Page:An Old English Home and Its Dependencies.djvu/20

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
6
AN OLD ENGLISH HOME

in this—in speaking of acres, as I believe the said estate spreads over hardly a quarter of an acre.

How was it, and how were similar little properties acquired?

By squatting.

Formerly there was a considerable amount of common land, on which the peasants turned out their asses and geese. Then some adventuresome man, who took a wife and had no house into which to put her, annexed a piece of the common, just enough for a cottage and a garden, and none said him Nay. There was still plenty for all, and so, in time, it became his own, and was lost to the rest of the parishioners. Little by little the commons were thus encroached upon. Then, again, formerly there was much open ground by the sides of the roads. Cattle were driven along the highways often for great distances, and the turf and open spaces by the sides of the roads were provision made for their needs.

But squatters took portions of this open ground, enclosed, and built on it. There was