1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Allotments and Small Holdings

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1
Allotments and Small Holdings
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ALLOTMENTS AND SMALL HOLDINGS. As the meaning of these terms in agricultural tenure varies in different localities, it may be as well to say at once that for the present purpose they are definable as pieces of land detached from cottages, and hired or owned by labouring men to supplement their main income. We do not include any farm, however small, from which the occupier derives his entire support by dairying, market-gardening, or other form of la petite culture. So, also, no account is taken of the tiny garden plot, used for growing vegetables for the table and simple flowers, which is properly an appurtenance of the cottage. Clearing away what is extraneous, the essential point round which much controversy has raged is the labourer's share in the land. The claim advanced depends upon tradition. In agriculture, the oldest of all industries, a cash payment is not even now regarded as discharging the obligations between master and servant. Mr Wilson Fox, in reporting to the Board of Trade on the earnings of agricultural labourers in Great Britain, gives, as a typical survival of an old custom, the case of a shepherd whose total income was calculated at £60 a year, but who got only £16 in money, the rest being made up by rights of grazing live-stock, growing crops on his master's land, and kindred privileges. That is exactly in the spirit that used to pervade agriculture, and doubtless had its origin in the manorial system. If we turn back to the 13th century, from Walter of Henley's Husbandry it will be seen that practically there were only two classes engaged in agriculture, and corresponding with them were two kinds of land. There were, on the one hand, the employer, the lord, and his demesne land; on the other, the villeins and the land held in villeinage. Putting aside for the moment any discussion of the exact degree of servitude, it will be seen that the essence of the bargain was that the villein should be permitted to cultivate a virgate of land for his own use in return for service rendered on the home farm. This is not altered by the fact that the conditions approached those of slavery, that the villeins were adscripti glebae, that in some cases their wives and sons were bequeathed by deed to the service of religious houses, and that in many other respects their freedom was limited. Out of this, in the course of centuries, was developed the system prevailing to-day. Lammas lands are indeed a survival from it. There are in the valley of the Lea, and close to London, to take one example, lands allotted annually in little strips till the crops are carried, when, the day being fixed by a reeve, the land becomes a common pasture till the spring closing takes place once more. Perhaps the feature of this old system that bears most directly on the question of allotments was the treatment of the waste of the manor. The lord, like his tenants, was limited by custom as regards the number of beasts he could graze on it. After the havoc of the Black Death in 1349, many changes were necessitated by the scarcity and dearness of labour. It became less unusual for land to be let and for money payment to be accepted instead of services. There was a great demand for wool, and to conduct sheep-farming on a large scale necessitated a re-arrangement of the manor and the enclosure of many common fields under the statute of Merton and the statute of Westminster the Second. Nevertheless, up to the 18th century, a vast proportion of agricultural land was technically waste, on which rights of common were exercised by yeomen, some of whom had acquired holdings by the ordinary methods of purchase or inheritance, while others had merely squatted and built a house on the waste. It is to this period that belongs a certain injustice to which the peasantry were subject. No reasonable doubt can be entertained of the necessity of enclosure. Husbandry, after long stagnation, was making great advance; and among others, Arthur Young raised his voice against the clumsy inconvenient common fields that were the first to be enclosed. Between 1709 and 1797 no fewer than 3110 acts, affecting, as far as can be calculated, about 3,000,000 acres, were put into operation. They seem mostly to have been directed to the common fields. In the first half of the 19th century the movement went on apace. In a single year, 1801, no fewer than 119 acts were passed; and between 1801 and 1842 close on 2000 acts were passed-many of them expressly directed to the enclosure of wastes and commons. The same thing continued till 1869. It touched the peasant directly and indirectly. The enclosure of the common fields proved most hurtful to the small farmer; the enclosure of the waste injured the labourer by depriving him, without adequate compensation, of such useful privileges as the right to graze a cow, a pig, geese or other small animals. It also discouraged him by tending to the extinction of small tenancies and freeholds that were no longer workable at a profit when common rights ceased to go with them. The industrious labourer could previously nourish a hope of bettering his condition by obtaining a small holding. Yet though the labourer suffered, impartial study does not show any intentional injustice. He held a very weak position when those interested in a common affixed to the church door a notice that they intended to petition. As Mr Cowper (afterwards Lord Mount Temple) said in the House of Commons on the 13th of March 1844, “ the course adopted had been to compensate the owner of the cottage to whom the common right belonged, forgetting the claims of the occupier by whom they were enjoyed ”; and in the same debate Sir Robert Peel pointed out that not only the rights of the tenant, but those of his successors ought to have been studied. The course adopted divorced the labourer from the soil.

Parliament, as a matter of fact, had from a very early period recognized the wisdom of contenting the peasant. In the 14th century the labourer lived in rude abundance. Next century a rural exodus began, owing to the practice of enclosing the holdings and turning them into sheep walks. In 1487 an act was passed enjoining landlords to “ keep up houses of husbandry, ” and attach convenient land to them. Within the next hundred years a number of similar attempts were made to control what we may call the sheep fever of the time. Then we arrive at the reign of Elizabeth and the famous Small Holdings Act passed in 1597-an anticipation of the three-acres-and-a-cow policy advocated towards the end of the 19th century. It required that no person shall “ build, convert or ordain any cottage for habitation or dwelling for persons engaged in husbandry” unless the owner “do assign or lay to the same cottage or building four acres of ground at the least.” It also provided against any “inmate or under-sitter ” being admitted to what was sacred to one family. This measure was not conceived in the spirit of modern political economy, but it had the effect of staying the rural exodus. It was repealed in 1775 on the ground that it restricted the building of cottages. By that time the modern feeling in favour of allotments had begun to ripen, and it was contended that some compensation should be made to the labourers for depriving them of the advantages of the waste. Up to then the English labouring rustic had been very well off. Food was abundant and cheap, so were clothes and boots; he could graze his cow or pig on the common, and also obtain fuel from it. Now he fell on evil days. Prices rose, wages fell, privileges were lost, and in many cases he had to sell the patch of land whose possession made all the difference between hardship and comfort. All this was seen plainly enough both by statesmen and private philanthropists. One of the first experiments was described by Sir John Sinclair in a note to the report of a select committee of the House of Commons on waste lands in 1795. About 1772 the lord of the manor of some common able lands near Tewkesbury had with great success set out 25 acres in allotments for the use of some of the poor. Sir John was very much struck with the result, and so heartily applauded the idea that the committee recommended that any general enclosure bill should have a clause in it providing for “the accommodation of land.” Sir Thomas Bernard and W. Wilberforce took an active part in advocating the principle of allotments, on the ground, to summarize their argument in language employed later by a witness before the House of Commons, that “it keeps the cottagers buoyant and makes them industrious.” In 1806, at the suggestion of the rector, a clause assigning an allotment of half an acre to every cottage was inserted in an enclosure bill then under consideration for the parish of Broad Somerford in Wiltshire. This was done, “ and the example was followed by nearly every adjoining parish in that part of Wiltshire.” Passing over several praiseworthy establishments of allotments by private persons, we come to 1819, when parliament passed an act akin in spirit to several that came into existence during the later portion of the Victorian era. It empowered the churchwardens and overseers of any parish, with the consent of the vestry, to purchase or hire land not exceeding 25 acres, and to let it in portions to “ any poor and industrious inhabitant of the parish.” This was amended in 1831 by an act extending the quantity of land to 50 acres, and also conveying an important new power to enable the same authorities to enclose from any waste or common, land not exceeding 50 acres to be devoted to the same purpose. This was followed next year by an act relating to fuel, and in 1834 the Poor Law Commissioners reported favourably on the principle of granting allotments. In 1843 an important inquiry into the subject was made by a committee of the House of Commons, which produced a number of valuable suggestions. One consequence was the bill of 1845, brought into parliament by Mr Cowper. It passed the House of Commons; and there Mr Bright made a remark that probably summarized a general opinion, since it never came to a third reading in the House of Lords. He said that “ the voluntary system of arrangement would do all the good that was expected to accrue from the allotment system.”

At this point in the history of the movement it may be as well to pause and ask what was the net result of so much legislation and benevolent action. Messrs Tremenheere and Tufnall, who prefixed an admirable epitome of what had been done to the report of the commission “ appointed to inquire into the employment of women, young persons and children in agriculture” (1867), expressed considerable disappointment. Between 1710 and 1867, 7,660,413 statute acres were added to the cultivated area of England and Wales, or about one-third of the area in cultivation at the latter date; and of this total, 484,893 acres were enclosed between 1845 and 1867. Of the latter, only 2119 acres were assigned as public allotments for gardens to the labouring poor. It was found to be the case, as it is now, that land was taken up more readily when offered privately and voluntarily than when it came through official sources. Meanwhile competent and thoughtful men saw well that the sullen discontent of the peasantry continued, in Lord Bacon's phrase, to threaten “ the might and manhood of the kingdom.” It had existed since the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, and had become more articulate with the spread of education. We shall see a consciousness of its presence reflected in the minds of statesmen and politicians as we briefly examine the later phase of the movement. This found expression in the clauses against enclosure introduced by Lord Beacons field in 1876, and gave force to the three-acres-and-a-cow agitation, of which the more prominent leaders were Joseph Arch and Jesse Collings. In 1882 the Allotments Extension Act was passed, the object of which was to let the parishioners have charity land in allotments, provided it or the revenue from it was not used for apprenticeship, ecclesiastical or educational purposes. A committee of the House of Commons, appointed in 1885 to inquire into the housing of the working classes, reported strongly in favour of allotments, and this was followed in 1887 by the Allotments Act-the first measure in which the principle of compulsory acquisition was admitted in regard to other than charity lands. Its administration was first given to the sanitary authority, but passed to the district councils when these bodies were established in 1894. The local body is empowered to hire or purchase suitable land, and if they do not find any in the market they are to petition the county council, which after due inquiry may issue a provisional order compelling owners to sell land, and the Local Government Board may introduce a bill into parliament to confirm the order. It was found that the sanitary authority did not carry out the scheme, and in 1890 another act was passed for the purpose of allowing applicants for allotments, when the sanitary authority failed to provide land, to appeal to the county council. Judging from the evidence laid before the commission on agricultural depression (1894), the act of 1887 was not a conspicuous success. Most of the witnesses reported in such terms as these-“ the Allotments Act has been quite inoperative in Cornwall ”; “ the act has been a dead letter in the district (Wigtownshire) ”; “ the Allotments Act has not been in operation in Flintshire ”; “ nothing has been done in the district of Pembrokeshire under the act.” No evidence whatever was adduced to show that in a single district a different state of things had to be recorded. From a return presented by the Local Government Board to parliament in 1896 we learn that eighty-three rural sanitary authorities had acquired land for allotment prior to the 28th of December 1894, the date at which these authorities ceased to exist under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1894. Land was acquired by compulsory purchase in only one parish; by purchase or agreement in eighteen parishes; by hire by agreement in 132 parishes. The total acreage dealt with was 1836 acres 1 rood 34 poles, and the total number of tenants 4711. The number of county councils that up to the same date had acquired land was twelve, and they had done so by compulsory purchase in one parish, by purchase or agreement in five parishes, by hire by agreement in twenty-four parishes. The total area dealt with was only 413 acres 1 rood 5 poles, and the total number of tenants 825. The complete totals affected at the date of the return (August 21, 1895) by the acts, therefore, were 2249 acres 2 roods 29 poles, and 5536 tenants. A considerable extension has taken place since.

The Small Holdings Act introduced by Mr Henry Chaplin, and passed by parliament in 1892 was an attempt to appease the rural discontent that had been seething for some time past and was silently but most eloquently expressed in a steady migration from the villages. The object of this measure was to help the deserving labouring man to acquire a small holding, that is to say, a portion of land not less than one acre or more than fifty acres in extent and of an annual value not exceeding £50. It is not necessary here to describe the legal steps by which this was to be accomplished. The essence of the bargain was that a fifth of the purchase money should be paid down, and the remainder in half-yearly instalments spread over a period not exceeding fifty years. But if the local authority thought fit a portion of the purchase money, not exceeding one fourth, might remain unpaid, and be secured by a perpetual rent charge upon the holding. It cannot be said that this act has attained the object for which it was drawn up. From a return made to the House of Commons in 1895 it was shown that eight county councils had acquired land under the Small Holdings Act, which amounted in the aggregate to 483 acres. A further return was made in 1903, which showed that the total quantity of land acquired from the commencement of the act up to the end of 1902 was only 652 acres.

It is, however, an English characteristic to prefer private to public arrangements, and probably a very great majority of the allotments and small holdings cultivated in 1907 were due to individual initiative. There are no means of arriving at the exact figures, but data exist whereby it is at least possible to form some rough idea of them. It is not the custom to give in the annual agricultural returns any statement of the manner in which land is held, and the information is to be found in the returns presented to parliament from time to time. From the following table, which includes both the holdings owned and tenanted, it will be seen that between 1895 and 1904 the tendency was for the holdings to decrease in number; while the holdings of from 50 to 300 acres slightly increased, those from 5 to 50 acres were almost stationary, and there was a decrease in those between 1 and 5 acres.


1895. 1904.

1 to 5 acres
5 to 50 “
50 to 300 “
Above 300 “
Number.
117,968
235,481
147,870
18,787
Per cent.
22.68
45.28
28.43
3.61
Number.
110,974
232,476
150,050
18,084
Per cent.
21.69
45.44
29.33
3.54
Total. 520,106 100 511,584 100


These figures become doubly instructive when considered in connexion with the decline of the strictly rural population. It will, therefore, be useful to place beside them a summary published in a report on the decline of rural population in Great Britain issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1906.

Class. 1881. 1891. 1901. Increase ( + ) or
Decrease ( - ).
1881 - 1891. 1891 - 1901.

Farmers and Graziers
Farm Bailiffs and Foreman
Shepherds
Agricultural Labourers
No.
279,126
22,895
33,125
983,919
No.
277,943
21,453
31,686
866,543
No.
277,694
27,317
35,022
689,292
No.
- 1,183
- 1,442
- 1,439
- 117,376
No.
- 249
+ 5,864
+ 3,336
- 177,251

These figures must of course be approximate. The effect of recent development in methods of travelling and the growing custom for townsmen either to live wholly in the country or to take week-end cottages, has made it impossible to draw a strict line of demarcation between rural and urban populations. Still they are near enough for practical purposes, and they amply justify the efforts of those who are trying to stay the rural exodus.

While legislation had not, up to 1908, achieved any noteworthy result in the creation of small holdings, and still left doubts as to the practicability of re-creating the English yeoman by act of parliament, many successful efforts have been made by individuals. One of the most interesting is that of the earl of Harrington at Sleaford in Lincolnshire. In this case the most noteworthy feature is that between the landlord and the tenants there is a body called the South Lincolnshire Small Holdings Association, which took 650 acres from Lord Harrington on a twenty years' lease. These acres used to be let to four or five tenants. They were in 1905 divided among one hundred and seventy tenants. The Small Holders' Association guaranteed the rent, which works out at about 33s. per acre, to Lord Harrington. They let the men on yearly tenancy have it at about 40s. an acre, the difference being used to meet the expenses of dividing the lands into small holdings, maintaining drains, fences and roads connected with them, and other unavoidable outlays. In this way the landlord is assured of his rent, and the association has lost nothing, as the men were very punctual in their payments. But very great care was bestowed in choosing the men for the holdings. They were in a sense picked men, but men must be picked to work the business satisfactorily. Lincolnshire is preeminently a county of small holdings, and the labouring residents in it have been accustomed to the management of them from their infancy onwards. Here as elsewhere the provision of suitable houses formed a difficulty, some of the tenants having to walk several miles to their holdings. Lord Harrington availed himself as much as possible of the buildings that existed, dividing the old farm houses so as to make them suitable for the small tenants. At Cowbit farm, many of the ordinary labourers cottages, which were put up at a cost of about £300 a pair, have by the addition of little dairies and other alterations been made suitable for the tenants. From facts collected on the spot we have come to the conclusion that on the small holdings a good tenant makes an average profit of about £4 an acre, but on an allotment cultivated by means of the spade it would probably be at the rate of over £6 an acre. Lord Harrington was also successful in establishing small holdings on the Humberston estate in North Lincolnshire and on his Buckinghamshire estate, near Aylesbury. At Newport Pagnell the attempt failed because the demand was artificial, the ground arable, and the men not capable of dealing with it.

Other examples of the establishment of small holdings can only receive brief reference. The Norfolk Small Holdings Association acquired three farms at Whissonsett, Watton and Swafiham, which are broken up into small lots and let mostly to the village tradespeople. Sir Pearce Edgecumbe established small holdings at Rew, some of which have been purchased by the occupiers, and Mr A. B. Markham created similar ownerships at Twyford (Leicestershire). At Cudworth in Surrey a group was formed, but the owners were actuated more by the desire to lead a simple life than to prove the remunerative value of small holdings. Mr W. J. Harris created small holdings in Devon, each of which is let on a life tenancy. There the rural exodus has been more than arrested. Mr James Tomkinson established in Cheshire a number of graduated holdings, so contrived as to offer the successful holders a chance of stepping upwards.

The earl of Harrowby made an interesting experiment on his Sandon estate in Staffordshire in the midst of a pretty, broken and undulating country. The estate consists of about 6000 acres, one-third of which is laid out in small holdings. These fall naturally into three divisions. First, there are those which belong to men who have regular employment, and would therefore find it impossible to cultivate any great quantity of land. Many of that class are anxious to have a holding of some sort, as it lends a certain elasticity to their incomes and provides them with a never-failing interest. One who may be taken as typical hired six acres with a good cottage and a large garden, paying a rent of £20 a year. When this holding was created it had already a suitable cottage, but £100 was needed to provide outbuildings, and Lord Harrowby's custom is to charge 5% on outlay of this kind. This £5, however, is included in the total rent of £20 paid for cottage, land and garden. The man was not only content, but wished to get some more land. The next class consists of those who have not enough land to live on but eke out their livelihood by casual labour. Usually a man of this sort requires from 35 to 50 acres of land mostly pasture. He can attend to it and yet give a certain number of days to estate work. The third class is that of the small farmer who gains his entire livelihood from the land. The obstacle to breaking up large farms into small lies of course in the expense of providing the necessary equipment. It has been found here that a cottage suitable for a small farmer costs about £400 to build in a substantial manner, and the outbuildings about £200. This makes an addition therefore of about £30 to the rent of the land. The ardour with which these tenancies were sought when vacant formed the best testimony to the soundness of the principle applied by Lord Harrowby.

A nest of small holdings was created at Winterslow, near Salisbury, by Major R. M. Poore. The holders completed the purchase by 1906, and the work may be pronounced a complete success. Major Poore originally conceived the idea when land was cheap in 1892, owing to the depression in agriculture. He purchased an estate that came into the market at the time. The price came to an average of £10 an acre, and the men themselves made the average for selling it out again £15 on a principle of instalments. His object was not to make any pront from the transaction, and he formed what is termed a Landholders' Court, formed of the men themselves, every ten choosing one to represent them. This court was found to act well. It collected the instalments, which are paid in advance; and of course the members of it, down to the minutest detail, knew not only the circumstances but the character of every applicant for land. The result speaks for itself. The owners are, in the true sense of the word, peasants. They do not depend on the land for a living, but work in various callings-many being woodmen-for wages that average about 15s. a week. The holdings vary in size from less than an acre to ten acres, and are technically held on a lease of 1999 years, practically freehold, though by the adoption of a leasehold form a saving was effected in the cost of transfer. On the holdings most of the men have erected houses, using for the purpose chalk dug up from their gardens, it lying only a few inches below the surface. It is not rock, but soft chalk, so that they are practically mud walls; but being as a rule at least 18 inches thick, the houses are very cool in summer and warm in winter. Major Poore calculated that in seven years these poor people-there are not thirty of them altogether-managed to produce for their houses and land a gross sum of not less than £5000. This he attributed to the loyal manner in which even distant members of the family have helped.

The class of holding which owes its existence to the act of 1892 may be illustrated by the history of the Worcestershire small holdings. The inception of the scheme was due to the declinei of the nail-making business, which caused a number of the inhabitants to be without occupation. Two candidates for election to the county council looking out for a popular cry found it in the demand for land. They promised to do their best in this direction, and thanks to the energetic action of Mr Willis Bund, the chairman, the act was put in force. Woodrow Farm, adjoining the village of Catshill in the neighbourhood of Birmingham, was purchased on terms that enabled the land to be sold to the peasant cultivator at £40 an acre. They were paying this back at the rate of 4 % on the purchase money, a rate that included both interest and-sinking fund, so that at the end of forty years they would own the small estates free from encumbrance. The huge population of Birmingham is close to the properties. The men turned their attention mostly to strawberries, to which many acres were devoted. Costermongers ` would come out from Birmingham and buy the fruit on the spot, selling part of it to the villas on the way back, and part in the Birmingham market. The experience gained in working the act enabled the committee on small holdings to make a number of practical suggestions for future legislation.

It remains to note the passing in 1907 of a new English Small Holdings and Allotments Act, experience of which is too recent for its provisions to be more than indicated here. The act transferred to the Board of Agriculture the duties generally of the Local Government Board, and transferred to parish councils or parish meetings the powers and duties of rural district councils; it required county councils to ascertain the demand for land without previous representation to them, and gave power for its compulsory acquisition; and the maximum holding of an allotment was raised from one acre to five. Both compulsory purchase and compulsory hiring (for not less than 14 nor more than 35 years) were authorized, value and compensation being decided by a single arbitrator. A coercive authority was applied to the county councils in the form of commissioners appointed by the Board of Agriculture, who were to hold inquiries independently and to take action themselves in case of a defaulting county council. They were to ascertain the local demand for small holdings, and to report to the Board, who might then require a county council to prepare a scheme, which, when approved, it was to carry out, the commissioners being empowered to do so in the alternative.

Foreign Countries.-It remains to give a brief outline of what small holdings are like outside Great Britain. From the results of the Belgian Agricultural Inquiry of 1895 the following table has been compiled, assuming that one hectare = 2½ acres:-


Size of Holding. Occupied by Owner. Occupied by Tenant. Total.
Whole. More than half. More than half. Whole.

1¼ acres and under
1¼ acres and under 5 acres
5 acres and under 10 acres
10 acres and under 50 acres
50 or 100 acres
Over 100 acres
No.
109,169
27,395
12,089
16,690
2,021
903
No.
8,759
19,544
13,873
18,909
1,497
470
No.
34,779
58,829
30,340
33,443
3,315
1,417
No.
305,413
70,465
25,006
28,387
4,517
2,395
No.
458,120
176,233
81,308
97,429
11,350
5,185
Total. 168,267 63,052 162,123 436,183 829,625


It will be seen from this table that Belgium is pre-eminently a country of small holdings, more than half of the total number being under 50 acres in extent. Of course it is largely a country of market gardens; but as the holdings are most numerous in Brabant East and West Flanders and Hainault, the provinces showing the largest number of milch cows, it would seem that dairying and la petite culture go together.

There is a slight tendency for the holdings to decrease in number. In Germany the number of small holdings is proportionately much larger than in Great Britain. The returns collected in 1895 showed that there were 3,235,169, or 58.22% of the total number of holdings under 5 acres in area; and of these no fewer than 11% are held by servants as part of their wages. The table below compiled for the Journal of the Board of Agriculture enable us to compare the other holdings with those of Great Britain. Great Britain, it will be seen, has over 40% of large farms of between 50 and 500 acres as compared with Germany's 12.6, while the latter has 86.8 of small holdings, compared with England's 58.6.

France also has a far larger proportion of small holdings than Great Britain: its cultivated area of 85,759,000 acres being divided into 5,618,000 separate holdings, of which the size averages a little over 15 acres as against 63 in Great Britain. Of the whole number, 4,190,795 are farmed by the owners, 934,338 are in métayage, and 1,078,184 by tenants. The leading feature is the peasant proprietary. Half of the arable, more than half of the pasture, six-sevenths of the vineyards and two-thirds of the garden lands are farmed by their owners. Comparison with Great Britain is difficult; but it would appear that, whereas only 11 % of British 520,000 agricultural holdings are farmed by the owners, the proportion in France is 75 %. A further point to be noted is that the average agricultural tenancy in France is just one-fourth of what it is in Great Britain, and the average owner-farmed estate only one-sixth.


Size of Holdings. Germany. Great Britain.
Number. Per cent. Number. Per cent.
5 to 50 acres
50 to 500 acres
Over 500 acres
2,014,940
292,982
13,809
86.8
12.6
0.6
235,481
161,438
5,219
58.6
40.1
1.3
Total. 2,321,731 100 402,138 100


In France the tendency is for the very small holdings to increase in number owing to subdivision, with a consequent decrease of the size of the average holding. Between the years 1882 and 1892 there was a decrease of 138,237 in the total number of proprietors, the larger properties moving towards consolidation and those of the peasant proprietors towards subdivision.

Those interested in the formation of small holdings in Great Britain will find much to interest them in the history of Danish legislation. British policy for many generations was to preserve demesne land, and there are many devices for insuring that a spendthrift life-owner shall not be able to scatter the family inheritance; but as long ago as 1769 the Danish legislators set an exactly opposite example. They enacted that peasant land should not be incorporated or worked with estate land; it must always remain in the ownership and occupation of peasants. In this spirit all subsequent legislation was conceived, and the allotment law that came into force in October 1899 bears some resemblance to the English Small Holdings Act of 1892. It provides that labourers able to satisfy certain conditions as to character may obtain from the state a loan equal to nine-tenths of the purchase money of the land they wish to acquire. This land should be from 5 to 7 acres in extent and of medium quality, but the limits are from 2¾ to 10¾ acres in the case of better or poorer land. The total value should not exceed 4000 kr. (£222). The interest payable on the loan received from the state is 3 %. The loan itself is repayable after the first five years by annual instalments of 4 % until half is paid off; the remainder by instalments of 3½ %, including interest. Provision is, however, made for cases where the borrower desired to pay off the loan in larger sums. Regulations are laid down regarding the transfer of such properties and also their testamentary disposition. The Treasury was empowered to devote a sum of 2,000,000 kr. (£111,000) to this purpose for five years; after that the land is subject to revision.

Number and Size of Holdings in Denmark in 1901.
Groups. Number. Percentage of Number. Acreage. Percentage of Area. Average size in Acres.
Tondeland. Acres.
Under 1
1 — 3
3 — 27
27 — 108
108 — 216
Over 216
Under 1.36
1.36 — 4
4 — 36.7
36.7 — 147
147 — 294
Over 294
68,380
18,777
93,060
60,872
6,502
2,392
27.3
7.5
37.2
24.4
2.6
1.0
23,455
58,553
1,408,549
4,459,077
1,272,398
1,674,730
.3
.7
15.8
50.1
14.3
18.8
.34
3.12
15.14
73.25
195.69
700.14
Total. 249,983 100.0 8,898,762 100.0 35.59


Even before this law was passed Denmark was a country of small holdings, the peasant farms amounting to 66% of the whole, and the number is bound to increase, since the incorporation of farms is illegal, while there is no obstacle to their division. Between 1835 and 1885, the number of small holdings of less than one töndekarthorn increased from 24,800 to 92,856. What gives point to these remarks is, that Denmark seems in the way to arrest its rural exodus, and was one of the first countries to escape from the agricultural depression due to the extraordinary fall in grain prices. The distribution of land in Denmark may be gathered from a glance at the preceding table for the compilation of which we are indebted to Major Craigie.

Authorities.—Walter of Henley's Husbandry; The English Village Community, by Frederic Seebohm; Annals of Agriculture, by Arthur Young; The Agricultural Labourer, by E. Kebbel; Report on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, 1867 (historical sketch by Messrs Tremenheere and Tufnall); A Study af Small Holdings, by W. E. Bear; The Law and the Labourer, by C. W. Stubbs; “ Agricultural Holdings in England and Abroad, ” by Major Craigie (Statistical Society's Journal, vol. i.); The Return to the Land, by Senator Jules Méline; Land Reform, by the Right Hon. Jesse Collings, M.P.; Report on the Decline in the Agricultural Population of Great Britain, issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries; Report of the Departmental Committee appointed by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries to enquire into and report upon the subject of Small Holdings in Great Britain. (P. A. G.)