Towards the end of this period (1796-1815) there was a population explosion of some 15%, or more in every decade, and grain imports stopped by the Napoleonic wars meant that an increase in corn growing had become an urgent national priority and, incidentally, a means of vast profits.
Between 1796 and 1815 more than eighteen hundred Enclosure Bills were passed. The social consequences of this were pretty disastrous. Those who had a stake in common land were forced, by circumstance, to sell to richer land owners and those with squatters’ rights on the manorial commons received no compensation at all. Prior to enclosure the chief source of hired agricultural labour had been the smallholder or commoner, who devoted two or three days a week looking after his own land and the remainder of the week on a richer landowner’s.
With the loss of open field and common lands the farm labourer lost his milk, butter, poultry, eggs and cooking fuel.
Arthur Bryant in his book ‘The Age of Elegance’ cites Cobbett as recording the customary needs of a working-class family of five - father, mother, baby and two growing children - as 5 pounds of bread, 2 pounds of bacon and 1 pound of mutton and a gallon and a half of beer daily. After the restrictions of enclosure this diet would have become more restricted.
The loss of common land by enclosure in Grateley was one of the earlier to be implemented.
It is interesting to note that later (1920) 3 acres of land was designated as allotments for villagers, reversing the actions of nearly 150 years before. The land, on the Dell, was purchased by Shearing from the new owner of Manor Farm for £120 and let to the Parish Meeting at an annual rent of £10. 20 parishioners were allotted between 30 and 10 poles each.
The Enclosure Act for Grateley
An Act of Parliament for the enclosure of all common land in Grateley was passed in the eighteenth year of the Reign of George III (1778). Notice was posted in the Church on Sunday 12th July and a meeting held Tuesday 7th August, in the house of Richard Marker known by the Sign of the Star and Garter in Andover.
The appointed Commissioners were sworn in at this meeting. It is interesting to note that an appointed commissioner (Thomas Cox of Berkshire) refused to be party to the Act and was replaced by Richard Bloxham, of West Dean, on the instruction of the remaining two members at that same meeting.
The committee thus consisted of Charles Wm. Wapshare, Tho. Browne and R Bloxham who undertook, by signed oath, to carry out the Act to the best of their skill.
A total of 436 acres, 3 roods and 17 perches, including the roads, paths and ways over the common fields and grounds, were to be enclosed, redistributed and allotted and use denied to the villagers. As the parish comprised a total of approximately 1500 acres the common lands in question formed a considerable proportion of the whole and must have been a major loss.
From what I can gather from copies of documents of the time the common land was carved up between two major players, Elizabeth Wellington and W. Benson Earle, with lesser involvement of Wm. Wheeler and Peter Gale and even less by poor Robert Morant.
It appears that Elizabeth Wellington, a widow from Wilrot (?) in Oxfordshire, was Lady of the Manor at this time. She was awarded parcels of land amounting to 144 acres, 1 rood and 38 perches at a cost of £162:19:2½. The lands being the Church Fields and North Fields the latter being that area bounded by Berry Lane to the West, The Drove (then known as the Great Road) to the North, Gunville Drove to the East and Amport Lane to the South.
The Church Fields extended west from the church to Hawks Bush, bounded to the North by the Great Road and to the South partially by Peter’s Piece and the road, now Station Road, from the present village hall to the village.
Peter Gale a yeoman of the parish was awarded 8 acres, 2 roods and 1 perch of common land, at a cost of £7:2:6½, bounded by an allotment of another yeoman William Wheeler on the North East and by an old enclosure of Wm. Benson Earle on the South and on the South West by another allotment of Wm. Earle. To the North West it was bounded by the land of Elizabeth Wellington.
Wm. Wheeler was allotted 4 acres, 2 roods and 27 perches, at a cost of £3:16:5¼, bounded to the NE and NW by Elizabeth Wellington and to the SE by Earle. This piece was known as Wheeler’s Meadow in 1837 and is roughly where the Grateley Primary School playing field now is.
William Benson Earle had land allotted to him by the commissioners to a total value of £60:7:10 that had been in the possession of his leaseholder Robert Morant but now in the hands of Earle. Further allocation was made to the value of £183:10:1¾. This was equivalent to approximately 240 Acres of land.
The monies raised by the sale of these pieces of land where adsorbed almost totally in the cost of initiating and administering the Act and the expenses of the appointed commissioners. It is of interest to see where the money went.
The sale of all common land raised £418:6:2½. Expenditure was as follows:
To Samuel Barret for assisting the surveyor- £1:8:6
To Wm. Earle for stakes and labour for setting out £0:11:6,
To Frances Webb, Surveyor - £33:14:3
To Wm. Wapshare - for soliciting the Act of Parliament, His attendance at the meeting and arranging the meeting £314:15:6,
To Richard Marker for entertaining the meeting at the Star & Garter - £19:17:10,
To the commissioners for attending, a total of £31:10:7.
All but approximately £9 of the money raised was spent on the commissioners and their agents: a staggering amount of money for the period. The charge for entertaining the meeting represented a year’s wages for the average man.
1. Edward Pyle. ‘Pyle’s Gift’ founded by will on 6th June 1707. A sum of 15 shillings, from Drakes tenement of Pottery Common, Wallop, for the purchase of a great coat for a poor man of the Parish
2. William Benson Earle. ‘Earle’s Dole’: dividends of £498.15s four-per cent stock, purchased with 400 guineas left by Wm Earle, in 1796 are applied as follows: £5 for schooling of poor children, 21s to the parish clerk for taking care of the flowerbed over Lady Elton’s grave; and the remainder in distributions of best ox beef and cheese, together with potatoes and or peas among the poorest families of the Parish, half at Easter and half at Christmas. Later Charities were set up.
3. Mortimer Gale charity. Founded with £120, by will on 27th May 1916. The income from which was to be used for the upkeep of certain graves in the Churchyard of Grateley.
4. Francis Mary Roberts charity was set up by will 24th April 1918. A sum of £150 invested and the income to be used for the distribution of coal and fruit to the most needy of the Parish “- in the same way as far as possible as I have distributed coal and fruit in my lifetime”.
All of the above charities were amalgamated in the late 1960s and managed by trustees within the Parish.
It is interesting to note that a Pyle provided a dole of £5 out of land owned by the Titt family and, from Edward Pyle in 1707, £2 from Drake’s tenement for the purchase of two green coats for the poor of Over Wallop. (See 1 above). It would seem that a green coat was more expensive by 5 shillings than a great coat given in Grateley.