 to 1461 83 

28. The Black Death and its Effects 86 

29. The Statutes of Laborers 91 

30. The Peasants' Rebellion of 1381 04 

31. Commutation of Services 107 

32. The Abandonment of Demesne Farming no 

33. The Decay of Serfdom in 

34. Changes in Town Life and Foreign Trade 113 

35. Bibliography 115 



Economic Changes of the Later Fifteenth and the Sixteenth 

36. National Affairs from 1461 to 1603 116 

37. Enclosures 120 

38. Internal Divisions in the Craft Gilds 126 

39. Change of Location of Industries . .- 129 

40. The Influence of the Government on the Gilds . . . .132 

41. General Causes and Evidences of the Decay of the Gilds . . 136 

42. The Growth of Native Commerce 138 

43. The Merchants Adventurers 140 

44. Government Encouragement of Commerce 143 

45. The Currency 145 

46. Interest 147 

47. Paternal Government 148 

48. Bibliography . 151 

Contents xi 


Economic Changes of the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries 


49. National Affairs from 1603 to 1760 153 

50. The Extension of Agriculture 158 

51. The Domestic System of Manufactures 160 

52. Commerce under the Navigation Acts . . . . . .163 

53. Finance 167 

54. Bibliography 172 



Economic Changes of the Later Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth 

55. National Affairs from 1760 to 1820 173 

56. The Great Mechanical Inventions 176 

57. The Factory System 183 

58. Iron, Coal, and Transportation 184 

59. The Revival of Enclosures 185 

60. Decay of Domestic Manufacture 188 

61. The Laissez-faire Theory 192 

62. Cessation of Government Regulation 195 

63. Individualism 198 

64. Bibliography 204 


65. National Affairs from 1820 to 1848 205 

66. Railways . 208 

67. Steam Navigation 217 

68. Abolition of the Corn Laws and the Completion of Free Trade . 220 

69. Poverty of the Working Classes 224 

70. Reform of the Poor Law 226 

71. Chartism 229 

72. The Beginning of Factory Legislation 232 

73. Reasons for and against Factory Legislation . . . . 237 

74. The First Mine Regulation Act 242 

75. Influence of Robert Owen 244 

76. Bibliography . 249 

xii Contents 



77. National Affairs from 1848 to 1878 251 

78. General Industrial and Commercial Progress .... 255 

79. Agricultural Development 257 

80. Preservation of Remaining Open Lands 259 

81. Introduction of Cooperation 263 

82. Cooperation in Production 267 

83. Legal and Social Encouragement of Cooperation .... 269 

84. Cooperation in Credit 272 

85. Profit Sharing 273 

86. Continuance of Factory Legislation 275 

87. Rise of Trade Unions . 278 

88. Combination Acts : Opposition of Public Opinion . . . 280 

89. Legalization of Trade Unions 283 

90. Public Acceptance of Trade Unions 287 

91. Growth of Trade Unions 289 

92. Extension and Federation of Trade Unions 291 

93. Employers' Organizations 294 

94. Bibliography 295 



95. National Affairs from 1878 to 1906 296 

96. The Decline of Agriculture 301 

97. Small Holdings and Allotments 303 

98. The Increasing Predominance of Finance 306 

99. Entrance of Government into -the Economic Field . . .311 

100. Employers' Liability and Workmen's Compensation . . . 315 

101. Developments in Trade Unionism 317 

102. Entrance of the Trade Unions into Politics . . . .321 

103. Socialism 323 

104. Bibliography 329 


105. National Affairs from 1906 to 1920 331 

106. A Policy of General Social Reform 335 

107. Old Age Pensions 338 

Contents xiii 


108. Government Labor or Employment Exchanges .... 340 

109. National Insurance against Sickness and Unemployment . . 343 

no. Trade or Minimum Wage Boards 345 

in. New Legalization of Trade Unions . . . . . . 349 

112. Advance of the Labor Party 351 

113. Effect of the War on the Trade Unions 353 

114. National Gilds or Gild Socialism 357 

115. The Whitley Councils 361 

116. The National Joint Industrial Council 363 

117. Extension of the Functions of Government .... 365 

1 1 8. Bibliography 369 





1. The Geography of England. The British Isles lie north- 
west of the Continent of Europe. They are separated from 
it by the Channel and the North Sea, at the narrowest only 
twenty miles wide, and at the broadest not more than three 

The greatest length of England from north to south is three 
hundred and sixty-five miles, and its greatest breadth some 
two hundred and eighty miles. Its area, with Wales, is 58,320 
square miles, being somewhat more than one-quarter the size 
of France or of Germany, just one-half the size of Italy, and 
somewhat larger than either Pennsylvania or New York. 

The backbone of the island is near the western coast, and 
consists of a body of hard granitic and volcanic rock rising into 
mountains of two or three thousand feet in height. These do 
not form one continuous chain but are in sever? 
groups. On the eastern flank of these mountaij 
lying all the rest of the island is a series of 
The harder portions of these strata still stand uj 
- the " wolds," " wealds," " moors," and 
more eastern and southeastern parts of England? 
strata have been worn away into great broad valleys, furnishing 
the central and eastern plains or lowlands of the country. 

2 Industrial and Social History of England 

The rivers of the south and of the far north run for the most 
part by short and direct courses to the sea. The rivers of the 
midlands are much longer and larger. As a result of the gradual 
sinking of the island, in recent geological periods the sea has 
extended some distance up the course of these rivers, making 
an almost unbroken series of estuaries along the whole coast. 

The climate of England is milder and more equable than is 
indicated by the latitude, which is that of Labrador in the 
western hemisphere and of Prussia and central Russia on the 
Continent of Europe. This is due to the fact that the pre- 
vailing southwest winds drive the warmer surface waters of the 
south Atlantic against her shores, thus softening her climate. 

These physical characteristics have been of immense in- 
fluence on the destinies of England. Her position was far on 
the outskirts of the world as it was known to ancient and 
mediaeval times, and England played a correspondingly incon- 
spicuous part during those periods. In the habitable world 
as it has been known since the fifteenth century, on the other 
hand, that position is a distinctly central one, open alike to 
the eastern and the western hemisphere, to northern and 
southern lands. 

Her situation of insularity and at the same tune of proximity 
to the Continent laid her open to frequent invasion in early 
times, but after she secured a navy made her singularly safe 
from subjugation. It made the development of many of her 
institutions tardy, yet at the same tune gave her the oppor- 
tunity to borrow and assimilate what she would from the 
customs of foreign nations. Her separation by water from the 
Continent favored a distinct and continuous national life, 
while her nearness to it allowed her to participate in all the 
more important influences which affected the nations of central 

Within the mountainous or elevated regions a variety of 
mineral resources, especially iron, copper, lead, and tin, exist 
in great abundance, and have been worked from the earliest 

Longitude Welt 2 from Urwnwloh 

4 Industrial and Social History of England 

ages. Potter's clay and salt also exist, the former furnishing 
the basis of industry for an extensive section of the midlands. 
By far the most important mineral possession of England, 
however, is her coal. This exists in the greatest abundance 
and in a number of sections of the north and west of the country. 
Practically unknown in the Middle Ages, and only slightly 
utilized in early modern times, within the eighteenth and 
nineteenth and twentieth centuries her coal supply has come to 
be the principal foundation of England's great manufacturing 
and commercial development. 

The lowlands, which make up far the larger part of the 
country, are covered with soil which furnishes rich farming 
areas, though in many places this soil is a heavy and imper- 
vious clay, expensive to drain and cultivate. The hard ridges 
are covered with thin soil only. Many of them therefore 
remained for a long time covered with forest, and they 
are devoted even yet to grazing or to occasional cultivation 

The abundance of harbors and rivers, navigable at least 
to the small vessels of the Middle Ages, has made a seafaring 
life natural to a large number of the people, and commercial 
intercourse comparatively easy with all parts of the country 
bordering on the coast or on these rivers. 

Thus, to sum up these geographical characteristics, the 
insular situation of England, her location on the earth's surface, 
and the variety of her material endowments gave her a tolerably 
well-balanced if somewhat backward economic position during 
the Middle Ages, and have enabled her since the fifteenth 
century to pass through a continuous and rapid development, 
until she obtained within the nineteenth century, for the time 
at least, a distinct economic precedency among the nations of 
the world. 

2. Prehistoric Britain. The materials from which to 
construct a knowledge of the history of mankind before the 
tune of written records are few and unsatisfactory. They 

Growth of the Nation 5 

consist for the most part of the remains of dwelling-places, 
fortifications, and roadways; of weapons, implements, and 
ornaments lost or abandoned at the time; of burial places 
and their contents; and of such physical characteristics of 
later populations as have survived from an early period. 
Centuries of human habitation of Britain passed away, leaving 
only such scanty remains and the obscure and doubtful knowl- 
edge that can be drawn from them. Through this period, 
however, successive races seem to have invaded and settled the 
country, combining with their predecessors, or living alongside 
of them, or in some cases, perhaps, exterminating them. 

When contemporary written records begin, just before the 
beginning of the Christian era, one race, the Britons, was 
dominant, and into it had merged to all appearances all others. 
The Britons were a Celtic people related to the inhabitants of 
that part of the Continent of Europe which lies nearest to 
Britain. They were divided into a dozen or more separate 
tribes, each occupying a distinct part of the country. They 
lived partly by the pasturing of sheep and cattle, partly by 
a crude agriculture. They possessed most of the familiar grains 
and domestic animals, and could weave and dye cloth, make 
pottery, build boats, forge iron, and work other metals, includ- 
ing tin. They had, however, no cities, no manufactures beyond 
the most primitive, and but little foreign trade to connect them 
with the Continent. At the head of each tribe was a reigning 
chieftain of limited powers, surrounded by lesser chiefs. The 
tribes were in a state of incessant warfare one with the other. 

3. Roman Britain. This condition of insular isolation 
and barbarism was brought to a close in the year 55 B.C. by 
the invasion of the Roman army. Julius Caesar, the Roman 
general who was engaged in the conquest and government 
of Gaul, or modern France, feared that the Britons might bring 
aid to certain newly subjected and still restless Gallic tribes. 
He therefore transported a body of troops across the Channel 
and fought two campaigns against the tribes in the southeast 

6 Industrial and Social History of England 

of Britain. His success in the second campaign was, however, 
not followed up, and he retired without leaving any permanent 
garrison in the country. The Britons were then left alone, so 
far as military invasion was concerned, for almost a century, 
though in the meantime trade with the 'adjacent parts of the 
Continent became more common, and Roman influence showed 
itself in the manners and customs of the people. In the year 44 
A.D., just ninety-nine years after Caesar's campaigns, the conquest 
of Britain was resumed by the Roman armies and completed 
within the next thirty years. Britain now became an integral 
part of the great, well-ordered, civilized, and wealthy Roman 
Empire. During the greater part of that long period, Britain 
enjoyed profound peace, internal and external trade were safe, 
and much of the culture and refinement of Italy and Gaul must 
have made their way even to this distant province. A part 
of the inhabitants adopted the Roman language, dress, customs, 
and manner of life. Discharged veterans from the Roman 
legions, wealthy civil officials and merchants settled perma- 
nently in Britain. Several bodies of turbulent tribesmen who 
had been defeated on the German frontier were transported by 
the government into Britain. The population must, therefore, 
have become very mixed, containing representatives of most 
of the races which had been conquered by the Roman armies. 
A permanent military force was maintained in Britain with 
fortified stations along the eastern and southern coast, on the 
Welsh frontier, and along a series of walls or dikes running across 
the island from the Tyne to Solway Firth. Excellent roads 
were constructed through the length and breadth of the land 
for the use of this military body and to connect the scattered 
stations. Along these highways population spread, and the 
remains of spacious villas still exist to attest the magnificence 
of the wealthy provincials. The roads served also as channels 
of trade by which goods could readily be carried from one part 
of the country to another. Foreign as well as internal trade 
became extensive, although exports were mostly of crude natural 

Growth of the Nation 7 

products, such as hides, skins, and furs, cattle and sheep, grain, 
pig-iron, lead and tin, hunting-dogs and slaves. The rapid 
development of towns and cities was a marked characteristic 
of Roman Britain. Fifty-nine towns or cities of various grades 
of self-government are named in the Roman survey, and many of 
these must have been populous, wealthy, and active, judging 
from the extensive ruins that remain, and the enormous number 
of Roman coins that have since been found. Christianity was 
adopted here as in other parts of the Roman Empire, though 
the extent of its influence is unknown. 

During the Roman occupation much waste land was re- 
claimed. Most of the great valley regions and many of the 
hillsides had been originally covered with dense forests; swamps 
spread along the rivers and extended far inland from the coast ; 
so that almost the only parts capable of tillage were the high 
treeless plains, the hill tops, and certain favored stretches of 
open country. The reduction of these waste lands to human 
habitation has been an age-long task. It was begun in pre- 
historic times, it has been carried further by each successive 
race, and brought to final completion only within our own 
century. A share in this work and the great roads were the 
most permanent results of the Roman period of occupation and 
government. Throughout the fourth and fifth centuries of the 
Christian era the Roman administration and society in Britain 
were evidently disintegrating. Several successive generals 
of the Roman troops stationed in Britain rose in revolt with 
their soldiers, declared their independence of Rome, or passed 
over to the Continent to enter into a struggle for the control 
of the whole Empire. In 383 and 407 the military forces were 
suddenly depleted in this way and the provincial government 
disorganized, while the central government of the Empire was 
so weak that it was unable to reestablish a firm administration. 
During the same period barbarian invaders were making fre- 
quent inroads into Britain. The Picts and Scots from modern 
Scotland, Saxon pirates, and, later, ever increasing swarms of 

8 Industrial and Social History of England 

Angles, Jutes, and Frisians from across the North Sea ravaged 
and ultimately occupied parts of the borders and the coasts. 
The surviving records of this period of disintegration and 
reorganization are so few that we are left in all but total igno- 
rance as to what actually occurred. For more than two hundred 
years we can only guess at the course of events, or infer it from 
its probable analogy to what we know was occurring in the other 
parts of the Empire, or from the conditions we find to have been 
in existence as knowledge of succeeding times becomes some- 
what more full. It seems evident that the government of the 
province of Britain gradually went to pieces, and that that of the 
different cities or districts followed. Internal dissensions and 
the lack of military organization and training of the mass of the 
population probably added to the difficulty of resisting maraud- 
ing bands of barbarian invaders. These invading bands be- 
came larger, and their inroads more frequent and extended, 
until finally they abandoned their home lands entirely and 
settled permanently in those districts in which they had broken 
the resistance of the Roman-British natives. Even while the 
Empire had been strong the heavy burden of taxation and 
the severe pressure of administrative regulations had caused 
a decline in wealth and population. Now disorder, incessant 
ravages of the barbarians, isolation from other lands, prob- 
ably famine and pestilence, brought rapid decay to the pros- 
perity and civilization of tne country. Cities lost their trade, 
wealth, and population, and many of them ceased altogether 
for a time to exist. Britain was rapidly sinking again into a 
land of barbarism. 

4. Early Saxon England. An increasing number of con- 
temporary records give a somewhat clearer view of the condition 
of England toward the close of the sixth century. The old 
Roman organization and civilization had disappeared entirely, 
and a new race, with a new language, a different religion, another 
form of government, changed institutions and customs, had 
taken its place. A number of petty kingdoms had been formed 

Growth of the Nation 9 

during the fifth and early sixth centuries, each under a king 
or chieftain, as in the old Celtic times before the Roman inva- 
sion, but now of Teutonic or German race. The kings and 
their followers had come from the northwestern portions of 
Germany. How far they had destroyed the earlier inhabitants, 
how far they had simply combined with them or enslaved them, 
has been a matter of much debate, and one on which discordant 
opinions are held, even by recent students. It seems likely 
on the whole that the earlier races, weakened by defeat and 
by the disappearance of the Roman control, were gradually 
absorbed and merged into the body of their conquerors; so 
that the petty Angle and Saxon kings of the sixth and seventh 
centuries ruled over a mixed race, in which their own was the 
most influential, though not necessarily the largest element. 
The arrival from Rome in 597 of Augustine, the first Christian 
missionary to the now heathen inhabitants of Britain, will 
serve as a point to mark the completion of the Anglo-Saxon 
conquest of the country. By this time the new settlers had 
ceased to come in, and there were along the coast and inland 
some seven or eight different kingdoms. These were, however, 
so frequently divided and reunited that no fixed number remained 
long in existence. The Jutes had established the kingdom of 
Kent in the southeastern extremity of the island ; the South and 
the West Saxons were established on the southern coast and in- 
land to the valley of the Thames ; the East Saxons had a king- 
dom just north of the mouth of the Thames, and the Middle 
Saxons held London and the district around. The rest of 
the island to the north and inland exclusive of what was still 
unconquered was occupied by various branches of the Angle 
stock grouped into the kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia, and 
Northumbria. During the seventh and eighth centuries there 
were constant wars of conquest among these kingdoms. Even- 
tually, about 800 A.D., the West Saxon monarchy made itself 
nominally supreme over all the others. Notwithstanding this 
political supremacy of the West Saxons, it was the Angles who 

io Industrial and Social History of England 

were the most numerous and widely spread, and who gave their 
name, England, to the whole land. 

Agriculture was at this time almost the sole occupation 
of the people. The trade and commerce that had centred 
in the towns and flowed along the Roman roads and across 
the Channel had long since come to an end with the Roman 
civilization of which it was a part. In Saxon England cities 
scarcely existed except as fortified places of defence. The 
products of each rural district sufficed for its needs in food and 
in materials for clothing, so that internal trade was but slight. 
Manufactures were few, partly from lack of skill, partly from 
lack of demand or appreciation ; but weaving, the construction 
of agricultural implements and weapons, ship-building, and the 
working of metals had survived from Roman times, or been 
brought over as part of the stock of knowledge of the invaders. 
Far the greater part of the population lived in villages, as they 
probably had done in Roman and in prehistoric times. The 
village with the surrounding farming lands, woods, and waste 
grounds made up what was known in later times as the " town- 

The form of government in the earlier separate kingdoms, 
as in the united monarchy after its consolidation, gave limited 
though constantly increasing powers to the king. A body of 
nobles known as the " witan " joined with the king in most of 
the actions of government. The greater part of the small group 
of government functions which were undertaken in these bar- 
barous times were fulfilled by local gatherings of the principal 
men. A district formed from a greater or less number of town- 
ships, with a meeting for the settlement of disputes, the punish- 
ment of crimes, the witnessing of agreements, and other purposes, 
was known as a " hundred " or a " wapentake." A " shire " 
was a grouping of hundreds, with a similar gathering of its prin- 
cipal men for judicial, military, and fiscal purposes. Above the 
shire came the whole kingdom. 

The most important occurrences of the early Saxon period 

Growth of tlie Nation n 

were the general adoption of Christianity and the organiza- 
tion of the church. Between A.D. 597 and 650 Christianity 
gained acceptance through the preaching and influence of 
missionaries, most of whom were sent from Rome, though some 
came from Christian Scotland and Ireland. The organization 
of the church followed closely. It was largely the work of 
Archbishop Theodore, and was practically complete before the 
close of the seventh century. By this organization England 
was divided into seventeen dioceses or church districts, reli- 
gious affairs in each of these districts being under the supervision 
of a bishop. The bishop's church, called a " cathedral," was 
endowed by religious kings and nobles with extensive lands, so 
that the bishop was a wealthy landed proprietor, in addition to 
having control of the clergy of his diocese, and exercising a 
powerful influence over the consciences and actions of its lay 
population. The bishoprics were grouped into two " provinces," 
those of Canterbury and York, the bishops of these two dioceses 
having the higher title of archbishop, and having a certain 
sort of supervision over the other bishops of their province. 
Churches were gradually built in the villages, and each town- 
ship usually became a parish with a regularly established priest. 
He was supported partly by the produce of the " glebe," or 
land belonging to the parish church, partly by tithe, a tax 
estimated at one- tenth of the produce of each man's land, partly 
by the offerings of the people. The bishops, the parish priests, 
and others connected with the diocese, the cathedral, and the 
parish churches made up the ordinary or " secular " clergy. 
There were also many religious men and women who had taken 
vows to live under special " rules " in religious societies with- 
drawn from the ordinary life of the world, and were therefore 
known as " regular " clergy. These were the monks and nuns. 
In Anglo-Saxon England the regular clergy lived according to 
the rule of St. Benedict, and were gathered into groups, some 
smaller, some larger, but always established in one building, or 
group of buildings. These monasteries, like the bishoprics, 

12 Industrial and Social History of England 

were endowed with lands which were increased from time to 
time by pious gifts of kings, nobles, and other laymen. Eccle- 
siastical bodies thus came in time to hold a very considerable 
share of the land of the country. The wealth and cultivation 
of the clergy and the desire to adorn and render more attractive 
their buildings and religious services fostered trade with foreign 
countries. The intercourse kept up with the church on the Con- 
tinent also did something to lessen the isolation of England 
from the rest of the world. To these broadening influences 
must be added the effect which the Councils made up of church- 
men from all England exerted in fostering the tardy growth 
of the unity of the country. 

6. Danish and Late Saxon England. At the end of the 
eighth century the Danes or Northmen, the barbarous and 
heathen inhabitants of the islands and coast-lands of Den- 
mark, Norway, and Sweden, began to make rapid forays into 
the districts of England which lay near enough to the coasts 
or rivers to be at their mercy. Soon they became bolder or 
more numerous and established fortified camps along the 
English rivers, from which they ravaged the surrounding coun- 
try. Still later, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, under 
their own kings as leaders, they became conquerors and per- 
manent settlers of much of the country, and even for a time 
put a Danish dynasty on the throne to govern English and Danes 
alike. A succession of kings of the West Saxon line had struggled 
with varying success to drive the Danes from the country or 
to limit that portion of it which was under their control ; but 
as a matter of fact the northern, eastern, and central portions 
of England were for more than a century and a half almost 
entirely under Danish rule. The constant immigration from 
Scandinavia during this time added an important element to 
the population an element which soon, however, became com- 
pletely absorbed in the mixed stock of the English people. 

The marauding Danish invaders were early followed by 
fellow-countrymen who were tradesmen and merchants. The 

Growth of the Nation 13 

Scandinavian countries had developed an early and active 
trade with the other lands bordering on the Baltic and North 
seas, and England under Danish influence was drawn into the 
same lines of commerce. The Danes were also more inclined 
to town life than the English, so that advantageously situated 
villages now grew into trading towns, and the sites of some of 
the old Roman cities began again to be filled with a busy popu- 
lation. With trading came a greater development of handi- 
crafts, so that the population of later Anglo-Saxon England had 
somewhat varied occupations and means of support, instead of 
being exclusively agricultural, as in earlier centuries. 

During these later centuries of the Saxon period, from 800 
to 1066, the most conspicuous and most influential ruler was 
King Alfred. When he became king, in 871, the Danish in- 
vaders were so completely triumphant as to force him to flee 
with a few followers to the forest as a temporary refuge. He 
soon emerged, however, with the nucleus of an army and, dur- 
ing his reign, which continued till QOI, defeated the Danes re- 
peatedly, obtained their acceptance of Christianity, forced upon 
them a treaty which restricted their rule to the northeastern 
shires, and transmitted to his son a military and naval organi- 
zation which enabled him to win back much even of this part 
of England. He introduced greater order, prosperity, and 
piety into the church, and partly by his own writing, partly by 
his patronage of learned men, reawakened an interest in Anglo- 
Saxon literature and in learning which the ravages of the Danes 
and the demoralization of the country had gone far to destroy. 
Alfred, besides his actual work as king, impressed the recog- 
nition of his fine nature and strong character deeply on the 
men of his time and the memory of all subsequent times. 

The power of the kingship in the Anglo-Saxon system of 
government was strengthened by the life and work of such 
kings as Alfred and some of his successors. There were other 
causes also which were tending to make the central government 
more of a reality. A national taxation, the Danegeld, was 

14 Industrial and Social History of England 

introduced for the purpose of ransoming the country from the 
Danes ; the grant of lands by the king brought many persons 
through the country into closer relations with him ; the royal 
judicial powers tended to increase with the development of law 
and civilization ; the work of government was carried on by 
better-trained officials. 

On the other hand, a custom grew up in the tenth and early 
eleventh century of placing whole groups of shires under the 
government of great earls or viceroys, whose subjection to the 
central government of the king was but scant. Church bodies 
and others who had received large grants of land from the king 
were also coming to exercise over their tenants judicial, fiscal, 
and probably even military powers, which would seem more 
properly to belong to government officials. The result was that 
although the central government as compared with the local 
government of shires and hundreds was growing more active, 
the king's power as compared with the personal power of the 
great nobles was becoming less strong. Violence was common, 
and there were but few signs of advancing prosperity or civiliza- 
tion, when an entirely new set of influences came into existence 
with the conquest by the duke of Normandy in the year 1066. 

6. The Period Following the Norman Conquest. Nor- 
mandy was a province of France lying along the shore of the 
English Channel. Its line of dukes and at least a considerable 
proportion of its people were of the same Scandinavian or Norse 
race which made up such a large element in the population of 
England. They had, however, learned more of the arts of life 
and of government from the more successfully preserved civiliza- 
tion of the Continent. The relations between England and 
Normandy began to be somewhat close in the early part of the 
eleventh century; the fugitive king of England, Ethelred, 
having taken refuge there, and marrying the sister of the duke. 
Edward the Confessor, their son, who was subsequently restored 
to the English throne, was brought up in Normandy, used the 
French language, and was accompanied on his return by Norman 

Growth of the Nation 15 

followers. Nine years after the accession of Edward, in 1051, 
William, the duke of Normandy, visited England and is said 
to have obtained a promise that he should receive the crown 
on the death of Edward, who had no direct heir. Accordingly, 
in 1065, when Edward died and Harold, a great English earl, 
was chosen king, William immediately asserted his claim and 
made strenuous military preparations for enforcing it. He 
took an army across the Channel in 1066, as Caesar had done 
more than a thousand years before, and at the battle of Hastings 
or Senlac defeated the English army, King Harold himself being 
killed in the engagement. William then pressed on towards 
London, preventing any gathering of new forces, and obtained 
his recognition as king. He was crowned on Christmas Day, 
1066. During the next five years he put down a series of re- 
bellions on the part of the native English, after which he and his 
descendants were acknowledged as sole kings of England. 

The Norman Conquest was not, however, a mere change 
of dynasty. It led to at least three other changes of the ut- 
most importance. It added a new element to the population, 
it brought England into contact with the central and southern 
countries of the Continent, instead of merely with the northern 
as before, and it made the central government of the country 
vastly stronger. There is no satisfactory means of discovering 
how many Normans and others from across the Channel migrated 
into England with the Conqueror or in the wake of the Con- 
quest, but there is no doubt that the number was large and 
their influence more than proportionate to their numbers. 
Within the lifetime of William, whose death occurred in 1087, 
of his two sons, William II and Henry I, and the nominal reign 
of Stephen extending to 1154, the whole body of the nobility, 
the bishops and abbots, and the government officials had come 
to be of Norman or other continental origin. Besides these the 
architects and artisans who built the castles and fortresses, and 
the cathedrals, abbeys, and parish churches, whose erection 
throughout the land was such a marked characteristic of the 

1 6 Industrial and Social History of England 

period, were immigrants from Normandy. Merchants from 
the Norman cities of Rouen and Caen came to settle in London 
and other English cities, and weavers from Flanders were 
settled in various towns and even rural districts. For a short 
time these newcomers remained a separate people, but before 
the twelfth century was over they had become for the most 
part indistinguishable from the great mass of the English people 
amongst whom they had come. They had nevertheless made 
that people stronger, more vigorous, more active-minded, and 
more varied in their occupations and interests. 

King William and his successors retained their continental 
dominions and even extended them after their acquisition of 
the English kingdom, so that trade between the two sides of 
the Channel was more natural and easy than before. The 
strong government of the Norman kings gave protection and 
encouragement to this commerce, and by keeping down the 
violence of the nobles favored trade within the country. The 
English towns had been growing in number, size, and wealth in 
the years just before the Conquest. The contests of the years 
immediately following 1066 led to a short period of decay, but 
very soon increasing trade and handicraft led to still greater 
progress. London, especially, now made good its position as 
one of the great cities of Europe, and that preeminence among 
English cities which it has never since lost. The fishing and 
seaport towns along the southern and eastern coast also, and 
even a number of inland towns, came to hold a much more 
influential place in the nation than they had possessed in the 
Anglo-Saxon period. 

The increased power of the monarchy arose partly from its 
military character as based upon a conquest of the country, 
partly from the personal character of William and his imme- 
diate successors, partly from the more effective machinery for 
administration of the affairs of government, which was either 
brought over from Normandy or developed in England. A 
body of trained, skilful government officials now existed, who 

Growth of the Nation 17 

were able to carry out the wishes of the king, collect his revenues, 
administer justice, gather armies, and in other ways make his 
rule effective to an extent unknown in the preceding period. 
The sheriffs, who had already existed as royal representatives 
in the shires in Anglo-Saxon times, now possessed far more 
extensive powers, and came up to Westminster to report and to 
present their financial accounts to the royal exchequer twice 
a year. Royal officials acting as judges not only settled an 
increasingly large number of cases that were brought before 
them at the king's court, but travelled through the country, 
trying suits and punishing criminals in the different shires. The 
king's income was vastly larger than that of the Anglo-Saxon 
monarchs had been. The old Danegeld was still collected from 
time to time, though under a different name, and the king's 
position as landlord of the men who had received the lands 
confiscated at the Conquest was utilized to obtain additional 

Perhaps the greatest proof of the power and efficiency of 
the government in the Norman period was the compilation 
of the great body of statistics known as " Domesday Book." 
In 1085 King William sent commissioners to every part of 
England to collect a variety of information about the financial 
conditions on which estates were held, their value, and fitness 
for further taxation. The information obtained from this in- 
vestigation was drawn up in order and written in two large 
manuscript volumes which still exist in the Public Record Office 
at London. It is a much more extensive body of information 
than was collected for any other country of Europe until many 
centuries afterward. Yet its statements, though detailed and 
exact and of great interest from many points of view, are dis- 
appointing to the student of history. They were obtained for 
the financial purposes of government, and cannot be made to 
give the clear picture of the life of the people and of the rela- 
tions of different classes to one another which would be so 
welcome, and which is so easily obtained from the great variety 

i8 Industrial and Social History of England 

of more private documents which came into existence a century 
and a half later. 

The church during this period was not relatively so con- 
spicuous as during Saxon times, but the number of the clergy, 
both secular and regular, was very large, the bishops and abbots 
powerful, and the number of monasteries and nunneries in- 
creasing. The most important ecclesiastical change was the 
development of church courts. The bishops or their representa- 
tives began to hold courts for the trial of churchmen, the settle- 
ment of such suits as churchmen were parties to, and the decision 
of cases in certain fields of law. This gave the church a new 
influence, in addition to that which it held from its spiritual 
duties, from its position as landlord over such extensive tracts, 
and from the superior enlightenment and mental ability of its 
prominent officials, but it also gave greater occasion for conflict 
with the civil government and with private persons. 

After the death of Henry I in 1135 a miserable period of 
confusion and violence ensued. Civil war broke out between 
two claimants for the crown, Stephen the grandson, and Matilda 
the granddaughter, of William the Conqueror. The organiza- 
tion of government was allowed to fall into disorder, and but 
little effort was made to collect the royal revenue, to fulfil the 
newly acquired judicial duties, or to insist upon order being pre- 
served in the country. The nobles took opposite sides hi the 
contest for the crown, and made use of the weakness of govern- 
ment to act as if they were themselves sovereigns over their 
estates and the country adjacent to their castles with no ruler 
above them. Private warfare, oppression of less powerful men, 
seizure of property, went on unchecked. Every baron's castle 
became an independent establishment carried on in accordance 
only with the unbridled will of its lord, as if there were no law 
and no central authority to which he must bow. The will 
of the lord was often one of reckless violence, and there was 
more disorder and suffering in England than at any time since 
the ravages of the Danes. 

Growth of the Nation 19 

In Anglo-Saxon times, when a weak king appeared, the 
shire moots, or the rulers of groups of shires, exercised the 
authority which the central government had lost. In the twelfth 
century, when the power of the royal government was similarly 
diminished through the weakness of Stephen and the confusions 
of the civil war, it was a certain class of men, the great nobles, 
that fell heir to the lost strength of government. This was 
because of the development of feudalism during the intervening 
time. The greater landholders had come to exercise over those 
who held land from them certain powers which in modern 
times belong to the officers of government only. A landlord 
could call upon his tenants for military service to him, and for 
the contribution of money for his expenses ; he held a court to 
decide suits between one tenant and another, and frequently 
to punish their crimes and misdemeanors ; in case of the death 
of a tenant leaving a minor heir, his landlord became guardian 
and temporary holder of the land, and if there were no heirs, 
the land reverted to him, not to the national government. These 
relations which the great landholders held toward their tenants, 
the latter, who often themselves were landlords over whole 
townships or other great tracts of land with their population, 
held toward their tenants. Sometimes these subtenants granted 
land to others below them, and over these the last landlord also 
exercised feudal rights, and so on till the actual occupants and 
cultivators of the soil were reached. The great nobles had 
thus come to stand in a middle position. Above them was the 
king, below them these successive stages of tenants and sub- 
tenants. Their tenants owed to them the same financial and 
political services and duties as they owed to the king. From 
the time of the Norman Conquest, all land in England was 
looked upon as being held from the king directly by a compara- 
tively few, and indirectly through them by all others who held 
land at all. Moreover, from a time at least soon after the 
Norman Conquest, the services and payments above mentioned 
came to be recognized as due from all tenants to their lords, and 

2O Industrial and Social History of England 

were gradually systematized and defined. Each person or 
ecclesiastical body that held land from the king owed him the 
military service of a certain number of knights or armed horse 
soldiers. The period for which this service was owed was 
generally estimated as forty days once a year. Subtenants 
similarly owed military service to their landlords, though in the 
lesser grades this was almost invariably commuted for money. 
" Wardship and marriage " was the expression applied to the 
right of the lord to the guardianship of the estate of a minor 
heir of his tenant, and to the choice of a husband or wife for the 
heir when he came of proper age. This right also was early 
turned into the form of a money consideration. There were 
a number of money payments pure and simple. " Relief " 
was a payment to the landlord, usually of a year's income of the 
estate, made by an heir on obtaining his inheritance. There 
were three generally acknowledged " aids " or payments of a 
set sum in proportion to the amount of land held. These 
were on the occasion of the knighting of the lord's son, of the 
marriage of his daughter, and for his ransom in case he was cap- 
tured in war. Land could be confiscated if the tenant violated 
his duties to his landlord, and it " escheated " to the lord in 
case of failure of heirs. Every tenant was bound to attend his 
landlord to help form a court for judicial work, and to submit 
to the judgment of a court of his fellow-tenants for his own 

In addition to the relations of landlord and tenant and to 
the power of jurisdiction, taxation, and military service which 
landlords exercised over their tenants, there was considered to 
be a close personal relationship between them. Every tenant 
on obtaining his land went through a ceremony known as 
" homage," by which he promised faithfulness and service to 
his lord, vowing on his knees to be his man. The lord in return 
promised faithfulness, protection, and justice to his tenant. It 
was this combination of landholding, political rights, and sworn 
personal fidelity that made up feudalism. It existed in this 

Growth of the Nation 21 

sense in England from the later Saxon period till late in the 
Middle Ages, and even in some of its characteristics to quite 
modern times. The conquest by William of Normandy through 
the wholesale confiscation and regrant of lands, and through his 
military arrangements, brought about an almost sudden develop- 
ment and spread of feudalism in England, and it was rapidly 
systematized and completed in the reigns of his two sons. By 
its very nature feudalism gives great powers to the higher ranks 
of the nobility, the great landholders. Under the early Norman 
kings, however, their strength was kept in tolerably complete 
check. The anarchy of the reign of Stephen was an indication 
of the natural tendencies of feudalism without a vigorous king. 
This time of confusion when, as the contemporary chronicle 
says, " every man did that which was good in his own eyes," 
was brought to an end by the accession to the throne of Henry II, 
a man whose personal abilities and previous training enabled 
him to bring the royal authority to greater strength than ever, 
and to put an end to the oppressions of the turbulent nobles. 

7. The Period of the Early Angevin Kings, 1154-1338. - 
The two centuries which now followed saw either the com- 
pletion or the initiation of most of the characteristics of the 
English race with which we are familiar in historic times. The 
race, the language, the law, and the political organization have 
remained fundamentally the same as they became during the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. No considerable new 
addition was made to the population, and the elements which 
it already contained became so thoroughly fused that it has 
always since been practically a homogeneous body. The 
Latin language remained through this whole period and till 
long afterward the principal language of records, documents, 
and the affairs of the church. French continued to be the lan- 
guage of the daily intercourse of the upper classes, of the plead- 
ings in the law courts, and of certain documents and records. 
But English was taking its modern form, asserting itself as the 
real national language, and by the close of this period had come 

22 Industrial and Social History of England 

into general use for the vast majority of purposes. Within the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Universities of Oxford 
and Cambridge grew up, and within the fourteenth took their 
later shape of self-governing groups of colleges. Successive 
orders of religious men and women were formed under rules 
intended to overcome the defects which had appeared in the 
early Benedictine rule. The organized church became more 
and more powerful, and disputes constantly arose as to the limits 
between its power and that of the ordinary government. The 
question was complicated from the fact that the English Church 
was but one branch of the general church of Western Christen- 
dom, whose centre and principal authority was vested in the 
Pope at Rome. One of the most serious of these conflicts was 
between King Henry II and Thomas, archbishop of Canter- 
bury, principally on the question of how far clergymen should 
be subject to the same laws as laymen. The personal dis- 
pute ended in the murder of the archbishop, in 1170, but the 
controversy itself got no farther than a compromise. A contest 
broke out between King John and the Pope in 1205 as to the 
right of the king to dictate the selection of a new archbishop 
of Canterbury. By 1213 the various forms of influence which 
the church could bring to bear were successful in forcing the 
king to give way. He therefore made humble apologies and ac- 
cepted the nominee of the Pope for the office. Later in the 
thirteenth century there was much popular opposition to papal 
taxation of England. 

In the reign of Henry II, the conquest of Ireland was begun. 
In 1283 Edward I, great-grandson of Henry, completed the 
conquest of Wales, which had remained incompletely conquered 
from Roman times onward. In 1292 Edward began that inter- 
ference in the affairs of Scotland which led on to long wars and 
a nominal conquest. For a while, therefore, it seemed that 
England was about to create a single monarchy out of the whole 
of the British Islands. Moreover, Henry II was already count 
of Anjou and Maine by inheritance from his father when he 

Growth of the Nation 23 

became duke of Normandy and king of England by inheritance 
from his mother. He also obtained control of almost all the 
remainder of the western and southern provinces of France by 
his marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine. It seemed, therefore, 
that England might become the centre of a considerable empire 
composed partly of districts on the Continent, partly of the 
British Islands. As a matter of fact, Wales long remained 
separated from England in organization and feeling, little 
progress was made with the real conquest of Ireland till in 
the sixteenth century, and the absorption of Scotland failed 
entirely. King John, in 1204, lost most of the possessions 
of the English kings south of the Channel and they were not 
regained within this period. The unification of the English 
government and people really occurred during this period, but 
it was only within the boundaries which were then as now 
known as England. 

Henry II was a vigorous, clear-headed, far-sighted ruler. 
He not only put down the rebellious barons with a strong 
hand, and restored the old royal institutions, as already stated, 
but added new powers of great importance, especially in the 
organization of the courts of justice. He changed the occa- 
sional visits of royal officials to different parts of the country 
to regular periodical circuits, the kingdom being divided into 
districts in each of which a group of judges held court at least 
once in each year. In 1 166, by the Assize of Clarendon, he made 
provision for a sworn body of men in each neighborhood to bring 
accusations against criminals, thus making the beginning of the 
grand jury system. He also provided that a group of men should 
be put upon their oath to give a decision in a dispute about 
the possession of land, if either one of the claimants asked for it, 
thus introducing the first form of the trial by jury. The deci- 
sions of the judges within this period came to be so consistent 
and so well recorded as to make the foundation of the Com- 
mon Law the basis of modern law in all English-speaking 

24 Industrial and Social History of England 

Henry's successor was his son Richard I, whose government 
was quite unimportant except for the romantic personal ad- 
ventures of the king when on a crusade and in his continental 
dominions. Henry's second son John reigned from 1199 to 
1216. Although of good natural abilities, he was extraordinarily 
indolent, mean, treacherous, and obstinate. By his inactivity 
during a long quarrel with the king of France he lost all his 
provinces on the Continent, except those in the far south. His 
contest with the Pope had ended in failure and humiliation. 
He had angered the barons by arbitrary taxation and by many 
individual acts of outrage or oppression. Finally he had 
alienated the affections of the mass of the population by intro- 
ducing foreign mercenaries to support his tyranny and permitting 
to them unbridled excess and violence. As a result of this wide- 
spread unpopularity, a rebellion was organized, including al- 
most the whole of the baronage of England, guided by the 
counsels of Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, and 
supported by the citizens of London. The indefiniteness of 
feudal relations was a constant temptation to kings and other 
lords to carry their exactions and demands upon their tenants 
to an unreasonable and oppressive length. Henry I, on his 
accession in noo, in order to gain popularity, had voluntarily 
granted a charter reciting a number of these forms of oppres- 
sion and promising to put an end to them. The rebellious 
barons now took this old charter as a basis, added to it many 
points which had become questions of dispute during the 
century since it had been granted, and others which were of 
special interest to townsmen and the middle and even lower 
classes. They then demanded the king's promise to issue a 
charter containing these points. John resisted for a while, 
but at last gave way and signed the document which has since 
been known as the " Great Charter " or Magna Carta. This 
has always been considered as, in a certain sense, the guarantee 
of English liberties and the foundation of the settled constitu- 
tion of the kingdom. The fact that it was forced from a reluc- 

Growth of the Nation 25 

tant king by those who spoke for the whole nation, that it placed 
definite limitations on his power, and that it was confirmed 
again and again by later kings, has done more to give it this 
position than its temporary and in many cases insignificant 
provisions, accompanied only by a comparatively few state- 
ments of general principles. 

The beginnings of the construction of the English parlia- 
mentary constitution fall within the next reign, that of John's 
son, Henry III, 1216-1272. He was a child at his accession, 
and when he became a man proved to have but few qualities 
which would enable him to exercise a real control over the course 
of events. Conflicts were constant between the king and con- 
federations of the barons, for the greater part of the time under 
the leadership of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester. The 
special points of difference were the king's preference for foreign 
adventurers in his distribution of offices, his unrestrained mu- 
nificence to them, their insolence and oppression relying on the 
king's support, the financial demands which were constantly 
being made, and the king's encouragement of the high claims and 
pecuniary exactions of the Pope. At first these conflicts took 
the form of disputes in the Great Council, but ultimately they 
led to another outbreak of civil war. The Great Council of 
the kingdom was a gathering of the nobles, bishops, and abbots 
summoned by the king from time to time for advice and parti- 
cipation in the more important work of government. It had 
always existed in one form or another, extending back contin- 
uously to the " witenagemot " of the Anglo-Saxons. During 
the reign of Henry the name " Parliament " was coming to be 
more regularly applied to it, its meetings were more frequent 
and its self-assertion more vigorous. But most important of 
all, a new class of members was added to it. In 1265, in addi- 
tion to the nobles and great prelates, the sheriffs were ordered to 
see that two knights were selected from each of their shires, and 
two citizens from each of a long list of the larger towns, to 
attend and take part in the discussions of Parliament. This 

26 Industrial and Social History of England 

plan was not continued regularly at first, but Henry's successor, 
Edward I, who reigned from 1272 to 1307, adopted it deliber- 
ately, and from 1295 forward the " Commons," as they came to 
be called, were always included in Parliament. Within the 
next century a custom arose according to which the represent- 
atives of the shires and the towns sat in a separate body from 
the nobles and churchmen, so that Parliament took on its modern 
form of two houses, the House of Lords and the House of Com- 

Until this time and long afterward the personal character 
and abilities of the king were far the most important single 
factor in the growth of the nation. Edward I was one of 
the greatest of English kings, ranking with Alfred, William 
the Conqueror, and Henry II. His conquests of Wales and 
of Scotland have already been mentioned, and these with the 
preparation they involved and a war with France into which 
he was drawn necessarily occupied the greater part of his time 
and energy. But he found the time to introduce good order 
and control into the government in all its branches; to make 
a great investigation into the judicial and administrative sys- 
tem, the results of which, commonly known as the " Hundred 
Rolls," are comparable to Domesday Book in extent and char- 
acter; to develop the organization of Parliament, and above 
all to enact through it a series of great reforming statutes. The 
most important of these were the First and Second Statutes 
of Westminster, in 1275 and 1285, which made provisions for 
good order in the country, for the protection of merchants, and 
for other objects; the Statute of Mortmain, passed in 1279, 
which put a partial stop to injurious gifts of land to the church, 
and the Statute Quia Emptores, passed in 1290, which was in- 
tended to prevent the excessive multiplication of subtenants. 
This was done by providing that whenever in the future any 
landholder should dispose of a piece of land it should be held 
from the same lord the grantor had held it from, not from the 
grantor himself. He also gave more liberal charters to the 

Growth of l]ie Nation 27 

towns, privileges to foreign merchants, and constant encourage- 
ment to trade. The king's firm hand and prudent judgment 
were felt in a wide circle of regulations applying to taxes, mar- 
kets and fairs, the purchase of royal supplies, the currency, the 
administration of local justice, and many other fields. Yet 
after all it was the organization of Parliament that was the most 
important work of Edward's reign. This completed the uni- 
fication of the country. The English people were now one race, 
under one law, with one Parliament representing all parts of 
the country. It was possible now for the whole nation to act 
as a unit, and for laws to be passed which would apply to the 
whole country and draw its different sections continually more 
closely together. National growth was now possible in a sense 
in which it had not been before. 

The reign of Edward II, like his own character, was insig- 
nificant compared with that of his father. He was deposed in 
1327, and his son, Edward III, came to the throne as a boy of 
fourteen years. The first years of his reign were also relatively 
unimportant. By the time he reached his majority, however, 
other events were imminent which for the next century or more 
gave a new direction to the principal interests and energies of 
England. A description of these events will be given in a later 

For the greater part of the long period which has now been 
sketched in outline it is almost solely the political and ecclesias- 
tical events and certain personal experiences which have left 
their records in history. We can obtain but vague outlines of 
the actual life of the people. An important Anglo-Saxon 
document describes the organization of a great landed estate, 
and from Domesday Book and other early Norman records 
may be drawn certain inferences as to the degree of freedom 
of the masses of the people and certain facts as to agriculture 
and trade. From the increasing body of public records in the 
twelfth century can be gathered detached pieces of information 
as to actual social and economic conditions, but the knowledge 

28 Industrial and Social History of England 

that can be obtained is even yet slight and uncertain. With 
the thirteenth century, however, all this is changed. During 
the latter part of the period just described, that is to say the 
reigns of Henry III and the three Edwards, we have almost as 
full knowledge of economic as of political conditions, of the 
life of the mass of the people as of that of courtiers and ecclesias- 
tics. From a time for which 1250 may be taken as an approxi- 
mate date, written documents began to be so numerous, so varied, 
and so full of information as to the affairs of private life, that it 
becomes possible to obtain a comparatively full and clear 
knowledge of the methods of agriculture, handicraft, and com- 
merce, of the classes of society, the prevailing customs and ideas, 
and in general of the mode of life and social organization of the 
mass of the people, this being the principal subject of economic 
and social history. The next three chapters will therefore be 
devoted respectively to a description of rural life, of town life, 
and of trading relations, as they were during the century from 
1250 to 1350, while the succeeding chapters will trace the main 
lines of economic and social change during succeeding periods 
down to the present time. 


8. The Mediaeval Village. In the Middle Ages in the 
greater part of England all country life was village life. The 
farmhouses were not isolated or separated from one another 
by surrounding fields, as they are so generally in modern times, 
but were gathered into villages. Each village was surrounded 
by arable lands, meadows, pastures, and woods which spread 
away till they reached the confines of the similar fields of the 
next adjacent village. Such an agricultural village with its 
population and its surrounding lands is usually spoken of as 
a " vill." The word " manor " is also applied to it, though 
this word is also used in other senses, and has differed in mean- 
ing at different periods. The word " hamlet " means a smaller 
group of houses separated from but forming in some respects 
a part of a vill or manor. 

The village consisted of a group of houses ranging in num- 
ber from ten or twelve to as many as fifty or perhaps even more, 
grouped around what in later times would be called a " village 
green," or along two or three intersecting lanes. The houses 
were small, thatch-roofed, and one-roomed, and doubtless very 
miserable. Such buildings as existed for the protection of 
cattle or the preservation of crops were closely connected with 
the dwelling portions of the houses. In many cases they were 
under the same roof. Each vill possessed its church, which was 
generally, though by no means always, close to the houses of 
the village. There was usually a manor house, which varied 
in size from an actual castle to a building of a character scarcely 
distinguishable from the primitive houses of the villagers. This 


30 Industrial and Social History of England 

might be occupied regularly or occasionally by the lord of the 
manor, but might otherwise be inhabited by the steward or by 
a tenant, or perhaps only serve as the gathering place of the 
manor courts. 

Connected with the manor house was an enclosure or court- 
yard commonly surrounded by buildings for general farm pur- 
poses and for cooking or brewing. A garden or orchard was 
often attached. 

The location of the vill was almost invariably such that a 
stream with its border meadows passed through or along its 

(Wright, History of Domestic Manners and Sentiments.) 

confines, the mill being often the only building that lay detached 
from the village group. A greater or less extent of woodland 
is also constantly mentioned. 

The vill was thus made up of the group of houses of the 
villagers including the parish church and the manor house, 
all surrounded by a wide tract of arable land, meadow, pas- 
ture, and woods. Where the lands were extensive there might 
perhaps be a small group of houses forming a separate hamlet 
at some distance from the village, and occasionally a detached 

Rural Life and Organization 31 

mill, grange, or other building. Its characteristic appearance, 
however, must have been that of a close group of buildings sur- 
rounded by an extensive tract of open land. 

9. The Vill as an Agricultural System. The support of 
the vill was in its agriculture. The plan by which the lands 
of the whole group of cultivators lay together in a large tract 
surrounding the village is spoken of as the " open field " sys- 
tem. The arable portions of this were ploughed in pieces 
equalling approximately acres, half-acres, or quarter-acres. 

The mediaeval English acre was a long narrow strip forty 
rods in length and four rods in width, a half-acre or quarter- 
acre being of the same length, but of two rods or one rod in 
width. The rod was of different lengths in different parts 
of the country, depending on local custom, but the most com- 
mon length was that prescribed by statute, that is to say, 
sixteen and a half feet. The length of the acre, forty rods, 
has given rise to one of the familiar units of length, the furlong, 
that is, a " furrow-long," or the length of a furrow. A rood 
is a piece of land one rod wide and forty rods long, that is, the 
fourth of an acre. A series of such strips were ploughed up 
successively, being separated from each other either by leaving 
the width of a furrow or two unploughed, or by marking the 
division with stones, or perhaps by simply throwing the first 
furrow of the next strip in the opposite direction when it was 
ploughed. When an unploughed border was left covered with 
grass or stones, it was called a " balk." A number of such acres 
or fractions of acres with their slight dividing ridges thus lay 
alongside of one another in a group, the number being defined 
by the configuration of the ground, by a traditional division 
among a given number of tenants, or by some other cause. 
Other groups of strips lay at right angles or inclined to these, so 
that the whole arable land of the village when ploughed or under 
cultivation had, like many French, German, or Swiss landscapes 
at the present time, something of the appearance of a great irreg- 
ular checker-board or patchwork quilt, each large square being 

32 Industrial and Social History of England 

divided in one direction by parallel lines. Usually the culti- 
vated open fields belonging to a village were divided into three 
or more large tracts or fields and these were cultivated according 
to some established rotation of crops. The most common of 
these was the three-field system, by which in any one year all 
the strips in one tract or field would be planted with wheat, 
rye, or some other crop which is planted in the fall and harvested 
the next summer ; a second great field would be planted with 

(From a photograph taken in 1894.) 

oats, barley, peas, or some such crop as is planted in the spring 
and harvested in the fall ; the third field would be fallow, recu- 
perating its fertility. The next year all the acres in the field 
which had lain fallow the year before might be planted with a 
fall crop, the wheat field of the previous year being planted with 
a spring crop, and the oats field in its turn now lying unculti- 
vated for a year. The third year a further exchange would 
be made by which a fall crop would succeed the fallow of that 
year and the spring crop of the previous year, a spring crop 

Rural Life and Organization 33 

would succeed the last year's fall crop, and the field from which 
the spring crop was taken now in its turn would enjoy a fallow 
year. In the fourth year the rotation would begin over again. 

Agriculture was extremely crude. But eight or nine bush- 
els of wheat or rye were expected from an acre, where now in 
England the average is thirty. The plough regularly required 
eight draught animals, usually oxen, in breaking up the ground, 
though lighter ploughs were used in subsequent cultivation. 
The breed of all farm animals was small, carts were few and 
cumbrous, the harvesting of grain was done with a sickle, and 
the mowing of grass with a short, straight scythe. The dis- 
tance of the outlying parts of the fields from the farm buildings 
of the village added its share to the laboriousness of agricultural 

The variety of food crops raised was small. Potatoes were 
of course unknown, and other root crops and fresh vegetables 
apparently were little cultivated. Wheat and rye of several 
varieties were raised as bread-stuff, barley and some other 
grains for the brewing of beer. Field peas and beans were 
raised, sometimes for food, but generally as forage for cattle. 
The main supply of winter forage for the farm animals had, 
however, to be secured in the form of hay, and for this reliance 
was placed entirely on the natural meadows, as no clover or 
grasses which could be artificially raised on dry ground were 
yet known. Meadow land was apt to be estimated at twice 
the value of arable ground or more. To obtain a sufficient 
support for the oxen, horses, and breeding animals through 
the winter required, therefore, a constant struggle. Owing 
to this difficulty animals that were to be used for food purposes 
were regularly killed in the fall and salted down. Much of the 
unhealthiness of mediaeval life is no doubt attributable to the 
use of salt meat as so large a part of what was at best a very 
monotonous diet. 

Summer pasture for the horses, cattle, sheep, and swine of 
the village was found partly on the arable land after the grain 

34 Industrial and Social History of England 

crops had been taken off, or while it was lying fallow. Since 
all the acres in any one great field were planted with the same 
crop, this would be taken off from the whole expanse at practi- 
cally the same time, and the animals of the whole village might 
then wander over it, feeding on the stubble, the grass of the 
balks, and such other growth as sprang up before the next 
ploughing, or before freezing weather. Pasturage was also 
found on the meadows after the hay had been cut. But the 
largest amount of all was on the " common pasture," the uncul- 
tivated land and woods which in the thirteenth century was 
still sufficiently abundant in most parts of England to be found 
in considerable extent on almost every manor. Pasturage 
in all these forms was for the most part common for all the 
animals of the vill, which were sent out under the care of shep- 
herds or other guardians. There were, however, sometimes 
enclosed pieces of pasture land in the possession of the lord of 
the manor or of individual villagers. 

The land of the vill was held and cultivated according to a 
system of scattered acres. That is to say, the land held by any 
one man was not all in one place, but scattered through various 
parts of the open fields of the vill. He would have an acre 
or two, or perhaps only a part of an acre, in one place, another 
strip not adjacent to it, but somewhere else in the fields, still 
another somewhere else, and so on for his whole holding, while 
the neighbor whose house was next to his in the village would 
have pieces of land similarly scattered through the fields, and 
in many cases probably have them adjacent to his. The result 
was that the various acres or other parts of any one man's hold- 
ing were mingled apparently inextricably with those of other 
men, customary familiarity only distinguishing which pieces 
belonged to each villager. 

In some manors there was total irregularity as to the num- 
ber of acres in the occupation of any one man ; in others there 
was a striking regularity. The typical holding, the group of 
scattered acres cultivated by one man or held by some two or 

Rural Life and Organization 35 

three in common, was known as a " virgate," or by some equiva- 
lent term, and although of no universal equality, was more 
frequently of thirty acres than of any other number. Usually 
one finds on a given manor that ten or fifteen of the villagers 
have each a virgate of a given number of acres, several more 
have each a half virgate or a quarter. Occasionally, on the 
other hand, each of them has a different number of acres. In 
almost all cases, however, the agricultural holdings of the vil- 
lagers were relatively small. For instance, on a certain manor 
in Norfolk there were thirty-six holdings, twenty of them below 
ten acres, eight between ten and twenty, six between twenty 
and thirty, and two between thirty and forty. On another, 
in Essex, there were nine holdings of five acres each, two of six, 
twelve of ten, three of twelve, one of eighteen, four of twenty, 
one of forty, and one of fifty. Sometimes larger holdings in 
the hands of individual tenants are to be found, rising to one 
hundred acres or more. Still these were quite exceptional and 
the mass of the villagers had very small groups of acres in their 

It is to be noted next that a large proportion of the cultivated 
strips were not held in virgates or otherwise by the villagers 
at all, but were in the direct possession and cultivation of the 
lord of the manor. This land held directly by the lord of the 
manor and cultivated for him was called the " demesne," and 
frequently included one-half or even a larger proportion of all 
the land of the vill. Much of the meadow and pasture land, and 
frequently all of the woods, was included in the demesne. Some 
of the demesne land was detached from the land of the villagers 
enclosed and separately cultivated or pastured; but for the 
most part it lay scattered through the same open fields and was 
cultivated by the same methods and according to the same 
rotation as the land of the small tenants of the vill, though it 
was kept under separate management. 

10. Classes of People on the Manor. Every manor was 
in the hands of a lord. He might be a knight, esquire, or mere 

36 Industrial and Social History of England 

freeman, but in the great majority of cases the lord of the manor 
was a nobleman, a bishop, abbot, or other ecclesiastical official, 
or the king. But whether the manor was the whole estate of a 
man of the lesser gentry, or merely one part of the possessions 
of a great baron, an ecclesiastical corporation, or the crown, 
the relation between its possessor as lord of the manor and the 
other inhabitants as his tenants was the same. In the former 
case he was usually resident upon the manor ; in the latter the 
individual or corporate lord was represented by a steward or 
other official who made occasional visits, and frequently, on 
large manors, by a resident bailiff. There was also almost 
universally a reeve, who was chosen from among the tenants 
and who had to carry on the demesne farm in the interests of 
the lord. 

The tenants of the manor, ranging from holders of consider- 
able amounts of land, perhaps as much as a hundred acres, 
through various gradations down to mere cotters, who held 
no more than a cottage with perhaps a half-acre or a rood of 
land, or even with no land at all, are usually grouped in the 
" extents " or contemporary descriptions of the manors and 
their inhabitants into several distinct classes. Some are de- 
scribed as free tenants, or tenants holding freely. Others, and 
usually the largest class, are called villains, or customary tenants. 
Some, holding only a half or a quarter virgate, are spoken of as 
half or quarter villains. Again, a numerous class are described 
by some name indicating that they hold only a dwelling-house, 
or at least that their holding of land is but slight. These are 
generally spoken of as cotters. 

All these tenants hold land from the lord of the manor and 
make payments and perform services in return for their land. 
The free tenants most commonly make payments in money 
only. At special periods in the year they give a certain num- 
ber of shillings or pence to the lord. Occasionally they are 
required to make some payment in kind, a cock or a hen, some 
eggs, or other articles of consumption. These money payments 

Rural Life and Organization 37 

and payments of articles of money value are called " rents of 
assize," or established rents. Not unusually, however, the 
free tenant has to furnish precaria or " boon-works " to the 
lord. That is, he must, either in his own person or through a 
man hired for the purpose, furnish one or more days' labor at 
the specially busy seasons of the year, at fall and spring plough- 
ing, at mowing or harvest time. Free tenants were also fre- 
quently bound to pay relief and heriot. Relief was a sum of 
money paid to the lord by an heir on obtaining land by inheri- 
tance. Custom very generally established the amount to be 
paid as the equivalent of one year's ordinary payments. Heriot 
was a payment made in kind or in money from the property 
left by a deceased tenant, and very generally consisted by 
custom of the best animal which had been in the possession 
of the man, or its equivalent in value. On many manors 
heriot was not paid by free tenants, but only by those of lower 

The services and payments of the villains or customary 
tenants were of various descriptions. They had usually to 
make some money payments at regular periods of the year, 
like the free tenants, and, even more frequently than they, 
some regular payments in kind. But the fine paid on the 
inheritance of their land was less definitely restricted in amount, 
and heriot was more universally and more regularly collected. 
The greater part of their liability to the lord of the manor was, 
however, in the form of personal, corporal service. Almost 
universally the villain was required to work for a certain number 
of days in each week on the demesne of the lord. This " week- 
work " was most frequently for three days a week, sometimes 
for two, sometimes for four ; sometimes for one number of days 
in the week during a part of the year, for another number dur- 
ing the remainder. In addition to this were usually the pre- 
carice or boon-works already referred to. Sometimes as part 
of, sometimes in addition to, the week-work and the boon-work, 
the villain was required to plough so many acres in the fall and 

38 Industrial and Social History of England 

spring ; to mow, toss, and carry in the hay from so many acres ; 
to haul and scatter so many loads of manure ; carry grain to 
the barn or the market, build hedges, dig ditches, gather brush, 
weed grain, break clods, drive sheep or swine, or any other of 
the forms of agricultural labor as local custom on each manor 
had established his burdens. Combining the week-work, the 
regular boon-works, and the extra specified services, it will 
be seen that the labor required from the customary tenant was 
burdensome in the extreme. Taken on the average, much 
more than half of the ordinary villain's time must have been 
given in services to the lord of the manor. 

The cotters made similar payments and performed similar 
labors, though less in amount. A widespread custom required 
them to work for the lord one day a week throughout the year, 
with certain regular payments, and certain additional special 

Besides the possession of their land and rights of common 
pasture, however, there were some other compensations and 
alleviations of the burdens- of the villains and cotters. At the 
boon-works and other special services performed by the tenants, 
it was a matter of custom that the lord of the manor provide 
food for one or two meals a day, and custom frequently defined 
the kind, amount, and value of the food for each separate meal ; 
as where it is said in a statement of services : " It is to be known 
that all the above customary tenants ought to reap one day 
in autumn at one boon-work of wheat, and they shall have 
among them six bushels of wheat for their bread, baked in the 
manor, and broth and meat, that is to say, two men have one 
portion of beef and cheese, and beer for drinking. And the 
aforesaid customary tenants ought to work in autumn at two 
boon-works of oats. And they shall have six bushels of rye for 
their bread as described above, broth as before, and herrings, 
viz. six herrings for each man, and cheese as before, and water 
for drinking." 

Thus the payments and services of the free tenants were 

Rural Life and Organization 39 

principally of money, and apparently not burdensome; those 
of the villains were largely in corporal service and extremely 
heavy ; while those of the cotters were smaller, in correspond- 
ence with their smaller holdings of land and in accordance with 
the necessity that they have their tune in order to make their 
living by earning wages. 

The villains and cotters were in bondage to the lord of the 
manor. This was a matter of legal status quite independent 
of the amount of land which the tenant held or of the services 
which he performed, though, generally speaking, the great 
body of the smaller tenants and of the laborers were of servile 
condition. In general usage the words villanus, nativus, servus, 
custumarius, and rusticus are synonymous, and the cotters 
belonged legally to the same servile class. 

The distinction between free tenants and villains, using 
this word, as is customary, to include all those who were legally 
in servitude, was not a very clearly marked one. Their economic 
position was often so similar that the classes shaded into one 
another. But the villain was, as has been seen, usually bur- 
dened with much heavier services. He was subject to special 
payments, such as " merchet," a payment made to the lord of 
the manor when a woman of villain rank was married, and 
" leyr," a payment made by women for breach of chastity. 
He could be " tallaged " or taxed to any extent the lord saw fit. 
He was bound to the soil. He could not leave the manor to 
seek for better conditions of life elsewhere. If he ran away, 
his lord could obtain an order from a court and have him brought 
back. When permission was obtained to remain away from 
the manor as an inhabitant of another vill or of a town, it was 
only upon payment of a periodical sum, frequently known as 
" chevage " or head money. He could not sell his cattle with- 
out paying the lord for permission. He had practically no 
standing in the courts of the country. In any suit against 
his lord the proof of his condition of villainage was sufficient 
to put him out of court, and his only recourse was the local 

4O Industrial and Social History of England 

court of the manor, where the lord himself or his representative 
presided. Finally, in the eyes of the law, the villain had no 
property of his own, all his possessions being, in the last resort, 
the property of his lord. This legal theory, however, appar- 
ently had but little application to real life ; for in the ordinary 
course of events the customary tenant, if only by custom, not 
by law, yet held and bequeathed to his descendants his land 
and his chattels quite as if they were his own. 

Serfdom, as it existed in England in the thirteenth century, 
can hardly be defined in strict legal terms. It can be described 
most correctly as a condition in which the villain tenant of the 
manor was bound to the locality and to his services and pay- 
ments there by a legal bond, instead of merely by an economic 
bond, as was the case with the small free tenant. 

There were commonly a few persons in the vill who were 
not in the general body of cultivators of the land and were 
not therefore in the classes so far described. Since the vill 
was generally a parish also, the village contained the parish 
priest, who, though he might usually hold some acres in the open 
fields, and might belong to the peasant class, was of course 
somewhat set apart from the villagers by his education and his 
ordination. The mill was a valued possession of the lord of the 
manor, for by an almost universal custom the tenants were 
bound to have their grain ground there, paying the usual tolls, 
and this monopoly enabled the miller to pay a substantial rent 
to the lord while keeping enough profit for himself to become 
proverbially well-to-do. 

There was often a blacksmith, whom we find sometimes 
exempted from other services on condition of keeping the 
demesne ploughs and other iron implements in order. A 
chance weaver or other craftsman is sometimes found, and 
when the vill was near sea or river or forest some who made 
their living by industries dependent on the locality. In the 
main, however, the whole life of the vill gathered around the 
arable, meadow, and pasture land, and the social position of the 

Rural Life and Organization 41 

tenants, except for the cross division of serfdom, depended upon 
the respective amounts of land which they held. 

11. The Manor Courts. The manor was the sphere of 
operations of a manor court. On every manor the tenants 


(Domestic Architecture in the Fourteenth Century.) 

gathered at frequent periods for a great amount of petty judicial 
and regulative work. The most usual period for the meeting 
of the manor court was once every three weeks, though in some 
manors no trace of a meeting is found more frequently than 

42 Industrial and Social History of England 

three times, or even twice, a year. In these cases, however, it 
is quite probable that less formal meetings occurred of which 
no regular record was kept. Different kinds of gatherings of 
the tenants are usually distinguished according to the authority 
under which they were held, or the class of tenants of which 
they were made up. If the court was held by the lord simply 
because of his feudal rights as a landholder, and was busied only 
with matters of the inheritance, transfer, or grant of lands, 
the fining of tenants for the breach of manorial custom, or fail- 
ure to perform their duties to the lord of the manor, the election 
of tenants to petty offices on the manor, and such matters, it 
was described in legal language as a court baron. If a court 
so occupied was made up of villain tenants only, it was called 
a customary court. If, on the other hand, the court also pun- 
ished general offences, petty crimes, breaches of contract, 
breaches of the assize, that is to say, the established standard 
of amount, price, or quality of bread or beer, the lord of the 
manor drawing his authority to hold such a court either actually 
or supposedly from a grant from the king, such a court was 
called a court leet. With the court leet was usually connected 
the so-called view of frank pledge. Frank pledge was an ancient 
system, according to which all men were obliged to be enrolled 
in groups, so that if any one committed an offence, the other 
members of the group would be obliged to produce him for trial. 
View of frank pledge was the right to punish by fine any who 
failed so to enroll themselves. In the court baron and the cus- 
tomary court it was said by lawyers that the body of attend- 
ants were the judges, and the steward, representing the lord 
of the manor, only a presiding official ; while in the court leet 
the steward was the actual judge of the tenants. In practice, 
however, it is probable that not much was made of these distinc- 
tions, and that the periodic gatherings were made to do duty for all 
business of any kind that needed attention, while the procedure 
was that which had become customary on that special manor, 
irrespective of the particular form of authority for the court. 

Rural Life and Organization 43 

The manor court was presided over by a steward or other 
officer representing the lord of the manor. Apparently all 
adult male tenants were expected to be present, and any inhab- 
itant was liable to be summoned. A court was usually held 
in each manor, but sometimes a lord of several neighboring 
manors would hold the court for all of these in some one place. 
As most manors belonged to lords who had many manors in 
their possession, the steward or other official commonly pro- 
ceeded from one manor or group of manors to another, holding 
the courts in each. Before the close of the thirteenth century 
the records of the manor courts, or at least of the more important 
of them, began to be kept with very great regularity and fulness, 
and it is to the mass of these manor court rolls which still re- 
main that we owe most of our detailed knowledge of the condi- 
tion of the body of the people in the later Middle Ages. The 
variety and the amount of business transacted at the court 
were alike considerable. When a tenant had died it was in 
the meeting of the manor court that his successor obtained 
a regrant of the land. The required relief was there assessed, 
and the heriot from the property of the deceased recorded. 
New grants of land were made, and transfers, leases, and aban- 
donments by one tenant and assignments to another announced. 
For each of these processes of land transfer a fine was collected 
for the lord of the manor. Such entries as the following are 
constantly found : " John of Durham has come into court and 
taken one bond-land which Richard Avras formerly held but 
gave up because of his poverty ; to have and hold for his life- 
time, paying and doing the accustomed services as Richard paid 
and did them. He gives for entrance 65. &/." ; " Agnes M 
ley is given possession of a quarter virgate of land 1 
mother held, and gives the lord 335. 4<f. for entrance.' 

Disputes as to the right of possession of land and 
of dowry and inheritance were decided, a jury bein 
in many cases by the lord at the petition of a claiman 
payment of a fee. Another class of cases consisted 

44 Industrial and Social History of England 

imposition of fines or amerciaments for the violation of the 
customs of the manor, of the rules of the lord, or of the require- 
ments of the culprit's tenure ; such as a villain marrying with- 
out leave, failure to perform boon-works or bad performance 
of work, failure to place the tenant's sheep in the lord's fold, 
cutting of wood or brush, making unlawful paths across the 
fields, the meadows, or the common, encroachment in plough- 
ing upon other men's land or upon the common, or failure to 
send grain to the lord's mill for grinding. Sometimes the offence 
was of a more general nature, such as breach of assize, breach 
of contract, slander, assault, or injury to property. Still another 
part of the work of the court was the election of petty manorial 
officers; a reeve, a reaper, ale-tasters, and perhaps others. 
The duty of filling such offices when elected by the tenants and 
approved by the lord or his steward was, as has been said, one 
of the burdens of villainage. However, when a villain was 
fulfilling the office of reeve, it was customary for him to be 
relieved of at least a part of the payments and services to which 
he would otherwise be subject. Finally the manor court meet- 
ings were employed for the adoption of general regulations as 
to the use of the commons and other joint interests, and for the 
announcement of the orders of the steward in the keeping of 
the peace. 

12. The Manor as an Estate of a Lord. The manor was 
profitable to the lord in various ways. He received rents in 
money and kind. These included the rents of assize from free 
and villain land tenants, rent from the tenant of the mill, and 
frequently from other sources. Then came the profits derived 
from the cultivation of the demesne land. In this the lord of 
the manor was simply a large farmer, except that he had a supply 
of labor bound to remain at hand and to give service without 
wages almost up to his needs. Finally there were the profits 
of the manor courts. As has been seen, these consisted of a 
great variety of fees, fines, amerciaments, and collections made 
by the steward or other official. Such varied payments and 

Rural Life and Organization 45 

profits combined to make up the total value of the manor to 
the landowner. Not only the slender income of the country 
squire or knight whose estate consisted of a single manor of 
some ten or twenty pounds yearly value, but the vast wealth 
of the great noble or of the rich monastery or powerful bishopric 
was principally made up of the sum of such payments from a 
considerable number of manors. An appreciable part of the 
income of the government even was derived from the manors 
still in the possession of the crown. 

The mediaeval manor was a little world in itself. The large 
number of scattered acres which made up the demesne farm 
cultivated in the interests of the lord of the manor, the small 
groups of scattered strips held by free holders or villain tenants 
who furnished most of the labor on the demesne farm, the little 
patches of ground held by mere laborers whose living was mainly 
gained by hired service on the land of the lord or of more pros- 
perous tenants, the claims which all had to the use of the common 
pasture for their sheep and cattle and of the woods for their 
swine, all these together made up an agricultural system which 
secured a revenue for the lord, provided food and the raw 
material for primitive manufactures for the inhabitants of the 
vill, and furnished some small surplus which could be sold. 

Life on the mediaeval manor was hard. The greater part 
of the population was subject to the burdens of serfdom, and 
all, both free and serf, shared in the arduousness of labor, coarse- 
ness and lack of variety of food, unsanitary surroundings, and 
liability to the rigor of winter and the attacks of pestilence. 
Yet the average condition of comfort of the mass of the rural 
inhabitants of England was probably as high as at any subse- 
quent time. Food in proportion to wages was very cheap, 
and the almost universal possession of some land made it possible 
for the very poorest to avoid starvation. Moreover, the great 
extent to which custom governed all payments, services, and 
rights must have prevented much of the extreme suffering 
which has occasionally existed in subsequent periods in which 

46 Industrial and Social History of England 

greater competition has distinguished more clearly the capable 
from the incompetent. The habit of living in a close village 
must also have given much opportunity for sociability, and it 
freed country life from the loneliness which has characterized 
it in some other times and places. 

From the social rather than from the economic point of view 
the life of the mediaeval manor was perhaps most clearly marked 
by this predominance of custom and by a second characteristic 
nearly related. This was the singularly close relationship in 
which all the inhabitants of the manor were bound to one 
another, and their correspondingly complete separation from 
the outside world. The common pasture, the intermingled 
strips of the holdings in the open fields, the necessary coopera- 
tion in the performance of their daily labor on the demesne 
land, the close contiguity of their dwellings, their universal 
membership in the same parish church, their common attend- 
ance and action in the manor courts, all must have combined 
to make the vill an organization of singular unity. This self- 
centred life, economically, judicially, and ecclesiastically so 
nearly independent of other bodies, put obstacles in the way 
of change. It prohibited intercourse beyond the manor, and 
opposed the growth of a feeling of common national life. The 
manorial life lay at the base of the stability which marked the 
mediaeval period. 



Certain general works which refer to long periods of eco- 
nomic history will be mentioned here and not again referred 
to, excepting in special cases. It is to be understood that 
they contain valuable matter on the subject, not only of this, 
but of succeeding chapters. They should therefore be con- 
sulted in addition to the more specific works named under each 

Rural Life and Organization 47 

Cunningham, William : Growth of English Industry and 
Commerce, two volumes. The most extensive and valuable 
work that covers the whole field of English economic history. 

Ashley, W. J. : English Economic History, two volumes. 
The first volume is a full and careful analysis of mediaeval 
economic conditions, with detailed notes and references to 
the primary sources. The second volume is a work of original 
investigation, referring particularly to conditions in the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, but it does not give such a clear analysis 
of the conditions of its period as the first volume. 

Lipson, E. : Economic History of England, Vol. I. The Middle 

Traill, H. D. : Social England, six volumes. A composite 
work including a great variety of subjects, but seldom having 
the most satisfactory account of any one of them. 

Rogers, J. E. T. : History of Agriculture and Prices; Six 
Centuries of Work and Wages; Economic Interpretation of 
History. Professor Rogers' work is very extensive and detailed, 
and his books were largely pioneer studies. His statistical 
and other facts are useful, but his general statements are not 
very valuable, and his conclusions are not convincing. 

Palgrave, R. H. I. : Dictionary of Political Economy. Many 
of the articles on subjects of economic history are the best and 
most recent studies on their respective subjects, and the bibli- 
ographies contained in them are especially valuable. 

Several single-volume text-books have been published on this 
general subject. Among them are : 

Usher, A. P. : Industrial History of England. 

Cunningham, William, and McArthur, E. A.: Outlines of 
English Industrial History. 

Gibbins, H. de B. : Industry in England. 

Warner, George Townsend: Landmarks in English Indus- 
trial History. 

Price, L. L. : A Short History of English Commerce and 

48 Industrial and Social History of England 

Ashley, W. J. : The Economic Organization of England. 
Innes, A. D. : England's Industrial Development. 


Seebohm, Frederic: The English Village Community. Al- 
though written for another purpose, to suggest a certain 
view of the origin of the mediaeval manor, the first five chap- 
ters of this book furnish the clearest existing descriptive account 
of the fundamental facts of rural life in the thirteenth century. 
Its publication marked an era in the recognition of the main 
features of manorial organization. Green, for instance, the 
historian of the English people, seems to have had no clear con- 
ception of many of those characteristics of ordinary rural life 
which Mr. Seebohm has made familiar. 

Gray, H. L. : English Field Systems. 

Vinogradoff , Paul : Villainage in England, English Society in 
the Eleventh Century. 

Pollock, Sir Frederick, and Maitland, F. W. : History of 
English Law, Vol. I. 

Maitland, F. W. : Domesday Book and Beyond. 

These three works are of especial value for the organization 
of the manor courts and the legal condition of the population. 


Much that can be explained only with great difficulty becomes 
clear to the student immediately when he reads the original 
documents. Concrete illustrations of general statements, more- 
over, make the work more interesting and real. It has therefore 
been found desirable by many teachers to bring their students 
into contact with at least a few typical illustrative documents. 
The sources for the subject generally are given in the works 
named above. A full and admirable bibliography has been 
published by Gross, Charles: The Sources and Literature of 
English History from the Earliest Times to about 1485. Refer- 
ences to abundant material for the illustration or further investi- 

Rural Life and Organization 49 

gation of the subject of this chapter will be found in the follow- 
ing pamphlet : 

Davenport, Frances G. : A Classified List of Printed Original 
Materials for English Manorial and Agrarian History. 

Sources for the mediaeval period are almost all in Latin or 
French. Some of them, however, have been made more acces- 
sible by being translated into English and reprinted in convenient 
form. A few of these are given in E. P. Cheyney : Readings in 
English History; C. W. Colby : Selections from the Sources of Eng- 
lish History; and G. C. Lee : Source Book of English History. 

In the series of Translations and Reprints from the Original 
Sources of European History, published by the Department 
of History of the University of Pennsylvania, several numbers 
include documents in this field. Vol. Ill, No. 5, is devoted 
entirely to manorial documents. 


The question of the origin of the mediaeval manorial organi- 
zation, whether it is principally of native English or of Roman 
origin, or hewn from still other materials, although not treated 
in this text-book, has been the subject of much interest and dis- 
cussion. One view of the case is the thesis of Seebohm's book, 
referred to above. Other books treating of it are the 
following : 

Earle, John: Land Charters and Saxonic Documents, Intro- 

Gomme, G. L. : The Village Community. 

Ashley, W. J. : A translation of Fustel de Coulanges, Origin 
of Property in Land, Introduction. 

Andrews, Charles M. : The Old English Manor, Introduction. 

Maitland, F. W. : Domesday Book and Beyond. 

Meitzen, August :,Siedelung und Agrarwesen, Vol. II, Chap. 7. 

The writings of Kemble and of Sir Henry Maine belong 
rather to a past period of study and speculation, but their ideas 
still lie at the base of discussions on the subject. 


14. The Town Government. In the middle of the thirteenth 
century there were some two hundred towns in England dis- 
tinguishable by their size, form of government, and the occupa- 
tions of their inhabitants, from the rural agricultural villages 
which have just been described. London probably had more 
than 25,000 inhabitants; York and Bristol may each have had 
as many as 10,000. The population of the others varied from 
as many as 6000 to less than 1000. Perhaps the most usual 
population of an English mediaeval town lay between 1 500 and 
4000. They were mostly walled, though such protection was 
hardly necessary, and the military element in English towns was 
therefore but slightly developed. Those towns which contained 
cathedrals, and were therefore the seats of bishoprics, were 
called cities. All other organized towns were known as boroughs, 
though this distinction in the use of the terms city and borough 
was by no means always preserved. The towns differed widely 
in their form of government ; but all had charters from the king 
or from some nobleman, abbey, or bishopric on whose lands they 
had grown up. Such a charter usually declared the right of the 
town to preserve the ancient customs which had come to be 
recognized among its inhabitants, and granted to it certain 
privileges, exemptions, and rights of self-government. The 
most universal and important of these privileges were the follow- 
ing : the town paid the tolls and dues owed to the king or other 
lord by its inhabitants in a lump sum, collecting the amount 
from its own citizens as the latter or their own authorities saw 
fit ; the town courts had jurisdiction over most suits and offences, 


Town Life and Organization 51 

relieving the townsmen f rcm answering at hundred and county 
court suits which concerned matters within their own limits ; the 
townsmen, where the king granted the charter, were exempt 
from the payment of tolls of various kinds throughout his 
dominions ; they could pass ordinances and regulations control- 
ling the trade of the town, the administration of its property, and 
its internal affairs generally, and could elect officials to carry 
out such regulations. These officials also corresponded and 
negotiated in the name of the town with the authorities of other 
towns and with the government. From the close of the thir- 
teenth century all towns of any importance were represented in 
Parliament. These elements of independence were not all 
possessed by every town, and some had special privileges not 
enumerated in the above list. The first charter of a town was 
apt to be vague and inadequate, but from time to time a new 
charter was obtained giving additional privileges and defining 
the old rights more clearly. Nor had all those who dwelt within 
the town limits equal participation in its advantages. These 
were usually restricted to those who were known as citizens or 
burgesses ; full citizenship depending primarily'on the possession 
of a house and land within the town limits. In addition to the 
burgesses there were usually some inhabitants of the town 
strangers, Jews, fugitive villains from the rural villages, or per- 
haps only poorer natives of the town who did not share in these 
privileges. Those who did possess all civil rights of the towns- 
men were in many ways superior in condition to men in the 
country. In addition to the advantages of the municipal or- 
ganization mentioned above, all burgesses were personally free, 
there was entire exemption from the vexatious petty payments 
of the rural manors, and burgage tenure was the nearest to actual 
land ownership existent during the Middle Ages. 

15. The Gild Merchant. The town was most clearly marked 
off from the country by the occupations by which its people 
earned their living. These were, in the first place, trading; 
secondly, manufacturing or handicrafts. Agriculture of course 

52 Industrial and Social History of England 

existed also, since most townsmen possessed some lands lying 
outside of the enclosed portions of the town. On these they 
raised crops and pastured their cattle. Of these varied occupa- 
tions, however, it was trade which gave character and, indeed, 
existence itself to the town. Foreign goods were brought to 
the towns from abroad for sale, the surplus products of rural 
manors found their way there for marketing; the products of 
one part of the country which were needed in other parts were 
sought for and purchased in the towns. Men also sold the 
products of their own labor, not only food products, such as 
bread, meat, and fish, but also objects of manufacture, as cloth, 
arms, leather, and goods made of wood, leather, or metal. For 
the protection and regulation of this trade the organization 
known as the gild merchant had grown up in each town. The 
gild merchant seems to have included all of the population of 
the town who habitually engaged in the business of selling, 
whether commodities of their own manufacture or those they 
had previously purchased. Membership in the gild was not 
exactly coincident with burgess-ship; persons who lived out- 
side of the town were sometimes admitted into that organiza- 
tion, and, on the other hand, some inhabitants of the town were 
not included among its members. Nevertheless, since practi- 
cally all of the townsmen made their living by trade in some form 
or another, the group of burgesses and the group of gild members 
could not have been very different. The authority of the gild 
merchant within its field of trade regulations seems to have been 
as complete as that of the town community as a whole in its 
field of judicial, financial, and administrative jurisdiction. The 
gild might therefore be defined as that form of organization of 
the inhabitants of the town which controlled its trade and 
industry. The principal reason for the existence of the gild was 
to preserve to its own members the monopoly of trade. No one 
not in the gild merchant of the town could buy or sell there ex- 
cept under conditions imposed by the gild. Foreigners coming 
from other countries or traders from other English towns were 

Town Life and Organization 53 

prohibited from buying or selling in any way that might inter- 
fere with the interest of the gildsmen. They must buy and sell 
at such times and in such places and only such articles as were 
provided for by the gild regulations. They must in all cases 
pay the town tolls, from which members of the gild were exempt. 
At Southampton, for instance, we find the following provisions : 
" And no one in the city of Southampton shall buy anything to 
sell again in the same city unless he is of the gild merchant or of 
the franchise." Similarly at Leicester, in 1260, it was ordained 
that no gildsman should form a partnership with a stranger, 
allowing him to join in the profits of the sale of wool or other 

As against outsiders the gild merchant was a protective body, 
as regards its own members it was looked upon and constantly 
spoken of as a fraternity. Its members must all share in the 
common expenditures, they are called brethren of the society, 
their competition with one another is reduced to its lowest limits. 
For instance, we find the provision that " any one who is of the 
gild merchant may share in all merchandise which another 
gildsman shall buy." 

The presiding officer was usually known as the alderman, 
while the names given to other officials, such as stewards, deans, 
bailiffs, chaplains, skevins, and ushers, and the duties they per- 
formed, varied greatly from place to place. 

Meetings were held at different periods, sometimes annually, 
in many cases more frequently. At these meetings new ordi- 
nances were passed, officers elected, and other business trans- 
acted. It was also a convivial occasion, a gild feast preceding 
or following the other labors of the meeting. In some gilds the 
meeting was regularly known as " the drinking." There were 
likewise frequent sittings of the officials of the fraternity, de- 
voted to the decision of disputes between brethren, the admission 
of new members, the fining or expulsion of offenders against the 
gild ordinances, and other routine work. These meetings were 
known as " morrowspeches." 

54 Industrial and Social History of England 

The great part of the activity of the gild merchant consisted 
in the holding of its meetings with their accompanying feasts, 
and in the enforcement of its regulations upon its members and 
upon outsiders. It fulfilled, however, many fraternal duties 
for its members. It is provided in one set of statutes that, " If 
a gildsman be imprisoned in England in time of peace, the alder- 
man, with the steward and with one of the skevins, shall go, 
at the cost of the gild, to procure the deliverance of the one who 
is in prison." In another, " If any of the brethren shall fall into 
poverty or misery, all the brethren are to assist him by common 
consent out of the chattels of the house or fraternity, or of their 
proper own." The funeral rites, especially, were attended by 
the man's gild brethren. " And when a gildsman dies, all those 
who are of the gild and are in the city shall attend the service 
for the dead, and gildsmen shall bear the body and bring it to 
the place of burial." The gild merchant also sometimes ful- 
filled various religious, philanthropic, and charitable duties, not 
only to its members, but to the public generally, and to the poor. 
The time of the fullest development of the gild merchant varied, 
of course, in different towns, but its widest expansion was prob- 
ably in the early part of the period we are studying, that is, 
during the thirteenth century. Later it came to be in some towns 
indistinguishable from the municipal government in general, its 
members the same as the burgesses, its officers represented by 
the officers of the town. In some other towns the gild merchant 
gradually lost its control over trade, retaining only its fraternal, 
charitable, and religious features: In all other cases the ex- 
pression gradually lost all definite significance and its meaning 
became a matter for antiquarian dispute. 

16. The Craft Gilds. By the fourteenth century the gild 
merchant of the town was a much less conspicuous institution 
than it had previously been. Its decay was largely the result 
of the growth of a group of organizations in each town which 
were spoken of as crafts, fraternities, gilds, misteries, or often 
merely by the name of their occupation, as "the spurriers," 

Town Life and Organization 55 

" the dyers," "the fishmongers." These organizations are usu- 
ally described in later writings as craft gilds. It is not to 
be understood that the gild merchant and the craft gilds 
never existed contemporaneously in any town. The former 
began earlier and decayed before the craft gilds reached their 
height, but there was a considerable period when it must have 
been a common thing for a man to be a member both of the gild 
merchant of the town and of the separate organization of his 
own trade. The later gilds seem to have grown up in response to 
the needs of handicraft much as the gild merchant had grown 
up to regulate trade, though trading occupations also were 
eventually drawn into the craft gild form of organization. The 
weavers seem to have been the earliest occupation to be organ- 
ized into a craft gild ; but later almost every form of industry 
which gave employment to a handful of craftsmen in any town 
had its separate fraternity. Since even nearly allied trades, such 
as the glovers, girdlers, pocket makers, skinners, white tawyers, 
and other workers in leather; or the fletchers, the makers of 
arrows, the bowyers, the makers of bows, and the stringers, the 
makers of bowstrings, were organized into separate bodies, the 
number of craft gilds in any one town was often very large. At 
London there were by 1350 at least as many as forty, at York, 
some time later, more than fifty. 

The craft gilds existed usually under the authority of the town 
government, though frequently they obtained authorization or 
even a charter from the crown. They were formed primarily 
to regulate and preserve the monopoly of their own occupations 
in their own town, just as the gild merchant existed to regulate 
the trade of the town in general. No one could carry on any 
trade without being subject to the organization which controlled 
that trade. Membership, however, was not intentionally re- 
stricted. Any man who was a capable workman and conformed 
to the rules of the craft was practically a member of the organiza- 
tion of that industry. It is a common requirement in the ear- 
liest gild statutes that every man who wishes to carry on that 

56 Industrial and Social History of England 

particular industry should have his ability testified to by some 
known members of the craft. But usually full membership and 
influence in the gild was reached as a matter of course by the 
artisans passing through the successive grades of apprentice, 
journeyman, and master. As an apprentice he was bound to a 
master for a number of years, living in his house and learning 
the trade in his shop. There was usually a signed contract 
entered into between the master and the parents of the appren- 
tice, by which the former agreed to provide all necessary 
clothing, food, and lodging, and teach to the apprentice all he 
himself knew about his craft. The latter, on the other hand, 
was bound to keep secret his master's affairs, to obey all his 
commandments, and to behave himself properly in all things. 
After the expiration of the time agreed upon for his apprentice- 
ship, which varied much in individual cases, but was apt to be 
about seven years, he became free of the trade as a journeyman, 
a full workman. The word " journeyman " may refer to the 
engagement being by the day, from the French word journSe, 
or to the habit of making journeys from town to town in search 
of work, or it may be derived from some other origin. As a 
journeyman he served for wages in the employ of a master. In 
many cases he saved enough money for the small requirements of 
setting up an independent shop. Then as full master artisan 
or tradesman he might take part in all the meetings and general 
administration of the organized body of his craft, might hold 
office, and would himself probably have one or more journeymen 
in his employ and apprentices under his guardianship. As 
almost all industries were carried on in the dwelling-houses of 
the craftsmen, no establishments could be of very considerable 
size, and the difference of position between master, journeyman, 
and apprentice could not have been great. The craft gild was 
organized with its regular rules, its officers, and its meetings. 
The rules or ordinances of the fraternity were drawn up at some 
one time and added to or altered from time to time afterward. 
The approval of the city authorities was frequently sought for 

Town Life and Organization 57 

such new statutes as well as for the original ordinances, and in 
many towns appears to have been necessary. The rules pro- 
vided for officers and their powers, the time and character 
of meetings, and for a considerable variety of functions. These 
varied, of course, in different trades and in different towns, but 
some characteristics were almost universal. Provisions were 
always either tacitly or formally included for the preservation of 
the monopoly of the crafts in the town. The hours of labor 
were regulated. Night work was very generally prohibited, 
apparently because of the difficulty of oversight at that time, 
as was work on Saturday afternoons, Sundays, and other holy 
days. Provisions were made for the inspection of goods by the 
officers of the gild, all workshops and goods for sale being con- 
stantly subject to their examination, if they should wish it. In 
those occupations that involved buying and selling the necessi- 
ties of life, such as those of the fishmongers and the bakers, the 
officers of the fraternity, like the town authorities, were engaged 
in a continual struggle with " regrators," " forestallers," and " en- 
grossers," which were appellations as odious as they were common 
in the mediaeval town. Regrating meant buying to sell again at 
a higher price without having made any addition to the value 
of the goods ; forestalling was going to the place of production 
to buy, or in any other way trying to outwit fellow-dealers by 
purchasing things before they came into the open market 
where all had the same opportunity ; engrossing was buying up 
the whole supply, or so much of it as not to allow other dealers 
to get what they needed, the modern " cornering of the market." 
These frequent practices, which were so objectionable in the 
eyes of mediaeval traders, were frequently nothing more than 
what would be considered commendable enterprise in a more 
competitive age. Another class of rules was for mutual assist- 
ance, for kindliness among members, and for the obedience and 
faithfulness of journeymen and apprentices. There were 
provisions for assistance to members of the craft when in need, 
or to their widows and orphans, for the visitation of those sick 

58 Industrial and Social History of England 

or in prison, for common attendance at the burial services of 
deceased members, and for other charitable and philanthropic 
objects. Thus the craft gild, like the gild merchant, combined 
close social relationship with a distinctly recognized and enforced 
regulation of the trade. This regulation provided for the pro- 
tection of members of the organization from outside competition, 
and it also prevented any considerable amount of competition 
among members ; it supported the interests of the full master 
members of the craft as against those in the journeyman stage, 
and enforced the custom of the trade in hours, materials, 
methods of manufacture, and often in prices. 

The officers were usually known as masters, wardens, or 
stewards. Their powers extended to the preservation of order 
among the master members of the craft at the meetings, and 
among the journeymen and apprentices of the craft at all times ; 
to the supervision, either directly or through deputies, of the 
work of the members, seeing that it conformed to the rules and 
was not false in any way ; to the settlement, if possible, of dis- 
putes among members of the craft; to the administration of 
its charitable work ; and to the representation of the organized 
body of the craft before town or other authorities. 

Common religious observances were held by the craftsmen 
not only at the funerals of members, but on the day of the saint 
to which the gild was especially dedicated. Most fraternities 
kept up a shrine or chapel in some parish church. Fines for 
the breach of gild rules were often ordered to be paid in wax that 
the candles about the body of dead brethren and in the gild 
chapel should never be wanting. All the brethren of the gild, 
dressed in common suits of livery, walked in procession from their 
hall or meeting room to the church, performed their devotions, 
and joined in the services in commemoration of the dead. Mem- 
bers of the craft frequently bequeathed property for the partial 
support of a chaplain and payment of other expenses connected 
with their " obits," or masses for the repose of their souls and 
those of their relatives. 

Town Life and Organization 59 

Closely connected with the religious observances was the 
convivial side of the gild's life. On the annual gild day, or 
more frequently, the members all gathered at their hall or some 
inn to a feast, which varied in luxuriousness according to the 
wealth of the fraternity, from bread, cheese, and ale to all the 
exuberance of which the Middle Ages were capable. 

Somewhat later, we find the craft gilds taking entire charge 
of the series or cycles of " mystery plays," which were given in 
various towns. The words of the plays produced at York, 
Coventry, Chester, and Woodkirk have come down to us and 
are of extreme interest as embryonic forms of the drama and 
examples of purely vernacular language. It is quite certain 
that such groups of plays were given by the crafts in a number 
of other towns. They were generally given on Corpus Christi 
day, a feast which fell in the early summer time, when out-door 
pleasures were again enjoyable after the winter's confinement. 
A cycle consisted of a series of dialogues or short plays, each 
based upon some scene of biblical story, so arranged that the 
whole Bible narrative should be given consecutively from the 
Creation to the Second Advent. One of the crafts, starting 
early in the morning, would draw a pageant, consisting of a plat- 
form on wheels, to a regularly appointed spot in a conspicuous 
part of the town, and on this platform, with some rude scenery, 
certain members of the gild or men employed by them would 
proceed to recite a dialogue in verse representative of some early 
part of the Bible story. After they had finished, their pageant 
would be dragged to another station, where they repeated their 
performance. In the meantime a second company had taken 
their former place, and recited a dialogue representative of a 
second scene. So the whole day would be occupied by the series 
of performances. The town and the craftsmen valued the cele- 
bration because it was an occasion for strangers visiting their 
city and thus increasing the volume of trade, as well as because 
it furnished an opportunity for the gratification of their social 
and dramatic instincts. 

60 Industrial and Social History of England 

It was not only at the periodical business meetings, or on the 
feast days, or in the preparation for the dramatic shows, that 
the gildsmen were thrown together. Usually all the members 
of one craft lived on the same street or in the same part of the 
town, and were therefore members of the same parish church 
and constantly brought under one another's observation in all 
the daily concerns of life. All things combined to make the 
craft a natural and necessary centre for the interest of each of 
its members. 

17. Non-industrial Gilds. Besides the gild merchant, which 
included persons of all industrial occupations, and the craft 
gilds, which were based upon separate organizations of each 
industry, there were gilds or fraternities in existence which had 
no industrial functions whatever. These are usually spoken of 
as " religious " or " social " gilds. It would perhaps be better to 
describe them simply as non-industrial gilds ; for their religious 
and social functions they had in common, as has been seen, 
both with the gild merchant and the craft organizations. They 
only differed from these in not being based upon or interested 
in the monopoly or oversight of any kind of trade or handicraft. 
They differed also from the craft gilds in that all their members 
were on an equal basis, there being no such industrial grades as 
apprentice, journeyman, and master ; and from both of the or- 
ganizations already discussed in the fact that they existed in 
small towns and even in mere villages, as well as in industrial 

In these associations the religious, social, and charitable 
elements were naturally more prominent than in those fraterni- 
ties which were organized primarily for some kind of economic 
regulation. They were generally named after some saint. 
The ordinances usually provided for one or more solemn services 
in the year, frequently with a procession in livery, and some- 
times with a considerable amount of pantomime or symbolic 
show. For instance, the gild of St. Helen at Beverly, in their 
procession to the church of the Friars Minors on the day of their 

Town Life and Organization 61 

patron saint, were preceded by an old man carrying a cross; 
after him a fair young man dressed as St. Helen ; then another 
old man carrying a shovel, these being intended to typify the 
finding of the cross. Next came the sisters, two and two, after 
them the brethren of the gild, and finally the officers. There 
were always provisions for solemnities at the funerals of members, 
for burial at the expense of the gild if the member who had 
died left no means for a suitable ceremony, and for prayers for 
deceased members. What might be called the insurance 
feature was also much more nearly universal than in the case 
of the industrial fraternities. Help was given in case of theft, 
fire, sickness, or almost any kind of loss which was not charge- 
able to the member's own misdoing. Finally it was very cus- 
tomary for such gilds to provide for the support of a certain 
number of dependents, aged men or women, cripples, or lepers, 
for charity's sake ; and occasionally educational facilities were 
also provided by them from their regular income or from be- 
quests made for the purpose. The social-religious gilds were 
extremely numerous, and seem frequently to have existed within 
the limits of a craft, including some of its members and not 
others, or within a certain parish, including some of the parish- 
ioners, but not all. 

Thus if there were men in the mediaeval town who were not 
members of some trading or craft body, they would in all prob- 
ability be members of some society based merely on religious or 
social feeling. The whole tendency of mediaeval society was 
toward organization, combination, close union with one's 
fellows. It might be said that all town life involved membership 
in some organization, and usually in that one into which a man 
was drawn by the occupation in which he made his living. 
These gilds or the town government itself controlled even the 
affairs of private economic life in the city, just as the customary 
agriculture of the country prevented much freedom of action 
there. Methods of trading, or manufacture, the kind and 
amount of material to be used, hours of labor, conditions of 

62 Industrial and Social History of England 

employment, even prices of work, were regulated by the gild 
ordinances. The individual gildsman had as little opportunity 
to emancipate himself from the controlling force of the associa- 
tion as the individual tenant on the rural manor had to free him- 
self from the customary agriculture and the customary services. 
Whether we study rural or urban society, whether we look at the 
purely economic or at the broader social side of existence, life in 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was corporate rather than 


Gross, Charles : The Gild Merchant, two volumes. The first 
volume consists of a full account and discussion of the character 
and functions of the gild merchant, with a number of appendices 
on cognate subjects. The second volume contains the docu- 
ments on which the first is based. 

Seligman, E. R. A. : Two Chapters on Mediaval Gilds. 

Unwin, G. : The Guilds and Companies of London. 

Brentano, L. : The History and Development of English 
Gilds. An essay prefixed to a volume of ordinances of English 
Gilds, edited by T. Smith. Brentano's essay is only referred to 
because of the paucity of works on the subject, as it is fanciful 
and unsatisfactory. No thorough and scholarly description of 
the craft gilds exists. On the other hand, a considerable body 
of original materials is easily accessible in English, as in the 
following works : 

Riley : Memorials of London and London Life. 

Smith, Toulmin : English Gilds. 

Various documents illustrative of town and gild history will 
also be found in Vol. II, No. i, of the Translations and Reprints, 
published by the Department of History of the University of 

Better descriptions exist for the position of the gilds in special 
towns than for their general character, especially in London by 
Herbert, in Hull by Lambert, in Shrewsbury by Hibbert, and in 
Coventry by Miss Harris. 


19. Markets and Fairs. Within the towns, in addition 
to the ordinary trading described in the last chapter, much 
buying and selling was done at the weekly or semi-weekly 
markets. The existence of a market in a town was the result 
of a special grant from the king, sometimes to the burgesses 
themselves, sometimes to a neighboring nobleman or abbey. 
In the latter case the tolls paid by outsiders who bought or 
sold cattle or victuals in the markets did not go to the town or 
gild authorities, but to the person who was said to " own " 
the market. Many places which differed in scarcely any other 
way from agricultural villages possessed markets, so that " mar- 
ket towns " became a descriptive term for small towns midway 
in size between the larger boroughs or cities and mere villages. 
The sales at markets were usually of the products of the sur- 
rounding country, especially of articles of food consumption, 
so that the fact of the existence of a market on one or more days 
of the week in a large town was of comparatively little impor- 
tance from the point of view of more general trade. 

Far more important was the similar institution of periodical 
fairs. Fairs, like markets, existed only by grant from the king. 
They differed from markets, however, in being held only once 
a year or at most semi-annually or quarterly, in being invari- 
ably in the possession of private persons, never of town govern- 
ments, and in the fact that during their continuance as a rule 
all buying and selling except at the fairs was suspended within 
a considerable circuit. Several hundred grants of fairs are 
recorded on the rolls of royal charters, most of them to abbeys, 


64 Industrial and Social History of England 

bishoprics, and noblemen ; but comparatively few of them were 
of sufficient size or importance to play any considerable part 
in the trade and commerce of the country. Moreover, the 
development of the towns with their continuous trade tended 
to draw custom away from all the fairs except those which had 
obtained some especial importance and an international reputa- 
tion. Of these, however, there was still a considerable number 
whose influence was very great. The best known were those 
of Winchester, of Stourbridge near Cambridge, of St. Ives be- 
longing to the abbot of Ramsay, and of Boston. In early times 
fairs were frequently held in the churchyards, but this came to 
be looked upon as a scandal, and was prohibited by a law of 
1285. The fairs were in many cases held just beyond the limits 
of a town in an open field or on a smooth hillside. Each year, 
some time before the opening day of the fair, this ground was 
formally occupied by the servants of the owner of the fair, 
wooden booths were erected or ground set apart for those who 
should put up their own tents or prefer to sell in the open. Then 
as merchants appeared from foreign or English towns they 
chose or were assigned places which they were bound to retain 
during the continuance of the fair. By the time of the opening 
of the fair those who expected to sell were arranged in long rows 
or groups, according to the places they came from, or the kind 
of goods in which they dealt. After the opening had been 
proclaimed no merchant of the near-by town could buy or sell, 
except within the borders of the fair. The town authorities 
resigned their functions into the hands of the officials whom the 
lord of the fair had placed in charge of it, and for the time for 
which the fair was held, usually from six to twelve days, every- 
thing within the enclosure of the fair, within the town, and in 
the surrounding neighborhood was under their control. 

Tolls were collected for the advantage of the lord of the 
fair from all goods as they were brought into or taken out 
from the bounds of the fair, or at the time of their sale ; stall- 
age was paid for the rent of booths, fees were charged for the 


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66 Industrial and Social History of England 

use of space, and for using the lord's weights and scales. Good 
order was preserved and fair dealing enforced by the officials 
of the lord. To prevent offences and settle disputes arising 
in the midst of the busy trading the officials of the lord formed 
a court which sat continually and followed a summary procedure. 
This was known as a court of " pie-powder," that is pied poudre, 
or dusty foot, so called, no doubt, from its readiness to hear the 
suits of merchants and wayfarers, as they were, without formality 
or delay. At this court a great variety of cases came up, such 
as disputes as to debts, failure to perform contracts of sale 
or purchase, false measurements, theft, assault, defamation, 
and misdemeanors of all kinds. Sometimes the court decided 
offhand, sometimes compurgation was allowed immediately 
or on the next day, sometimes juries were formed and gave 
decisions. The law which the court of pie-powder administered 
was often referred to as the " law merchant," a somewhat less 
rigid system than the common law, and one whose rules were 
generally defined, in these courts and in the king's courts, by 
juries chosen from among the merchants themselves. 

At these fairs, even more than in the towns, merchants from 
a distance gathered to buy the products peculiar to the part 
of England where the fair was held, and to sell their own articles 
of importation or production. The large fairs furnished by far 
the best markets of the time. We find mention made in the 
records of one court of pie-powder of men from a dozen or 
twenty English towns, from Bordeaux, and from Rouen. The 
men who came from any one town, whether of England or the 
Continent, acted and were treated as common members of the 
gild merchant of that town, as forming a sort of community, 
and being to a certain extent responsible for one another. They 
did their buying and selling, it is true, separately, but if disputes 
arose, the whole group were held responsible for each member. 
For example, the following entry was made in the roll of the fair 
of St. Ives in the year 1275 : " William of Fleetbridge and Anne 
his wife complain of Thomas Coventry of Leicester for unjustly 

Mediceval Trade and Commerce 67 

withholding from them 555. 2^d. for a sack of wool. . . . Elias 
is ordered to attach the community of Leicester to answer . . . 
and of the said community Allan Parker, Adam Nose and 
Robert Howell are attached by three bundles of ox-hides, three 
hundred bundles of sheep skins and six sacks of wool." 

20. Trade Relations between Towns. The fairs were only 
temporary selling places. When the time for which the fair 
was held had expired the booths were removed, the merchants 
returned to their native cities or travelled away to some other 
fair, and the officials were withdrawn. The place was deserted 
until the next quarter or year. But in the towns, as has been 
already stated, more or less continuous trade went on; not 
only petty retail trade and that of the weekly or semi-weekly 
markets between townsmen or countrymen coming from the 
immediate vicinity, but a wholesale trade between the merchants 
of that town and those from other towns in England or on the 

It was of this trade above all that the gild merchant of each 
town possessed the regulation. Merchants from another 
town were treated much the same, whether that town was 
English or foreign. In fact, " foreigner " or " alien," as used 
in the town records, of Bristol, for instance, may apply to citi- 
zens of London or Oxford just as well as to those of Paris or 
Cologne. Such " foreign " merchants could deal when they 
came to a town only with members of the gild, and only on the 
conditions required by the gild. Usually they could buy or 
sell only at wholesale, and tolls were collected from them upon 
their sales or purchases. They were prohibited from dealing 
in some kinds of articles altogether, and frequently the duration 
of their stay in the town was limited to a prescribed period. 
Under such circumstances the authorities of various towns 
entered into trade agreements with those of other towns provid- 
ing for mutual concessions and advantages. Correspondence 
was also constantly going on between the officials of various 
towns for the settlement of individual points of dispute, for 

68 Industrial and Social History of England 

the return of fugitive apprentices, asking that justice might 
be done to aggrieved citizens, and on occasion threatening 
reprisal. Southampton had formal agreements with more 
than seventy towns or other trading bodies. During a period 
of twenty years the city authorities of London sent more than 
300 letters on such matters to the officials of some 90 other 
towns in England and towns on the Continent. The mer- 
chants from any one town did not therefore trade or act entirely 
as separate individuals, but depended on the prestige of their 
town, or the support of the home authorities, or the privileges 
already agreed upon by treaty. The non-payment of a debt 
by a merchant of one town usually made any fellow-townsman 
liable to seizure where the debt was owed, until the debtor 
could be made to pay. In 1285, by a law of Edward I, this 
was prohibited as far as England was concerned, but a merchant 
from a French town might still have his person and property 
seized for a debt of which he may have had no previous 
knowledge. External trade was thus not so much individual, 
between some Englishmen and others ; or international, between 
Englishmen and Frenchmen, Flemings, Spaniards, or Germans, 
as it was intermunicipal, as it has been well described. Citi- 
zens of various towns, London, Bristol, Venice, Ghent, Arras, 
or Lubeck, for instance, carried on their trade under the protec- 
tion their city had obtained for them. 

21. Foreign Trading Relations. The regulations and re- 
strictions of fairs and town markets and gilds merchant must 
have tended largely to the discouragement of foreign trade. 
Indeed, the feeling of the body of English town merchants 
was one of strong dislike to foreigners and a desire to restrict 
their trade within the narrowest limits. In addition to the 
burdens and limitations placed upon all traders not of their 
own town, it was very common in the case of merchants from 
abroad to require that they should only remain within the town 
for the purpose of selling for forty days, and that they should 
board not at an inn but in the household of some town merchant, 

Mediaeval Trade and Commerce 69 

who could thus keep oversight of their movements, and who 
would be held responsible if his guests violated the law in any 
way. This was called the custom of " hostage." 

The king, on the other hand, and the classes most influential 
in the national government, the nobility and the churchmen, 
favored foreign trade. A series of privileges, guarantees, and 
concessions were consequently issued by the government to 
individual foreign merchants, to foreign towns, and even to 
foreigners generally, the object of which was to encourage their 
coming to England to trade. The most remarkable instance of 
this was the so-called Carta Mercatoria issued by Edward I 
in 1303. It was given, according to its own terms, for the peace 
and security of merchants coming to England from Germany, 
France, Spain, Portugal, Navarre, Lombardy, Tuscany, Pro- 
vence, Catalonia, Aquitaine, Toulouse, Quercy, Flanders, 
Brabant, and all other foreign lands. It allowed such mer- 
chants to bring in and sell almost all kinds of goods, and freed 
them from the payment of many tolls and payments habitually 
exacted by the towns ; it gave them permission to sell to stran- 
gers as well as to townsmen, and to retail as well as sell by whole- 
sale. It freed them from the necessity of dwelling with native 
merchants, and of bringing their stay to a close within a restricted 
time. Town and market authorities were required by it to give 
prompt justice to foreigners according to the law merchant, 
and it was promised that a royal judge would be specially 
appointed to listen to appeals. It is quite evident that if this 
charter had been enforced some of the most familiar and valued 
customs of the merchants of the various English towns would 
have been abrogated. In consequence of vigorous protests 
and bitter resistance on the part of the townsmen its provisions 
were partly withdrawn, partly ignored, and the position of 
foreign merchants in England continued to depend on the toler- 
ably consistent support of the crown. Even this was modified 
by the steady policy of hostility, limitation, and control on the 
part of the native merchants. 

Industrial and Social History of England 

Mediceval Trade and Commerce 71 

With the exception of some intercourse between the north- 
ern towns and the Scandinavian countries, the foreign trade of 
England was carried on almost entirely by foreigners. Eng- 
lish merchants, until after the fourteenth century, seem to have 
had neither the ability, the enterprise, nor the capital to go to 
continental cities in any numbers to sell the products of their 
own country or to buy goods which would be in demand when 
imported into England. Foreigners were more enterprising. 
From Flemish, French, German, Italian, and even Spanish 
cities merchants came over as traders. The product of England 
which was most in demand was wool. Certain parts of Eng- 
land were famous throughout all Europe for the quality and 
quantity of the wool raised there. The relative good order of 
England and its exemption from civil war made it possible to 
raise sheep more extensively than in countries where foraging 
parties from rival bodies of troops passed frequently to and fro. 
Many of the monasteries, especially in the north and west, 
had large outlying wastes of land which were regularly used 
for the raising of sheep. The product of these northern and 
western pastures as well as the surplus product of the demesnes 
and larger holdings of the ordinary manors was brought to the 
fairs and towns for sale and bought up readily by foreign mer- 
chants. Sheepskins, hides, and tanned leather were also ex- 
ported, as were certain coarse woven fabrics. Tin and lead 
were well-known products, at that time almost peculiar to Eng- 
land, and in years of plentiful production, grain, salt meat, 
and dairy products were exported. England was far behind 
most of the Continent in industrial matters, so that there was 
much that could be brought into the country that would be in 
demand, both of the natural productions of foreign countries 
and of their manufactured articles. 

Trade relations existed between England and the Scandinavian 
countries, northern Germany, southern Germany, the Nether- 
lands, northeastern, northwestern, and southern France, Spain 
and Portugal, and various parts of Italy. Of these lines of 

72 Industrial and Social History of England 

trade the most important were the trade with the Hanse cities 
of northern Germany, with the Flemish cities, and with those 
in Italy, especially Venice. 

22. The Italian and Eastern Trade. The merchandise 
which Venice had to offer was of an especially varied nature. 
Her prosperity had begun with a coastwise trade along the 
shores of the Adriatic. Later, especially during the period of 
the Crusades, her trading had been extended to the eastern 
Mediterranean, where she obtained trading concessions from 
the Greek Emperor and formed a half commercial, half political 
empire of her own among the island cities and coast districts 
of the Ionian Sea, along the Dardanelles and the Sea of Mar- 
mora, and finally in the Black Sea. From these regions she 
brought the productions peculiar to the eastern Mediterranean : 
wines, sugar, dried fruits and nuts, cotton, drugs, dyestuffs, 
and certain kinds of leather and other manufactured articles. 

Eventually Venice became the special possessor of a still 
more distant trade, that of the far East. The products of 
Arabia and Persia, India and the East Indian Islands, and 
even of China, all through the Middle Ages, as in antiquity, 
made their way by long and difficult routes to the western 
countries of Europe. Silk and cotton, both raw and manu- 
factured into fine goods, indigo and other dyestuffs, aromatic 
woods and gums, narcotics and other drugs, pearls, rubies, 
diamonds, sapphires, turquoises, and other precious stones, gold 
and silver, and, above all, the edible spices, pepper, ginger, 
cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, could be obtained only in Asia. 
There were three principal routes by which these goods were 
brought into Europe : first, along the Red Sea and overland 
across Egypt ; second, up the Persian Gulf to its head, and then 
either along the Euphrates to a certain point whence the cara- 
van route turned westward to the Syrian coast, or along the 
Tigris to its upper waters, and then across to the Black Sea at 
Trebizond; third, by caravan routes across Asia, then across 
the Caspian Sea, and overland again, either to the Black Sea 

Medieval Trade and Commerce 73 

or through Russia to the Baltic. A large part of this trade was 
gathered up by the Italian cities, especially Venice, at its various 
outlets upon the Mediterranean or adjacent waters. She had 
for exportation therefore, in addition, to her own manufactures, 
merchandise which had been gathered from all parts of the 
then known world. The Venetian laws regulated commerce 
with the greatest minuteness. All goods purchased by Vene- 
tian traders must as a rule be brought first to the city and un- 
loaded and stored in the city warehouses. A certain amount 
of freedom of export by land or water was then allowed, but 
by far the greater proportion of the goods remained under the 
partial control of the government. When conditions were 
considered favorable, the Senate voted a certain number of gov- 
ernment galleys for a given voyage. There were several objec- 
tive points for these voyages, but one was regularly England 
and Flanders, and the group of vessels sent to those countries 
was known as the " Flanders Fleet." Such an expedition was 
usually ordered about once a year, and consisted of two to five 
galleys. These were put under the charge of an admiral and pro- 
vided with sailing masters, crews of rowers, and armed men 
to protect them, all at the expense of the merchants who should 
send goods in the vessels. Stringent regulations were also 
imposed upon them by the government, defining the length of 
their stay and appointing a series of stopping places, usually 
as follows : Capo d' Istria, Corfu, Otranto, Syracuse, Messina, 
Naples, Majorca, certain Spanish ports, Lisbon; then across 
the Bay of Biscay to the south coast of England, where usually 
the fleet divided, part going to Sluys, Middleburg, or Antwerp, 
in the Netherlands; the remainder going to Southampton, 
Sandwich, London, or elsewhere in England. At one or other 
of the southern ports of England the fleet would reassemble 
on its return, the whole outward and return voyage usually 
taking about a year. 

The merchants who had come with the fleet thereupon pro- 
ceeded to dispose of their goods in the southern towns and fairs 

74 Industrial and Social History of England 

of England and to buy wool or other goods which might be 
taken back to Venice or disposed of on the way. A somewhat 
similar trade was kept up with other Italian cities, especially 
with Genoa and Florence, though these lines of trade were more 
extensive in the fifteenth century than in the fourteenth. 

23. The Flanders Trade and the Staple. A trade of greater 
bulk and greater importance, though it did not include articles 
from such a distance as that of Italy, was the trade with the 
Flemish cities. This was more closely connected with English 
wool production than was that with any other country. Ghent, 
Bruges, Ypres, Courtrai, Arras, and a number of other cities 
in Flanders and the adjacent provinces of the Netherlands and 
France had become populous and rich, principally from their 
weaving industry. For their manufacture of fine fabrics they 
needed the English wool, and in turn their fine woven goods 
were in constant demand for the use of the wealthier classes 
in England. English skill was not yet sufficient to produce 
anything more than the crudest and roughest of textile fabrics. 
The fine cloths, linens, cambrics, cloth of gold and silver, tapes- 
tries and hangings, were the product of the looms of the Flemish 
cities. Other fine manufactured goods, such as armor and 
weapons, glass and furniture, and articles which had been 
brought in the way of trade to the Netherlands, were all exported 
thence and sold in England. 

The Flemish dealers who habitually engaged in the English 
trade were organized among themselves in a company or league 
known as the " Flemish Hanse of London." A considerable 
number of towns held such membership in the organization 
that their citizens could take part in the trade and share in the 
benefits and privileges of the society, and no citizen of these 
towns could trade in England without paying the dues and sub- 
mitting himself to the rules of the Hanse. The export trade 
from England to the Netherlands was controlled from the Eng- 
lish side by the system known as the " Staple." From early 
times it had been customary to gather English standard products 

MedicBval Trade and Commerce 


in certain towns in England or abroad for sale. These towns 
were known as " staples " or " staple towns," and wool, woolfells, 
leather, tin, and lead, the goods most extensively exported, 
were known as " staple goods." Subsequently the govern- 
ment took control of the matter, and appointed a certain town 

A~^ V^C-ruv 

' Antwerp 

Dixmuide Ghent 
Yprea Brussels 

Poperinghe* * Coo ra , 'oudenarde 

tille* Touroal 


in the Netherlands to which staple goods must be sent in the 
first place when they were exported from England. Later 
certain towns in England were appointed as staple towns, where 
all goods of the kinds mentioned above should be taken to be 

76 Industrial and Social History of England 

registered, weighed, and taxed before exportation. Just at 
the close of the period under discussion, in 1354, a careful or- 
ganization was given to the system of staple towns in England, 
by which in each of the ten or twelve towns to which staple 
goods must be brought for exportation, a Mayor of the Staple 
and two Constables were elected by the " merchants of the 
staple," native and foreign. These officials had a number of 
duties, some of them more particularly in the interest of the 
king and treasury, others in the interest of the foreign merchants, 
still others merely for the preservation of good order and the 
enforcement of justice. The law merchant was made the 
basis of judgment, and every effort made to grant protection 
to foreigners and at the same time secure the financial interests 
of the government. But the policy of the government was 
by no means consistent. Both before and after this date, the 
whole system of staples was repeatedly abolished for a time and 
the whole trade in these articles thrown open. Again, the 
location of the staple towns was shifted from England to the 
Continent and again back to England. Eventually, in 1363, 
the staple came to be established at Calais, and all " staplers," 
or exporters of staple goods from England, were forced to give 
bonds that their cargoes would be taken direct to Calais to be 

24. The Hanse Trade. The trade with Germany was at 
this tune almost all with the group of cities which made up 
the German Hanse or League. .This was a union of a large 
number of towns of northern Germany, such as Lubeck, Ham- 
burg, Bremen, Dantzig, Brunswick, and perhaps sixty or eighty 
others. By a series of treaties and agreements among them- 
selves, these towns had formed a close confederation which 
acted as a single whole in obtaining favorable trading conces- 
sions and privileges in various countries. There had been a 
considerable trade between the merchants of these towns and 
England from an early time. They brought the products of 
the Baltic lands, such as lumber, tar, salt, iron, silver, salted and 

Mediaeval Trade and Commerce 77 

smoked fish, furs, amber, certain coarse manufactures, and 
goods obtained by Hanseatic merchants through their more 
distant trade connections, such as fine woven goods, armor and 
other metal goods, and even spices and other Eastern goods, 
obtained from the great Russian fairs. The Hanse cities had 
entered into treaties with the English government, and possessed 
valuable concessions and privileges, and imported and exported 
quite extensively. The term " sterling," as applied to standard 
English money, is derived from the word " Easterling," which 
was used as synonymous with " German," " Hansard," 
" Dutch," and several other names descriptive of these traders. 

The trade with the cities of northeastern France was similar 
to that with the neighboring towns of Flanders. That with 
northwestern France consisted especially of salt, sail-cloth, 
and wine. The trade with Poitou, Gascony, and Guienne was 
more extensive, as was natural from their long political connec- 
tion with England. The chief part of the export from southern 
France was wine, though a variety of other articles, including 
fruits and some manufactured articles, were sent to England. 
A trade of quite a varied character also existed between England 
and the various countries of the Spanish Peninsula, including 
Portugal. Foreign trade with all of these countries was des- 
tined to increase largely during the later fourteenth and the 
fifteenth century, but its foundations were well laid within the 
first half of the fourteenth. Vessels from all these countries 
appeared from time to time in the harbors of England, and 
their merchants traded under government patronage and sup- 
port hi many English towns and fairs. 

25. Foreigners Settled in England. The fact that almost 
all of the foreign trade of England was in the hands of aliens 
necessarily involved their presence in the country temporarily 
or permanently in considerable numbers. The closely related 
fact that the English were distinctly behind the people of the 
Continent in economic knowledge, skill, and wealth also led 
foreigners to seek England as a field for profitable exercise of 

7 8 Industrial and Social History of England 

their abilities in finance, in trade, and manufactures. The most 
conspicuous of these foreigners at the close of the thirteenth 
century and during the early part of the fourteenth were the 
Italian bankers. Florence was not only a great trading and 
manufacturing city, but a money centre, a capitalist city. The 
Bardi, Peruzzi, Alberti, Frescobaldi, and other banking com- 
panies received deposits from citizens of Florence and other 
Italian cities, and loaned the money, as well as their own capital, 
to governments, great nobles, and ecclesiastical corporations 
in other countries. When the Jews were expelled from England 
in 1290, there being no considerable amount of money among 
native Englishmen, the Italian bankers were the only source 
from which the government could secure ready money. When 
a tax had been authorized by Parliament, but the product of 
it could be obtained only after a year or more spent in its col- 
lection, the Florentines were at hand to offer the money at once, 
receiving security for repayment when the receipts from the 
tax should come in. Government monopolies like the Cornwall 
tin mines were leased to them for a lump sum ; arrangements 
were made by which the bankers furnished a certain amount 
of money each day during a campaign or a royal progress. The 
immediate needs of an impecunious king were regularly satisfied 
with money borrowed to be repaid some months afterward. 
The equipment for all of the early expeditions of the Hundred 
Years' War was obtained with money borrowed from the Flor- 
entines. Payments abroad were also made by means of bills 
of exchange negotiated by the same money-lenders. Direct 
payment of interest was forbidden by law, but they seem to 
have been rewarded by valuable government concessions, by 
the profits on exchange, and no doubt by the indirect payment 
of interest, notwithstanding its illegality. 

The Italian bankers evidently loaned to others besides the 
king, for in 1327 the Knights Hospitallers in England repaid 
to the Society of the Bardi 848 5^., and to the Peruzzi 551 
I2S. nd. They continued to loan freely to the king, till in 

Medieval Trade and Commerce 


1348 he was indebted to one company alone to the extent of 
more than 50,000, a sum equal in modern value to about 
$3,000,000. The king now failed to repay what he had prom- 
ised, and the banking companies fell into great straits. Defal- 
cations having occurred in other countries also, some of them 
failed, and after the middle of the century they never held so 
conspicuous a place, though some Italians continued to act as 
bankers and financiers through the remainder of the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries. Many Italian merchants who were 

(Herbert : History of London Livery Companies.) 

not bankers, especially Venetians and Genoese, were settled in 
England, but their occupation did not make them so conspicuous 
as the financiers of the same nation. 

The German or Hanse merchants had a settlement of their 
own in London, known as the " Steelyard," " Gildhall of the 
Dutch," or the " Easterling's House." They had similar es- 
tablishments on a smaller scale in Boston and Lynn, and perhaps 
in other towns. Their permission to own property and to live 
in their own house instead of in the houses of native merchants, 
as was the usual custom, was derived, like most privileges of 

8o Industrial and Social History of England 

foreigners, from the gift of the king. Little by little they had 
purchased property surrounding their original grants until 
they had a great group of buildings, including a meeting and 
dining hall, tower, kitchen, storage house, offices and other 
warehouses, and a considerable number of dwelling-houses, all 
enclosed by a wall and fences. It was located immediately 
on the Thames just above London Bridge so that their vessels 
unloaded at their own wharf. The merchants or their agents 
lived under strict rules, the gates being invariably closed at 
nine o'clock, and all discords among their own nation were 
punished by their own officers. Their trade was profitable 
to the king through payment of customs, and after the failure 
of the Italian bankers the merchants of the Steelyard made 
considerable loans to the English government either directly 
or acting for citizens at home. In 1343, when the king had 
been granted a tax of 405. a sack on all wool exported, he imme- 
diately borrowed the value of it from Tiedemann van Limberg 
and Johann van Wolde, Easterlings. Similarly in 1346 the 
Easterlings loaned the king money for three years, holding his 
second crown as security. Like the Florentines, at one time 
they took the Cornwall tin mines at farm. They had many 
privileges not accorded generally to foreigners, but were exceed- 
ingly unpopular alike with the population and the authorities 
of the city of London. There were some other Germans domi- 
ciled in England, but nowhere else were they so conspicuous 
or influential as at the Steelyard. . 

The trade with Flanders brought Flemish merchants into 
England temporarily, but they do not seem to have formed 
any settlement or located permanently in any one place. Flem- 
ish artisans, on the other hand, had migrated to England from 
early tunes and were scattered here and there in several towns 
and villages. In the early part of the fourteenth century Edr 
ward III made it a matter of deliberate policy to .encourage the 
immigration of Flemish weavers and other handicraftsmen, 
with .the expectation that they would teach their art to the 

Mediaeval Trade and Commerce 81 

more backward native English. In 1332, he issued a charter 
of protection and privilege to a Fleming named John Kempe, 
a weaver of woollen cloth, offering the same privilege and 
protection to all other weavers, dyers, and fullers who should 
care to come to England to live. In 1337 a similar charter was 
given to a body of weavers coming from Zealand to England. 
It is believed that a considerable number of immigrants from 
the Netherlands came in at this period, settled largely in the 
smaller towns and rural villages, and taking English apprentices 
brought about a great improvement in the character of English 
manufactures. Flemings are also met with in local records 
in various occupations, even in agriculture. 

There were other foreigners resident in England, especially 
Gascons from the south of France, and Spaniards ; but the main 
elements of alien population in the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries were those which have just been described, Italians, 
Germans from the Hanse towns, and Flemings. These were 
mainly occupied as bankers, merchants, and handicraftsmen. 


Dr. Cunningham's Growth of English Industry and Com- 
merce is particularly full and valuable on this subject. He 
has given further details on one branch of it in his Alien Immi- 
grants in England. 

Schanz, Georg: Englische Handelspolitik gegen Ende des 
Mittelalters. This work refers to a later period than that 
included in this chapter, but the summaries which the author 
gives of earlier conditions are in many cases the best accounts 
that we have. 

Jenckes, A. L. : Organization and Location of the Staple of 

Day, C. : History of Commerce. 

Ashley, W. J. : Early History of the Woolen Industry in 

82 Industrial and Social History of England 

Pauli, R. : Pictures from Old England. Contains an interest- 
ing account of the Steelyard. 

Pirenne, Henri : La Hanse flamande de Londres. 

Von Ochenkowski, W. : England's Wirthsschaftliche Ent- 
wickelung im Ausgange des Mittelalters. 

Schultz, F. : Die Hanse und England. 

Gross, C. : Select Cases on the Law Merchant. 





27. National Affairs from 1338 to 1461. For the last century 
or more England had been standing with her back to the Con- 
tinent. Deprived of most of their French possessions, engaged 
in the struggle to bring Wales, Scotland, and Ireland under the 
English crown, occupied with repeated conflicts with their bar- 
ons or with the development of the internal organization of the 
country, John, Henry III, and the two Edwards had had less 
time and inclination to interest themselves in continental 
affairs than had Henry II and Richard. But after 1337 a new 
influence brought England for the next century into close con- 
nection with the rest of Europe. This was the "Hundred 
Years' War" between England and France. Several causes 
had for years combined to make this war unavoidable: the 
interference of France in the dispute with Scotland, the conflicts 
between the rising fishing and trading towns on the English 
and the French side of the Channel, the desire of the French 
king to drive the English kings from their remaining provinces 
in the south of France, and the reluctance of the English kings 
to accept their dependent position in France. Edward III 
commenced the war in 1338 with the invasion of France, and it 
was continued with comparatively short intervals of peace until 
1452. During its progress the English won three of the most 
brilliant military victories in their history, at Crecy, Poitiers, 
and Agincourt, in 1346, 1356, and 1415. But most of the 


84 Industrial and Social History of England 

campaigns were characterized by brutality, destructive ravaging, 
and the reduction of cities by famine. The whole contest in- 
deed often degenerated into desultory, objectless warfare. A 
permanent settlement was attempted at Bretigny hi 1360. The 
English required the dismemberment of France by the surrender 
of almost one-third of the country and the payment by the 
French of a large ransom for their king, who had been captured 
by the English. In return King Edward withdrew any other 
claims he might have to territory, or the French crown. These 
terms were, however, so humiliating to the French that they did 
not adhere to them, the war soon broke out again, and finally 
terminated in the driving out of the English from all of France 
except the city of Calais, in the middle years of the next century. 

The many alliances, embassies, exchanges of visits, and other 
international intercourse which the prosecution of the Hundred 
Years' War involved brought England into a closer participa- 
tion in the general life of Europe than ever before, and caused 
the ebb and flow of a tide of influences between England and the 
Continent which deeply affected economic, political, and re- 
ligious life on both sides of the Channel. 

The Universities continued to flourish during almost the 
whole of this period. It was from Oxford as a centre, under 
the influence of John Wycliffe, a lecturer there, that a great 
revival and reforming movement in the church emanated. From 
about 1370 Wycliffe and others began to agitate for a more 
earnest religious life. They translated the Bible into English, 
wrote devotional and polemic tracts, preached throughout the 
country, spoke and wrote against the evils in the church at the 
time, then against its accepted form of organization, and finally 
against its official teachings. They thus became heretics. 
Thousands were influenced by their teachings, and a wave of 
religious revival and ecclesiastical rebellion spread over the 
country. The powers of the church and the civil government 
were ultimately brought to bear to crush out the " Lollards," as 
those who held heretical beliefs at that time were called. New 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 85 

and stringent laws were passed in 1401 and 1415, several persons 
were burned at the stake, and a large number forced to recant, 
or frightened into keeping their opinions secret. This religious 
movement gradually died out, and by the middle of the fifteenth 
century nothing more is heard of Lollardry. 

Wycliffe had been not only a religious innovator, but a writer 
of much excellent English. Contemporary with him or slightly 
later were a number of writers who used the native language 
and created permanent works of literature. The Vision of 
Piers Plowman is the longest and best of a number of poems 
written by otherwise unknown men. Geoffrey Chaucer, one 
of England's greatest poets, wrote at first in French, then in 
English ; his Canterbury Tales showing a perfected English form, 
borrowed originally, like so much of what was best in England 
at the tune, from Italy or France, but assimilated, improved, 
and reconstructed until it seemed a purely English production. 
During the reign of Edward III English became the official 
language of the courts and the usual language of conversation, 
even among the higher classes. 

Edward III lived until 1377. Through his long reign of 
half a century, during which he was entirely dependent on the 
grants of Parliament for the funds needed to carry on the war 
against France, this body obtained the powers, privileges, and 
organization which made it thereafter such an influential part 
of the government. His successor, Richard II, after a period of 
moderate government tried to rule with a high hand, but in 
1399 was deposed through the influence of his cousin, Henry 
of Lancaster, who was crowned as Henry IV. Henry's title 
to the throne, according to hereditary principles, was defective, 
for the grandson of an older brother was living. But he was a 
mere child, and there was no considerable opposition to Henry's 
accession. Under the Lancastrian line, as Henry IV, Henry V, 
and Henry VI, who now reigned successively, are called, Parlia- 
ment reached the highest position which it had yet attained, 
a position higher in fact than it held for several centuries after- 

86 Industrial and Social History of England 

ward. Henry VI was a child at the death of his father in 1422. 
On coming to be a man he proved too mild in temper to control 
the great nobles who, by the chances of inheritance, had become 
almost as powerful as the great feudal barons of early Norman 
times. The descendants of the older branch of the royal family 
were now represented by a vigorous and capable man, the duke 
of York. An effort was therefore made about 1450 by one 
party of the nobles to depose Henry VI in favor of the duke of 
York. A number of other nobles took the side of the king, and 
civil war broke out. After a series of miserable contests known 
as the "Wars of the Roses " the former party was successful, at 
least temporarily, and the duke of York became king in 1461 
as Edward IV. 

28. The Black Death and its Effects. During the earlier 
mediaeval centuries the most marked characteristic of society 
was its stability. Institutions continued with but slight changes 
during a long period. With the middle of the fourteenth cen- 
tury changes become more prominent. Some of the most 
conspicuous of these gather around a series of attacks of epidemic 
disease during the latter half of the century. 

From the autumn of 1348 to the spring of 1350 a wave of 
pestilence was spreading over England from the southwest 
northward and eastward, progressively attacking every part of 
the country. The disease was new to Europe. Its course in 
the individual case, like its progress through the community, 
was very rapid. The person attacked either died within two 
or three days or even less, or showed signs of recovery within 
the same period. The proportion of cases which resulted 
fatally was extremely large ; the infectious character of the dis- 
ease quite remarkable. It was, in fact, an extremely violent 
epidemic attack, the most violent in history, of the bubonic 
plague, with which we have unfortunately become again familiar 
within recent years. 

From much careful examination of several kinds of contem- 
porary evidence it seems almost certain that as each locality was 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 87 

successively attacked in 1348 and 1349 something like a half of 
the population died. In other words, whereas in an ordinary 
year at that time perhaps one-twentieth of the people died, 
in the plague year one-half died. Such entries as the following 
are frequent in the contemporary records. At the abbey of 
Newenham, "in the time of this mortality or pestilence there 
died in this house twenty monks and three lay brothers, whose 
names are entered in other books. And Walter, the abbot, 
and two monks were left alive there after the sickness." At 
Leicester, " in the little parish of St. Leonard there died more than 
380, in the parish of Holy Cross more than 400, in that of St. 
Margaret more than 700; and so in every parish great num- 
bers." The close arrangement of houses in the villages, the 
crowding of dwellings along narrow streets in the towns, the 
promiscuous life in the monasteries and in the inns, the un- 
cleanly habits of living universally prevalent, all helped to make 
possible this sweeping away of perhaps a majority of the popu- 
lation by an attack of epidemic disease. It had devastated 
several of the countries of Europe before appearing in England, 
having been introduced into Europe apparently along the great 
trade routes from the far East. Within a few months the attack 
in each successive district subsided, the disease in the south- 
western counties of England having run its course between Au- 
gust, 1348, and May, 1349 ; in and about London between 
November, 1348, and July, 1349 ; in the eastern counties in the 
summer of 1349 ; and in the more northern counties through the 
last months of that year or within the spring of 1350. Pesti- 
lence was frequent throughout the Middle Ages, but this attack 
was not only vastly more destructive and general than any 
which had preceded it, but the disease when once introduced 
became a frequent scourge in subsequent times, especially dur- 
ing the remainder of the fourteenth century. In 1361, 1368, 
and 1396 attacks are noticed as occurring more or less widely 
through the country, but none were so extensive as that which 
is usually spoken of as the "Black Death" of 1348-1349. The 

88 Industrial and Social History of England 

term " Black Death " was not used contemporaneously, nor 
until comparatively modern times. The occurrence of the 
pestilence, however, made an extremely strong impression on 
men's minds, and as " the great mortality," " the great pesti- 
lence," or " the great death," it appears widely in the records 
and the literature of the time. 

Such an extensive and sudden destruction of life could not 
take place without leaving its mark in many directions. Mon- 
asteries were depopulated, and the value of their property and 
the strictness of their discipline diminished. The need for 
priests led to the ordination of those who were less carefully 
prepared and selected. The number of students at Oxford and 
Cambridge was depleted ; the building and adornment of many 
churches suspended. The war between England and France, 
though promptly renewed, involved greater difficulty in obtain- 
ing equipment, and ultimately required new devices to meet its 
expense. Many of the towns lost numbers and property that 
were never regained, and the distribution of population through- 
out England was appreciably changed. 

But the most evident and far-reaching results of the series 
of pestilences occurring through the last half of the fourteenth 
century were those connected with rural life and the arrange- 
ment of classes described in Chapter II. 

The lords of manors might seem at first thought to have 
reaped advantage from the unusually high death rate. The 
heriots collected on the death of tenants were more numerous; 
reliefs paid by their successors on obtaining the land were re- 
peated far more frequently than usual; much land escheated 
to the lord on the extinction of the families of free tenants, or 
fell into his hands for redisposal on the failure of descendants of 
villains or cotters. But these were only temporary and casual 
results. In other ways the diminution of population was dis- 
tinctly disadvantageous to the lords of manors. They obtained 
much lower rents for mills and other such monopolies, because 
thete were fewer people to have their grain ground and the ten- 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 89 

ants of the mills could therefore not make as much profit. The 
rents of assize or regular periodical payments in money and in 
kind made by free and villain tenants were less in amount, since 
the tenants were fewer and much land was unoccupied. The 
profits of the manor courts were less, for there were not so many 
suitors to attend, to pay fees, and to be fined. The manor 
court rolls for these years give long lists of vacancies of holdings, 
often naming the days of the deaths of the tenants. Their 
successors are often children, and in many cases whole families 
were swept away and the land taken into the hands of the lord 
of the manor. Juries appointed at one meeting of the manor 
court are sometimes all dead by the time of the next meeting. 
There are constant complaints by the stewards that certain 
land "is of no value because the tenants are all dead "; in one 
place that a water-mill is worthless because "all the tenants 
who used it are dead," in another that the rents are 7 145. 
less than in the previous year because fourteen holdings, con- 
sisting of 1 02 acres of land, are in the hands of the lord ; in still 
another that the rents of assize which used to be 20 are now 
only 2 and the court fees have fallen from 40 to 5 shillings 
"because the tenants there are dead." There was also less 
required service performed on the demesne lands, for many of 
the villain holdings from which it was owed were now vacant. 
Last, and most seriously of all, the lords of manors suffered as 
employers of labor. It had always been necessary to hire 
additional labor for the cultivation of the demesne farm and for 
the personal service of the manor, and through recent decades 
somewhat more had come to be hired because of a gradual 
increase of the practice of commutation of services. That is, 
villain tenants were allowed to pay the value of their required 
days' work in money instead of in actual service. The bailiff or 
reeve then hired men as they were wanted, so that quite an ap- 
preciable part of the work of the manor had come to be done by 
laborers hired for wages. 
After the Black Death the same demesne lands were to be 

QO Industrial and Social History of England 

cultivated, and in most cases the larger holdings remained or 
descended or were regranted to those who would expect to 
continue their cultivation. Thus the demand for laborers 
remained approximately as great as it had been before. The 
number of laborers, on the other hand, was vastly diminished. 
They were therefore eagerly sought for by employers. Naturally 
they took advantage of their position to demand higher wages, 
and in many cases combined to refuse to work at the old accus- 
tomed rates. A royal ordinance of 1349 states that, " because 
a great part of the people, especially of workmen and servants, 
have lately died in the pestilence, many, seeing the necessity 
of masters and great scarcity of servants, will not serve unless 
they may receive excessive wages." A contemporary chronicler 
says that " laborers were so elated and contentious that they 
did not pay any attention to the command of the king, and if 
anybody wanted to hire them he was bound to pay them what 
they asked, and so he had his choice either to lose his harvest 
and crops or give in to the proud and covetous desires of the 
workmen." Thus, because of this rise in wages, at the very 
time that many of the usual sources of income of the lords of 
manors were less remunerative, the expenses of carrying on their 
farming operations were largely increased. On closer examina- 
tion, therefore, it becomes evident that the income of the lords 
of manors, whether individuals or corporations, was not in- 
creased, but considerably diminished, and that their position 
was less favorable than it had been before the pestilence. 

The freeholders of land below lords of manors were disad- 
vantageously affected in as far as they had to hire laborers, but 
in other ways were in a more favorable position. The rent 
which they had to pay was often reduced. Land was every- 
where to be had in plenty, and a threat to give up their holdings 
and go to where more favorable terms could be secured was 
generally effective in obtaining better terms where they were. 

The villain holders legally of course did not have this oppor- 
tunity, but practically they secured many of its advantages. 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 91 

It is probable that many took up additional land, perhaps on 
an improved tenure. Their payments and their labor, whether 
done in the form of required " week- work," or, if this were 
commuted, done for hire, were much valued, and concessions 
made to them accordingly. They might, as they frequently 
did, take to flight, giving up their land and either obtaining a 
new grant somewhere else or becoming laborers without lands 
of their own. 

This last-named class, made up of those who depended en- 
tirely on agricultural labor on the land of others for their sup- 
port, was a class which had been increasing in numbers, and 
which was the most distinctly favored by the demand for laborers 
and the rise of wages. They were the representatives of the old 
cotter class, recruited from those who either inherited no land 
or found it more advantageous to work for wages than to take 
up small holdings with their burdens. 

But the most important social result of the Black Death and 
the period of pestilence which followed it was the general shock 
it gave to the old settled life and established relations of men to 
one another. It introduced many immediate changes, and still 
more causes of ultimate change ; but above all it altered the old 
stability, so that change in future would be easy. 

29. The Statutes of Laborers. The change which showed 
itself most promptly, the rise in the prevailing rate of wages, was 
met by the strenuous opposition of the law. In the summer of 
1349, while the pestilence was still raging in the north of England 
the king, acting on the advice of his Council, issued a proclama- 
tion to all the sheriffs and the officials of the larger towns, de- 
claring that the laborers were taking advantage of the needs of 
their lords to demand excessive wages, and prohibiting them 
from asking more than had been due and accustomed in the year 
before the outbreak of the pestilence or for the preceding five 
or six years. Every laborer when offered service at these wages 
must accept it ; the lords of manors having the first right to the 
labor of those living on their manors, provided they did not 

92 Industrial and Social History of England 

insist on retaining an unreasonable number. If any laborers, 
men or women, bond or free, should refuse to accept such an 
offer of work, they were to be imprisoned till they should give 
bail to serve as required. Commissioners were then appointed 
by the king in each county to inquire into and punish violations 
of this ordinance. 

When Parliament next met, in February, 1351, the Commons 
sent a petition to the king stating that his ordinance had not 
been obeyed and that laborers were claiming double and treble 
what they had received in the years before the pestilence. In 
response to the petition what is usually called the " First Statute 
of Laborers" was enacted. It repeated the requirement that 
men must accept work when it was offered to them, established 
definite rates of wages for various classes of laborers, and 
required all such persons to swear twice a year before the stew- 
ards, bailiffs, or other officials that they would obey this law. 
If they refused to swear or disobeyed the law, they were to be 
put in the stocks for three days or more and then sent to the 
nearest jail till they should agree to serve as required. It was 
ordered that stocks should be built in each village for this pur- 
pose, and that the judges should visit each county twice a year 
to inquire into the enforcement of the law. In 1357 the law 
was reenacted, with some changes of the destination of the fines 
collected for its breach. In 1361 there was a further reenact- 
ment of the law with additional penalties. If laborers will not 
work unless they are given higher wages than those established 
by law, they can be taken and imprisoned by lords of manors 
for as much as fifteen days, and then be sent to the next jail to 
await the coming of the justices. If any one after accepting 
service leaves it, he is to be arrested and sued before the justices. 
If he cannot be found, he is to be outlawed and a writ sent to 
every sheriff in England ordering that he should be arrested, 
sent back, and imprisoned till he pays his fine and makes amends 
to the party injured ; " and besides for the falsity he shall be 
burnt in the forehead with an iron made and formed to this 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 93 

letter F in token of Falsity, if the party aggrieved shall ask for 
it." This last provision, however, was probably intended as a 
threat rather than an actual punishment, for its application was 
suspended for some months, and even then it was to be inflicted 
only on the advice of the judges, and the iron was to remain in 
the custody of the sheriff. The statute was reenacted with 
slight variations thirteen times within the century after its 
original introduction ; namely, in addition to the dates already 
mentioned, in 1362, 1368, 1378, 1388, 1402, 1406, 1414, 1423, 
1427, 1429, and 1444. 

The necessity for these repeated reissues of the statutes of la- 
borers indicates that the general rise of wages was not prevented. 
Forty years after the pestilence the law of 1388 is said to be 
passed, " because that servants and laborers are not, nor by 
a long time have been willing to serve and labor without out- 
rageous and excessive hire." Direct testimony also indicates 
that the prevailing rate of wages was much higher, probably 
half as much again, as it had been before the pestilence. Never- 
theless, the enforcement of the law in individual cases must have 
been a very great hardship. The fines which were collected from 
breakers of the law were of sufficient amount to be estimated at 
one time as part payment of a tax, at another as a valuable 
source of income to the lords of manors. Their enforcement was 
intrusted at different times to the local justices of the peace, 
the royal judges on circuit, and special commissioners. 

The inducement to the passage of the laws prohibiting a rise 
in wages was no doubt partly the self-interest of the employing 
classes who were alone represented in Parliament, but partly 
also the feeling that the laboring class were taking advantage 
of an abnormal condition of affairs to change the well-established 
customary rates of remuneration of labor. The most significant 
fact indicated by the laws, however, was the existence of a dis- 
tinct class of laborers. In earlier times, when almost all rural 
dwellers held some land, this can hardly have been the case ; 
it is quite evident that there was now an increasing class who 

94 Industrial and Social History of England 

made their living simply by working for wages. Another fact 
frequently referred to in the laws is the frequent passage of 
laborers from one district to another ; it is evident that the popu- 
lation was becoming somewhat less stationary. Therefore while 
the years following the great pestilence were a period of difficulty 
for the lords of manors and the employing classes, for the lower 
classes the same period was one of increasing opportunity and a 
breaking down of old restrictions. Whether or not the statutes 
had any real effect in keeping the rate of wages lower than it 
would have otherwise become is hard to determine, but there is 
no doubt that the efforts to enforce the law and the frequent 
punishment of individuals for its violation embittered the 
minds of the laborers and helped to throw them into opposi- 
tion to the government and to the upper classes generally. The 
statutes of laborers thus became one of the principal causes of 
the growth of that hostility which culminated in the Peasants' 

30. The Peasants' Rebellion of 1381. From the scanty 
contemporary records still remaining we can obtain glimpses 
of a widespread restlessness among the masses of the English 
people during the latter half of the fourteenth century. Accord- 
ing to a petition submitted to Parliament in 1377 the villains 
were refusing to pay their customary services to their lords and 
to acknowledge the requirements of their serfdom. They were 
also gathering together in great bodies to resist the efforts of the 
lords to collect from them their dues and to force them to sub 
mit to the decisions of the manor courts. The ready reception 
given to the religious revival preached by the Lollards through- 
out the country indicates an attitude of independence and of 
self-assertion on the part of the people of which there had been 
no sign during earlier times. The writer who represents most 
nearly popular feeling, the author of the Vision of Piers Plow- 
man, reflects a certain restless and questioning mysticism which 
has no particular plan of reform to propose, but is nevertheless 
thoroughly dissatisfied with the world as it is. Lastly, a series of 


The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 95 

vague appeals to revolt, written in the vernacular, partly in 
prose, partly in doggerel rhyme, have been preserved and seem 
to testify to a deliberate propaganda of lawlessness. Some of 
the general causes of this rising tide of discontent are quite 
apparent. The efforts to enforce the statutes of laborers, as 
has been said, kept continual friction between the employing and 
the employed class. Parliament, which kept petitioning for 
reenactments of these laws, the magistrates and special com- 
missioners who enforced them, and the land-owners who appealed 
to them for relief, were alike engaged in creating class antag- 
onism and multiplying individual grievances. Secondly, the 
very improvement in the economic position of the lower classes, 
which was undoubtedly in progress, made them doubly impatient 
of the many burdens which still pressed upon them. Another 
cause for the prevalent unrest may have lain in the character 
of much of the teaching of the time. Undisguised communism 
was preached by a wandering priest, John Ball, and the injustice 
of the claims of the property-holding classes was a very natural 
inference from much of the teachings of Wy cliff e and his "poor 
priests." Again, the corruption of the court, the incapacity of 
the ministers, and the failure of the war in France were all rea- 
sons for popular anger, if the masses of people can be supposed 
to have had any knowledge of such distant matters. 

But the most definite and widespread cause of discontent was 
probably the introduction of a new form of taxation, the general 
poll tax. Until this time taxes had either been direct taxes laid 
upon land and personal property, or indirect taxes laid upon va- 
rious objects of export and import. In 1377, however, Parlia- 
ment agreed to the imposition of a tax of four pence a head on all 
laymen, and Convocation soon afterward taxed all the clergy, 
regular and secular, the same amount. Notwithstanding this 
grant and increased taxes of the old forms, the government still 
needed more money for the expenses of the war with France, and 
in April, 1379, a graduated poll tax was laid on all persons 
above sixteen years of age. This was regulated according to 

g6 Industrial and Social History of England 

the rank of the payer from mere laborers, who were to pay four 
pence, up to earls, who must pay 4. But this only produced 
some 20,000, while more than 100,000 were needed ; therefore 
in November of 1380 a third poll tax was laid in the following 
manner. The tax was to be collected at the rate of three groats 
or one shilling for each person over fifteen years of age. But 
although the total amount payable from any town or manor was 
to be as many shillings as there were inhabitants over fourteen 
years of age, it was to be assessed in each manor upon individuals 
in proportion to their means, the more well-to-do paying more, 
the poorer paying less ; but with the limits that no one should 
have to pay more than i for himself and his wife, and no one 
less than four pence for himself and his wife. 

The poll tax was extremely unpopular. In the first place, it 
was a new tax, and to all appearances an additional weight 
given to the burden of contributing to the never ending expenses 
of the government of which the people were already weary. 
Moreover, it fell upon everybody, even upon those who from 
their lack of property had probably never before paid any tax. 
The inhabitants of every cottage were made to realize, by the 
payment of what amounted to two or three days' wages, that 
they had public and political as well as private and economic 
burdens. Lastly, the method of assessing the tax gave scope for 
much unfairness and favoritism. 

In addition to this general unpopularity of the poll tax there 
was a special reason for opposition in the circumstances of that 
imposed in 1380. As the returns began to come in they were 
extremely disappointing to the government. Therefore in 
March, 1381, the king, suspecting negligence on the part of the 
collectors, appointed groups of commissioners for a number of 
different districts who were directed to go from place to place 
investigating the former collection and enforcing payment from 
any who had evaded it before. This no doubt seemed to many 
of the ignorant people the imposition of a second tax. The first 
rumors of disorder, came in May from some of the villages of 


to the Poll-tax of 


r,elo w id to fht iqiure mile 
Between 10 and per sq. mile 
.Above 80 tD the square mile 



98 Industrial and Social History of England 

Essex, where the tax-collectors and the commissioners who 
followed them were driven away violently by the people. Fi- 
nally, during the second week in June, rioting began in several 
parts of England almost simultaneously. In Essex those who 
had refused to pay the poll tax and driven out the collectors 
now went from village to village persuading or compelling the 
people to join them. In Kent the villagers seized pilgrims on 
their way to Canterbury and forced them to take an oath to 
resist any tax except the old taxes, to be faithful to "King 
Richard and the Commons," to join their party when summoned 
and never to allow John of Gaunt to become king. A riot broke 
out at Dartford in Kent, then Canterbury was overrun, and the 
sheriff was forced to give up the tax rolls to be destroyed. They 
proceeded to break into Maidstone jail and release the prisoners 
there, and subsequently entered Rochester. These Kentish 
insurgents then set out toward London, wishing no doubt to 
obtain access to the young king, who was known to be there, 
but also directed by an instinctive desire to strike at the capital 
of the kingdom. By Wednesday, the i2th of June, they had 
formed a rendezvous at Blackheath some five miles below the 
city. Some of the Essex men had crossed the river and joined 
them, others had also taken their way toward London, marching 
along the northern side of the Thames. At the same time, or 
by the next day, another band was approaching London from 
Hertfordshire on the north. The body of insurgents gathered 
at Blackheath, who were stated by contemporary chroniclers, 
no doubt with the usual exaggeration, to have numbered 60,000, 
succeeded in communicating with King Richard, a boy of four- 
teen years, who was residing at the Tower of London with his 
mother and principal ministers and several great nobles, asking 
him to come to meet them. On the next day, Corpus Christi 
day, June i2th, he was rowed with a group of nobles to the other 
bank of the river, where the insurgents were crowding to the 
water side. The confusion and danger were so great that the 
king did not land, and the conference amounted to nothing. 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 99 

During the same day, however, the rebels pressed on to the city, 
and a part of the populace of London having left the drawbridge 
open for them, they made their way in. The evening of the 
same day the men from Essex entered through one of the city 
gates which had also been opened for them by connivance from 
within. There had already been much destruction of property 
and of life. As the rebels passed along the roads, the villagers 
joined them and many of the lower classes of the town popula- 
tion as well. In several cases they burned the houses of the 
gentry and of the great ecclesiastics, destroyed tax and court 
rolls and other documents, and put to death persons connected 
with the law. When they had made their way into London they 
burned and pillaged the Savoy palace, the city house of the duke 
of Lancaster, and the houses of the Knights Hospitallers at 
Clerkenwell and at Temple Bar. By this time leaders had arisen 
among the rebels. Wat Tyler, John Ball, and Jack Straw were 
successful in keeping their followers from stealing and in giving 
some semblance of a regular plan to their proceedings. On the 
morning of Friday, the i4th, the king left the Tower, and while 
he was absent the rebels made their way in, ransacked the rooms, 
seized and carried out to Tower Hill Simon Sudbury, archbishop 
of Canterbury, who was Lord Chancellor, Robert Hales, Grand 
Master of the Hospitallers, who was then Lord Treasurer, and 
some lower officials. These were all put through the hasty 
forms of an irregular trial and then beheaded. There were also 
many murders throughout the city. Foreigners especially were 
put to death, probably by Londoners themselves or by the rural 
insurgents at their instigation. A considerable number of 
Flemings were assassinated, some being drawn from one of the 
churches where they had taken refuge. The German merchants 
of the Steelyard were attacked and driven through the streets, 
but took refuge in their well-defended buildings. 

During the same three days, insurrection had broken out in 
several other parts of England. Disorders are mentioned in 
Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 101 

Cambridge, Huntingdon, Hampshire, Sussex, Somerset, Leices- 
ter, Lincoln, York, Bedford, Northampton, Surrey, and Wilt- 
shire. There are also indications of risings in nine other coun- 
ties. In Suffolk the leadership was taken by a man named 
John Wrawe, a priest like John Ball. On June i2th, the same 
day that the rendezvous was held on Blackheath, a great body 
of peasants under Wrawe attacked and pillaged a manor house 
belonging to Richard Lyons, an unpopular minister of the last 
days of Edward III. The next day they looted a parish church 
where were stored the valuables of Sir John Cavendish, Chief 
Justice of the Court of King's Bench and Chancellor of the town 
of Cambridge. On the i4th they occupied Bury, where they 
sacked the houses of unpopular men and finally captured and put 
to death Cavendish himself, John of Cambridge, prior of the St. 
Edmund's Abbey, and John of Lakenheath, an officer of the king. 
The rioters also forced the monks of the abbey to hand over to 
them all the documents giving to the monastery power over the 
townsmen. There were also a large number of detached attacks 
on persons and on manor houses, where manor court rolls and 
other documents were destroyed and property carried off. There 
was more theft here than in London ; but much of the plunder- 
ing was primarily intended to settle old disputes rather than for 
its own sake. In Norfolk the insurrection broke out a day or 
two later than in Suffolk, and is notable as having among its 
patrons a considerable number of the lesser gentry and other 
well-to-do persons. The principal leader, however, was a cer- 
tain Geoffrey Lister. This man had issued a proclamation 
calling on all the people to meet on the lyth of June on Mushold 
Heath, just outside the city of Norwich. A great multitude 
gathered, and they summoned Sir Robert Salle, who was in the 
military service of the king, but was living at Norwich, and who 
had risen from peasant rank to knighthood, to come out for a 
conference. When he declined their request to become their 
leader they assassinated him, and subsequently made their way 
into the city, of which they kept control for several days. 

iO2 Industrial and Social History of England 

Throughout Norfolk and Cambridgeshire we hear of the same 
murders of men who had obtained the hatred of the lower classes 
in general, or those of individuals who were temporarily influen- 
tial with the insurgents. There were also numerous instances 
of the destruction of court rolls found at the manor houses of lay 
lords of manors or obtained from the muniment rooms of the 
monasteries. It seems almost certain that there was some 
agreement beforehand among the leaders of the revolt in the 
eastern districts of England, and probably also with the leaders 
in Essex and Kent. 

Another locality where we have full knowledge of the occur- 
rences during the rebellion is the town and monastery of St. 
Albans, just north of London. The rising here was either 
instigated by, or, at least, drew its encouragement from, the 
leaders who gathered at London. The townsmen and villains 
from surrounding manors invaded the great abbey, opened the 
prison, demanded and obtained all the charters bearing on 
existing disputes, and reclaimed a number of millstones which 
were kept by the abbey as a testimony to the monopoly of all 
grinding by the abbey mill. In many other places disorders 
were in progress. For a few days in the middle of June a con- 
siderable part of England was at the mercy of the revolted peas- 
ants and artisans, under the leadership partly of men who had 
arisen among their own class, partly of certain persons of higher 
position who had sufficient reason for throwing in their lot with 

The culmination of the revolt was at the time of the execu- 
tion of the great ministers of government on Tower Hill on the 
morning of the i4th. At that very time the young king had 
met a body of the rebels, mostly made up of men from Essex and 
Hertfordshire at Mile End, just outside of one of the gates of 
London. In a discussion in which they stated their grievances, 
the king, apparently in good faith, but as it afterward proved 
in bad, promised to give them what they demanded, begged 
them to disperse and go to their homes, only leaving representa- 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 103 

tives from each village to take back the charters of emancipa- 
tion which he proceeded to have prepared and issued to them. 
There had been no intentional antagonism to the king himself, 
and a great part of the insurgents took him at his word and 
scattered to their homes. The charters which they took with 
them were of the following form : 

"Richard, by the grace of God, King of England and France, 
and Lord of Ireland, to all his bailiffs and faithful ones, to whom 
these present letters shall come, greeting. Know that of our 
special grace, we have manumitted all of our lieges and each of 
our subjects and others of the County of Hertford ; and them 
and each of them have made free from all bondage, and by these 
presents make them quit. And moreover we pardon our same 
lieges and subjects for all kinds of felonies, treasons, trans- 
gressions, and extortions, however done or perpetrated by them 
or any of them, and also outlawry, if any shall have been pro- 
mulgated on this account against them or any of them ; and our 
most complete peace to them and each of them we concede in 
these matters. In testimony of which things we have caused 
these our letters to be made patent. Witness, myself, at 
London, on the fifteenth day of June, in the fourth year of our 

The most prominent leaders remained behind, and a large 
body of rioters spent the rest of Friday and the following night 
in London. The king, after the interview at Mile End, had 
returned to the Tower, then to the Queen's Wardrobe, a little 
palace at the other side of London, where he spent the night 
with his mother. In the morning he mounted his horse, and 
with a small group of attendants rode toward the Tower. As 
he passed through the open square of Smithfield he met Wat 
Tyler, also on horseback, accompanied by the great body of 
rebels. Tyler rode forward to confer with the king, but an 
altercation having broken out between him and some of the 
king's attendants, the mayor of London, Sir William Walworth, 
suddenly dashed forward, struck him from his horse with the 

104 Industrial, and Social History of England 

blow of a sword, and while on the ground he was stabbed to 
death by the other attendants of the king. There was a moment 
of extreme danger of an attack by the leaderless rebels on the 
king and his companions, but the ready promises of the king, 
his natural gifts of pretence, and the strange attachment which 
the peasants showed to him through all the troubles, tided over 
a little time until they had been led outside of the city gates, 
and the armed forces which many gentlemen had in their houses 
in the city had at last been gathered together and brought to 
where they had the disorganized body of rebels at their mercy. 
These were then disarmed, bidden to go to their homes, and a 
proclamation issued that if any stranger remained in London 
over Sunday he would pay for it with his life. 

The downfall of Tyler and the dispersion of the insurgents at 
London turned the tide of the whole revolt. In the various 
districts where disorders were in progress the news of that failure 
came as a blow to all their own hopes of success. The revolt 
had been already disintegrating rather than gaining in strength 
and unity; and now its leaders lost heart, and local bodies of 
gentry proportionately took courage to suppress revolt in their 
own localities. The most conspicuous and influential of such 
efforts was that of Henry de Spencer, bishop of Norwich. This 
warlike prelate was in Rutlandshire when the news of the revolt 
came. He hastened toward Norwich ; on his way met an em- 
bassy from the rioters to the king ; seized and beheaded two of 
its peasant members, and still pushing on met the great body of 
the rebels near Walsham, where after a short conflict and some 
parleying the latter were dispersed, and their leaders captured 
and hanged without any ceremony other than the last rites of 
religion. As a matter of fact the rising had no cohesion suffi- 
cient to withstand attack from any constituted authority or from 
representatives of the dominant classes. 

The king's government acted promptly. On the lyth of 
June, two days after the death of Tyler, a proclamation was 
issued forbidding unauthorized gatherings of people ; on the 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 105 

23d a second, requiring all tenants, villains, and freemen alike to 
perform their usual services to their lords; and on the 2d of 
July a third, withdrawing the charters of pardon and manu- 
mission which had been granted on the i$th of June. Special 
sessions of the courts were organized in the rebellious districts, 
and the leaders of the revolt were searched out and executed by 
hanging or decapitation. 

On the 3d of November Parliament met. The king's treasurer 
explained that he had issued the charters under constraint, and 
recognizing their illegality, with the expectation of withdrawing 
them as soon as possible, which he had done. The suggestion 
of the king that the villains should be regularly enfranchised by 
a statute was declined in vigorous terms by Parliament. Laws 
were passed relieving all those who had made grants under com- 
pulsion from carrying them out, enabling those whose charters 
had been destroyed to obtain new ones under the great seal, 
granting exemption from prosecution to all who had exercised 
illegal violence in putting down the late insurrection, and 
finally granting a general pardon, though with many excep- 
tions, to the late insurgents. 

Thus the rising of June, 1381, had become a matter of the 
past by the close of the year. The general conditions which 
brought about a popular uprising have already been discussed. 
The specific objects which the rioters had in view in each part of 
the country are a much more obscure and complicated question. 

There is no reason to believe that there was any general 
political object, other than opposition to the new and burden- 
some taxation, and disgust with the existing ministry. Nor 
was there any religious object in view. No doubt a large part 
of the disorder had no general purpose whatever, but consisted 
in an attempt, at a period of confusion and relaxation of the 
law, to settle by violence purely local or personal disputes and 

Apart from these considerations the objects of the rioters 
were of an economic nature. There was a general effort to 

io6 Industrial and Social History of England 

destroy the rolls of the manor courts. These rolls, kept either 
in manor houses, or in the castles of great lords, or in the mon- 
asteries, were the record of the burdens and payments and dis- 
abilities of the villagers. Previous payments of heriot, relief, 
merchet, and fines, acknowledgments of serfdom, the obtaining 
of their land on burdensome conditions, were all recorded on 
the rolls and could be produced to prove the custom of the 
manor to the disadvantage of the tenant. It is true that these 
same rolls showed who held each piece of ground and defined 
the succession to it, and that they were long afterward to be 
recognized in the national courts as giving to the customary 
holder the right of retaining and of inheriting the land, so 
that it might seem an injury to themselves to destroy the 
manor court records. But in that period, when tenants were 
in such demand, their hold on their land had been in no danger 
of being disturbed. If these records were destroyed, the villains 
might well expect that they could claim to be practically owners 
of the houses and little groups of acres which they and their an- 
cestors had held from time immemorial ; and this without the 
necessity for payments and reservations to which the rolls testified. 

Again, lawyers and all connected with the law were the 
objects of special hostility on the part of insurgents. This 
must have been largely from the same general cause as that 
just mentioned. It was lawyers who acted as stewards for 
the great lords, it was through lawyers that the legal claims 
of lords of manors were enforced in the king's courts. It was 
also the judges and lawyers who put in force the statutes of 
laborers, and who so generally acted as collectors of the poll tax. 

More satisfactory relations with their lords were demanded 
by insurgents who were freeholders, as well as by those who 
were villains. Protests are recorded against the tolls on sales 
and purchases, and against attendance at the manorial courts, 
and a maximum limit to the rent of land is asked for. Finally, 
the removal of the burdens of serfdom was evidently one of the 
general objects of the rebels, though much of the initiative 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 107 

of the revolt was taken by men from Kent, where serfdom did 
not exist. The servitude of the peasantry is the burden of the 
sermon of John Ball at Blackheath, its abolition was demanded 
in several places by the insurgents, and the charters of emanci- 
pation as given by the king professed to make them " free 
from all bondage." 

These objects were in few if any cases obtained. It is ex- 
tremely difficult to trace any direct results from the rising 
other than those involved in its failure, the punishment of the 
leaders, and the effort to restore everything to its former con- 
dition. There was indeed a conservative reaction in several 
directions. The authorities of London forbade the admission of 
any former villain to citizenship, and the Commons in Parlia- 
ment petitioned the king to reduce the rights of villains still 
further. On the whole, the revolt is rather an illustration of 
the general fact that great national crises have left but a slight 
impress on society, while the important changes have taken 
place slowly and by an almost imperceptible development. 
The results of the rising are rather to be looked for in giving 
increased rapidity and definite direction to changes already 
in progress, than in starting any new movement or in obtaining 
the results which the insurgents may have wished. 

31. Commutation of Services. One of these changes, 
already in progress long before the outbreak of the revolt, 
has already been referred to. A silent transformation was 
going on inside of the manorial life in the form of a gradual 
substitution of money payments by the villain tenants for the 
old labor for two, three, or four days a week, and at special 
times during the year. This was often described as " selling 
to the tenants their services." They " bought " their exemp- 
tion from furnishing actual work by paying the value of it in 
money to the official representing the lord of the manor. 

This was a mutually advantageous arrangement. The 
villain's tune would be worth more to himself than to his lord ; 
for if he had sufficient land in his possession he could occupy 

io8 Industrial and Social History of England 

himself profitably on it, or if he had not so much land he could 
choose his time for hiring himself out to the best advantage. 
The lord, on the other hand, obtained money which could be 
spent in paying men whose services would be more willing and 
interested, and who could be engaged at more available times. 
It is not, therefore, a matter of surprise that the practice of 
allowing tenants to pay for their services arose early. Commuta- 
tion is noticeable as early as the thirteenth century and not very 
unusual in the first half of the fourteenth. After the pestilence, 
however, there was a very rapid substitution of money pay- 
ments for labor payments. The process continued through the 
remainder of the fourteenth century and the early fifteenth, 
and by the middle of that century the enforcement of regular 
labor services had become almost unknown. The boon-works 
continued to be claimed after the week-work had disappeared, 
since labor was not so easy to obtain at the specially busy 
seasons of the year, and the required few days' services at 
ploughing or mowing or harvesting were correspondingly valu- 
able. But even these were extremely unusual after the middle 
of the fifteenth century. 

This change was dependent on at least two conditions, an 
increased amount of money in circulation and an increased 
number of free laborers available for hire. These conditions 
were being more and more completely fulfilled. Trade at 
fairs and markets and in the towns was increasing through 
the whole fourteenth century. The increase of weaving and 
other handicrafts produced more wealth and trade. Money 
coming from abroad and from the royal mints made its way 
into circulation and came into the hands of the villain ten- 
ants through the sale of surplus products or as payment for 
their labor. The sudden destruction of one-half of the popu- 
lation by the Black Death while the amount of money in the 
country remained the same, doubled the circulation per capita. 
Tenants were thus able to offer regular money payments to 
their lords in lieu of their personal services. 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 109 

During the same period the number of free laborers who 
could be hired to perform the necessary work on the demesne 
was increasing. Even before the pestilence there were men 
and women on every manor who held little or no land and who 
could be secured by the lord for voluntary labor if the com- 
pulsory, labor of the villains was given up. Some of these 
laborers were fugitive villains who had fled from one manor 
to another to secure freedom, and this class became much more 
numerous under the circumstances of disorganization after the 
Black Death. Thus the second condition requisite for the 
extensive commutation was present also. 

It might be supposed that after the pestilence, when wages 
were high and labor was so hard to procure, lords of manors 
would be unwilling to allow further commutation, and would 
even try to insist on the performance of actual labor in cases 
where commutation had been previously allowed. Indeed, it 
has been very generally stated that there was such a reaction. 
The contrary, however, was the case. Commutation was never 
more rapid than in the generation immediately after the first 
attack of the pestilence. The laborers seem to have been in so 
favorable a position, that the dread of their flight was a con- 
trolling inducement to the lords to allow the commutation of 
their services if they desired it. The interest of the lords in 
their labor services was also, as will be seen, becoming less. 

When a villain's labor services had been commuted into 
money, his position must have risen appreciably. One of 
the main characteristics of his position as a villain tenant had 
been the uncertainty of his services, the fact that during the 
days in which he must work for his lord he could be put to 
any kind of labor, and that the number of days he must serve 
was itself only restricted by the custom of the manor. His 
services once commuted into a definite sum of money, all un- 
certainty ceased. Moreover, his money payments to the lord, 
although rising from an entirely different source, were almost 
indistinguishable from the money rents paid by the freeholder. 

no Industrial and Social History of England 

Therefore, serf though he might still be in legal status, his posi- 
tion was much more like that of a freeman. 

32. The Abandonment of Demesne Farming. A still 
more important change than the commutation of services was 
in progress during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This 
was the gradual withdrawal of the lords of manors from the 
cultivation of the demesne farms. From very early times it 
had been customary for lords of manors to grant out small 
portions of the demesne, or of previously uncultivated land, to 
tenants at a money rent. The great demesne farm, however, 
had been still kept up as the centre of the agricultural system 
of the vill. But now even this was on many manors rented 
out to a tenant or group of tenants. The earliest known in- 
stances are just at the beginning of the fourteenth century, 
but the labor troubles of the latter half of the century made 
the process more usual, and within the next hundred years the 
demesne lands seem to have been practically all rented out to 
tenants. In other words, whereas, during the earlier Middle 
Ages lords of manors had usually carried on the cultivation of 
the demesne lands themselves, under the administration of their 
bailiffs and with the labor of the villains, making their profit 
by obtaining a food supply for their own households or by 
selling the surplus products, now they gave up their cultivation 
and rented them out to some one else, making their profit by 
receiving a money payment as rent. They became therefore 
landlords of the modern type. Atypical instance of this change 
is where the demesne land of the manor of Wilburton in Cam- 
bridgeshire, consisting of 246 acres of arable land and 42 acres 
of meadow, was rented in 1426 to one of the villain tenants 
of the manor for a sum of 8 a year. The person who took 
the land was usually either a free or a villain tenant of the same 
or a neighboring manor. The land was let for a certain number 
of years, but afterward was usually relet either to the same 
or to another tenant. The word farmer originally meant one 
of these tenants who took the demesne or some other piece of 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion in 

land, paying for it a " farm " or fir ma, that is, a settled estab- 
lished sum, in place of the various forms of profit that might 
have been secured from it by the lord of the manor. The free 
and villain holdings which came into the hands of the lord by 
failure of heirs in those times of frequent extinction of fami- 
lies were also granted out very generally at a money rent, so 
that a large number of the cultivators of the soil came to be 
tenants at a money rent, that is, leaseholders or " farmers." 
These free renting farmers, along with the smaller freeholders, 
made up the " yeomen " of England. 

33. The Decay of Serfdom. It is in the changes discussed 
in the last two paragraphs that is to be found the key to the 
disappearance of serfdom in England. Men had been freed 
from villainage in individual cases by various means. Manu- 
mission of serfs had occurred from time to time through all the 
mediaeval centuries. It was customary in such cases either 
to give a formal charter granting freedom to the man himself 
and to his descendants, or to have entered on the manor court 
roll the fact of his obtaining his enfranchisement. Occasionally 
men were manumitted in order that they might be ordained as 
clergymen. In the period following the pestilences of the four- 
teenth century the difficulty in recruiting the ranks of the priest- 
hood made the practice more frequent. The charters of manu- 
mission issued by the king to the insurgents of 1381 would 
have granted freedom on a large scale had they not been dis- 
owned and subsequently withdrawn. Still other villains had 
obtained freedom by flight from the manors where they had 
been born. When a villaiu who had fled was discovered he 
could be reclaimed by the lord of the manor by obtaining a 
writ from the court, but many obstacles might be placed 
the way of obtaining this writ, and it must always ha; 
volved so much difficulty as to make it doubtful wb 
was worth while. So long as a villain was anywhere el 
on the manor to which he belonged, he was practically 
man, but few of the disabilities of villainage existing 

ii2 Industrial and Social History of England 

as between him and his own lord. Therefore, if a villain was 
willing to sacrifice his little holding and make the necessary 
break with his usual surroundings, he might frequently escape 
into a veritable freedom. 

The attitude of the common law was favorable to liberty 
as against servitude, and in cases of doubt the decisions of the 
royal courts were almost invariably favorable to the freedom 
of the villain. 

But all these possibilities of liberty were only for individual 
cases. Villainage as an institution continued to exist and to 
characterize the position of the mass of the peasantry. The 
number of freemen through the country was larger, but the 
serfdom of the great majority can scarcely have been much 
influenced by these individual cases. The commutation of 
services, however, and still more the abandonment of demesne 
farming by the lords of manors, were general causes conducive 
to freedom. The former custom indicated that the lords 
valued the money that could be paid by the villains more than 
they did their compulsory services. That is, villains whose 
services were paid for in money were practically renters of land 
from the lords, no longer serfs on the land of the lords. The 
lord of the manor could still of course enforce his claim to the 
various payments and restrictions arising from the villainage 
of his tenants, but their position as payers of money was much 
less servile than as performers of forced labor. The willingness 
of the lords to accept money instead of service showed, as before 
stated, that there were other persons who could be hired to do 
the work. The villains were valued more as tenants now that 
there were others to serve as laborers. The occupants of cus- 
tomary holdings were a higher class and a class more worth the 
lord's consideration and favor than the mere laborers. The 
villains were thus raised into partial freedom by having a free 
class still below them. 

The effect of the relinquishment of the old demesne farms 
by the lords of the manors was still more influential in destroy- 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 113 

ing serfdom. The lords had valued serfdom above all because 
it furnished an adequate and absolutely certain supply of labor. 
The villains had to stay on the manor and provide the labor 
necessary for the cultivation of the demesne. But if the 
demesne was rented out to a farmer or divided among several 
holders, the interest of the lord in the labor supply on the 
manor was very much diminished. Even if he agreed in his 
lease of the demesne to the new farmer that the villains should 
perform their customary services in as far as these had not 
been commuted, yet the farmer could not enforce this of him- 
self, and the lord of the manor was probably languid or careless 
or dilatory in doing so. The other payments and burdens of 
serfdom were not so lucrative, and as the ranks of the old 
villain class were depleted by the extinction of families, and 
fewer inhabitants were bound to attend the manor courts, they 
became less so. It became, therefore, gradually more common, 
then quite universal, for the lords of manors to cease to enforce 
the requirements of serfdom. A legal relation of which neither 
party is reminded is apt to become obsolete; and that is 
what practically happened to serfdom in England. It is true 
that many persons were still legally serfs, and occasionally the 
fact of their serfdom was asserted in the courts or inferred by 
granting them manumission. These occasional enfranchise- 
ments continued down into the second half of the sixteenth 
century, and the claim that a certain man was a villain was 
pleaded in the courts as late as 1618. But long before this 
time serfdom had ceased to have much practical importance. It 
may be said that by the middle of the fifteenth century the 
mass of the English rural population were free men and no 
longer serfs. With their labor services commuted to money 
and the other conditions of their villainage no longer enforced, 
they became an indistinguishable part either of the yeomanry 
or of the body of agricultural laborers. 

34. Changes in Town Life and Foreign Trade. The 
changes discussed in the last three sections apply in the main 

ii4 Industrial and Social History of England 

to rural life. The economic and social history of the towns 
during the same period, except in so far as it was part of the 
general national experience, consisted in a still more complete 
adoption of those characteristics which have already been 
described in Chapter III. Their wealth and prosperity became 
greater, they were still more independent of the rural districts 
and of the central government, the intermunicipal character 
of their dealings, the closeness of connection between their 

(Britton : Picturesque Antiquities of English Cities.) 

industrial interests and their government, the completeness 
with which all occupations were organized under the " gild 
system," were all of them still more marked in 1450 than they 
had been in 1350. It is true that far-reaching changes were 
beginning, but they were only beginning, and did not reach 
an important development until a time later than that included 
in this chapter. The same thing is true in the field of foreign 
trade. The latter part of the fourteenth and the early fifteenth 
century saw a considerable increase and development of the 

The Black Death and the Peasants' Rebellion 115 

trade of England, but it was still on the same lines and carried 
on by the same methods as before. The great proportion of 
it was in the hands of foreigners, and there was the same incon- 
sistency in the policy of the central government on the occa- 
sions when it did intervene or take any action on the subject. 
The important changes in trade and in town life which have 
their beginning in this period will be discussed in connection 
with those of the next period in Chapter VI. 


Jessop, Augustus : The Coming of the Friars and other Essays. 
Two interesting essays in this volume are on The Black Death 
in East Anglia. 

Gasquet, F. A. : The Great Pestilence of 1349. 

Creighton, C. : History of Epidemics in Britain, two vol- 
umes. This gives especial attention to the nature of the 

Trevelyan, G. M. : England in the Age of Wycli/e. This 
book, published in 1899, gives by far the fullest account of 
the Peasant Rising which has so far appeared in English. 

Petit-Dutaillis, C., et Reville, A. : Le Soulevement des Tra- 
vailleurs d 1 Angleterre en 1381. The best account of the Re- 

Powell, Edgar: The Peasant Rising in East Anglia in 1381. 
Especially valuable for its accounts of the poll tax. 

Powell, Edgar, and Trevelyan, G. M. : Documents Illus- 
trating the Peasants' Rising and the Lollards. 

Page, Thomas Walker : The End of Villainage in England. 
This monograph, published in 1900, is particularly valuable 
for the new facts which it gives concerning the rural changes 
of the fourteenth century. 




36. National Affairs from 1461 to 1603. The close of the 
fifteenth and the opening of the sixteenth century has been 
by universal consent settled upon as the passage from one era 
to another, from the Middle Ages to modern times. This 
period of transition was marked in England by at least three 
great movements: 'a new type of intellectual life^a new ideal 
of government, and -^the Reformation. The greatest changes 
in English literature and intellectual interests are traceable 
to foreign influence. In the fifteenth century the paramount 
foreign influence was that of Italy. From the middle of the 
fifteenth century an increasing number of young Englishmen 
went to Italy to study, and brought back with them an interest 
in the study of Greek and of other subjects to which this led. 
Somewhat later the social intercourse of Englishmen with Italy 
exercised a corresponding influence on more courtly literature. 
In 1491 the teaching of Greek was begun at Oxford by Grocyn, 
and after this time the passion for classical learning became 
deep, widespread, and enthusiastic. But not only were the 
subjects of intellectual interest different, but the attitude of 
mind in the study 'of these subjects was much more critical than 
it had been in the Middle Ages. The discoveries of new routes 
to the far East and of America, as well as the new speculations 
in natural science which came at this time, reacted on the 
minds of men and broadened their whole mental outlook. 
The production of works of pure literature had suffered a decline 


The Breaking up of the Mediaval System 117 

after the time of Wycliffe and Chaucer, from which there was 
no considerable revival till the early part of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. Sir Thomas More's Utopia, written in Latin in 1514, 
was a philosophical work thrown into the form of a literary 
dialogue and description of an imaginary commonwealth. But 
writing became constantly more abundant and more varied 
through the reigns of Henry VIII, 1509-1547, Edward VI, 
1547-1553, and Mary, 1553-1558, until it finally blossomed 
out into the splendid Elizabethan literature, just at the close 
of our period. 

A stronger royal government had begun with Edward IV. 
The conclusion of the war with France made the king's need 
for money less, and at the same time new sources of income 
appeared. Edward, therefore, from 1461, neglected to call 
Parliament annually, as had been usual, and frequently allowed 
three or more years to go by without any consultation with it. 
He also exercised very freely what was called the dispensing 
power, that is, the power to suspend the law in certain cases, 
and in other ways asserted the royal prerogative as no previous 
king had done for two hundred years. But the true founder 
of the almost absolute monarchy of this period was Henry VII, 
who reigned from 1485 to 1509. He was not the nearest heir 
to the throne, but acted as the representative of the Lancastrian 
line, and by his marriage with the lady who represented the 
claim of the York family joined the two contending factions. 
He was the first of the Tudor line, his successors being his 
son, Henry VIII, and the three children of Henry VIII, Ed- 
ward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth. Henry VII was an able, 
shrewd, far-sighted, and masterful man. During his reign 
he put an end to the disorders of the nobility ; made Parlia- 
ment relatively insignificant by calling it even less frequently 
than Edward TV had done, and by initiating its legislation 
when it did meet. He also increased and regulated the income 
of the crown, and rendered its expenditures subject to control. 
He was able to keep ambassadors regularly abroad, for the 

n8 Industrial and Social History of England 

first time, and in many other ways to support a more expensive 
administration, though often by unpopular and illegal means 
of extortion from the people. He formed foreign political and 
commercial treaties in all directions, and encouraged the voy- 
ages of the Cabots to America. He brought a great deal of 
business constantly before the Royal Council, but chose its 
members for their ability rather than for their high rank. In 
these various ways he created a strong personal government, 
which left but little room for Parliament or people to do anything 
except carry out his will. In these respects Henry's immediate 
successors and their ministers followed the same policy. In 
fact, the Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII, and new in- 
ternal and foreign difficulties in the reign of Elizabeth, brought 
the royal power into a still higher and more independent position. 
The need for a general reformation of the church had long 
been recognized. More than one effort had been made by 
the ecclesiastical authorities to insist on higher intellectual and 
moral standards for the clergy and to rid the church of various 
evil customs and abuses. Again, there had been repeated 
efforts to clothe the king, who was at the head of all civil gov- 
ernment, with extensive control and oversight of church affairs 
also. Men holding different views on questions of church 
government and religious belief from those held by the gen- 
eral Christian church in the Middle Ages, had written and 
taught and found many to agree with them. Thus efforts 
to bring about changes in the established church had not been 
wanting, but they had produced no permanent result. In 
the early years of the sixteenth century, however, several 
causes combined to bring about a movement of this nature 
extending over a number of years and profoundly affecting all 
subsequent history. This is known as the Reformation. The 
first steps of the Reformation in England were taken as the 
result of a dispute between King Henry VIII and the Pope. 
In the first place, several laws were passed through Parliament, 
beginning with the year 1529, abolishing a number of petty 

The Breaking up of the Mediaval System 119 

evils and abusive practices in the church courts. The Pope's 
income from England was then cut off, and his jurisdiction and 
all other forms of authority in England brought to an end. 
Finally, the supremacy of the king over the church and clergy 
and over all ecclesiastical affairs was declared and enforced. By 
the year 1535 the ancient connection between the church in 
England and the Pope was severed. Thus in England, as 
in many continental countries at about the same tune, a national 
church arose independent of Rome. Next, changes began to 
be made in the doctrine and practices of the church. The 
organization under bishops was retained, though they were 
now appointed by the king. Pilgrimages and the worship of 
saints were forbidden, the Bible translated into English, and 
other changes gradually introduced. The monastic life came 
under the condemnation of the reformers. The monasteries 
were therefore dissolved and their property confiscated and 
sold, between the years 1536 and 1542. In the reign of Edward 
VI, 1547-1553, the Reformation was carried much further. 
An English prayer book was issued which was to be used in all 
religious worship, the adornments of the churches were removed, 
the services made more simple, and doctrines introduced which 
assimilated the church of England to the contemporary Protes- 
tant churches on the Continent. 

Queen Mary, who had been brought up in the Roman faith, 
tried to make England again a Roman Catholic country, and 
in the later years of her reign encouraged severe persecutions, 
causing many to be burned at the stake, in the hope of thus 
crushing out heresy. After her death, however, in 1558, Queen 
Elizabeth adopted a more moderate position, and the church 
of England was established by law in much the form it had 
possessed at the death of Henry VIII. 

In the meantime, however, there had been growing up a 
far more spontaneous religious movement than the official 
Reformation which has just been described. Many thou- 
sands of persons had become deeply interested in religion and 

I2O Industrial and Social History of England 

enthusiastic in their faith, and had come to hold different 
views on church government, doctrines, and practices from 
those approved of either by the Roman Catholic church or 
by the government of England. Those who held such views 
were known as Puritans, and throughout the reign of Elizabeth 
were increasing in numbers and making strenuous though 
unsuccessful efforts to introduce changes in the established 

The reign of Elizabeth was marked not only by the con- 
tinuance of royal despotism, by brilliant literary production, 
and by the struggle of the established church against the Cath- 
olics on the one side and the Puritans on the other, but by diffi- 
cult and dangerous foreign relations. 

More than once invasion by the continental powers was 
imminent. Elizabeth was threatened with deposition by 
the English adherents of Mary, Queen of Scots, supported 
by France and Spain. The English government pursued a 
policy of interference in the internal conflicts of other coun- 
tries that brought it frequently to the verge of war with their 
governments and sometimes beyond. Hostility bordering 
on open warfare was therefore the most frequent condition 
of English foreign relations. Especially was this true of the 
relations with Spain. The most serious contest with that 
country was the war which culminated in the battle of the 
Armada in 1588. Spain had organized an immense fleet which 
was intended to go to the Netherlands and convoy an army 
to be taken thence for the invasion of England. While pass- 
ing through the English Channel, a storm broke upon them, 
they were attacked and harried by the English and later by the 
Dutch, and the whole fleet was eventually scattered and de- 
stroyed. The danger of invasion was greatly reduced after this 
time and until the end of Elizabeth's reign in 1603. 

37. Enclosures. The century and a half which extends 
from the middle years of the fifteenth century to the close 
of the sixteenth was, as has been shown, a period remarkable 

The Breaking up of the Mediaeval System 121 

for the extent and variety of itsj^angesm almost jvery aspect 
of society. " In the political, intellectual, and religious world 
the sixteenth century seemed far removed from the fifteenth. 
It is not therefore a matter of surprise that economic changes 
were numerous and fundamental, and that social organization 
in town and country alike was completely transformed. 

During the period last discussed, the fourteenth and the 
early fifteenth century, the manorial system had changed 
very considerably from its mediaeval form. The demesne 
lands had been quite generally leased to renting farmers, and 
a new class of tenants was consequently becoming numerous; 
serfdom had fallen into decay; the old manorial officers, the 
steward, the bailiff, and the reeve had fallen into unimportance ; 
the manor courts were not so active, so regular, or so numer- 
ously attended. These changes were gradual and were still 
uncompleted at the middle of the fifteenth century ; but there 
was already showing itself a new series of changes, affecting still 
other parts of manorial life, which became steadily more exten- 
sive during the remainder of the fifteenth and through much 
of the sixteenth century. These changes are usually grouped 
under the name " enclosures." 

Thejmclosure of land previously open was closely connected 
with the increase of sheep-raising. The older form of agri- 
culture, grain-raising, labored under many difficulties. The 
price of labor was high, there had been no improvement in the 
old crude methods of culture, nor, in the open fields and under 
the customary rules, was there opportunity to introduce any. 
On the other hand, the inducements to sheep-raising were nu- 
merous. There was a steady demand at good prices for wool, 
both for export, as of old, and for the manufactures within 
England, which were now increasing. Sheep-raising required 
fewer hands and therefore high wages were less an obstacle, 
and it gave opportunity for the investment of capital and for 
comparative freedom from the restrictions of local custom. 
Therefore, instead of raising sheep simply as a part of ordinary 

122 Industrial and Social History of England 

farming, lords of manors, freeholders, farming tenants, and even 
customary tenants began here and there to raise sheep for wool 
as their principal or sole production. Instances are mentioned 
of five thousand, ten thousand, twenty thousand, and even 
twenty-four thousand sheep in the possession of a single person. 
This custom spread more and more widely, and so attracted the 
attention of observers as to be frequently mentioned in the 
laws and literature of the tune. 

But sheep could not be raised to any considerable extent 
on land divided according to the old open field system. In 
a vill whose fields all lay open, sheep must either be fed with 
those of other men on the common pasture, or must be kept 
in small groups by shepherds within the confines of the various 
acres or other small strips of the sheep-raiser's holding. No 
large number could of course be kept in this way, so the first 
thing to be done by the sheep-raiser was to get enough strips 
together in one place to make it worth while to put a hedge 
or other fence around them, or else to separate off in the same 
way a part or the whole of the open pastures or meadows. This 
was the process known as enclosing. Separate enclosed fields, 
which had existed only occasionally in mediaeval farming, 
became numerous in this time, as they have become prac- 
tically universal in modern farming in English-speaking 

But it was ordinarily impracticable to obtain groups of 
adjacent acres or sufficiently extensive rights on the com- 
mon pasture for enclosing without getting rid of some of the 
other tenants. In this way enclosing led to evictions. Either 
the lord of the manor or some one or more of the tenants 
enclosed the lands which they had formerly held and also 
those which were formerly occupied by some other holders, 
who were evicted from their land for this purpose. 

Some of the tenants must have been protected in their hold- 
ings by the law. As early as 1468 Chief Justice Bryan had 
declared that " tenant by the custom is as well inheritor to 


The Breaking up of the Mediceval System 123 

have his land according to the custom as he which hath a 
freehold at the common law." Again, in 1484, another chief 
justice declared that a tenant by custom who continued to 
pay his service could not be ejected by the lord of the manor. 
Such tenants came to be known as copyholders, because the 
proof of their customary tenure was found in the manor court 
rolls, from which a copy was taken to serve as a title. Subse- 
quently copyhold became one of the most generally recognized 
forms of land tenure in England, and gave practically as secure 
title as did a freehold. At this time, however, notwithstand- 
ing the statements just given, the law was probably not very 
definite or not very well understood, and customary tenants 
may have had but little practical protection of the law against 
eviction. Moreover, the great body of the small tenants were 
probably no longer genuine customary tenants. The great 
proportion of small farms had probably not been inherited by a 
long line of tenants, but had repeatedly gone back into the hands 
of the lords of the manors and been subsequently rented out 
again, with or without a lease, to farmers or rent-paying tenants. 
These were in most cases probably the tenants who were now 
evicted to make room for the new enclosed sheep farms. 

By these enclosures and evictions in some cases the open 
lands of whole vills were enclosed, the old agriculture came 
to an end, and as the enclosers were often non-residents, 
the whole farming population disappeared from the village. 
Since sheep-raising required such a small number of laborers, the 
farm laborers also had to leave to seek work elsewhere, and 
the whole village, therefore, was deserted, the houses fell into 
ruin, and the township lost its population entirely. This 
commonly spoken of at the time as " the decaying of towns," 
and those who were responsible for it were denounced as enemies 
of their country. In most cases, however, the enclosures and 
depopulation were only partial. A number of causes combined 
to carry this movement forward. England was not yet a 
wealthy country, but such capital as existed, especially in the 

124 Industrial and Social History of England 

towns, was utilized and made remunerative by investment in 
the newly enclosed farms and in carrying on the expenses of en- 
closure. The dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 
1542 brought the lands which they had formerly held into 
the possession of a class of men who were anxious to make 
them as remunerative as possible, and who had no feeling 
against enclosures. 

Nevertheless, the changes were much disapproved. Sir 
Thomas More condemns them in the Utopia, as do many 
other writers of the same period and of the reign of Elizabeth. 
The landlords, the enclosers, the city merchants who took 
up country lands, were preached against and inveighed against 
by such preachers as Latimer, Lever, and Becon, and in a dozen 
or more pamphlets still extant. The government also, put 
itself into opposition to the changes which were in progress. 
It was believed that there was danger of aT/ reduction of the 
population and thus of a lack of soldiers ; it was feared that 
not enough grain would be raised to provide food for the people ; 
- ' the dangerous masses of wandering beggars were partly at least 
recruited from the evicted tenants; there was a great deal of 
discontent in the country due to the high rents, lack of occupa- 
tion, and general dislike of change. A series of laws were 
therefore carried through Parliament and other measures 
taken, the object of which was to put a stop to the increase 
of sheep-farming and its results. In 1488 a statute was en- 
acted prohibiting the turning of tillage land into pasture. In 
1514 a new law was passed reenacting this and requiring the 
repair by their owners of any houses which had fallen into 
decay because of the substitution of pasture for tillage, 
and their reoccupation with tenants. In^ 1517 a commis- 
sion of investigation into enclosures was appointed by the 
government. In 1518 the Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wol- 
sey, issued a proclamation requiring all those who had enclosed 
lands since 1509 to throw them open again, or else give proof 
that their enclosure was for the public advantage. In 1534 

The Breaking up of the Mediaval System 125 

the earlier laws were reenacted and a further provision made 
that no person holding rented lands should keep more than 
twenty-four hundred sheep. In 1548 a new commission on 
enclosures was appointed which made extensive investigations, 
instituted prosecutions, and recommended new legislation. A 
law for more careful enforcement was passed in 1552, and the 
old laws were reenacted in 1554 and 1562. This last law was 
repealed in 1593, but in 1598 others were enacted and later ex- 
tended. In 1624, however, all the laws on the subject were 
repealed. As a matter of fact, the laws seem to have been 
generally ineffective. The nobility and gentry were in the 
main in favor of me enclosures, as they increased their rents 
even when they were not themselves the enclosers ; and it was 
through these classes that legislation had to be enforced at this 
time if it was to be effective. 

Besides the official opposition of the government, there 
were occasional instances of rioting or violent destruction of 
hedges and other enclosures by the people who felt them- 
selves aggrieved by them. Three times these riots rose to 
the height of an insurrection. In 1536 the so-called " Pil- 
grimage of Grace " was a rising of the people partly in 
opposition to the introduction of the Reformation, partly 
in opposition to enclosures. In 1549 a series of risings 
occurred, the most serious of which was the " camp " under 
Kett in Norfolk, and in 1552 again there was an insurrection 
in Buckinghamshire. These risings were harshly repressed by 
the government. The rural changes, therefore, progressed 
steadily, notwithstanding the opposition of the law, of cer- 
tain forms of public opinion, and of the violence of mobs. 
Probably enclosures more or less complete were made during 
this period in as many as half the manors of England. They 
were at their height in the early years of the sixteenth century, 
during its latter half they were not so numerous, and by its 
close the enclosing movement had about run its course, at 
least for the time. 

126 Industrial and Social History of England 

38. Internal Divisions in the Craft Gilds. Changes in 
town life occurred during this period corresponding quite 
closely to the enclosures and their results in the country. These 
consisted in the decay of the gilds, the dispersion of certain 
town industries through the rural districts, and the loss of 
prosperity of many of the old towns. In the earlier craft 
gilds each man had normally been successively an apprentice, 
a journeyman, and a full master craftsman, with a little estab- 
lishment of his own and full participation in the administration 
of the fraternity. There was coming now to be a class of artisans 
who remained permanently employed and never attained to the 
position of master craftsmen. This was sometimes the result 
of a deliberate process of exclusion on the part of those who 
were already masters. In 1480, for instance, a new set of 
ordinances given to the Mercers' Gild of Shrewsbury declares 
that the fines assessed on apprentices at their entry to be masters 
had been excessive and should be reduced. Similarly, the 
Oxford Town Council in 1531 restricts the payment required 
from any person who should come to be a full brother of any 
craft in that town to twenty shillings, a sum which would equal 
perhaps fifty dollars in modern value. In the same year Parlia- 
ment forbade the collection of more than two shillings and 
sixpence from any apprentice at the time of his apprentice- 
ship, and of more than three shillings and fourpence when 
he enters the trade fully at the expiration of his time. This 
indicates that the fines previously charged must have been 
almost prohibitive. In some trades the masters required 
apprentices at the time of indenture to take an oath that they 
would not set up independent establishments when they had 
fulfilled the years of their apprenticeship, a custom which was 
forbidden by Parliament in 1536. In other cases it was no 
doubt the lack of sufficient capital and enterprise which kept 
a large number of artisans from ever rising above the class of 

Under these circumstances the journeymen evidently ceased 

The Breaking up of the Medieval System 127 

to feel that they enjoyed any benefits from the organized crafts, 
for they began to form among themselves what are generally 
described as " yeomen gilds " or " journeymen gilds." At 
first the masters opposed such bodies and the city officials 
supported the old companies by prohibiting the journeymen 
from holding assemblies, wearing a special livery, or otherwise 
acting as separate bodies. Ultimately, however, they seem to 
have made good their position, and existed in a number of dif- 
ferent crafts in more or less subordination to the organizations 
of the masters. The first mention of such bodies is soon after 
the Peasants' Rebellion, but in most cases the earliest rise of a 
journeyman gild in any industry was in the latter part of the 
fifteenth or in the sixteenth century. They were organizations 
quite similar to the older bodies from which they were a split, 
except that they had of course no general control over the indus- 
try. They had, however, meetings, officers, feasts, and chari- 
table funds. In addition to these functions there is reason to 
believe that they made use of their organization to influence 
the rates of wages and to coerce other journeymen. Their 
relations to the masters' companies were frequently defined 
by regular written agreements between the two parties. 
Journeymen gilds existed among the saddlers, cordwainers, 
tailors, blacksmiths, carpenters, drapers, ironmongers, founders, 
fishmongers, cloth-workers, and armorers in London, among 
the weavers in, Coventry, the tailors in Exeter and in Bristol, 
the shoemakers in Oxford, and no doubt in some other trades 
in these and other towns. 

Among the masters also changes were taking place in the 
same direction. Instead of all master artisans or tradesmen 
in any one industry holding an equal position and taking an 
equal part in the administration of affairs of the craft, there 
came, at least in some of the larger companies, to be quite 
distinct groups usually described as those " of the livery " 
and those " not of the livery." The expression no doubt 
arose from the former class being the mora well-to-do and 

128 Industrial and Social History of England 

active masters who had sufficient means to purchase the suits 
of livery worn oh state occasions, and who in other ways 
were the leading and controlling members of the organization. 
This came, before the close of the fifteenth century, in many 
crafts to be a recognized distinction of class or station in the com- 
pany. A statement of the members in one of the London frater- 
nities made in 1493 gives a good instance of this distinction of 
classes, as well as of the subordinate body last described. There 
were said to be at that date in the Drapers' Company, of the 
craft of drapers in the clothing, including the masters and four 
wardens, one hundred and fourteen; of the brotherhood out 
of the clothing one hundred and fifteen; of the bachelors' 
company sixty. It was from this prominence of the liveried 
gildsmen that the term " Livery Companies " came to be 
applied to the greater London gilds. It was the wealthy mer- 
chants and the craftsmen of the livery of the various fraternities 
who rode in procession to welcome kings or ambassadors at 
their entrance into the city, to add lustre to royal wedding 
ceremonies, or give dignity to other state occasions. In 1483 
four hundred and six members of livery companies riding 
in mulberry colored coats attended the coronation proces- 
sion of Richard III. The mayors and sheriffs and aldermen 
of London were almost always livery men in one or another of 
the companies. A substantial fee had usually to be paid when 
a member was chosen into the livery, which again indicates 
that they were the wealthier members. Those of the livery 
controlled the policy of the gild to the exclusion of the less 
conspicuous members, even though these were also independent 
masters with journeymen and apprentices of their own. 

But the practical administration of the affairs of the wealthier 
companies came in many cases to be in the hands of a still 
smaller group of members. This group was often known as the 
" Court of Assistants," and consisted of some twelve, twenty, or 
more members who possessed higher rights than the others, and, 
with the wardens or other officials, decided disputes, negotiated 

The Breaking up of the Mediaeval System 129 

with the government or other authorities, disposed of the 
funds, and in other ways governed the organized craft or trade. 
At a general meeting of the members of the Mercers of Lon- 
don, for instance, on July 23, 1463, the following resolution 
was passed : " It is accorded that for the holding of many 
courts and congregations of the fellowship, it is odious and 
grievous to the body of the fellowship and specially for matters 
of no great effect, that hereafter yearly shall be chosen and 
associated to the wardens for the time being twelve other suf- 
ficient persons to be assistants to the said wardens, and all matters 
by them finished to be holden firm and stable, and the fellowship 
to abide by them." Sixteen years later these assistants with 
the wardens were given the right to elect their successors. 

Thus before the close of the sixteenth century the craft 
and trading organizations had gone through a very consider- 
able internal change. In the fourteenth century they had 
been bodies of masters of approximately equal position, in 
which the journeymen participated in some of the elements 
of membership, and would for the most part in due time be- 
come masters and full members. Now the journeymen had be- 
come for the most part a separate class, without prospect of 
mastership. Among the masters themselves a distinct division 
between the more and the less wealthy had taken place, and an 
aristocratic form of government had grown up which put the 
practical control of each of the companies in the hands of a 
comparatively small, self-perpetuating ruling body. These 
developments were all more marked, possibly some of them 
were only true, in the case of the London companies. London, 
also, so far as known, is the only English town in which the com- 
panies were divided into two classes, the twelve " Greater 
Companies," and the fifty or more " Lesser Companies " ; 
the former having practical control of the government of the 
city, the latter having no such influence. 

39. Change of Location of Industries. The changes 
described above were, as has been said, the result of develop- 

130 Industrial and Social History of England 

ment from within the craft and trading organizations them- 
selves, resulting probably in the main from increasing wealth. 
There were other contemporary changes in these companies 
which were rather the result of external influences. One of 
these external factors was the old difficulty which arose from 
artisans and traders who were not members of the organized 
companies. There had always been men who had carried on 
work surreptitiously outside of the limits of the authorized 
organizations of their respective industries. They had done 
this from inability or unwillingness to conform to the require- 
ments of gild membership, or from a desire to obtain more 
employment by underbidding in price, or additional profit by 
using unapproved materials or methods. Most of the bodies 
of ordinances mention such workmen and traders, men who 
have not gone through a regular apprenticeship, " foreigners " 
who have come in from some other locality and are not free- 
men of the city where they wish to work, irresponsible men 
who will not conform to the established rules of the trade. 
This class of persons was becoming more numerous through the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, notwithstanding the efforts 
of the gilds, supported by municipal and national authority. 
The prohibition of any workers setting up business in a town 
unless they had previously obtained the approval of the 
officials of their trade was more and more vigorous in the 
later ordinances ; the fines imposed upon masters who engaged 
journeymen who had not paid the dues, newcomers into the 
town, were higher. The complaints of the intrusion of out- 
siders were more loud and frequent. There was evidently more 
unsupervised, unregulated labor. 

But the increase in the number of these unorganized labor- 
ers, these craftsmen and traders not under the control of the 
gilds, was most marked in the rural districts, that is to say, 
in market towns and in villages entirely outside of the old 
manufacturing and trading centres. Even in the fourteenth 
century there were a number of weavers, and probably of 

The Breaking up of the Medicsval System 131 

other craftsmen, who worked in the villages in the vicinity 
of the larger towns, such as London, Norwich, and York, 
and took their products to be sold on fair or market days in 
these towns. But toward the end of the fifteenth century 
this rural labor received a new kind of encouragement and 
a corresponding extension far beyond anything before existing. 
The English cloth-making industry at this period was increas- 
ing rapidly. Whereas during the earlier periods, as we have 
seen, wool was the greatest of English exports, now it was coming 
to be manufactured within the country. In connection with 
this manufacture a new kind of industrial organization began 
to show itself which, when it was completed, became known 
as the " domestic system." A class of merchants or manu- 
facturers arose who are spoken of as " clothiers," or " merchant 
clothiers," who bought the wool or other raw material, and gave 
it out to carders or combers, spinners, weavers, fullers, and other 
craftsmen, paying them for their respective parts in the process 
of manufacture, and themselves disposing of the product at home 
or for export. The clothiers were in this way a new class of 
employers, putting the master weavers or other craftsmen to 
work for wages. The latter still had their journeymen and 
apprentices, but the initiative in their industry was taken by the 
merchants, who provided the raw material and much of the 
money capital, and took charge of the sale of the completed 
goods. The craftsmen who were employed in this form of 
industry did not usually dwell in the old populous and wealthy 
towns. It is probable that the restrictions of the gild ordi- 
nances were disadvantageous both to the clothiers and to the 
small master craftsmen, and that the latter, as well as journey- 
men who had no chance to obtain an independent position, 
now that the town craft organizations were under the control 
of the more wealthy members, were very ready to migrate 
to rural villages. Thus, in so far as the weaving industry 
was growing up under the management of the employing 
clothiers, it was slipping out from under the control of the town 

132 Industrial and Social History of England 

gilds by its location in the country. The same thing occurred 
in other cases even without the intermediation of a new employ- 
ing class. We hear of mattress makers, of rope makers, of tile 
makers, and other artisans establishing themselves in the country 
villages outside of the towns, where, as a law of 1495 says, 
" the wardens have no power or authority to make search." In 
certain parts of England, in the southwest, the west, and the 
northwest, independent weavers now set up for themselves in 
rural districts as those of the eastern counties had long done, 
buying their own raw materials, bringing their manufactures to 
completion, and then taking them to the neighboring towns and 
markets to sell, or hawking them through the rural districts. 

These changes, along with others occurring simultaneously, 
led to a considerable diminution of the prosperity of many 
of the large towns. They were not able to pay their usual 
share of taxation, the population of some of them declined, 
whole streets or quarters, when destroyed by fire or other 
catastrophe, were left unbuilt and in ruins. Many of the 
largest and oldest towns of England are mentioned in the 
statutes of the reign of Henry VIII as being more or less de- 
pleted in population. The laws and literature of the time are 
ringing with complaints of the " decay of the towns," where 
the reference is to cities, as well as where it is to rural villages. 
Certain new towns, it is true, were rising into greater impor- 
tance, and certain rural districts were becoming populous with 
this body of artisans whose living was made partly by their 
handicraft, partly by small farming. Nevertheless the old city 
craft organizations were permanently weakened and impover- 
ished by thus losing control of such a large proportion of their 
various industries. The occupations which were carried on in 
the country were pursued without supervision by the gilds. 
They retained control only of that part of industry which was 
still carried on in the towns. 

40. The Influence of the Government on the Gilds. 
Internal divisions and external changes in the distribution 

The Breaking up of the Mediceval Syslem 133 

of industry were therefore alike tending to weaken the gild 
organization. It had to suffer also from the hostility or in- 
trusion of the national government. Much of the policy of 
the government tended, it is true, as in the case of the enclosures, 
to check the changes in progress, and thus to protect the gild 
system. It has been seen that laws were passed to prohibit 
the exclusion of apprentices and journeymen from full member- 
ship in the crafts. As early as 1464 a law was passed to regu- 
late the growing system of employment of craftsmen by clothiers. 
This was carried further in a law of 1511, and further still in 
1551 and 1555. The manufacture of rope in the country parts 
of Dorsetshire was prohibited and restricted to the town of 
Bridport in 1529; the cloth manufacture which was growing 
up through the " hamlets, thorps, and villages " in Worcester- 
shire was forbidden in 1553 to be carried on except in the five 
old towns of Worcester, Evesham, Droitwich, Kidderminster, 
and Bromsgrove; in 1543 it was enacted that coverlets were 
not to be manufactured in Yorkshire outside of the city of 
York, and there was still further legislation in the same direction. 
Numerous acts were also passed for the purpose of restoring 
the populousness of the towns. There is, however, little 
reason to believe that these laws had much more effect in pre- 
venting the narrowing of the control of the gilds and the scatter- 
ing of industries from the towns to the country than the various 
laws against enclosures had, and the latter object was prac- 
tically surrendered by the numerous exceptions to it in laws 
passed in 1557, 1558, and 1575. All the laws favoring the older 
towns were finally repealed in 1623. 

Another class of laws may seem to have favored the craft 
organizations. These were the laws regulating the carrying 
on of various industries, in some of which the enforcement of 
the laws was intrusted to the gild authorities. The statute 
book during the sixteenth century is filled with laws " for the 
true making of pins," " for the making of friezes and cottons in 
Wales," " for the true currying of leather," " for the making 

134 Industrial and Social History of England 

of iron gads," " for setting prices on wines," for the regulation 
of the coopers, the tanners, the makers of woollen cloth, the 
dyers, the tallow chandlers, the saddlers and girdlers, and dozens 
of other occupations. But although in many of these laws the 
wardens of the appropriate crafts are given authority to carry 
out the requirements of the statute, either of themselves or 
along with the town officials or the justices of the peace, yet, 
after all, it is the rules established by government that they 
are to carry out, not their own rules, and in many of the statutes 
the craft authorities are entirely ignored. This is especially 
true of the " Statute of Apprentices," passed in the fifth year 
of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1563. This great industrial 
code, which remained on the statute book for two hundred 
and fifty years, being repealed only in 1813, was primarily a re- 
enactment of the statutes of laborers, which had been continued 
from time to time ever since their introduction in '1349. It made 
labor compulsory and imposed on the justices of the peace the 
duty of meeting in each locality once a year to establish wages 
for each kind of industry. It required a seven years' apprentice- 
ship for every person who should engage in any trade; estab- 
lished a working day of twelve hours in summer and during day- 
light in winter ; and enacted that all engagements, except those 
for piece work, should be by the year, with six months' notice of a 
close of the contract by either employer or employee. By 
this statute all the relations between master and journeyman 
and the rules of apprenticeship were regulated by the govern- 
ment instead of by the individual craft gilds. It is evident 
that the old trade organizations were being superseded in much 
of their work by the national government. Freedom of action 
was also restricted by the same power in other respects also. 
As early as 1436 a law had been passed, declaring that the 
ordinances made by the gilds were in many cases unreasonable 
and injurious, requiring them to submit their existing ordinances 
to the justices at Westminster, and prohibiting them from issu- 
ing any new ones until they had received the approval of these 

The Breaking up of the Medicwal System 135 

officials. There is no indication of the enforcement of this law. 
In 1504, however, it was reenacted with the modification that 
approval might be sought from the justices on circuit. In 
1530 the same requirement was again included in the law 
already referred to prohibiting excessive entrance fees. As 
the independent legislation of the gilds for their industries 
was already much restricted by the town governments, their 
remaining power to make rules for themselves must now have 
been very slight. Their power of jurisdiction was likewise 
limited by a law passed in 1504, prohibiting the companies 
from making any rule forbidding their members to appeal 
to the ordinary national courts in trade disputes. 

But the heaviest blow to the gilds on the part of the gov- 
ernment came in 1547, as a result of the Reformation. Both 
the organizations formed for the control of the various 
industries, the craft gilds, and those which have been described 
in Chapter III as non-industrial, social, or religious gilds, had 
property in their possession which had been bequeathed or 
given to them by members on condition that the gild would 
always support or help to support a priest, should see that 
mass was celebrated for the soul of the donor and his family, 
should keep a light always burning before a certain shrine, or for 
other religious objects. These objects were generally looked 
upon as superstitious by the reformers who became influential 
under Edward VI, and in the first year of his reign a statute was 
passed which confiscated to the crown, to be used for educational 
or other purposes, all the property of every kind of the purely 
religious and social gilds, and that part of the property of the 
craft gilds which was employed by them for religious purposes. 
One of the oldest forms of voluntary organization in England 
therefore came to an end altogether, and one of the strongest 
bonds which had held the members of the craft gilds together 
as social bodies was removed. After this time the companies 
had no religious functions, and were besides deprived of a con- 
siderable proportion of their wealth. This blow fell, moreover, 

136 Industrial and Social History of England 

just at a time when all the economic influences were tending 
toward their weakening or actual disintegration. 

The trade and craft companies of London, like those of 
other towns, were called upon at first to pay over to the gov- 
ernment annually the amount which they had before used for 
religious purposes. Three years after the confiscation they 
were required to pay a lump sum representing the capi- 
talized value of this amount, estimated for the London com- 
panies at 20,000. In order to do so they were of course 
forced to sell or mortgage much of their land. That which 
they succeeded in retaining, however, or bought subse- 
quently was relieved of all government charges, and being 
situated for the most part in the heart of London, ultimately 
became extremely valuable and is still in their possession. 
So far have the London companies, however, departed from 
their original purpose that their members have long ceased 
to have any connection with the occupations from which the 
bodies take their names. 

41. General Causes and Evidences of the Decay of the 
Gilds. An analogous narrowing of the interests of the 
crafts occurred in the form of a cessation of the mystery plays. 
Dramatic shows continued to be brought out yearly by the 
crafts in many towns well into the sixteenth century. It 
is to be noticed, however, that this was no longer done spon- 
taneously. The town governments insisted that the pageants 
should be provided as of old, and on the approach of Corpus 
Christi day, or whatever festival was so celebrated in the 
particular town, instructions were given for their production, 
pecuniary help being sometimes provided to assist the com- 
panies in their expense. The profit which came to the town 
from the influx of visitors to see the pageants was a great induce- 
ment to the town government to insist on their continuance. 
On the other hand, the competition of dramas played by pro- 
fessional actors tended no doubt to hasten the effect of the im- 
poverishment and loss of vitality of the gilds. In the last half 

The Breaking up of the Medicsval System 137 

of the sixteenth century the mystery plays seem to have come 
finally to an end. 

Thus the gilds lost the unity of their membership, were 
weakened by the growth of industry outside of their sphere 
of control, superseded by the government in many of their 
economic functions, deprived of their administrative, legis- 
lative, and jurisdictional freedom, robbed of their religious 
duties and of the property which had enabled them to ful- 
fil them, and no longer possessed even the bond of their dramatic 
interests. So the fraternities which had embodied so much of 
the life of the people of the towns during the thirteenth, four- 
teenth, and fifteenth centuries now came to include within their 
organization fewer and fewer persons and to affect a smaller 
and smaller part of their interests. Although the companies 
continued to exist into later times, yet long before the close of 
the period included in this chapter they had become relatively 
inconspicuous and insignificant. 

One striking evidence of their diminished strength, and 
apparently a last effort to keep the gild organization in ex- 
istence, is the curious combination or consolidation of the 
companies under the influence of the city governments. 
Numerous instances of the combination of several trades are 
to be found in the records of every town, as for instance the 
" company of goldsmiths and smiths and others their breth- 
ren," at Hull in 1598, which consisted of goldsmiths, smiths, 
pewterers, plumbers and glaziers, painters, cutlers, musicians, 
stationers and bookbinders, and basket-makers. A more 
striking instance is to be found in Ipswich in 1576, where 
the various occupations were all drawn up into four companies, 
as follows: (i) The Mercers; including the mariners, ship- 
wrights, bookbinders, printers, fishmongers, sword-setters, 
cooks, fletchers, arrowhead-makers, physicians, hatters, cappers, 
mercers, merchants, and several others. (2) The Drapers; 
including the joiners, carpenters, innholders, freemasons, 
bricklayers, tilers, carriers, casket-makers, surgeons, clothiers, 

138 Industrial and Social History of England 

and some others. (3) The Tailors; including the cutlers, 
smiths, barbers, chandlers, pewterers, minstrels, pedlers, 
plumbers, pinners, millers, millwrights, coopers, shearmen, 
glaziers, turners, tinkers, tailors, and others. (4) The Shoe- 
makers ; including the curriers, collar-makers, saddlers, pointers, 
cobblers, skinners, tanners, butchers, carters, and laborers. 
Each of these four companies was to have an alderman and two 
wardens, and all outsiders who came to the town and wished 
to set up trade were to be placed by the town officials in one 
or the other of the four companies. The basis of union in 
some of these combinations was evidently the similarity of 
their occupations, as the various workers in leather among 
the " Shoemakers." In other cases there is no such simi- 
larity, and the only foundation that can be surmised for the 
particular grouping is the contiguity of the streets where the 
greatest number of particular artisans lived, or their propor- 
tionate wealth. Later, this process reached its culmination 
in such a case as that of Preston in 1628, where all the trades- 
men of the town were organized as one company or fraternity 
called " The Wardens and Company of Drapers, Mercers, 
Grocers, Salters, Ironmongers, and Haberdashers." The craft 
and trading gilds in their mediaeval character had evidently 
come to an end. 

42. The Growth of Native Commerce. The most dis- 
tinctive characteristic of English foreign trade down to the 
middle of the fifteenth century consisted in the fact that it 
had been entirely in the hands of foreigners. The period 
under discussion saw it transferred with quite as great com- 
pleteness to the hands of Englishmen. Even before 1450 
trading vessels had occasionally been sent out from the Eng- 
lish seaport towns on more or less extensive voyages, carrying 
out English goods, and bringing back those of other countries 
or of other parts of England. These vessels sometimes belonged 
to the town governments, sometimes to individual merchants. 
This kind of enterprise became more and more common. In- 

The Breaking up of the Mediceval System 139 

dividual merchants grew famous for the number and size of their 
ships and the extent of their trade; as for instance, William 
Canynges of Bristol, who in 1461 had ten vessels at sea, or 
Sturmys of the same town, who at about the same time sent 
the first English vessel to trade with the eastern Mediterranean, 
or John Taverner of Hull, who built in 1449 a new type of ves- 
sel modelled on the carracks of Genoa and the galleys of 
Venice. In the middle of the fourteenth century the long- 
est list of merchants of any substance that could be drawn 
up contained only 169 names. At the beginning of the six- 
teenth century there were at least 3000 merchants engaged 
in foreign trade, and in 1601 there were about 3500 trading 
to the Netherlands alone. These merchants exported the 
old articles of English production and to a still greater ex- 
tent textile goods, the manufacture of which was growing 
so rapidly in England. The export of wool came to an end 
during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but the export of 
woven cloth was more than enough to take its place. There 
was not so much cloth now imported, but a much greater 
variety and quantity of food-stuffs and wines, of articles of 
fine manufacture, and of the special products of the coun- 
tries to which English trade extended. 

The entrance of English vessels into ports of towns or coun- 
tries whose own vessels had been accustomed to the control 
of the trade with England, or where the old commercial towns 
of the Hanseatic League, of Flanders, or of Italy had valuable 
trading concessions, was not obtained without difficulty, and 
there was a constant succession of conflicts more or less violent, 
and of disputes between English and foreign sailors and mer- 
chants. The progress of English commerce was, however, 
facilitated by the decay in the prosperity of many of these older 
trading towns. The growth of strong governments in Denmark, 
Sweden, Norway, Poland, and Russia resulted in a withdrawal of 
privileges which the Hanseatic League had long possessed, 
and internal dissensions made the League very much weaker 

140 Industrial and Social History of England 

in the later fifteenth century than it had been during the cen- 
tury and a half before. The most important single occur- 
rence showing this tendency was the capture of Novgorod 
by the Russian Czar and his expulsion of the merchants of 
the Hanse from their settlement in that commercial centre. 
In the same way most of the towns along the south coast of 
the Baltic came under the control of the kingdom of Poland. 

A similar change came about in Flanders, where the 
semi-independent towns came under the control of the 
dukes of Burgundy. These sovereigns had political interests 
too extensive to be subordinated to the trade interests of 
individual towns in their dominions. Thus it was that 
Bruges now lost much of its prosperity, while Antwerp be- 
came one of the greatest commercial cities of Europe. Trading 
rights could now be obtained from centralized governments, 
and were not dependent on the interest or the antagonism of 
local merchants. 

In Italy other influences were leading to much the same 
results. The advance of Turkish conquests was gradually 
increasing the difficulties of the Eastern trade, and the dis- 
covery of the route around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498 
finally diverted that branch of commerce into new lines. Eng- 
lish merchants gained access to some of this new Eastern trade 
through their connection with Portugal, a country advanta- 
geously situated to inherit the former trade of Italy and south- 
ern Germany. English commerce also profited by the predomi- 
nance which Florence obtained over Pisa, Genoa, and other 
trading towns. Thus conditions on the Continent were strik- 
ingly favorable to the growing commercial enterprise of England. 

43. The Merchants Adventurers. English merchants 
who exported and imported goods in their own vessels were, 
with jhe exception of the staplers or exporters of wool and other 
staple articles, usually spoken of as " adventurers," " venturers," 
or " merchants adventurers." This term is used in three 
different senses. Sometimes it simply means merchants who 

The Breaking up of the Mediaeval System 141 

entered upon adventure or risk by sending their goods out- 
side of the country to new or unrecognized markets, as the 
" adventurers to Iceland," " adventurers to Spain." Again, 
it is applied to groups of merchants in various towns who were 
organized for mutual protection or other advantage, as the 
" fishmongers adventurers," who brought their complaints 
before the Royal Council in 1542 ; " The Master, Wardens, and 
Commonalty of Merchant Venturers, of Bristol," existing 
apparently in the fourteenth century, fully organized by 1467, 
and incorporated in 1552 ; " The Society of Merchants Adven- 
turers of Newcastle upon Tyne," or the similar bodies at York 
and Exeter. 

But by far the most frequent use of the term is that by 
which it was applied to those merchants who traded to the 
Netherlands and adjacent countries, especially as exporters 
of cloth, and who came within this period to be recognized 
and incorporated as the " Merchants Adventurers " in a 
special sense, with headquarters abroad, a coat of arms 
of their own, extensive privileges, great wealth, influence, 
and prominence. These English merchants, trading to the 
Netherlands in other articles than those controlled by the 
Staplers, apparently received privileges of trade from the duke 
of Brabant as early as the thirteenth century, and the 
right of settling their own disputes before their own " consul " 
in the fourteenth. But their commercial enterprises must 
have been quite insignificant, and it was only during the fifteenth 
century that they became numerous and their trade in English 
cloth extensive. Just at the beginning of this century, in 1407, 
the king of England gave a general charter to all merchants 
trading beyond seas to assemble in definite places and choose 
for themselves consuls or governors to arrange for their common 
trade advantage. After this time, certainly by the middle 
of the century, the regular series of governors of the English 
merchants in the Netherlands was established, one of the earliest 
being William Caxton, afterward the founder of printing in 

142 Industrial and Social History of England 

England. On the basis of these concessions and of the privi- 
leges and charters granted by the home government the " Mer- 
chants Adventurers " gradually became a distinct organization, 
with a definite membership which was obtained by payment of 
a sum which gradually rose from 6s. &d. to 20, until it was 
reduced by a law of Parliament in 1497 to 6 13$. 4^. 
They had local branches in England and on the Continent. 
In 1498 they were granted a coat of arms by Henry VII, and 
in 1503 by royal charter a distinct form of government 
under a governor and twenty-four assistants. In 1564 they 
were incorporated by a royal charter by the title of " The 
Merchants Adventurers of England." Long before that time 
they had become by far the largest and most influential 
company of English exporting merchants. It is said that 
the Merchants Adventurers furnished ten out of the sixteen 
London ships sent to join the fleet against the Armada. 

Most of their members were London mercers, though 
there were also in the society members of other London 
companies, and traders whose homes were in other English 
towns than London. The meetings of the company in Lon- 
don were held for a long while in the Mercers' hall, and their 
records were kept in the same minute book as those of the 
Mercers until 1526. On the Continent their principal office, 
hall, or gathering place, the residence of their Governor and 
location of the " Court," or central government of the com- 
pany, was at different times at .Antwerp, Bruges, Calais, 
Hamburg, Stade, Groningen, and Middelburg ; for the longest 
time probably at the first of these places. The larger part of 
the foreign trade of England during the fifteenth and most 
of the sixteenth century was carried on and extended as well as 
controlled and regulated by this great commercial company. 

During, the latter half of the sixteenth century, however, 
other companies of merchants were formed to trade with 
various countries, most of them receiving a government 
charter and patronage. Of these the Russia or Muscovy 

The Breaking up of the Mediowal System 143 

Company obtained recognition from the government in 
1554, and in 1557, when an ambassador from that country 
came to London, a hundred and fifty merchants trading to 
Russia received him in state. In 1581 the Levant or 
Turkey Company was formed, and its members carried their 
merchandise as far as the Persian Gulf. In 1585 the 
Barbary or Morocco Company was formed, but seems to 
have failed. In 1588, however, a Guinea Company began 
trading, and in 1600 the greatest of all, the East India Com- 
pany, was chartered. The expeditions sent out by the 
Bristol merchants and then by the king under the Cabots, 
those other voyages so full of romance in search of a north- 
west or a northeast passage to the Orient, and the no less adven- 
turous efforts to gain entrance to the Spanish possessions in 
the west, were a part of the same effort of commercial com- 
panies or interests to carry their trading into new lands. 

44. Government Encouragement of Commerce. Before 
the accession of Henry VII it is almost impossible to discover 
any deliberate or continuous, policy of the government 
in commercial matters. From this time forward, however, 
through the whole period of the Tudor monarchs a tolerably 
consistent plan was followed of favoring English merchants 
and placing burdens and restrictions upon foreign traders. 
The merchants from the Hanse towns, with their dwellings, 
warehouses, and offices at the. Steelyard in London, were sub- 
jected to a narrower interpretation of the privileges which 
they possessed by old and frequently renewed grants. In 
1493 English customs officers began to intrude upon their 
property; in 1504 especially heavy penalties were threatened 
if they should send any cloth to the Netherlands during the 
war between the king and the duke of Burgundy. During 
the reign of Henry VIII the position of the Hansards was 
on the whole easier, but in 1551 their special privileges were 
taken away, and they were put in the same position as all 
other foreigners. There was a partial regrant of advantageous 

144 Industrial and Social History of England 

conditions in the early part of the reign of Elizabeth, but 
finally, in 1578, they lost their privileges forever. As a matter 
of fact, German traders now came more and more rarely to 
England, and their settlement above London Bridge was prac- 
tically deserted. 

The fleet from Venice also came less and less frequently. 
Under Henry VIII for a period of nine years no fleet came 
to English ports; then after an expedition had been sent 
out from Venice in 1517, and again in 1521, another nine years 
passed by. The fleet came again in 1531, 1532, and 1533, and 
even afterward from time to time occasional private Venetian 
vessels came, till a group of them suffered shipwreck on the 
southern coast in 1587, after which the Venetian flag disappeared 
entirely from those waters. 

In the meantime a series of favorable commercial treaties 
were made in various directions by Henry VII and his 
successors. In 1490 he made a treaty with the king of 
Denmark by which English merchants obtained liberty to 
trade in that country, in Norway, and in Iceland. Within 
the same year a similar treaty was made with Florence, by 
which the English merchants obtained a monopoly of the 
sale of wool in the Florentine dominions, and the right to 
have an organization of their own there, which should settle 
trade disputes among themselves, or share in the settlement 
of their disputes with foreigners. In 1496 the old trading 
relations with the Netherlands were reestablished on a firmer 
basis than ever by the treaty which has come in later times 
to be known as the Intercursus Magnus. In the same year 
commercial advantages were obtained from France, and in 
1499 from Spain. Few opportunities were missed by the 
government during this period to try to secure favorable con- 
ditions for the growing English trade. Closely connected as 
commercial policy necessarily was with political questions, 
the former was always a matter of interest to the government, 
and in all the ups and downs of the relations of England with 

The Breaking up of the Mediaval System 145 

the continental countries during the sixteenth century the foot- 
hold gained by English merchants was always preserved or 
regained after a temporary loss. 

The closely related question of English ship-building was 
also a matter of government encouragement. In 1485 a law 
was passed declaring that wines of the duchies of Guienne 
and Gascony should be imported only in vessels which were 
English property and manned for the most part by Englishmen. 
In 1489 woad, a dyestuff from southern France, was included, 
and it was ordered that merchandise to be exported from 
England or imported into England should never be shipped in 
foreign vessels if sufficient English vessels were in the harbor 
at the time. Although this policy was abandoned during the 
short reign of Edward VI it was renewed and made permanent 
under Elizabeth. By indirect means also, as by the encourage- 
ment of fisheries, English seafaring was increased. 

As a result of these various forms of commercial influ- 
ence, the enterprise of individual English merchants, the 
formation of trading companies, the assistance given by the 
government through commercial treaties and favoring stat- 
utes, English commerce became vastly greater than it had 
ever been before, reaching to Scandinavia and Russia, to 
Germany and the Netherlands, to France and Spain, to Italy 
and the eastern Mediterranean, and even occasionally to 
America. Moreover, it had come almost entirely into the 
hands of Englishmen; and the goods exported and imported 
were carried for the most part in ships of English build and 
ownership, manned by English sailors. 

45. The Currency. The changes just described were 
closely connected with contemporary changes in the gold and 
silver currency. Shillings were coined for the first tune in 
the reign of Henry VII, a pound weight of standard silver 
being coined into 37 shillings and 6 pence. In 1527 Henry 
VIII had the same amount of metal coined into 40 shillings, 
and later in the year, into 45 shillings. In 1543 coin silver 

146 Industrial and Social History of England 

was changed from the old standard of n ounces 2 pennyweights 
of pure silver to 18 pennyweights of alloy, so as to consist of 
10 ounces of silver to 2 ounces of alloy; and this was coined 
into 48 shillings. In 1545 the coin metal was made one-half 
silver, one-half alloy; in 1546, one-third silver, two-thirds 
alloy; and in 1550, one-fourth silver, three-fourths alloy. 
The gold coinage was correspondingly though not so excessively 
debased. Thejowest_point of debasement for both silver and 
gold was reached in 1551. In 1560 Queen Elizabeth began 
the work of restoring the currency to something like its old 
standard. The debased money was brought to the mints, where 
the government paid the value of the pure silver in it. Money 
of a high standard and permanently established weight was 
then issued in its place. Much of the confusion and distress 
prevalent during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI 
was doubtless due to this selfish and unwise monetary policy. 

At about the same time a new influence on the national 
currency came into existence. Strenuous but not very success- 
ful efforts had long been made to draw bullion into England 
and prevent English money from being taken out. Now 
some of the silver and gold which was being extorted from 
the natives and extracted from the mines of Mexico and Peru 
by the Spaniards began to make its way into England, as 
into other countries of Europe. These American sources of 
supply became productive by about 1525, but very little of this 
came into general European circulation or reached England 
till the middle of the century. After about 1560, however, 
through trade, and sometimes by even more direct routes, 
the amount of gold and silver money in circulation in England 
increased enormously. No reliable statistics exist, but there 
can be little doubt that the amount of money in England, 
as in Europe at large, was doubled, trebled, quadrupled, or per- 
haps increased still more largely within the next one hundred 

This increase of money produced many effects. One 

The Breaking up of the Mediceval System 147 

of the most important was its effect oriH^rices, These had 
begun to rise in the early part of the century, principally as 
a result of the debasement of the coinage. In the latter part 
of the century the rise was much greater, due now, no doubt, 
to the influx of new money. Most commodities cost quite 
four times as much at the end of the sixteenth century as they 
did at its beginning. 

Another effect of the increased amount of currency ap- 
peared in thfii.xgreater ease with which the use of money 
capital was obtained. Saving up and borrowing were both 
more practicable. More capital was now in existence and 
more persons could obtain the use of it. As a result, manu- 
facturing, trade, and even agriculture could now be conducted 
on a more extensive scale, changes could be introduced, and 
production was apt to be profitable, as prices were increasing 
and returns would be greater even than those calculated upon. 

46. Interest. Any extensive and varied use of capital 
is closely connected with the payment of interest. In 
accord with a strict interpretation of certain passages in 
both the Old and the New Testament, the Middle Ages re- 
garded the payment of interest for the use of money as wicked. 
Interest was the same as usury and was illegal. As a matter 
of fact, most regular occupations in the Middle Ages required 
very little capital, and this was usually owned by the agri- 
culturists, handicraftsmen, or merchants themselves; so that 
borrowing was only necessary for personal expenses or in 
occasional exigencies. With the enclosures, sheep farming, 
consolidation of farms, and other changes in agriculture, with 
the beginning of manufacturing under the control of capitalist 
manufacturers, with the more extensive foreign trading and 
ship owning, and above all with the increase in the actual 
amount of money in existence, these circumstances were 
changed. It seemed natural that money which one person 
had in his possession, but for which he had no immediate use, 
should be loaned to another who could use it for his own enter- 

148 Industrial and Social History of England 

prises. These enterprises might be useful to the community, 
advantageous to himself, and yet profitable enough to allow him 
to pay interest for the use of the money to the capitalist who 
loaned it to him. As a matter of fact much money was 
loaned and, legally or illegally, interest or usury was paid 
for it. Moreover, a change had been going on in legal 
opinion parallel to these economic changes, and in 1545 a 
law was passed practically legalizing interest if it was 
not at a higher rate than ten per cent. This was, how- 
ever, strongly opposed by the religious opinion of the 
time, especially among men of Puritan tendencies. They 
seemed, indeed, to be partially justified by the fact that the 
control of capital was used by the rich men of the tune in such 
a way as to cause great hardship. In 1552, therefore, the law 
of 1545 was repealed, and interest, except in the few forms in 
which it had always been allowed, was again prohibited. But 
the tide soon turned, and in 1571 interest up to ten per cent 
was again made lawful. From that time forward the term 
usury was restricted to excessive interest, and this alone was 
prohibited. Yet the practice of receiving interest for the loan 
of money was still generally condemned by writers on morals till 
quite the end of this period; though lawyers, merchants, and 
popular opinion no longer disapproved of it if the rate was 

47. Paternal Government. In many of the changes 
which have been described in this chapter, the share which 
government took was one of the most important influences. 
In some cases, as in the laws against enclosures, against the 
migration of industry from the towns to the rural districts, and 
against usury, the policy of king and Parliament was not 
successful in resisting the strong economic forces which were 
at work. In others, however, as in the oversight of industry, 
in the confiscation of the property of the gilds devoted to relig- 
ious uses, in the settlement of the relations between employers 
and employees, in the control of foreign commerce, the policy 

The Breaking up of the Medieval System 149 

of the government really decided what direction changes should 

As has been seen in this chapter, after the accession of Henry 
VII there was a constant extension of the sphere of government 
till it came to pass laws upon and provide for and regulate 
almost all the economic interests of the nation. This was a 
result, in the first place, of th^breaking down of those social 
institutions which had been most permanent and stable in 
earlier periods. The l manor system in the country, landlord 
farming, the manor courts, labor dues, serfdom, were passing 
rapidly away; the old type of gilds, city regulations, trading 
at fairs, were no longer so general ; it was no longer foreigners 
who brought foreign goods to England to be sold, or bought 
English goods for exportation. When these old customs 
were changing or passing away, the national government nat- 
urally took charge to prevent the threatened confusion 
of the process of disintegration. Secondly, the government 
itself, from the latter part of the fifteenth century onward, 
became abler and more vigorous, as has been pointed out in 
the first paragraph of this chapter. The Privy Council of the 
king exercised larger activities, and extended its jurisdiction 
into new fields. Under these circumstances, when the_f unctions 
of the central government were being so widely extended, it 
was altogether natural that they should come to include the 
control of all forms of industrial life, including agriculture* 
manufacturing, commerce, internal trade, labor, and other 
social and economic relations. Thirdly, the(jpntrol of eco- 
nomic and social matters by the government was in accordance 
with contemporary opinions and feelings. An enlightened ab- 
solutism seems to have commended itself to the most thoughtful 
men of that time. A paternalism which regulated a very wide 
circle of interests was unhesitatingly accepted and approved. 
As a result of the decay of mediaeval conditions, the strengthen- 
ing of national government, and the prevailing view of the 
proper functions of government, almost all economic conditions 

150 Industrial and Social History of England 

were regulated by the government to a degree quite unknown 
before. In the early part of the period this regulation was 
more minute, more intrusive, more evidently directed to the 
immediate advantage of government; but by the close of 
Elizabeth's reign a systematic regulation was established, 
which, while not controlling every detail of industrial life, yet laid 
down the general lines along which most of industrial life must 
run. Some parts of this regulation have already been analyzed. 
Perhaps the best instance and one of the most important parts 
of it is the Statute of Apprentices of 1563, already described 
in paragraph 40. In the same year, 1563, a statute was 
passed making minute regulations for the fishing and fish-deal- 
ing trades. Foreign commerce was carried on by regulated com- 
panies ; that is, companies having charters from the government, 
giving them a monopoly of the trade with certain countries, 
and laying down at least a part of the rules under which that 
trade should be carried on. The importation of most kinds of 
finished goods and the exportation of raw materials were pro- 
hibited. New industries were encouraged by patents or other 
government concessions. Many laws were passed, of which 
that of 1571, to encourage the industry of making caps, is a type. 
This law laid down the requirement that every person of six 
years old and upward should wear on every Sunday and holy 
day a woollen cap made in England. 

The conformity of manufactures to standard was enforced 
either by the officers of companies which were established 
under the authority of the government or by government 
officials or patentees, and many of the methods and ma- 
terials of manufacture were themselves defined by statutes or 
proclamation. In agriculture, while the policy was less con- 
sistent, government regulation was widely applied. There 
were laws, as has been noted, forbidding the possession of 
more than two thousand sheep by any one landholder and 
of more than two farms by any one tenant; laws requiring 
the keeping of one cow and one calf for every sixty sheep, 

The Breaking up of the Mediceval System 151 

and the raising a quarter of an acre of flax or hemp for every 
sixty acres devoted to other crops. The most characteristic 
laws for the regulation of agriculture, however, were those 
controlling the export of grain. In order to prevent an exces- 
sive price, grain-raisers were not allowed to export wheat or 
other grain when it was scarce in England. When it was cheap 
and plenty, they were permitted to do so, the conditions under 
which it was to be allowed or forbidden being decided, accord- 
ing to a law of 1571, by the justices of the peace of each locality, 
with the restriction that none should be exported when the pre- 
vailing price was more than is. $d. a bushel, a limit which was 
raised to 25. 6d. in 1592. 

Thus, instead of industrial life being controlled and regu- 
lated by town governments, merchant and craft gilds, lords 
of fairs, village communities, lords of manors and their 
stewards, or other local bodies, it was now regulated in its 
main features by the all-powerful national government. 


Professor Ashley's second volume is of especial value for this 

Green, Mrs. J. R. : Town Life in England in the Fifteenth 
Century, two volumes. 

Cheyney, E. P. : Social Changes in England in the Sixteenth 
Century, Part I, Rural Changes, and History of England from 
the Defeat of the Armada to the Death of Elizabeth. 

Bradley, H. : English Enclosures. 

Gay, E. F. : Inclosures in England in the Sixteenth Century, 
Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1903. 

A discussion of the legal character of villain tenure in the 
sixteenth century will be found in articles by Mr. I. S. Leadam, 
in The English Historical Review, for October, 1893, and in 
the Transactions of the English Royal Historical Society for 1892, 
1893, 1894 and 1897 ; and by Professor Ashley in the English 
Historical Review for April, 1893, and Annals of the American 

152 Industrial and Social History of England 

Academy of Political Science for January, 1891. (Reprinted 
in English Economic History, Vol. II, Chap. 4.) 

Bourne, H. R. F. : English Merchants. 

Unwin, G. : The Guilds and Companies of London and In- 
dustrial Organization in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. 

Kramer, S. : English Craft Gilds and the Government. 

Froude, J. A. : History of England. Many scattered pas- 
sages of great interest refer to the economic and social changes 
of this period, but they are frequently exaggerated, and in 
some cases incorrect. Almost the same remark applies to Pro- 
fessor Rogers' Six Centuries of Work and Wages and Industrial 
and Commercial History of England. 

Busch, Wilhelm: A History of England under the Tudor s. 
For the economic policy of Henry VII. 




49. National Affairs from 1603 to 1760. The last three 
rulers of the Tudor family had died childless. James, king 
of Scotland, their cousin, therefore, inherited the throne and 
became the first English king of the Stuart family. James 
reigned from 1603 to 1625. Many of the political and re- 
ligious problems which had been created by the policy of the 
Tudor sovereigns had now to come up for solution. Parlia- 
ment had long been restive under the almost autocratic govern- 
ment of Queen Elizabeth, but the danger of foreign invasion 
and internal rebellion, long-established habit, Elizabeth's 
personal popularity, her age, her sex, and her occasional yield- 
ing, all combined to prevent any very outspoken opposition. 
Under King James all these things were changed. Yet he had 
even higher ideas of his personal rights, powers, and duties as 
king than any of his predecessors. Therefore during the 
whole of the reign dispute and ill feeling existed between the 
king, his ministers, and many of the judges and other officials, 
on the one hand, and the majority of the House of Commons 
and among the middle and upper classes of the country, on the 
other. James would willingly have avoided calling Parliament 
altogether and would have carried on the government according 
to his own judgment and that of the ministers he selected, but it 
was absolutely necessary to assemble it for the passing of cer- 
tain laws, and above all for the authorization of taxes to obtain 
the means to carry on the government. The fall in the value 

154 Industrial and Social History of England 

of gold and silver and the consequent rise of prices, and other 
economic changes, had reduced the income of the government 
just at a time when its necessary expenses were increasing, and 
when a spendthrift king was making profuse additional outlays. 
Finances were therefore a constant difficulty during his reign, 
as in fact they remained during the whole of the seventeenth 

In religion James wished to maintain the middle course of 
the established church as it had been under Elizabeth. He was 
even less inclined to harsh treatment of the Roman Catholics. 
On the other hand, the tide of Puritan feeling appealing for 
greater strictness and earnestness in the church and a more 
democratic form of church government was rising higher and 
higher, and with this a desire to expel the Roman Catholics 
altogether. The House of Commons represented this strong 
Protestant feeling, so that still another cause of conflict existed 
between King and Parliament. Similarly, in foreign affairs 
and on many other questions James was at cross purposes with 
the main body of the English nation. 

This reign was the period of foundation of England's great 
colonial empire. The effort to establish settlements on the 
North American coast were at last successful in Virginia and 
New England, and soon after in the West Indies. Still other 
districts were being settled by other European nations, ulti- 
mately to be absorbed by England. On the other side of the 
world the East India Company began its progress toward the 
subjugation of India. Nearer home, a new policy was carried 
out in Ireland, by which large numbers of English and Scotch 
immigrants were induced to settle in Ulster, the northernmost 
province. Thus that process was begun by which men of 
English race and language, living under English institutions and 
customs, have established centres of population, wealth, and 
influence in so many parts of the world. 

Charles I came to the throne in 1625. Most of the char- 
acteristics of the period of James continued until the quarrels 

The Expansion of England 155 

between king and Parliament became so bitter that in 1642 
civil war broke out. The result of four years of fighting was the 
defeat and capture of the king. After fruitless attempts at a 
satisfactory settlement Charles was brought to trial by Parlia- 
ment in 1649, declared guilty of treason, and executed. 

A republican form of government was now established, 
known as the " Commonwealth," and kingship and the House 
of Lords were abolished. The army, however, had come to 
have a will of its own, and quarrels between its officers and the 
majority of Parliament were frequent. Both Parliament and 
army had become unpopular, taxation was heavy, and religious 
disputes troublesome. The majority in Parliament had carried 
the national church so far in the direction of Puritanism that 
its excesses had brought about a strong reactionary feeling. 
Parliament had already sat for more than ten years, hence called 
the " Long Parliament," and had become corrupt and despotic. 
Under these circumstances, one modification after another was 
made in the form of government until in 1653 Oliver Cromwell, 
the commander of the army and long the most influential man 
in Parliament, dissolved that body by military force and was 
made Lord Protector, with powers not very different from 
those of a king. There was now a period of good order and 
great military and naval success for England. Scotland and 
Ireland, both of which had declared against the Commonwealth, 
were reduced to obedience, and successful foreign wars were 
waged. But at home the government did not succeed in ob- 
taining either popularity or general acceptance. Parliament 
after Parliament was called, but could not agree with the Pro- 
tector. In 1657 Cromwell was given still higher powers, but 
in 1658 he died. His son, Richard Cromwell, was installed as 
Protector. The republican government had, however, been 
gradually drifting back toward the old royal form and spirit, 
so when the new Lord Protector proved to be unequal to the 
position, when the army became rebellious again, and the 
country threatened to fall into anarchy, Monk, an influential 

1 56 Industrial and Social History of England 

general, brought about the reassembling of the Long Parliament, 
and this body recalled the son of Charles I to take his heredi- 
tary seat as king. 

This event occurred in 1660, and is known as the Restoration. 
Charles II reigned for twenty-five years. His reign was in 
one of its aspects a time of reaction in manners and morals 
against the overstrictness of the former Puritan control. In 
government, notwithstanding the independent position of the 
king, it was the period when some of the most important modern 
institutions came into existence. Permanent political parties 
were formed then for the first time. It was then that the cus- 
tom arose by which the ministers of the government are expected 
to resign when there proves to be a majority in Parliament 
against them. It was then that a " cabinet," or group of min- 
isters acting together and responsible for the policy of the king, 
was first formed. The old form of the established church came 
again into power, and harsh laws were enacted against Presby- 
terians, Baptists, Quakers, and members of the other sects 
which had grown up during the earlier part of the century. 

It was to escape these oppressive laws that many emigrated 
to the colonies in America and established new settlements. 
Not only was the stream of emigration kept up by religious 
persecutions, but the prosperity and abundant opportunity for 
advancement furnished by the colonies attracted great numbers. 
The government of the Stuart kings, as well as that of the 
Commonwealth, constantly encouraged distant settlements for 
the sake of commerce, shipping, the export of English manu- 
factured goods, and the import of raw materials. The expan- 
sion of the country through its colonial settlements therefore 
still continued. 

The great literature which reached its climax in the reign 
of Elizabeth continued in equal variety and abundance through- 
out the reigns of James and Charles. The greatest plays of 
Shakespeare were written after the accession of James. Milton 
belonged to the Commonwealth period, and Bunyan, the famous 

The Expansion of England 157 

author of Pilgrim's Progress, was one of those non-conformists 
in religion who were imprisoned under Charles II. With this 
reign, however, quite a new literary type arose, whose most 
conspicuous representative was Dryden. 

In 1685 James II succeeded his brother. Instead of carrying 
on the government in a spirit of concession to national feeling, 
he adopted such an unpopular policy that in 1688 he was forced 
to flee from England, and his son-in-law and daughter, William 
and Mary, were elected to the throne. On their accession 
Parliament passed and the king and queen accepted a " Bill of 
Rights." This declared the illegality of a number of actions 
which recent sovereigns had claimed the right to do, and guar- 
anteed to Englishmen a number of important individual rights, 
which have since been included in many other documents, 
especially in the constitutions of several of the American states 
and the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United 
States. The Bill of Rights is often grouped with the Great 
Charter, and these two documents, along with several of the 
Acts of the Parliaments of Charles I accepted by the king, 
make the principal written elements of the English constitution. 
The form and powers attained by the English government have 
been, however, rather the result of slight changes from time 
to time, often without intention of influencing the constitution, 
than of any deliberate action. Important examples of this are 
certain customs of legislation which grew up under William and 
Mary. The Mutiny Act, by which the army is kept up, is 
only passed for one year at a time. The grant of taxes is 
also only made annually. Parliament must therefore be 
called every year in order to obtain money to carry on the 
work of government, and in order to keep up the military 

As a result of the Revolution of 1688, as the deposition of 
James II and the appointment of William and Mary are called, 
and of the changes which succeeded it, Parliament gradually 
became the most powerful part of government, and the House 

158 Industrial and Social History of England 

of Commons the strongest part of Parliament. The king's 
ministers came more and more to carry out the will of Parlia- 
ment rather than that of the king. Somewhat later the custom 
grew up by which one of the ministers by presiding over the 
whole Cabinet, nominating its members to the king, represent- 
ing it in interviews with the king, and in other ways giving unity 
to its action, created the position of prime minister. Thus the 
modern Parliamentary organization of the government was 
practically complete before the middle of the eighteenth century. 
William and Mary died childless, and Anne, Mary's sister, 
succeeded, and reigned till 1714. She also left no heir. In 
the meantime arrangements had been made to set aside the 
descendants of James II, who were Roman Catholics, and to 
give the succession to a distant line of Protestant descendants 
of James I. In this way George I, Elector of Hanover, of the 
house of Brunswick, became king, reigned till 1727, and was 
succeeded by George II, who reigned till 1760. The sovereigns 
of England have been of this family ever since. 

The years following the Revolution of 1688 were a time 
of almost constant warfare on the Continent, in the colonies, 
and at sea. In many of these wars the real interests of England 
were but slightly concerned. In others her colonial and native 
dependencies were so deeply affected as to make them veritable 
national wars. Just at the close of the period, in 1763, the war 
known in Europe as the Seven Years' War and in America as 
the French and Indian War was brought to an end by the peace 
of Paris. This peace drew the outlines of the widespread em- 
pire of Great Britain, for it handed over to her Canada, the 
last of the French possessions in America, and guaranteed her 
the ultimate predominance in India. 

60. The Extension of Agriculture. During the seven- 
teenth and the first half of the eighteenth century there are 
no such fundamental changes in social organization to chron- 
icle as during the preceding century and a half. During the 
first hundred years of the period the whole energy of the nation 

The Expansion of England 159 

seems to have been thrown into political and religious contests. 
Later there was development and increase of production, but 
they were in the main an extension or expansion of the familiar 
forms, not such a change of form as would cause any alteration 
in the position of the mass of the people. 

The practice of enclosing open land had almost ceased be- 
Jore the death of Elizabeth. There was some enclosing under 
James I, but it seems to have been quite exceptional. In 
the main, those common pastures and open fields which had 
not been enclosed by the beginning of this period, probably 
one-half of all England, remained unenclosed till the recom- 
mencement of the process long afterward. Sheep farming 
gradually ceased to be so exclusively practised, and mixed 
agriculture became general, though few if any of those fields 
which had been surrounded with hedges, and come into the 
possession of individual farmers, were thrown open or dis- 
tributed again into scattered holdings. Much new land came 
into cultivation or into use for pasture through the draining of 
marshes and fens, and the clearing of forests. This work had 
been begun for the extensive swampy tracts in the east of England 
in the latter years of Elizabeth's reign by private purchasers, 
assisted by an act of Parliament passed in 1601, intended to 
remove legal difficulties. It proceeded slowly, partly because 
of the expense and difficulty of putting up lasting embankments, 
and partly because of the opposition of the fenmen, or dwellers 
in the marshy districts, whose livelihood was obtained by 
catching the fish and water fowl that the improvements would 
drive away. With the seventeenth and early eighteenth cen- 
turies, however, largely through the skill of Dutch engineers 
and laborers, many thousands of acres of fertile land were 
reclaimed and devoted to grazing, and even grain-raising. 
Great stretches of old forest and waste land covered with rough 
underbrush were also reduced to cultivation. 

There was much writing on agricultural subjects, and methods 
of farming were undoubtedly improved, especially in the eight- 

160 Industrial and Social History of England 

eenth century. Turnips, which could be grown during the re- 
mainder of the season after a grain crop had been harvested, 
and which would provide fresh food for the cattle during the 
winter, were introduced from the Continent and cultivated to 
some extent, as were clover and some unproved grasses. But 
these improvements progressed but slowly, and farming on the 
whole was carried on along very much the same old lines till 
quite the middle of the eighteenth century. The raising of 
grain was encouraged by a system of government bounties, as 
already stated in another connection. From 1689 onward a 
bounty was given on ail grain exported, when the prevailing 
price was less than six shillings a bushel. The result was that 
England exported wheat in all but famine years, that there was 
a steady encouragement, even if without much result, to improve 
methods of agriculture, and that landlords were able to increase 
their rents. In the main, English agriculture and the organiza- 
tion of the agricultural classes of the population did not differ 
very much at the end of this period from that at the beginning 
except in the one point of quantity, the amount of produce and 
the number of the population being both largely increased. 

61. The Domestic System of Manufactures. Much greater 
skill in manufacturing was acquired, principally, as in earlier 
periods, through the immigration of foreign artisans. In 
Queen Elizabeth's time a great number of such men with their 
families, who had been driven from the Netherlands by the 
persecutions of the duke of Alva, came to England for refuge. 
In Sandwich in 1561 some twenty families of Flemings settled 
and began their manufactures of various kinds of cloth ; in 1565 
some thirty Dutch and Walloon families settled in Norwich 
as weavers, in Maidstone a body of similar artisans who were 
thread-makers settled in 1567 ; in 1570 a similar group carrying 
on various forms of manufacture settled at Colchester ; and still 
others settled in some five or six other towns. After 1580 a 
wave of French Huguenots, principally silk weavers, fled from 
their native country and were allowed to settle in London, 

The Expansion of England 161 

Canterbury, and Coventry. The renewed persecutions of the 
Huguenots, culminating in the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes in 1685, sent many thousands more into exile, large 
numbers of silk and linen weavers and manufacturers of paper, 
clocks, glass, and metal goods coming from Normandy and 
Brittany into England, and settling not only in London and its 
suburbs, but in many other towns of England. These for- 
eigners, unpopular as they often were among the populace, and 
supported in their opportunities of carrying on their industry 
only by royal authority, really taught new and higher industries 
to the native population and eventually were absorbed into it 
as a more gifted and trained component. 

There were also some inventions of new processes or devices 
for manufacture. The " stocking frame," or machine knitting 
was invented in the time of Queen Elizabeth, but did not get 
into actual use until the next century. It then became for the 
future an extensive industry, especially in London and Notting- 
ham and their vicinity. The weaving of cotton goods was intro- 
duced and spread especially in the northwest, in the neighbor- 
hood of Manchester and Bolton. A machine for preparing silk 
thread was invented in 1719. The printing of imported white 
cotton goods, as calicoes and lawns, was begun, but prohibited 
by Parliament in the interest of woven goods manufacturers, 
though the printing of linens was still allowed. Stoneware 
was also improved. These and other new industries introduced 
by foreigners or developed by English inventors or enterprising 
artisans added to the variety and total amount of English manu- 
facture. The old established industries, like the old coarser 
woollen goods and linen manufacture, increased but slowly 
in amount and went through no great changes of method. 

These industries old and new were in some cases regulated 
and supervised, as to the quality of wares and methods of manu- 
facture, by the remaining gilds or companies, with the authority 
which they possessed from the national government. Indeed, 
there were within the later sixteenth and the seventeenth cen- 

162 Industrial and Social History of England 

tunes some new companies organized or old ones renewed 
especially for this oversight, and to guard the monopoly of their 
members over certain industries in certain towns. In other 
cases rules were established for the carrying on of a special 
industry, and a patent or monopoly was then granted by the king 
by which the person or company was given the sole right to 
carry on the industry according to those rules, or to enforce 
the rules when it was carried on by other people. In still other 
industries a government official had the oversight and control 
of quality and method of manufacture. Much production, 
however, especially such as went on in the country, was not 
supervised at all, notwithstanding the intentions of the govern- 

Far the greater part of manufacturing industry in this period 
was organized according to the " domestic system," the begin- 
nings of which have been already noticed within the previous 
period. That is to say, manufacturing was carried on in their 
own houses by small masters with a journeyman and apprentice 
or two. Much of it was done in the country villages or suburbs 
of the larger towns, and such handicraft was very generally 
connected with a certain amount of cultivation of the soil. A 
small master weaver or nail manufacturer or soap boiler or 
potter, would also have a little farm and divide his time between 
the two occupations. The implements of manufacture almost 
always belonged to the small master himself, though in the 
stocking manufacture and the silk manufacture they were often 
owned by employing capitalists and rented out to the small 
manufacturers, or even to journeymen. In some cases the raw 
material wool, linen, metal, or whatever it might be was 
purchased by the small manufacturer, and the goods were either 
manufactured for special customers or taken when completed 
to a neighboring town on market days, there to be sold to a local 
dealer, or to a merchant who would transport them to another 
part of the country or export them to other countries. In other 
cases the raw material, especially in the case of cotton, was the 

The Expansion of England 163 

property of a town merchant or capitalist, who distributed it to 
the small domestic manufacturers in their houses in the villages, 
paying them for the processes of production, and himself col- 
lecting the completed product and disposing of it by sale or 
export. This domestic manufacture was especially common 
in the southwest, centre, and northwest of England, and manu- 
facturing towns like Birmingham, Halifax, Sheffield, Leeds, 
Bolton, and Manchester were growing up as centres around 
which it gathered. Little or no organization existed among 
such small manufacturers, though their apprentices were of 
course supposed to be taken and their journeymen hired accord- 
ing to the provisions of the Statute of Apprentices, and their 
products were sometimes subjected to some governmental or 
other supervision. 

Thus in manufacturing and artisan life as in agricultural 
the period was marked by an extension and increase of the 
amount of industry, on the same general lines as had been 
reached by 1600, rather than by any considerable changes. 

62. Commerce under the Navigation Acts. The same 
thing is true of commerce, although its vast extension was 
almost in the nature of a revolution. As far back as the reign 
of Elizabeth most of the imports into England were brought 
in English vessels by English importers, and the goods which 
were exported were sent out by English exporters. The goods 
which were manufactured in scattered villages or town suburbs 
by the domestic manufacturers were gathered by these mer- 
chants and sent abroad in ever increasing amounts. The 
total value of English exports in 1600 was about 10 million 
dollars, at the close of the century it was some 34 millions, and 
in 1750 about 63 millions. This trade was carried on largely 
by merchants who were members of those chartered trading 
companies which have been mentioned as existing already in 
the sixteenth century. Some of these were " regulated com- 
panies " ; that is, they had certain requirements laid down in 
their charters and power to adopt further rules and regulations, 

The Expansion of England 165 

to which their members must conform. Others had similar 
chartered rights, but all their members invested funds in a 
common capital and traded as a joint stock company. In both 
kinds of cases each company possessed a monopoly of some cer- 
tain field of trade, and was constantly engaged in the exclu- 
sion of interlopers from its trade. Of these companies the 
Merchants Adventurers, the oldest and one of the wealthiest, 
controlled the export of manufactured cloth to the Netherlands 
and northwestern Germany and remained prominent and active 
into the eighteenth century. The Levant, the Eastland, the 
Muscovy, the Guinea or Royal African, and, greatest of all, 
the East India Company, continued to exist under various 
forms, and carried on their distant commerce through the whole 
of this period. With some of the nearer parts of Europe 
France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy there was much trading 
by private merchants not organized as companies or only 
organized among themselves. The " Methuen treaty," nego- 
tiated with Portugal in 1703, gave free entry of English manu- 
factured goods into that country in return for a decreased im- 
port duty on Portuguese wines brought into England. 

The foreign lands with which these companies traded fur- 
nished at the beginning of this period the only places to which 
goods could be exported and from which goods could be brought ; 
but very soon the series of settlements of English colonists 
was begun, one of the principal inducements for which was that 
they would furnish an outlet for English goods. The " Plan- 
tation of Ulster," or introduction of English and Scotch settlers 
into the north of Ireland between 1610 and 1620, was the 
beginning of a long process of immigration into that country. 
But far the most important plantations as an outlet for trade, 
as in every respect, were those made on the coast of North 
America and in the West Indies. The Virginia and the Plym- 
outh Companies played a part in the early settlement of these 
colonies, but they were soon superseded by the crown, single 
proprietaries, or the settlers themselves. Virginia, New Eng- 

1 66 Industrial and Social History of England 

land, Maryland, the Carolinas, and ultimately New York, 
Pennsylvania, and Georgia on the mainland; the islands of 
Bermudas, Barbadoes, and Jamaica; and ultimately Canada, 
came to be populous colonies inhabited by Englishmen and 
demanding an ever increasing supply of English manufac- 
tured goods. These colonies were controlled by the English 
government largely for their commercial and other forms of 
economic value. The production of goods needed in England 
but not produced there, such as sugar, tobacco, tar, and lumber, 
was encouraged, but the manufacture of such goods as could 
be exported from England was prohibited. The purchase of 
slaves in Africa and their exportation to the West Indies was 
encouraged, partly because they were paid for in Africa by 
English manufactured goods, partly because their use in the 
colonies made the supply of sugar and some other products 
plentiful and cheap. 

Closely connected with commerce and colonies as a means 
of disposing of England's manufactured goods and of obtaining 
those things which were needed from abroad was commerce 
for its own sake, for the profits which it brought to those en- 
gaged in it, and for the indirect value to the nation of having a 
large mercantile navy. 

The most important provision for this end was the passage 
of the " Navigation Acts." We have seen that as early as 
1485 certain kinds of goods could be imported only in English 
vessels. But in 1651 a law was passed, and in 1660 under a 
more regular government reenacted in still more vigorous form, 
which carried this policy to its fullest extent. By these laws 
all importation of goods into England from any ports of Asia, 
Africa, or America was forbidden, except in vessels belonging 
to English owners, built in England and manned by English 
seamen ; and there was the same requirement for goods exported 
from England to those countries. From European ports goods 
could be brought to England only in English vessels or in vessels 
the property of merchants of the country in which the port lay ; 

The Expansion of England 167 

and similarly for export. These acts were directed especially 
against the Dutch merchants, who were fast getting control of 
the carrying trade. The result of the policy of the Navigation 
Acts was to secure to English merchants and to English ship- 
builders a monopoly of all the trade with the East Indies and 
Africa and with the American colonies, and to prevent the 
Dutch from competing with English merchants for the greater 
part of the trade with the Continent of Europe. 

The characteristics of English commerce in this period, 
therefore, were much the same as in the last. It was, how- 
ever, still more completely controlled by English merchants 
and was vastly extended in amount. Moreover, this exten- 
sion bid fair to be permanent, as it was largely brought about 
by the growth of populous English colonies in Ireland and 
America, and by the acquisition of great spheres of influence in 

63. Finance. The most characteristic changes of the 
period now being studied were in a field to which attention has 
been but slightly called before; that is, in finance. Capital 
had not existed in any large amounts in mediaeval England, 
and even in the later centuries there had not been any consid- 
erable class of men whose principal interest was in the invest- 
ment of saved-up capital which they had in their hands. Agri- 
culture, manufacturing, and even commerce were carried on 
with very small capital and usually with such capital as each 
farmer, artisan, or merchant might have of his own; no use 
of credit to obtain money from individual men or from banks 
for industrial purposes being ordinarily possible. Questions 
connected with money, capital, borrowing, and other points of 
finance came into somewhat greater prominence with the six- 
teenth century, but they now attained an altogether new and 
more important position. 

Taxation, which had been looked upon as abnormal and 
occasional during earlier times, and only justifiable when some 
special need for large expenditure by the government arose, 

1 68 Industrial and Social History of England 

such as war, a royal marriage, or the entertainment of some 
foreign visitor, now, after long conflicts between king and Parlia- 
ment, which are of still greater constitutional than financial 
importance, came to be looked upon as a regular normal custom. 
In 1660, at the Restoration, a whole system of excise duties, 
taxes on imports and exports, and a hearth tax were established 
as a permanent means for paying the expenses of government, 
besides special taxes of various kinds for special demands. 

Borrowing by merchants and others for ordinary purposes 
of business became much more usual. During most of the 
seventeenth century the goldsmiths were the only bankers. 
On account of the strong vaults of these merchants, their 
habitual possession of valuable material and articles, and 
perhaps of their reputation for probity, persons who had money 
beyond their immediate needs deposited it with the goldsmiths, 
receiving from them usually six per cent. The goldsmiths then 
loaned it to merchants or to the government, obtaining for it 
interest at the rate of eight per cent or more. This system 
gradually became better established and the high rates decreased. 
Payments came to be made by check, and promissory notes 
were regularly discounted by the goldsmiths. 

The greatest extension in the use of credit, however, came 
from the establishment of the Bank of England. In 1691 the 
original proposition for the Bank was made to the government 
by William Paterson. In 1694 a charter for the Bank was 
finally carried through Parliament by the efforts of the ministry. 
The Bank consisted of a group of subscribers who agreed to loan 
to the government 1,200,000, the government to pay them an 
annual interest of eight and one-half per cent, or 100,000 
in cash, guaranteed by the product of a certain tax. The 
subscribers were at the same time incorporated and authorized 
to carry on a general business of receiving deposits and lending 
out money at interest. The capital which was to be loaned to 
the government was subscribed principally by London mer- 
chants, and the Bank began its career in the old Grocers' Hall. 

The Expansion of England 169 

The regular income of 100,000 a year gave it a nucleus of 
strength, and enabled it to discount notes even beyond its actual 
deposits and to issue its own notes or paper money. Thus 
money could be borrowed to serve as capital for all kinds of 
enterprises, and there was an inducement also for persons to 
save money and thus create capital, since it could always bring 
them in a return by lending it to the Bank even if they were 
not in a position to put it to use themselves. Along with the 
normal effect of such financial inventions in developing all 
forms of trade and industry, there arose a remarkable series 
of projects and schemes of the wildest and most unstable char- 
acter, and the early eighteenth century saw many losses and 
constant fluctuations in the realm of finance. The most famous 
instance of this was the " South Sea Bubble," a speculative 
scheme by which a regulated company, the South Sea Company, 
was chartered in 1719 to carry on the slave-trade to the West 
Indies and whale-fishing, and incidentally to loan money to 
the government. Its shares rose to many fold their par value 
and fell to almost nothing again within a few months, and the 
government and vast numbers of investors and speculators 
were involved in its failure. 

The same period saw the creation of the permanent national 
debt. In earlier times kings and ministers had constantly 
borrowed money from foreign or native lenders, but it was 
always provided and anticipated that it would be repaid at a 
certain period, with the interest. With the later years of the 
seventeenth century, however, it became customary for the 
government to borrow money without any definite contract 
or expectation as to when it should be paid back, only making 
an agreement to pay a certain rate of interest upon it. This 
was satisfactory to all parties. The government obtained a 
large sum at the time, with the necessity of only paying a small 
sum every year for interest ; investors obtained a remunerative 
use for their money, and if they should need the principal, 
some one else was always ready to pay its value to them for the 



According to the Heuth-duciof 


Below 12 houses per sq, mile 
.Between 12 and 15 per sq. mile 
Above 15 houses per sq. mile 

The Expansion of England 171 

sake of receiving the interest. The largest single element of 
the national debt in its early period was the loan of 1,200,000 
which served as the basis for the Bank ; but after that time, as 
for a short time before, sums were borrowed from time to time 
which were not repaid, but became a permanent part of the debt : 
the total rising to more than 75,000,000 by the middle of the 
century. Incidentally, this, like the deposits at the goldsmiths' 
and the Bank, became an opportunity for the investment of 
savings and an inducement to create more capital. 

Fire insurance and life insurance both seem to have had 
their origin in the later decades of the seventeenth century. 

Thus in the realm of finance there was much more of novelty, 
of actually new development, during this period than in agri- 
culture, manufacturing, or commerce. Yet all these forms of 
economic life and of the social organization which corresponded 
to them were alike in one respect, that they were quite minutely 
regulated by the national government. The fabric of paternal 
government which we saw rising in the time of the Tudor 
sovereigns remained almost intact through the whole of this 
period. The regulation of the conditions of labor, of trade, of 
importation and exportation, of finance, of agriculture, of manu- 
facture, in more or less detail, was part of the regular work of 
legislation or administrative action. Either in order to reach 
certain ulterior ends, such as government power, a large navy, 
or a large body of money within the country, or simply as a 
part of what were looked upon at the time as the natural func- 
tions of government, laws were constantly being passed, charters 
granted, treaties entered into, and other action taken by 
government, intended to encourage one kind of industry and 
discourage another, to determine rates of wages and hours of 
labor, prescribe rules for agriculture, or individual trades or 
forms of business, to support some kind of industry which was 
threatened with decay, to restrict certain actions which were 
thought to be disadvantageous, to regulate the whole economic 
life of the nation. 

172 Industrial and Social History of England 

It is true that much of this regulation was on the books 
rather than in actual existence. It would have required a 
much more extensive and efficient civil service, national and 
local, than England then possessed to enforce all or any con- 
siderable part of the provisions that were made by act of Parlia- 
ment or ordered by the king and Council. Again, new indus- 
tries were generally declared to be free from much of the more 
minute regulation, so that enterprise where it arose was not so 
apt to be checked as conservatism where it already existed 
was apt to be perpetuated. Such regulation and control, more- 
over, were quite in accord with the feeling and with the eco- 
nomic and political theories of the time, so there was but little 
sense of interference or tyranny felt by the governed. A 
regulated industrial organization slowly expanding on well- 
established lines was as characteristic of the theory as it was of 
the practice of the period. 


Gardiner, S. R. : The History of England, 1603-1642, ten 

Many scattered passages in this work and in its continua- 
tions, like those in Froude's history, referred to in the last 
chapter, apply to the economic and social history of the period, 
and they are always judicious and valuable. 

Hewins, W. A. S. : English Trade and Finance, chiefly in 
the Seventeenth Century. 

Lingelbach, W. E. : The Laws and Ordinances of the Merchants 

For this period Cunningham, Rogers, and Palgrave, in the 
books already referred to, are almost the only secondary au- 
thorities, except such as go into great detail on individual 
points. Cunningham's second volume, which includes this 
period, is extremely full and satisfactory. 

Macpherson, D. : Annals of Commerce is a large collection 
of somewhat uncritically tested records. 





55. National Affairs from 1760 to 1820. The sixty years 
lying between these two dates were covered by the long 
reign of George III, the first English Hanoverian king. In the 
political world this period had by no means the importance 
that it possessed in the field of economic development. Parlia- 
ment had already obtained its permanent form and powers, 
and when George III tried to " be a king," as his mother urged 
him, the effort to restore personal government was an utter 
failure. Between 1775 and 1783 occurred the American Revo- 
lution, by which thirteen of England's most valued colonies 
were lost to her and began their progress toward a greater 
destiny. The breach between the American colonies and the 
mother country was brought about largely by the obstinacy 
of the king and his ministers in adopting an arbitrary and 
unpopular policy. Other political causes no doubt contributed 
to the result. Yet the greater part of the alienation of feeling 
which underlay the Revolution was due not to political causes, 
but to the economic policy already described, by which American 
commerce and industry were bent to the interests of England. 

In the American war France joined the rebellious colonies 
against England, and obtained advantageous terms at the 
peace. Within ten years the two countries had again entered 
upon a war, this time of vastly greater extent, and continuing 
almost unbroken for more than twenty years. This was a 
result of the outbreak of the French Revolution. In 1789 the 


174 Industrial and Social History of England 

Estates General of France, a body corresponding in its earlier 
history to the English Parliament, was called for the first time 
for almost two hundred years. This assembly and its successors 
undertook to reorganize French government and society. In 
the course of this radical process principles were enunciated 
proclaiming the absolute liberty and equality of men, demanding 
the participation of all in government, the abolition of aristo- 
cratic privileges, and finally of royalty itself. In following out 
these ideas, so different from those generally accepted in Europe, 
France was brought into conflict with all the other European 
states, including Great Britain. War broke out in 1793. 
Fighting took place on sea and land and in various parts of the 
world. France in her new enthusiasm developed a strength, 
vigor, and capacity which enabled her to make head against 
the alliances of almost all the other countries of Europe, and 
even to gain victories and increase her territory at their expense. 
No peace seemed practicable. In her successive internal 
changes of government one of the generals of the army, Napoleon 
Bonaparte, obtained a more and more influential position, 
until in 1804 he took the title of Emperor. The wars of the 
French Revolution, therefore, were merged in the wars of 
Napoleon. Alliance after alliance was made against him, 
England commonly taking the initiative in the formation of 
them and paying large monthly subsidies to some of the con- 
tinental governments to enable them to support their armies. 
The English navy won several brilliant victories, especially 
under Nelson, although her land forces played a comparatively 
small part until the battle of Waterloo in 1815. 

The naval supremacy thus obtained made the war a matter 
of pecuniary profit to the English nation, notwithstanding 
its enormous expense ; for it gave to her vessels almost a com- 
plete monopoly of the commerce and the carrying trade of the 
world, and to her manufactures extended markets which would 
otherwise have been closed to her or shared with other nations. 
The cutting off of continental and other sources of supply of 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 175 

grain and the opening of new markets greatly increased the 
demand for English grain and enhanced the price paid for it. 
This caused higher rents and further enclosure of open land. 
Thus the war, which had been entered upon reluctantly and with 
much opposition in 1793, became popular, partly because of 
the feeling of the English people that it had become a life and 
death struggle with France, but largely also because English 
industries were flourishing under it. The wars came to an end 
with the downfall of Napoleon in 1815, and an unwonted period 
of peace for England set in and lasted for almost forty years. 

The French Revolution produced another effect in England. 
It awakened a certain amount of admiration for its principles 
of complete liberty and equality and a desire to apply them to 
English aristocratic society and government. In 1790 societies 
began to be formed, meetings held, and pamphlets issued by 
men who sympathized with the popular movements in France. 
Indeed, some of these reformers were suspected of wishing to 
introduce a republic in England. After the outbreak of the 
war the ministry determined to put down this agitation, and 
between 1793 and 1795 all public manifestation of sympathy 
with such principles was crushed out, although at the cost of 
considerable interference with what had been understood to 
be established personal rights. Much discontent continued 
through the whole period of the war, especially among the 
lower classes, though it did not take the form of organized 
political agitation. It was a period, as will be seen, of violent 
economic and social changes, which, although they enriched 
England as a whole and made it possible for her to support 
the unprecedented expenses of the long war, were very hard 
upon the working classes, who were used to the old ways. 

After the peace of 1815, however, political agitation began 
again. The Whig party seemed inclined to resume the effort 
to carry certain moderate reforms which had been postponed 
on account of the war, and down below this movement there 
was a more radical agitation for universal suffrage and for a 

176 Industrial and Social History of England 

more democratic type of government generally. On the other 
hand, the Tory government, which had been in power during 
almost the whole war period, was determined to oppose every- 
thing in the nature of reform or change, on the ground that the 
outrages accompanying the French Revolution arose from just 
such efforts to make reforming alterations in the government. 
The radical agitation was supported by the discontented masses 
of the people who were suffering under heavy taxes, high prices, 
irregular employment, and many other evils they felt to 
be due to their interests being disregarded by government. 
The years intervening between 1815 and 1830 were therefore 
a period of constant bitterness and contention between the 
higher and the lower classes. Mass meetings which were called 
by the popular leaders were dissolved by the government, 
radical writers were prosecuted by the government for libel, 
the habeas corpus act was suspended repeatedly, and threatened 
rioting was met with severe measures. The actions of the 
ministers, while upheld by the higher classes, were bitterly 
attacked by others as being unconstitutional and tyrannical. 

In 1800 the union of the group of British Islands under one 
government was completed, at least in form. Scotland had 
come under the same crown as England in 1603, and the two 
Parliaments had been united in 1707, the title Great Britain 
having been adopted for the combined nations. The king of 
England had held the title of Lord of Ireland from the time 
of the first conquest, and of King of Ireland since the adoption 
of the title by Henry VIII. The union which now took place 
consisted in the abolition of the separate Irish Parliament and 
the election of Irish members to the combined or " Imperial " 
Parliament of the three kingdoms sitting at Westminster. The 
official title of the united countries has since been " The United 
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." 

56. The Great Mechanical Inventions. As the eighteenth 
century progressed one form of economic growth seems to 
have been pressing on the general economic organization. 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 177 

This was the constant expansion of commerce, the steadily 
increasing demand for English manufactured goods for export. 

The great quantities of goods which were every year sent 
abroad in English ships to the colonies, to Ireland, to the Con- 
tinent, to Asia and Africa, as well as those used at home, con- 
tinued to be manufactured in most cases by methods, with 
instruments, under an organization of labor the same as that 
which had been in existence for centuries. The cotton and 
woollen goods which were sold in the West Indies and America 
were still carded, spun, and woven in the scattered cottages of 
domestic weavers and weaver-farmers in the rural districts of 
the west and north of England, by the hand cards, the spinning- 
wheel, the cumbrous, old-fashioned loom. The pieces of goods 
were slowly gathered from the hamlets to the towns, from the 
towns to the seaports, over the poorest of roads, and by the 
most primitive of conveyances. And these antiquated methods 
of manufacture and transportation were all the more at vari- 
ance with the needs and possibilities of the time because there 
had been, as already pointed out, a steady accumulation of 
capital, and much of it was not remuneratively employed. 
The time had certainly come for some improvement in the 
methods of manufacture. 

A closer examination into the process of production in Eng- 
land's principal industry, cloth-making, shows that this pres- 
sure on old methods was already felt. The raw material for 
such uses, as it comes from the back of the sheep, the boll of 
the cotton plant, or the crushed stems of the flax, is a tangled 
mass of fibre. The first necessary step is to straighten out the 
threads of this fibre, which is done in the case of wool by comb- 
ing, in the others by carding, both being done at that time by 
hand implements. The next step is spinning, that is, drawing 
out the fibres, which have been made parallel by carding, into 
a slender cord, and at the same time twisting this sufficiently 
to cause the individual fibres to take hold one of another and 
thus make a thread of some strength. This was sometimes 

178 Industrial and Social History of England 

done on the old high wheel, which was whirled around by hand 
and then allowed to come to rest while another section of the 
cotton, wool, or flax was drawn from the carded mass by hand, 
then whirled again, twisting this thread and winding it up on 
the spindle, and so on. Or it was done by the low wheel, which 
was kept whirling continuously by the use of a treadle worked 
by the foot, while the material was being drawn out all the time 
by the two hands, and twisted and wound continuously by the 
horseshoe-shaped device known as the " flyer." When the 
thread had been spun it was placed upon the loom; strong, 
firmly spun material being necessary for the " warp " of upright 
threads, softer and less tightly spun material for the " woof " 
or " weft," which was wrapped on the shuttle and thrown 
horizontally by hand between the two diverging lines of warp 
threads. After weaving, the fabric was subjected to a number 
of processes of finishing, fulling, shearing, dyeing, if that had 
not been done earlier, and others, according to the nature of 
the cloth or the kind of surface desired. 

In these successive stages of manufacture it was the spinning 
that was apt to interpose the greatest obstacle, as it took the 
most time. From time immemorial spinning had been done, 
as explained, on some form of the spinning-wheel, and by 
women. One weaver continuously at work could easily use 
up the product of five or six spinners. In the domestic industry 
the weaving was of course carried on in the dwelling-house by 
the father of the family with the grown sons or journeymen, 
while the spinning was done for the most part by the women 
and younger children of the family. As it could hardly be 
expected that there would always be as large a proportion as 
six of the latter class to one of the former, outside help must be 
obtained and much delay often submitted to. Many a small 
master who had agreed to weave up the raw material sent him 
by the master clothier within a given time, or a cloth weaver 
who had planned to complete a piece by next market day, was 
obliged to leave his loom and search through the neighborhood 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 179 

for some disengaged laborer's wife or other person who would 
spin the weft for which he was waiting. One of the very few 
inventions of the early part of the century intensified this 
difficulty. Kay's drop box and flying shuttle, invented in 1738, 
made it possible for a man to sit still and by pulling two cords 
alternately throw the shuttle to and fro. One man could 
therefore weave broadcloth instead of its requiring two as 
before, and consequently weaving was more rapid, while no 
corresponding change had been introduced into the process of 

Indeed, this particular difficulty was so clearly recognized 
that the Royal Society offered a prize for the invention of a 
machine that would spin several threads at the same time. 

No one claimed this reward, but the spirit of invention was 
nevertheless awake, and experiments in more than one me- 
chanical device were being made about the middle of the cen- 
tury. The first to be brought to actual completion was Har- 
greaves' spinning- jenny, invented in 1764. According to the 
traditional story James Hargreaves, a small master weaver 
living near Blackburn, on coming suddenly into the house 
caused his wife, who was spinning with the old high wheel, to 
spring up with a start and overset the wheel, which still con- 
tinued whirling, but horizontally, and with its spindle in a 
vertical position. He was at once struck with the idea of using 
one wheel to cause a number of spindles to revolve by means 
of a continuous band, and by the device of substituting for the 
human hand a pair of bars which could be successively sepa- 
rated and closed, and which could be brought closer to or re- 
moved from the spindles on wheels, to spin several threads at 
the same time. On the basis of this idea and with the help of a 
neighboring mechanic he constructed a machine by which a 
man could spin eight threads at the same time. In honor of 
his wife he named it the " Spinning- jenny." The secret of this 
device soon came out and jennies spinning twenty or thirty 
or more threads at a time came into use here and there through 

180 Industrial and Social History of England 

the old spinning districts. At the same time a much more 
effective method was being brought to perfection by Richard 
Arkwright, who followed out some old experiments of Wyatt 
of Northampton. According to this plan the carded material 
was carried through successive pairs of rollers, each pair running 
more rapidly than the previous pair, thus stretching it out, 
while it was spun after leaving the last pair by flyers adapted 
from the old low or treadle spinning-wheel. Arkwright's first 
patent was taken out in 1769, and from that time forward he 
invented, patented, and manufactured a series of machines 
which made possible the spinning of a number of threads at the 
same time very much more rapidly than even the spinning- 
jenny. Great numbers of Arkwright's spinning-machines were 
manufactured and sold by him and his partners. He made 
others for use in cotton mills carried on by himself with various 
partners in different parts of the country. His patent was even- 
tually set aside as having been unfairly obtained, and the 
machines were soon generally manufactured and used. Im- 
provements followed. An ingenious weaver named Samuel 
Crompton, perceiving that the roller spinning was more rapid 
but that the jennies would spin the finer thread, combined the 
two devices into one machine, known from its hybrid origin 
as the " mule." This was invented in 1779, and as it was not 
patented it soon came into general use. These inventions in 
spinning reacted on the earlier processes and led to a rapid 
development of carding and combing machines. A carding 
cylinder had been invented by Paul as far back as 1748, and 
now came into general use, while several wool-combing machines 
were invented in 1792 and 1793. 

So far all these inventions had been in the earlier textile 
processes. Use for the spun thread was found in giving fuller 
employment to the old hand looms, in the stocking manufac- 
ture, and for export; but no corresponding improvement had 
taken place in weaving. From 1784 onward a clergyman from 
the south of England, Dr. Edward Cartwright, was gradually 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 181 

182 Industrial and Social History of England 

bringing to perfection a power loom which by the beginning of 
the nineteenth century began to come into general use. The 
value put upon Cartwright's invention may be judged from 
the fact that Parliament voted him a gift of 10,000 in 1809. 
Arkwright had already won a large fortune by his invention, 
and in 1786 was knighted in recognition of his services to the 
national industry. 

While Cartwright was experimenting on the power loom, 
an invention was made far from England which was in reality 
an essential part of the improvement in the manufacture of 
cotton goods. This was the American cotton gin, for the 
removal of the seeds from the fibre of the boll, invented by 
Eli Whitney in 1792. Cotton had been introduced into the 
Southern states during the Revolutionary War. Its cultiva- 
tion and export now became profitable, and a source of supply 
became available at the very time that the inventions for its 
manufacture were being perfected. 

Spinning-jennies could be used in the household of the weaver ; 
but the later spinning-machines were so large and cumbrous 
that they could not be used in a dwelling-house, and required 
so much power and rapidity of motion that human strength 
was scarcely available. Horse power was used to some extent, 
but water power was soon applied and special buildings came 
to be put up along streams where water power was available. 
The next stage was the application of steam power. Although 
the possibility of using steam for the production of force had long 
been familiar, and indeed used to some extent in the pumping 
out of mines, it did not become available for general uses until 
the improvements of James Watt, patented in 1769 and suc- 
ceeding years. In partnership with a man named Boulton, 
Watt began the manufacture of steam-engines in 1781. In 
1785 the first steam-engine was used for power in a cotton mill. 
After that time the use of steam became more and more general 
and by the end of the century steam power was evidently 
superseding water power. 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 183 

67. The Factory System. But other things were needed 
to make this new machinery available. It was much too 
expensive for the old cottage weavers to buy .and use. Capital 
had, therefore, to be brought into manufacturing which had 
been previously used in trade or other employments. Capital 
was in reality abundant relatively to existing opportunities 
for investment, and the early machine spinners and weavers 
drew into partnership moneyed men from the towns who had 
previously no connection with manufacturing. Again, the new 
industry required bodies of laborers working regular hours 
under the control of their employers and in the buildings where 
the machines were placed and the power provided. Such 
groups of laborers or " mill hands " were gradually collected 
where the new kind of manufacturing was going on. Thus 
factories, in the modern sense, came into existence a new 
phenomenon in the world. 

These changes in manufacturing and in the organization of 
labor came about earliest in the manufacture of cotton goods, 
but the new machinery and its resulting changes were soon 
introduced into the woollen manufacture, then other textile 
lines, and ultimately into still other branches of manufacturing, 
such as the production of metal, wooden, and leather goods, 
and, indeed, into nearly all forms of production. Manufac- 
turing since the last decades of the eighteenth century is there- 
fore usually described as being done by the " factory system," 
as contrasted with the domestic system and the gild system of 
earlier times. 

The introduction of the factory system involved many 
changes: the adoption of machinery and artificial power, the 
use of a vastly greater amount of capital, and the collection of 
scattered laborers into great strictly regulated establishments. 
It was, comparatively speaking, sudden, all its main features 
having been developed within the period between 1760 and 
1800; and it resulted in the raising of many new and difficult 
social problems. For these reasons the term " Industrial Revo- 

184 Industrial and Social History of England 

lution," so generally applied to it, is not an exaggerated nor an 
unsuitable term. Almost all other forms of economic occupa- 
tion have subsequently taken on the main characteristics of 
the factory system, in utilizing improved machinery, in the 
extensive scale on which they are administered, in the use of 
large capital, and in the organization of employees in large 
bodies. The Industrial Revolution may therefore be regarded 
as the chief characteristic distinguishing this period and the 
times since from all earlier ages. 

58. Iron, Coal, and Transportation. A vast increase in 
the production of iron and coal was going on concurrently 
with the rise of the factory system. The smelting of iron ore 
was one of the oldest industries of England, but it was a declin- 
ing rather than an advancing industry. This was due to the 
exhaustion of the woods and forests that provided fuel, or to 
their retention for the future needs of ship-building and for 
pleasure parks. In 1760, however, Mr. Roebuck introduced 
at the Carron iron-works a new kind of blast furnace by which 
iron ore could be smelted with coal as fuel. In 1 790 the steam- 
engine was introduced to cause the blast. Production had 
already begun to advance before the latter date, and it now 
increased by thousands of tons a year till far into the present 
century. Improvements were introduced in puddling, rolling, 
and other processes of the manufacture of iron at about the 
same time. The production of coal increased more than pro- 
portionately. New devices in mining were introduced, such 
as steam pumps, the custom of supporting the roofs of the 
veins with timber instead of pillars of coal, and Sir Humphry 
Davy's safety lamp of 1815. The smelting of iron and the use 
of the steam-engine made such a demand for coal that capital 
was applied in large quantities to its production, and more than 
ten million tons a year were mined before the century closed. 

Some slight improvements in roads and canals had been 
made and others projected during the seventeenth and early 
eighteenth centuries ; but in the last quarter of the century the 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 185 

work of Telford, Macadam, and other engineers, and of the 
private turnpike companies or public authorities who engaged 
them, covered England with good roads. The first canal was 
that from Worsley to Manchester, built by Brindley for the 
duke of Bridgewater in 1761. Within a few years a system of 
canals had been constructed which gave ready transportation 
for goods through all parts of the country. The continuance 
of this development of transportation and its fundamental 
modification by the introduction of railways and steamboats 
has been one of the most striking characteristics of the nine- 
teenth century. 

59. The Revival of Enclosures. The changes which the 
latter half of the eighteenth century and the early part of the 
nineteenth brought were as profound in the occupation and use of 
the land as they were in the production and transportation of 
manufactured goods. An agricultural revolution was in prog- 
ress as truly as was the industrial. 

The improvements in the methods of farming already re- 
ferred to as showing themselves earlier in the century became 
much more extensive. The raising of turnips and other root 
crops spread from experimental to ordinary farms so that a 
fallow year with no crop at all in the ground came to be almost 
unknown. Clover and artificial grasses for hay came to be 
raised generally, so that the supply of forage for the winter 
was abundant. New breeds of sheep and cattle were obtained 
by careful crossing and plentiful feeding, so that the average 
size was almost doubled, while the meat, and in some cases 
the wool, was improved in quality in even greater proportion. 
The names of such men as Jethro Tull, who introduced the 
" drill husbandry," Bakewell, the great improver of the breeds 
of cattle, and Arthur Young, the greatest agricultural observer 
and writer of the century, have become almost as familiar as 
those of Crompton, Arkwright, Watt, and other pioneers of the 
factory system. The general improvement in agricultural 
methods was due, not so much to new discoveries or inven- 

1 86 Industrial and Social History of England 

tions, as it was to the large amount of capital which was intro- 
duced into their practice. Expensive schemes of draining, 
marling, and other forms of fertilizing were carried out, long 
and careful investigations were entered upon, and managers 
of large farms were trained in special processes by landlords 
and farmers who had the command of large sums of money; 
and with the high prices prevalent they were abundantly 
remunerated for the outlay. Great numbers of " gentlemen 
farmers," such as Lord Townshend, the duke of Bedford, and 
George III himself, who wrote articles for the agricultural 
papers signed " Fanner George," were leaders in this agricul- 
tural progress. In 1793 a government Board of Agriculture 
was established, and through the whole latter part of the cen- 
tury numerous societies for the encouragement of scientific 
tillage and breeding were organized. 

In the early years of the eighteenth century there had been 
signs of a revival of the old process of enclosures, which had 
been largely suspended for more than a century. This was 
brought about by private acts of Parliament. An act would 
be passed by Parliament giving legal authority to the inhabit- 
ants of some parish to throw together the scattered strips, and 
to redivide these and the common meadows and pastures in 
such a way that each person with any claim on the land should 
receive a proportionate share, and should have it separated 
from all others and entirely in his own control. It was the 
usual procedure for the lord of the manor, the rector of the 
parish, and other large landholders and persons of influence 
to agree on the general conditions of enclosure and draw up a 
bill appointing commissioners, and providing for survey, com- 
pensation, redistribution, and other requirements. They then 
submitted this bill to Parliament, where, unless there was 
some special reason to the contrary, it was passed. Its pro- 
visions were then carried out, and although legal and parlia- 
mentary fees and the expenses of survey and enclosure were 
large, yet as a result each inhabitant who had been able to 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 187 

make out a legal claim to any of the land of the parish received 
either some money compensation or a stretch of enclosed land. 
Such private enclosure acts increased slowly in number till 
about the middle of the century, when the increase became 
much more rapid. 

The number of enclosure acts passed by Parliament and 
the approximate extent of land enclosed under their provisions 
were as follows : 







244 Encl< 


jsure Bi 


337,877 Ac 


In 1756, 1758, and 1773 general acts were passed encouraging 
the enclosure for common use of open pastures and arable 
fields, but not enclosing or dividing them permanently, and 
not providing for any separate ownership. 

In 1 80 1 an act was passed to make simpler and easier the 
passage of private bills for enclosure; and in 1836 another to 
make possible, with the consent of two-thirds of the persons 
interested, the enclosing of certain kinds of common fields even 
without appealing to Parliament in each particular case. Fi- 
nally, in 1845, the general Enclosure Act of that year carried 
the policy of 1836 further and appointed a body of Enclosure 
Commissioners, to determine on the expediency of any proposed 
enclosure and to attend to carrying it out if approved. Six 
years afterward, however, an amendment was passed making 
it necessary that even after an enclosure had been approved 
by the Commissioners it should go to Parliament for final 

By measures such as these the greater part of the lands 
which had remained unenclosed to modern times were trans- 
formed into enclosed fields for separate cultivation or pasture. 
This process of enclosure was intended to make possible, and no 

1 88 Industrial and Social History of England 

doubt did bring about, much improved agriculture. It exerted 
incidentally a profound effect on the rural population. Many 
persons had habitually used the common pastures and open 
fields for pasture purposes, when they had in reality no legal 
claim whatever to such use. A poor man whose cow, donkey, 
or flock of geese had picked up a precarious livelihood on land 
of undistinguished ownership now found the land all enclosed 
and his immemorial privileges withdrawn without compensation. 
Naturally there was much dissatisfaction. A popular piece 
of doggerel declared that : 

"The law locks up the man or woman 
Who steals the goose from off the common ; 
But leaves the greater villain loose 
Who steals the common from the goose." 

Again, a small holder was frequently given compensation 
in the form of money instead of allotting to him a piece of land 
which was considered by the commissioners too small for 
effective use. The money was soon spent, whereas his former 
claim on the land had lasted because it could not readily be 

A more important effect, however, was the introduction 
on these enclosed lands of a kind of agriculture which the 
small landholder was ill fitted to follow. Improved cultiva- 
tion, a careful rotation of crops, better fertilizers, drainage, 
farm stock, and labor were the characteristics of the new farm- 
ing, and these were ordinarily practicable only to the man who 
had some capital, knowledge, and enterprise. Therefore, 
coincidently with the enclosures began a process by which the 
smaller tenants began to give up their holdings to men who 
could pay more rent for them by consolidating them into larger 
farms. The freeholders also who owned small farms from 
time to time sold them to neighboring landowners when diffi- 
culties forced them or high prices furnished inducements. 

60. Decay of Domestic Manufacture. This process would 
have been a much slower one but for the contemporaneous 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 189 

changes that were going on in manufacturing. As has been 
seen, many small farmers in the rural districts made part of 
their livelihood by weaving or other domestic manufacture, 
or, as more properly described, the domestic manufacturers 
frequently eked out their resources by carrying on some farm- 
ing. But the invention of machinery for spinning not only 
created a new industry, but destroyed the old. Cotton thread 
could be produced vastly more cheaply by machinery. In 
1786 a certain quantity of a certain grade of spun yarn was 
worth 38 shillings; ten years later, in 1796, it was worth only 
19 shillings; in 1806 it was worth but 7 shillings 2 pence, and so 
on down till, in 1832, it was worth but 3 shillings. Part of this 
reduction in price was due to the decrease in the cost of raw 
cotton, but far the most of it to the cheapening of spinning. 

It was the same a few years later with weaving. Hand-loom 
weavers in Bolton, who received 25 shillings a week as wages 
in 1800, received only 19 shillings and 6 pence in 1810, 9 shillings 
in 1820, and 5 shillings 6 pence in 1830. Hand work in other 
lines of manufacture showed the same results. Against such 
reductions in wages resistance was hopeless. Hand work 
evidently could not compete with machine work. No amount 
of skill or industry or determination could enable the hand 
workers to make their living in the same way as of old. As a 
matter of fact, a long, sad, desperate struggle was kept up by a 
whole generation of hand laborers, especially by the hand- 
loom weavers, but the result was inevitable. 

The rural domestic manufacturers were, as a matter of fact, 
devoting themselves to two inferior forms of industry. As far 
as they were handicraftsmen, they were competing with a 
vastly cheaper and better form of manufacture ; as far as they 
were farmers, they were doing the same thing with regard to 
agriculture. Under these circumstances some of them gave 
up their holdings of land and drifted away to the towns to keep 
up the struggle a little longer as hand-loom weavers, and then 
to become laborers in the factories ; others gave up their looms 

190 Industrial and Social History of England 

and devoted themselves entirely to fanning for a while, but 
eventually sold their holdings or gave up their leases, and 
dropped into the class of agricultural laborers. The result was 
the same in either case. The small farms were consolidated, 
the class of yeomanry or small farmers died out, and household 
manufacture gave place to that of the factory. Before the end 
of the century the average size of English farms was computed 
at three hundred acres, and soon afterward domestic spinning 
and weaving were almost unknown. 

There was considerable shifting of population. Certain 
parts of the country which had been quite thickly populated 
with small farmers or domestic manufacturers now lost the 
greater part of their occupants by migration to the newer 
manufacturing districts or to America. As in the sixteenth 
century, some villages disappeared entirely. Goldsmith 'in The 
Deserted Village described changes that really occurred, how- 
ever opposed to the facts may have been his description of the 
earlier idyllic life whose destruction he deplored. 

The existence of unenclosed commons and common fields 
had been accompanied by very poor farming, very thriftless 
and shiftless habits. The improvement of agriculture, the 
application of capital to that occupation, the disappearance of 
the domestic system of industry, and other changes made the 
enclosure of common land and the accompanying changes 
inevitable. None the less it was a relatively sudden and com- 
plete interference with the established character of rural life, 
and not only was the process accompanied with much suffering, 
but the form which took its place was marked by some serious 
disadvantages. This form was brought about through the rapid 
culmination of old familiar tendencies. The classes connected 
with the land came to be quite clearly distinguished into three 
groups : the landlords, the tenant farmers, and the farm laborers. 
The landlord class was a comparatively small body of nobility 
and gentry, a few thousand persons, who owned by far the 
greater portion of the land of the country. Their estates were 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 191 


for the most part divided up into farms, to the keeping of which 
in productive condition they contributed the greater part of 
the expense, to the administration of which trained stewards 
applied themselves, and in the improvement of which their 
owners often took a keen and enlightened interest. They 
received high rents, possessed unlimited local influence, and 
were the favored governing class of the country. The class 
of farmers were men of some capital, and frequently of intelli- 
gence and enterprise, though rarely of education; who held 
on lease from the landlords farms of some one, two, or three or 
more hundred acres, paying relatively large rents, and yet 
by the excellence of their farming making for themselves a 
liberal income. The farm laborers were the residuum of the 
changes which have been traced in the history of landholding; 
a large class living for the most part miserably in cottages 
grouped in villages, holding no land, and receiving day wages 
for working on the farms just described. 

Notwithstanding the improvements in agriculture and the 
increase in the extent of cultivated land, England ceased within 
the eighteenth century to be a self-supporting country in food 
products. The form which the " corn laws " had taken in 
1689 had been as follows: the raising of wheat was encouraged 
by prohibiting its importation and paying a bounty of about 
eightpence a bushel for its exportation so long as the prevailing 
price was less than six shillings a bushel. When it was between 
six shillings and six shillings eightpence a bushel its importa- 
tion was forbidden, but there was no bounty paid for exporta- 
tion. Between the last price and ten shillings a bushel it could 
be imported by paying a duty of a shilling a bushel. Above 
the last price it could be imported free. Nevertheless, during 
the latter half of the eighteenth century it became evident 
that there was no longer a sufficient amount of wheat raised 
for the needs of the English people. Between 1770 and 1790 
exports and imports about balanced one another, but after the 
latter year the imports always exceeded the exports. 

192 Industrial and Social History of England 

This was of course due to the great increase of population 
and to its employment in the field of manufactures. The 
population in England in 1700 was about five millions, in 1750 
about six millions and a hah , in 1800 about nine millions, and 
in 1850 about eighteen millions. That is to say, its progress 
was slow during the first half of the eighteenth century, more 
rapid during the latter half, and vastly more rapid during the 
first half of the nineteenth century. 

61. The* Laissez-faire Theory. A scarcely less complete 
change than that which had occurred in manufactures, in agri- 
culture, and in social lif e as based upon these, was that which 
was in progress at the same tune in the realm of ideas, especially 
as applied to questions of economic and social life. The com- 
plete acceptance of the view that it was a natural and desirable 
part of the work of government to regulate the economic life 
of the people had persisted well past the middle of the eigh- 
teenth century. But very different tendencies of thought arose 
in the latter part of the century. One of these was the prevail- 
ing desire for greater liberty. The word liberty was defined 
differently by different men, but for all alike it meant a resist- 
ance to oppression, a revulsion against interference with 
personal freedom of action, a disinclination to be controlled 
any more than absolutely necessary, a belief that men had a 
right to be left free to do as they chose, so far as such freedom 
was practicable. 

As applied to economic interests this liberty meant freedom 
for each person to make his living in the way he might see fit, 
and without any external restriction. Adam Smith says: 
" The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dex- 
terity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this 
strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper, with- 
out injury to his neighbor, is a plain violation of this most 
sacred property. It is a manifest encroachment upon the just 
liberty both of the workman and of those who might be disposed 
to employ him. As it hinders the one from working at what he 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 193 

thinks proper, so it hinders the other from enploying whom 
they think proper." Government regulation, therefore, in so 
far as it restricted men's freedom of action in working, employ- 
ing, buying, selling, etc., was an interference with their natural 

A second influence in the same direction was the prevalent 
belief that most of the evils that existed in society were due to 
the mistakes of civilization, that if men could get back to a 
" state of nature " and start again, things might be much 
better. It was felt that there was too much artificiality, too 
much interference with natural development. Arthur Young 
condemned the prevailing policy of government, " because it 
consists of prohibiting the natural course of things. All re- 
strictive forcible measures in domestic policy are bad." Regu- 
lation was unwise because it forced men's actions into artificial 
lines when it would have been much better to let them follow 
natural lines. Therefore it was felt not only that men had a 
right to carry on their economic affairs as they chose, but that 
it was wise to allow them to do so, because interference or 
regulation had been tried and found wanting. It had produced 
evil rather than good. 

A third and by far the most important intellectual influ- 
ence which tended toward the destruction of the system of 
regulation was the development of a consistent body of eco- 
nomic teaching, which claimed to have discovered natural 
laws showing the futility and injuriousness of any such at- 
tempts. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was published in 
1776, the year of the invention of Cromp ton's mule, and in the 
decade when enclosures were more rapid than at any other time, 
except in the middle years of the Napoleonic wars. This was, 
therefore, one of the earliest, as it was far the most influential, 
of a series of books which represent the changes in ideas cor- 
relative to the changes in actual life already described. It has 
been described as having for its main object " to demonstrate 
that the most effectual plan for advancing a people to greatness 

IQ4 Industrial and Social History of England 

is to maintain that order of things which nature has pointed out, 
by allowing every man, as long as he observes the rules of 
justice, to pursue his own interests in his own way, and to 
bring both his industry and his capital into the freest com- 
petition with those of his fellow-citizens." But the most dis- 
tinct influence exercised by the writings of Adam Smith and 
his successors was not so much in pointing out that ^t was 
unjust or unwise to interfere with men's natural liberty in the 
pursuit of their interests, as in showing, as it was believed, that 
there were natural laws which made all interference incapable 
of reaching the ends it aimed at. A series of works were pub- 
lished in the latter years of the eighteenth and the early years of 
the nineteenth century by Malthus, Ricardo, McCulloch, 
James Mill, and others, in which principles were enunciated and 
laws formulated which were believed to explain why all inter- 
ference with free competition was useless or worse. Not only 
was the whole subject of economic relations clarified, much that 
had been regarded as wise brought into 'doubt, and much that 
had been only doubted shown to be absurd, but the attainment 
of many objects previously sought for was, as it was believed, 
shown to be impossible, and to lie outside of the realm of 
human control. 

It was pointed out, for instance, that because of the limited 
amount of capital in existence at any one time, " a demand for 
commodities is not a demand for labor ; " and therefore a 
law like that which required burial in a woollen shroud did not 
give added occupation to the people, but only diverted them 
from one occupation to another. Ricardo developed a law of 
wages to the effect that they always tend to the amount " neces- 
sary to enable the laborer to subsist, and to perpetuate his 
race without either increase or diminution," and that any arti- 
ficial raising or lowering of wages is impossible, or else causes an 
increase or diminution in their number which, through com- 
petition, soon brings back the old rate. Rent was also explained 
by Ricardo as arising from the differences of quality between 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 195 

different pieces of land, and as measured by the difference in the 
productivity of the land under consideration and that of the 
poorest land under cultivation at the time ; and therefore being 
in its amount independent of direct human control. The Mal- 
thusian law of population showed that population tended to 
increase in a geometrical ratio, subsistence for the population, on 
the other hand, only in an arithmetical ratio, and that poverty 
was, therefore, the natural and inevitable result in old countries 
of a pressure of population on subsistence. The sanction of 
science was thus given alike to the desires of the lovers of 
freedom and to the regrets of those who deplored man's de- 
parture from the state of nature. 

All these intellectual tendencies and reasonings of the later 
eighteenth century, therefore, combined to discredit the minute 
regulation of economic society, which had been the traditional 
policy of the immediately preceding centuries. The movement 
of thought was definitely opposed to the continuance or exten- 
sion of the supervision of the government over matters of labor, 
wages, hours, industry, commerce, agriculture, or other phe- 
nomena of production, distribution, exchange, or consumption. 
This set of opinions is known as the laissez-faire theory of the 
functions of government, the view that the duties of govern- 
ment should be reduced to the smallest possible number, and 
that it should keep out of the economic sphere altogether. 
Adam Smith would have restricted the functions of govern- 
ment to three : to protect the nation from the attacks of other 
nations, to protect each person in the nation from the injustice 
or violence of other individuals, and to carry on certain edu- 
cational or similar institutions which were of general utility, 
but not to any one's private interest. Many of his successors 
would have cut off the last duty altogether. 

62. Cessation of Government Regulation. These theo- 
retical opinions came to be more and more widely held, more 
and more influential over the most thoughtful of English states- 
men and other men of prominence, until within the first half 

196 Industrial and Social History of England 

of the nineteenth century it may be said that their acceptance 
was general and their influence dominant. They fell in with 
the actual tendencies of the times, and as a result of the natural 
breaking down of old conditions, the rise of new, and the gen- 
eral acceptance of this attitude of laissez-faire, a rapid and 
general decay of the system of government regulation took 

The old regulation had never been so complete in reality as 
it was on the statute book, and much of it had died out of itself. 
Some of the provisions of the Statute of Apprentices were per- 
sistently disregarded, and when appeals were made for its 
application to farm work in the latter part of the eighteenth 
century Parliament refused to enforce it, as they did in the case 
of discharged soldiers in 1726 and of certain dyers in 1777. 
The assize of bread was very irregularly enforced, and that of 
other victuals had been given up altogether. Many commer- 
cial companies were growing up without regulation by govern- 
ment, and in the world of finance the hand of government was 
very light. The new manufactures and the new agriculture 
grew up to a large extent apart from government control or 
influence; while the forms to which the old regulation did 
apply were dying out. In the new factory industry practically 
the whole body of the employees were without the qualifications 
required by the Statute of Apprentices, as well as many of the 
hand-loom weavers who were drawn into the industry by the 
abundance and cheapness of machine-spun thread. In the 
early years of the nineteenth century a strenuous effort was 
made by the older weavers to have the law enforced as it 
stood. The whole matter was investigated by Parliament, but 
instead of enforcing the old law they modified it by acts passed 
in 1803 and 1809, so as to allow of greater liberty. The old 
prohibition of using fulling mills passed in 1553 was also re- 
pealed in 1809. The Statute of Apprentices after being weak- 
ened piecemeal as just mentioned, and by a further amendment 
removing the wages clauses in 1813, and after being referred 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 197 

to by Lord Mansfield as " against the natural rights and con- 
trary to the common law rights of the land," was finally re- 
moved from the statute book in 1814. Even the " Combina- 
tion Acts," which had forbidden laborers to unite to settle 
wages and hours, were repealed in 1824. Similar changes 
took place in other fields than those of the relations between 
employers and employees. The leading characteristic of 
legislation on questions of commerce, manufactures, and agri- 
culture during the last quarter of the eighteenth century and 
the first half of the nineteenth consists in the fact that it almost 
wholly tended toward freedom from government control. The 
proportions in which the influence of the natural breaking 
down of an outgrown system, of the new conditions which 
were arising, and of pure theory were combined cannot of 
course be distinguished. All were present. Besides this there 
are always a large number of persons in the community who 
would be primarily benefited by a change, and who therefore 
take the initiative or exercise a special pressure in favor of it. 

The Navigation Acts began to go to pieces in 1796, when 
the old rule restricting importations from America, Asia, and 
Africa to British vessels was withdrawn in favor of the United 
States; in 1811 the same permission to send goods to England 
in other than British vessels was given to Brazil, and in 1822 to 
the Spanish-American countries. The whole subject was in- 
vestigated by a Parliamentary Commission in 1820, at the 
request of the London Chamber of Commerce, and 
withdrawal from control determined upon. In 
was passed by which the crown was empowerej 
procity treaties with any other country so far 
concerned, and agreements were immediately 
Prussia, Denmark, Hamburg, Sweden, and wii 
twenty years with most other important countries!" 
laws of 1660 were repealed in 1826, and a freer system substi- 
tuted, while in 1849 the Navigation Acts were abolished alto- 
gether. In the meantime the monopoly of the old regulated 

198 Industrial and Social History of England 

companies was being withdrawn, the India trade being thrown 
open in 1813 and given up entirely by the Company in 1833. 
Gradually the commerce of England and of all the English colo- 
nies was opened equally to the vessels of all nations. 

A beginning of removal of the import and export duties, 
which had been laid for the purpose of encouraging or discour- 
aging or otherwise influencing certain lines of production or 
trade, was made in a commercial treaty entered into by Pitt 
with France in 1786, but not carried farther. 

It remains to be noted in this connection that " free trade in 
land " was an expression often used during the same period, 
and consisted in an effort marked by a long series of acts of 
Parliament and regulations of the courts to simplify the title 
to land, the processes of buying and selling it, and in other ways 
making its use and disposal as simple and uncontrolled by 
external regulation as was commerce or any form of industry. 

Thus the structure of regulation of industry, which had 
been built up in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, or 
which had survived from the Middle Ages, was now torn down ; 
the use of the powers of government to make men carry on their 
economic life in a certain way, to buy and sell, labor and hire, 
manufacture and cultivate, export and import, only in such 
ways as were thought to be best for the nation, seemed to be 
entirely abandoned. The laissez-faire view of government 
was to all appearances controlling all public action. 

63. Individualism. But the prevailing tendencies of 
thought and the economic teaching of the period were not 
merely negative and opposed to government regulation; they 
contained a positive element also. If there was to be no ex- 
ternal control, what incentive would actuate men in their 
industrial existence ? What force would hold economic society 
together? The answer was a plain one. Enlightened self- 
interest was the incentive, universal free competition was the 
force. James Anderson, in his Political Economy, published 
in 1801, says, " Private interest is the great source of public 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 199 

good, which, though operating unseen, never ceases one moment 
to act with unabating power, if it be not perverted by the futile 
regulations of some short-sighted politician." Again, Malthus, 
in his Essay on Population, in 1817, says: "By making the 
passion of self-love beyond comparison stronger than the 
passion of benevolence, the more ignorant are led to pursue 
the general happiness, an end which they would have totally 
failed to attain if the moving principle of their conduct had 
been benevolence. Benevolence, indeed, as the great and 
constant source of action, would require the most perfect 
knowledge of causes and effects, and therefore can only be the 
attribute of the Deity. In a being so short-sighted as man 
it would lead to the grossest errors, and soon transform the 
fair and cultivated soil of human society into a dreary scene 
of want and confusion." 

In other words, a natural and sufficient economic force was 
always tending to act and to produce the best results, except 
in as far as it was interfered with by external regulation. If a 
man wishes to earn wages, to receive payment, he must observe 
what work another man wants done, or what goods another 
man desires, and offer to do that work or furnish those goods, 
so that the other man may be willing to remunerate him. In 
this way both obtain what they want, and if all others are simi- 
larly occupied all wants will be satisfied so far as practicable. 
But men must be entirely free to act as they think best, to 
choose what and when and how they will produce. The best 
results will be obtained where the greatest freedom exists, 
where men may compete with one another freed from all tram- 
mels, at liberty to pay or ask such wages, to demand or offer 
such prices, to accept or reject such goods, as they wish or can 
agree upon. If everybody else is equally free the man who 
offers the best to his neighbor will be preferred. Effort will 
thus be stimulated, self-reliance encouraged, production in- 
creased, improvement attained, and economy guaranteed. 
Nor should there be any special favor or encouragement given 

2oo Industrial and Social History of England 

by government or by any other bodies to any special individuals 
or classes of persons or kinds of industry, for in this way capital 
and labor will be diverted from the direction which they would 
naturally take, and the self-reliance and energy of such favored 
persons diminished. 

Therefore complete individualism, universal freedom of 
competition, was the ideal of the age, as far as there is ever 
any universal ideal. There certainly was a general belief 
among the greater number of the intelligent and influential 
classes, that when each person was freely seeking his own 
best interest he was doing the best for himself and for all. 
Economic society was conceived of as a number of freely com- 
peting units held in equilibrium by the force of competition, 
much as the material universe is held together by the attraction 
of gravitation. Any hindrance to this freedom of the individual 
to compete freely with all others, any artificial support or en- 
couragement that gives him an advantage over others, is against 
his own real interest and that of society. 

This ideal was necessarily as much opposed to voluntary 
combinations, and to restrictions imposed by custom or agree- 
ment, as it was to government regulation. Individualism is 
much more than a mere laissez-faire policy of government. 
It believes that every man should remain and be allowed to 
remain free, unrestricted, undirected, unassisted, so that he may 
be in a position at any time to direct his labor, ability, capital, 
enterprise, in any direction that may seem to him most desirable, 
and may be induced to put forth his best efforts to attain success. 
The arguments on which it was based were drawn from the do- 
main of men's natural right to economic as to other freedom ; 
from experience, by which it was believed that all regulation 
had proved to be injurious ; and from economic doctrine, which 
was believed to have discovered natural laws that proved the 
necessary result of interference to be evil, or at best futile. 

The changes of the time were favorable to this ideal Men 
had never been so free from external control by government 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 201 

or any other power. The completion of the process of enclosure 
left every agriculturist at liberty to plant and raise what he chose, 
and when and how he chose. In the new factories, systems of 
transportation, and other large establishments that were taking 
the places of small ones, employees were at liberty to leave their 
engagements at any time they chose, to go to another employer 
or another occupation ; and the employer had the same liberty 
of discharging at a moment's notice. Manufacturers were at 
.liberty to make anything they chose, and hire laborers in what- 
ever proportion they chose. And just as early modern regula- 
tion had been given up, so the few fragments of mediaeval 
restrictive institutions that had survived the intervening 
centuries were now rapidly abandoned in the stress of com- 
petitive society. Later forms of restriction, such as trade unions 
and trusts, had not yet grown up. Actual conditions and the 
theoretical statement of what was desirable approximated to 
one another more nearly than they usually have in the world's 

Yet somehow the results were disappointing. More and 
better manufactured goods were produced and foreign goods 
sold, and at vastly lower prices. The same result would prob- 
ably have been true in agriculture had not the corn laws long 
prevented this consummation, and instead distributed the sur- 
plus to paupers and the holders of government bonds through 
the medium of taxes. There was no doubt of English wealth 
and progress. England held the primacy of the world in com- 
merce, in manufactures, in agriculture. Her rapid increase in 
wealth had enabled her to bear the burden, not only of her own 
part in the Napoleonic wars, but of much of the expense of the 
armament of the continental countries. Population also was 
increasing more rapidly than ever before. She stood before 
the world as the most prominent and successful modern nation 
in all material respects. Yet a closer examination into her in- 
ternal condition shows much that was deeply unsatisfactory. 
The period of transition from the domestic to the factory 

2O2 Industrial and Social History of England 

system of industry and from the older to the new farming 
conditions was one of almost unrelieved misery to great masses 
of those who were bound to the old ways, who had neither 
the capital, the enterprise, nor the physical nor mental adapta- 
bility to attach themselves to the new. The hand-loom weavers 
kept up a hopeless struggle in the garrets and cellars of the 
factory towns, while their wages were sinking lower and lower 
till finally the whole generation died out. The small farmers 
who lost the support of spinning and other by-industries suc- 
cumbed in the competition with the larger producers. The 
cottagers whose commons were lost to them by enclosures 
frequently failed to find a niche for themselves in their own 
part of the country, and became paupers or vagabonds. Many 
of the same sad incidents which marked the sixteenth century 
were characteristic of this period of analogous change, when 
ultimate improvement was being bought at the price of much 
immediate misery. 

Even among those who were supposed to have reaped the 
advantages of the changes of the time many unpleasant phe- 
nomena appeared. The farm laborers were not worse, perhaps 
were better off on the average, in the matter of wages, than 
those of the previous generation, but they were more completely 
separated from the land than they had ever been before, more 
completely deprived of those wholesome influences which come 
from the use of even a small portion of land, and of the incite- 
ment to thrift that comes from the possibility of rising. Few 
classes of people have ever been more utterly without enjoy- 
ment or prospects than the modern English farm laborers. 
And one class, the yeomen, somewhat higher in position and 
certainly in opportunities, disappeared entirely, recruited into 
the class of mere laborers. 

- Wages were sometimes higher than under the old condi- 
tions, but they were even more irregular. Greater ups and 
downs occurred. Periods of very active production and of 
restriction of production alternated more decidedly than before. 

The Period of the Industrial Revolution 203 

and introduced more irregularity into industry for both em- 
ployers and employees. The town laborer engaged in a large 
establishment was, like the rural laborer on a large farm, com- 
pletely separated from the land, from capital, from any active 
connection with the administration of industry, from any prob- 
able opportunity of rising out of the laboring class. His pros- 
pects were therefore as limited as his position was laborious and 

The rapid growth of the manufacturing towns, especially 
in the north, drawing the scattered population of other parts 
of the country into their narrow limits, caused a general break- 
down in the old arrangements for providing water, drainage, 
and fresh air, and made rents high, and consequently living in 
crowded rooms necessary. The factory towns in the early 
part of the century were filthy, crowded, and demoralizing, 
compared alike with their earlier and their present condition. 

In the higher grades of economic society the advantages of 
the recent changes were more distinct, the disadvantages less 
so. The rise of capital and business enterprise into greater 
importance, and the extension of the field of competition, gave 
greater opportunity to employing farmers, merchants, and 
manufacturers, as well as to the capitalists pure and simple. 
But even for them the keenness of competition and the exi- 
gencies of providing for the varying conditions of distant mar- 
kets made the struggle for success a harder one, and many 
failed in it. 

In many ways, therefore, it might seem that the great material 
advances which had been made, the removal of artificial restric- 
tions, the increase of liberty of action, the extension of the field 
/< of competition, the more enlightened opinions on economic and 
social relations, had failed to increase human happiness appre- 
ciably ; indeed, for a time had made the condition of the mass 
of the people worse instead of better. 

204 Industrial and Social History of England 


Toynbee, Arnold: The Industrial Revolution of the Eigh- 
teenth Century in England, new edition, 1894. 

Lecky, W. E. H. : History of England in the Eighteenth 
Century, Vol. VI, Chap. 23. 

Baines, E. : History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great 

Cooke-Taylor, R. W. : The Modern Factory System. 

Levi, L. : History of British Commerce and of the Economic 
Progress of the British Nation. 

Prothero, R. E. : The Pioneers and Progress of English 

Rogers, J. E. T. : Industrial and Commercial History. 

Smith, Adam : An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the 
Wealth of Nations. 

Chapman, S. J. : The Lancashire Cotton Industry, Man- 
chester, 1904. 

Galloway, R. L. : History of Coal Mining in Great Britain, 
London, 1882. 

Wood, H. T. : Industrial England in the Middle of the 
Eighteenth Century, London, 1913. 

Gonner, E. C. K. : Common Land and Enclosures, 1912. 

Hammond, J. L. and B. : The Village Labourer, 1760-1832, 
London, 1911. 

Hammond, J. L. and B. : The Town Labourer, 1760-1832, 
London, 1917. 

Hammond, J. L. and B. : The Skilled Labourer, 1760-1832, 
London, 1920. 

Bowden, Witt : The Rise of the Great Manufacturers of Eng- 
land, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1919. 

Mantoux, P. : La Revolution industrielle au XV 1 1 1*" siecle en 


65. National Affairs from 1820 to 1848. The period from 
1820 to 1848 was free from any serious warfare. The British 
fleet intervened, it is true, to help Greece obtain her freedom 
from Turkey in 1827, and on the other hand, to prevent the 
Pasha of Egypt from becoming independent and seizing Syria 
and Asia Minor from Turkey in 1841. There was also a small 
war with China from 1839 to 1841, known as the Opium War, 
which resulted in England 6btaining from China an indemnity 
and possession of the island of Hong Kong, which she made 
into a strong fortress and a valuable colony. There were also 
rather serious disputes with France, Spain, and the United 
States, but these were settled without war. 

If external affairs were comparatively peaceful, the internal 
affairs of England were exceedingly stormy, and important 
political changes took place. The English government in the 
year 1820 might be described as a complete aristocracy. The 
king had practically no powers apart from his ministers, and 
they were merely the representatives of the majority in Parlia- 
ment. Parliament consisted of the House of Lords and the 
House of Commons. The first of these houses was made up for 
the most part of an hereditary aristocracy. The bishops and 
newly created peers, the only element which did not come in by 
inheritance, were appointed by the king and usually from 
the families of those who already possessed inherited titles. 
The House of Commons had originally been made up of two 
members from each county and two from each important 
town. But the list of represented towns was still practically 


2o6 Industrial and Social History of England 

the same as it had been in the fifteenth century, while inter- 
vening economic and other changes had, as has been seen, 
made the most complete alteration in the distribution of popu- 
lation. Great manufacturing towns had grown up as a result 
of changes in commerce and of the industrial revolution, and 
these had no representation in Parliament separate from the 
counties in which they lay. On the other hand, towns once of 
respectable size had dwindled until they had only a few dozen 
inhabitants, and in some cases had reverted to open farming 
country; but these, or the landlords who owned the land on 
which they had once existed, still retained their two representa- 
tives in Parliament. The county representatives were voted 
for by all " forty shilling freeholders," that is, land-owners whose 
farms would rent for forty shillings a year. But the whole 
tendency of English landholding, as has been seen, had been 
to decrease the number of land-owners in the country by in- 
creasing the size of farms, substituting renting farmers for 
owners, and transforming the old yeomanry into farm laborers, 
so that the actual number of voters was only a very small 
proportion of the rural population. 

Such great irregularities of representation had thus grown 
up that the selection of more than a majority of the mem- 
bers of the House of Commons was in the hands of a very 
small number of men, many of them already members of the 
House of Lords, and all members of the aristocracy. 

Just as Parliament represented only the higher classes, so 
officers in the army and to a somewhat less extent the navy, 
the clergy of the established church, the magistrates in the 
counties, ambassadors abroad, and cabinet ministers at home, 
holders of influential positions in the universities and in en- 
dowed institutions were all, as a regular thing, members 
of the small class of the landed or mercantile aristocracy of 
England. Perhaps one hundred thousand out of the fourteen 
millions of the people of England were the veritable governing 
classes. They alone had any control of national and local 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 207 

government and of the most important political and social 

On the other hand, among the masses of the people there was 
an active " radical " movement being carried on, led by a few 
intellectual sympathizers from the upper and middle classes. 
The mass meetings, processions, publications, and petitions 
of the agitators, demanding reforms in taxation, landholding, 
elections to Parliament and other abuses of the time, threw the 
upper classes who controlled the government into a panic. As 
a result the years just preceding the beginning of this period and 
its early part were filled with a series of prosecutions, calling 
out of the militia, adoption of " sedition " and other repressive 
laws, riots, and other forms of conflict between the governing 
classes and the dissatisfied masses. 

The agitation for the reform of Parliament, which began 
again after the close of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, was 
carried on after 1820 with some degree of interest by the more 
liberal members of the Whig party in Parliament and with 
much more eagerness by the radical leaders of the people who had 
no representation in Parliament and were so deeply dissatisfied 
with their condition. In 1830 an opportunity to bring up a 
measure of parliamentary reform suddenly presented itself. 
George IV, who had been king since the death of his father in 
1820, died in this year and his brother, William IV, became king. 
When a new king comes to the throne, a new election for Parlia- 
ment is always held. The election held in 1830 offered a fair 
possibility to the Whigs who had been so long in a minority, 
to win a majority in Parliament. The Tory party was much 
divided in opinion on recent events, and in France and other 
countries on the Continent of Europe there had just occurred 
revolutionary changes which encouraged men of liberal ideas 
everywhere to make greater efforts to win success. 

The result of the election was to give the Whigs a majority 
in Parliament for the first time for many years. They imme- 
diately introduced a bill for the reform of Parliament, This 

2o8 Industrial and Social History of England 

deprived many small and corrupt towns of their right of separate 
representation, transferred these representatives to the more 
populous towns and counties, extended the franchise to a some- 
what larger number of persons, and, finally, introduced registers 
of voters, kept the polls open for only two days, and corrected 
a number of such minor abuses. There was a bitter contest 
in Parliament and in the country at large on the proposed change, 
and the measure was only carried after it had been rejected by 
one House of Commons, passed by a new house elected as a 
test of the question, then defeated by the House of Lords, and 
only passed by them when submitted again with the threat 
by the ministry of advising the king to create enough new peers 
to pass it if the existing members refused to do so. Its passage 
was thus secured in 1832. It was carried by pressure from below 
through all its stages. The king signed it reluctantly because it 
had been sent to him by Parliament, the House of Lords passed 
it under threats from the ministry, who based their power on 
the House of Commons. This body in turn had to be recon- 
structed by a new election before it would agree to it, and there 
is no doubt that the voters as well as Parliament itself were 
much influenced by the cry of " the Bill, the whole Bill, and 
nothing but the Bill," raised by mobs, associations, and meet- 
ings, consisting largely of the masses of the people who pos- 
sessed no votes at all. In the last resort, therefore, it was a 
victory won by the masses, and, little as they profited by it 
immediately, it proved to be the turning point, the first step 
from aristocracy toward democracy. In 1837, five years after 
the passage of the Reform Bill, William IV died and Queen 
Victoria began her long reign of sixty-four years. 

66. Railways. Just as the latter part of the eighteenth 
and the early years of the nineteenth century were marked by a 
wonderful extension of manufacturing and the accompanying 
changes that have been described in the last chapter, so the 
period covered by this chapter, from 1820 to 1848, was marked 
by the introduction and rapid development of steam transpor- 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 209 

tation. It is true that turnpikes and canals had already been 
introduced, but the railroads and steam navigation, which 
now came in, were so much more important that they have 
given shape to the whole period since. 

For a century or more short railways, at first with wooden 
then with cast-iron tracks, had been laid in the coal regions 
and elsewhere to make it easier for horses to haul wagons or 
cars with heavy loads from the mines to the towns or to the 
river or canal side. Between 1800 and 1820, some twenty-five 
railways of this kind of a somewhat ambitious character, from 
five to ten or twenty miles long and requiring from $50,000 to 
$500,000 capital, were granted charters by Parliament and 
brought into use. On most of these horse power was used, 
but on some of them stationary engines drew the cars up the 
steeper slopes while horses were used on the level stretches. 
Locomotives were also being occasionally experimented with 
on one or two of the roads. 

In 1821 a great step forward was taken. In the first place a 
charter was granted for a railroad to run from Stockton at the 
mouth of the Tees River on the east coast of England to Darling- 
ton in the coal regions. It was opened in 1825, and the cars 
that ran on it not only carried the coal for which it had been 
intended and other freight, but as many as eighty or a hundred 
passengers a day. The road was about twenty-five miles long. 
Several horse coaches ran every day at seven to nine miles an 
hour, and there were two stationary engines that drew the cars 
up inclines. So far there was nothing to distinguish it from the 
other railroads of the time except its greater devotion to 
passenger traffic. But the engineer of this road was an inventive 
man named George Stephenson, and on his advice the directors 
asked Parliament for an addition to their charter to allow them 
to use locomotive engines. In 1825, the year of its opening 
with horses and stationary engines, it put on the road six small 
locomotives which ran at twelve to fourteen miles an hour, 
drawing freight cars only. A beginning of modern railway 

210 Industrial and Social History of England 

transportation had been made, so far at least as freight was 

The first railroad, however, on which locomotives were regu- 
larly used for all trains was the Liverpool and Manchester 
Railway, opened five years later, in 1830. The trade between 
these two cities, one the centre of the new manufacturing indus- 
try, the other the principal port on the west coast, was very large 
but was entirely dependent on canal and roads. It was there- 
fore much hampered by ice in winter, low water in summer, and 
by the lack of interest and enterprise of the canal and turnpike 
proprietors. It was said to take longer to carry goods from 
Manchester to Liverpool than from Liverpool to New York, 
and Manchester mills were often closed for lack of material 
when raw cotton was piled high on the Liverpool docks. In 
1824 at a public meeting in Liverpool a proposal was made for 
the building of a railroad, subscriptions were requested, a charter 
applied for, and Stephenson appointed engineer. Capital was 
ready; it was a time of general investment and but little 
difficulty was found in obtaining the $2,000,000 required. 

Much delay was experienced, however, in inducing Parh'ament 
to grant a charter. It had been announced that locomotives 
would be used on the new railway, and to these there was much 
opposition from land-owners, proprietors of canals and turnpike 
roads, and an ignorant and captious public. Magazine articles, 
pamphlets, and speeches in Parliament were devoted to pointing 
out the evil results that would follow the general use of locomo- 
tives. The directors themselves were somewhat doubtful as 
to the practicability and desirability of the sole use of locomo- 
tives for power. There was a widespread belief that on a smooth 
track the wheels of a locomotive would slip, whirling around, and 
not drawing the engine itself or the cars forward. There was 
consequently much experimentation in using cog-wheels fitting 
into a cogged track and with other devices, until some one made 
a test and found this difficulty quite imaginary. Still uncertain, 
the directors held an open competition at Liverpool, in October, 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 


1829. Amid great popular interest and excitement, the "Rocket," 
a new type of locomotive built by Stephenson, drew twelve tons 
and a half twenty-nine miles an hour, gained the prize, and was 
accepted by the directors. The charter having been given by 
Parliament in the meanwhile, the road, which was thirty miles 
long over difficult country, was completed and opened Sep- 
tember 15, 1830. Six trains a day began to run on it regularly 

(Smiles: Life of George Stephenson.) 

at an average speed of eighteen miles an hour and at an average 
passenger fare of about seven cents a mile, though this speed 
was soon increased and the rate of fare decreased. The com- 
pany paid 8 per cent dividends in its first year, at the same 
time that it lessened the difficulty of transportation between 
the two cities enormously. 
The opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was 

212 Industrial and Social History of England 

the beginning of an extremely rapid extension of railroads. 
The engineering success, the large amount of goods and number 
of passengers carried, the justification of the claims that had 
been made for the railroads, the failure of the evils that had been 
apprehended, the profitableness to stockholders, and convenience 
to the public all indicated the desirability of forming similar 
companies and building more railroads. Surveys were rapidly 
made all over the country for new railroads which promised to 
be profitable. Each year saw new applications to Parliament 
for charters and new construction of railway lines. In the year 
1836 Parliament authorized twenty-nine new railroads, amount- 
ing all together to about 1000 miles of track. Notwithstanding 
a period of commercial depression which for the moment checked 
investment, the grant of charters and the construction of rail- 
roads soon recommenced and continued with ever increasing 
rapidity for some years. By 1848 some 12,000 miles of rail- 
way had been authorized and more than 5000 miles opened. 
Seventy-five railroads were in use and on these there were 
more than 25,000,000 passengers a year. All the large cities 
and more populous parts of the country had been connected 
by railways over which trains were running with comparative 
frequency, regularity, and rapidity. The main lines connecting 
London with the north, northwest, northeast, southeast, and 
southwest were established, and there were lines connecting 
the east and west coasts. 

This rapid spread of the new means of transportation over the 
whole country had not been accomplished without the misrep- 
resentation, dishonesty, and wild speculation that usually ac- 
company such periods of change. The year 1845 saw what has 
been called the " railway mania," a great speculative excitement 
like the South Sea Bubble of the early eighteenth century and 
many other periods of speculation since. The period of commer- 
cial depression was now over, there was much capital in the 
country looking for investment, and every one looked on railroads 
as a safe and profitable form of enterprise. Men were carried 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 213 

away with the spectacle of their extension, usefulness, and success. 
Shares of new companies organized in 1844 and 1845 were 
sold at a constantly increasing price, even before the rail- 
roads were built. The whole country rang with the interest 
in railroad enterprises. Some 270 bills for chartering new 
railroads, aggregating between 4000 and 5000 miles, were intro- 
duced into Parliament in 1845. All classes were caught in a 
wild speculation, which reached to every other form of finance 
and industry. A frenzy seized the stock markets and thou- 
sands of men not only removed their savings from other places 
but bound themselves to payments far beyond any funds in their 
actual control. Men grew rich overnight by the rise of the 
price of shares they had not yet paid for in companies whose 
rights of way were not yet surveyed. It was said there was 
scarcely a family in England that was not interested directly 
or indirectly in the purchase and sale of railroad shares. Then 
the inevitable crisis came. Thursday, October 16, 1845, the 
Bank of England made a change in its rate of interest. Imme- 
diately dealings became slower, suspicion was aroused, and new 
buyers began to be alarmed. The next day settlements were 
demanded. In a few days failures took place, the price of 
shares fell, those who had subscribed but not paid were prose- 
cuted, and those who had acted as directors of roads were in 
turn held responsible. Thousands of men and whole families 
were buried in debt. Several men committed suicide, others 
fled to the Continent, still others were placed in debtors' prisons. 
One of the conspicuous figures of this period of speculation 
and crime, and one of the earliest in the long line of modern 
promoters was George Hudson, " the railway king," as he was 
called at the time. A dry-goods merchant of York, he had be- 
come wealthy, established a banking house, and was elected 
mayor of that city. When railroads were first introduced, 
he became interested and was a factor in the formation of some 
of the earliest small companies in the north of England, and 
later in their extension and combination. Under the influence 

214 Industrial and Social History of England 

of the laissez-faire ideas of the time the early railroads were 
built almost without control, regulation, or direction from the 
government, and they were therefore built haphazard, between 
any two points where the engineering difficulties were not too 
great and where the traffic was sufficient to promise a money 
profit. Within a few years a process naturally began of draw- 
ing these detached roads into some kind of system or group 
of systems. This was done by the purchase or lease of some 
of the lines by others or by amalgamation of two or more sepa- 
rate companies into one. This required parliamentary action 
in each case and gave rise to much conflict and many scandals. 
It was by this process and principally before 1848 that the great 
British railway systems of modern times, the London and 
Northwestern, the Great Northern, the Midland, etc., were 
created. It was in this process that Hudson achieved his 
greatest successes and committed his most dubious acts. By 
his ability in the organization of companies, the manipulation of 
finances, and the management of men, he carried out one large 
plan after another and accomplished the consoh'dation of one 
group after another of the detached railways. He was chair- 
man of the boards of directors of many railroads at the same 
time and his advice or influence was instrumental in bring- 
ing about the investment of millions of pounds in railway 
operations. During the great era of speculation in 1845 Hudson 
was most active, presiding over boards of directors, appearing 
before parliamentary committees, persuading reluctant officers, 
outwitting rival companies, and carrying out far-reaching and 
often questionable plans. In two days he is said to have 
secured the consent of forty bodies of shareholders to arrange- 
ments involving the outlay of $50,000,000. His picture was 
displayed everywhere, he was elected to Parliament, and was 
listened to there with great respect. When the panic came he, 
like others, suffered losses. He now received in the newspapers 
as much condemnation as he had previously received adulation, 
and his actions were severely criticised by the parliamentary 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 215 

committee which investigated the railroads the next year. His 
downfall did not come, however, till 1849, when he was declared 
by a later committee to have misappropriated two and a half 
million dollars and to have been guilty of many illegal actions. 
He resigned from all his railroad connections, went abroad, and 
soon dropped completely out of notice. 

The original expectation when railroads were built was that 
they would be used, as turnpikes were, by any one who was 
willing to run his cars and locomotives upon them, paying toll 
for the use of the track just as a man does in driving a wagon 
on a road. Those who built the railroads would make their 
money from the receipt of these tolls. Indeed there are a few 
early instances where this was tried, private carriers using the 
line exclusively, or along with the railway company itself. This 
plan was also anticipated by the government, the early railway 
charters all requiring that the railway should be open to the 
vehicles of all comers. But this plan almost immediately 
proved impracticable. It was necessary that only one company 
should use the railroad, under its own system, and that this 
should be the same company that owned the roadbed and other 
permanent equipment. A committee of Parliament which 
reported in 1839 declared that the original intention of Parlia- 
ment to open railways to all carriers could not be carried into 
effect. A railway was therefore seen to be in the nature of 
things a monopoly. 

The degree of control of the community over this monopoly 
was a question of dispute from the beginning, the opinion of 
those financially interested in the railroads being against any 
public regulation, whereas many private persons and successive 
committees of Parliament declared in favor of exercising public 
supervision over the conditions of railroad construction and 
use, the rate of their charges, and the amounts of their dividends. 
One parliamentary committee after another recommended some 
form of control. But government at that time was inefficient 
and unassertive ; all the tendencies of the time were against reg- 

2i6 Industrial and Social History of England 

ulation. Parliament was half-hearted in the matter and con- 
tained many members whose personal interest was opposed to the 
proposed control; so but few and weak laws were passed to carry 
out the recommendations of the committees. The English 
railroads consequently have differed from those of the Continent 
of Europe in the absence or at least the slight degree of govern- 
ment assistance given them and control exercised over their 
development and management in the public interest. 

Such laws as have been passed have been negative in character, 
directed to the prevention of serious damage to the public or 
unfairness to investors, rather than to the introduction of 
positive advantages. Acts placing the railroads to a slight 
degree under the control of the Board of Trade were passed in 
1840 and 1842; and in 1845 a law of somewhat greater importance 
was passed, commonly known as the Gladstone act, since Mr. 
Gladstone, then a young member of the ministry of Sir Robert 
Peel, was chairman of the committee which recommended it, 
and was its principal advocate in Parliament. Its main pro- 
visions, which were far less than had been recommended by the 
committee, were the following. For the benefit of working 
people every railway line must run at least one train a day con- 
veying third class passengers at the rate of one penny a mile. 
Such trains have ever since been called " parliamentary trains." 
Cheap rates were required for carrying mails and for the trans- 
portation of troops. All railroads to be chartered in the future 
should be subject to compulsory purchase by the government 
at any time after twenty-one years, the purchase price, if the 
railroad had been earning less than 10 per cent a year during the 
five previous years to be settled by arbitration ; if earning more 
than 10 per cent being equal to twenty-five times its average 
profits. This power of purchase on the part of government 
has never been made use of and has long been felt to be inade- 
quate. It has remained nevertheless a possibility and at the 
same time a restriction on the relations of the government to 
the railroads. No more effective legislation was passed until 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 217 

much later times, and however enterprising the roads may have 
been, on the whole they have been administered in the interest 
merely of the investors in their stocks and bonds, and primarily 
for the advantage neither of the public which supports them 
nor of the managing officials and workmen who have actually 
created and run them. 

67. Steam Navigation. The application of steam power 
to navigation over long distances belongs also in this period, 
and its progress was in many ways parallel to that of the rail- 
roads. Experiments in using steam power in boats had been in 
progress since about 1790 and steamboats had been in actual 
use for river and harbor traffic since 1812. From about 1820, 
however, there was a marked progress in the building and use of 
steam vessels. More were built, they were of larger size, and 
iron was frequently made use of as material. At that time the 
Clyde ship-building yards began their career of activity, and 
Napier's improvements in marine engines and boilers were 
introduced. In 1836 the first practicable screw propeller was 
invented by Ericsson, a Swede living in England. Shortly 
afterward the progress of steam ship-building in all these respects 
was indicated by the construction according to the plans of 
the famous engineer Brunei of an iron vessel driven by a screw 
and of 2000 tons register. By 1840 there were more than 
500 steam vessels passing up and down the rivers of England and 
Scotland, from port to port in these countries, between Eng- 
land and Ireland, England and France, and along the coast of 
Europe to the Mediterranean, and indeed all the way to India. 

The first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic seems to have been 
the Savannah in 1819, and although there were other occasional 
instances, no steamships regularly crossed so large a body of 
water until almost twenty years later. About 1832 Junius 
Smith, an American merchant living in London, interested him- 
self in this project and in 1836 formed the British and American 
Steam Navigation Company. In 1838 that company sent the 
Siritts, a steamship of 700 tons, from Cork, and at the same 

218 Industrial and Social History of England 

time the Great Western Steamship Company, an extension of 
the Great Western Railway Company, sent the Great Western 
from Bristol, both bound to New York. The former reached 
its American port in eighteen, the latter in sixteen days. Other 
steamships of larger size followed and soon steam vessels were 
regularly plying between Great Britain and the United States 
and other distant parts of the world. 

In 1840 the Cunard Line, one of the first of the great steam- 
ship companies, began regularly running vessels to America 
and later to other countries. The Peninsular and Oriental 
Steamship Company, whose numerous vessels have always run 
for the most part to the Orient, was established about the same 
time. The Pacific Steam Navigation Company, the Royal 
West India Company, and the Collins Line were all established 
before 1848, and the Warren, Inman, Anchor, and other lines 
soon afterward. 

To all these British companies government subsidies were 
paid in the form of compensation for carrying the mails, far 
beyond what the government received in postage, and beyond 
what would have been charged for a similar amount of other 
freight. In fact it is doubtful whether this early distant steam- 
ship commerce carried regularly to one port would have been 
profitable or could have been continued, if it had not had 
partial government support. This policy of subsidies was in 
contradiction to the prevailing laissez-faire attitude but was 
justified on the ground of the national interest in the extension 
of steamship connection with the rest of the world. 

The growth of railways and steamships made a new and 
vastly increased demand for iron and coal. The five thousand 
or more miles of track that had been laid by 1848, the locomo- 
tives, iron parts of cars and bridges, and engines and hulls of 
steam vessels required hundreds of thousands and eventually 
millions of tons of iron or steel; and steamships eventually 
came to require for fuel almost one-half of all the coal produced 
in the country. In 1829 the introduction of the hot instead 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 219 

of cold blast and in 1833 of raw coal instead of coke in iron smelt- 
ing brought about a great economy of coal and made the pro- 
duction of iron cheaper and quicker. These changes in- 
creased the importance of coal and iron mining relative to 
manufactures, commerce, and of course to agriculture, and 
made England more distinctly a " workshop " than ever before. 
The number of one class of workingmen was greatly increased 
and another class was called into existence by the introduction 
and extension of railroads. The " navvies " or railroad laborers 
took their name, which is an abbreviation of " navigators," 
from the canals or " inland navigation," for whose construction 
a generation earlier this class of labor had first been drawn 
together. They were a nomadic body of unskilled laborers, 
gathered from the restless and otherwise unoccupied element 
among the rural population or from the towns. They were 
better paid than farm laborers but subjected to all the evils 
of constant change of location, employment under contractors, 
separation from families, the poorest of shelter or none at all, 
and the roughest of food. Their numbers rose during the period 
of railway building to 200,000 or more, and they were so rough 
and reckless that they became a source of dread to the settled 
communities near which they temporarily settled when some 
roadbed was to be levelled, embankment or cutting made, or 
track laid. The " truck " system or " company store," the 
system by which workmen were paid by allowing them to deal 
on credit at a store kept by the employing company or the 
contractors, the debt being paid by retaining its amount from 
their wages on pay-day, flourished under these circumstances 
and exercised its usual demoralizing effects. The attention of 
Parliament was drawn to the condition of the railway laborers 
and a committee made investigations and a report, but no 
act was passed. However, the truck system had attracted so 
much attention and was so widely condemned that an act of 
Parliament was passed in 1842 requiring all payments of wages 
to be made in legal money, and forbidding payment in store 

220 Industrial and Social History of England 

orders or any other form of " truck." Under changing condi- 
tions the railway laborers have remained, along with certain 
other classes, types of the mass of untrained, uneducated, low- 
paid, and unskilled labor which is one of the most serious prob- 
lems of modern society. 

At the other extreme of the working class the locomotive engi- 
neers and other workmen on the trains and the engineers on 
vessels were a new class of relatively highly paid and well-trained 
men, the conditions of whose employment were such as to make 
them strong in intelligence, organization, and influence. Along 
with other transport workers and the coal and iron miners 
whose work was so closely connected with theirs they have 
come to be, perhaps, the most influential of the working classes. 

Among the influences of the introduction of the railroads 
and steamships should be included the general awakening of 
men's minds by breaking down isolation, creating habits of 
travel and intercourse, and introducing greater alertness into 
the older, more stationary, settled, and conservative life. The 
adoption of a cheap and simple system of postage in 1842 
and the introduction of the electric telegraph hi 1844 worked 
in this same direction, although the fuller effect of all these 
changes was to be more marked in later tunes than in this period 
of their beginnings. 

68. Abolition of the Corn Laws and the Completion of Free 
Trade. Closely connected with industrial progress at the 
time and with the relations of the various classes of the popu- 
lation to one another was the change of national policy with 
regard to imports and exports. For more than three centuries 
government had placed restrictions upon the importation of 
foreign goods and upon trade carried on with England by 
foreign merchants and with foreign ships. This was for the 
purpose of encouraging production in England, giving special 
advantages in English trade and shipping to Englishmen, bring- 
ing increased taxes to the government and securing a " balance 
of trade " advantageous to the country. The most conspicuous 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 221 

forms of this policy were, first, the navigation acts l and accom- 
panying regulations favoring English shipping, and, secondly, 
protective duties upon a vast number of articles, including food 
and raw materials as well as manufactured articles. The cus- 
toms duties on grain, the " corn laws," as they are called in 
England, have already been described in the last chapter. 2 
They were increased in amount at the close of the Napoleonic 
wars in 1815, no wheat being allowed to be imported so long as 
the prevailing price of home-grown wheat was ten shillings a 
bushel or less. As there was never enough produced in England 
to supply the demand this kept the price usually between $2.00 
and $2.50 a bushel, estimated in American money, and made 
the price of bread very high. 

Several points of defence were made for this law. The land 
which had been brought into cultivation when prices were very 
high on account of the war could not be kept in use if the price 
of grain fell, while it was desirable for England to be as nearly 
self-supporting as possible. Taxes for the support of the poor and 
other local purposes fell largely upon the land-owners, who seemed 
to be justified, therefore, in asking high rents from the tenants 
of farms, which they could only pay if the price of the grain 
they raised remained high. 

There was, however, much opposition to this high tariff on 
grain used for food. In 1839 an organization was formed 
at Manchester, which soon took the name of the Anti-Corn- 
Law League. It consisted largely of cotton and other manu- 
facturers, who drew no advantage from the high price of grain 
and saw the burdens it placed upon the working classes, the 
limitation of the power of grain-raising countries to purchase 
manufactured goods in England, and the community of interest 
it gave to the land-owning aristocracy which still, even after the 
passage of the Reform Bill of 1832, ruled England. The prin- 
cipal speakers of the League were Richard Cobden, John Bright, 
and one or two other members of Parliament. During the 
1 See pp. 163-167. * See p. 191. 

222 Industrial and Social History of England 

years from 1839 forward a vast number of meetings were 
held, many pamphlets and newspapers advocating the repeal of 
the corn laws published, and a constant agitation kept up for 
that end both in the country and in Parliament. The League 
was well provided with funds from the wealth of the manufactur- 
ers who were especially interested in it, 12,000 having been 
subscribed at its very first meeting, and 60,000 at one great 
demonstration some years later. Much popular interest was 
also shown in the subject, especially as indicated by the " Corn- 
Law Hymns " and " Corn-Law Rhymes " of Ebenezer Elliott. 
These were bitter attacks on the landlords, whom he accused of 
starving the people by making bread dear through heavy 

Lord ! bid our palaced worms their vileness know ! 
Bleach them with famine till they earn their bread ! 
And, taught by pain to feel a brother's woe, 
Marvel that honest labour toils unfed ! 

They never felt how vain it is to seek 
From bread-taxed trade its interdicted gain ; 
How hard to toil from dreary week to week, 
And ever labouring labour still in vain. 

Then let them kneel oh, not to us, but Thee ! 
For judgment, Lord, to thee alone belongs ; 
But we are petrified with misery, 
And turned to marble by a life of wrongs. 

When shall we hear again 
Thy still small whisper, God ? 
Oh break the bondman's chain ! 
Uncurse the tax-ploughed sod ! 

If still thy name is love, 
Be labour's son thy care ! 
And from thy earth remove 
The vermin all can spare ! 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 223 

The agitation continued seven or eight years. Finally, a 
great catastrophe brought the plan for abolishing the corn laws 
to a head. A blight fell upon the potato crop which formed 
so large a part of the food of the English, and still more of the 
Irish people. In 1845 and 1846 the potatoes were an almost 
complete failure. Much food was imported into Great Britain 
in ordinary years and of course a much greater amount had now 
to be brought from abroad. It was absurd to place heavy 
burdens of taxation on necessary importation of food and thus 
limit its amount and increase its price when it was so sorely 
needed. The prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, land-owner and 
Tory as he was, brought in a bill in 1846 for gradually decreas- 
ing the tariff on grain. This was carried, although very re- 
luctantly, and the import duty on grain ceased in 1849. 

Along with the abolition of the corn laws went the whole 
system of protective tariffs. Many of these were mere sur- 
vivals of early attempts at minute regulation of industry and 
in the spirit of reform of the time were being abolished gradually 
by Parliament at the request of successive ministers. In the 
year before the abolition of the corn laws Peel had removed 
the duty from almost five hundred articles. Taxes on raw 
materials generally and even on many manufactured goods 
were condemned by some of the same arguments as those 
used against the grain duties. England was now far ahead 
of most other countries in the amount of her capital, the per- 
fection of her machinery, the skill of her workingmen, and the 
excellence of her organization for producing manufactured 
goods of almost all kinds. She had become the leading indus- 
trial nation of the world. The arguments for free trade seemed 
therefore overwhelming. Between 1846 and 1849 the duties 
were taken off of two hundred more articles, and soon afterwards 
the few remaining duties were abolished. England had become 
a free-trade country. The loss of revenue to the government 
was made up by the adoption of an income tax. 

A beginning had been made long before in giving equal ad- 

224 Industrial and Social History of England 

vantages to foreign ships and merchants entering English har- 
bors, as already described. 1 This process was now brought 
to completion, and in 1849 the ^ as t of the navigation acts were 
repealed. The policy of restriction on foreign trading relations 
had been already practically given up. In 1833 the monopoly 
of the East India Company, the last of the great sixteenth- 
century trading companies, was withdrawn and the Eastern 
trade thrown open to all Englishmen and foreigners. 

69. Poverty of the Working Classes. Notwithstanding 
the improvements in machinery, mining, agriculture, and trans- 
portation, notwithstanding the great increase in the total wealth 
and income of the English people, in spite of the removal of 
many old abuses, the abolition of the corn laws, and the reform 
of Parliament, the condition of the lower classes seemed to have 
become worse rather than better. At no time, probably, in 
the history of England has there been more misery among the 
mass of the people than in the period covered by this chapter. 
Its later years have come to be known as the " hungry forties." 
Parliamentary investigations, the reports of government boards 
and charitable societies, and general literature all testify to the 
low wages, high prices, irregular employment, crowded work- 
ing and living conditions, dirt, disease, suffering, and social in- 
justice which characterized much of the England of the first 
half of the nineteenth century. Bad as conditions still are in 
many places and in many aspects of life, the condition of the 
mass of the community is infinitely better than it was seventy- 
five years ago. It was just about this time, in 1842, that a 
German merchant, Friedrich Engels, living in England, wrote 
his " Condition of the English Working Classes," in which the 
deplorable state of the mass of the people is described. All 
other sources of information give the same impression. Wages 
of women at field work in the country were from 15 cents to 20 
cents a day; in the mills they could earn perhaps $2.00 a 
week. Farm laborers earned $2.00 to $2.50 a week; unskilled 
1 See pp. 197-198. 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 225 

town laborers $3 to $3.75 ; skilled workers, such as carpenters 
and masons, earned $4.50; factory laborers made sometimes 
as much as $5.00 a week. The prices of necessities to be bought 
with these wages were in many cases greater than at present. 
In 1840 bread cost somewhat more than it did in 1910 ; sugar 
cost twice as much, tea from twice to three times as much. 
The common people when regularly at work seldom had meat, 
and even their bread, potatoes, and turnips were of the poorest 
quality and insufficient in amount. But the worst evil was 
the irregularity of work. Beginning in 1836 and continuing 
to 1839 was a serious commercial depression brought about by 
speculation, and beginning in 1847 there was another. Mills 
were frequently closed, country work was hard, scarce, and 
irregular, and even skilled workmen were often without occu- 
pation or wages. Actual starvation was only prevented by 
extensive charity, and a bare and harsh subsistence was the 
most that could be hoped for even in the best times. With the 
increase of population and no public effort to provide space for 
it, streets and alleys were narrow, houses overcrowded, drainage 
bad, and the air fetid. In the large manufacturing and commer- 
cial cities like Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool, thou- 
sands of families lived in undrained and unventilated cellars, 
and in many parts of London housing conditions were quite 
as bad. This poverty-stricken, sordid life was not that of the 
poorest, most improvident, and most unfortunate of the com- 
munity, but was characteristic of the great body of substantial, 
hard-working laboring population, only a fortunate few rising 
above it. It was the life of a large proportion of the fifteen 
million people who in 1841 made up the population of England. 
Moreover, the life of the working classes had to be spent with- 
out education, share in the government, or opportunity for en- 
joyment except of the lowest character. Among the political 
and industrial governing class there was at the worst much 
injustice and hardness; at the best, mismanagement, neglect, 
lack of sympathy, or a sense of utter helplessness in the presence 

226 Industrial and Social History of England 

of intolerably bad conditions. Most widespread of all was 
irresponsibility. The world was ruled by laissez-faire. It is 
no wonder that crime, brutality, turbulence, and deep dis- 
content flourished among the masses. After this period slow, 
doubtful, frequently interrupted, and always inadequate im- 
provements can be discovered if sought for carefully. At this 
tune things were at their worst. 

70. Reform of the Poor Law. The sufferings and dis- 
satisfaction of the working classes were made harder to bear 
by a sudden and harsh though perhaps necessary change in the 
system of granting public relief to the poor. Pauperism had 
been a serious matter in England for centuries. The enclosures 
in the country and gild changes in the towns in the sixteenth 
century had created an enormous amount of extreme poverty in 
addition to that which was chronic through the Middle Ages. 
To meet this the government of Queen Elizabeth with its usual 
energy enacted a series of laws for the relief of the poor, the 
most important of which was that of the year 1601. Under 
this law and its modifications overseers in each locality had 
taxed the property holders and provided for the support of the 
very poor ever since. 

Poverty was at some times worse than at others. In the 
latter part of the eighteenth century, during the advance of the 
industrial revolution and the enclosure of open lands, work was 
irregular, wages low, and extreme poverty widespread. Under 
these circumstances in 1795 the magistrates of Berkshire, who 
had the duty under the Act of Apprentices of establishing the 
rate of wages in that county, at their annual meeting at the 
little town of Speenhamland, decided to make an increase in 
laborers' wages, drawing a part of it from the poor rates. Pay- 
ment was to be in proportion to the price of bread and to the size 
of the laborer's family. Thus the workman would be provided 
with enough to live on, paid partly by his employer in the form 
of wages, partly by the poor authorities as public charity. For 
instance, a man with a wife and family of three children should 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 227 

receive nine shillings a week when bread was at its average 
price. Whatever his wages lacked of this amount should be paid 
to him by the poor authorities. This practice spread to other 
localities in the early nineteenth century and became so general 
that the original plan has often been spoken of as the " Speen- 
hamland Act of Parliament. ' ' In fact Parliament itself increased 
the tendency to substitute poor relief for the payment of 
living wages by passing an act in 1796 allowing local authorities 
to give relief to poor men in their parishes without requiring 
them to go to the workhouse or to give proof of their incapacity. 

This was an unjust and demoralizing practice to both employ- 
ers and workingmen. It tempted the employing farmers in the 
country to cut down or keep down the wages of their laborers, 
knowing that these wages would be brought up to the necessary 
amount for subsistence by allowances from the poor rates. 
Wages therefore remained far below what they should be. 
The workingman, on the other hand, was made into a pauper 
with all the bad results of pauperism. He was deprived of his 
sense of independence, of his free voice in local affairs, and of 
his incitement to thrift. Knowing that he would be supported, 
and with wages based neither on his needs or his efforts there was 
no reason why he should work or save, there was no hope of 
improvement during his working life or of an old age elsewhere 
than in the poorhouse. These conditions were not so usual 
in the large cities or the more active manufacturing towns, 
though here also wages were influenced by allowances to the poor, 
and many other causes of poverty existed. 

It was this bad system of pauperism by which England was 
burdened and demoralized that a group of reformers about 
the time of the passage of the first parliamentary reform bill 
undertook to correct. They were influenced partly by the pre- 
vailing ideas of laissez-faire and a conviction that good results 
could only be attained by making each man dependent on him- 
self alone; partly by the desire to lift from the country the 
enormous weight of taxation for the relief of the poor ; and still 

228 Industrial and Social History of England 

further by a wish to get rid of the mass of stupidity, corruption, 
and bad management that had grown up around the administra- 
tion of the old poor laws. A commission of investigation was 
appointed and in 1834 made a famous report to Parliament. 
In the same year a new poor law was passed which has been 
the basis of poor relief ever since. It was carried by an un- 
usually large majority and represented the beliefs and desires 
of the upper middle classes which now controlled Parliament. 
It introduced a sharp and sudden change in the customs of the 
country and brought great hardship to those whom it imme- 
diately affected, the great mass of the poor people. From 
these and their leaders it received the most intense disapproval 
and loud opposition. Nevertheless, it held its ground, was re- 
enacted in 1842, and its administration was placed under the 
supervision of the ministry in 1847. 

The general plan of the new law was to leave poor relief in 
the hands of local authorities but to place the whole system in 
charge of a national board or commission who should con- 
trol its policy and watch over its administration through 
a corps of inspectors. The country was divided into what 
were called " unions," or groups of parishes, in each of which 
there was a workhouse. No poor person could, generally 
speaking, be given any relief except by becoming an inmate of 
this workhouse. Thus the whole system of relief or partial 
support of the lower classes in their homes was swept away in one 
general regulation. There were, of course, exceptions for the 
old, the sick, widows and orphans for a short period after the 
death of the head of the family, and under the conditions of 
the time other exceptions were unavoidable. The whole policy 
of the National Board of Poor Law Commissioners, however, 
was that of a rigorous enforcement of the principle of the law, 
that there should be no relief given except in the workhouse. 
The workhouse itself was intentionally made unattractive to 
the last degree. Husbands and wives, parents and children were 
separated, the control exercised by the officials in charge was 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 229 

absolute and often oppressive, the food was poor and often 
inadequate, the whole atmosphere cold, repellent, and unfitted 
for either the comfort or the improvement of its inmates. 
All this was intentional ; nothing was to be done to make 
idleness and improvidence more attractive than labor and saving. 
The great difficulty about the poor law was that it was only one 
part of a whole social system, the other parts of which gave 
little chance for regular or decently paid labor, or for educa- 
tion, health, happiness, or opportunity. 

71. Chartism. The Reform Bill of 1832 had given repre- 
sentation not to the masses of the people, but only to the upper 
middle classes. Many of the leaders of the lower classes and 
special sympathizers with them believed that it was due to this 
fact that the people were so miserable. If they had representa- 
tion in Parliament they thought they could introduce reforms 
for the advantage of the masses and bring about the abolition 
of much of what seemed to them injustice. Some of the old 
Radicals in Parliament and outside, and some of the trade-union 
leaders in a lately formed workingmen's association, made up 
of skilled artisans of London, therefore, came together in 1837 
and drew up a petition to Parliament in the form of a bill, which 
they called " The People's Charter " in allusion to the Great 
Charter. From their advocacy of this project they became 
known as the Chartists. It was a well-written document, 
calling attention to the greatness and general wealth of Eng- 
land, but pointing out that this was accompanied by widespread 
poverty, depression, and misfortune of the most active classes. 
The Chartists gathered up from the old agitation of the previous 
half century six proposed reforms, which, if adopted, they claimed 
would give the people a just and beneficent form of government. 
These six points were universal manhood suffrage, vote by ballot, 
division of the country into equal representative districts, a 
newly elected Parliament every year, abolition of the property 
qualification for membership in Parliament, and payment of 
members, so that poor men might serve. 

230 Industrial and Social History of England 

In order to obtain popular sympathy for the movement and 
to bring pressure to bear on Parliament, a great series of meetings 
was organized in the years 1837, 1838, and 1839. These were 
usually held in the open air not only because the use of a hall 
was frequently denied but because halls were quite too small 
for the masses which gathered. In London and the vicinity 
of Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Glasgow, and other 
northern towns monster meetings were held, torchlight pro- 
cessions passed through town and country, and banners with 
inscriptions were carried, as in earlier and later agitations. 
They also threatened " a solemn and sacred strike from every 
kind of labor," if Parliament should refuse their petition, prob- 
ably the first instance of the familiar threat of a general indus- 
trial strike to reach political ends. 

They had not the abundant money resources of the Anti- 
Corn-Law League, which was carrying on its agitation at the 
same time, yet branches were formed in the midlands and the 
north, a whole corps of speakers was trained and sent out, and 
several newspapers were supported. The Northern Star, a 
Chartist weekly paper published at Oldham by Feargus 
O'Connor, one of the leaders, attained for a while the largest 
circulation of any newspaper outside of London. From Feb- 
ruary to September, 1839, a convention of delegates from 
Chartist associations all over England met, at first in London, 
afterwards in Birmingham. There was much dissension in its 
conferences, some delegates advocating continued peaceful 
agitation, others preparation for a forcible uprising. 

The petition was presented to the House of Commons in 
July, 1839, after almost two years of this agitation, by Attwood, 
member of Parliament from Birmingham. It was supported 
by a million and a quarter signatures and required twelve men 
to carry it into the House. Several members spoke in its favor ; 
nevertheless it was rejected by a majority of 237 against 48. 
The newly reformed House of Commons was not willing 
even to discuss a proposal to introduce a more democratic 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 231 

type of government. Not only was this so, but the ministry 
determined to put an end to the whole agitation. In their 
speeches and actions both at mass meetings and in the " Con- 
vention " several of the leaders had used threats and encour- 
aged what the government claimed was violence. The torch- 
light processions were prohibited, the leaders were removed 
from such government positions as they held, a mass meeting 
in Birmingham was broken up by a force of police brought from 
London, and several riots occurred there and in other places. 
Stephens, one of the Chartist speakers, was arrested and sen- 
tenced to eighteen months' imprisonment for his inflammatory 
addresses. Eighty men were arrested at the breaking up of the 
Birmingham meeting ; various others were charged with having 
arms in their possession ; Lovett and Vincent, two of the founders 
of the movement, were condemned to a year in prison, O'Connor 
to eighteen months, and four others to death, though this was 
commuted to imprisonment for life. Later there was an attempt 
in Wales to release from the jail some of those convicted, when 
soldiers fired on the mob, killing ten and wounding many. 
Seven more were condemned to death at this time, though 
the sentence was modified to transportation for life, and they 
were afterwards pardoned. 

The failure of the Chartists to obtain serious consideration 
in Parliament, the imprisonment of some of the leaders, dif- 
ferences of opinion among others, absorption in trade-union 
activities, and the competition of interest in the Anti-Corn- 
Law League among the masses of the people led to a gradual 
decline of interest in Chartism after 1839. The continental 
revolution of 1848 combined with a new period of commercial 
depression, however, brought the old Chartist movement to 
life once more. A petition for the Charter, to be signed by 
4,000,000 persons and carried to Parliament by 200,000 men, 
enough to overawe all resistance, directly from a great mass 
meeting, was announced by O'Connor, one of the old leaders. 
But the meeting, which was to be held on Kennington Common, 

232 Industrial and Social History of England 

across the Thames from London, was forbidden by the ministry, 
troops were called out, and a whole army of special police en- 
rolled under the charge of the duke of Wellington. The meeting 
attracted but some 20,000 men, the march was stopped at the 
bridge, the great petition was found to contain less than half as 
many signatures as was claimed, and many of these fictitious, 
and the House of Commons refused to pay any more attention 
to the Charter than they had in 1839. In the meantime the 
repeal of the corn laws had satisfied many reformers, and the 
Chartist leaders and the hundreds of thousands who had hoped 
so much from the proposed democratic reform of Parliament 
gave up their agitation for the time. The whole Chartist 
movement belongs rather to the field of political than industrial 
history though its advocates were seeking industrial ends by 
that means. 

72. Factory Legislation. One of the greatest difficulties 
with which the early mill owners had to contend was the in- 
sufficient supply of labor for their factories. Since these had to 
be run by water power, they were placed along the rapid streams 
in the remote parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and 
Nottinghamshire, which were sparsely populated, and where 
such inhabitants as there were had a strong objection to working 
in factories. However abundant population might be in some 
other parts of England, in the northwest, where the new manu- 
facturing was growing up, and especially in the hilly rural dis- 
tricts, there were but few persons available to perform the work 
which must be done fjy human hands in connection with the mill 

There was, however, in existence a source of supply of laborers 
which could furnish almost unlimited numbers and at the lowest 
possible cost. The parish poorhouses or workhouses of the 
large cities were overcrowded with children. The authorities 
always had difficulty in finding occupation for them when they 
came to an age when they could earn their own living, and any 
plan of putting them to work would be received with welcome. 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 233 

This source of supply was early discovered and utilized by the 
manufacturers, and it soon became customary for them to take 
as apprentices large numbers of the poorhouse children. They 
signed contracts with the overseers of the poor by which they 
agreed to give board, clothing, and instruction for a certain 
number of years to the children who were thus bound to them. 
In return they put them to work in the factories. Children 
from seven years of age upward were engaged by hundreds from 
London and the other large cities, and set to work in the cotton 
spinning factories of the north. Since there were no other 
facilities for boarding them, " apprentice houses " were built 
for them in the vicinity of the factories, where they were placed 
under the care of superintendents or matrons. The conditions 
of life among these pauper children were, as might be expected, 
very hard. They were remotely situated, apart from the ob- 
servation of the community, left to the burdens of unreh'eved 
labor and the harshness of small masters or foremen. Their 
hours of labor were excessive. When the demands of trade were 
active they were often arranged in two shifts, each shift working 
twelve hours, one in the day and another in the night, so that it 
was a common saying in the north that " their beds never got 
cold," one set climbing into bed as the other got out. When 
there was no night work the day work was the longer. They 
were driven at their work and often abused. Their food was of 
the coarsest description, and they were frequently required to 
eat it while at their work, snatching a bite as they could while 
the machinery was still in motion. Much of the time which 
should have been devoted to rest was spent in cleaning the 
machinery, and there seems to have been absolutely no effort 
made to give them any education or opportunity for recreation. 
The sad life of these little waifs, overworked, underfed, 
neglected, abused, in the factories and barracks in the remote 
glens of Yorkshire and Lancashire, came eventually to the 
notice of the outside world. Correspondence describing their 
condition began to appear in the newspapers, a Manchester 

234 Industrial and Social History of England 

Board of Health made a presentment in 1796 calling attention 
to the unsanitary conditions in the cotton factories where they 
worked, contagious fevers were reported to be especially frequent 
in the apprentice houses, and in 1802 Sir Robert Peel, himself 
an employer of nearly a thousand such children, brought the 
matter to the attention of Parliament. An immediate and 
universal desire was expressed to abolish the abuses of the 
system, and as a result the " Health and Morals Act to Regulate 
the Labor of Bound Children in Cotton Factories " was passed 
in the same year. It prohibited the binding out for factory 
labor of children younger than nine years, restricted the hours 
of labor to twelve actual working hours a day, and forbade night 
labor. It required the walls of the factories to be properly 
whitewashed and the buildings to be sufficiently ventilated, 
insisted that the apprentices should be furnished with at least 
one new suit of clothes a year, and provided that they should 
attend religious services and be instructed in the fundamental 
English branches. This was the first of the " Factory Acts," 
for, although its application was so restricted, applying only to 
cotton factories, and for the most part only to bound children, 
the subsequent steps in the formation of the present great code 
of factory legislation were simply a development of the same 
principle, that factory labor involved conditions which it was 
desirable for government to regulate. 

At the time of the passage of this law the introduction of 
steam power was already causing a transfer of the bulk of 
factory industry from the rural districts to which the need 
for water power had confined it to the towns where every 
other requisite for carrying on manufacturing was more easily 
obtainable. Here the children of families resident in the town 
could be obtained, and the practice of using apprentice children 
was largely given up. Many of the same evils, however, 
continued to exist here. The practice of beginning to work 
while extremely young, long hours, night work, unhealthy 
surroundings, proved to be as common among these children 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 235 

to whom the law did not apply as they had been among the 
apprentice children. These evils attracted the attention of 
several persons of philanthropic feeling. Robert Owen, es- 
pecially, a successful manufacturer, who had introduced many 
reforms in his own mills, collected a large body of evidence as 
to the excessive labor and early age of employees in the factories 
even where no apprentice labor was engaged. He tried to 
awaken an interest in the matter by the publication of a pam- 
phlet on the injurious consequences of the factory system, and 
to influence various members of Parliament to favor the passage 
of a law intended to improve the condition of laboring children 
and young people. In 1815 Sir Robert Peel again brought the 
matter up in Parliament. A committee was appointed to 
investigate the question, and a legislative agitation was thus 
begun which was destined to last for many years and to produce 
a series of laws which have gradually taken most of the con- 
ditions of employment in large establishments under the control 
of the government. In debates in Parliament, in testimony 
before government commissions of investigation, in petitions, 
pamphlets, and newspapers, the conditions of factory labor 
were described and discussed. 

The bill originally introduced in 1815, after having been 
subjected to a series of discussions, amendments and post- 
ponements, was passed in June, 1819, being the second " Factory 
Act." It applied only to cotton mills, and was in the main 
merely an extension of the act of 1802 to the protection of 
children who were not pauper apprentices. It forbade the em- 
ployment of any child under nine years of age, and prohibited 
the employment of those between nine and sixteen more than 
twelve hours a day, or at night. In addition to the twelve 
hours of actual labor, at least a half-hour must be allowed for 
breakfast and an hour for dinner. Other minor acts amending 
or extending this were passed from time to time, till in 1833 
after the first parliamentary Reform Act was passed and after 
two successive commissions had made investigations and 

236 Industrial and Social History of England 

reports on the subject, the most important of the early laws 
was passed. 

The law of 1833 applied practically to all textile mills, not 
merely to those for the spinning of cotton. The prohibition 
of employment of all below nine years was continued, children 
between nine and thirteen were to work only eight hours per 
day, and young persons between thirteen and eighteen only 
twelve hours, and none of these at night. Two whole and eight 
half holidays were required to be given within the year, and each 
child must have a surgeon's certificate of fitness for labor. 
There were also requirements for the education of the children 
and the cleanliness of the factories. But the most important 
clause of this statute was the provision of a corps of four factory 
inspectors who were sworn to their duties, salaried, and pro- 
vided with extensive powers of making rules for the execution 
of the act, of enforcing it, and prosecuting for its violation. The 
earlier laws had not been efficiently carried out. Under this 
act numerous prosecutions and convictions took place, and 
factory regulation began to become a reality. The inspectors 
calculated during their first year of service that there were about 
56,000 children between nine and thirteen, and about 108,000 
young persons between thirteen and eighteen, in the factories 
under their supervision. 

The period lying between 1840 and 1848 was one of specially 
great activity in social and economic agitation. Chartism, the 
abolition of the corn laws, the formation of trade unions, mining 
acts, and further extensions of the factory acts were all alike 
under discussion, and they all created the most intense an- 
tagonism between parties and classes. In 1844 the law com- 
monly known as the " Children's Half-time Act " was passed. 
It contained a large number of general provisions for the fencing 
of dangerous machinery, for its stoppage while being cleaned, 
for the report of accidents to inspectors and district surgeons, 
for the public prosecution for damages of the factory owner 
when he should seem to be responsible for an accident, and for 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 237 

the enforcement of the act. Its most distinctive clause, how- 
ever, was that which restricted the labor of children to a half- 
day, or the whole of alternate days, and required their attend- 
ance at school for the other half of their time. All women were 
placed by this act in the same category as young persons between 
thirteen and eighteen, so far as the restriction of hours of labor 
io twelve per day and the prohibition of night work extended. 

The next statute to be passed contained the provision which 
had long been the most bitterly contested of any during the 
whole factory law agitation. This was the " Ten-hour Act " 
of 1847. From an early period in the century there had been 
a strong agitation in favor of restricting by law the hours of 
young persons, and from somewhat later, of women, to ten hours 
per day, and this proposition had been repeatedly introduced 
and defeated in Parliament. It was now carried. By this time 
the more usual length of the working day for grown men and 
women had been reduced to twelve hours, and in some trades to 
eleven. It was now made by law half-time for children, and 
ten hours for young persons and women, or as rearranged by 
another law passed three years afterward, ten and a half hours 
for five days of the week and a half-day on Saturday. The 
number of persons to whom the Ten-hour Act applied was 
estimated at something over 360,000. That is, including the 
children, at least three-fourths of all persons employed in textile 
industries had their hours and some other conditions of labor 
directly regulated by law. Moreover, the work of men em- 
ployed in the same factories was so dependent on that of the 
women and the children, that many of these restrictions applied 
practically to them also. 

73. Reasons for and against Factory Legislation. The 
need for regulation which was claimed to exist arose from the 
long hours of work which were customary, from the very early 
age at which many children were sent to be employed in the 
factories, and from various incidents of manufacturing which 
were considered injurious, or as involving unnecessary hardship. 

238 Industrial and Social History of England 

The actual working hours in the factories before the passage of 
these acts were from twelve and a half to fourteen a day. That 
is to say, factories usually started work in the morning at 
6 o'clock and continued till 12, when a period from a half -hour 
to an hour was allowed for dinner, then the work began again 
and continued till 7.30 or 8.30 in the evening. It was customary 
to eat breakfast after reaching the mill, but this was done while 
attending the machinery, there being no general stoppage for 
the purpose. Some mills ran even longer hours, opening at 
5 A.M. and not closing till 9 P.M. In some exceptional cases the 
hours were only twelve; from 6 to 12 and from i to 7. The 
inducements to long hours were very great. The profits were 
large, the demand for goods was constantly growing, the in- 
troduction of gas made it possible to light the factories, and the 
use of artificial power, either water or steam, seemed to make 
the labor much less severe than when the power had been pro- 
vided by human muscles. Few or no holidays were regarded, 
except Sunday, so that work went on in an unending strain of 
protracted, exhausting labor, prolonged for much of the year 
far into the night. 

To these long hours all the hands alike conformed, the children 
'commencing and stopping work at the same time as the grown 
men and women. Moreover, the children often began work 
while extremely young. There was a great deal of work in the 
factories which they could do just as well, in some cases even 
better, than adults. They were therefore commonly sent into 
the mills by their parents at about the age of eight years, fre- 
quently at seven or even six. As has been before stated, more 
than half of the employees in many factories were below eighteen 
years, and of these a considerable number were mere children. 
Thirdly, there were certain other evils of factory labor that 
attracted attention and were considered by the reformers to be 
remediable. Many accidents occurred because the moving 
machinery was unprotected, the temperature in the cotton mills 
had to be kept high, and ventilation and cleanliness were often 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 239 

entirely neglected. The habit of keeping the machinery in , 
motion while meals were being eaten was a hardship, and in 
many ways the employees were practically at the mercy of the 
proprietors of the factories so long as there was no form of 
oversight or of united action to prevent harshness or unfairness. 

In the discussions in Parliament and outside there were of 
course many contradictory statements concerning the facts 
of the case, and much denial of general ancj special charges. 
The advocates of factory laws drew an extremely sombre 
picture of the evils of the factory system. The opponents ' 
of such legislation, on the other hand, declared that their 
statements were exaggerated or untrue, and that the condi-, 
tion of the factory laborer was not worse than that of other 
workingmen, or harder than that of the domestic worker and 
his family had been in earlier times. 

But apart from these recriminations and contradictions, 
there were certain general arguments used in the debates which 
can be grouped into three classes on each side. For the regulat- 
ing laws there was in the first place the purely sentimental 
argument, repulsion against the hard, unrelieved labor, the 
abuse, the lack of opportunity for enjoyment or recreation of 
the children of the factory districts ; the feeling that in wealthy, 
humane, Christian England, it was unendurable that women 
and little children should work longer hours, be condemned to 
greater hardships, and more completely cut off from the enjoy- 
ments of life than were the slaves of tropical countries. This 
is the argument of Mrs. Browning's Cry of the Children : 

Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers, 

Ere the sorrow comes with years ? 
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers, 

And that cannot stop their tears. 
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows ; 

The young birds are chirping in the nest ; 
The young fawns are playing with the shadows ; 

The young flowers are blowing toward the west ; 

240 Industrial and Social History of England 

But the young, young children, O my brothers ! 

They are weeping bitterly. 
They are weeping in the play-time of the others 

In the country of the free. 


" For oh ! " say the children, " we are weary, ' 

And we cannot run or leap : 
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely 

To drop down in them and sleep." 


They look up with their pale and sunken faces, 

And their look is dread to see, 
For they mind you of their angels in high places, 

With eyes turned on Deity. 
"How long," they say, "how long, O cruel nation, 

Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart, 
Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation 

And tread onward to your throne amid the mart ? " 

Secondly, it was argued that the long hours for the children 
cut them off from all intellectual and moral training, that they 
were in no condition after such protracted labor to profit by 
any opportunities of education that should be supplied, that 
with the diminished influence of the home, and the demoralizing 
effects that were supposed to result from factory labor, ignorance 
and vice alike would continue to be its certain accompaniments, 
unless the age at which regular work was begun should be limited, 
and the number of hours of labor of young persons restricted. 
Thirdly, it was claimed that there was danger of the physical 
degeneracy of the factory population. Certain diseases, 
especially of the joints and limbs, were discovered to be very 
prevalent in the factory districts. Children who began work so 
early in life and were subjected to such long hours of labor did 
not grow so rapidly, nor reach their full stature, nor retain their 
vigor so late in life, as did the population outside of the factories. 
Therefore, for the very physical preservation of the race, it was de- 
clared to be necessary to regulate the conditions of factory labor. 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 241 

On the other hand, apart from denials as to the facts of the 
case, there were several distinct arguments used against the 
adoption of factory laws. In the first place, in the interests 
of the manufacturers, such laws were opposed as an unjust 
interference with their business, an unnecessary and burden- 
some obstacle to their success, and a threat of ruin to a class 
who by giving employment to so many laborers and furnishing 
so much of the material for commerce were of the greatest 
advantage to the country. Secondly, from a somewhat broader 
point of view, it was declared that if such laws were adopted 
England would no longer be able to compete with other countries 
and would lose her preeminence in manufactures. The factory 
system was being introduced into France, Belgium, the United 
States, and other countries, and in none of these was there any 
legal restriction on the hours of labor or the age of the employees. 
If English manufacturers were forced to reduce the length of 
the day in which production was carried on, they could not 
produce as cheaply as these other countries, and English exports 
would decrease. This would reduce the national prosperity 
and be especially hard on the working classes themselves, as 
many would necessarily be thrown out of work. Thirdly, as 
a matter of principle it was argued that the policy of government 
regulation had been tried and found wanting, that after cen- 
turies of existence it had been deliberately given up, and should 
not be reintroduced. Laws restricting hours would interfere 
with the freedom of labor, with the freedom of capital, with the 
freedom of contract. If the employer and the employee were 
both satisfied with the conditions of their labor, why should the 
government interfere? The reason also why such regulation 
had failed in the past and must again, if tried 
It was an effort to alter the action of the 
controlled employment, wages, profits, and 
matters, and was bad in theory, and would ther 
be injurious in practice. These and some othe 
arguments were used over and over again in the 

242 Industrial and Social History of England 

of the discussion through almost half a century. The laws that 
were passed were carried because the majority in Parliament 
were either not convinced by adverse arguments or determined 
that, come what might, the evils and abuses connected with 
factory labor should be abolished. As a matter of fact, the factory 
laws were carried by the rank and file of the voting members of 
Parliament, not only against the protests of the manufacturers 
especially interested, but in spite of the warnings of those who 
spoke in the name of established teaching, and frequently against 
the opposition of the political leaders of both parties. The 
greatest number of those who voted for them were influenced 
principally by their sympathies and feelings, and yielded to the 
appeals of certain philanthropic advocates, the most devoted 
and influential of whom was Lord Ashley, afterward earl of 
Shaftesbury, who devoted many years to investigation and 
agitation on the subject both inside and out of Parliament. 

As time passed on the opposition to the factory acts became 
less. The evil results which had been feared did not show 
themselves and many of their strongest opponents eventually 
acknowledged their necessity and benefit. 

74. The First Mine Regulation Act. By the successive 
acts of 1819, 1833, 1844, and 1847, a normal length of working 
day and regulated conditions generally had been established by 
government for the textile factories employing women and chil- 
dren. The next development was an extension of the regula- 
tion of hours and conditions of labor from factories proper to 
other allied fields. 

A witness in one of the factory investigations had testified 
that " the hardest labor in the worst room in the worst con- 
ducted factory is less hard, less cruel, and less demoralizing than 
the labor in the best coal mine." Notwithstanding the possible 
exaggeration of so strong a statement, it was evident that far 
away from ordinary observation, unconsidered by the govern- 
ment, unorganized and at the mercy of their employers, sub- 
ject, as was constantly reported, to the most destructive of 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 243 

accidents, the condition of the coal miners demanded public 
investigation. A commission was appointed in 1840. They 
made a thorough investigation of the obscure conditions of labor 
underground, and reported a condition of affairs which was 
heart-sickening. Children began their life in the coal mines 
at five, six, or seven years of age. Girls and women worked 
like boys and men ; they were less than half clothed, and worked 

(Report of Children's Employment Commission, 1842.) 

alongside of men who were stark naked. There were from twelve 
to fourteen working hours in the twenty-four, and these were 
often at night. Little girls of six or eight years of age made 
ten to twelve trips a day up steep ladders to the surface, carry- 
ing half a hundred weight of coal in wooden buckets on their 
backs at each journey. Young women appeared before the 
commissioners when summoned from their work, dressed merely 

244 Industrial and Social History of England 

in a pair of trousers, dripping wet from the water of the mine, 
and already weary with the labor of a day scarcely more than 
begun. A common form of labor consisted of drawing on hands 
and knees over the inequalities of a passageway not more than 
two feet or twenty-eight inches high a car or tub filled with three 
or four hundred weight of coal, attached by a chain and hooked 
to a leather band around the waist. The mere recital of the 
testimony taken precluded all discussion as to the desirability 
of reform, and a law was immediately passed, in 1842, almost 
without dissent, which prohibited for the future all work under- 
ground by females and by boys under ten years of age. Inspec- 
tors were appointed, and by subsequent acts a whole code of 
regulation of mines as regards age of beginning work, hours of 
work, lighting, ventilation, safety, and licensing of engineers has 
been created. 

75. Influence of Robert Owen. The opinion of most men 
at this time, as during the period before it, was that regulation 
was a bad thing, that each person ought to be left free to succeed 
or fail according to his own efforts, without support and with- 
out interference. Especially was this true of those who, favored 
by fortune, the conditions of the time, or the special nature of 
their own abilities, were in a position to take advantage of the 
inventions and opportunities that were constantly presenting 
themselves and to utilize them to attain success and to become 
more wealthy or more powerful. It was widely believed both 
by theoretical individualists and by successful business men 
that self-interest should be the guiding principle in all business 
relations. It was unwise for the government to participate 
in the economic protection or to seek to increase the well-being 
of the community ; men of enterprise had no responsibility for 
others connected with their enterprises, and the government 
had no responsibility except to secure to them opportunity. 

There were, however, many who did not agree with these 
views, who favored restriction upon some individuals for the 
protection of others or for the good of all, and believed that 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 245 

the mass of the population would be crushed by those in a 
position of economic advantage unless they were protected by 
community action. This was as true of those parliamentary 
committees which proposed public control of the railroads as 
it was of the advocates of factory acts. 

There were others who wanted to apply the idea of protection 
of the working classes, of general regulation, and of common 
action, more widely still. One of the most influential of these 
was Robert Owen. He was born in 1771 in Wales but grew up 
as a young man in Manchester, in the midst of the rising manu- 
factures and other changes of the industrial revolution. He 
was poor and self-taught, but from boyhood was a wide and 
industrious reader and an independent thinker. He went into 
the spinning business in a small way but soon rose to be manager 
of one of the largest spinning mills in the country, which had 
been established in 1785 by Arkwright and a partner at New 
Lanark in Scotland. Here while on the one hand he made the 
mills a great business success, on the other he worked out va- 
rious schemes for the improvement of the character of the people, 
the education of the children, reduction of the hours of labor, 
and diminution of the high cost of living. From the earliest 
steps of his advance as a manufacturer he declared his greater 
interest in what he called the " living " machinery of the busi- 
ness, the men, women, and children working in the mills, than 
in the " dead " machinery, the newly invented mechanical 

By 1820, the beginning of the period of this chapter, Owen 
was already a well-known reformer as well as a business man. 
He was the controlling spirit of a manufacturing community 
of some 3000 persons at New Lanark, which was coming to be 
recognized as an ideal community of workingmen and their 
families. It was visited by Wilberforce, Clarkson, Malthus, 
Bentham, and hundreds of other prominent public men, writers, 
members of the royal family, and others interested in Owen's 
scheme. His pamphlets were read by Napoleon at Elba, and 

246 Industrial and Social History of England 

taken to America by John Quincy Adams, the returning minister. 
Czar Alexander wanted him to come to Russia and establish 
another New Lanark there. He was active in the agitation that 
led to the adoption of the factory law of 1819, and urged in 
numerous speeches and pamphlets as an alternative to the 
proposed new poor law a scheme for the education and industrial 
training of the poor for self-support. He early convinced him- 
self that the character and capacity of each human being are 
the product of his surroundings and that deliberate conscious 
effort can therefore, by improving these surroundings, relieve 
misery and create well-being. This one principle was at the 
foundation of all his actions, plans, and teachings, and he spent 
a lifetime and a large fortune in efforts for its dissemination, 
enforcement, and application. 

He placed himself in bitter opposition to what he called " the 
puny efforts of the individual system " and advocated a " well 
devised rational system of organization of human society." 
To leave everything to self-interest and competition, as was 
being done in his time, was in his belief a waste of the advantages 
of organized society and destructive to the happiness of the 
individuals who compose it. 

Owen was full of schemes for carrying out this theory and 
ultimately withdrew with his money from the Lanark mills and 
gave himself up to propaganda for his plans. One of the earliest 
of them, advocated from 1818 forward, was the establishment, 
through the aid of the government, of industrial villages of 200 
or 300 families each, which would ultimately own and control 
the land, the mills, and workshops from which the inhabitants 
drew their living. Owen even formulated rules, made calcula- 
tions, and drew plans for such a typical communistic village 
after which others might be modelled. Another project, some- 
what less far-reaching, was for voluntary groups of people to form 
cooperative societies to carry on all their business and much 
of their social life together, with their own capital and under 
their own control. " Orbiston " was bought in 1826 and organ- 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 247 

ized, partly at least, according to these plans, but failed and was 
given up in 1828. Later the " cooperators," as they came to 
be called, bought up two or three adjoining farms, the largest 
of which was named Queenwood, but was generally referred to 
by those interested in it as Harmony. Here they established 
training schools, carried on factory operations, and spent $150,000 
in their equipment and early operation. In 1842 this project 
failed and was abandoned. Owen later visited the United States 
and bought an establishment in Indiana which he called New 
Harmony, where a mixed population gathered, and where some 
cooperative experiments were tried. He visited this settle- 
ment repeatedly and spoke before the two houses of Congress 
at their invitation on his plans. 

Cooperative stores of one kind or another were established 
from as early a period as 1820, but most of them died out. 
A larger project was the establishment in London in 1832 of 
the " Equitable Labor Exchange." This was a store or bazaar 
at which any one who produced anything of saleable value 
could deposit it and receive for it paper money indicating 
the number of hours of labor taken to produce it. This was 
exchangeable at the store for any other article of equal labor 
value. The exchange roused much interest and was for a while 
a centre of great activity, doing business of more than 1000 a 
week; but, insufficiently provided with capital, administered 
by men of small experience, and based on a very doubtful eco- 
nomic principle, it did not live beyond 1834. 

From 1830 forward, " Cooperative Congresses," as they 
were called, were held by those interested in these schemes. 
It was at these congresses and in the discussions connected with 
them that the word " Socialists " was first used to describe 
those interested in such schemes of complete social reform, 
and the fourteen later meetings, held between 1835 an d 1846, 
were generally known as " Socialist Congresses." But the 
word Socialism had at this time little more definite meaning 
than dissatisfaction with competition and individualism as bases 

248 Industrial and Social History of England 

of society, and it was often used interchangeably with Cooper- 
ation or even with general social reforms. 

The plans of Owen ran counter to the prevailing tendencies 
of the period, and Owen himself, as time passed on, came into 
sharper and sharper personal antagonism to the most influ- 
ential classes of the country. In religion he was a free thinker, 
and, although he did not obtrude his religious views, both those 
who disapproved of his religion and those who opposed his 
plans of social reform used this lack of orthodoxy as an occasion 
for condemnation of him and his opinions. He was attacked 
in debates in Parliament, in the newspapers, and in the churches. 
All the usual means of opposing reforms, the refusal of the use 
of halls, the publication of offensive matter, and the stirring up 
of riots, were used against him and those who agreed with him. 
He lived to be very old, used up his means, was converted to 
spiritualism, and more and more lost touch with the world of 
practical life. Therefore, notwithstanding his personal abili- 
ties, his recognized standing, and his active efforts through 
so many years, and notwithstanding the large numbers of those 
who agreed with his opinions or were led by his teachings, his 
influence on the actual course of events was not great. Although 
he was constantly active in lecturing, writing books and pamph- 
lets, and assisting in the editing of various journals, his social 
projects failed and his ideas were for the time at least discredited. 
Apart from his influence on education, factory legislation, and 
later cooperation, and on the extension of ideas that were to 
have more effect on the future than on his own time, the work 
of Owen had practically died out before the end of this period, 
although he lived until 1858. He had little sympathy with 
the political proposals of the Chartists and but little belief 
that the reduced taxes of the corn law reformers would appre- 
ciably increase the prosperity of the people. His plans for social 
advance were more fundamental but less immediately practicable 
than theirs. Nevertheless many of the reforms which it has 
been found necessary to introduce later might have been brought 

Predominance of the Individualist Ideal 249 

in at this time, and much misery, loss, and conflict saved, had 
not self-interest been still too powerful, ignorance too widespread, 
and the laissez-faire ideas which Owen combated too strongly 

The period was still in the main one of aristocratic concep- 
tions of political and economic life. In the conduct of business 
in all its forms it was a long dead level of control by those who 
were in a position of advantage and without sense of social 
responsibility. So far as the lower classes were concerned, 
with the possible exceptions of the factory laws and the corn 
law repeal, it saw no ameliorative legislation. It was a period 
of great increase of total wealth of the nation, but in the dis- 
tribution of this greater wealth the lower classes, overworked, 
underpaid, unrepresented in the government, uneducated, and 
without opportunity, had little share. 


Perns, George H. : The Industrial History of Modern Eng- 
land, London, 1914. 

The best general history of this subject for the period covered 
by this and the remaining chapters of this book. 

Slater, Gilbert : The Making of Modern England, London, 
Revised Ed., 1915. 

Usher, A. P. : Industrial History of England, Boston, 1919. 

The three text-books named above have full and valuable 
bibliographical lists, enabling the student to make a much more 
detailed study of the period than contemplated by this book. 

Traill, H. D., and Mann, J. S. : Social England, London, 

The last volume of this six-volume illustrated work deals 
with the art, literature, engineering, chemistry, and a great 
number of other phases of economic and social life from 1815 
to 1885. 

Walpole, Spencer: History of England since 1815, History 
of Twenty-five Years, eight volumes. 

250 Industrial and Social History of England 

This and the two following works, although general histories 
of the period, give especially full accounts of some of the social 
movements of the iQth century. 

Bright, J. F. : History of England, five vols. 

McCarthy, J. H. : History of Our Own Time, and England 
under Gladstone, seven vols. 

Stevens, Edward C. : English Railways, Their Development 
atid Their Relation to the State, London, 1915. 

Lindsay, W. S. : History of Merchant Shipping, 1874. 

Trevelyan, George M. : Life and Letters of John Bright. 

Engels, Friedrich : Condition of the Working Class in England 
in 1844, Translation and new ed., 1892. 

Kay, J. P. : Condition of the Working Classes in the Cotton 
Manufacture, 1832. 

Unwin, Mrs. Fisher : The Land Hunger; Life under Monop- 
oly, 1913. 

Aschrott, P. F. : The English Poor Law System, 1902. 

Report of the Commission on the Poor Law of 1834, Re- 
printed 1892. 

Hovel, Mark : The Chartist Movement. 

Hutchins, B. L., and Harrison, A. : History of Factory Legis- 
lation, 1903. 

Owen, Robert: Autobiography, 1857. 

Jones, Lloyd : Life, Times and Labours of Robert Owen, Lon- 
don, 1905. 

Podmore, F. : Robert Owen, 1906. 

Smart, W. : Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century, two 

Butler, J. R. M. : The Passing of the Great Reform BUI. 


77. National Affairs from 1848 to 1878. The long period of 
peace, which had lasted except for a few small conflicts since 
1815, came to an end in 1854. In that year England joined 
with France to support Turkey and their own national interests 
in the eastern Mediterranean regions against what they con- 
sidered the dangerous power of Russia. The war consisted for 
the most part of a long siege of Sebastopol, a fortified Russian 
city in the Crimea, the long promontory jutting out into the 
Black Sea, and is therefore known as the Crimean War. The 
losses and suffering were intense and but little was accomplished. 
Russia was forced to agree to respect the independence of Turkey, 
to promise nolko keep arsenals or ships of war on the Black 
Sea, and to submit to the appointment of an international com- 
mission to control the navigation of the Danube. These and a 
number of general agreements in international affairs were 
made at the Peace of Paris in 1856. After this there were several 
wars of greater or less importance. In 1857 the Sepoys or 
native troops in the British service in India mutinied against 
their officers and led in a native uprising that seemed for a 
while likely to sweep all the British out of India. But here and 
there troops held fast, reinforcements were sent, the tide of 
warfare soon turned and native resistance was put down with 
great severity. But the government took this opportunity to 
abolish by act of Parliament the old political powers of the 
British East India Company, which had been the real govern- 
ment of India, and in 1858 made that country a direct depend- 
ency of the British crown. The government took more and more 


252 Industrial and Social History of England 

interest in their great Indian possession and in 1876 " Empress 
of India " was added to the other titles of the Queen. During 
the same year as the Sepoy rebellion small wars were being 
carried on in Persia, China, Afghanistan, and some years later 
with China again, with Abyssinia, and in southern and western 

These were small wars and were waged in distant parts of 
the world ; from the wars in Europe after the Crimea and the 
Civil War in America England succeeded in keeping herself free. 
There was, however, a bitter dispute between England and the 
United States, due to the sympathy of the British government 
with the Southern States and to its readiness to further their 
interests. In 1859 England was urged to intervene in the 
Italian war by which the unity of that country was partially 
gained, in 1864 in the Danish War, in which the duchies of 
Schleswig and Holstein were captured by Prussia and Austria, 
and in 1871 when Germany defeated France and seized Alsace- 
Lorraine ; but her disinclination to war was so great as to prevent 
her from joining either side in those conflicts. In 1870 Great 
Britain joined in the European treaties guaranteeing the neutral- 
ity of Belgium, in 1871 in the treaty of London she accepted the 
proposal of Russia to withdraw from her promise not to use the 
Black Sea for war purposes, and later in the same year, 1871, 
a new treaty was signed with the United States settling the old 
dispute which had come down from the Civil War. This treaty 
was of especial interest and importance, not only because it 
reestablished friendly relations between two naturally closely 
allied nations but because it gave a great impetus to the prin- 
ciple of settling international disputes without recourse to 
war. The fisheries disputes were settled in the same way. The 
boundary questions between the United States and Canada 
were placed for arbitration in the hands of the German Emperor, 
and by the treaty of 1871 the American claim for damages for 
losses from the Southern vessels built in English ports was re- 
ferred to a tribunal of five persons to be named by Great Britain, 

The Spirit of Combined Action 253 

the United States, Italy, Switzerland, and Brazil. This tribunal 
sat at Geneva and in 1872 gave its award, which was mainly in 
favor of the United States. Although this was bitterly de- 
plored in England, the most thoughtful men in both countries 
placed its moral value as an enlightened form of action high 
above any feeling of national loss and humiliation. 

An important occurrence in British and world history was the 
opening of the Suez Canal in 1868 and the purchase by the 
British government of its financial control in 1875. Irish 
troubles were of growing severity during this whole period. 
An armed uprising in favor of independence from Great Britain 
was tried by a small group, known as the Young Ireland party, 
and put down in 1848. Phcenix clubs were organized for the 
same purpose after 1850 and developed into the Fenian Brother- 
hood, made up largely of Irish Americans who had earned money 
and obtained political and military training in the United 
States during the period of the Civil War. The plots of the 
Fenians were met and overcome by the British government 
between 1865 and 1867. Attempts were made to introduce 
greater justice into Ireland by the disestablishment of the 
English Church in Ireland in 1869, the passage of a land act 
in 1870, and a proposal to open higher education to Catholics 
and Protestants alike in 1873. This last bill was defeated, 
and notwithstanding disestablishment and land reform dis- 
satisfaction with their subordinate political, economic, and 
religious position remained widespread among the Irish. To 
overcome this inferiority of position by the reintroduction of 
their old Parliament, separate and at least partially independ- 
ent from that of Great Britain, the Home Rule party was 
formed in 1871. Its objects were more moderate than those of 
the United Irishmen, the Young Ireland and the Fenian parties 
which had planned complete independence, and it sought to 
attain its ends by act of Parliament rather than by armed force. 
In 1877 it came under the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell 
and increased rapidly in strength and influence. 

254 Industrial and Social History of England 

The growth of the colonies and their relations to the mother 
country were becoming constantly more important. Canada, 
Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa filled up steadily 
with an English-speaking population, partly by immigration 
from the British Isles, partly by natural increase. A new 
constitution with self-government was conceded to Canada 
in 1840, similar rights were extended to the various Australian 
colonies between 1850 and 1860, and to the Cape of Good Hope 
in 1872. In 1867 the older provinces of Canada were united 
into a federation, and Manitoba, British Columbia, and the 
others, except Newfoundland, were added to it as they were 
more completely filled up and organized. 

Just as the period covered in the last chapter saw the first 
parliamentary reform bill, this period saw the second. In 1867, 
after ten years of agitation and the defeat of several proposals, 
a measure quite general in character was introduced by the 
ministry. The proposals for parliamentary reform made by 
liberal members of the governing classes were as in the first 
reform bill strongly supported by the working classes and others 
outside of Parliament who as yet had no votes. Many of the 
influences of the time, such as the increase of education, cheap 
postage, the formation of trade unions, the victory of the more 
democratic side in the American Civil War, were favorable to an 
extension of the right of representation more widely among 
the people. The Reform Bill of 1867 was therefore amended 
extensively while it was in Parliament, until when it was 
passed it gave the right of voting to the working classes who 
lived in the towns which already sent members to Parliament, 
and equalized the right of representation somewhat further by 
increasing the number of members from the larger towns and 
decreasing the number from the smaller towns. It gave votes 
to more than a million men who had not had them before.. It 
may be fairly said that after the passage of the Reform Bill of 
1867 the mass of the people of England, for the first time in 
its history, were directly represented in its government. 

The Spirit of Combined Action 255 

One of the effects of this popular influence on government 
both before and after the actual adoption of the new reform 
bill was the passage of several liberal measures. Those which 
were of an economic or social nature, such as the acts legalizing 
trade unions in 1871 and 1875 will be more fully described in 
later paragraphs of this chapter. Others of a more general 
character were the admission of the Jews into Parliament and 
abolition of the property requirement for membership in 1858, 
the establishment in 1861 of the Post Office Savings Bank, the 
introduction of voting by ballot, instead of orally, in 1872, the 
reform laws in Ireland already mentioned, an act establishing 
elementary education in 1870, a civil service reform act in 
1870, a reorganization of the army in 1870 and 1871, and of the 
law courts in 1873, and a bill opening the universities of Oxford 
and Cambridge to the members of all religious bodies alike. 
Victoria was queen during this whole period and a long series 
of active ministers carried on the government and did their 
part in securing the adoption of these laws. The most promi- 
nent on the Liberal side were Lord John Russell, Lord Palmer- 
ston, and Mr. Gladstone ; on the Conservative side, Lord Derby 
and Mr. Disraeli. These statesmen for the most part alternated 
with one another as prime minister, no party having retained 
its majority in Parliament and no prime minister having retained 
his office for more than five or six years continuously. 

78. General Industrial and Commercial Progress. In 
the thirty years that fall within the period of this chapter 
many new devices were introduced in manufacturing, mining, 
transportation, and agriculture. " Ring " spinning, a device 
by which spindles could be driven at vastly greater speed, 
sometimes as rapidly as 13,000 revolutions a minute, which had 
been invented in 1830, now came into general use, as well as im- 
proved looms, combing, and other textile machinery. In 1856 
the Bessemer process of transforming iron into steel much more 
cheaply than before led to a vast increase in the use of steel 
instead of wrought iron. The Siemens or " open hearth " 

256 Industrial and Social History of England 

process was invented in 1866, and phosphorus ores were for the 
first time satisfactorily smelted by the " basic " process in 1879. 
The discovery of many new chemical processes, including the 
manufacture of aniline dyes, also occurred at this time. It was 
certain of these chemical discoveries, especially that of the bromo- 
gelatine plate, about 1870, that made possible the great advance 
of photography in its manifold forms that has been so character- 
istic of modern times. In the same general field of discovery 
was the invention of artificial means, of refrigeration or the 
making of ice about 1860. Cold storage of food products and 
the importation of frozen meat from New Zealand and other 
distant parts of the earth followed and transformed the problems 
of the supply and cost of food. 

There was an immense advance in every kind of production. 
Factories, machinery, docks, harbors, steamships, railroads, 
locomotives, cars, and other instruments of transportation 
multiplied enormously and in turn increased the supply of the 
things they made or transported. One of England's greatest 
industries became the production of machines for further pro- 

The production of coal increased during this period from about 
40 million tons a year to about 120 million tons. The yearly 
production of iron was also tripled. Until some time after the 
end of this period Great Britain was far ahead of the United 
States, Germany, or any other country in the production of 
iron and steel, and practically controlled those markets as well as 
her own. The amount of ship-building rose from a little more 
than 100,000 tons a year to about 400,000, and these ships, due 
to greater speed, dock facilities, and organization, did a great deal 
more work ton for ton at the end than at the beginning of the 
period. The export of goods manufactured or mined in England 
or brought into England from abroad for purposes of export, 
and the importation of food, raw materials, and other goods all 
increased as rapidly as other forms of economic activity. The 
increase of trade with West Africa and with India, China, 

The Spirit of Combined Action 257 

Australia, and New Zealand, the effect of the opening of the 
Suez Canal, was very marked during this period. The value of 
annual exports from Great Britain was somewhat more than 
three times as great in 1878 as in 1848. England was not only 
the " workshop of the world," as Carlyle called her, she was 
also the greatest commercial country of the world. 

Notwithstanding these inventions and this increase, if a care- 
ful examination is made of the industrial activity of the time, 
it will be observed that changes of organization were even more 
important. There was a marked increase in the size of busi- 
ness establishments. There were not so many more business 
concerns, but each was usually much larger. If an average 
cotton mill, for instance, could have been found at the beginning 
of the period it would have contained about 10,000 spindles ; at 
the end of the period, about 15,000; an average weaving mill 
would have contained 150 looms in 1848, 200 in 1878. In 1878 
there were cotton mills that ran more than 150,000 spindles and 
there were weaving mills with as many as 4000 looms. Manu- 
facturing concerns of such extent were entirely unknown at an 
earlier period. This increase in the size of establishments 
rather than their number was true of transportation, mining, 
and banking as well as of manufacture, and has continued ever 
since. All this industrial development led to the formation of 
a large number of large fortunes, and to the creation of a more 
numerous well-to-do middle class. Whether the economic 
position of the great mass of the people was even yet appreciably 
improved is doubtful. 

79. Agricultural Development. The gradual advance in 
methods of agriculture which had begun in the eighteenth 
century had continued during the first half of the nineteenth 
until by the beginning of this period most of the discoveries 
which are now utilized in modern agriculture had been made. 
The use of them was, however, still restricted to a comparatively 
few advanced farmers. The characteristic of this period was 
the spread of these improved methods almost universally 

Industrial and Social History of England 

through English agriculture. This spread was attained partly 
through writings on the subject, partly through the influence of 
local agricultural societies and of the Royal Agricultural Society, 
founded under the patronage of the queen in 1838, and partly 
through the continuous application of new capital and scientific 
knowledge to agriculture. The abolition of the corn laws in 
1846 for a while frightened farmers into a panic, but there were 
so many favorable influences in existence that any injurious 
effect this may have had was soon overcome. 

The principal forms of improvement in agriculture that were 
thus spread widely in English farming were the extension of 
drainage, the discovery and use of artificial fertilizers like guano, 
bone meal, and phosphates, the introduction of improved farm 
machinery, and the importation of cattle food. Guano was 
imported by the millions of tons from Peru, bones were collected 
and brought to England from the deserts of Africa and the 
Pampas of South America, to be ground and used on the farms ; 
beans, linseed, and Indian corn were introduced for the feeding 
of cattle from Asia, Russia, and the United States. Improved 
agricultural implements, such as ploughs, harrows, drills, mow- 
ing, reaping, and threshing machines, came into general use, 
and after 1850 steam power was introduced for many uses 
on the farm. Many improved forms of agricultural ma- 
chinery were introduced in the first place from America, but 
their manufacture soon became one of the largest of English 

Before 1878 the average yield of land, economy in the pro- 
duction of crops, and excellence of the breeds of farm and stock 
animals reached as high a level as has been attained since in 
England, and higher than has been reached in any other country 
or in any earlier period. There were several defects in the 
English agricultural system, as will be pointed out later, but 
so far as excellence of scientific farming goes England stood by 
this time at the head of all countries in the world. The ten 
years from 1852 to 1862, in the middle of this period, has been 

The Spirit of Combined Action 259 

chosen by students of agricultural history as on the whole the 
most prosperous period of British agriculture. 

80. Preservation of Remaining Open Lands. In the course 
of agricultural improvement, as has been seen, the old open 
fields of the Middle Ages were at successive periods very 
generally enclosed into modern fenced or hedged farms. This 
process had been brought practically to completion by the 
beginning of this period. There had been in the later eigh- 
teenth and early nineteenth centuries some 4000 private acts of 
Parliament passed for the purpose, and by these, by voluntary 
agreement, and by the action of the Enclosure Commis- 
sioners already described more than seven million acres had 
been enclosed, and so far as farming lands were concerned Eng- 
land was an enclosed country. 

But now a reaction set in. Along with the open-field farming 
lands it was perceived that open commons, village greens, 
gentlemen's parks, and the old national forest lands were being 
enclosed, and frequently for building or railroad, not for agri- 
cultural uses, to the serious detriment of the health and of the 
enjoyment of the people, and to the destruction of the beauty 
of the country. The dread of interference by the government 
with matters that might be left to private settlement was also 
passing away. In 1865 the House of Commons appointed a 
commission to investigate the question of open spaces near 
the city of London, and the next year on their recommendation 
Parliament passed a law by which the Enclosure Commissioners 
were empowered to make regulations for the use of all commons 
within fifteen miles of London as public parks, except so far as 
the legal rights of the lords of the manors in which the commons 
lay should prevent. A contest had already arisen between 
several of these lords of manors having the control of open 
commons, whose interest it was to enclose and sell them, and 
other persons having vague rights of pasturage and other use 
of them, whose interest it was to preserve them as open spaces. 
To aid the latter in their legal resistance to proposed enclosures, 

260 Industrial and Social History of England 

a " Commons Preservation Society " was formed in 1865. 
As a result a number of contests were decided in the year 1866 
in favor of those who opposed enclosures. 

The first case to attract attention was that of Wimbledon 
Common, just west of London. Earl Spencer, the lord of the 
manor of Wimbledon, had offered to give up his rights on the 
common to the inhabitants of the vicinity in return for a nominal 
rent and certain privileges ; and had proposed that a third of 
the common should be sold, and the money obtained for it used 
to fence, drain, beautify, and keep up the remainder. The 
neighboring inhabitants, however, preferred the spacious 
common as it stood, and when a bill to carry out Lord Spencer's 
proposal had been introduced into Parliament, they contended 
that they had legal rights on the common which he could not 
disregard, and that they objected to its enclosure. The parlia- 
mentary committee practically decided in their favor, and the 
proposition was dropped. An important decision in a similar 
case was made by the courts in 1870. Berkhamstead Common, 
an open stretch some three miles long and half a mile wide, lying 
near the town of Berkhamstead, twenty-five miles north of 
London, had been used for pasturing animals, cutting turf, 
digging gravel, gathering furze, and as a place of general recrea- 
tion and enjoyment by the people of the two manors in which 
it lay, from time immemorial. In 1866 Lord Brownlow, the 
lord of these two manors, began making enclosures upon it, 
erecting two iron fences across it so as to enclose 434 acres and 
to separate the remainder into two entirely distinct parts. The 
legal advisers of Lord Brownlow declared that the inhabitants 
had no rights which would prevent him from enclosing parts of 
the common, although to satisfy them he offered to give to 
them the entire control over one part of it. The Commons 
Preservation Society, however, advised the inhabitants differ- 
ently, and encouraged them to make a legal contest. One of 
their number, Augustus Smith, a wealthy and obstinate man, a 
member of Parliament, and a possessor of rights on the common 

The Spirit of Combined Action 261 

both as a freeholder and a copyholder, was induced to take 
action in his own name and as a representative of other claim- 
ants of common rights. He engaged in London a force of one 
hundred and twenty laborers, sent them down at night by train, 
and before morning had broken down Lord Brownlow's two 
miles of iron fences, on which he had spent some 5000, and 
piled their sections neatly up on another part of the common. 
Two lawsuits followed : one by Lord Brownlow against Mr. 
Smith for trespass, the other a cross suit in the Chancery Court 
by Mr. Smith to ascertain the commoners' rights, and prevent 
the enclosure of the common. After a long trial the decision 
was given in Mr. Smith's favor, and not only was Berkhamstead 
Common thus preserved as an open space, but a precedent set 
for the future decision of other similar cases. Within the years 
between 1866 and 1874 dispute after dispute analogous to this 
arose, and decision after decision was given declaring the 
illegality of enclosures by a lord of a manor where there were 
claims of commoners which they still asserted and valued and 
which could be used as an obstacle to enclosure. Hampstead 
Heath, Ashdown Forest, Malvern Hills, Plumstead, Tooting, 
Wandsworth, Coulston, Dartford, and a great many other 
commons, village greens, roadside wastes, and other open 
spaces were saved from enclosure, and some places were partly 
opened up again, as a result either of lawsuits, of parliamentary 
action, or of voluntary agreements and purchase. 

Perhaps the most conspicuous instance was that of Epping 
Forest. This common consisted of an open tract about thirteen 
miles long and one mile wide, containing in 1870 about three 
thousand acres of open common land. Enclosure was being 
actively carried on by some nineteen lords of manors, and some 
three thousand acres had been enclosed by rather high-handed 
means within the preceding twenty years. Among the various 
land-owners who claimed rights of common upon a part of the 
Forest was, however, the City of London, and in 1871 the City 
began suit against the various lords of manors, under the claim 

262 Industrial and Social History of England 

that it possessed pasture rights, not only in the manor of Ilford, 
in which its property of two hundred acres was situated, but, 
since the district was a royal forest, over the whole of it. The 
City asked that the lords of manors should be prevented from 
enclosing any more of it, and required to throw open again what 
they had enclosed during the last twenty years. After a long 
and expensive legal battle and a concurrent investigation by 
a committee of Parliament, both extending over three years, a 
decision was given in favor of the City of London and other 
commoners, and the lords of manors were forced to give back 
about three thousand acres. The whole was made permanently 
into a public park. The old forest rights of the crown proved to be 
favorable to the commoners, and thus obtained at least one tardy 
justification to set against their long and dark record in the past. 
In 1871, in one of the cases which had been appealed, the 
Lord Chancellor laid down a principle indicating a reaction 
in the judicial attitude on the subject, when he declared that 
no enclosure should be made except when there was a manifest 
advantage in it ; as contrasted with the former policy of enclosing 
unless there was some strong reason against it. In 1876 Parlia- 
ment passed a law amending the acts of 1801 and 1845, and 
directing the Enclosure Commissioners to reverse their former 
rule of action. That is to say, they were not to approve any 
enclosure unless it could be shown to be to the manifest ad- 
vantage of the neighborhood, as well as to the interest of the 
parties directly concerned. Later by the Commons Law 
Amendment Act, it was required that every proposed enclosure 
of any kind should first be advertised and opportunity given 
for objection, then submitted to the Board of Agriculture for 
its approval, and this approval should only be given when such 
an enclosure was for the general benefit of the public. No 
desire of a lord of a manor to enclose ground for his private 
park or game preserve, or to use it for building ground, would 
now be allowed to succeed. The interest of the community 
at large was placed above the private advantage and even 

The Spirit of Combined Action 263 

liberty of action of landholders. The authorities do not merely 
see that justice is done between lord and commoners on the 
manor, but that both alike shall be restrained from doing what 
is not to the public advantage. Indeed, Parliament at a later 
time went one step further, and by an order set a precedent for 
taking a common entirely out of the hands of the lord of the 
manor, and putting it in the hands of a board to keep it for 
public uses. Thus not only did the enclosing movement 
decrease for lack of open farming land to enclose, but public 
opinion and law interposed to preserve such remaining open 
land as had not been already divided. Whatever land remained 
that was not in individual ownership and occupancy was to be 
retained under the control of the community at large, and to be 
used for the benefit of all. 

81. The Introduction of Cooperation. Numerous coopera- 
tive societies, with varying objects and methods, formed part 
of the agitation, experimentation, and discussion characteristic 
of the early years of the nineteenth century which has been 
described in connection with the life of Robert Owen. 1 Many 
plans were, however, at that time spoken of indiscriminately 
as " cooperative." The cooperative movement as a definite, 
continuous development dates from the organization of the 
"Rochdale Equitable Pioneers" in 1844. This society was 
composed of twenty-eight working weavers of that town, who 
saved up one pound each, and thus created a capital of twenty- 
eight pounds, which they invested in flour, oatmeal, butter, 
sugar, and some other groceries. They opened a store in the 
house of one of their number in Toad Lane, Rochdale, for the 
sale of these articles to their own members under a plan pre- 
viously agreed upon. The principal points of their scheme, after- 
ward known as the " Rochdale Plan," were as follows : sale of 
goods at regular market prices, division of profits to members 
at quarterly intervals in proportion to purchases, subscription 
to capital in instalments by members, and payment of five per 
1 See pp. 246 8. 

264 Industrial and Social History of England 

cent interest on this capital. There were also various provisions 
of minor importance, such as absolute purity and honesty of 
goods, insistence on cash payments, devoting a part of their 
earnings to education or other self-improvement, settling all 
questions by equal vote, no matter how many shares the 
member might hold. These arrangements sprang naturally 
from the fact that they proposed carrying on their store for 
their own benefit, alike as managers, shareholders, and pur- 
chasers of their goods. 

The source of the profits they would have to divide among 
their members was the same as in the case of any ordinary store. 
The difference between the wholesale price, at which they would 
buy, and the retail market price, at which they would sell, 
would be the gross profits. From this would have to be paid, 
normally, rent for their store, wages for their salesmen, and 
interest on their capital. But after these were paid there should 
still remain a certain amount of net profit, and this it was which 
they proposed to divide among themselves as purchasers, in- 
stead of leaving it to be taken by an ordinary store proprietor. 
The capital they themselves furnished, and consequently paid 
themselves the interest. The first two items, rent and wages, 
also amounted to nothing at first, though naturally they must 
be accounted for if their store rose to any success. As a matter 
of fact, their success was immediate and striking. They ad- 
mitted new members freely, and at the end of the first year of 
their existence had increased in numbers to seventy-four, with 
187 capital. During the year they had done a business of 
710, and distributed profits of 22. A table of the increase 
of this first successful cooperative establishment during its 
next thirty years will give an idea of its growth. 











l86 S 










The Spirit of Combined Action 265 

They soon extended their business in variety as well as in 
total amount. In 1847 they added the sale of linen and woollen 
goods, in 1850 of meat, in 1867 they began baking and selling 
bread to their customers. They opened eventually a dozen 
or more branch stores in Rochdale, the original Toad Lane house 
being superseded by a great distributing building or central 
store, with a library and reading room. They came to own 
much property in the town, and spread their activity into many 

The example of the Rochdale society was followed by many 
others, especially in the north of England and south of Scot- 
land. A few years after its foundation two large and success- 
ful societies were started in Oldham, having between them by 
1860 more than 3000 members, and doing a business of some 
80,000 a year. In Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and 
other cities similar societies grew up at the same period. In 
1863 there were some 454 cooperative societies of this kind in 
existence, 381 of them together having 108,000 members and 
doing an annual business of about 2,600,000. One hundred 
and seventeen of the total number of societies were in Lancashire 
and 96 in Yorkshire. Many of these eventually came to have 
a varied and extensive activity. The Leeds Cooperative 
Society, for instance, somewhat later had a grist mill, 69 grocery 
and provision stores, 20 dry goods and millinery shops, 9 boot 
and shoe shops, and 40 butcher shops. It had 1 2 coal depots, 
a furnishing store, a bakery, a tailoring establishment, a boot 
and shoe factory, a brush factory, and acted as a builder of 
houses and cottages. The work done by these cooperative 
stores so far as they are concerns selling to their members is 
known as " distributive cooperation," or " cooperation in dis- 
tribution." They combine the seller and the buyer into one 
group. From one point of view the society is a store-keeping 
body, buying goods at wholesale and selling them at retail. 
From another point of view, exactly the same group of persons, 
the members of the society, are the customers of the store, 

266 Industrial and Social History of England 

the purchasers and consumers of the goods. Whenever any 
body of men form an association to carry on an establish- 
ment which sells them the goods they need, dividing the 
profits of the buying and selling among the members of the 
association, it is a society for distributive cooperation. 

A variation from the Rochdale plan is that used in three 
or perhaps more societies organized in London between 1856 
and 1875 by officials and employees of the government. These 
are the Civil Service Supply Association, the Civil Service 
Cooperative Society, and the Army and Navy Stores. In 
these, instead of buying at wholesale and selling at retail rates, 
sharing the profits at the end of a given term, they sell as 
well as buy at wholesale rates, except for the slight increase 
necessary to pay the expenses of carrying on the store. In 
other words, the members obtain their goods for use at cheap 
rates instead of dividing up a business profit. 

But these and still other variations have had only a slight 
connection with the working-class cooperative movement 
just described. A more direct development of it was the 
formation, in 1864, of the Wholesale Cooperative Society, 
at Manchester, a body holding much the same relation 
to the cooperative societies that each of them does to its indi- 
vidual members. The shareholders are the retail cooperative 
societies, which supply the capital and control its actions. Dur- 
ing its first year the Wholesale Society possessed a capital of 
2456 and did a business of 51,858. In 1865 its capital was 
something over 7000 and business over 120,000. Ten years 
later, in 1875, its capital was 360,527 and yearly business 
2,103,226. Its purchasing agents were widely distributed 
in various parts of the world. In 1873 it purchased and began 
running a cracker factory, shortly afterward a boot and shoe 
factory, the next year a soap factory. Subsequently it took 
up a woollen goods factory, cocoa works, and the manufacture 
of ready-made clothing. Somewhat later it employed some- 
thing over 5000 persons, had large branches in London, New- 

The Spirit of Combined Action 267 

castle, and Leicester, agencies and depots in various countries, 
and ran six steamships. In 1872 it established a banking de- 
partment, which within a year had more than a million dollars 
on deposit and has since conducted the financial business of 
more than a thousand cooperative societies besides many trade 
unions and individual accounts. Cooperative stores, belonging 
to wholesale and retail distributive cooperative societies, are 
thus a well-established and steadily, if somewhat slowly, ex- 
tending element in modern industrial society. 

82. Cooperation in Production. But the greatest prob- 
lems in the relations of modern industrial classes to one another 
are not connected with buying and selling, but with employ- 
ment and wages. The competition between employer and 
employee is more intense than that between buyer and seller 
and has more influence on the constitution of society. This 
opposition of employer and employee is especially prominent 
in manufacturing, and the form of cooperation which is based 
on a combination or union of these two classes is therefore com- 
monly called " cooperation in production," as distinguished 
from cooperation in distribution. Societies have been formed 
on a cooperative basis to produce one or another kind of goods 
from the earliest years of the century, but their real develop- 
ment dates from a period somewhat later than that of the 
cooperative stores, that is, from about 1850. In this year 
there were in existence in England bodies of workmen who were 
carrying on, with more or less outside advice, assistance, or 
control, a cooperative tailoring establishment, a bakery, a print- 
ing shop, two building establishments, a piano factory, a shoe 
factory, and several flour mills. These companies were all 
formed on the same general plan. The workmen were generally 
the members of the company. They paid themselves the pre- 
vailing rate of wages, then divided among themselves either 
equally or in proportion to their wages the net profits of the 
business, when there were any, having first reserved a sufficient 
amount to pay interest on capital. As a matter of fact, the 

268 Industrial and Social History of England 

capital and much of the direction was contributed from outside 
by persons philanthropically interested in the plans, but the 
ideal recognized and desired was that capital should be sub- 
scribed, interest received, and all administration carried on by 
the workmen-cooperators themselves. In this way, in a coop- 
erative productive establishment, there would not be two classes, 
employer and employee. The same individuals would be act- 
ing in both capacities, either themselves or through their elected 
managers. All of these early companies failed or dissolved 
sooner or later, but in the meantime others had been established. 
By 1862 some 113 productive societies had been formed, includ- 
ing 28 textile manufacturing companies, 8 boot and shoe fac- 
tories, 7 societies of iron workers, 4 of brush makers, and or- 
ganizations in various other trades. Among the most con- 
spicuous of these were three which were much discussed during 
their period of prosperity. They were the Liverpool Working 
Tailors' Association, which lasted from 1850 to 1860; the Man- 
chester Working Tailors' Association, which flourished from 
1850 to 1872 ; and the Manchester Working Hatters' Asso- 
ciation, 1851-1873. These companies had at different times 
from 6 to 30 members each. After the great strike of the 
Amalgamated Society of Engineers, in 1852, a series of iron 
workers' cooperative associations were formed. In the next 
twenty years, between 1862 and 1882, some 163 productive 
societies were formed, and somewhat later there were in ex- 
istence 143 societies solely for cooperative production, with 
some 25,000 members. Cooperative production has been 
distinctly less prosperous than cooperative distribution. Most 
purely cooperative productive societies have had a short and 
troubled existence, though their dissolution has in many cases 
been the result of contention rather than ordinary failure and 
has not always involved pecuniary loss. In addition to the 
usual difficulties of all business, insufficiency of capital, in- 
competency of buying and selling agents and of managers, 
dishonesty of trusted officials or of debtors, commercial panics, 

The Spirit of Combined Action 269 

and other adversities, to which cooperative, quite as much as 
or even more than individual companies have been subject, 
there are peculiar dangers often fatal to their cooperative 
principles. For instance, more than one such association, after 
going through a period of struggle and sacrifice, and emerging 
into a period of prosperity, has yielded to the temptation to 
hire additional employees just as any other employer might, 
at regular wages, without admitting them to any share in the 
profits, interest, or control of the business. Such a concern 
is little more than an ordinary joint-stock company with an 
unusually large number of shareholders. As a matter of fact, 
plain, clear-cut cooperative production makes up but a small 
part of that which is currently reported and known as such. 
A fairer statement would be that there is a large element of 
cooperation in a great many productive establishments. 
Nevertheless, productive societies more or less consistent 
to cooperative principles exist in considerable numbers and 
have even shown a distinct increase of growth in recent 

Very much the same statements are true of another branch 
of cooperative effort, cooperation in farming. Experiments 
were made very early, they have been numerous, mostly short- 
lived, and yet show a tendency to increase within the last dec- 
ade. Sixty or more societies have engaged in cooperative 
farming, but only half a dozen are now in existence. The prac- 
ticability and desirability of the application of cooperative 
ideals to agriculture is nevertheless a subject of constant dis- 
cussion among those interested in cooperation, and new schemes 
are being tried from time to time. 

83. Legal and Social Encouragement of Cooperation. 
The growth of cooperation, like that of other schemes, has been 
dependent on successive modifications of the law ; though it 
was rather its defects than its opposition that caused the diffi- 
culty in this case. When cooperative organizations were first 
formed it was found that by the Common Law they could not 

270 Industrial and Social History of England 

legally deal as societies with non-members ; that they could 
not hold land for investment, or for any other purpose than the 
transaction of their own business, or more than one acre even for 
this purpose ; that they could not loan money to other societies ; 
that they could not sue on the embezzlement or misuse of 
their funds by their officers; and that each member was 
responsible for the debts of the whole society. Eight or ten 
statutes have been passed to cure the legal defects from which 
cooperative associations suffered. The most important of 
these were the " Frugal Investment Clause " in the Friendly 
Societies Act of 1846, by which such associations were allowed 
to be formed and permitted to hold personal property for the 
purposes of a society for savings ; the Industrial and Provident 
Societies Act of 1852, by which cooperative societies were 
definitely authorized and obtained the right to sue as if they 
were corporations ; the Act of 1862, which repealed the former 
acts, gave them the right of incorporation, made each member 
liable for debt only to the extent of his own investment, and 
allowed them greater latitude for investments ; the third In- 
dustrial and Provident Societies Act of 1876, which again re- 
pealed previous acts, and established a veritable code for their 
regulation and extension. All the needs of the cooperative 
movement, so far as they have been discovered and agreed 
upon by those interested in its propagation, have thus been 
provided for, so far as the law can do so. 

Cooperation has always contained an element of philan- 
thropy, or at least of enthusiastic belief on the part of those 
especially interested in it, that it was destined to be of great 
service to humanity, and to solve many of the problems of 
modern social organization. Advocates of cooperation have 
not therefore been content simply to organize societies which 
would conduce to their own profit, but have kept up a constant 
propaganda for their extension. There was a period, already 
referred to, of about twenty years, from 1820 to 1840, before 
cooperation was placed on a solid footing, when it was advo- 

The Spirit of Combined Action 271 

cated and tried in numerous experiments as a part of the agita- 
tion begun by Robert Owen for the establishment of socialistic 
communities. In 1850 a group of philanthropic and enthusi- 
astic young men, including such able and prominent men as 
Thomas Hughes, Frederick D. Maurice, and others who have 
since been connected through long lives with cooperative effort, 
formed themselves into a " Society for promoting Working 
Men's Associations," which sent out lecturers, published tracts 
and a newspaper, loaned money, promoted legislation, and 
took other action for the encouragement of cooperation. Its 
members were commonly known as the " Christian Socialists." 
They had but scant success, and in 1851 dissolved the Asso- 
ciation and founded instead a " Working Men's College " in 
London, which long remained a centre of cooperative and 
reforming agitation. 

So far, this effort to extend and regulate the movement 
came rather from outside sympathizers than from cooperators 
themselves. With 1869, however, began a series of annual 
Cooperative Congresses which, like the annual Trade Union 
Congresses, have sprung from the initiative of workingmen 
themselves and which are still continued. Papers are read, 
addresses made, experiences compared, and most important 
of all a Central Board and a Parliamentary Committee elected 
for the ensuing year. At the first Congress, in 1869, a Cooper- 
ative Union was formed which aims to include all the cooperative 
societies of the country, and as a matter of fact does include 
about three-fourths of them. The Central Cooperative Board 
represents this Union. It is divided into seven sections, each 
having charge of the affairs of one of the seven districts into 
which the country is divided for cooperative work. The Board 
issues a journal, prints pamphlets, keeps up correspondence, 
holds public examinations on auditing, book-keeping, and the 
principles of cooperation, and acts as a statistical, propagandist, 
and regulative body. There is also a " Cooperative Guild " 
and a " Women's Cooperative Guild." Long afterward the 

272 Industrial and Social History of England 

cooperators decided to go into politics and formed a separate 
parliamentary party. 

84. Cooperation in Credit. In England building socie- 
ties are not usually recognized as a form of cooperation, but 
they are in reality cooperative in the field of credit in the same 
way as the associations already discussed are in distribution, in 
production, or in agriculture. Building societies are defined 
in one of the statutes as bodies formed " for the purpose of 
raising by the subscription of the members a stock or fund for 
making advances to members out of the funds of the society." 
The general plan of one of these societies is as follows : A num- 
ber of persons become members, each taking one or more shares. 
Each shareholder is required to pay into the treasury a certain 
sum each month. There is thus created each month a new 
capital sum which can be loaned to some member who may 
wish to borrow it and be able and willing to give security and 
to pay interest. The borrower will afterward have to pay not 
only his monthly dues, but the interest on his loan. The pro- 
portionate amount of the interest received is credited to each 
member, borrower and non-borrower alike, so that after a cer- 
tain number of months, by the receipts from dues and interest, 
the borrower will have repaid his loan, whilst the members 
who have not borrowed will receive a corresponding sum in 
cash. Borrowers and lenders are thus the same group of per- 
sons, just as sellers and consumers are in distributive, and 
employers and employees in productive cooperation. The 
members of such societies are enabled to obtain loans when 
otherwise they might not be able to ; the periodical dues create 
a succession of small amounts to be loaned, when otherwise 
this class of persons could hardly save up a sufficient sum to 
be used as capital ; and finally by paying the interest to their 
collective group, so that a proportionate part of it is returned 
to the borrower, and by the continuance of the payment of dues, 
the repayment of the loan is less of a burden than in ordinary 
loans obtained from a bank or a capitalist. Loans to their 

The Spirit of Combined Action 273 

members have been usually restricted to money to be used for 
the building of a dwelling-house or store or the purchase of land ; 
whence their name of " building societies." Their formation 
dates from 1815, their extension, from about 1834. Laws 
authorizing and regulating their operations were passed in 1836 
and 1874. 

The one feature common to all forms of cooperation is the 
union of previously competing economic classes. In a co- 
operative store, competition between buyer and seller does 
not exist; and the same is true for borrower and lender in 
a building and loan association and for employer and em- 
ployee in a cooperative factory. Cooperation is therefore in 
line with many other recent movements in being a reaction from 
the competition which was so strenuously praised earlier in the 
nineteenth century. 

85. Profit Sharing. There is a device which has been 
introduced into many establishments which stands midway 
between simple competitive relations and full cooperation. 
It diminishes, though it does not remove, the opposition between 
employer and employee. This is " profit sharing." In the 
year 1865 Henry Briggs, Son and Co., operators of collieries 
in Yorkshire, after long and disastrous conflicts with the miners' 
trade unions, offered as a measure of. conciliation to their em- 
ployees or opposition to the trade union that whenever the net 
profit of the business should be more than ten per cent on their 
investment, one-half of all such surplus profit should be divided 
among the workmen in proportion to the wages they had earned 
in the previous year. The expectation was that the increased 
regularity of work and interest, effort and devotion put into the 
work by the men would be such as to make the total earnings 
of the employers as great, notwithstanding their sacrifice to the 
men of the half of the profits above ten per cent. This antici- 
pation was justified. After a short period of suspicion on the 
part of the men, and doubt on the part of the employers, both 
parties seemed to be converted to the advantages of profit 

274 Industrial and Social History of England 

sharing, a sanguine report of their experience was made by a 
member of the firm to the Social Science Association in 1868, 
sums between one and six thousand pounds were divided yearly 
among the employees, while the percentage of profits to the 
owners rose to as much as eighteen per cent. 

This experiment split on the rock of dissension in 1875, but 
in the meantime others, either in imitation of their plan or 
independently, had introduced the same or other forms of 
profit sharing. Another colliery, two iron works, a textile 
factory, a millinery firm, a printing shop, and some others 
admitted their employees to a share in the profits within the 
years 1865 and 1866. The same plan was then introduced into 
certain retail stores, and into a considerable variety of occupa- 
tions, including several large farms where a share of all profits 
was offered to the laborers as a " bonus " in addition to their 
wages. The results were very various, ranging all the way from 
the most extraordinary success to complete and discouraging 

Sometimes the payment of a share in the profits of the busi- 
ness is made, in the case of joint-stock companies, in the form 
of the grant of a proportionate number of the shares of the 
company. In this way the employees have become interested 
in the business, not only in the capacity of profit sharing work- 
men, but of dividend receiving stockholders. This form of 
profit sharing has been distinguished by calling it " labor co- 
partnership," and is said to have been especially successful. 
At a period somewhat after the close of this chapter, in 1894, 
there were reported to be in England 101 profit sharing businesses 
with over 28,000 employees. In 1912 there were 133 such 
establishments with 106,000 employees. 

A great many other employers, corporate or individual, 
provide laborers' dwellings at favorable rents, furnish meals 
at cost price, subsidize insurance funds, offer easy terms to those 
wishing to become shareholders in the business, support reading 
rooms, music halls, and gymnasiums, or take other means of 

The Spirit of Combined Action 275 

admitting their employees to advantages other than the simple 
receipt of competitive wages. Yet the entire control of capital 
and management, in the case of firms which share profits with 
their employees, remains in the hands of the employers, so that 
there is in these cases rather an enlightened view of the position 
of the employing class than a combination of two classes in one, 
as in cooperation. 

86. Continuance of Factory Legislation. The factory in- 
spectors provided for in the factory act of 1833 became prop- 
agandists for further factory legislation. In their annual and 
special reports they continually called attention to the in- 
adequacy of the laws already passed and to other fields where 
regulation was needed. The voluntary " short time commit- 
tees " which had been formed in the early period of the dis- 
cussion of the subject, and the " Factory Acts Reform Associa- 
tion," which was formed later, also pressed for further laws. 
As time passed on many of those who had on principle opposed 
early legislation most bitterly, Graham, Roebuck, and even 
Cobden, converted by its results, withdrew their opposition 
and announced that they were willing to see it carried further. 
In many cases it was found that the output of factories had 
increased rather than decreased as a result of cutting down 
excessive hours of labor. Thus in all later discussions a con- 
siderable number of factory owners were themselves on the side 
of regulation. A letter from a manufacturer in a Birmingham 
paper states, with regard to one of the later acts, that " nine- 
teen-twentieths of the earthenware manufacturers were opposed 
to the act when it was first introduced, myself among the 
number. I consider that nineteen-twentieths now would be 
unwilling to part with it." More legislation in the same line 
was bound to come. Some of the later laws were simply to 
correct defects in those already passed. For instance, in 1850 
and 1853 a " normal working day " for women, young persons, 
and children was established in order successfully to accomplish 
the objects intended by the law. All work must be between 

276 Industrial and Social History of England 

six o'clock in the morning and six in the evening, or between 
seven in the morning and seven in the evening. This was to 
prevent what was known as the " relay system," in use in 
many mills, by which women, young persons, and children, 
although not actually working more than the ten hours or the 
half-time permitted by law, were shifted about and their time 
so broken that they were in reality kept about the mills the 
whole fifteen hours considered to be day time, and the inspectors 
prevented from seeing that they were worked overtime. 

The most important new laws were those that extended 
control into new industries. All factory legislation so far 
described, with slight exceptions, had applied to textile mills 
only. This was not so much because working conditions there 
were worse, but because the cotton mills especially were larger, 
more conspicuous, and newer, and therefore both were more 
likely to attract attention and were easier to be controlled by 
law. The reformers in advocating the earlier laws had de- 
clared that they would not be satisfied until all women, young 
persons, and children were protected from overwork and dan- 
gerous conditions and given more opportunity. The reports 
of the Children's Employment Commission of 1843 an d the 
similar commission which made a series of reports from 1863 
to 1868 gradually familiarized the country with the universality 
as well as the reality of the evils they described. The fact that 
women and children in lacemaking were often kept at work 
during busy seasons till nine, ten, and even twelve o'clock at 
night ; that the girls in dye-houses who carried wet goods on 
their backs into drying rooms at as high a temperature as no, 
and then out on to the grass fields, were often summoned to 
work at four or five o'clock in the morning ; that there were 
more than 2000 children under ten years of age at work in the 
Birmingham hardware industry, one-fourth of them under eight ; 
and that weak sight, blindness, and lead poisoning were prevalent 
in the potteries and other industries, which were carried on 
under shockingly unsanitary conditions these facts, becoming 

The Spirit of Combined Action 277 

gradually familiar, made the community ready to look upon 
factory regulation as a desirable general system, not merely 
a plan for getting rid of evils in the cotton mills. 

As a result of these influences occasional new acts were passed 
such as that for calico printing hi 1846. A large number of 
statutes were passed between 1867 and 1874 to extend the 
provisions of earlier acts to dye-works, lacemaking, potteries, 
match making, straw braiding, hosiery and clothing manu- 
facturing; and by the "Factory Acts Extension Act" of 1867 
to a large number of metal, paper, and other trades. In 1867 
a factory was defined as any establishment where more than 
fifty persons were engaged, and all such institutions were 
brought under the factory acts. In the same year a " work- 
shop regulation " act was passed making provision for hours 
and conditions of labor for women, young persons, and children, 
and for sanitation and other requirements, in all establishments 
where less than fifty persons were employed. In this way 
practically all establishments which were in any way connected 
with manufacturing were brought under a certain amount of 

Some of these acts changed the provisions of the early acts 
in various ways, mostly in the direction of greater severity, but 
in some cases in the way of exceptions and modifications that 
deprived them of much of their value and introduced almost 
hopeless variety and confusion. To meet these difficulties in 
1876 a commission of investigation was appointed and in 
accordance with their report in 1878 the " Factory and Work- 
shop Consolidation Act " repealed almost all the former special 
laws and substituted for them a veritable factory code contain- 
ing a vast number of provisions for the regulation of industrial 
establishments. This law covered more than fifty printed 
pages of the statute book. Its principal general provisions 
were as follows : the limit of prohibited labor was raised from 
nine to ten years, " children " in the terms of the statute being 
those between ten and fourteen, and " young persons " those 

278 Industrial and Social History of England 

between fourteen and eighteen years of age. For all such the 
day's work must begin either at six or seven, and close at the 
same hour in the evening, two hours being allowed for meal 
times. All Saturdays and eight other days in the year must 
be half-holidays, while the whole of Christmas Day and Good 
Friday, or two alternative days, must be allowed as holidays. 
Children could work for only one-half of each day or on the 
whole of alternate days, and must attend school on the days 
or parts of days on which they did not work. There were 
minute provisions governing sanitary conditions, safety from 
machinery, and in dangerous occupations, meal-times, medical 
certificates of fitness for employment, and reports of accidents. 
Finally it included the necessary body of provisions for ad- 
ministration, enforcement, penalties, and exceptions. The law 
of 1878 is the codification of all the factory laws passed up to 
that tune and the basis of all that have been passed since. 

87. Rise of Trade Unions. From the period covered by 
this chapter onward to the present time, organizations of work- 
ingmen for self-defence or self -advancement in matters of wages, 
hours, and other working conditions have become increasingly 
more prominent. Their beginnings lie in still earlier tunes, and 
to trace them it will be necessary to go back not only to the 
period covered by the chapter preceding this but to the period 
of the industrial revolution. Among tailors, hatmakers, shoe- 
makers, and other artisans there were numerous journey- 
men's associations in the nature .of trade unions in the eigh- 
teenth and early nineteenth century. But the conditions be- 
came much more favorable for the extension of workingmen's 
organizations as time passed on. Under the old gild conditions, 
when most men rose successively from apprentice to journey- 
man, and from journeyman to employer, when the relations 
between the employing master and his journeymen and appren- 
tices were very close, and the advantages of the gild were 
participated in to a certain degree by all grades of the produc- 
ing body, organizations of the employed against the employers 

The Spirit of Combined Action 279 

could hardly exist. It has been seen that the growth of separate 
combinations was one of the indications of a breaking down of 
the gild system. Even in later times, when establishments 
were still small and scattered, when the law required that 
engagements should be made for long periods, and that none 
should work in an industry except those who had been appren- 
ticed to it, and when rates of wages and hours of labor were 
settled by law, the opposition between the interests of em- 
ployers and employees was not so strongly marked. The oc- 
casion or opportunity for union amongst the workmen in most 
trades still hardly existed. Where workmen did organize 
themselves it was in trades where the employers made up a 
well-to-do class and where the prospect of the ordinary workman 
ever reaching the position of an employer was slight. 

The changes of the industrial revolution, however, made 
a profound difference. With the growth of factories and the 
increase in the size of business establishments, railway companies, 
and large scale mining, the employer and employee came to be 
farther apart, while at the same time the employees in any one 
establishment or trade were thrown more closely together. 
When a large number of laborers were gathered together in 
one establishment, all in a similar position one to the other 
and with common interests as to wages, hours of labor, and 
other conditions of their work, the fact that they were one 
homogeneous class could hardly escape their recognition. 
Since these common interests were in so many respects opposed 
to those of their employers, the advantage of combination 
to obtain added strength in the settlement of disputed questions 
was equally evident. As the Statute of Apprentices was no 
longer in force, and freedom of contract had taken its place, a 
dispute between an employer and a single employee would 
result in the discharge of the latter. If the dispute was be- 
tween the employer and his whole body of employees, each 
one of the latter would be in a vastly stronger position, and 
there would be something like equality on the two sides of the 

280 Industrial and Social History of England 

contest. Under these circumstances of homogeneity of the 
interests of the laborers, of opposition of their interests to 
those of the employer, and of the absence of any external control 
over either, combinations among workmen, or trade unions, 
naturally sprang up. 

88. The Combination Acts. Opposition of Public Opinion. 
Their growth, however, was slow and interrupted. The poverty, 
ignorance, and lack of training of the laborers interposed a 
serious obstacle to the formation of permanent unions ; and 
a still more tangible difficulty lay in the opposition of the law 
and of public opinion. A trade union may be denned as an 
organized body of workmen, the object of which is to obtain 
more favorable conditions of labor for its members. In order 
to exist a certain amount of intelligence, a certain degree of 
training in working together, and some regularity of money 
contributions on the part of its members are necessary, and 
these powers and habits were but slightly developed in the 
early years of last century. 

In order to obtain the objects of the union a " strike," or 
concerted refusal to work except on certain conditions, is the 
natural means to be employed. But such action, in fact the 
existence of a combination contemplating such action, was 
at that time against the law. A long series of statutes known 
as the " Combination Acts " had been passed from tune to 
time since the sixteenth century, the object of which was to 
prevent artisans or tradesmen, either employers or employees, 
from combining to change the rate of wages or other conditions 
of labor and service which had been legally established by the 
government or had become customary. The last of the com- 
bination acts was passed in the year 1800 in response to many 
petitions of manufacturers to Parliament complaining that 
combinations of workmen were being formed. It was clearly 
an exercise of the power of the employing class to use their 
representation in Parliament to legislate in their own interest. 
It provided that all combinations whatever between journey- 

The Spirit of Combined Action 281 

men or other workmen for obtaining an advance in wages for 
themselves or other workmen, or for decreasing the number 
of hours of labor, or for endeavoring to prevent any employer 
from engaging any one whom he might choose, or for persuad- 
ing any other workmen not to work, or for refusing to work 
with any other men, should be illegal. Attendance at any 
meeting called for such a purpose or subscribing to funds or 
inviting others to attend such a meeting was likewise illegal. 
Any justice of the peace was empowered to convict by summary 
process and to sentence to three months' imprisonment any 
workman who entered into such a combination. Employers 
were likewise prohibited from entering into combinations to 
reduce the wages of workmen or alter the hours of work, under 
penalty of 20 fine, though it could hardly have been expected 
that this provision would be carried out, and no prosecution, 
as a matter of fact, was ever brought under it. There was an 
interesting provision for compulsory arbitration of wages and 
hours, but this also remained unobserved. 

The combination laws did not remain a dead letter. In the 
almost incredible partiality of the law at that period, while 
employers who combined were in no single case prosecuted, 
there were a vast number of cases of fine and imprisonment 
of trade unionists under the law of 1800. In 1818 two officers 
of a weavers' union at Bolton were sentenced to one year's 
imprisonment, and in the next year a number of cotton spinners 
at Manchester were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. 
In 1817 ten delegates sent by journeymen calico printers to 
a meeting to form an organization were seized with all their 
papers by the constables and sentenced for three months, 
though no dispute was in progress. The general panic of the 
upper classes in the early part of the century, in fear of demo- 
cratic movements on the part of the people, helped to cause 
an extremely harsh application of the combination acts. The 
magistrates often confused trade disputes with seditious agi- 

282 Industrial and Social History of England 

Quite apart from the combination laws, the ordinary action 
of trade unions was held by the judges to be illegal by the 
Common Law, under the doctrine that combined attempts 
to influence wages, hours, prices, or apprenticeship were con- 
spiracies in restraint of trade. Such conspiracies were re- 
peatedly declared to be illegal. Five journeymen printers were 
tried, convicted, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment 
each at London in 1798 for a combination to demand more 
wages on threat of strike. Five leaders in a strike of weavers 
were sentenced under the Common Law to terms of imprison- 
ment extending from four to eighteen months in 1812; and 
there are many other instances. 

In addition to their illegality, trade unions in their early 
days were extremely unpopular with the most influential classes 
of English society. The employers, against whose power they 
were organized, naturally antagonized them for fear they 
would raise wages and in other ways give the workmen the 
upper hand; they were opposed by the aristocratic feeling of 
the country, because they brought about an increase in the 
power of the lower classes; the clergy deprecated their growth 
as a manifestation of discontent, whereas contentment was the 
virtue then most regularly inculcated upon the lower classes; 
philanthropists, who had more faith in what should be done 
for than by the workingmen, distrusted their self-interested 
and vaguely directed efforts. Those who were interested in 
foreign trade feared they would increase prices, and thus render 
England incapable of competing with other nations. Those 
who were influenced by the teachings of political economy 
opposed them as being harmful, or at best futile efforts to inter- 
fere with the free action of those natural forces which, in the 
long run, must, as they thought, govern the laborer's wages. If 
the average rate of wages at any particular time was merely 
the quotient obtained by dividing the number of laborers into 
the wages fund, an organized effort to change the rate of wages 
would necessarily be a failure, or could at most only result in 

The Spirit of Combined Action 283 

driving some other laborers out of employment or reducing 
their wages. Finally, there was a widespread feeling that 
trade unions were unscrupulous bodies whose officers over- 
awed or deceived the great majority of their fellow-workmen, 
and then by their help tyrannized over the employers and 
threw trade into recurring conditions of confusion. That 
same great body of uninstructed public opinion, which, on 
the whole, favored the factory laws, was quite clearly opposed 
to trade unions. With the incompetency of their own class, 
the power of the employing class, the strength of the law, and 
the force of public opinion opposed to their existence and 
actions, it is not a matter of wonder that the development of 
these working-class organizations was only very gradual. 
Nevertheless these obstacles were one by one removed. 

89. Legalization of Trade Unions. During the early years 
of the century combinations of workmen, more or less long- 
lived, actually existed in many trades, sometimes secretly 
because of their illegality, sometimes openly, until it became of 
sufficient interest to some one to prosecute them or their officers, 
sometimes making the misleading claim of being benefit so- 
cieties. Yet the numerous prosecutions and punishments 
alluded to above embittered the working classes and led to fre- 
quent threats and much mutual suspicion of employer and em- 
ployee. The combination acts were looked upon by many as an 
interference with the perfect freedom which ought theoretically 
to be allowed to each person to employ his labor like his capital 
in the manner he might deem most advantageous. Their incon- 
sistency with the general movement of abolition of restrictions 
then in progress could hardly escape observation. The philo- 
sophic tendencies of the time therefore combined with the 
aspirations of the leaders of the working classes to rouse an agi- 
tation in favor of the repeal of the combination laws. A liberal 
tradesman of London, Francis Place, took up the unwisdom 
and injustice of the combination acts as a matter of special 
interest and spent a vast amount of labor and thought in creat- 

284 Industrial and Social History of England 

ing an interest in their repeal. The matter was brought up 
in Parliament and two successive committees were appointed 
to investigate the questions involved. As a result, a thorough- 
going repeal law was passed in 1824. A bitter attack upon this 
repeal was, however, begun immediately; many strikes oc- 
curred, some of them accompanied with violence, the whole 
question was brought up anew, and after a long and stirring 
series of parliamentary hearings the law of 1824 was repealed 
and another and less liberal law substituted for it in 1825. This 
law, as finally adopted, repealed all the combination acts which 
stood upon the statute book, and relieved from punishment 
men who met for the sole purpose of agreeing on the rate of 
wages or the number of hours they would work, so long as this 
agreement referred to the wages or hours of those only who 
were present at the meeting. At the same time it declared 
the illegality of any violence, threats, intimidation, molestation, 
or obstruction used to induce any other workmen to strike or 
to join their association or to take any action in regard to hours 
or wages. Any attempt to bring pressure to bear upon an 
employer to make any change in his business was also forbidden, 
and most important of all the Common Law opposition was 
left unrepealed. 

The effect of the legislation of 1825 was to enable trade 
unions to exist if their activity was restricted to an agreement 
upon their own wages or hours. " Collective bargaining," 
as it came to be called, was clearly acknowledged to be legal. 
Any effort, however, to establish wages and hours for other 
persons than those taking part in their meetings, or any strike 
on questions of piecework or number of apprentices or ma- 
chinery or non-union workmen, was still illegal, both by this 
statute and by Common Law. Their legality was therefore still 
incomplete. A group of Lancashire miners in 1832 were pun- 
ished under the Common Law for illegal combination, on the 
ground of interference, because they had written to their 
employers declaring their intention of striking, and in 1834 

The Spirit of Combined Action 285 

some workmen in a pottery were imprisoned on the charge 
of " intimidation," which consisted in their visiting their 
employers as representatives of the remainder of the workmen. 
The vague words, " molestation," " obstruction," and " in- 
timidation," used in the law were capable of being construed, 
as they actually were, in such a way as to prevent any consider- 
able activity on the part of trade unions. The best known 
case is of six farm laborers in Dorsetshire who were tried and 
given the harsh sentence of transportation to Australia for 
seven years because in their initiation of members into a union 
they had used secret oaths, which were forbidden by an old 
and half-forgotten law of the time of the French Revolution. 
In this case the authorities had gone too far; a great protest 
was raised in Parliament, pamphlets were published, and the 
first of the labor demonstrations in the streets of London which 
have later become so familiar took place, some 30,000 men 
being in line. The ministry were forced to bow to the storm 
and pardon the men. 

A great stimulus was given by the law passed in 1825 to 
the formation of organizations among workingmen, and the 
period of their legal growth and development began from that 
date, notwithstanding the narrow field of activity allowed them 
by the law as it then stood. In 1859 a further change in the law 
was made, by which it became lawful to combine to demand 
a change of wages or hours, even if the action involved other 
persons than those taking part in the agreement, and to exercise 
peaceful persuasion upon others to join the strikers in their 

Within the bounds of the limited legal powers granted by 
the laws of 1825 and 1859, large numbers of trade unions were 
formed, much agitation carried on, strikes won and lost, pressure 
exerted upon Parliament, and the most active and capable of 
the working classes gradually brought to take an interest in the 
movement. This growth was unfortunately accompanied by 
a considerable amount of disorder. During times of industrial 

286 Industrial and Social History of England 

struggle non-strikers were sometimes beaten, employers were 
assaulted, property was destroyed, and in certain industrial 
communities confusion and outrage occurred every few years. 
The complicity of the trade unions as such in these disorders 
was constantly asserted by their opponents and as constantly 
denied by their supporters; but there seems little doubt that 
while by far the greatest amount of disorder was due to in- 
dividual strikers or their sympathizers, and would have oc- 
curred, perhaps in even more intense form, if there had been 
no trade unions, yet there were many cases where the organized 
unions were themselves responsible. 

In 1867, as the result of a series of prolonged strikes and 
accompanying outrages in Sheffield, Nottingham, and Man- 
chester, a committee appointed by the government and con- 
sisting of able and influential men made a full investigation 
and report on the conditions of the trade unions of the time, and 
recommended, somewhat to the public surprise, that further 
laws for the protection and at the same time for the regulation 
of trade unions be passed. As a result two laws were passed 
in the year 1871, the Trade Union Act and the Criminal Law 
Amendment Act. By the first of these it was declared that trade 
unions were no longer to be considered illegal either by Statute 
or Common Law simply because they were " in restraint of 
trade," and that they might be registered as benefit societies, 
and thereby become quasi-corporations, to the extent at least 
of having their funds protected by law and being able to hold 
property for the proper uses of their organization. This 
practically legalized the unions completely, or at least was 
considered at the time to have done so. At the same time 
the Liberal majority in Parliament, who had passed this far- 
reaching law only under pressure and were but half-hearted in 
their approval of trade unions, by the second law of the same 
year made more clear and vigorous the prohibition of " mo- 
lesting," " obstructing," " threatening," " persistently follow- 
ing," " watching," or " besetting " any workman who had 

The Spirit of Combined Action 287 

not voluntarily joined the trade union. As these terms were still 
undefined, the law might be, and it was, still sufficiently elastic 
to allow magistrates or judges who disapproved of trade union- 
ism to punish men for some of the ordinary forms of persuasion 
or pressure used in industrial conflicts. The trade unionists 
and their sympathizers were therefore still dissatisfied. 

An agitation was immediately begun for the repeal or modi- 
fication of this later law. This was accomplished finally by 
the trade union acts of 1875 and 1876, by which it was de- 
clared that no action committed by a group of workmen was 
punishable unless the same act was criminal if committed by 
a single individual. " Picketing " or peaceful persuasion of 
non-union workmen was expressly permitted, some of the elastic 
words of disapproval used in previous laws were omitted al- 
together, offences especially likely to occur in such disputes 
were relegated to the ordinary criminal law, and the whole 
question of the illegality of conspiracy, as it was believed, was 
cleared up in such a way as not to treat trade unions in any 
different way from other bodies, or to interfere with their 
existence or normal actions. 

Thus, by the four steps taken in 1825, 1859, 1871, and 1875, 
all trace of illegality was supposed to have been taken away from 
trade unions and their ordinary actions. They were now 
considered to have the same legal right to exist, to hold property, 
and to carry out the objects of their organization that a banking 
or manufacturing company or a social or literary club had. 

90. Public Acceptance of Trade Unions. The passing 
away of the popular disapproval of trade unions was more 
gradual and indefinite, but not less real. The employers, 
after many hard-fought battles in their own trades, in the 
newspapers, and in Parliament, came in a great number of 
cases to prefer that there should be a well-organized trade 
union in their industry rather than a chaotic body of restless 
and unorganized laborers. The aristocratic dread of lower- 
class organizations and activity became less strong and less 

288 Industrial and Social History of England 

important as political violence ceased to threaten and as English 
society as a whole became more democratic. The Reform Bill 
of 1867 was a voluntary concession by the higher and middle 
classes to the lower, showing that political dread of the working 
classes and their trade unions had disappeared. The older 
type of clergymen of the established church, who had all the 
sympathies and prejudices of the aristocracy, were largely 
superseded by men who, like Kingsley and Maurice, took the 
deepest interest in working-class movements and who taught 
struggle and effort rather than acceptance and contentment. 

The formation of trade unions, even while it led to higher 
wages, shorter hours, and a more independent and self-assertive 
body of laborers, made labor so much more efficient that, 
taken in connection with other elements of English economic 
activity, it led to no resulting loss of her industrial supremacy. 
As to the economic arguments against trade unions, they 
became less influential with the discrediting of much of the 
theoretical teaching on which they were based. In 1867 a 
book by W. T. Thornton, On Labor, its Wrongful Claims and 
Rightful Dues, successfully attacked the wages-fund theory; 
since which time the belief that the rate of wages was absolutely 
determined by the amount of that fund and the number of 
laborers has gradually been given up. The belief in the pos- 
sibility of voluntary limitation of the effect of the so-called 
" natural laws " of the economic teachers of the early and 
middle parts of the century has grown stronger and spread 
more widely. Finally, the general popular feeling of suspicion 
and dislike of trade unions decreased as their lawfulness was 
acknowledged, and as their own policy became more distinctly 
orderly and moderate. 

Probably the best proof of this general acceptance of trade 
unions was the spread of " conciliation," as it was called, for 
the settlement of questions of rates of wages and other trade 
questions. This meant the appointment of conciliation boards, 
consisting of equal numbers of representatives of the employers 

The Spirit of Combined Action 289 

and the organized employees, through whose action matters 
of dispute were gradually brought to a solution. From about 
1860 onward such boards were formed in one industry after 
another, beginning with the Nottingham hosiery trade. In 
1867 a " Conciliation Act " was passed through Parliament 
for the encouragement of such boards, which would have had 
power to enforce their awards, but very little use was made 
of this act. On the other hand, by the close of the period of 
this chapter two or three hundred voluntary conciliation boards 
had been formed, all recognizing the existence of trade unions 
as the normal form of organization of the working classes and 
the method of collective bargaining as the best way of settling 
the relations of employers and employees. For many years 
they exerted a considerable influence until new questions had 
come up that made them less satisfactory. 

91. Growth of Trade Unions. The actual growth of trade 
unionism was irregular and interrupted, and has spread from 
many scattered centres. Hundreds of unions were formed, 
lived for a time, and went out of existence; some dwindled 
into insignificance and then revived in some special need ; others 
have survived from the very beginning of the century to the 
present. The workmen in some parts of the country and in 
certain trades were early and strongly organized, in others 
they have scarcely even yet become interested or made the 
effort to form unions. There were unions among the hatters, 
compositors, shipwrights, and others in London and elsewhere 
even before the legalizing statute of 1825, and many of the 
"friendly societies " in the trades made agreements concerning 
wages and hours and thus served as trade unions during the 
same early period. Immediately after 1824, as already stated, 
a great many new unions were formed ; but bad times ensued, 
there was much conflict and failure, and a period of decay of 
unions followed. 

Beginning again, just before the period of the beginning of 
this chapter, about 1842, a more steady growth and extension 

290 Industrial and Social History of England 

of unions began which continued almost without a break. 
Especially in the period from 1870 to 1878, the period of their 
full legalization and a time of great commercial progress, the 
unions grew rapidly. By that tune the cotton spinners, miners, 
printers, glass makers, iron workers, bricklayers, carpenters, 
and scores of other crafts scattered through the English in- 
dustrial districts were well organized into unions, with con- 
stitutions, officers, and executive boards, regular meetings, 
established practices and ideals. In many cases monthly or 
weekly trade journals were published as organs of the unions. 
Many strikes occurred, sometimes successful, sometimes 
failures, and unions were sometimes formed for the special 
object of carrying on a strike in trades not organized at other 
times. But far more important were the permanent unions 
which exerted a steady pressure in the interest of their own 
body through long periods of time ; and, basing their action on 
a body of " trade-union principles," enforced scales of wages, 
rates for overtime, and other standards, without conflict or with 
very infrequent strikes. In some thirty-five general lines of 
industry the number of members of organized unions at the 
close of the period was something over 300,000. These were, 
generally speaking, the most intelligent, highly paid, regularly 
employed, and conservative workmen in these industries, and 
the industries represented were the most solid. In some 
occupations practically every operative was a member of a 
trade union. 

The unions had also established an extensive system of union 
funds or money " benefits " of various kinds, created by pay- 
ments from their members and payable to their members under 
certain conditions. The most important classes of benefits 
were sick pay, superannuation allowances, funeral benefits, 
out-of-work support, accident payments, strike pay, and help 
in the replacement of lost tools. At a period somewhat later 
than this it was calculated that fourteen of the leading unions 
in the engineering, building, and printing trades had paid out, 

The Spirit of Combined Action 291 

up to that date, some $38,000,000 in benefits of this kind. Of 
this sum only about $2,000,000 had been paid out for strike 
purposes. These large funds held for various insurance pur- 
poses were one of the most marked characteristics of the older 
English trade unions as compared with those formed at a later 
date and with those in other countries. 

92. Extension and Federation of Trade Unions. From 
the earliest days of trade-union organization there have been 
efforts to extend the unions beyond the boundaries of the single 
occupation or the single locality. The earliest form of union 
was a body made up of the workmen of some one industry 
in some one locality, as the gold beaters of London, or the 
cutlers of Sheffield, or the cotton spinners of Manchester. 
Three forms of extension soon took place: first, the formation 
of national societies composed of men of the same trade through 
the whole country ; secondly, the formation of " trades councils," 
bodies representing all the different trades in any one locality ; 
and, thirdly, the formation of a great national organization of 
workingmen or trade unionists. 

The first of these forms of extension dates from the earliest 
years of the century, though such bodies had often only a trans- 
itory existence. The Manchester cotton spinners took the 
initiative in organizing a national body in that industry in 1829 ; 
in 1831 a National Potters' union is heard of, and others in the 
same decade. The largest and most permanent national bodies, 
however, such as the compositors, the flint-glass makers, miners, 
and others were formed after 1842, the miners in 1844 numbering 
70,000 voting members. The increasing ease of travel and 
cheapness of postage and the improved education and intelli- 
gence of the workingmen made the formation of national societies 
more practicable, and before 1878 most of the important trade 
unions had become national bodies with local branches. 

The second form of extension, the trades council, dates from 
a somewhat later period. Such a body arose usually when 
some matter of common interest happened in the labor world, 

292 Industrial and Social History of England 

and delegates from the various unions in each locality were 
called upon to organize, and to subscribe funds, prepare a 
petition to Parliament, or take other common action. In this 
temporary form they existed from an early date. The first 
permanent local board, made up of representatives of the various 
unions in the locality of Liverpool, was formed in 1848 to protect 
trade unionists from prosecutions for illegal conspiracy. In 1857 
a permanent body was formed in Sheffield, and in the years im- 
mediately following in Glasgow, London, Bristol, and other cities. 
They have since come into existence in most of the larger in- 
dustrial towns, but their influence has been variable and limited. 

The formation of a general body of organized workingmen 
of all industries and from all parts of the country was an old 
plan. Such efforts were largely the product of the ideas and 
agitation of Robert Owen. Various such societies were early 
formed, only to play a more or less conspicuous role for a few 
years and then drop out of existence. In 1830 a " National 
Association for the Protection of Labor " was formed, in 1834 a 
" Grand National Consolidated Trades Union," in 1845 a 
" National Association of United Trades for the Protection 
of Labor," and in 1874 a " Federation of Organized Trade 
Societies," each of which had a short popularity and influence, 
and then died. 

A more practicable if less ambitious plan of unification of 
interests was discovered in the form of an " Annual Trade 
Union Congress." This institution grew out of the trades 
councils. In 1864 the Glasgow trades council called a meeting 
of delegates from all trade unions to take action on the state 
of the law of employment, and in 1867 the Sheffield trades 
council called a similar meeting to agree upon measures of 
opposition to lockouts. The next year, 1868, the Manchester 
trades council issued a call for " a Congress of the Representa- 
tives of Trades Councils, Federations of Trades, and Trade Socie- 
ties in general." Its plan was based on the annual meetings 
of the Social Science Association, and it was contemplated 

The Spirit of Combined Action 293 

that it should meet each year in a different city and sit for 
five or six days. This first general Congress was attended 
by 34 delegates, who claimed to represent some 118,000 trade 
unionists. The next meeting, at Birmingham, in 1869, was 
attended by 48 delegates, representing 40 separate unions, 
with some 250,000 members. With the exception of the next 
year, 1870, the Congress has met annually since, the meetings 
taking place at Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, and other cities, 
with an attendance varying between one and two hundred 
delegates, representing, it was claimed, at the close of this period, 
about a million trade uinonists. It elects each year a Parlia- 
mentary Committee consisting of ten members and a secretary, 
whose duty it is to attend in London during the sittings of 
Parliament and exert what influence they can on legislation 
or appointments in the interests of the trade unionists whom 
they represent. In fact, most of the activity of the Congress was 
for a number of years represented by the Parliamentary Com- 
mittee, the meetings themselves being devoted largely to com- 
monplace discussions, points of conflict between the unions being 
intentionally ruled out. There were later some heated con- 
tests in the Congress on questions of general policy, but on the 
whole it and its Parliamentary Committee are a somewhat 
loose representation of the unity and solidarity of feeling of 
the great army of trade unionists. 

A less definite but scarcely less important form of trade- 
union extension is the constant assistance given, usually in the 
shape of subscription of funds, by the richer trade unions to the 
poorer, by those in a prosperous position at the time to those 
engaged in a strike, or by the older unions to the new. From 
the very earliest days of trade unionism this has been a familiar 
practice and probably millions of dollars have thus been sub- 
scribed by workingmen for the help of others in the winning 
of strikes, the establishment of trade-union regulations, or the 
spread of trade-union principles. 

The trade-union movement had resulted by 1878 in the 

294 Industrial and Social History of England 

formation of a powerful group of federated organizations, with 
periodicals, funds, and a representative body, including far the 
most important and influential part of the working classes, 
whose existence and practice of " collective bargaining " were 
acknowledged by the law, more or less fully approved by public 
opinion, and exercising a considerable influence in national affairs. 

93. Employers' Organizations. Employers' associations 
were formed from time to tune to take common action in resist- 
ance to trade unions or for common negotiations with them. 
As early as 1814 the master cutlers formed the " Sheffield Mer- 
cantile and Manufacturing Union," for the purpose of keeping 
down piece-work wages to their existing rate. It was one of 
the grievances of the workmen at the time that these employers' 
combinations were not prosecuted under the law of conspiracy, 
although theirs were. In 1851 the " Central Association of 
Employers of Operative Engineers " was formed to resist the 
strong union of the " Amalgamated Engineers." In 1858 the 
" Central Association of Master Builders " was formed to resist 
the efforts of the workmen in the building trades to reduce the 
working hours to nine. They have also had their national 
bodies, such as the " Iron Trade Employers' Association," 
active in 1878, and their general federations, such as the " Na- 
tional Federation of Associated Employers of Labor," which 
was formed in 1873 to meet the rapid growth of trade unions at 
the period, and included prominent ship-builders, textile manu- 
facturers, engineers, iron manufacturers, and builders. The 
" lock-out " was adopted by these federations of employers to 
bring their employees to terms in a dispute or, in many cases, 
to anticipate a strike. By this plan every shop or factory of the 
employers in the organization was closed over a large area and 
the income of the men was cut off until they should yield in 
the dispute. 

Many of these organizations, especially the national or dis- 
trict organizations of the employers in single trades, existed 
primarily for other and more general purposes, but inciden- 

The Spirit of Combined Action 295 

tally the representatives of the masters in their associations 
regularly arranged wages and other labor conditions with the 
representatives of the workingmen's associations, or, when 
relations were less satisfactory, united in the efforts and ex- 
penses of a struggle with them. They, like the trade unions, 
have also exerted an influence on legislation in matters con- 
nected with the relations between employers and employees. 


Byrn, Edward W. : Progress of Invention in the Nineteenth 
Century, N. Y., 1900. 

Jeans, J. S. : Steel, its History, Manufacture, etc., 1880. 

Potter, Beatrice (Mrs. Sidney Webb) : The Cooperative 
Movement in Great Britain, 1892. A small book. 

Holyoake, G. T. : History of Cooperation in England, 2 
volumes, 1877. A long and loosely arranged but interesting 
book by a participant in this and many other social move- 
ments of the time. 

Redfern, Percy: The Story of the Cooperative Wholesale 
Society, 1913. 

Williams, Aneurin: Co-partnership and Profit Sharing, Lon- 
don, 1913. 

Report on Profit Sharing and Labor Co- Partner ship in the 
United Kingdom, published by the Labor Department of the 
British Board of Trade, 1912. 

Webb, Sidney and Beatrice: History of Trade Unionism, 
London, new ed., 1911. 

Hasbach, W. (Translated by Ruth Kenyon) : A History of 
the English Agricultural Labourer, London, 1908. 

Slater, Gilbert: The English Peasantry and the Enclosure 
of the Common Fields, London, 1907. 

Hutchins, B. L., and Harrison, A. : History of Factory Legis- 
lation, Westminster, 1903. 

Shaw-Lefevre, G. : English Commons and Forests. 

Wallas, G. : Life of Francis Place. 


95. National Affairs from 1878 to 1906. The reign of Queen 
Victoria continued to 1901. The fiftieth anniversary of the 
queen's accession was celebrated in 1887 as her " golden 
jubilee " and the sixtieth in 1897 as her " diamond jubilee." 
On both these occasions there were great expressions of appre- 
ciation and personal loyalty to the aged queen, and still more 
conspicuous recognition that the British Empire had become 
during her long reign a much more extensive and complex 
group of countries, of which England was only the centre. Both 
in the empire and in England itself many new questions had 
arisen. After the queen's death, in 1901, the Prince of Wales, 
already sixty years old, became king as Edward VII. Neither 
the queen during the latter years of her life nor the king exerted 
a very serious influence on the affairs of government. These 
were carried on, as during the previous period, by an alternation 
of ministries supported by corresponding majorities in Parlia- 
ment. The old Liberal party was broken up by a split on the 
Irish question in 1886, and the Conservatives, strengthened by 
this, held office more than three-quarters of the time, and were 
continuously in power for the last ten years of the period. 

One of the only large pieces of legislation accomplished by 
the Liberal party in the short period it held office was the third 
parliamentary reform bill, carrying further the principles of the 
two bills of 1832 and 1867. This bill was introduced by Mr. 
Gladstone in the spring of 1884. The principal class of persons 
not before having votes, which were given them by this bill, 
were the agricultural laborers, a very large, very poor, and very 


Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 297 

ignorant class. There was much opposition to enfranchising 
them, but Mr. Gladstone and the Liberal majority pressed 
the measure through the House of Commons. It was defeated 
in the House of Lords, but after a summer of extensive agitation 
by the masses of the people, of threats on the part of the leaders, 
and efforts to avoid conflict between the two houses of Parlia- 
ment by the queen, a compromise was reached, and the measure 
passed both houses late in 1884. Something like two million 
votes were added to the electorate, so that almost every grown 
man in England now had a vote. Afterward, in 1885, a bill 
was passed making three important changes in the arrangement 
of representation: first, all towns below 15,000 inhabitants 
ceased to have representation separately from the counties in 
which they lay; second, all towns between 15,000 and 50,000 
were given one representative each ; and, third, all larger towns 
and counties were divided into single-member districts, each 
with as near 50,000 inhabitants as possible. Thus the old 
Chartist ideals of equal electoral districts and manhood suffrage 
were nearly attained ; vote by ballot and abolition of property 
qualifications for membership had already been granted. At 
about the same time, in 1883, the " corrupt practices " act was 
passed regulating elections more strictly, and making them less 
expensive by restricting to a definite sum the amount that 
could be spent by any candidate for election expenses. England 
was fast approaching a democracy. Yet men were still allowed 
to give more than one vote when they had property in several 
places, women were not allowed to vote, members of Parlia- 
ment were not paid, and there were many other exceptions to 

The principal occurrence in the relations between England and 
Ireland was the approach toward success of the home rule 
movement in 1886. Mr. Gladstone at last became converted 
to the desirability of giving Ireland home rule and carried a 
large part of the Liberal party with him. When, however, the 
bill providing for a separate Irish parliament for Irish affairs 





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Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 299 

was introduced into Parliament several of the Liberal party 
broke with their leader and voted against the bill. It was there- 
fore defeated and when new elections were held the home rule 
part of the Liberal party lost its majority. The Liberals who 
had opposed home rule took the name of Liberal-Unionists, 
acted with the Conservatives, and soon became united with 
them into one party, commonly known as the Unionist party. 
Mr. Gladstone with the old Liberals when he was defeated 
went out of office. When he became prune minister again 
in 1892 he introduced another home rule bill, of a somewhat dif- 
ferent character from that of 1886, and this time succeeded in 
carrying it through the House of Commons, but it was defeated 
in the House of Lords and the feeling of the country was not 
enough in its favor to overcome that opposition. In 1898 acts 
giving greater power to local governments and greater encourage- 
ment to agriculture and industry in Ireland were passed by the 
Unionists, but notwithstanding the increased prosperity and 
local self-government these laws introduced they did not satisfy 
the Irish people. 

In foreign affairs, England followed its usual practice of refrain- 
ing from intervention unless its own commercial interests were 
involved. The victory of the Russians over the Turks in 1877- 
1878, however, seemed to threaten these, and the government 
in 1878 joined with some of the other countries to call an inter- 
national congress which met at Berlin in July, 1878. British 
influence here was strong enough to secure such a rearrangement 
of the boundaries of the Balkan countries lying between Russia 
and Turkey as would, it was expected, restrain the government of 
the former from aggression and prevent Turkey from being too 
seriously weakened. England also agreed to protect the Asiatic 
territories of Tuikey from further attack. In return British 
dominion was extended by the grant to her by Turkey of the 
island of Cyprus, with a promise that the Turkish government 
would introduce reform in the treatment of its Christian subjects. 
These results were considered at the time to be a great triumph 

300 Industrial and Social History of England 

for Great Britain, but most of the territorial arrangements were 
soon overthrown, the reforms were neglected, and the problem 
of the Near East left probably in worse condition than before. 

Egypt from the middle of the nineteenth century had come 
into closer and closer connection with European countries, 
especially England and France, whose capitalists loaned her 
government vast sums of money. The purchase of the con- 
trolling interest in the Suez Canal by England in 1875 has al- 
ready been mentioned. In 1876 the English and French govern- 
ments, in order to protect the investments of their citizens, 
forced the Egyptian government to accept their control of its 
finances and through them of its general policy. This, along 
with other causes, led to an uprising of the native Egyptian 
party in 1881. The next year Great Britain sent a fleet to 
Alexandria which bombarded the city, landed an army, and 
defeated the Egyptian party. The British government, al- 
though it held troops in Egypt and controlled its administration 
through one of its own officials, Lord Cromer, announced that 
its occupation of the country was only temporary and that the 
control would eventually be withdrawn. No suitable time or 
circumstances were ever found, however, and long afterward 
Great Britain's temporary occupation was altered by proclama- 
tion into a permanent protectorate. 

At the other end of Africa, the differences of interest and feel- 
ing between the Boers, who were descendants of the early Dutch 
settlers, and the English government brought on at the close of 
the nineteenth century the most serious war in which England 
had been engaged since the Crimean War. The British govern- 
ment claimed control not only over the inhabitants, British, 
Dutch, and native, in the group of colonies of which Cape Colony 
was the chief, but over the Dutch or Boer emigrants who had 
left those colonies and established themselves in the Orange 
Free State and the Transvaal Republic in the interior of the 
country. A long series of disputes, made more intense by the 
discovery in 1885 of gold mines and diamond diggings in their 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 301 

territory, brought about hostilities in 1899. Great Britain 
found it necessary to add more and more troops to her forces in 
South Africa at the beginning of the contest until she had an 
army there of 250,000 men. The last Boers did not lay down 
their arms until 1902. Great Britain annexed the two Boer 
colonies, adopted a liberal attitude toward them in 1906, gave 
them the same self-government that had been already conceded 
to the other South African colonies, and in 1910 organized them 
all as the Union of South Africa, a confederation of self-govern- 
ing colonies, somewhat similar to the Dominion of Canada and 
the Commonwealth of Australia. 

96. The Decline of Agriculture. Although agriculture had 
diminished, ever since the industrial revolution, in relative 
importance to other forms of national industry, this did not 
mean that agriculture itself was necessarily less prosperous; 
it only meant that a larger part of the population of England 
gained their living from manufactures, commerce, mining, 
transportation, and other forms of industry. Indeed, as has 
been seen in earlier chapters, agriculture had by the introduc- 
tion of improved machinery, fertilizers, and methods of culti- 
vation, and by an increased amount of capital risen to high pros- 
perity. From about 1874 onward, however, this condition of 
prosperity began conspicuously to decline and the three classes 
connected with agriculture, the land-owners, the tenant farmers, 
and the farm laborers, were all faced with serious problems and 
suffered a period of relative adversity. 

The causes of this change are difficult to determine, various, 
and the subject of much difference of opinion. The facts them- 
selves are not so doubtful. The price of grain and most other 
farm products began almost steadily to decline. Whereas wheat 
had for many years seldom sold at less than $1.50 a bushel, and 
frequently brought $2 a bushel or more, in the year 1875 its 
average price was $1.40 a bushel and from that time with but few 
advances it fell to $i in 1885 to $.72 in 1895, and did not rise 
again to an average of $i a bushel during the period of this 

302 Industrial and Social History of England 

chapter, or indeed until the eve of the Great War. The price 
of other farm products nearly corresponded to that of wheat. 
There were other difficulties besides low prices. There were 
many bad seasons, in successive years the bleak springs and 
rainy summers to which England is subject made crops short and 
cattle diseases frequent. Two periods, one from 1875 to 1884, 
the other from 1891 to 1899, were really calamitous. The low 
prices forced farmers to ask for low rents from the land-owners, 
and discouraged them from putting capital into their farming 
and from keeping the land hardest to cultivate in use. Land- 
lords either resisted the demand for lower rent or when they had 
to grant it were forced to cut off much of their expenditure. 
The farm laborers had their wages reduced, or entered into a 
struggle with the farmers to keep their wages up, or went into 
the cities to seek other kinds of work. All interests and occupa- 
tions connected with country life suffered. 

A government commission, known as the Duke of Richmond's 
Commission, sat from 1879 to 1882 to investigate the depression 
in agriculture, and another commission made inquiries in 1893. 
The reports of these commissions proved the distress but were 
not very helpful in pointing out either causes or remedies. 
In them it was shown that the rental value of farming lands had 
in five years been reduced by some $25,000,0x30, and the yearly 
income of landlords, farmers, and laborers together had been re- 
duced by some $200,000,000. The amount of land being used 
for grain-raising was reduced by about a third, from something 
over eight million to five and a half million acres. Cattle-raising 
and dairying were somewhat more profitable and the land used 
for pasture was during the same period increased, although 
there were bitter complaints even from dairy farmers. The 
total amount of food produced in England was being very much 
reduced, land was going out of cultivation, and cost of produc- 
tion was little if at all diminished. As a result of the recommen- 
dations of the two investigating commissions aT)epartment of 
Agriculture was established in the government, a Minister of 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 303 

Agriculture appointed, and a number of changes favorable to 
agriculture made in the laws. 

The principal cause of the trouble was in all probability foreign 
competition. The increased cheapness and ease of freight ser- 
vice both by land and sea brought American, Canadian, Russian, 
and other distant supplies of wheat directly to English markets. 
The same was true of meats brought in refrigerator vessels 
from New Zealand and Argentina. Improvements in produc- 
tion, some of them even of English origin, were adopted in 
the agriculture of distant countries. Grain raised and cattle 
grown on a large scale on new soils in a favorable climate, 
and transported by cheap freight, could be sold in England far 
cheaper than they could be produced in the difficult English 
climate and partially outworn soil under a system where large 
rents were paid to a landlord class, and where the actual laborers 
had so little interest in the soil and drew so little of their own 
sustenance from it. Even if the agriculture of the country 
were of a highly developed character, it was under a handicap 
as against foreign-grown products. Prices everywhere were also 
falling, probably in response to far-reaching currency changes 
which affected all countries alike. 

Nevertheless the farming class of England adapted them- 
selves more or less to the changed conditions. More varied 
agriculture was introduced, greater attention was given to 
fruit-raising, gardening, and poultry farming, and many forms of 
economy were adopted in the effort to make farming pay even 
under the difficulties of the time. The weight of rents was also 
gradually lifted to some degree from the two lower of the classes 
which drew their support from the land. 

97. Small Holdings and Allotments. The special interest 
in questions connected with the land extended also to questions 
of possible improvement in the position of the tenant farmers 
and farm laborers. In 1875, I ^^3> an d 1900 three successive 
" Agricultural Holdings " acts were passed. One of the pro- 
visions of these laws was that when improvements were made by 

304 Industrial and Social History of England 

the tenant during the period in which he held the land compen- 
sation for them must be made by the landlord to the tenant 
when the latter gave up his holding. This is the same prin- 
ciple that was carried to much greater lengths in the Irish Land 
bills and the Scotch Crofter's acts. 

By the Small Holdings Act of 1892 it was provided that 
tenants who wished to rent small farms and could not secure 
them otherwise might obtain them from the local authorities, 
who were empowered to buy land for that purpose and rent it 
out in small holdings of not more than fifteen acres to actual 

A still further and more important development in the same 
direction is the effort to introduce " peasant proprietorship," 
or the ownership of small amounts of farming land by persons 
who would otherwise necessarily be either tenants or mere 
laborers on other men's land. There has been an old dispute 
as to the relative advantages of a system of large farms rented 
by men who have considerable capital, knowledge, and enter- 
prise, as in England; and of a system of small farms, owned 
and worked by men who are mere peasants, as in France. The 
older economists generally advocated the former system as 
better in itself, and also pointed out that a policy of withdrawal 
by government from any regulation was tending to make it 
universal. Others have been more impressed with the good 
effects o^ the ownership of land on the mental and moral char- 
acter of the population, and with the desirability of the existence 
of a series of steps by which a thrifty and ambitious farm laborer 
could rise to a higher position. There has been for some time 
as a result of this belief an agitation in favor of the creation of 
smaller farms, of giving assistance in their purchase, and of 
thus introducing a more mixed system of rural land occupancy, 
and bringing back something of the earlier English yeoman 

This movement also obtained recognition by Parliament in 
the Small Holdings Act of 1892. This law made it the duty of 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 305 

each county council, when there seemed to be any sufficient 
demand for small farms, from one to fifty acres in size, to 
acquire in any way possible short of compulsory purchase, 
suitable land, to adapt it for farming purposes by fencing, 
making roads, and, if necessary, erecting suitable buildings; 
and then to dispose of it by sale, or, as a matter of exception, 
as before stated, on lease, to such men as should themselves 
cultivate it. The terms of sale were to be advantageous to the 
purchaser. He must pay at least as much as a fifth of the 
price down, but one-quarter of it might be left on perpetual 
ground rent, and the remainder, slightly more than one-half, 
might be repaid in half-yearly instalments during any period 
less than fifty years. The county council was also given power 
to loan money to tenants of small holdings to buy them from 
their landlords, where they could arrange terms of purchase 
but had not the necessary means. 

Still another movement for getting more of the land into the 
hands of the people has been the establishment and wide spread 
of what are called " allotments." These are pieces of land, 
usually from one-eighth of an acre to an acre in size, rented out 
to poor or working class families, not with the idea that they 
can obtain a living from them, but that they can cultivate 
them at spare times so as to obtain a certain amount of food 
and enjoyment and decrease the expenses of living. Early in 
the century this was done as a part of the poor law legislation, 
but in 1885 an " Allotments and Small Holdings Association " 
was formed to encourage this as a general practice. Laws which 
were passed in 1882 and 1887 made it the duty of the author- 
ities of parishes, when there seemed to be a demand for allot- 
ments, to provide all the land that was needed for the purpose, 
giving them, if needed, and under certain restrictions, the right 
of compulsory purchase of any particular piece of land which 
they should feel to be desirable. This was to be divided up and 
rented out in allotments from one-quarter of an acre to an acre 
in size. By laws passed in 1890 and 1894 this plan of making it 

306 Industrial and Social History of England 

the bounden duty of the local government to provide sufficient 
allotments for the demand and giving them power to purchase 
land even without the consent of its owners was carried still 
further and put in the hands of the parish council. The 
growth in numbers of such allotments was very rapid and has 
not yet ceased. The approximate numbers at several periods 
were as follows : 

1873 246,398 

1888 357,795 

1890 455,005 

1895 579,133 

In addition to those formed and granted out by the public 
local authorities many large land-owners, railroad companies, and 
others have made allotments to their tenants and employees. 
Large tracts of land subdivided into such small patches are 
now a common sight in England, simulating in appearance the 
old open fields of the Middle Ages and early modern tunes. 

98. The Increasing Predominance of Finance. In the 
fields of manufacturing, transportation, mining, and general 
trade there has been no such general depression as in the field 
\J of agriculture. The progress of invention, the continually 
widening sphere of the application of electricity, the development 
of quick and varied forms of communication, acting through 
long distances through the telegraph, telephone, and wireless, 
have gone far to transform all industrial life and have made 
possible enormous production and ready distribution. Yet 
the most influential changes of this period were, as has been 
said of the preceding period, in the direction of organization 
rather than invention, and in the sphere of finance rather than 
of more purely industrial life. 

Several important changes in the financial sphere began or 
became conspicuous in this period : the transformation of indi- 
vidual concerns and partnerships into joint-stock companies, 
the concentration of separate companies into " trusts " or 
other combinations, the purchase of industrial undertakings 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 307 

by financial interests, and the continued and extended invest- 
ments of British capital abroad. A few words may be said 
about each of these. The first process is one of long standing. 
Many undertakings such as the great commercial companies, 
railroads, banks, and others were joint-stock companies from 
the beginning, though often with a preponderance of the stock 
in the hands of some one man or family. But as time went on 
the necessity for more capital and new ability, the appearance 
of some new opportunity, or, in some cases, the desire to avoid 
bankruptcy, led even individuals and private partnerships to 
seek incorporation as stock companies, often retaining the old 
name and sometimes retaining a majority of the stock and thereby 
a control of the business. In this way stock companies became 
almost universal in many fields of industry, and much more 
usual in all. Such businesses are owned by the group of stock- 
holders and usually managed by the board of directors, officers, 
and managers elected by them, though in recent times some 
enlightened companies have admitted representatives of the em- 
ployees to membership on the boards of directors and others even 
to a share in the management. This, however, was for the 
most part after the close of the period covered by this chapter. 
/ About 1890 a movement began and long continued to gain 
force for the combination of competing concerns in the same 
general line of trade in a non-competing body. Such combi- 
nations have taken many forms, but they are all alike directed to 
the increase of profit or the avoidance of loss resulting from 
intense competition. Some of them are associations of all 
or most of the companies in one general line to control condi- 
tions of sale, prices, and rates for shipping. An agreement was 
made among them all to charge the same price, to give the same 
length of credit, and to pay the same shipping rates. In the 
drug trade, for instance, in 1902, an association was formed 
among 2000 retail druggists to control the price of 370 articles. 
Other combinations are associations to restrict the output 
so as to avoid overstocking the market, such as the Tinplate 

308 Industrial and Social History of England 

Manufacturers' Association, in Wales, and the Cloth Spinners', 
in Lancashire, which lasted for two years. Still others divided 
the sphere of possible sales among them, agreeing to leave a 
certain territory to each. A conspicuous example of still another 
form of combination, the sales association, was the J. and P. 
Coats, Limited. This old firm of thread manufacturers 
entered into successive combinations with wider and wider 
groups of companies in the same line, retaining the old name 
but becoming practically a union of all the thread manufacturers 
of England, selling their goods through their own office under 
the name of the Central Thread Agency. 

Still other combinations have been of the manufacturers 
with the producers of the raw materials of their manufacture 
and of other industries connected with it, as the Coleman 
Mustard manufacturers, who also make tin because it is used 
in their work. In some cases practically every process from the 
obtaining of the raw material to the delivery of the finished 
product is under the same firm or company. This is often 
spoken of as a " vertical " as distinct from " horizontal " com- 
bination. Such substitution of monopoly for competition is 
forbidden by law in the United States, but in England it has 
progressed to great lengths, limited only by the extent to which 
it has been found practicable or profitable. Various amal- 
gamations have united from two or three to fifty or more 
formerly independent businesses, and they have control all the 
way from fifty or sixty per cent to an entire monopoly of their 
respective trades or groups of trades. 

While these changes have been in progress, there have been 
many instances of purchase outright of manufacturing and 
transportation concerns or amalgamations by banks or groups 
of capitalists who had money to invest but had no previous 
connection with the industry concerned. The procedure was a 
financial one only, the result simply of a search for profitable 
investment by possessors of capital. The former proprietors 
withdrew from the business, keeping a minority of the stock 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 309 

or investing the proceeds of the sale otherwise. In such cases 
the managers, the employees, and the public became dependent, 
in a certain sense, on banking or other capital-owning bodies, 
and these owners of the capital had practically no connection 
with the business except the receipt of dividends or interest 
on their invested or loaned capital. A large part of the spinning 
industry in Lancashire, the first fruits of the industrial revolu- 
tion, has gone through these successive changes, many of the 
largest groups of mills having been lately sold to financial 
syndicates formed for the purpose of purchasing them, but 
having no connection with the industry except its ownership. 
The same thing is true in many other lines of industry. 

The formation of joint-stock companies, the union of these 
into great combinations, and the sale of the stock of these organ- 
izations to purely financial interests, have given a predominance 
in industrial life to the element of pure capital, apart from per- 
sonality and public service, which it has not had at any earlier 
period. It is the most complete development yet reached of 
" capitalism," the form of industry in which all production and 
economic policy are directed toward the largest and most cer- 
tain reward for the use of the capital invested in it. 

Another form of capitalism dates from a somewhat earlier 
period. So much wealth was amassed in England that it was 
often difficult to find in England itself investments for it that 
offered good returns. About the middle of the nineteenth 
century, therefore, the process began of the investment of 
English money in the British colonies and foreign countries. 
Some of these investments were in the form of loans to colonial 
and foreign governments ; English investors loaned money on 
government bonds in Egypt, Turkey, Mexico, European and 
South American states, and many other countries and munici- 
palities. Investments were also made in the stocks and bonds 
of English companies which obtained concessions to build rail- 
roads, establish banks, open up mines, develop oil wells, and 
exploit the other natural resources of foreign countries, espe- 

310 Industrial and Social History of England 

daily of the more backward countries of Asia, Africa, Central 
and South America. Still other British capital was invested 
in trade between Great Britain and these distant countries, 
carried on in close connection with the companies engaged 
in their internal development. Much of this capital, like that 
used in the later developments in England itself, was provided 
by banks or syndicates of large investors. So a great network 
of investments outside of England was created which has had 
a deep influence on British political and economic policy both 
in respect to internal and to external affairs. Great Britain 
became a great creditor nation to which much of the rest of the 
world paid tribute. 

The profits on these loans were found not only in the actual 
use of British capital in distant regions, but in the profits ob- 
tained through speculation in those investments, in floating 
new companies, in manipulating the securities of old companies, 
and in provision of loans for the wars and other expeditions 
carried out in the interest of those investments. This phase of 
capitalism led on to what has often been called " economic im- 
perialism," that is to say, the acquisition of control of regions 
outside of Great Britain and her self-governing colonies, largely 
for the sake of providing profitable investments for the wealth of 
British capitalists or financial concerns. By a careful estimate 
the amount of British capital invested abroad in government 
loans, in railways, banks, and mines, at the beginning of the 
period covered by this chapter, 1878, was some 3f billion dollars. 
Twenty years later, in the middle of the period, it was more 
than 10 billion dollars. At its close, it was probably 15 billions, 
though no exact statistics are available for that date. The 
annual income to English investors from these foreign sources 
was estimated about the close of the nineteenth century at 
$500,000,000 a year. 

This income, like all incomes from investments, was distrib- 
uted among a comparatively few persons of very large wealth, 
and a very large number, there is no practicable means of 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 311 

finding how large a number, of persons whose inherited means 
or whose savings were invested in that way. 

99. Entrance of Government into the Economic Field. 
Established custom in England and the individualist teachings 
of the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century were alike 
opposed to the government taking part in economic affairs. 
A certain amount of regulation had of course been imposed upon 
manufacturing, transportation, and landholding in the interest 
either of the public or of employees, and the government had 
given some encouragement to various forms of enterprises, 
such as the establishment of steamship lines, but these were 
not actual government operations. The government had taken 
up certain activities in the support of health and education, 
but these were not industrial in their character. Yet there 
were certain lines of economic usefulness that seemed so natural 
that they were entered upon by the government without any 
intention of deliberately following a new policy. 

The post-office is such an old and well-established branch 
of the government's activity as not in itself to be included 
among newly adopted functions ; but from a period somewhat 
earlier than the beginning of this chapter other duties have 
been placed upon it which amount to the government entering 
through the post-office into a much more widely extended 
industrial field. In 1861, the post-office savings-bank was 
established and it has grown and extended itself widely since. 
Any sum from one shilling upward is now accepted from any 
depositor until his desposits rise to 50 in any one year or a total 
of 200 in all. It presents great attractions from its security and 
its convenience. The government through the post-office pays 
two and one-half per cent interest on deposits. In 1870 approxi- 
mately 14,000,000 was deposited in the post-office savings- 
banks, in 1880 31,000,000, and ten years later 62,000,000. 
In 1880 arrangements were made by which government bonds 
and annuities could be bought through the post-office. In 1890 
some 4,600,000 was invested in government stock in this way. 

Industrial and Social History of England 

The parcels post was established in 1883. This branch of 
the post-office does a large part of the work that would other- 
wise be done by private express companies. It takes charge 
of packages up to eleven pounds in weight and under certain 
circumstances up to twenty-one pounds, presented at any 
branch post-office, and on prepayment of regular charges 
delivers them to their consignees. 

In the meantime another form of communication had begun 
to compete with the transmission of letters. This was the 
telegraph. The telegraph system of England was built up in 
the main and in its early stages by private persons and com- 
panies. After more than twenty-five years of competitive 
development, however, there was widespread public dissatisfac- 
tion with the service. Messages were expensive and telegraph- 
ing inconvenient. Many towns with populations from three 
thousand to six thousand were without telegraphic facilities 
nearer than five or ten miles, while the offices of competing 
companies were numerous in busy centres. In 1870, therefore, 
all private telegraph companies were bought up by the govern- 
ment at an expense of something over ten million pounds. 
A strict telegraphic monopoly in the hands of the government 
was established, and the telegraph was made an integral part 
of the post-office system. 

In 1878 the telephone began to compete with the telegraph, 
and its relation to the government telegraphic monopoly 
became a matter of question. At first the government adopted 
the policy of collecting a ten per cent royalty on all telephone 
messages, but allowed telephone systems to be established by 
private companies. In the meantime the various companies 
were being bought up successively by the National Telephone 
Company, which was thus securing a virtual monopoly. In 
1892 Parliament authorized the Postmaster General to spend 
1,000,000, subsequently raised to 1,300,000, in the purchase 
of telephone lines, and prohibited any private construction of 
new lines. As a result, by 1897, the government had bought up 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 313 

all the main or trunk telephone lines and wires, leaving to the 
National Telephone Company its monopoly of all telephone 
communication inside of the towns. This monopoly was 
supposed to be in its legal possession until 1904, when it was 
anticipated that the government would buy out its property 
at a valuation. In 1898, however, there was an inquiry into 
the validity of the company's claims by Parliament. The 
monopoly of the National Company was discredited, a new 
act was passed in 1899, and the government began to enter 
into competition with it within the towns and to authorize 
local governments and private companies under certain circum- 
stances to do the same. It was provided that every extension 
of an old company and every new company must obtain a 
government license and that on the expiring of this license, 
as in the case of the railroads, the plant could be bought by 
the government. In the meantime the post-office authorities 
had power to restrict rates. An appropriation of 2,000,000 
was later put in the hands of the Postmaster General to extend 
the government telephone system. It seems quite certain that 
by 1925, at latest, all telephones will be in the hands of the 

Many activities of the community as a whole are in England 
carried out not by the national government but by city, borough, 
and county governments under authority given them by 
Parliament. The general theory in England is that local 
governments cannot do anything that they are not specially 
authorized to do by the central government. In 1870 an act 
was passed giving local authorities the right to purchase and 
run, or themselves establish " tramway " or street-car lines. 
This power was made use of and a number of the towns gradually 
took over and ran their own street-car systems. 

In 1880 local authorities were permitted to float bonds for 
the purpose of carrying on these and certain other municipal 
enterprises, and much capital was borrowed and utilized in 
that way. In 1896 a " Light Railways " act was passed for 

314 Industrial and Social History of England 

the encouragement of publicly owned passenger and light 
freight lines over longer distances than simply within the towns. 

In 1884 an important government investigation of the problem 
of the crowded dwelling sections in the towns was carried out 
and, as a result of their report, in 1890 the " Housing of the 
Working Classes Act " was passed. According to its pro- 
visions, when it is brought to the attention of the local authori- 
ties that any district or street or alley is in such a condition 
that the houses in it are unfit for human habitation, or that 
the narrowness, want of light or air, or bad drainage makes the 
district dangerous to the health of the inhabitants or their 
neighbors, and that these conditions cannot be readily remedied 
except by an entire rearrangement of the district, then it be- 
comes the duty of the local authorities to take the matter in 
hand. They are bound to draw up and, on approval by the 
proper superior authorities, to carry out a plan for widening 
the streets and approaches to them, providing proper sanitary 
arrangements, tearing down the old houses, and building new 
ones in sufficient number and suitable character to provide 
dwelling accommodation for as many persons of the working class 
as were displaced by the changes. Private rights or claims 
are not allowed to stand in the way of any such public action 
in favor of the general health and well-being, as the local 
authorities are clothed by the law with the right of purchase 
of the land and buildings of the locality at a valuation, even 
against the wishes of the owners, though they must obtain 
parliamentary confirmation of such a compulsory purchase. 
Several acts have been passed to provide for the public ac- 
quisition or building of workingmen's dwellings. In 1899 the 
" Small Dwellings Acquisition Act " gave power to any local 
authority to loan four-fifths of the cost of purchase of a small 
house, to be repaid by the borrower by instalments within 
thirty years. 

There were many other forms of what is called in England 
" Municipal Trading " or " Municipal Ownership," such as 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 315 

gas and water works, steamboats, markets, bath-houses, wash- 
houses, slaughter-houses, and restaurants. These are real 
instances of government ownership and industry, although 
carried out by local not by the central government. 

100. Employers' Liability and Workmen's Compensation. 
With the increasing use of machinery and of steam power for 
manufacturing and transportation, and in the absence of 
precaution and regulations, accidents to workmen became much 
more numerous. Satisfactory statistics do not exist for early 
periods, but it was well known that in every large industry 
scores of deaths and hundreds of less serious accidents were 
constantly occurring. Each of these brought not only its 
physical suffering but loss of power of the workman for a longer 
or shorter time to support himself and his family ; and at the 
same time reduced the productiveness of industry. In the four 
years from 1872 to 1876, for instance, there were 261 explosions 
of factory boilers, by which 308 persons were killed and 535 
injured. As machinery was speeded up, the frequency of ac- 
cidents became constantly greater. The life of a workman 
in a factory, shop, or mine, or on a railroad, was comparable 
in danger to that of a soldier or sailor. In 1899 serious or petty 
accidents to the number of 70,760 were reported from industrial 

By Common Law, as denned in a decision given in 1837, 
damages for accident could be sued for in the case of negligence, 
and obtained by a workman, just as by any other person, 
except in two cases. If the accident was the result of his own 
contributory negligence or the negligence of a fellow-employee, 
no compensation for injuries would be allowed by the courts. 
The theory in the first case was that in the implied contract 
between employer and employee, the employee agreed to 
accept the ordinary risks of the business. If he made these 
risks greater by his own carelessness, he must suffer for it. In 
the second case it was construed that he accepted the risks 
of the business including those that arose from the carelessness 

316 Industrial and Social History of England 

of his fellow-employees. In the large establishments of modern 
times, however, vast numbers of men were fellow-employees 
in the eyes of the law, and the doctrine of " common employ- 
ment," as it was called, prevented the recovery of damages 
in so many cases as to attract widespread attention. For 
instance, in the case of a railroad accident due to the carelessness 
of a flagman, the passengers could obtain damages but the 
engineer and brakeman could not, for the flagman was their 
fellow-employee. From 1865 forward this provision of the law 
was frequently complained of by factory inspectors, leaders of 
the workingmen, and others, but as constantly upheld by the 

In 1876 a committee of the House of Commons on the re- 
lations of master and servant took evidence on this matter and 
recommended in its report that the common law be amended 
in this respect. Accordingly in 1880 the " Employers' Liability 
Act " was passed which abolished the doctrine of " common 
employment " as to much of its application, made the employer 
liable for all accidents due to defective machinery or negligence, 
and made it possible for the employee, on bringing suit, to 
obtain compensation for accidental injury in the great majority 
of cases. This arrangement was, however, cumbrous, expensive, 
and unsatisfactory, involving a special lawsuit in each case. 

In 1893 a bill was introduced in Parliament by the ministry 
of the time to make the employer responsible for damages in 
all cases, except that of contributory negligence on the part of 
the workmen, but it was not passed. In 1897, however, the 
" Workmen's Compensation Act " was passed, changing the 
basis of the law entirely. By this act it was provided in a 
large number of employments that, in case of accident to a 
workman causing death or incapacitating him for a period of 
more than two weeks, compensation in proportion to the wages 
he formerly earned should be paid by the employer, as a matter 
of course, unless " serious and wilful misconduct " on the part 
of the workman could be shown to have existed. The liability 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 317 

of employers became, therefore, a matter of insurance of work- 
men against accidents arising out of their employment, imposed 
by the law upon employers. It was no longer damages for 
negligence but a form of compulsory insurance. In other 
words, after 1897, a legal, if only an implied part of the contract 
between employer and employee in all forms of modern industry 
in which accidents are likely to occur was that the employer 
should insure the employee against the dangers of his work. 
A new form of insurance grew up about this requirement and 
became almost universal. The cost of the insurance was 
necessarily added to the general cost of production. 

101. Developments in Trade Unionism. By the close of 
the last period trade unions had gained full legal and economic 
recognition, though they did not of course exist in all industries 
or include by any means the whole body of the working classes. 
These older unions had a well-marked character. They existed 
usually only in the skilled trades ; unskilled workmen, general 
laborers, and women were not organized. They admitted only 
members who had gone through a full apprenticeship, and they 
were therefore somewhat exclusive. They had usually con- 
siderable funds for insurance purposes, requiring comparatively 
large payments of dues, often a shilling a week. Their financial 
interests were often of as great interest to them as their imme- 
diate trade interests or even greater. These characteristics, as 
well as the fact that some of them had been long in existence, 
and the older and more staid men had come into positions of 
almost complete ascendancy, brought it about that the old 
trade unions were conservative and almost aristocratic in their 
character and policy. They were opposed to any combined 
political action, believing that they could best reach their ends 
by trade negotiations merely, or where legislation was necessary 
obtaining it through one or other of the great political parties. 
Again they were in almost all cases " craft unions," that is to 
say, each craft or branch of trade had its own union. The 
workmen in any one establishment were therefore apt to be 

318 Industrial and Social History of England 

members of several different trade unions. The locomotive 
engineers, the firemen, the conductors, the switchmen, and other 
employees of the railroads had each their separate organization. 
The bricklayers, carpenters, stone masons, iron workers, and 
other crafts concerned with building had each its union. These 
unions extended through the whole country, but in any one build- 
ing operation each of them was apt to be represented. The 
body of workmen as a whole in one industrial concern, whether 
it was a house, a railroad, a mine, or a factory, were not organ- 
ized or recognized as a single body. The organization of 
workmen by whole industries, instead of by separate crafts in 
those industries, is known as " industrial unionism " as distinct 
from " craft unionism." 

Most of the concessions to workingmen so far mentioned 
were obtained by the influence of the trade unions as they then 
existed; largely through the parliamentary committee of the 
annual trades-union congress. The Employers' Liability and 
Workmen's Compensation acts described in the last paragraph 
were adopted largely in response to the trade-union demands 
expressed in their annual congresses from 1872 onward. Work- 
ingmen were appointed not infrequently to positions as factory 
inspectors, and trade-union leaders were from time to time 
added to the list of local magistrates in industrial neighbor- 
hoods. From 1884 onward, first the national government, 
then city and county governments, were induced to pay all 
their industrial employees and require from all their con- 
tractors the payment of " fair wages," which were interpreted 
to mean trade-union rates. Certain labor leaders were elected 
to Parliament on the Liberal ticket and appointed to various 
parliamentary or royal commissions. But it was not the 
successes of the old form of unionism but the changes in it 
that were most conspicuous and important in this period. 

The masses of untrained common laborers, especially in 
London, their poverty and their frequent unemployment, were 
coming to attract more and more attention. They had no 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 319 

part nor lot in the trade-union movement as it existed. Along 
with them were a vast number of skilled but irregularly em- 
ployed workmen, largely included in the trade unions but 
apparently unable to rise above the merest necessities of com- 
fort and decency, and in times of bad trade apt to fall into the 
same pit of unemployment and poverty as the unskilled laborers. 
A series of parliamentary and other investigations and reports 
made from 1880 onward threw light on the sad conditions of 
a great part of the laboring population of England even after 
the great advances and reforms since 1848. 

In 1886 and 1887 a series of processions followed by meetings 
of " the unemployed " took place in London, especially at 
Trafalgar Square, the traditional place for speeches terminating 
political processions. On several of these occasions there was 
rioting. The police authorities finally prohibited these meet- 
ings, new demonstrations against what were considered attacks 
on the freedom of speech took place, new riots followed, and 
a number of speakers, including some members of Parliament, 
were prosecuted and imprisoned. These events and the 
activity of the socialist discussions then in progress, which will 
be described in the next paragraph, aroused the interest of the 
community and seem to have given courage to an entirely new 
group of workmen and women to form unions and insist on 
better conditions of life. In July, 1888, the women who dipped 
matches, a quite unskilled and very much underpaid trade, 
ventured to strike, public subscriptions for their assistance 
were made, and they won their strike. The next summer the 
stokers and general workmen in the London gas works formed 
a union and struck for a reduction of their hours from twelve 
to eight and, rather unexpectedly, gained their terms. 

About the docks in the east end of London several thousand 
poor, irregularly employed and unorganized laborers gathered 
daily to pick up casual labor in loading and unloading vessels 
at whatever time these arrived or were ready to depart. Efforts 
had been made for some time by leaders among themselves to 

320 Industrial and Social History of England 

form them into one or more unions. Rather suddenly in 
August, 1889, a strike broke out, the men nocked to member- 
ship in the unions, some ten thousand men left their work, 
skilful leadership was developed, and the general public con- 
tributed funds and protested against bringing in strike breakers. 
Money was subscribed not only from the older trade unions 
from all parts of England but from America and Australia. 
More than 50,000 was put at the service of the managers 
of the strike and in this case the newspapers were generally 
sympathetic. Finally the men won most of their demands, 
and a group of permanent trade unions among the laborers was 
formed not only at the docks but on the railroads, among sailors 
and firemen, and in other occupations and in other parts of the 
country. These new unions usually required small payments, 
collected no benefit funds, and admitted practically everybody 
who wanted to enter. They also brought to the surface a new 
group of leaders of much ability and influence, especially John 
Burns, Tom Mann, and Ben Tillet. An entirely new element 
was thus introduced into the trade-union body. This sudden 
addition and awakening of interest also reacted on the older 
unions and led to a rapid increase in their numbers, so that 
by the close of the period covered by this chapter there were 
all together some 1200 recognized unions in Great Britain with 
more than 2,000,000 members. The accumulated funds in the 
possession of these unions amounted to about $28,000,000 and 
their expenditure to about $10,000,000 a year, most of it col- 
lected by regular dues. There were by this time in various 
localities 265 trade councils with about a million members. 
These were of course already members of national or local 
unions and should not be counted twice. 

An " amalgamation " or " confederation " usually means 
in England a combination of a number of local unions of the 
same craft into a national union; but from 1880 onward there 
were a number of instances of combinations of several different 
but allied crafts into one association, thus bringing about a 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 321 

substitution of industrial for craft unions. Instances of this 
are the Association of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, 
formed in 1880; an association of spinners, weavers, and card- 
ing room workers, formed in 1886 ; the union of all the railway- 
men except engineers and firemen; and many of the unskilled 
laborers' unions formed in 1889 and subsequently. 

As a result of the changes of this period, of the teachings of 
socialism, and the rise of a new type of leaders of more radical 
opinions than the old, there grew up a general division on 
points of policy among trade unionists into two loosely dis- 
tinguished groups commonly spoken of as the " right " and 
the " left " wing. Some unions belonged practically entirely 
to one side or the other, in other unions there was a division, 
with a tendency only in one direction or the other. These 
differences appeared in the annual trade-union congresses 
which continued to be held during this whole period, the main 
course of trade-union activity being conservative or progressive 
according to the victory of the " right " or the " left " in 
these meetings. The most characteristic developments of 
the period remained, however, first, the formation of the new 
more popular and radical unskilled workmen's unions, secondly, 
a great increase in the numbers and accumulated wealth of 
the unions-, thirdly, the beginning of industrial unionism, and, 
lastly, a threatened breach in the general trade-union body 
between the more conservative and the more progressive or 
radical elements. 

102. Entrance of Trade Unions into Politics. The trade 
unions were slow to go into politics. Their leaders believed 
that they could best reach their ends by negotiating directly 
with their employers in the matters that interested them, and 
until after the passage of the parliamentary reform bills of 
1867 and 1884, they could take no part as voters in the larger 
political affairs of the country. After they had the franchise, 
they voted for the most part for the candidates of the Con- 
servative or Liberal parties who announced views favorable to 

322 Industrial and Social History of England 

labor interests. The Trade-Union Congress of 1869 created 
a " Labor Representation Committee " to encourage represen- 
tation of labor in Parliament and occasionally independent 
candidates, mostly trade-union officers, offered themselves as 
candidates and appealed for workingmen's votes. In a few 
cases trade unions voted money to help pay the expenses of 
campaigns. In 1874 two miners' officials in northern constitu- 
encies, Alexander Macdonald and Thomas Burt, were elected 
and became the first " labor members " of Parliament. At 
the election of 1880 three labor men were elected. 

The period following 1885, as already indicated, was one of 
great agitation and excitement among the trade unions and as a 
result in 1892 sixteen labor men were elected. But there was 
still no separate labor party, the members acting independently, 
or more usually with the Liberal party. They were often spoken 
of as the " Liberal-Labor Members." 

In 1893, however, at a conference held in the manufacturing 
town of Bradford, a separate political party was organized, 
known as the Independent Labor party, hoping to draw ef- 
fective support from workingmen on the basis of a group of 
the socialistic principles which will be described in the next 
section. But although it elected several hundred members of 
town, county, and other local bodies, in parliamentary elections 
it had little success. It was not until 1900 that it elected its 
first representative in Parliament. In 1906 seven of its candi- 
dates were elected. 

In the meantime, however, in the Trade-Union Congress of 
1899, the general body of unionists abandoned their traditional 
policy of keeping out of politics. By a vote representing about 
500,000 members against 400,000 they instructed the Labor 
Representation Committee to devise and carry out some plan 
for securing direct representation of organized labor in Parlia- 
ment and in local governing bodies. This body proceeded to 
establish a new party, independent of either the Conservative 
or Liberal parties and of the Independent Labor and other 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 323 

socialist parties. It asked, however, for the support of all 
trade unions, cooperative, socialist, and other working class 
organizations, and offered to work with the Liberals for general 
reforming ends. It held its organization meeting in London 
early in 1900. The new party could not, of course, demand the 
votes of all the members of the unions which supported it, but 
from among the 41 unions with about 300,000 members which 
declared their adherence to it in 1900, the 158 unions with 
900,000 members which declared for it in 1903, and two 
socialist bodies with some 20,000 members, it recruited a 
considerable body of voters. In 1906, at the first parliamentary 
election held after its formation, it adopted the official title 
of the Labor party and elected twenty-nine of its candidates. 
There were, besides these, twenty-five representatives of the 
Independent Labor party, Liberal-Labor and private members, 
so that all together there were by the close of this period fifty- 
four " labor " members in Parliament. 

A marked characteristic of the Labor and socialistic parties 
has been the close control which they have exercised over the 
parliamentary action of those who have been elected as their 
representatives. Instead of the merely general expectation 
of the older Liberal and Unionist parties that members will 
vote hi accordance with the principles and program of their 
parties, representatives of these newer parties agree to be 
guided in their actions by the requirements of their party as 
shown by the votes of its annual conferences or interpreted 
by the executive committee of the party elected at these con- 

103. Socialism. The first group of men in England who 
called themselves socialists and to whom the name was applied 
by others were, as has been stated in Chapter IX, the followers 
of Robert Owen, who from about 1830 used that name to indi- 
cate their opposition to the purely competitive and individualist 
ideal of business and society then generally accepted, and their 
belief that some sort of social reorganization was desirable and 

324 Industrial and Social History of England 

practicable. 1 About 1850 Charles Kingsley, Frederick D. 
Maurice, and some others established the newspaper called the 
Christian Socialist, in which they advocated social reforms, such 
as cooperation. Socialism in the first half of the century meant 
social reform. It was based on the belief that there was much 
injustice and misery in English society that ought not to be 
" let alone," but should and could be gotten rid of by the adop- 
tion of some such devices as cooperation or the establishment 
of self-governing and self-supporting communities, from which 
competition should be excluded and in which private property 
would play but a small part. Much criticism of the prevailing 
individualist or " let alone " policy of the time appears in the 
writings of Shelley, Carlyle, Ruskin, Hood, Dickens, and other 
poets, essayists, and novelists. 

From 1848 onward " socialism " was given a new meaning 
by the writings of certain German and French economists and 
historians who developed what is often called " scientific social- 
ism." This can be understood at least in part from one of its 
earliest productions, the Communist Manifesto. This was 
written in 1847 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, members 
of a group of Germans living in England in exile on account of 
their part in the political agitations in favor of greater liberty in 
their own country. It was published in 1848 in London, in 
German, and was later translated into English, French, and 
many other languages. It introduced into common discussion 
the idea that all society is in modern times divided into two 
classes, employers and workingmen, capital and labor, bour- 
geoisie and proletariat ; and that there is necessarily a struggle 
between these two classes. According to the Manifesto the 
laborers are the real producers, and the owners of land and 
capital are, under present circumstances, " exploiting " them, 
that is to say, withholding from them part of the product of 
their labor. The interests of workingmen in all countries are 
the same and in all countries they are opposed to those of their 
1 See pp. 247-8. 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 325 

employers. They should therefore be united in a close inter- 
national bond. These socialists or communists, the names 
were at that time used interchangeably, though the " com- 
munism " of that time is more nearly what is meant by socialism 
in modern times, while "communism" has taken on a new 
meaning looked forward to a revolution by which the work- 
ingman would get control of the government and use it to intro- 
duce different laws of property and a different and, as they 
believed, a more equal, more prosperous, and happy form of 
society. Whether this revolution should be a violent one or 
merely a matter of voting was not clearly expressed. Since 
the authors believed that the old form of competitive society 
would break down of itself, the question of whether any vio- 
lence would be needed would have to be left to the future to 

The Manifesto and similar writings expressing these views 
which were published on the Continent during the following years 
were known more or less in England, but for a long time had 
very little effect on men's thinking. When the " International 
Workingmen's Association " was established in 1864, when 
Marx' great work " Capital " began its publication in 1867, 
and while socialism was gaining the adherence of hundreds 
of thousands in Germany, France, Italy, and elsewhere on the 
Continent, in England but little was heard of it. This was due 
no doubt partly to the habits of thought and action of the 
English people, who are not attracted by general theories, and 
prefer changes to come gradually; partly to the predominant 
interest of the most intelligent English workingmen in co- 
operation, trade unions, factory laws, education, and other re- 
form movements ; partly to their free institutions, by which, as 
most men believed, changes could be obtained through act of 
Parliament whenever the pressure became strong enough, with- 
out the necessity for either a violent revolution or even a com- 
plete transformation such as the socialists anticipated. 

It was not until after 1880 that socialist organizations were 

326 Industrial and Social History of England 

formed in Great Britain. The later seventies and early eighties 
were a period of severe commercial, industrial, and agricultural 
depression which caused great loss and suffering and aroused 
much discussion and criticism of accepted practices. Unre- 
stricted competition began to lose its hold on general thought. 
The final reaction against laissez-faire showed itself in many 
ways, some of which have been already described. Changes 
in the conduct of trade itself occurred ; such laws as the work- 
men's compensation act were passed; factory legislation was 
carried further, and the trade unions organized themselves more 
strongly. There was also much effort on the part of many con- 
scientious and thoughtful persons to correct some of the evils 
of competitive society by personal effort. The Salvation Army 
was founded by William Booth in 1878 and during this period 
established its shelters and workshops. Toynbee Hall, the first 
and best known of the social settlement houses, was established 
in 1885. It was named after Arnold Toynbee, a gifted young 
Oxford man much interested in social problems. Several other 
such settlements followed. Henry George's book, Progress 
and Poverty, an attack on the system of private landholding, 
first printed in San Francisco in 1879, was republished in Eng- 
land soon afterwards and sold in hundreds of thousands of 
copies. George himself, as well as Thomas Davidson, another 
American reformer, lectured there with much success and pop- 
ular interest in 1883 and 1884. 

In the midst of these many forms of agitation for special 
reforms, it is not strange that some men organized for an entire 
reorganization of society. In 1877 the successors of the old 
Christian Socialists reorganized themselves as the Guild of St. 
Matthew, a religious association with a socialistic program. In 
1884 the Social Democratic Federation was formed. Its most 
prominent organizer was H. M. Hyndman,but among its members 
were the artist William Morris and a number of other well-to-do 
and educated men and women. It was based on the teachings 
of Karl Marx and the other scientific socialists and early adopted 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 327 

a program of ultimate possession of land and capital by the 
government and immediate introduction of free education 
for everybody, a minimum wage and similar proposals. They 
established a weekly newspaper Justice, and a monthly The 
Social Democrat. They made some efforts, though unsuccessful, 
to elect representatives to Parliament and kept up an organiza- 
tion and propaganda. They still exist under the name of the 
Social Democratic party. 

In 1884 the Fabian Society was organized, having as its aim 
" the reorganization of society by the emancipation of land and 
industrial capital from individual and class ownership, and the 
vesting of them in the community for the common benefit." 
The members of this society were mainly journalists, artists, 
literary men and women, teachers, and social workers. They 
differed from the Social Democratic Federation by seeking their 
end not by an immediate and direct effort to bring about changes, 
by legislation or otherwise, but by the permeation of all the 
thinking and writing of the time with socialistic teaching. Their 
name was taken from the Roman general Quintus Fabius Cunc- 
tator, because like him they expected to obtain conquest by 
delay until their opponents had become weakened and those 
who agreed with them had become vastly more numerous and 
stronger. From 1885 forward they issued a series of " Fabian 
Tracts " applying socialistic principles to various problems of the 
day ; in 1889 a volume of " Fabian Essays " was published. It 
is said that three-quarters of a million copies of these small publi- 
cations were circulated within less than ten years. They formed 
also almost a hundred branches for discussion and agitation. 
In speeches and articles delivered and written by thousands 
yearly and in the course of the conversation of their members 
they did much to weaken belief in the sufficiency of competition 
and to spread socialistic thought. 

All of these societies were under the leadership of men of the 
middle or upper, well-educated and comparatively comfortable 
classes, and drew their membership principally from the same 

328 Industrial and Social History of England 

classes. In 1893 a distinctly socialist organization was formed 
among the workingmen. This was the Independent Labor 
party, already referred to, organized under the influence of an 
active working class leader, Keir Hardy. He was devoted to 
socialist principles and had frequently been a delegate to the 
annual Trade-Union Congress and tried without success to 
induce that body to adopt a complete socialist program. At 
the meeting of the Trade-Union Congress at Glasgow in 1892, 
although no official action was taken, a group of socialist 
members got together and agreed to call a meeting to form a 
socialist party. At this meeting, held at Bradford, a consider- 
able number of delegates agreed to form this new body, without 
at the same time separating themselves from their trade unions, 
with the object of extending their doctrines among working- 
men and of electing members to Parliament pledged to their 
thorough-going reforms. The Independent Labor party be- 
came a vigorous and aggressive body especially strong in 
leadership among the working classes. In 1906 the " Church 
Socialist League " was organized. 

Yet, notwithstanding the formation and activity of these 
organizations, socialism as an organized movement did not 
flourish. This was due principally to a continuance of the 
causes that have been previously stated. Most Englishmen be- 
lieved that the ends which the socialist had at heart could be 
reached in other ways than by such a sudden and complete 
change. Therefore, although there were many socialists, there 
was but little formal and deliberately planned socialism. In 
the trade unions there were many members who called them- 
selves and really were socialists, and much of the policy advo- 
cated at the Trade Union Congresses after about 1890 was 
essentially socialistic. In that year a resolution was passed 
declaring for regulation of the hours of labor in all trades by 
Parliament, and a number of measures were adopted favoring 
interference by the government in what would formerly have 
been considered matters of private agreement. 

Liberal Influences on Industrial Life 329 

Moreover, many of the laws being passed by Parliament 
were more than half socialistic and the extended functions of 
the national government and many local governments were of 
the same character. At the close of the period of this chapter, 
therefore, the year 1906, the organizations which called them- 
selves socialistic were not growing appreciably, but socialism 
itself, broadly considered, was growing rapidly in men's minds, 
in the policy of many organizations, in legislation, and in daily 


Haggard, H. Rider : Rural England, 1906. 

Heath, F. G. : British Rural Life and Labour, London, 1911. 

Jebb, L. : The Small Holdings of England, a Survey of 
Various Existing Conditions. 

Ashley, W. J. : (Editor) British Industries, 2d ed., London, 

Hobson, J. A. : The Evolution of Modern Capitalism, London, 

Macrosty, H. W. : The Trust Movement in British Industry, 
London, 1907. 

Macgregor, D. H. : Industrial Combination, London, 1906. 

Hyndman, H. M. : Commercial Crises of the Nineteenth 
Century, London, 1892. 

Bowley, H. L. : Wages in the United Kingdom in the Nine- 
teenth Century, 1900. 

Aronson, V. R. : The Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906. 

Birrell, Augustine : Law of Employers' Liability. 

Orth, Samuel P. : Socialism and Democracy in Europe, New 
York, 1913. 

Smith, H. W., and Nash, Vaughan : The Story of the Dockers' 
Strike, London, 1889. 

Noel, Conrad : The Labour Party, London, 1906. 

Humphrey, A. W. : A History of Labour Representation, 
London, 1912. 

33 Industrial and Social History of England 

George, Henry: Progress and Poverty. 

Fabian Essays in Socialism, London, 1890. 

Ensor, R. C. : Modern Socialism, London, 1907. 

Foster, H. V. Arnold : English Socialism of To-day, London, 

Macdonald, J. Ramsay: The Socialist Movement, London. 
191 1. (A small book in the Home University Library.) 

Beer, M. : A History of English Socialism. 


105. National Affairs from 1906 to 1920. By the end of 

1905 the Conservative or Unionist party, which had so long 
held control of the government, had lost the confidence of the 
people, and at the elections held in January, 1906, a combina- 
tion of parties opposed to it, the Liberals, Irish Nationalists, 
and Labor party, obtained a large majority in Parliament and 
formed a new ministry. It was this combined party that 
carried through the series of economic and social reforms to 
which so much of this chapter is devoted. 

In addition a number of changes of a more political nature 
were made. In 1911 a bill known as the Parliament Act was 
passed giving to the House of Commons much greater power. 
In case of a dispute between the House of Commons and the 
House of Lords on any proposed bill, it would become law 
when the House of Commons passed it, if it were a bill con- 
cerned with taxation or appropriations, immediately, whether 
the House of Lords approved it or not. Any other bill, if 
passed by the House of Commons three times in successive 
sessions would become law, even if the House of Lords de- 
feated it each time. At the same time it was provided that 
Parliament should not sit longer than five years without a new 
election. Members of Parliament, who had before served 
without salary, were now to be paid, so that a more democratic 
element might serve as representatives of the people. 

The occurrence of this period of the most overwhelming im- 
portance was, of course, the Great War, begun August 4, 1914, 
and closed by the armistice of November n, 1918, followed by 


332 Industrial and Social History of England 

the Peace of Versailles, signed June 28, 1919. Its most re- 
markable feature in a military way was the creation of an army 
of 7,500,000 men and the transportation of most of them to 
France or to other fields of warfare. The small standing army 
in existence at the beginning of the war was rapidly increased 
in 1914 and 1915 by voluntary enlistments; in 1916 com- 
pulsory military service was adopted, and the various colonies 
sent vast contributions of troops for the united British army. 
The troops were supplied with munitions by the government 
by establishing enormous manufactories for war material, by 
employing immense numbers of men and women, and control- 
ling all the sources of supply needed for them. 

During the course of the war not only were the losses and 
sufferings enormous, but much of the form of government and 
of the organization of society was for the time transformed. 
A coalition ministry was formed composed of the Liberals, the 
parties which had worked with them before the war and a large 
number of Conservatives. In 1916 Mr. Asquith, the prime 
minister, resigned and Lloyd George took his place. A " war 
cabinet " of five men was also appointed to provide for carrying 
on the war more effectively. After the war a new reform bill was 
introduced and carried in February, 1918. It is known as the 
Representation of the People Act. By it what was practically 
universal suffrage was introduced for both men and women. 
With a few exceptions one vote only was allowed to each voter, 
and the representative districts were made almost exactly 
equal in number of inhabitants. The old programme of the 
Chartists for parliamentary reform, universal suffrage, vote by 
ballot, abolition of property qualification for membership, 
payment of members, equal electoral districts, and annual 
Parliaments was by the act of 1918 completed, except for the 
last point, and in some respects, as in women's suffrage, and 
in the supremacy of the House of Commons over the House of 
Lords, democracy was carried further than the Chartists had 
ever planned. 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 333 

As soon as the war was over, Lloyd George, the prune minister, 
appealed to the country for the continued support of the Coali- 
tion ministry, dissolved Parliament, which had already by 
special arrangement sat longer than the law permitted, and 
in December, 1918, the first election under the new reform bill 
was held. The Irish members, dissatisfied with the treatment 
of Ireland, and the Labor representatives, dissatisfied with the 
treatment of labor questions, refused to support the ministry 
any longer. The elections nevertheless went strongly in favor 
of the Coalition ministry, which was thus given a continued 
lease of life as a combination of part of the old Liberals with 
the Unionists. 

During the war Ireland was more disturbed even than usual. 
A home rule bill was carried in 1914, against the serious oppo- 
sition of Ulster, but as the war began almost immediately its 
enforcement was suspended until the end of the war and it be- 
came practically obsolete. Although there were many voluntary 
enlistments from Ireland in the early part of the war, many 
Irishmen felt that they had no interest in it, and indeed that 
it might properly be used as an opportunity to force Great 
Britain to grant them more complete self-government. As a 
result of this feeling and of the failure of the government to 
arouse a spirit of devotion to the British cause among the Irish 
people, the society known as Sinn Fein, whose object was the 
complete separation of Ireland from Great Britain, spread widely. 
In April, 1916, they rose in revolt in Dublin but were soon put 
down and the leaders executed. Some of the Irish leaders 
plotted with the Germans, and Sir Roger Casement was cap- 
tured as he landed from a German submarine on the Irish 
coast, tried for treason, and hanged. When conscription was 
adopted for Great Britain it was not applied to Ireland for 
fear of an uprising, and when later Ireland was included in 
the law, the opposition was so great that it was not actually 
enforced. Nevertheless the Sinn Fein or republican party 
steadily grew in numbers, and when the new elections for 

334 Industrial and Social History of England 

Parliament took place in December, 1918, they carried almost 
every division in Ireland, leaving the Home Rulers but 7 
seats and the Unionists of Ulster their usual group of 25 
representatives. The 73 who had been elected from the Sinn 
Fein party thereupon refused to attend the United Parliament, 
organized a separate parliament of their own at Dublin, declared 
the independence of the Irish republic, and sought the recognition 
of other countries. 

Neither the British ministry nor other governments, however, 
gave any recognition to this proposed separation from Great 
Britain. A well-known military commander, General French, 
himself an Irishman, was appointed lord lieutenant and tried 
with a strong hand to prevent resistance to the government, 
but there was much disorder and many assassinations occurred, 
including an attempt in 1919 against General French himself. 
These attacks for the most part went untried and unpunished 
because of the alienation of the mass of people from the govern- 
ment, and the consequent failure of jury trials. 

In February, 1920, a new effort at settlement was made by 
the introduction into Parliament of a bill providing for the 
establishment of two " home rule " parliaments in Ireland, one 
for the main part of the country, the other for Ulster. 

King Edward VII died in 1910 and his son, George V, became 
king. His influence has been steadily exercised in the develop- 
ment of the more kindly interests of the people, in the encourage- 
ment of patriotism, especially during the war, and in drawing 
more closely the bonds between England and the other parts 
of the empire. In 1919 the Prince of Wales made a visit to 
Canada, Australia, and other colonies. The effect of the war has 
been to bring the self-governing colonies and the dependencies 
into greater and greater prominence. Their contributions of 
men and supplies were absolutely indispensable during the 
war, and their support greatly strengthened the moral position 
of the mother country. As a result of these conditions the 
prime ministers of the five self-governing colonial dominions 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 335 

and of India were invited to make up with the five members 
of the war cabinet of Parliament an "Imperial War Cabinet." 
This sat at London right through the war, and arrangements 
have been made by which it will become a regular part of the 
government of the empire even after the war. When the 
treaty of Versailles was signed the representatives of the prin- 
cipal colonial dominions signed it as though they were separate 
nations, and they are similarly represented in the Assembly 
of the League of Nations. 

106. A Policy of General Social Reform. Notwithstanding 
all the industrial advance that has been described and was still 
in progress, and notwithstanding all the combined action and 
all the favoring legislation that had been adopted, it was still 
doubtful whether the condition of the mass of the people had 
been appreciably improved. Certainly inequalities and evils 
were still everywhere conspicuous. Careful statistics worked 
out just at the beginning of this period, in 1909, showed that of 
the 44,500,000 people in the United Kingdom about 5,500,000, 
or about one-eighth, received about one-half of the income of 
the country, the other seven-eighths, or 39,000,000, received the 
other half. These 39,000,000, taking men, women, and children, 
received an average annual income of less than $125 apiece. 
More than half the male workmen in the country were receiving 
wages of less than $7.50 a week, and about ninety per cent 
less than $10 a week. There was much unemployment, and 
prices were rising. Real wages, allowing for the increase of 
prices and for unavoidable unemployment, were at the beginning 
of this period, in 1906, somewhat below what they had been 
ten years before, and five years later they were lower still. No 
one could look seriously into the condition of the masses of 
the English people and not be impressed with its deeply un- 
satisfactory character. It was a sad thought that all the 
triumphs of modern invention, organization, and effort had 
left so much misery in the richest country in the world. 

The belief that this poverty, distress, and lack of oppor- 

336 Industrial and Social History of England 

tunity could be overcome by the individual exertions of those 
suffering from it was becoming constantly weaker; the belief 
that these evils could be largely removed by general effort 
through the action of government was growing in strength. 
Many social reforms had long been acknowledged by all parties 
to be necessary or desirable, and had even been brought up for 
discussion in Parliament. These had not been adopted, either 
because there was too much difference of opinion as to how 
far they should extend, or because the ministry and Parlia- 
ment felt it necessary to give precedence to other matters. 
The new Parliament that met early in 1906 had, however, been 
elected largely on a platform of the adoption of such social 
reforms. Democracy was turning in the direction of improving 
the condition of the mass of the people. The prime minister, 
Campbell-Bannerman, the two most prominent members of the 
cabinet, Asquith and Lloyd George, each of whom in succession 
later became prime minister, as well as several other members 
of the ministry, were devoted to the cause of social reform. 
Indeed, Mr. Asquith declared that " political machinery is 
only valuable and is only worth having as it is adapted to and 
used for worthy social ends." The Labor party members were 
an important element of the majority in Parliament and they, 
of course, insisted on attention to reforms which were of par- 
ticular interest to the working classes. The result was that 
between the years 1906 and 1914 measures of social reform 
greater in number and more far-reaching in importance were 
carried through Parliament than at any other time in English 

Some of these measures were merely extensions or codifi- 
cations of laws already in existence, the original adoption of 
which has been described in earlier chapters. In 1906 im- 
mediately after the opening of Parliament a much more liberal 
and inclusive workmen's compensation act was passed. It 
repealed the earlier laws on the subject and established what 
was practically a code of workmen's compensation. Its pro- 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 337 

visions were extended beyond the classes formerly included 
to apply to seamen, domestic servants, and all employees of 
the government except those in the army and navy. It was 
also made to include protection from certain forms of poisoning 
or other diseases resulting from industrial causes, and power 
was given to the authorities to extend this list of industrial 
diseases. The law provided that any workman injured in the 
course of his work or suffering from certain diseases as a result 
of his work should receive from his employer as long as the 
results of the injury or the disease continued an amount equal 
to about half his previous earnings. In the case of an accident 
causing death, an amount equal to three years' wages should 
be paid to his widow or other dependents. Industrial insurance 
is taken to cover these losses. 

In each of the four years 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1909 a bill 
was passed for the special welfare of children. By these 
measures the school authorities were required to give or sell 
meals to those who came to school underfed ; playgrounds and 
medical inspection were provided for; juvenile courts were 
established; children were better protected from cruelty, and 
many other arrangements made for the children of the common 
people who were apt to have little opportunity otherwise to 
grow up with bodily and mental health and training and capable 
of enjoying and profiting by their life. 

In 1912 there was a further extension of the old factory 
acts. A law was passed which required all retail stores, 
called in England " shops," all restaurants, and similar 
establishments, to close one half day in each week, besides 
Sunday. It also limited the hours of employment in such 
establishments to sixty hours a week and made various other 
provisions about time of closing, comfort of employees, and 
such matters. These laws and a number of others either 
passed or introduced into Parliament for discussion did not 
involve any new principle, and were not seriously opposed by 
any political party. Others, however, of the same general 

338 Industrial and Social History of England 

character but introducing more of government action, or inter- 
fering more extensively in what had previously been considered 
private affairs, were carried against considerable resistance. 
The three most important and hard contested of these will 
now be described. 

107. Old Age Pensions. Neither the reformed poor law 
of 1835, the workhouse test introduced in 1871, the outdoor re- 
lief provided for in 1895, individual savings, nor private charity 
had solved the problem of providing satisfactorily for the 
support of old people of the poorer classes. Wages were, as 
has been pointed out before, so low in most cases that it could 
not be expected that workingmen should save enough for old 
age, or that younger people could support their parents when 
they became too old to work. In addition to the statistics 
already given it may be stated that in 1886 average wages 
were only about $6.00 a week, and many were getting far less 
than that sum. In 1917 more than four million full-grown men 
when regularly at work were receiving less than $7.50 a week. 
In the same year almost two-thirds of the farm laborers of 
England got less than 18 shillings, about $4.50, a week, and 
almost one-half of the women workers in the industries in which 
the largest number of women worked were paid an average of 
less than $3.00 a week. In 1894 almost one-third of the people 
of England above sixty-five years of age were in receipt of 
public relief. 

Conservatives and Liberals alike had sought a satisfactory 
plan for the support of the aged poor. Suggestions were made 
from 1879 onward for some general legislation on the subject, 
and various measures had been introduced into Parliament, but 
had failed for one cause or another of adoption. The Labor 
party had declared some years before for a simple direct pension 
of five shillings a week, paid from the national treasury, for the 
support of all aged poor persons. The ministry now took up 
this plan and after long debates carried it through Parliament 
in 1908. It provided that every man or woman who has reached 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 339 

the age of seventy years, whose means of support do not amount 
to more than 31, ios., about $155, a year, and is not receiving 
parish relief, shall receive a pension from the national govern- 
ment. This pension varied in amount from one to five shillings 
a week according to the income which the person receiving the 
pension had from other sources. Claims for a pension could 
be made, and the pension paid through the nearest post-office. 
Within five years of the passage of the act almost a million old 
men and women were receiving government pensions, nearly 
all of them of the maximum amount, that is to say, five shillings 
a week. The cost to the government was about $60,000,000 a 
year. It was urged by some that the age limit should be re- 
duced to sixty-five years, but this would have cost $35,000,000 
a year more, and it was not adopted. 

It was carefully provided that the receipt of these old age 
pensions should not carry any stigma, and the recipients are 
spoken of as "pensioners," not paupers. As a result of this and 
other causes a great many old people gave up their parish relief 
and applied for government pensions. In 1911 the disqualifi- 
cation of those receiving parish relief was removed entirely, 
under the belief that none would apply for local relief, with all 
its traditional disgrace, if they could avoid it. From 1906 to 
1915 the number of paupers above 70 years of age receiving 
local relief was reduced from more than two hundred thousand 
to about fifty thousand. Most of these were in institutions, 
and by the end of 1917 scarcely more than a thousand aged 
people in all England were left to receive outdoor relief from 
their local boards. 

In 1916, on account of the increase of prices for food and other 
necessaries due to the war, grants of weekly payments of two 
shillings and sixpence were added to the old age pensions. At 
the close of the war a committee of Parliament was appointed to 
look into the whole subject, and in accordance with their report, 
in December, 1919, the weekly payments were raised to ten 
shillings, about $2.50, a week. This adds an additional amount 

340 Industrial and Social History of England 

of about $50,000,000 a year to the cost of old age pensions. The 
problem of pauperism of those not above the age limit is still a 
serious one. Just before the war there were about 600,000 
paupers in England, who were receiving from taxes about 
$75,000,000 a year, an average of about $2.00 apiece from every 
person in England. How to remove this expensive and de- 
moralizing burden is still being studied. 

The debate on the pension bill of 1908 brought up discussion 
of many similar questions. The Labor members claimed that 
aged working people ought to be looked on as " veterans of 
industry," whose labor had been the chief factor in the winning 
of England's wealth, and who could therefore claim support 
in their old age as a right, not merely as a charity. If this were 
so, their pensions should be much larger, but for this the majority 
in Parliament was not ready. Mr. Asquith, however, who had 
just become prime minister, said concerning the act, " beyond 
this there lies the whole still unconquered territory of social 
reform." Soon afterward, in 1909, a commission on the poor 
laws which had been making investigations and taking testi- 
mony for the preceding three years made its report. It recom- 
mended a large number of changes in the laws, and the minority 
of the committee made a separate report, urging still more 
extensive reforms. This " Minority Report " of 1909 has 
become a sort of program of projects for social betterment. 

108. Government Labor or Employment Exchanges. One 
of the constant difficulties of modern times is unemployment. 
Quite apart from the idle, dissolute, or otherwise incapable and 
from men temporarily out on strike, there is always a greater or 
less number of competent persons anxious to obtain positions 
but unable to find them. In peace time between three and 
ten per cent of workingmen are always out of work. At cer- 
tain times the number increases materially. Some trades are 
" seasonal," that is to say, they are active during part of the 
year, dull at another part. Such are coal mining, clothing 
manufacture, candy making, and others. At the active periods 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 341 

in these industries there is work for everybody, at the dull 
periods of the year for very few. In the coal mines, for in- 
stance, the number of days in a year a man can obtain employ- 
ment varies from one-half to two-thirds. At more irregular 
intervals there is the same lack of work in occupations depend- 
ent on the weather, such as bricklaying, bridge-building, rail- 
road track laying, general labor, and other outdoor work. A 
great deal of unemployment results from the alternation of good 
times and bad times, from commercial or financial panics that 
close up many industrial establishments, and from the introduc- 
tion of labor-saving machinery that throws men out of employ- 
ment, at least for the time. It is a sad fact that thousands of 
workmen, sometimes hundreds of thousands, ready and willing 
to work, from causes entirely beyond their control and notwith- 
standing their utmost efforts, are sometimes without occupa- 
tion or wages for days, weeks, and months. In the longer 
periods they tramp from town to town in search of work, their 
savings are exhausted, their families suffer, they run into debt, 
regularity of habits is destroyed, and hope lost. One of the 
means by which these evils could be prevented was considered 
by some to be by improving the means by which employers and 
employees should be brought together. At the same time 
some workmen were seeking work, some employers might be 
seeking workmen, and no very satisfactory method existed of 
making them known to one another. To accomplish this re- 
sult certain cities in England, following the example of German 
cities, from about 1892 onward established municipal " labor 
exchanges." By 1905 there were some twenty-five such ex- 
changes in existence and they were filling 15,000 or more places 
a year. 

In 1905, while the old Conservative ministry was still in 
power, an " Unemployed Workmen Act " was passed authoriz- 
ing cities to enter more extensively into such plans and to lay 
certain taxes for their support, to which Parliament would add 
special grants. These plans were to be carried out largely by 

342 Industrial and Social History of England 

voluntary local " distress committees," and were therefore 
bound up closely with charitable efforts. Only London followed 
the recommendation and the results were generally felt to be 
unsatisfactory. In 1909 the Commission on the Poor Laws 
referred to above proposed that this work should be taken in 
charge by the national government, and in the autumn of the 
same year a law was passed by which the ministry was author- 
ized to take over all city offices of this kind and to establish a 
system of national government labor exchanges. They were 
defined as agencies intended to bring together workmen needing 
positions and employers needing workmen, to aid workmen to 
reach places where their services were in demand, to give in- 
formation about opportunities for work and for other similar 
purposes. The ministry made immediate use of this authoriza- 
tion by Parliament and of the appropriation granted at the 
same time. Within six months eighty of these government 
employment offices were opened in various cities; in 1912 there 
were more than four hundred in existence in cities and large 
towns, besides more than a thousand branches in small towns 
and industrial suburbs open only a day or two a week, or for 
part time. They were carefully organized. The whole coun- 
try was divided into ten districts for their administration, each 
with a central office, and there is a main central office in London. 
From this central office is sent out each day to each labor ex- 
change in the country a list of several thousand openings for 
workmen in all parts of the country. Their officials are assisted 
by voluntary local committees, and they work as far as possible 
in connection with trade unions and similar bodies. At first 
some employers opposed the exchanges on the ground that 
they were unduly favorable to the workingmen, but most 
of this opposition has passed away. Indeed many employers 
have entered into agreements to secure their employees only 
through the labor exchanges. Much attention is paid to plac- 
ing children and young persons coming under their charge in 
suitable positions, and the voluntary committees agree to keep 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 343 

an oversight over young persons in the early years of their em- 

The exchanges do not guarantee the competence of the work- 
men for whom they secure positions, nor do they go into the 
question of good wages or working conditions, or whether the 
applicants are on strike or not. On the other hand, the volun- 
tary advisory committees include both employers and em- 
ployees, with the object of bringing these two classes together 
in the management of the offices and consequently into closer 
touch with the problems of industry common to both in the 
locality. Early in 1917 charge of the labor exchanges was trans- 
ferred from the Board of Trade to the Ministry of Labor, and 
it was then provided that the government should be represented 
on the advisory committees, though never with a majority of 
members. It was hoped that this system of local voluntary 
boards would prevent the exchanges falling into the hands of a 
settled bureaucracy, as has been so disadvantageous in some 
other countries. During the war the labor exchanges did a 
great service in securing workers for the government munition 
works and for agriculture. In 1917, 2,837,650 separate individ- 
uals were registered, applications were received from employers 
for 1,999,444 vacancies, and 1,555,223 positions were filled. 
Early in 1919, soon after the close of the war, there were some- 
thing more than a million names inscribed on the registers of 
the exchanges, about 40,000 vacancies a week were being 
notified to workmen, and about 30,000 vacancies a week were 
being filled. Some 3000 workingmen and women weekly were 
being helped by loans of money or car tickets to pass from one 
district to another to secure positions. 

109. National Insurance against Sickness and Unemploy- 
ment. Labor exchanges would bring employers and em- 
ployees together and would no doubt lessen the amount and 
duration of unemployment, but they could hardly get rid of it 
altogether. A certain amount of irregularity of employment 
would have to be counted on. To relieve the distress caused by 

344 Industrial and Social History of England 

this the plan of insuring against it, as is generally done against 
other forms of loss, had been advocated for some time. It 
was in force in Germany and it was announced by the min- 
istry as part of their plan, although it was not followed up, 
when the bill for labor exchanges was carried in 1909. 

Another form of insurance was also pressing for consideration 
about the same time. The mutual insurance companies for 
the payment of sickness and death benefits, " friendly societies," 
as they are called in England, seemed to have about reached their 
limit, and yet a great proportion of the lower classes had no 
provision for support during periods of sickness or for the ex- 
penses and protection of their families at time of death. This 
condition of affairs had come up for consideration repeatedly 
in connection with workmen's compensation, old age pensions, 
and other social reforms. These two needs, insurance against 
disease and against unemployment, were now combined in 
one extensive measure and carried through Parliament, after 
considerable opposition, in December, 1911. Sick insurance, 
according to this plan, is compulsory for all workingmen and 
women receiving less than about $800 a year, and unemploy- 
ment insurance for all workmen in certain trades, which were 
chosen partly for experimental purposes, partly because of 
their " seasonal " or irregular character and their consequent 
special need. They were principally the building and engineer- 
ing trades, including perhaps a sixth of all industrial working- 

The fund for allowances during sickness was made up by pay- 
ments of 2 pence a week by the employer and 3 pence by the 
workman, during every week he is at work. These payments 
are made through the post-office by buying stamps and fixing 
them on a card kept by the workman. The employer is bound 
to see that the workman's payments are made and can deduct 
the amount from his wages, but is forbidden to diminish the 
workman's wages to cover his own contribution. The bene- 
fits resulting from this insurance are free medical attendance, 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 345 

sanitarium treatment for consumption, maternity benefits for 
women, and a payment for support in ordinary sickness, after 
the first week, for half a year of about ten shillings a week, and 
afterward indefinitely of five shillings a week. There are some 
differences between the payments and benefits of men and 
women, of higher and lower paid men, and other variations. 
About a quarter of the sum paid was contributed by the govern- 
ment, and the payments were mainly made through the friendly 
societies. Death benefits were not included in this scheme of 
government insurance because they were so much more generally 
provided for already through other forms of insurance, through 
friendly societies, and through the trade unions. 

The fund for unemployment insurance was made up by a pay- 
ment of i\ pence a week each by employers and employees in 
the trades to which it applied. The government added a penny 
more a week and agreed to bear the cost of administration. 
After one week of unemployment a man or woman can begin to 
draw about seven shillings a week and can continue to do so 
for fifteen weeks in any one year, with the restriction that he 
cannot draw more than one week's pay for every five weeks for 
which he has contributed. For unemployment due to strikes, 
lockouts, or other preventable causes payments are not allowed. 
There are provisions for recovery of the amount paid by both 
employers and workmen in case of long continuous employment, 
and other careful modifications exist. Payments of unemploy- 
ment insurance are made through the labor exchanges. Within 
a short time some 15,000,000 persons were in this way insured 
against sickness and 2,500,000 against unemployment. The 
sickness, maternity, and total disablement allowances made 
under this act amount to about $40,000,000 a year. 

110. Trade or Minimum Wages Boards. Workmen's 
Compensation for Accident, Old Age Pensions, Unemploy- 
ment and Sickness Insurance, and Labor Exchange acts all 
were concerned with what might be considered accidental evils 
in industrial society, although so constantly recurring as to 

346 Industrial and Social History of England 

call for general legislative and administrative treatment. In 
the field of ordinary wages there was much that was as un- 
satisfactory as were these irregular occurrences. 

One of the most conspicuous of these difficulties was the so- 
called " sweated industries." These were certain occupations 
where there were no trade unions, where women's labor pre- 
dominated, where in some cases at least there was much for- 
eign labor, and where the labor was largely unskilled. As a 
consequence of these conditions low rates of wages, long 
hours, and bad surroundings prevailed. In some of these 
industries much of the work was done in the homes of the 
workers. In the ready-made clothing industry, for instance, 
two-thirds of the women employed earned less than fifteen 
shillings, $3.75, a week, hours of labor were very long, and 
sanitary and other living conditions notably bad. The 
" sweated trades " were long a subject of inquiry and dis- 
cussion. It was generally felt that every one should have a 
living wage, which many of these workingmen and women cer- 
tainly did not have. A committee of the House of Lords 
published reports on the subject as early as 1890, a Women's 
Industrial Council and an Anti-Sweating League were formed 
shortly after that time, and various measures intended to im- 
prove conditions were introduced into Parliament between 
1895 and 1905. A characteristic tendency of this period was 
to bring up such questions of social reform, but sufficient pres- 
sure was not exerted by the ministry to overcome the con- 
servative tendency of their party and to pass them. 

In 1908 and 1909, however, in addition to a number of 
private bills on the subject the ministry brought in one of 
their own and in 1909 carried it through. This law required 
that in each of a number of trades of the nature described 
above, especially ready-made clothing, paper box making, 
artificial lace making, and some others the Board of Trade 
should appoint a body to be known as the " Central Trade 
Board." This board should consist in each trade of an equal 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 347 

number of representatives of the employers and the employees, 
with a representative of the government added. The central 
boards were required to appoint boards of the same nature 
in each locality where the industry was carried on. Each 
such local board should then establish a schedule of minimum 
wages in its industry in that locality. Compulsion was to be 
introduced only gradually. Time for protest was allowed, 
a " white list " of those willing to pay the rates voluntarily 
was to be formed, the established rate was to be paid by the 
government to its employees and to be required from all govern- 
ment contractors ; finally, after six months, the rate established 
by the board was to become compulsory. The rates were to 
apply to home as well as factory work, and inspectors under 
the boards had a right of entrance to any place where work 
was done at any time. Within four years such boards had 
been established widely in the industries named, and extended 
to candy making, food preserving, shirt making, and a number 
of other trades, embracing about 400,000 workers. Wages 
established were seldom very high, indeed they were often 
deplorably low; they ranged from about $3.75 a week for 
women to about $7.50 a week for men. 

This act represented a greater change of principle than any 
that has been recorded in this or the three preceding chapters. 
It was practically a return to the principle of legal regulation 
of wages, which was the basis of the old Statutes of Laborers 
and of the Statute of Apprentices. 1 There were, however, 
two striking differences. In the first place this was a plan 
to keep wages up, whereas the earlier statutes were to keep 
them down; secondly, in the earlier forms of regulation the 
working people had no representation; on the Trade Boards 
they were fully represented. The essential principle, that 
wages might be fixed and then enforced by the government, 
was a new principle so far as the economic history of the last 
one hundred years was concerned. Although there was some 
1 See pp. 91-94, 148-150. 

Industrial and Social History of England 

opposition in Parliament to this law on the theoretical ground 
that it was socialistic, and some on the practical ground that 
it would put England in a disadvantageous position in inter- 
national competition, there was on the whole but little op- 
position to the principle involved. By most it was strongly 
supported on the ground that it was necessary in order to keep 
up the physical and mental powers of the people, that the com- 
munity would otherwise have to make good the inefficiency 
that sweating produces. 

It was not likely that this principle would halt at the sweated 
trades. The coal miners were well organized into trade unions, 
and rates of payment had long been arranged with the coal 
mine owners either by direct negotiation or, after 1893, by 
Conciliation Boards. These boards worked on the basis of 
an agreed upon minimum piece rate system, ordinarily so 
much per ton for each ton hewn, but the men declared that 
the irregular nature of the work prevented this in many cases 
from being a living wage. In January, 1912, the Miners' 
Federation determined by an overwhelming majority to strike 
for a national minimum daily wage of 5 shillings, about $1.25, 
for men working underground, with corresponding piece rates. 
Many of the employers were willing to agree but many were 
not, and a long and bitter strike took place. There was no 
appreciable disorder, but the cessation of production of coal 
closed so many industries and brought so much suffering on 
the country that it seemed necessary to take any steps possible 
to bring it to a close. The ministry therefore in March rather 
reluctantly carried through Parliament a bill providing for the 
appointment in each of the coal districts of a joint board of 
employers and miners with a chairman elected by the two 
parties, or, in case of their failure to elect, appointed by the 
government. These boards should establish in each locality 
a legal minimum rate of wages, less than which the employers 
must not pay or the miners accept. In case of non-agreement 
the chairman had a deciding vote. The minimum rates estab- 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 349 

lished by these boards were generally a disappointment to 
the men, though circumstances seemed to require agreement to 
them. The rates were in some cases increased by later nego- 
tiations, but the settlement remained on the whole unsatis- 

The extension of the principle of a legal minimum wage to 
agriculture was widely advocated at the same period in the form 
of Agricultural District Wages Boards, but it was not introduced 
until, during the Great War, such boards were established 
temporarily as a means of encouraging agricultural production. 
In 191 1 a Labor member of Parliament urged upon the ministry 
the introduction of a government minimum weekly wage of 
30 s. for all its employees, preparatory to introducing a measure 
for making this a general national minimum wage, but a repre- 
sentative of the ministry announced their unwillingness to take 
action, declaring that they had statistics of wages of about 3^ 
million workmen and that more than sixty per cent of them 
were getting less than the proposed rate. To adopt even the 
sum of $7.50 a week, therefore, would increase the national 
wage bill by about $440,000,000. Such a national minimum 
has, however, continued to be advocated by many influential 

111. New Legalization of Trade Unions. At the beginning 
of this period the trade unions were in a peculiar legal posi- 
tion. Since the passage of the laws of 1871 and 1875 they 
could not be treated as criminal organizations, nor could their 
members or officers be punished. They were under no disa- 
bilities so far as the criminal law was concerned. They had 
also so many forms of legal recognition that it was generally 
supposed they were fully protected by the law in all their 
civil functions. Efforts were made, however, from time to 
time to hold them liable for loss or damages due to strikes. 
Finally, in 1901, the House of Lords, the highest court of 
appeal in England, in the " Taff Vale Case," a suit for damages 
by a railway company against a miners' union, decided that 

350 Industrial and Social History of England 

trade unions could be sued and made to pay damages for loss 
brought about by strikes ordered by their officers. 

This decision was a great surprise and at the same time a 
shock not only to members of trade unions but to others as 
well because the great trade-union funds, collected for purposes 
of insurance and other uses, might now be levied on in any 
trade dispute that caused loss to the employers of the men in 
the union. There was a widespread belief in the community 
that if this was the state of the law it should be changed, and 
in 1905 the Conservative party introduced an amending act 
but did not succeed in passing it. In 1906, immediately after 
the assembling of the new Parliament, the Liberal ministry 
and the Labor party representatives each introduced a bill on 
the subject. These were later combined and, although there 
was much opposition, a law was passed within the same year, 
known as the Trade Disputes Act. This practically reversed 
for the future the Taff Vale decision. It provided that suits 
for damages could not be brought against trade unions for 
any action taken in connection with a strike or other trade 
dispute unless the action was itself illegal. A trade union as 
a whole could not be sued for any action taken by its officers. 
To settle the question of legality or illegality of " picketing," 
the right to stand near any dwelling house or any business place 
for the purpose of persuading any one not to work during a 
strike was especially guaranteed. No act done during a strike 
should be declared illegal just because it brought about a breach 
of contract or interfered with a man's freedom to do what he 
would with his capital or labor. By these provisions trade 
unions were protected from suits for money damages in their 
disputes with employers as completely as they had been thirty 
years before from criminal punishments. 1 

In December, 1909, another decision on trade unions was made 
by the House of Lords, known as the Osborne judgment. 

1 The group of acts of 1871, 1875, 1876, and 1906 are conveniently given 
in Hayes, British Social Politics, pp. 85-101. 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 351 

This was to the effect that trade unions are recognized by the 
law of 1876 as being practically corporations, but incorporated 
for the purposes indicated in the definition of a trade union 
given in that law and for those purposes only. As the purposes 
mentioned are only those connected with industrial disputes or 
regulations, it is illegal for trade unions to use their funds to 
pay members of Parliament or for any other political purpose. 
This was a hard blow to the new Labor party. Members of 
Parliament received no salary from the government ; the Labor 
party members, who were not men of private means, were sup- 
ported and the expenses of their election paid by the trade 
unions which were interested in sending them to Parliament. 
In 1911, therefore, at the request of the Labor party members, 
the prime minister carried a measure for the payment of salaries 
to all members of the House of Commons. The Representation 
of the People Act of 1918 provided for the payment of election 
expenses by the government, so that members of all parties may 
now be chosen and serve without serious expense. 

The larger restrictions on the activities of the trade unions 
implied in the Osborne decision were still unsettled. That 
decision practically forbade educational and other such functions 
as well as their political activity. In 1913 a new Trade Union 
Act was passed. It practically reversed the Osborne decision, 
much as the Trade Disputes Act of 1909 reversed the Taff 
Vale decision. It provided that a trade union could use its 
funds for practically any purposes it wished, on condition 
that its members voted by a general ballot for the object, and 
that no member should be compelled to make a contribution 
for a political object. Trade unions were newly defined in 
this law so as to include any bodies that had to do with the 
regulation of trade, whatever other objects they had in addition. 

112. Advance of the Labor Party. The alliance of the 
various groups of Labor members of Parliament with the 
Liberals and Nationalists during the period in which the social 
reforms described above were being carried was a natural and 

352 Industrial and Social History of England 

easy one. They supported the Liberals also in the adoption 
of the new forms of taxation in 1909 and the Parliament Act 
of 1911, and did not oppose them in the two elections of 1910. 
But the desire of the trade-union leaders who had advocated 
the entrance of workingmen into the political field in 1899 was 
for an entirely separate party, and, as already stated, in 1906 
they took the name " Labor Party " and adopted a full party 
organization. In the Congress of the party in 1907 they 
adopted a set of principles largely socialistic in nature, declaring 
for " the socialization of the means of production, distribution, 
and exchange, to be controlled in a democratic state in the 
interests of the entire community." In 1910 the party adopted 
a more definite constitution. They declared themselves to 
be a federation of trade unions, trades councils, socialist so- 
cieties, local labor parties, cooperative societies, and women's 
organizations, so far as these accepted their principles. They 
had a centralized executive council in which these various classes 
were represented. They placed their candidates as hi the case 
of similar bodies under very strict regulation. They required 
them to accept the constitution of the party, appear as can- 
didates of the Labor party only, and vote according to the 
decisions of the organized party. This requirement of a pledge 
of obedience to party decisions was widely criticized and was 
made less strict, though not actually withdrawn, in 1911. 

During the war, as already stated, the Labor party acted 
as part of the Coalition government and there were several 
Labor members in the ministry. But relations were rather 
strained. The Coalition ministry contained some of the 
bitterest opponents of the fundamental principles of the Labor 
party, and Labor members found it hard to work with their 
old antagonists. The prune minister himself adopted many 
points of policy to which they were opposed. The Labor 
members, therefore, withdrew from the ministry as soon as the 
war was over. The party became steadily more assertive and 
ambitious and in January, 1918, adopted, provisionally at least, 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 353 

a full and far-reaching statement of principles and plans for 
reorganizing much of society. This programme as it was 
presented to the Congress of the party by its executive com- 
mittee was called " Labor and the New Social Order." It 
represented the views of the " left " or progressive element 
in the party, and many of the trade unionists of the older 
type were not very much interested in some of its socialistic pro- 
posals or perhaps even disapproved of them altogether. On the 
other hand, this programme attracted much attention from men 
of other classes and was republished and read widely in England, 
America, and other countries. 

When the Representation of the People Act was passed 
in 1918 and it became evident that women would be given 
the right to vote and that all voting would be placed on a more 
democratic basis, the Labor party, at a meeting in February, 
1918, reorganized inself on a broader basis, made a special 
bid for the new voters, planned to put up a candidate in each 
district and appealed to all workers " by hand or by brain " 
to support them. Later a definite platform was adopted 
on the basis of " Labor and the New Social Order." When 
the new elections were held in December, 1918, the Labor 
party elected fifty-nine members, polling more than two and 
a quarter million votes. During the year 1919 four additional 
Labor members were elected at " bye-elections " to fill vacancies, 
and by the middle of 1920 it has come to be considered not 
unlikely that at the next election the Labor party will be in a 
majority in Parliament. 

113. Effect of the War on the Trade Unions. In the 
years 1911 and 1912 there were serious and long-continued 
strikes, especially that of the miners already referred to, the 
railway men, and the dock workers. The first of these might 
have been considered a success for the men, the second a 
drawn battle, the third a failure. But all of them alike left 
the workmen deeply dissatisfied. " Labor unrest," as it has 
come to be called, was already widespread. Events in- 

354 Industrial and Social History of England 

creased its extent and intensity. When the war broke out, in 
August, 1914, it was evidently necessary to augment as rapidly 
as possible the production of munitions and many other 
requirements for the government in carrying on the war. 
The rules of the trade unions, although formed primarily for 
the protection of the standards of life of the workmen against 
the destructive effects of business competition, stood in the 
way also of increased production. On March 17, 1915, at 
a meeting between the prime minister and thirty-five trade 
union officials, yielding to war requirements, the union repre- 
sentatives agreed to suspend all union rules till after the war, 
and not to enter upon strikes during its continuance. Thus 
the great structure of agreements and restrictions of all kinds 
which had been built up through more than a half century 
of effort was suddenly pulled down. Women, boys and girls, 
and untrained laborers were poured by hundreds of thousands 
into the old skilled trades; hours, piecework, apprenticeship, 
and scores of other rules disappeared, so that it seemed that 
trade unionism had suddenly and for the time disappeared 
from the industrial world. 

Other conditions made workingmen restive. It was a hard 
time for everybody. The cost of living began to rise rapidly, 
and although wages were raised by private employers, and 
the government paid a bonus in addition to the old wages 
in industries under its control, the men did not consider this 
increase proportionate to the increase of prices. Those work- 
ingmen, like people in other classes, who had small families 
or were favorably situated, were better off than before, but 
a vast number of others were worse off. There was a restless 
doubt among the men as to the real objects of the war, and 
many believed that fundamentally it was a " capitalists' war." 
As the war dragged on year after year, trade unionists saw 
their old rules left farther and farther in the background, and 
began to lose faith in their restoration after the war. At 
the same time the constant official appeals to their importance 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 355 

in providing the equipment for the war and the general awaken- 
ing of thought by the discussions of the times led to a wide- 
spread acceptance of much more far-reaching plans than the 
old trade-union principles. The rank and file of the trade 
unionists came to be less and less under the influence of their 
leaders and frequently disregarded their advice or control. 
What were known as " shop stewards," local officials of the 
unions, began to exercise more influence than the national 
officers. Strikes were threatened among the ship-builders, 
miners, dock laborers, and others who had not entered into 
the arrangement of March, 1915, or who did not feel bound by 
the agreements of their officers. Many disputes occurred with 
the representatives of the government, which was now control- 
ling so many industries. In general, workingmen were during 
the later years of the war sore, suspicious, and dissatisfied, and 
labor unrest became more marked than ever. 

Just before the war what was called the " triple alliance " 
was formed, consisting of the Miners' Federation of Great 
Britain, with 800,000 members, the National Union of Rail- 
waymen, with 350,000 members, and the Transport Workers' 
Federation, or port laborers, with 250,000 members. In April, 
1914, representatives of these three great unions, numbering 
together some 1,600,000 workmen, entered into an agreement 
which bound them to confer together from time to time and 
to take common action whenever the three partners should 
agree upon it. There was no such common action during the 
war, nor indeed has there been since; but the possibility of 
a joint strike in these three basic industries, which would 
reduce England to famine and put a stop to all industry until 
a settlement of some kind was reached, has been constantly 
in the minds of all workingmen, employers, and representatives 
of the government, since the formation of the " triple alliance." 

The close of the war, in November, 1918, was marked by 
a large number of detached labor outbreaks and the presentation 
of demands upon either their employers or the government 

356 Industrial and Social History of England 

from the three great industries just named. The railway 
men's claims dated from their dissatisfaction with the settle- 
ment of the strike of 1912. They now put forward a number 
of proposals, including one that was new. This was for repre- 
sentation on the governing boards of the railways. The long 
and what the workmen considered dilatory negotiations which 
followed at last broke down and a ten days' strike occurred 
at the close of September and the beginning of October, 1919. 
The government showed unexpected vigor and resource ; 
many men and women not of the working classes volunteered 
for railroad work, and the general community, alienated by 
the suddenness of the strike and the obscurity of its causes, 
gave little support to the strikers. Some of the men's demands, 
however, were granted at the time, others, after further dis- 
cussion, were finally agreed upon in January, 1920, although 
even this settlement was not entirely satisfactory to the men. 

In January the miners presented a series of proposals 
mostly connected with wages, hours, and working conditions, 
but including also a demand for nationalization of the mines. 
When these demands were not granted by the government, 
which was carrying on the mines, a strike was determined 
upon by the miners by a vote of nearly five to one, to begin 
on March 15. To avoid this the government, .with the agree- 
ment of the miners, appointed a Coal Commission consisting 
of three men each from the mine owners, the mine laborers, 
employers in other industries appointed by the government, 
and expert economists appointed by the men. This com- 
mission of twelve men was presided over by Justice Sankey. 
The chairman, with the majority of the commission, reported 
in favor of the government buying out the mine owners, retain- 
ing control of the mines, and carrying them on in conjunction 
with representatives of the operators and the miners, with 
various improvements of hours and wages. The ministry did 
not accept this " Sankey report," but proposed instead a plan 
for buying out the holders of the royalty rights in the mines 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 357 

only, the improvement of working conditions, and represen- 
tation of men on the boards that should work the mines. The 
men have continued work at the mines while these conditions 
have been in process of introduction, but have not given up 
their demand for the complete nationalization of the mines. 

While these two contests were in progress, the transport 
workers, the third member of the " triple alliance," were 
carrying on a dispute with the port authorities and their em- 
ployers which for a while threatened a great strike in the ship- 
ping world but which was compromised in March, 1919. During 
the period of these disputes there was constant fear that the 
workmen in the three great industries would make common 
cause with one another and force the issue by a general strike ; 
but the moderate attitude of the officers of the unions, the con- 
ciliatory policy of the government and of many of the em- 
ployers, and the prospect of some more complete reorganization 
of industry combined to prevent an outbreak of more serious 
proportions. Nevertheless it became evident that new am- 
bitions and new ideas were at work among the men. The 
demand for representation of the workingmen on the boards 
that should in future administer the railroads and the mines 
indicated the passage of many workingmen from the old ideals 
of the trade unions, which were so largely restrictive, to a 
new plan in which they themselves would take more part in 
the carrying on of industry. This became the acknowledged 
desire of the government also as embodied in the industrial 
councils which were set up at this time with government ap- 
proval and encouragement. The demand for actual govern- 
ment ownership of mines and railroads is a still larger proposal. 
Before, however, describing the activities of the government 
since the war, a movement in the same general direction emanat- 
ing from some of the older trade unions must be explained. 

114. National Gilds or Gild Socialism. About 1906 a 
plan was proposed to improve modern industrial conditions 
by reestablishing bodies somewhat similar to the mediaeval 

358 Industrial and Social History of England 

gilds. These proposed modern gilds would, however, differ 
from those of the Middle Ages in several important respects. 
They would be national, not local, in character ; the workingmen 
and technical experts, not the " masters " would make up the 
gild; and, ultimately if not immediately, the whole community, 
not private men, would own the capital and other material 
requirements for carrying on the business. The men who 
provide the essential labor, both of hand and brain, in any 
line of industry, would according to this plan be organized 
as a national body or gild to administer that industry. Those 
industries which are in their nature public or already largely 
under public control, such as mining, railways, ship-building, 
the production of electricity, would be owned by the public, 
and administered under government supervision by the gild 
or association of the men who at present do the actual work of 
carrying them on, including workingmen, foremen, managers, 
clerks, technically trained experts, engineers, and all others 
actually engaged in the industry, except the representatives 
of capital. Ownership in such industries would be in the 
hands of the public, administration in the hands of the workers. 

Industries not suited or not yet ready for public ownership 
would be similarly administered, each by its national gild, the 
man or men who provide the capital being paid interest but 
having no control of the industry, foremen and other managers 
being chosen and paid by the gild, not by the capitalist. In 
both these classes of industries the control 6f the community 
over wages, prices, rate of interest, and other conditions would 
be so large that the plan might be described as an industrial 
partnership between workers and public. The ownership of 
industries by the government distinguishes this plan from 
" syndicalism," a plan advocated by many of the French trade 
unions and put forward by a few men in England, which 
would put both ownership and administration in the hands of 
the workers. 

It is evident that these national gilds, if they are to come 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 359 

into existence and take over the industries, must be built up 
on the present trade unions. This can be done by bringing 
into the unions foremen, managers, technicians, and others 
who work principally by brain, in addition to their present 
members, those who work principally by hand. The unions 
would also have to take the form of industrial rather than 
craft unions, all workers in any one industry being amalgamated 
into one body as is already practically true of the railway 
men, transport workers, miners, and workmen in some other 

In this way, it was contended, there would be larger pro- 
duction, since workingmen would be interested in their in- 
dustry ; there would be more good will and more cooperation 
in effort, and ability would be more successfully discovered 
and utilized. Another advantage would be still more im- 
portant. Men would have industrial as well as political free- 
dom. In a democracy, the individual citizen should be self- 
governing in his economic life, as a producer, as well as in his 
political life, as member of the state. The long standing 
problem of how to attain political freedom while remaining 
under practical economic subjection would thus be solved. 

For about ten years these ideas and plans interested only 
a comparatively few educated people, but in the spring 
of 1915, as a result of the agitations connected with the war, 
the " National Gilds League " was formed. It defined its 
object in its constitution as " the abolition of the wage system 
and the establishment by the workers of self-government in 
industry through a democratic system of national gilds working 
in conjunction with a democratic state." These ideas were 
vigorously put forward and have spread rapidly among trade 
unionists and persons interested in industrial reconstruction. 
The number of members of the League is not large but many 
of them are in positions of much influence in the larger trade 
unions and in government office. The demand for the national- 
ization of the mines by the miners in their threatened strike 

360 Industrial and Social History of England 

of 1919 and for the formation of joint boards of control of the 
railways by the railway men at about the same time are closely 
connected with this movement. 

In some fields of industry such gilds are actually at work. 
" Building Gild Committees " were formed by the builders' 
trade unions in the latter part of 1919 and the early part of 
1920 in Manchester, Warrington, and other Lancashire towns, 
and in London, and have offered, in the existing shortage of 
houses, to provide labor, management, and materials and to 
contract with the town councils for the complete production 
of workingmen's houses. In one town a contract has been 
actually signed for the completion of 500 houses in 1920 and 
500 more the next year, the Building Gild providing the labor 
and materials at the usual market rate, charging 2 % for manage- 
ment and 8% more to provide for the necessary plant and to 
pay their own members full weekly wages instead of only for 
days of good enough weather for outside work. The com- 
mittees of the building trade unions are planning to form a 
National Builders' Gild. 

The importance of the plan of drawing into the trade unions 
all the present employees of whatever grade, with a view to 
their carrying on the industry under government ownership and 
control, lies not only in the extent to which it is actually intro- 
duced but also in the degree to which its discussion is trans- 
forming and clarifying trade union and public opinion concern- 
ing the problem of economic production. 

There has been a general revolt against the treatment of 
labor as a commodity. The older trade unions claimed only 
that they should get a fair price for the commodity they had 
to sell, labor, just as the capitalist had a right to a fair profit 
on his commodity, capital. " A fair day's wages for a fair 
day's work," was a popular saying among trade unionists. 
Workingmen now, however, have come to believe that they do 
not sell their labor power for wages in such a way as to let it 
go out of their own control; that their labor is inseparable 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 361 

from their personality and that they have continuing rights 
and responsibilities for the use of it in the industry in which 
they are engaged. This principle has become more and more 
widely recognized and has been recently officially accepted 
by the British government and others. Among the general 
principles laid down in the labor clauses attached to the Treaty 
of Versailles of 1919 it is declared that " labor should not be 
regarded merely as a commodity or article of commerce." 

The same principle has been accepted by many private and 
corporate employers in Great Britain. Within the last few 
years, at the suggestion of the twelve principal trade unions 
in the building industry, an " Industrial Council for the Build- 
ing Industry " has been formed, consisting of 132 members, 66 
elected by the twenty-two existing trade unions in that in- 
dustry, the other 66 by the seventeen associations of building 
trades employers. This council, half of employees, half of 
employers, has joint control of a great number of matters of 
common import to all its members and is an effort to bring 
the whole industry under a general and efficient management. 

115. Whitley Councils. Among the sub-committees ap- 
pointed by the government for its assistance during the war 
was one on " Relations between Employers and Employed," 
under the chairmanship of J. H. Whitley, a member of Parlia- 
ment. The committee included several large employers and 
several trade unionists. During the serious outbreak of labor 
unrest in 1916 and 1917 this committee was asked by the 
government to consider suggestions for " securing a permanent 
improvement in the relations between employers and work- 
men." In response to these instructions, what have become 
known as the " Whitley reports," were made in the year 1917. 
They recommended that the government should encourage the 
formation of joint industrial councils in each industry, such 
as that which has just been described in the building industry, 
to consist half of members elected by the employers' associations, 
half by the trade unions. In industries in which either the 

362 Industrial and Social History of England 

employers or employees were insufficiently organized they 
recommended that a government representative be appointed 
to bring such a council into existence; and in industries 
in which there was no organization at all trade boards should 
be formed under the law of 1909. These joint industrial 
boards in each industry should meet as national boards, and 
as soon as possible organize district councils in each region of 
the country and workshop committees in each industrial 
establishment. All should be formed on the same basis of 
election, half by the employers, half by the workmen. They 
should take up matters of general interest in the trade, wages, 
piecework, improvements, technical training and research, 
legislation affecting the industry and such questions. 

The ministry adopted these recommendations, issued an 
invitation to the trade unions and employers' organizations 
of the country to organize what have come to be known as 
Whitley Councils, and explained that the plan was intended 
to admit work people to a much greater share in the manage- 
ment of industry. The invitation was widely accepted. One 
industry after another, on the initiative either of the unions, the 
employers, or a representative of the government, organized 
such a national council, and in some cases proceeded rapidly 
to complete the scheme by forming district and workshop 
committees. The first to be formed was in the pottery indus- 
try, in which a council consisting of thirty representatives of the 
employers and thirty of the employees was formed, with the 
manager of the old Wedgwood pottery as chairman. By the 
spring of 1919 some forty- two trades had been organized and 
thirty-five were being aided in organization by government 
officials. Some bodies already in existence, such as the build- 
ing trades council already described, were taken over and 
considered as part of this scheme. The ministry announced 
early in 1919 that it proposed to organize the industrial and 
administrative branches of the government departments 
along the same general lines. Later in the year rules were 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 363 

issued for their formation, but it was declared that these coun- 
cils were only for purposes of consultation, all ultimate control 
of government departments being in the hands of Parliament. 
116. The Permanent National Industrial Council. Al- 
though these councils bade fair to settle many trade questions 
and to lay a foundation for happier relations in many trades 
they did not exist in the unions of the " triple alliance " or 
in some of the other most troubled industries. There was 
besides no means of bringing all industries together so that 
matters common to all might be considered. In February, 
1919, when such bitter and widely extended strikes were threat- 
ened, the government took a further step in this direction and 
summoned a joint industrial conference of employers and 
employees of all trades to consider some more far-reaching 
scheme of industrial peace. This meeting, numbering some 
500 representatives of labor and 300 of employers, met at 
Westminster, February 27, 1919, and was attended officially by 
the prime minister and the minister of labor. On the recom- 
mendation of a large joint committee of employers and em- 
ployees on organization, presented after a month of discussion, 
the conference decided unanimously on the formation of a 
permanent National Industrial Council of 400 members, 200 
to be elected by employers' organizations, 200 by trade unions, 
to be presided over by the minister of labor or his represent- 
ative. The Council must meet at least twice a year, and 
a large standing committee is to meet once a month. All 
actions of the Council to be valid must have a majority vote 
of both the employers' side and the employees' side taken 
separately. The government will provide officers, quarters, 
and such information as the Council may wish and government 
departments can furnish. The government through the prime 
minister and the minister of labor agreed to recognize the 
National Industrial Council as an official consultative au- 
thority upon industrial matters and to seek through it infor- 
mation and opinion on all questions in which industry as a 

364 Industrial and Social History of England 

whole is concerned. The Council was also authorized to 
issue statements for the guidance of public opinion. 

The most striking facts about this establishment of a National 
Industrial Council are, first, its close connection with the 
government; secondly, the unanimity of its acceptance by 
representatives of both employers and employees; thirdly, 
its requirement of the complete organization of the working 
classes as trade unions and the employers in employers' asso- 
ciations. No provision was made in the work of this con- 
ference for the exercise of any influence on industrial affairs 
by non-union workmen or by unorganized employers. Further 
it might be noted that a number of women participated in 
the conference. 

In addition to the formation of this permanent Council 
and a declaration in favor of a legal maximum eight-hour day, 
a legal minimum wage in all trades, universal recognition of 
trade unions, and certain schemes to prevent unemployment, 
each " side " of the conference undertook to draw up a series 
of recommendations from the point of view of its own special 
needs. The employers announced their intention of presenting 
a full report concerning the need for output or production, 
but required more time for its preparation than the brief 
period of the conference allowed. The workingmen presented 
a long memorandum on the causes of industrial unrest. Be- 
sides a number of complaints, which are much the same as those 
put forth in the platform of the Labor party, and a statement 
of the low prevailing rates of wages in many industries, they 
stated as their main conclusion that the real difficulty in solving 
the labor question was a growing opposition on the part of the 
working classes to the whole existing structure of industrial 
society based on capitalism, their belief that production pri- 
marily for profit, as carried on in the past, was a bad system, 
and their determination to substitute to a much greater degree 
public service for private gain as a motive, and to establish 
" democratic control over industry." The word socialism 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 365 

was not used in these discussions, but these principles are never- 
theless obviously socialistic. 

117. Extension of the Functions of Government. The 
progress of invention, business organization, legislation, and 
opinion, as it has been described in this chapter and the chapters 
immediately preceding, had reduced the laissez-faire theory of 
government to unimportance. What few remains of economic 
individualism still survived were swept away in the World 
War. But the tendency in this direction was already per- 
fectly clear before the war. To the older forms of govern- 
ment regulation, control, ownership, and aid were added, 
after the opening of the twentieth century, old age pensions, 
government insurance, government labor exchanges, govern- 
ment assisted trade boards, and after the outbreak of the war 
Whitley Councils and the National Joint Industrial Council. 

In 1909 a Housing and Town Planning Act carried much 
farther the principle of the Housing of the Working Classes 
Act, passed twenty years before. This later law had been 
suggested and the way for it had been prepared by the estab- 
lishment of several privately owned and planned model towns 
or settlements, usually in connection with some large industrial 
concern. In these, instead of the profit of the investor, the 
comfort and opportunities for enjoyment of the inhabitants 
had been the primary consideration. One of the earliest of 
these was Port Sunlight, built by William Levin in 1887, another 
the " Garden City " at Letch worth, laid out about 1900. It 
was obvious that if such towns, suburbs, or other settlements 
could be built by private persons for other than profit-making 
motives, the same thing might be done by municipalities or 
other public bodies, if they were given by Parliament adequate 
powers. Such sanction was given by the act of 1909. The 
local authorities, or in case of their neglect, the central govern- 
ment, was given the power to secure ground by compulsory 
purchase, to tear down buildings that interfered with the 
approved scheme, and to construct any kind of buildings or 

366 Industrial and Social History of England 

a settlement, with water supply, drainage, lighting, parks, and 
all other requirements for a town. The only way such a 
suburb, extension, or new settlement would differ from any 
other was in the fact that it was put up by public authority with 
public funds, and presumably from motives of public advantage, 
not for the sake of profit. 

Late in the same year, 1909, a measure for much more ex- 
tended public ownership was adopted. This was the " De- 
velopment and Road Improvement Act." So far as roads 
were concerned, this was nothing more than a somewhat wider 
extension of the well-established responsibility of government for 
the creation and maintenance of roads. The " development " 
part of the bill created a government board to be known as the 
"Development Commissioners," to be provided with money by 
Parliament, to carry out drainage schemes, harbor improvements, 
forest planting, fisheries, the building of what are called in 
England " light railways " for local traffic, and other minor 
public industries. They should also carry on instruction, 
research, and experiment helpful to rural development. The 
Commissioners could acquire land by compulsory purchase 
for their purposes and could use any profits which resulted 
from their operations for the same purposes. They must, 
however, report to Parliament every year what they were 
doing, and their activities could of course be controlled at any 
time by parliamentary action. In the years immediately 
following the adoption of this law, the boards provided for 
in it carried on some quite extensive operations in automobile 
road building and gave assistance to local bodies in experi- 
mentation and instruction in forestry, agriculture, stock-breed- 
ing, and harbor development. From 1912 to 1914 the 
Development Commissioners spent about $7,000,000. 

The oncoming of the war limited for the time these activities ; 
money and energy were needed in other directions. In these 
very directions, however, there was a sudden and unparalleled 
extension of the field of government control and even owner- 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 367 

ship. August 5, 1914, the day after Great Britain declared 
war against Germany the government took over the twenty- 
nine railroads of the country, and they are still, in July, 1920, 
in government hands. They are administered by the President 
of the Board of Trade, one of the ministers, through a committee 
of railway officials, the stockholders being guaranteed the 
same income as in the year 1913. 

The extension of government control proceeded rapidly. 
All factories actually engaged in the manufacture of war ma- 
terials were taken into the hands of the government by the 
Defenseof the Realm acts, August 7-20, 1914. In March, 1915, 
by a new act, all other industrial establishments which could 
be utilized for munitions of any kind were made government 
works. As to other industries, the government tried to avoid 
control and only interfered slowly and reluctantly. Generally 
speaking, in 1914 and 1915 an attempt was made to meet the 
exigencies of the war by government pressure exercised on private 
owners ; in 1916 detailed regulation was established to which all 
must conform; before the close of 1917 all forms of industry 
required for the service of the government or the well-being of 
the community in war time had been taken into the possession 
of the government or placed absolutely under its control. 

Early in 1916 the government took by compulsory purchase 
all the wool crop in England, and later in the same year all 
that of Australia and New Zealand, rationing to manufacturers 
what was not needed for government work. The same action 
was soon taken for hides and leather. In 1917 the government 
took control of the coal mines. By a series of proclamations 
all merchant shipping was placed at the disposal of the govern- 
ment, the necessary space for government needs requisitioned, 
and other goods permitted to be shipped only with a govern- 
ment license and at a rate of freight fixed by the government. 
The distribution and consumption of meat, flour, sugar, and many 
other foods and necessities of life were placed under government 

368 Industrial and Social History of England 

Since the war some things have been restored to their pre- 
war conditions. But in many ways the war simply made 
changes in the industrial world which were already in progress 
more rapid and complete. Many representatives of capital as 
well as of labor, and thinkers coming to the question from 
many points of view, had declared their conviction that our 
present economic organization was unsatisfactory. Inter- 
ference in capitalist control of industry by government reg- 
ulation in the interest of the community on the one hand, 
and by the organized power of the workingmen in the inter- 
est of their class on the other, had gone so far that it 
was irreversible. The necessity for the government to take 
over the control of so many lines of industry to meet the 
exigencies of war shook still further men's confidence in the 
capacity of capitalist industry to meet altogether satisfac- 
torily the requirements of peace. Few business organizations 
seemed willmg to declare themselves able to act entirely with- 
out support or direction from the government, and the Labor 
party, the most vigorous and constructive of the political 
parties, declared that capitalist production based on the private 
ownership and competitive administration of land and capital 
had broken down and that society itself needed reconstructing 
on more cooperative lines. Production was evidently being 
limited by the chronic discontent of labor, and by the failure 
to use land efficiently ; equally injurious results were threatened 
by the manipulation of banking capital and the economic 
power of "big business." 

Among enlightened business men, as well as among working- 
men, statesmen, and writers on social subjects, there is a wide- 
spread tendency to look for some kind of reconstruction that will 
carry industrial and social life forward to a more satisfactory 
state rather than to restore it to any earlier condition. Where 
the changes which England and other countries are now under- 
going will lead and how far they will be beneficial depend on 
the thought and efforts of those now living. 

Democratic Influences on Industrial Life 369 


Monthly Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 

This publication, which will be sent almost free to those ask- 
ing for it, contains much information concerning recent move- 
ments in British industrial life. Among its special reports are : 

No. 102, British National Insurance Act, 1912. 

No. 133, Inquiry into Industrial Agreements, 1913. 

No. 237, Industrial Unrest in Great Britain, 1917. 

No. 255, Joint Industrial Councils in Great Britain, 1919. 

British Labour Gazette, London, published monthly by the 
Ministry of Labor. 

British Labour Year Book. 

Hazell's Annual. 

These two publications give recent information concerning 
economic and social movements. 

Schloss, D. F. : Insurance against Unemployment. 

Beveridge, W. H. : Unemployment, 2d ed., London, 1912. 

Chapman, I. J. : Work and Wages, Pt. II. Wages and 
Employment, London, 1908. 

Gray, H. L. : War Time Control of Industry, The Experience 
of England, N. Y., 1918. 

Kellogg, Paul U., and Gleason, Arthur : British Labor and the 
War, N. Y., 1919. 

Gleason, Arthur: What the Workers Want, N. Y., 1920. 

Henderson, Arthur : The Aims of Labor, 1918. 

MacDonald, J. R. : The Social Unrest, its Cause and Solu- 
tion, London, 1913. 

Clay, Sir Arthur: Syndicalism and Labor, London, 1911. 

Hobson, S. G. : National Gilds; an Inquiry into the Wage 
System and the Way Out, London, 1917. 

Cole, G. D. H. : Self Government in Industry, London, 1918. 

Meakin, B. : Model Factories and Villages, London, 1905. 

Lord Avebury : Municipal and National Trading. 


Accidents, industrial, 315; legislation 
concerning, 315-317; provisions of 
workmen's compensation act of 1906 
regarding, 337. 

Acre, the mediaeval English, 31. 

Adventurers, term applied to English 
foreign traders, 140-141. 

African slave trade, 166. 

Agincourt, English victory at, 83. 

Agricultural District Wages Boards, 349. 

Agricultural Holdings acts, 303-304. 

Agriculture, in Saxon England, 10; 
mediaeval system of, 31-35; changes 
in system of, in i4th century, iio-m ; 
changes in, in isth and i6th centuries, 
120-125; government regulation of, 
in i6th century, 150-151; during 
1 7th and i8th centuries, 158-160; 
revolution in, in i8th century, 185- 
188; government Board of, 186; ad- 
vances in, during period 1848-1878, 
257-258; most prosperous era of 
British, 258-259; decline of, from 
1874 onward, 301-302; investigation 
of, by Duke of Richmond's Commis- 
sion, 302 ; establishment of Depart- 
ment of, and appointment of Minister 
of, 302-303 ; question of small hold- 
ings and allotments, 303-306; mini- 
mum wage for those engaged in, 349. 

Aids, meaning of, under feudal system, 

Alderman, presiding officer of gild mer- 
chant, 53. 

Ale-taster, petty manorial officer, 44. 

Alexandria, Egypt, bombardment of, 

Alfred, King, reign of, 13. 

Allotments, establishment and spread of, 

Allotments and Small Holdings Associa- 
tion, formation of, 305. 

Alsace-Lorraine, seized by Germany 
(1871), 252. 

Amalgamations of trade unions, 320. 

Amerciaments, fines called, 44. 

America, founding of English colonies in, 
154; emigration to, due to religious 
persecutions, 156; extension of Eng- 
lish colonial empire in, 158; impor- 
tance of plantations in, for trading 
purposes, 165-166; revolution in, and 
loss of thirteen colonies, 173; early 
steamship lines between Great Britain 
and, 217-218; British sympathy with 
South during Civil War in, 252; 
treaties between Great Britain and, 

Anderson, James, Political Economy by, 
quoted, 198-199. 

Angevin kings, period of the early, 

Angles, invasions of Roman Britain by, 
8; numbers and spread of, 9-10; 
give name to England, 10. 

Aniline dyes, manufacture of, 256. 

Anne, Queen, reign of, 158. 

Annual Trade Union Congress, meetings 
of, 292-293, 322-323, 328. 

Anti-Corn-Law League, organization and 
work of, 221-223. 

Anti-Sweating League, organization of, 


Antwerp, rise of, as commercial city, 140. 
Apprentice houses for child laborers, 233. 
Apprentices, Statute of (1563), 134, 150, 

163, 196-197, 226. 

Apprenticeship under gild system, 56. 
Arable land, meadow, and pasture land, 

in mediaeval system of agriculture, 

31-33, 40- 
Archbishops, in early organization of 

church, n. 
Architecture, Norman, in England, 15. 


37 2 


Arkwright, Richard, spinning-machine 

invented by, 180. 
Annada, battle of the, 120. 
Army and Navy Stores, a cooperative 

organization, 266. 
Artisans, foreign, settled in England, 

Ashdown Forest, saved from enclosure, 

Ashley, Lord, factory laws advocated by, 

Asquith, Herbert, prime minister, 332; 

quoted concerning social reform, 336, 


Assize, rents of, 37 ; breaches of, 42. 
Assize of Clarendon, 23. 
Attwood, Chartist petition presented to 

House of Commons by, 230. 
Augustine, first Christian missionary in 

Britain, g. 
Australia, relations of, to Great Britain, 

254; increase of British trade with, 

due to opening of Suez Canal, 257. 

Bakewell, improver of breeds of cattle, 

Balk, meaning of, applied to tract of 

land, 31. 
Ball, John, preacher of communism, 05 ; 

leader in Peasants' Rebellion, 99; 

servitude of peasantry stressed by, 107. 
Bankers, Italian, in England, 78-79. 
Bank of England, establishment of, 168- 


Barbary Company, the, 143. 
Barons, triumph of, over King John, 24 ; 

later conflicts between English king 

and, 25. 
Basic process of smelting, invention of, 


Bedford, Duke of, gentleman farmer, 186. 
Belgium, treaties guaranteeing neutrality 

of, 252. 

Benefits paid by trade unions, 200-291. 
Berkhamstead Common, outcome of 

efforts to enclose 260-261. 
Berlin, international congress at (1878), 

299 ; treaty of, 299. 
Bessemer process, invention of, 255. 
Beverly, gild of St. Helen at, 60-61. 
Bible, translation of, into English, 84, 


Bill of Rights, passage of, 157. 

Bishoprics, in early Saxon England, n. 

Black Death, the, 86-88; results of, 
connected with rural life, 88-91. 

Blacksmith, position of, under mediaeval 
system, 40. 

Boer war of 1899-1002, 300-301. 

Boon-works, services called, 37. 

Booth, William, Salvation Army founded 
by, 326. 

Boroughs, meaning of, in mediaeval 
England, 50. 

Boston, fair held at, 64 ; German mer- 
chants' settlement in, 79. 

Bright, John, member of Anti-Corn-Law 
League, 221. 

Brindley, James, canal builder, 185. 

Bristol, population of, in i3th century, 

Britain, prehistoric, 4-5; Roman, 5-8. 
See England. 

British and American Steam Navigation 
Company, 217-218. 

Britons, early race of, 5. 

Browning, E. B., Bitter Cry of the Chil- 
dren by, 239-240. 

Brownlow, Lord, attempt of, to enclose 
Berkhamstead Common, 260-261. 

Brunswick, George I first king of house of, 

Bryan, Chief Justice, opinion by, quoted, 

Bubonic plague, the Black Death an 
attack of, 86. 

Building gild committees, 360. 

Building societies, cooperative in field 
of credit, 272-273. 

Bunyan, John, time of, 157. 

Burgesses, rights and privileges of, in 
mediaeval England, 51. 

Burns, John, labor leader, 320. 

Burt, Thomas, labor member of Parlia- 
ment, 322. 

Business, combinations in, 306-309. 

Cabinet, king's first formed, 156. 

Cabots, voyages of, 118, 143. 

Caesar, Julius, invasion of Britain by, 


Calais, establishment of the staple at, 76. 
Cambridge, University of, 22 ; opened 

to members of all religious bodies, 255. 



Canada, secured by Great Britain, 158; 
trade of England with, 166; settle- 
ment of boundary questions between 
United States and, 252; relations be- 
tween Great Britain and, 254 ; organi- 
zation of Dominion of, 254. 

Canals, improvements in, 185. 

Canterbury, archbishopric of, n. 

Canterbury Tales, Chaucer's, 85. 

Canynges, William, merchant in foreign 
trade, 139. 

Capitalism, development of, through 
business combinations, 306-309 ; phase 
of, called economic imperialism, 309- 

Carta Mercatoria, the, 69. 

Cartwright, Edward, inventor of power 
loom, 1 80, 182. 

Casement, Sir Roger, capture and exe- 
cution of, 333. 

Cathedrals, in early organization of 
church in England, 1 1 ; towns con- 
taining, called cities in mediaeval 
England, 50. 

Cavendish, Sir John, death of, in Peas- 
ants' Rebellion, 101. 

Caxton, William, governor of English 
merchants in the Netherlands, 141. 

Celts, Britons a branch of the, 5. 

Central Trade Board, composition of, 

Charles I, accession, reign, and death of, 


Charles II, reign of, 156. 

Charters, of towns, 50 ; issued to foreign 
artisans, 81 ; granted to distant trad- 
ing companies, 142-143 ; to steam rail- 
ways, 209-21 2. 

Chartist movement, history of, 229-232. 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, poems of, 85. 

Chemical processes, discovery of new, 

Chevage, payment called, 39. 

Children, wrongs of, as factory workers, 
232-235 ; arguments for and against 
employment of, 237-242 ; labor of, 
in mines, 243-244 ; factory legislation 
in aid of, from 1848 to 1878, 275-278; 
bills of 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1909 for 
welfare of, 337. 

Children's Half-time Act, 236-237. 

China, Opium War in, 205. 

Christianity, introduction and estab- 
lishment of, in early Saxon England, 
9, 11-12. 

Christian Socialist newspaper, 324. 

Christian Socialists, 271, 324; successors 
of, 326-327. 

Church, organization of Christian, in 
early Saxon England, 11-12; work 
of King Alfred for the, 13 ; after Nor- 
man Conquest, 18; power of, under 
early Angevin kings, 22; effects on, 
of the Reformation, 118-119. 

Church Socialist League, organization 
of, 328. 

Churchyards, fairs held in, 64. 

Cities, in Roman Britain, 7 ; English, in 
I3th century, 50. 

Citizenship, rights of, in i3th century, 

Clarendon, Assize of, 23. 

Clergy, organization of, in early church 
in England, n. 

Climate of England, 2. 

Clothiers, merchants or manufacturers 
called, 131. 

Cloth Spinners' Association, 308. 

Clyde shipbuilding yards, beginning of, 

Coal, importance of, 4 ; increase in pro- 
duction of, in i8th century, 184; in- 
creased demand for, caused by steam 
transportation, 218-219; increase in 
production of, during period 1848- 
1878, 256. 

Coalition ministry during Great War, 
332 ; election in favor of, in 1918, 333 ; 
withdrawal of labor members from, at . 
end of war, 352. 

Cobden, Richard, member of Anti-Corn- 
Law League, 221. 

Cold storage of food products, introduc- 
tion of, 256. 

Collective bargaining, legalization of, 
284. See Trade unions. 

Colonies, founding of, in America, 154; 
importance of, to English commerce, 

Combination laws against trade unions, 
197, 280-281. 

Commerce, in Roman Britain, 6-7 ; de- 
cay of, in Saxon England, 10; growth 
of, under Danish conquerors of Eng- 



land, 12-13; following Norman Con- 
d.uest, 16; organization of, by Edward 
I, 27; trade and, in i3th century, 51- 
54 ; customs and conditions of mediae- 
val, in England, 63-81 ; growth of 
native, at end of i6th century, 138- 
140; government encouragement of, 
143-145 ; under the Navigation Acts, 
163-167; constant expansion of, in 
i8th century, 176-177; revolution in 
foreign, in i8th and igth centuries, 
197-198 ; increases in, in period 1848- 
1878, 256. 

Common pasture land, under mediaeval 
system of agriculture, 34. 

Commons, House of, advent of, 25-26; 
becomes strongest factor in govern- 
ment, 158; make-up of, in 1820, 205- 
206; power given to, by Parliament 
Act of 1911, 331. 

Commons Preservation Society, 260. 

Commonwealth, government of the, 155. 

Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels', 

Commutation of services, at period of 
Black Death, and after Peasants' Re- 
bellion, 107-109. 

Company stores for railway laborers, 


Conciliation, spread of, 288-289. 
Conciliation Act, passage of, 289. 
Confederations of trade unions, 320. 
Conservative party, defeat of Liberals 

by, in 1886, 297, 299. 
Cooperative congresses, 271. 
Cooperative Guild, 271. 
Cooperative organizations, started by 

Robert Owen, 246-247; progress in 

and history of, 263-275. 
Copyholders, tenants known as, 123. 
Corn Law Hymns and Rhymes, 222. 
Corn laws, 191, 221; abolition of, 22i~ 


Corpus Christi day, mystery plays on, 59. 
Corrupt Practices Act of 1883, 297. 
Cotters, class of tenants called, 36 ; pay- 
ments and services of, 38 ; legal status 

of, 39- 

Cotton gin, invention of, 182. 
Cotton mills, condition of workers in, 

232-235; increase in size of, during 

period 1848-1878, 257. 

Court of Assistants of craft organiza- 
tions, 128-129. 

Court of pie-powder, 66. 

Courts, town, 50-51. 

Courts baron and courts leet, 42. 

Craft gilds, in I4th century, 54-60; rise 
of internal divisions in, 126-129; in- 
fluence of the government on, 132-136. 

Craft unions, 317-318. 

Cre"cy, English victory at, 83. 

Credit, cooperation in, 272-273. 

Crimean War, the, 251. 

Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1871, 

Cromer, Lord, British representative in 
Egypt, 300. 

Crompton, Samuel, inventor of spinning- 
mule, 1 80. 

Cromwell, Oliver, rule of, as Lord Pro- 
tector, 155. 

Cromwell, Richard, 155. 

Cunard Line, beginnings of, 218. 

Currency, changes in, during i6th cen- 
tury, I45-I47- 

Dairy products of mediaeval England, 

Danegeld, system of national taxation 

called, 13-14; after Norman Con- 
quest, 17. 

Danes, invasion of England by, 12-13. 
Davidson, Thomas, American reformer, 

Davy, Sir Humphry, invention of safety 

lamp by, 184. 
Debt, laws relating to, 68; creation of 

national, 169, 171. 
Demesne, meaning of, under mediaeval 

system, 35. 
Demesne farming, abandonment of, 110- 


Derby, Lord, Conservative leader, 255. 
Development and Road Improvement 

Act of 1909, 366. 
Diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria, 

Disraeli, Benjamin, Conservative leader, 


Dock- workers' strike of 1889, 319-320. 
"Domesday Book," compilation of, 17; 

character of, disappointing to student 

of history, 17-18. 



Domestic system of manufactures, 131 ; 

extension of, 160-163; decay of, in 

1 8th century, 188-192. 
Drainage of swamps and marshes, 159. 
Drama, in mediaeval England, 59; 

changes in, at end of i6th century, 

Drill husbandry, introduced by Jethro 

Tull, 185. 
Drinking, the, gild feast sometimes 

called, 53. 
Dryden, John, 157. 

Easterling, "sterling" derived from, 77. 

Easterlings' House, the, 79. 

Eastern trade of mediaeval England, 72- 

East India Company, 165; chartering 

of, 143 ; subjugation of India by, 154; 

withdrawal of monopoly of, 198, 224 ; 

political powers of, abolished by act 

of Parliament, 251. 
Eastland Company, 165. 
Economic imperialism, growth of, 309- 

Edward I, 22; greatness of, among 

English kings, 26; Carlo, Mercatoria 

issued by, 69. 
Edward II, 27. 
Edward III, 27; Hundred Years' War 

begun by, 83; important events of 

reign, 84-85. 

Edward IV, assertion of royal preroga- 
tive by, 117. 
Edward VT, accession of, 86; extension 

of Reformation under, 119. 
Edward VTT, accession of, 296 ; death of, 

Egypt, English intervention in affairs of, 

205 ; events leading to British protec- 
torate over, 300. 
Eleanor of Aquitaine, marriage of Henry 

II and, 23. 

Electric telegraph, introduction of, 220. 
Elizabeth, Queen, attitude of, toward 

religion, 119; events of reign of, 120; 

restoration of currency by, 146. 
Elliott, Ebenezer, Anti-Corn-Law poet, 

Employers' associations, organization 

and influence of, 294-295. 
Employers' Liability Act, passage of, 316. 

Employment exchanges, government, 

Enclosures, system of, due to sheep- 
raising, 121-122; changes in agricul- 
tural system caused by, 122-124; 
efforts to prevent, 124-125; progress 
of movement, 125; cessation of, 159; 
revival of, in i8th century, 185-186; 
acts of Parliament in favor of, 186- 
187; final contests over and cessation 
of, 259-263. 

Engels, Friedrich, writings of, 224, 324. 

England, geography of, 1-4; early his- 
tory of, 4-8; under early Saxons, 8- 
1 2 ; derivation of name, from Angles, 
10; under Danish and late Saxon rule, 
12-14; Norman Conquest of, and 
period following, 14-21; period of 
early Angevin kings, 21-28; rural life 
and organization in, in Middle Ages, 
29-46 ; town life and organization, 
50-62 ; account of mediaeval trade and 
commerce of, 63-81 ; national affairs 
from 1338 to 1461, 83-86; effects on, 
of Black Death, 86-94; Peasants' 
Rebellion and its results, 94-107 ; 
changes in rural life, in I4th century, 
107-113; changes in town life and 
foreign trade, 113-115; national 
affairs from 1461 to 1603, 116-120; 
economic changes of i?th and early 
i8th centuries, 153-172; period of 
industrial revolution in^ 173-203; in- 
ternal affairs in, from 1820 to 1848, 
205-249; affairs from 1848 to 1878, 
251-295; from 1878 to 1906, 296-329; 
from 1906 to 1920, 331-368. See also 

English language, development of modern 
form of, 21-22; general adoption of, 


Engrossing, meaning of, 57. 

Epping Forest, saved from enclosure, 

Equitable Labor Exchange, the, 247. 

Ericsson, John, inventor of screw pro- 
peller, 217. 

Escheating of land, under feudal system, 

Ethelred, fugitive king of England, 

Excise duties, establishment of, 168. 



Fabian Society, organization and activi- 
ties of, 327. 

Fabian Tracts and Essays, 327. 

Factory Acts, 234-237, 242. 

Factory Acts Reform Association, 275. 

Factory and Workshop Consolidation 
Act, 277-278. 

Factory legislation, need for and history 
of, 232-237 ; reasons for and against, 
237-242; from 1848 to 1878, 275-278; 
extension of, in 1912, 337-340. 

Factory system, introduction and devel- 
opment of, 183-184. 

Fairs in mediaeval England, 63-67. 

Farmer, original meaning of word, no 

Farming, system of, in mediaeval Eng- 
land, 20-35; in 1 7th and i8th cen- 
turies, 158-160; revolution in system 
of, in 1 8th century, 185-188; efforts 
at cooperation in, 269. See Agri- 

Fenian Brotherhood in Ireland, 253. 

Feudalism, development of, in England, 
19-20; characteristics and duration 
of, 20-21. 

Finance, changes in field of, in i7th and 
1 8th centuries, 167-172; progress in 
and predominance of, in period 1878- 
1906, 306-311. 

Flanders, English trade with, in Middle 
Ages, 74-76; introduction of handi- 
crafts and artisans of, into England, 

Flanders Fleet, the, 73. 

Flemish Hanse of London, 74. 

Florence, a mediaeval money centre, 78. 

Foreign investment of British capital, 


Foreign trade, condition of, in mediaeval 
England, 68-81 ; comes into hands of 
Englishmen, at end of i6th century, 
138-140; the Merchants Adven- 
turers, 140-142 ; other companies of 
merchants, 142-143 ; revolutionary 
changes in, in i8th and igth centuries, 
197-198. See Commerce. 

Forestalling, meaning of, 57. 

Forty-shilling freeholders, voters classi- 
fied as, 206. 

France, English claims to territory in, 
23 ; provinces in, lost by King John, 

24; trade of England with, in Middle 
Ages, 77 ; Hundred Years' War be- 
tween England and, 83-84 ; wars 
between England and, during Napo- 
leonic era, 173-175. 

Franco-Prussian War, 252. 

Frank pledge, view of, 42. 

Fraternal societies, mediaeval gilds as, 54. 

Fraternities in England in Middle Ages, 

Free trade, 197-198; introduction of, 

French, scientific socialism among the, 

French, General, lord lieutenant of Ire- 
land, 334. 

French and Indian War, 158. 

French Revolution, 173; effects of, in 
England, 174-175. 

Friendly societies, in the trades, 289; 
work of, as mutual insurance com- 
panies, 344. 

Friendly Societies Act of 1846, 270. 

Frisians, incursions of, into Roman 
Britain, 8. 

Funeral rites of gild members, 54. 

Furlong, meaning of word, 31. 

Garden City, Letchworth, model indus- 
trial town, 365. 
Geneva award of 1872, 253. 
Gentlemen farmers, rise of, 186. 
George I, first ruler of Brunswick line, 


George II, 158. 
George III, results of efforts of, to restore 

personal government, 173 ; as a farmer, 

George IV, death of, 207. 
George V, trend of influence of, 334. 
George, David Lloyd, prime ministry of, 

332-333 ; support of, by country in 

elections of 1918, 333. 
George, Henry, influence of, in England. 

Germans, commercial establishments of, 

in England, 79-80 ; scientific socialism 

among, 324. 
Gildhall of the Dutch, settlement of 

German merchants called, 79. 
Gild merchant, the, 51-54; superseded 

largely by craft gilds, 54-55. 



Gilds, in mediaeval England, 51-54; 
craft, 54-60 ; non-industrial, 60-62 ; 
craft, changes in, leading to decay of 
system, 1 26-1 29 ; yeomen or journey- 
men, 127; influence of the govern- 
ment on, 132-135 ; blow to, as a 
result of Reformation, 135-136; gen- 
eral causes and evidences of decay of, 
136-138; regulation of old and new 
industries by, 161-162; proposition 
for modern national, 357-359. 

Gild socialism, 357-361. 

Gladstone, W. E., leader of Liberals, 255 ; 
third parliamentary reform bill 
fathered by, 296-297; defeats of, on 
home rule question, 297, 299. 

Gladstone Act of 1845, regulating rail- 
ways, 216. 

Glebe, meaning of word, n. 

Golden jubilee of Queen Victoria, 296. 

Goldsmith, Oliver, Deserted Village by, 

Government, form of, in early Saxon 
England, 10. 

Government labor exchanges, 340-343. 

Government regulation of industry, 192- 
198, 365-368. 

Grain, export of, regulated by govern- 
ment in 1 6th century, 151 ; production 
of, 1 60. 

Grand jury system, beginning of, 23. 

Great Britain, adoption of title of, by 
combined nations of England and 
Scotland, 176. 

Great Charter, signing of, 24; real sig- 
nificance of, 24-25 ; supplemented by 
Bill of Rights, 157. 

Great Council, composition of, 25; ap- 
plication of name "Parliament" to, 
25. See Parliament. 

Great Northern railway system, 214. 

Great War, the, 331-332. 

Great Western, early steamship, 218. 

Great Western Steamship Company, 218. 

Greece, becomes independent of Turkey, 

Grocyn, William, teaching of Greek be- 
gun at Oxford by, 116. 

Guano, use of, by farmers, 258. 

Guild of St. Matthew, organization of, 

Guinea Company, the, 143, 165. 

Hales, Robert, beheaded in Peasants' 
Rebellion, 99. 

Half-holidays for workers, provided by 
law, 337. 

Hamlet, meaning of word in Middle 
Ages, 29. 

Hampstead Heath, saved from enclosure, 

Handicrafts, introduced by Danes into 
England, 13 ; growth of, after Norman 
Conquest, 16; in mediaeval English 
towns, 51-52; introduction of, into 
England from Flanders, 80-8 1. 

Hanse towns, early trade of, 76-77; 
growing competition of English traders 
with, 139-140. 

Hardy, Keir, working-class leader, 328. 

Hargreaves, James, inventor of spinning- 
jenny, 179. 

Harmony, cooperative community, 247. 

Harold, king of England, killed at Hast- 
ings, 15. 

Hastings, battle of, 15. 

Henry I, 15. 

Henry II, reign of, 21-23; conflict be- 
tween Thomas, archbishop of Canter- 
bury, and, 22. 

Henry III, 25. 

Henry IV, 85. 

Henry V, 85. 

Henry VI, 85, 86. 

Henry VII, 117-118. 

Henry VIII, Reformation in England 
begun under, 118-119; monetary 
policy of, 145-146. 

Heriot, form of payment called, 37. 

Hides and leather, production of, in 
mediaeval England, 71. 

Homage, ceremony of, under feudal 
system, 20. 

Home rule, agitation for, 253; bills of 1886, 
1892, 1914 and 1920, 297, 299, 333, 334. 

Hong Kong, an English possession, 205. 

Hostage, custom of, 69. 

Hours of labor, regulated by mediaeval 
gilds, 57, 61 ; by Statute of 1563, 134. 

House of Commons. See Commons. 

House of Lords. See Lords. 

Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909, 

Housing of Working Classes Act of 1890, 



Hudson, George, so-called "railway 
king," 213-215. 

Hughes, Thomas, a Christian Socialist, 

Huguenots, immigration of, into Eng- 
land, 160-161. 

Hundred, governmental district of Saxon 
England, 10. 

"Hundred Rolls," compilation of the, 

Hundred Years' War, 83-84. 

"Hungry forties," period called, 224. 

Hyndman, H. M., organizer of Social 
Democratic Federation, 326. 

Imperial War Cabinet, sittings of, 334- 


Income tax, adoption of, 223. 

Independent Labor party, organization 
of, 322; growth in strength of, 328. 

India,- East India Company in, 154; 
English predominance in, 158; trade 
to, opened to outsiders, 198; Sepoy 
Rebellion in, 251 ; made a direct 
dependency of British crown, 251 ; 
Queen of England given title of Em- 
press of, 252. 

Individualism, growth of theory of, in 
economic life, 198-201 ; more than a 
mere laissez-faire policy of government, 
200; disappointing results of, 201- 
203 ; period of predominance of ideal 
of (1820-1848), 205-249; sweeping 
away of economic, in Great War, 365. 

Industrial and Provident Societies acts, 

Industrial Council, National, 363-364. 

Industrial revolution, meaning of, 184- 

Industrial unionism, 318. 

Insurance, a feature of certain mediaeval 
gilds, 61 ; origins of fire and life, 171 ; 
new form of, due to Workmen's Com- 
pensation Act, 317; national, against 
sickness and unemployment, 343-345- 

Inlercursus Magnus, treaty known as, 

Interest, payment of, on loans, 147-148. 

International Workingmen's Associa- 
tion, 325. 

Inventions, great mechanical, of i8th 
century, 176-182. 

Ireland, beginning of conquest of, 22; 
English policy toward, 154; English 
and Scotch settlers in, 165 ; united 
with England and Scotland, 176; 
troubles with, 253 ; home rule bills of 
1886 and 1892, 297, 299; disturbances 
in, during Great War, 333 ; Sinn Fein 
activities and successes in, 333-334; 
separate Parliament for, organized in 
Dublin, 334; disorder and assassina- 
tions in, 334. 

Iron, 2 ; production of, in i8th century, 
184; increased demand for, due to 
growth of railways and steamships, 
218-219; production of, tripled in 
period 1848-1878, 256. 

Iron workers' cooperative associations, 

Italy, English trade with, in Middle 
Ages, 72; bankers of, in England, 78; 
influence of, on English literature and 
intellectual interests in isth century, 
116; war in, in 1859, 252. 

James I, reign of, 153-154. 

James II, 157. 

Jews, in mediaeval England, 51 ; admis- 
sion of, into Parliament, 255. 

John, King, reign of, 23-25. 

Joint Industrial Councils, 363-364. 

Joint stock companies, 306, 307. 

Journeyman, grade of, under craft gild 
system, 56; change in position of, 

Journeymen gilds, formation of, 127. 

Jury system, introduction of, 23. 

Justice, Socialist newspaper, 327. 

Jutes, in Roman Britain, 8 ; kingdom of 
Kent established by, 9. 

Juvenile courts, establishment of, 337. 

Kay, John, drop box and flying shuttle 
invented by, 179 

Kempe, John, Flemish weaver in Eng- 
land, 81. 

Kings. See Royal government. 

Kingsley, Charles, interest of, in working- 
class movements, 288 ; one of founders 
of Christian Socialist, 324. 

Labor and the New Social Order pro- 
gramme, 353. 



Laborers, effects of Black Death on con- 
dition of, 90-91 ; the Statutes of, 91- 
93 ; evidences of existence of distinct 
class of, 93-94 ; railway, in early days 
of steam transportation, 219-220. 

Labor exchanges, government, 340-343 ; 
services of, during Great War, 343; 
payments of unemployment insurance 
made through, 345. 

Labor party, adoption of name and of 
party organization, 352 ; advance of, 
352-353; present-day power of, in 
Parliament, 353. 

Labor unions. See Trade unions. 

Laissez-faire theory of functions of gov- 
ernment, 192-195; theory of individ- 
ualism an advance on, 200; results 
of, 226 ; reduction of, to unimportance, 


Lancastrian line, period of, 85. 
Langton, Stephen, rebellion led by, 24. 
Law, foundation laid of modern, 23. 
Law merchant, the, 66. 
Lead, production of, 71. 
Leeds Cooperative Society, 265. 
Leicester, trade regulations in, 53. 
Levant Company, the, 143, 165. 
Levin, William, Port Sunlight built by, 


Leyr, payment called, 39. 

Liberal-Labor members of Parliament, 

Liberal party, split by Irish question in 
1886, 296, 297. 

Liberal-Unionist party, 299. See Union- 
ist party. 

Light Railways Act of 1896, 313-314. 

Lister, Geoffrey, leader hi Peasants' 
Rebellion, 101. 

Literature, interest in Anglo-Saxon, 
reawakened by King Alfred, 13; in 
i5th century, 116-117. 

Liverpool and Manchester Railway, 
opening of, 210-211. 

Livery Companies, meaning of, 128. 

Lock-out, weapon used by employers, 

Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, 
Association of, 321. 

Lollards, the, 84-85. 

London, firm establishment and pre- 
eminence of, after Norman Conquest, 

16; population of, in i3th century, 
50; craft gilds in, 55; ravages of 
rebellious peasants in (1381), 99; 
craft and trading organizations in, 
toward end of i6th century, 129. 

London, treaty of (1871), 252. 

London and Northwestern railway sys- 
tem, 214. 

Long Parliament, the, 155. 

Lords, House of, advent of modern form 
of, as one of houses of Parliament, 26 ; 
make-up of, in 1820, 205; provisions 
regarding, in Parliament Act of 1911, 

Lords of manors, results of Black Death 
as affecting, 88-91. 

Lynn, German merchants' settlement in, 

Lyons, Richard, victim of rebellious 
peasants, 101. 

Macadam, J. L., work of, for better 
roads, 185. 

McCulloch, John, works of, 194. 

Macdonald, Alexander, labor member of 
Parliament, 322. 

Magna Carta. See Great Charter. 

Malthus, works of, 194; Essay on Popu- 
lation by, quoted, 109. 

Malvern Hills, saved from enclosure, 261. 

Manchester, Wholesale Cooperative So- 
ciety formed at, 266. 

Mann, Tom, labor leader, 320. 

Manor, varying meanings of word, 29; 
classes of people on the, 35-41 ; as 
the estate of a lord, 44-45 ; hardness 
of life on, 45-46; self-centred char- 
acter of life, 46. 

Manor courts, operations of, 41-42 ; 
courts baron and courts leet, 42. 

Manor house, the, 29-30. 

Manufactures, scarcity of, in Saxon Eng- 
land, 10 ; development of, by Danish 
invaders of England, 13; following 
Norman Conquest, 16. 

Manufacturing, domestic system of, in 
1 7th and i8th centuries, 160-163; 
improvements in methods of, in i8th 
century, 176-182; factory system of, 
183-184 ; decay of domestic, 188-192 ; 
new devices in, during period 1848-^ 
1878, 255. 


Markets in mediaeval England, 63. 

Market towns, 63. 

Marshes, drainage of, 159. 

Marx, Karl, writings of, 324, 325. 

Mary, Queen, efforts of, to restore 
Roman Catholicism in England, 119. 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 1 20. 

Master workmen, changes in position of, 

Maurice, Frederick D., a Christian So- 
cialist, 271 ; interest of, in working- 
class movements, 288 ; one of founders 
of Christian Socialist, 324. 

Mediaeval system, 20-81 ; breaking up 
of, 116-151. 

Merchant clothiers, class of, 131. 

Merchants adventurers, three meanings 
of term, 140-141 ; become a distinct 
organization, 142; mentioned, 165. 

Merchet, payment called, 39. 

Methuen treaty, the, 165. 

Middle Ages, rural life and organization 
during, 20-46. 

Midland railway system, 214. 

Mill, the manorial, 40. 

Mill, James, economic writings of, 194. 

Milton, John, period of, 156. 

Mineral resources of England, 2, 4. 

Minimum wages boards, 345-349. 

Mining, new devices in, 184; increase 
of, due to growth of steam transpor- 
tation, 218-219; acts regulating labor 
in, 242-244; minimum wage for 
those engaged in, 348. 

Monasteries, in Anglo-Saxon England, 
11-12; increased number of, after 
Norman Conquest, 18; wool produc- 
tion by, 71 ; devastation of, by Black 
Death, 88; dissolution of, a result of 
Reformation, 119; disposition of 
lands held by, 124. 

Monk, General, 155-156. 

Monks, in Anglo-Saxon England, n. 

Monopoly, business combinations for 
securing, 306-309. 

Montfort, Simon de, Earl of Leicester, 

Moors in England, i . 

More, Sir Thomas, the Utopia of, 117; 
changes in agricultural system con- 
demned by, 1 24. 

Morocco Company, the, 143. 

Morris, William, member of Social Demo- 
cratic Federation, 326. 

Morrowspeches, gild meetings called, 53. 

Mortmain, Statute of, 26. 

Mule-spinning machines, 180. 

Municipal ownership, progress in, 313- 

Muscovy Company, the, 142-143, 165. 

Mutiny Act, the, 157. 

Mystery plays, 59; cessation of, 136- 

Napoleon, Emperor, period of, 174-175. 
National gilds, proposition for, 357-359. 
National Gilds League, organization of, 

National Industrial Council, formation 

of, 363-364- 
National Telephone Company, monopoly 

of telephone system by, 312-313. 
Navigation Acts, the, 166-167; end of, 

197; repeal of last of, 224. 
Navvies, railway laborers, 219. 
Nelson, Admiral Lord, victories of, 174. 
Netherlands, trade between England 

and, in Middle Ages, 74-76; artisans 

from, in England, 81. 
New Harmony, Owenite community, 

New Lanark, manufacturing community 

at, 245. 
New Zealand, relations of, to Great 

Britain, 254. 

Normans, conquest of England by, 14-21. 
Northern Star, Chartist weekly, 230. 
Nunneries, increased number of, after 

Norman Conquest, 18. 
Nuns, in Anglo-Saxon England, n. 

O'Connor, Feargus, Chartist leader, 230; 

imprisonment of, 231. 
Old-age pensions, legislation for, 338-340. 
Open-field system of agriculture, 31 ; 

changes in, caused by sheep-raising, 


Open hearth process, invention of, 255- 


Opium War, the, 205. 
Orbiston, cooperative community, 246- 

Osborne judgment concerning trade 

unions, 350-351. 


Owen, Robert, factory reformer, 235; 
influence of, 245-246; various activi- 
ties of, 246-249; outcome of efforts 
of, to better social conditions, 248. 

Oxford, University of, 22; flourishing 
condition of, at period of Hundred 
Years' War, 84; teaching of classics 
at, in isth century, 116; opened to 
members of all religious bodies, 

Palmerston, Lord, Liberal leader, 255. 

Parcels post, establishment of, 312. 

Paris, peace of (1763), 158; peace of 
(1856), 251. 

Parish, the, in mediaeval England, 40. 

Parliament, appearance of name, as ap- 
plied to Great Council of the kingdom, 
25 ; inclusion of Commons in, 25-26 ; 
development of modern form of, 26; 
organization of, most important work 
of Edward I, 27 ; towns represented 
in, 51 ; growth of power of, during 
reign of Edward III, 85; increased 
power of, under three Henrys, 85-86 ; 
enactment of Statutes of Laborers by, 
92-94; rendered insignificant by 
Edward IV and Henry VII, 117; 
increase in power of, due to Revolu- 
tion of 1688, 157-158; completion of 
modern form of organization, 158; 
acts of, reviving process of enclosures 
in 1 8th century, 186-187; constitu- 
tion of, in 1820, 205 ; the reform of, 
in 1832, 207208; charters granted to 
railways by, 209213; efforts of, in 
behalf of railway laborers, 210220; 
and the Chartist movement, 230-232 ; 
factory legislation by, 232-237; 
second reform bill (1867), 254; ad- 
mission of Jews into, 255; acts of, 
passed for enclosure of open lands, 
259 ; third reform bill (1884), 296-297 ; 
first labor members of, 322 ; social- 
istic trend of laws passed by, in period 
before 1006, 328-329; combination 
of parties in control of, in 1906, 331 ; 
important provisions regarding, of 
act of 1911, 331 ; reform bill of 1918, 
332 ; payment of salaries to members 
of House of Commons, 35 T ; position 
attained by Labor party in, 353. 

Parliament Act of 1911, provisions of, 

Parliamentary trains, meaning of term, 

Parnell, Charles Stewart, leader of Home 

Rule party, 253. 
Patterson, William, proposition for 

Bank of England made by, 168. 
Pauperism, extent of, in 1820-1848, 226- 


Peasants' Rebellion of 1381, events lead- 
ing up to, 94-96 ; outbreak and course 

of, 98-107. 
Peel, Sir Robert, Anti-Corn-Law bill 

introduced by, 223 ; factory legisla- 
tion sponsored by, 234-235. 
Peninsular and Oriental Steamship 

Company, 218. 
Pensions, old-age, 338-340. 
People's Charter, the, 229. 
Pestilence in Middle Ages, 86-88. 
Photography, discoveries tending to 

promote, 256. 

Picts, invasions of Britain by, 7. 
Pie-powder, courts of, 66. 
Pilgrimage of Grace, the, 125. 
Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan's, 157. 
Place, Francis, defender of trade unions, 


Plantation of Ulster, the, 165. 
Plymouth Company, the, 165. 
Poitiers, English victory at, 83. 
Political parties, formation of, 156. 
Poll taxes, first levied in i4th century, 

95-o6; unpopularity of, 96. 
Poor law, reform of, 226-229. 
Population, statistics of, from 1700 to 

1850, 192. 
Port Sunlight, model industrial town, 


Portugal, Methuen treaty with, 165. 
Postage, adoption of cheap system of, 

Post office, activities of, in industrial 

field, 311-312. 
Post Office Savings Bank, establishment 

of, 255, 311. 
Poverty, widespread, during period 1820- 

1848, 224-226. 

Prayer book, English, issued, 119. 
Precaria, form of taxation called, 37. 
Production, cooperation in, 267-269. 



Profit sharing, difference between cooper- 
ation and, 273-275. 

Progress and Poverty, Henry George's, 

Public ownership, progress in, 365-367. 

Puritans, rise of the, 120. 

Queenwood, cooperative community at, 

Quia Emptores, Statute of, 26. 

Radical movement, beginning of, 207. 
Railway mania of 1845, 212-213. 
Railway strike of 1919, 356. 
Railways, era of development of, 208- 

215; slight government control of, 


Reaper, a manorial officer, 44. 
Reeve, office of, 36, 44. 
Reform Bill, of 1832, 207-208; of 1884, 

296-297. See Parliament. 
Reformation, the, in England, 118-119; 

effects of, on gild organizations, 135- 


Regrating, meaning of, 57. 
Regulated companies, 163. 
Relay system in factories, 276. 
Relief, payment to landlord called, 20, 


Religious gilds, 60. 

Religious observances of craft gilds, 58. 
Rents of assize, 37. 
Representation of the People Act, 332, 


Restoration, the, 156. 

Revolution of 1688, 157. 

Ricardo, works of, 194. 

Richard I, 24. 

Richard II, 85; and the Peasants' Re- 
bellion, 98, 102105. 

Ring spinning, use of, 255. 

Rivers of England, characteristics of, 2. 

Roads, Roman, in Britain, 6; improve- 
ments in modern, 184-185. 

Rochdale Pioneers, account of, 263-265 ; 
followers of, and variations of plan of, 

Rocket, Stephenson's locomotive, 211. 

Rod, the mediaeval English, 31. 

Roebuck, promoter of blast furnace, 184. 

Roman Catholics, favored by James I, 

Romans, in Britain, 5-8. 

Rood, meaning of, 31. 

Royal African Company, 165. 

Royal Agricultural Society, founding of, 

Royal government, increase in strength 
of, begun with Edward IV, 117; pater- 
nal form of, 148-151. 

Rural life and organization in I3th and 
I4th centuries, 29-46; effects on, of 
pestilences of i4th century, 88-91 ; 
changes in, in i4th century, 107-113. 

Russell, Lord John, Liberal leader, 255. 

Russia, war against, in 1854, 251; war 
between Turkey and (1877-1878), 299. 

Russia Company, the, 142-143. 

Safety lamp, Davy's, 184. 

St. Albans, occurrences at, during Peas- 
ants' Rebellion, 102. 

St. Ives, fairs held at, 64. 

Salle, Sir Robert, victim of Peasants' 
Rebellion, 101. 

Salvation Army, founding of, 326. 

Sankey report, the, 356. 

Savannah, first steam vessel to cross 
Atlantic, 217. 

Saxons, Roman Britain invaded by, 7-8 ; 
petty kingdoms established by, 9; 
South, West, East, and Middle, 9; 
supremacy of West Saxons, 9 ; defeat 
of, by Normans at Hastings, 15. 

Scandinavia, early immigrations into 
England from, 12-13. 

School lunches, legislative bill requiring, 


Scotland, English interference in affairs 
of, 22; failure of England to absorb, 
23 ; union of England and, 176. 

Scots, early invasions of Britain by, 7-8. 

Screw propeller, invention of, 217. 

Senlac (Hastings), battle of, 15. 

Sepoy Rebellion, the, 251. 

Serfdom, in England in i3th century, 40; 
removal of burdens of, an aim of 
Peasants' Rebellion of 1381, 106-107; 
reasons for disappearance of, 111-113. 

Seven Years' War, the, 158. 

Shakespeare, period of, 156. 

Sheep-raising, changes in agricultural 
system caused by, 120-125; govern- 
ment regulation of, 150; ceases to be 



exclusive form of agriculture prac- 
tised, 150. 

Sheriffs, after Norman Conquest, 17. 

Shilling, first coinage and value of, 145. 

Shipbuilding, government encourage- 
ment of, 145; steam, 217-220; in- 
crease in, during period 1848-1878, 

Shire, governmental district of Saxon 
England, 10. 

Sickness, national insurance against, 


Siemens process, invention of, 255-256. 
Sinn Fein, spread of, during Great War, 

333; success of, in elections of 1918, 


Sirius, early steamship, 217. 
Small Dwellings Acquisition Act of 1899, 


Small Holdings Act of 1892, 304-305. 

Smith, Adam, quoted, 192-193; Wealth 
of Nations by, 193-194. 

Smith, Augustus, member of Commons 
Preservation Society, 260-261. 

Smith, Junius, steam navigation pro- 
moter, 217. 

Social Democrat, publication of So- 
cialists, 327. 

Social Democratic Federation, forma- 
tion of, 326-327. 

Social reform, present-day policy of, 

Socialism, early meaning of term, 247- 
248; new meaning given to, 324-325 ; 
organizations along new lines of, in 
Great Britain, 325-329; status of, in 
1906, 329. 

Socialist congresses, cooperative confer- 
ences called, 247. 

Socialists, the Christian, 271. 

Society for Promoting Working Men's 
Associations, 271. 

South Africa, relations of, to Great 
Britain, 254 ; war in, between British 
and Boers, 300-301 ; Union of, or- 
ganized, 301. 

Southampton, provisions in, concerning 
trade, 53. 

South Sea Bubble, 169. 

South Sea Company, 169. 

Spain, England's relations with, during 
Elizabeth's reign, 120. 

Speculation, eras of, 169, 212-213. 

Speenhamland Act of Parliament, the, 

Spencer, Henry de, bishop of Norwich, 
and the Peasants' Rebellion, 104. 

Spinning, old and improved methods of, 
178-182; new devices in, 255. 

Staple, system of the, 74-76. 

Staple goods, meaning of term, 75. 

Staple towns, 75-76. 

Statute of Apprentices of 1563, 134, 163 ; 
an evidence of governmental regula- 
tion of industrial life, 150; weakening 
and final removal of, from statute 
book, 196-197. 

Statutes of Laborers, 91-94. 

Steam-engines, Watt's inventions con- 
nected with, 182. 

Steam navigation, period of development 
of, 217-220. 

Steamship companies, establishment of, 

Steelyard, German merchants' settle- 
ment in London, 79. 

Stephen, nominal reign of, 15, 19, 

Stephenson, George, inventor and pro- 
moter of steam locomotives, 209. 

Sterling, derivation of term, 77. 

Steward, functions of, under manorial 
system, 42-43 ; of craft gild, 58. 

Stourbridge, fair held at, 64. 

Straw, Jack, leader in Peasants' Rebel- 
lion, 99. 

Strikes, meaning of, 280; notable, in 
1888-1889, 319-320; after close of 
Great War, 356-357- 

Stuart family, James I first English king 
of, 153- 

Sturmys, English merchant, 139. 

Subsidies, government, to steamship 
companies, 218. 

Sudbury, Simon, archbishop of Canter- 
bury, beheaded in Peasants' Rebellion, 

Suez Canal, opening of, 253; financial 
control of, secured by Great Britain, 
253. 3o ; increase in foreign trade due 
to, 256-257. 

Sweated industries, government control 
of, 345-348. 

Syndicalism, aims of, 358. 


Taff Vale Case, the, 349-350. 

Tariffs, abolition of protective, 220-224. 

Taverner, John, merchant in foreign 
trade, 139. 

Taxation, rise of system of, 167-168. 

Telegraph, incorporated hi post-office 
system, 312. 

Telephone, development and government 
control of, 312-313. 

Telford, Thomas, work of, for better 
roads, 185. 

Tenants of manor, under mediaeval sys- 
tem, 36-37 ; payments, services, and 
compensations of, 35-41 ; distinction 
between free, and villains, 39. 

Ten-hour Act of 1847, 237. 

Theodore, Archbishop, organization of 
church in England by, n. 

Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, con- 
flict between Henry II and, 22. 

Thornton, W. T., book by, On Labor, 
etc., 288. 

Three-field system of cultivation, 32-33. 

Tillet, Ben, labor leader, 320. 

Tin, production of, 2, 71. 

Tinplate Manufacturers' Association, 

Tolls, paid by towns, 50; collected at 
fairs, 64. 

Towns, in Roman Britain, 7; life in, in 
mediaeval England, 50 ff . ; number of, 
and form of government, 50-51 ; 
trade relations between, 67-68; 
changes in life of, in i4th century, 
113-114; decay of, resulting from 
change in agricultural system, 123; 
changes in life of, in isth and i6th 
centuries, 126-129. 

Townshend, Lord, gentleman farmer, 
1 86. 

Townships, in Saxon England, 10. 

Toynbee, Arnold, 326. 

Toynbee Hall, establishment of, 326. 

Trade, in Roman Britain, 6-7 ; decay of, 
in Saxon England, 10; developed by 
Danish invaders of England, 12-13; 
following Norman Conquest, 16; or- 
ganization of, by Edward I, 27 ; 
characteristics of, in mediaeval Eng- 
land, 51-54; regulation of, by gilds, 
55-57 ; carried on at markets and 
fairs, 63-67 ; relations between towns 

as to, 67-68 ; foreign trading relations, 
68-72; Italian and Eastern, 72-74; 
the Flanders, 74-76; the Hanse, 76- 
77; conditions in foreign, in i4th and 
I5th centuries, 114-115; foreign, 
under Navigation Acts, 163-167; in- 
creases in foreign, 256. 

Trades councils, formation of, 291-292. 

Trade boards, formation of, 345-349. 

Trade Disputes Act, passage of, 350. 

Trade Union Acts, passage of, 286, 287, 

Trade Union Congress, Annual, 292-293 ; 
of 1869, 322; of 1899, 322-323; de- 
velopment of socialistic policy of con- 
gresses, 328. 

Trade unions, 236 ; acts of 1871 and 1875 
legalizing, 255 ; account of rise of, 
278-280; Combination Acts against, 
280-281 ; popular opinion against, 
282-283 ; legalization of, 283-287 ; 
acts of 1875 and 1876, 287; public 
acceptance of, 287-289; growth and 
extension of, 280-291 ; federation of, 
291-294; condition in 1878, 294-295; 
development of, in period 1878-1906, 
317-321 ; right and left wings among, 
321 ; entrance of, into politics, 321- 
323; legal responsibility of, 349 ; new 
legalization of, 349-351 ; effect of 
Great War on, 353-357 ; triple alliance 
of three great, 355. 

Trading companies, 140-143, 163, 165- 
166; end of monopolies held by, 197- 

Trafalgar Square meetings of unem- 
ployed, 319. 

Transportation, unproved methods and 
means of, 184-185; development of 
steam, in period 1820-1848, 208-212; 
advances in means of, 256. 

Triple alliance of trade unions, 355. 

Truck system for railway laborers, 219- 

Trusts, combinations called, 306, 307- 


Tudor line, first king of the, 117. 
Tull, Jethro, improved farming methods 

introduced by, 185. 
Turkey, defeated by Russia in 1877- 

1878, 299; international arrangements 

relative to, 299-300. 



Turkey Company, the, 143. 

Turnips, introduction of, into England, 
1 60. 

Tyler, Wat, leader in Peasants' Rebel- 
lion, 99; killing of, 103-104. 

Ulster, settlement of English and Scotch 

in, 154, 165. 
Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905, 341- 


Unemployment, problem of, 340; labor 
exchanges as remedy for, 340-343; 
national insurance against, 343~345- 

Unionist party, origin of, 299 ; defeat of, 
in 1906, 331. 

Union of South Africa, organization of, 

United Irishmen party, 253. 

United States. See America. 

Universal suffrage, introduction of, 332. 

Universities. See Cambridge and Ox- 

Utopia, More's, 117, 124. 

Venice, trade between England and, in 
Middle Ages, 72-74; end of trade 
with, 144. 

Venturers, English foreign traders called, 

Versailles, Treaty of (1919), 332 ; labor 
clauses of, 361. 

Victoria, Queen, accession of, 208 ; dura- 
tion of reign, 296 ; golden and diamond 
jubilees of, 296. 

Vill, meaning of term, 29; character- 
istics of the mediaeval, 30-31 ; as an 
agricultural system, 31-35. 

Villages, in Saxon England, 10; de- 
scription of mediaeval, 20-31. 

Villainage, as an institution, 112-113. 

Villains, class of tenants called, under 
mediaeval system, 36; services and 
payments by, 37-38; distinction be- 
tween free tenants and, 39; legal 
status of, 30. 

Virgate, meaning of, 35. 

Virginia, first English settlements in, 

Virginia Company, the, 165. 

Vision of Piers Plowman, The, 85 ; con- 
temporary popular feeling as repre- 
sented by, 94. 

Wages boards, 345-349. 

Wales, conquest of, by English, 22 ; 
relations between England and, 23. 

Wapentake, governmental district of 
Saxon England, 10. 

Wardship and marriage, meaning of 
phrase, 20. 

Wars of the Roses, 86. 

Waterloo, battle of, 174. 

Watt, James, improvement of steam- 
engines by, 182. 

Weaving, methods of, 178-179. 

Weaving industry, changes in, at end of 
i6th century, 130-132; progress in, 
during i7th and i8th centuries, 161. 

Week- work by villains, 37. 

West Indies, first English settlements in, 
154; English trade with, 166. 

Westminster,. First and Second Statutes 
of, 26. 

Wheat raising, 160. 

Whitley Councils, organizations called, 

Whitney, Eli, cotton gin invented by, 

William II, 15. 

William IV, 207 ; death of, 208. 

William and Mary, reign of, 157-158. 

William the Conqueror, 15. 

Wimbledon Common, proposition to 
enclose, 260. 

Winchester, fair held at, 64. 

Witan, the, in Saxon England, 10. 

Witenagemot, Great Council (Parlia- 
ment) an outgrowth of, 25. 

Wolsey, Cardinal, proclamation of, 
against enclosing, 1 24. 

Woman's Industrial Council, formation 
of, 346. 

Women, labor of, in mines, 243, 244 ; 
factory legislation in behalf of, from 
1848 to 1878, 275-278; suffrage 
granted to, 332. 

Women's Cooperative Guild, 271. 

Wool, production of, 71, 74; changes in 
agricultural system caused by, 121- 
122; rise of manufacture of, 131; 
invention of machines for combing, 

Working Men's College, London, 271. 

Workingmen's dwellings, legislation re- 
garding, 314. 



Workmen's Compensation Act, passage 
of, 316-317; a new, in 1906, 336-33?- 

Wrawe, John, leader in Peasants' Re- 
bellion, 101. 

Wycliffe, John, work of, 84-85 ; social 
trend of teachings of, 9$. 

Yeomen, class of farmers called, HI; 

disappearance of, 202; transformed 

into farm laborers, 206. 
Yeomen gilds, formation of, 127. 

York, bishopric of, 1 1 ; population of 
city, in I3th century, 50; craft gilds 
at, ss ; mystery plays at, 59. 

York, house of, defeat of house of Lan- 
caster by, 86. 

Young, Arthur, agricultural observer and 
writer, 185; criticism of government 
policy by, 193. 

Young Ireland party, 253. 

Zealand, artisans from, in England, Si 

Printed in the United States of America. 

CheTmey. Edward P. HC . 

introduction to the inrC53 

dustrial and social history 
of England,