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Inclosure

lands, land, commonable, severalty, acres, lot, england, common and crop

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INCLOSURE. The term Inclosure is applied to the inclosing and partition ing of lands in England and Wales, which are comprehended under the gene ral name of Commons or Common Lando. A knowledge of the present condition of the lands comprehended under this term enables us to form a better estimate of the state of agriculture in England and its capabilities of improvement. We thus learn also what was the general condition of the lands in England before inclosures were made.

It is necessary to define the terms Commons, and Commonable and Inter mixed Lands. Commons or Common Lands are lands in a state of nature or waste, of which individuals have not the severalty. Commonable Lands are those lands which during a part of the year are in severalty, that is, occupied seve rally by individuals as their own, to the ex clusion for the time of other people. The amount of common land in England is not known, but it is conjectured that it may be about 8,000,000 of acres : the total area of England and Wales is sup posed to be about 37,000,000 acres.

The amount of commonable and inter mixed lands is not known. The nature of these commonable and intermixed lands may be collected from the follow ing instances. " There are many parishes in the kingdom that consist altogether of intermixed or commonable lands ; there are others in which there is a great intermixture of common land with the commonable and intermixed land. The township of Barmby on the Marsh in Yorkshire contains 1692 acres. There are 1152 pieces of open land, which con tain 1015 acres, giving an average size of 3 roods and 23 perches, and there are 352 old inclosures containing 677 acres. In the parish of Cholsey in Berkshire, the total contents of which are 2381 acres, there are 2315 pieces of open land, which contain 2327 acres, giving an average rite of one acre." This open land gene rally consists of long strips which are so narrow that it is impossible to plough them across. Yet much of this land is the best in the kingdom for natural fer tility, and is the oldest cultivated land.

There is great variety in these com monable lands ; but they may be divided into three classes, exclusive of wood-lands, First, there is open arable and meadow land, which is held and occupied by indi viduals severally until the crop has been got in. After the crop has been removed, that is, during the autumn and winter, it becomes commonable to persons who have severalty rights in it, and they turn on to it their cattle without any limit, or without stint, as it is termed. Thus there is a divided use in these open lands : in dividuals have the exclusive right to the enjoyment of one or more of these strips of open land for a part of the year; and during another part of the year all these individuals enjoy this open land in com mon. Second, there is open arable and meadow land that is held in severalty during one part of the year, like the first class; but after the crop is removed, it is commonable not only to parties who have severalty rights, but to other classes of individuals : these lands are generally called Lammas Lands.

These commonable rights may belong to a particular class, as a body of freemen, or to all landholders. There is great variety in these two classes as to the seve ralty holdings also. "There are many cases in which the severalty holding varies year by year. There are in these open lands what is called a pane of land, in which there may be 40 or 60 different lots. It is reported to be a remnant of an old military custom, when on a certain day the best man of the parish appeared to take possession of any lot that he thought fit ; if his right was called in question, he had to fight for it, and the survivor took the first lot, and so they went on through the parish. It often happens that in these shifting severalties the occu pier of lot one this year goes round the i whole of the several lots in rotation ; the owner of lot one this year has lot two the next, and so on. When these lands are arable lands, they do not change annually, but periodically, according to the rotation of the crops. Then there is the old lot meadow, in which the owners draw lots for the choice. There are a great va riety of circumstances under which the severalty ownership of these lands shifts from time to time—but after the severalty ownership has ceased, and after the crop has been removed. they all become com monable." This is one among many instances of the existence of antient usages in Eng land, which are the same or nearly the same as the usages of nations that we call barbarous. Tacitus (Germania, c. 26) says of the antient German mode of agri culture : "The lands, in proportion to the number of cultivators, are occupied by all in turns, which presently they divide among themselves according to their rank (merit). The extensive plains offer facility for division. They change the cultivated fields yearly ; and there is still a superfluity of land.' The meaning of Tacitus is not clear. The following pas sage in Cmsar's account of the Gauls (vi. 22) is more distinct : " They pay no attention to agriculture, nor has any man a fixed quantity of land and boundaries of property : but the magistrates annually assign to the clans and tribes who have come together, as much land as they please• and where they please,and in the next year they compel them to move to another spot." Herodotus (ii. 168) says that each member of the military caste in Egypt had a certain portion of land assigned to him ; but they enjoyed the lands in a ro tation, and the same persons did not con tinue in the enjoyment of the same lands. Strabo (p. 315) mentions a custom amongst the Dalmatians of making a division of their lands every eight years.

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