The Village Labourer
The Village Labourer is a detailed and compelling account of the implementation of the Enclosure Acts of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the disastrous effects that the enclosure of the common lands had on agricultural labourers in England. Powerless to stop them, driven to poverty and despair, unable to support their families, and reliant on the charity of the poor rates, there was widespread anger across rural England in 1830. Despite the peaceable nature of most of the so-called riots, the Government and ruling class reacted ferociously, and Special Commissions handed out numerous sentences of imprisonment, transportation, and even death. The Hammond's book is a forceful and moving indictment of hierarchical British society where the upper class was prepared to use the Government and the Law to maintain their privileged position and brutally crush all opposition.
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