The Inclosure[note 1] or Enclosure Acts were a series of United Kingdom Acts of Parliament which enclosed open fields and common land in the country, creating legal property rights to land that was previously considered common. Between 1604 and 1914, over 5,200 individual Enclosure Acts were put into place, enclosing 6.8 million acres of land (almost 11,000 square miles).
Prior to the enclosures in England, a portion of the land was categorized as "common" or "waste". "Common" land was under some kind of collective control. Called the open field system, a single plot of land was divided among groups, often a lord and employed or participating peasants. This facilitated common grazing and crop rotation. "Waste" was the only land not officially claimed by any group, often cultivated by landless peasants.
Enclosure Acts for small areas had been passed sporadically since the 12th century, but with the rise of the Industrial Revolution they became more commonplace. In search of better financial returns, landowners looked for more efficient farming techniques. Enclosures were also created so that landowners could charge higher rent to the people working the land. This was at least partially responsible for peasants leaving the countryside to work in the city in industrial factories.
In 1801 the Inclosure (Consolidation) Act was passed to tidy up previous acts. In 1845 another General Inclosure Act allowed for the appointment of Inclosure Commissioners who could enclose land without submitting a request to Parliament.
- The Inclosure Act 1773 (13 Geo.3 c.81)
The Enclosure Acts 1845 to 1882 means:
- The Inclosure Act 1845 (8 & 9 Vict. c.118)
- The Inclosure Act 1846 (9 & 10 Vict. c.70)
- The Inclosure Act 1847 (10 & 11 Vict. c.111)
- The Inclosure Act 1848 (11 & 12 Vict. c.99)
- The Inclosure Act 1849 (12 & 13 Vict. c.83)
- The Inclosure Commissioners Act 1851 (14 & 15 Vict. c.53)
- The Inclosure Act 1852 (15 & 16 Vict. c.79)
- The Inclosure Act 1854 (17 & 18 Vict. c. 97)
- The Inclosure Act 1857 (20 & 21 Vict. c.31)
- The Inclosure Act 1859 (22 & 23 Vict. c.43)
- The Inclosure, etc. Expenses Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict. c.89)
- The Commons Act 1876 (39 & 40 Vict. c.56)
- The Commons (Expenses) Act 1878 (41 & 42 Vict. c.56)
- The Commons Act 1879 (42 & 43 Vict. c.37)
- The Commonable Rights Compensation Act 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c.15)
- The act for the enclosure of commons in England and Wales. By George Wingrove Cooke.
- Papers by Command, Volume 12. By Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Pg 588.
- The Parliamentary Debates, Volume 80. By Great Britain. Parliament.pg 483
- Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons and Command, Volume 12. By Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. 104 380
- Edinburgh Review, Or, Critical Journal, Volume 62. pg 327
- The Pictorial History of England, Volume 6. By George Lillie Craik, Charles Knight. pg 781
- The English Peasantry and the Enclosure of Common Fields. By Gilbert Slater.
- An Analytical Digest of the Reports of Cases Decided in the Courts of Common Law, and Equity, of Appeal, and Nisi Prius. By Henry Jeremy. Pg 40
- The Fence. By Washburn & Moen Manufacturing Company. Pg 21
- The Contemporary Review, Volume 67. Pg 703
- Alienated tithes in appropriated and impropriated parishes. 38
- "Enclosing the Land". www.parliament.uk. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- Clark, Gregory; Anthony Clark (December 2001). "Common Rights to Land in England". The Journal of Economic History 61 (04): 1009-1036. doi:10.1017/S0022050701042061. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
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- Motamed, Mesbah J.; Raymond J.G.M Florax and William A. Masters (October 31, 2013). Agriculture, Transportation and the Timing of Urbanization: Global Analysis at the Grid Cell Level. p. 4. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- "Enclosing the Land". Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- The Short Titles Act 1896, section 2(1) and second schedule