Social historians. In 1911 the publication of The Village Labourer started a debate on the social consequences of parliamentary enclosure that is not yet over. The Hammonds concluded that ‘enclosure was fatal to three classes: the small farmer, the cottager, and the squatter. To all of these classes their [rights on the commons and wastes] were worth more than anything they received in return.’ This view was challenged by J. D. Chambers, ‘Enclosure and Labour Supply in the Industrial Revolution’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 5/3 (1953), who stressed instead the role of †population growth in the creation of a wage‐dependent labour force. It has become widely accepted that the Hammonds’ account was based on selective evidence, but K. D. M. Snell, in Annals of the Labouring Poor (1985), has reopened the question of the effects of enclosure on the poorest classes of society, and Jean Neeson, Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change in England, 1700–1820 (1993), has reiterated the vital role of common rights in offering them a livelihood. The Hammonds went on to publish The Town Labourer (1917).
Subjects: Economics — History.