Parish acreage returns — HO 67
Prompted by invasion fears, high wartime grain prices, and the possibility of a repetition of the poor harvests in the second half of the 1790s, the Home Secretary in 1801 requested the bishops of the 26 dioceses to distribute agricultutal survey forms to their parish clergy for completion. The forms listed eight crops: wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, peas, beans, turnips or rape, and rye. Not all parish clergy were able to collect the required details, and some of the forms must have gone astray. However, something like 47 per cent by area of the parishes of England are covered.
The returns make up the National Archive series HO 67 and contain more than 4,800 returns for England and Wales.
A complete transcript of the Home Office Acreage Returns List and Analysis was published in 1983 by the List and Index Society Vols 189, 190 & 195. A tab delimited file may also be downloaded from the Economic and Social Data Service, which was the source used for the following values.
Some East Kent returns
The table shows the crop returns for 11 selected East Kent parishes. It seems likely that the farming community suspected that the information was required for tax or tithe assessments, and understated the true position. Certainly total acerage values for most parishes are low in relation to the overall size of the parish taken from the 1831 census tables. An example is the return for Deal of 475 acres, or only 43%. By the time of the tithe survey in Deal in 1843, over 700 acres was in cultivation on just those farms over 10 acres in size.
|Parish||Wheat||Barley||Oats||Potatoes||Peas||Beans||Turnips or Rape||Rye||Total||1831 area||% area|
|Northbourne & Sholden||665||591||180||15||153||256||192||1||2,053||5,370||38|
|Total for each crop||1,964||1,906||803||77||392||631||528||3||6,304||15,078||42|
|% of all crops||31||30||13||1||6||10||8||0||100|
The pie chart illustrates the percentage of each type of crop over all the parishes.
Crop Returns for England, 1801 [computer file]. Turner, M. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor], May 2005. SN: 5156.
Research: Ian Williams