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Chapter Sixteen
Political Economy
In some degree dependant upon legislative authority.

Sect. I. - Roads.

THE Roman roads of this county being a matter of interest with some persons, I shall just abstract a short account of them from Nichol's History of Leicestershire ; and,
1. The Watling-street road enters Leicestershire at Dove-bridge, from the Avon at Dove-bridge to the Anker at or near Manceter, and not far from Atherstone, in a north-west direction; it is the south-west boundary of the county for near 20 miles.
2. The foss from Lincolnshire, enters this county at or near the Roman station Vernometum, thence to Segg's-hill over Thrussington Wolds, crosses the Wreke near Syston, thence through Thurmaston to Leicester, passes near king Richard's bridge, then turns to the left over the second branch of the Soar, and over meadows to the Narborough turnpike road, continues with it to the four mile stone, then leaves it, and the town and church of Narborough on the left, and continues to High-cross.
3. The Via Devana, from Colchester to Chester, enters this county near Cottingham, and crossing the Welland, passes Medbourne, near Slauston Mill, and enters the enclosure, and is common bridle way, passing Gartre-bush, by Norton hedges, between the two Strettons, close to Stoughton Grange ; and over the fields to the south gate of Leicester, it joins the Foss, but passes to the right of it to Groby, where Lord Stamford's house stand upon it ; thence leaving Markfield windmill, a quarter of a mile south-west, passes Ashby to Burton ; these are the Roman roads of this county.
The public turnpike roads of this country are generally in good repair ; and many of them being great thoroughfares, are much frequented by travellers, mail and stagecoaches, and heavy carriages ; but having been once made good, are easily kept in repair at moderate a expense, and to which the tolls collected at the different toll gates are fully equal, though I have observed that turnpike expenses run high in Leicestershire. The county is generally sound, and abounds in gravel, but the principal staple material for laying foundation for, and repairing roads, is the stone of Charnwood Forest, raised upon the hills or swells, from whence it is a down hill conveyance to most parts of the county : this stone is carried for this purpose many miles in all directions, to most parts of the county. It is of granite nature, and wears well, and forms a smooth road, after having being broken with a hammer into small pieces, and is readily to be had in inexhaustible quantities.
Farm-ways. - Many of the private, farm-ways are very indifferent and miry, especially in the strong clay counties, in the winter season ; and this is particularly the case in the north-east of the county, and towards the vale of Belvoir, where the private exertions of individuals are insufficient to keep their private roads good in wet seasons ; in the dry time of summer they consolidate hard as a rock ; but materials being scarce or distant, they submit to the inconvenience, sooner than be at the trouble or expense to fetch them, and repair roads.
The roads in the north-west of the county, in the neighbourhoods of Loughborough and Ashby, are many of them laid out upon the concave system. Mr. Wilkes having been a great advocate for that form, and having generally been an acting and active commissioner, the roads upon the new enclosure of Ashby Wolds are upon that system. The following is a section of their first formation :

A to B, the soil taken out four yards wide and nine inches deep, a cubic yard in a yard forward, and to be filled with hard materials ; the soil taken out will raise the ground at c c, one foot to nothing at A B, being three yards wide each side, and four in the middle, total 10 yards wide : greater roads will require more width, one row of post and rail is set along each side, near c c, and mounds raised from the ditches d d ; a margin half yard wide, being left between the ditches and mounds for planting the quick ; the expense of forming this road will be about 2s. the perch of 8 yards ; the expense of filling up the middle with gravel must depend upon local circumstances, or distance the gravel is to be conveyed ; it will take two cart load in a yard forward ; drains from the road to the ditches will also be wanted in places ; the expense of the mounds and ditches as well as post and rail properly belong to the fencing of the enclosure. I particularly questioned Mr. Wilkes, whether he thought there was any particular economy, or saving in forming concave roads ; but he supposed not, but gave them the preference upon other principals.
Mr. Monk makes the following remarks :
The turnpike roads in general are tolerably good ; and would be much better, if it were not for the very heavy narrow-wheeled waggons which are employed in the carriage of lime and coals. These waggons carry five tons weight each waggon included, consequently it is impossible that the roads can be good where such weights are carried upon narrow wheels. It is to be hoped, when the different canals are finished, these waggons will be laid by ; and then, and not till then, good roads may be expected in this county.
I met with a variety of opinions respecting the proper form for roads. Some were concave, others for convex, and others were for having them quite flat.
Mr. Bakewell and Mr. Wilkes are advocates for the concave. This is nearly the reverse of the common practice of making roads, by making the middle the lowest, though flat about one-third of the width, with a small slope from the sides to the middle, where the best materials are placed, and an equal but gradual descent, sufficient to carry off the water form the middle. The road by Dishley, and that through Measham, are both upon this principal, and are certainly in much better order than the roads round about them. The road likewise through Bredon was made under the direction of Mr. Wilkes ; and Mr. Clarkson informed me, the road is better now than he ever remembered it before, and kept in order at much less expense.
Some of the roads made convex are carried up so very high in the middle, that it is dangerous to pass by the sides in a carriage, for fear of turning over. When the roads are made in this form, abutments are cast up to hold firm the materials.
Others say, that all roads should be perfectly flat, with a proper fall to carry off the water, which may be always gained at a small expense ; they argue, that upon these roads every part bears its equal proportions of weight, by which means they wear more evenly, and are kept in order at a much less expense ; but that the other roads bear the greatest proportion of weight on the lowest parts, which makes them more liable to be put out of order, and of course they are attended with more expense. I do not pretend to be a sufficient judge ; but I should think, the more even the pressure, the better it must be for the roads, and I believe no one will deny that it must be much more easy for carriages in point of draught. A gentleman of this county (very equal to the task) has promised to turn his thoughts upon the subject of making roads at some future period.
Cross Roads. - There are many individuals, who have been at a great expense in repairing the cross roads through their estates ; but in many parts of the country they are infamously bad. Indeed, a great part of them are not to be called roads, for they are nothing more than passing through the different closes (fields) upon the turf, and in many of them not the least track of a wheel is to be seen for miles together. In riding a few miles, you have any intolerable number of gates to open ; and in most of the cross roads it is impossible to pass with a carriage.
I viewed with regret a great number of their pastures, most shamefully cut to pieces with waggons, &c. through which those (what are called) roads led ; for, when one rut gets rather deep, the carters immediately take a fresh path, and so on till the field is injured to a very great degree. There is a field near Leicester, and through it a road, or rather a path, leading to a village, which is so shamefully cut up that it is of no use whatever as a pasture ; and, what is still more extraordinary, this field runs parallel with the high road to a great length, and the passengers cannot possible save twenty yards by going through it. This is by no means an uncommon thing. It is impossible to estimate the hundreds of acres spoiled by this shameful practice. Why not make proper roads? I am certain it would be attended with much less expense to the landholder, and would be much more convenient both to the traveller and the farmer. The former would have the satisfaction of a good road, and the latter the pleasure of seeing his cattle graze in sound pastures, undisturbed by passengers.
I by no means wish to give offence to any person : but I think it duty incumbent upon me to state facts.
Mr. Wilkes in support of the concave road, observed to me, that the gravel lies thickest in the middle where the wear is, and that it accumulates instead of dispersing, as in the convex road ; 2, the ditches are within the enclosures, by which means the road is much safer ; 3, where there is any particular fall or declivity in the road, the rain from sudden showers will wash and repair the road ; however, he admitted, that in flats and local situations drains into the ditches would be necessary.
It is very certain that good roads have been formed upon this principle, and are said to be kept in repair cheaper than others, but notwithstanding this, the greater part of the new formed or modern improved roads of this county, and of the kingdom were originally formed upon a convex principal, though many of them are now worn down flat ; the goodness of a road depends in a great measure upon a sufficient quantity of hard materials, and upon clearing itself of water ; with these essentials, a road may be good in either form, or even being perfectly flat.
Application of water.- This as a means of mending roads is rather theoretical than practical; where the road lies with a declivity, a sudden heavy shower may wash and clean it, but a perennial stream can seldom be applied to this purpose. I saw little or nothing of the kind in Leicestershire, in the summer ad autumn seasons when I was generally there, and in winter frosts, it would be a great nuisance, by filling the road with ice ; it may happen in local situations, where the road has a proper declivity, that it may be thus improved ; but there should always be the means of taking the water off the road, as well as putting it on at pleasure.

Sect. II. - Iron Rail-ways.

Have been formed in this county with great spirit, as appendages to the Ashby Canal : these rail-ways extend about 12 miles in length, from the Ashby Canal to and by near the town of Ashby, thence to the Lount colliery, and Coleorton to Ticknall, and Cloud-hill lime works. On these rail-ways there are embankments and deep cutting, to preserve the level, or a regular descent and ascent ; also a tunnel of a quarter of a mile in length, with arched bridges for roads over the deep cutting leading to the tunnel in the canal style ; these rail-way appendages to the Ashby Canal have cost thirty thousand pounds ; it was the original design for these to have been continuations of the canal ; but the money being expended, and the expense of the lockage on these lines necessary, rail-ways were substituted, and they are, I believe, the best mode of artificial inland conveyance, for heavy articles next to canals ; but the sum expended upon them seems to be enormous, in proportion to the length, and can only be accounted for by the tunnel, deep cutting and embankments ; indeed the whole expenditure upon the Ashby Canal and its dependences seems to have been a profusion of money. The late Joseph Wilkes, Esq. Who was treasurer, from motives of liberality, patriotism, and public spirit, as a friend to commerce wished to see the barges of the Trent float over the hills of Leicestershire and Derbyshire, and taking an active part in the business had the canal constructed upon that scale ; in consequence, by the extra expense of deep and wide cutting, wider and higher arches for bridges, extra backing up the avenues to such bridges, a tunnel upon a large scale, and the complete and spirited manner in which the works were executed, the money was expended before any lockage was constructed, and the communication with the Trent remains undone ; that to the high ground is by means of the rail-ways above named, and the canal, is navigated by canal boats only, carrying 20 to 24 tons instead of Trent barges of 60 tons, having no communication except with the Coventry Canal, which is constructed for such boats only.

Sect. III. - Canals

The Ashby Canal is cut and navigable from Ashby Wolds to the Coventry Canal, near 30 miles in length cut on a level without lockage ; it was intended to have been continued to the navigable part of the Trent below Burton, and with that view was constructed for barges of 60 tons burden ; but the money to the amount of 180,000, having been expended, the line to the Trent, on which is a tunnel, and considerable lockage, has been abandoned, and rail-ways substituted to the high ground.-(See the last Article). I understand that this canal, began more than 20 years ago, and which has been many years in use, has yet made no dividend. The Earl of Moria, with that public spirit, displayed upon all occasions, took between 80 and 90 shares, each originally 100, and has also opend and established on its banks a coal mine, and a very considerable iron work on Ashby Wolds, at an expense exceeding 30,000, the former likely to answer, the latter not at present, there being a great competition in the trade of iron.
2. Leicester navigation on or near the line of the river Soar, sometimes along the channel of that river, in other places carried out by lockage into a new channel, the line is from Leicester down the Soar Valley to the Trent, with a collaterial branch to Loughborough, and this latter continued over part of Charnwood Forest, by canal or rail-way, to Cole-orton colliery, and the Cloud hill lime work ; this continuation, from some cause, at present 1807, of no use ; but the canal let dry and rail-ways not used, coals being to be had cheaper at the Leicester and Loughborough markets, from Derbyshire : I am informed, however, that the Leicester navigation altogether is a good concern ; the trade of Leicester and Loughborough keeps it up, and it is said to pay 25 per cent.; it is constructed on a scale for the barges that navigate the Trent.
3. The Melton Canal, from the Leicester Soar navigation along the valley of the Wreke, to Melton Mowbray, and continued to Oakham, and capable of being continued to Stamford, to the navigable part of the Welland.
4. Grantham Canal, from the Trent along the vale of Belvoir to Grantham, with a large reservoir to collect winter water ; has cost 100,000, capable of being continued to the sea, at or near Boston ; begins to pat five per cent. This canal is a great accommodation to the vale of Belvoir, where the roads in winter were dreadful, but now lime and coal can be conveyed there with ease at pleasure, as well as other heavy articles to and from Grantham : this is likely to become a good concern as the county improves, and which it will be a means of facilitating.
5. Union Canal, from the navigable Soar at Leicester, by way of Harborough to the Nen at Northampton, and intended to communicate with the Grand Junction Canal ; but has been arrested in its progress by untoward circumstances, though some little progress is now making toward Harborough, and a good many workmen employed on it, August 1807, in constructing a bridge over the turnpike road, and extending the canal.
Half a million or more has been expended on these speculations, without in general the expected profits : the Ashby Canal has made no dividend, though I understand it to be in receipt of some thousand pounds a year in tonnage. These great public works are a convincing proof, and a wonderful instance of the spirit of enterprize existing in the people of this country ; a few projects of this kind having succeeded well, and turned out very profitable, roused forth a rage for canals, which has been carried to a greater length and extent than the nature of the case required. I should very much doubt the Ashby Canal becoming a fair concern, or paying reasonable interest upon the expenditure, unless it could be continued to the Trent, and thus be made a thoroughfare ; in that case Lord Moria's iron would find a readier way to market.
To supply the Ashby Canal with water, a reservoir has been formed upon the Ashby Wolds, containing when full 36 acres of water ; this is quickly filled by the rain and melted snows of winter, and dealt out gradually to supply the canal in summer : when I saw it in October 1807, it was reduced to a few acres only.

Sect. IV. - Fairs of Leicestershire.

The towns in alphabetical order : Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Easter Monday, a show for stallions, about 30 generally appear ; Tuesday and Whitsun Tuesday for horses, cows, sheep, &c. ; August 24, and November 9, for horses and cows.
Belton, Monday after Trinity week for horses considerable, also for cows and sheep.
Billsden, April 27, July 25, for pewter, brass and toys.
Hallaton, Holy Thursday, May 23, June 13, for horses, horned cattle, pewter, brass, and cloths.
Hinckley, August 26, for horses, cows, sheep, and cheese ; a large fair.
Kegworth, Easter Monday, October 10, holiday fair, and for toys, &c.
Leicester, May 12, July 5, for horses, cows and sheep ; October 10, for ditto and cheese considerable ; this fair lasts several days ; December 8, for horses, cows, &c.
Loughborough, March 28, for horses, cows, &c. April 25, for ditto and sheep ; Holy Thursday, August 12, for horses and cows ; November 13, for ditto and foals.
Lutterworth,April 2, for horses, cows and sheep ; September 16, for ditto and cheese.
Market Bosworth, May 8, for horses, cows and sheep ; July 10, for horses and cows.
Market Harborough, April 29, for horses, cows, sheep and hogs ; October 19, for ten days, for ditto and foals ; cheese is also a capital article all the ten days ; also for pewter, brass, hats and cloaths, and leather the last day.
Melton mowbray, first Monday after January 17th, a show of horses ; Tuesday for horses and horned cattle ; Whitsun Tuesday for horses, horned cattle, and sheep ; August 21, for ditto and swine.
Mount Sorrel, July 10, holiday fair, toys, &c.
Waltham-on-the-Wolds, September 19, for horses, cattle, swine, and goods of all sorts ; also for Mr. Frisby's rams.

Sect. V. - Leicestershire Markets ; The Towns According to Precedence.

1. Leicester - Saturday
2. Loughborough - Thursday
3. Hinckley - Monday.
4.Melton Mowbray - Tuesday.
5.Market Harborough - Tuesday.
6. Lutterworth - Thursday.
7. Ashby-de-la-Zouch - Saturday.
8. Market Bosworth - Wednesday, small
9. Billesden - Friday.
10. Hallaton - Thursday, small
11. Mount Sorrel - Monday, small
12. Waltham - Thursday, small

Sect. VI. - Weights and Measures.

The land measure of this county, and of the whole kingdom, is, regulated by what is termed statute measure, which is I suppose founded upon some real statute, by which five and a half yards in length and breadth, making thirty and a quarter square yards, make one perch ; forty such perches or 1210 square yards, make one rood ; and four such roods, or 4840 square yards, make one acre.
But for running measure, such as hedges, ditches, &c. and for digging, there is a customary perch, pole or rod, which in this, as well as the other midland counties, contains eight yards in length, 220 such being a mile ; or when squared as for digging, contains 64 square yards, 75 of these, and 40 square yards over being an acre.
Corn.- The corn gallon is founded, I believe, on a statute, by which a cylinder of 18 and a half inches wide, and eight inches deep shall be deemed a statute bushel ; this contains 2150 four-tenths cubic inches, and from this the corn gallon is deduced of 268 eight-tenths cubic inches ; but instead of selling such a measure the customary bushel of the county varies from eight and a half to nine gallons, each one believing he has the right to make what measure he pleases, provided it be as much or more than statute measure.
In like manner cheese is sold at 120 lb. The hundred weight, instead of 112 lb., which is supposed and deemed the legal hundred weight ; but the seller supposes he has a right to add to the number of pounds to the hundred, if he thinks proper, and the buyer agreeing with him it is so done. Mr. Monk says, the following resolutions respecting weights and measures, and enforcing due obedience to the laws, appear to me to be highly praise-worthy ; and I flatter myself that every other county in this kingdom will follow so laudable an example.
"At a general meeting of the several chairmen of the Atherstone, Litchfield, Bosworth, and Ashby-de-la-Zouch Committees, and of many gentlemen, farmers, and others, for regulating the buying and selling of cheese, corn, and grain, by the standard weight and measures, held at the Castle-inn, in Tamworth, in the county of Warwick, the 19th of October, 1793, Richard Astley, Esq. chairman, resolved, That, in order to call forth the attention of the public to an obedience of the laws relating to the standard weights and measures, we earnestly recommend all farmers, millers, maltsters, and others, to buy and sell cheese, corn, and grain, by the standard weight and measure only, and not by any other weights and measures. Resolved, that we will, from and after the 10th day of November next, 1793, cause to be put in force the laws relating to the standard weights and measures, so that the offenders may be brought to justice and convicted.
"Resolved, that it appears to this meeting, that the methods, which have been taken to prevent the above-mentioned laws being violated, have not had the desired effect ; as well also, that no regard hath been paid to the determination of the Court of King's Bench, in Trinity Term 1792, in the case of the king against J. Major ; and also to another determination of the same court in Trinity Term last, in the case of the King against A. Arnold, whereby the justices convictions were affirmed ; but that the same laws continue to be evaded and broken, to the very great detriment of the public, and more especially of that useful body of people, the mechanics and labourers, whose welfare we sincerely wish to promote :
"Therefore, we order our treasurer to pay to every person and persons, who shall inform against any one offending against the same laws, so that such offender or offenders may be brought to justice and convicted, the sum of five guineas, over and above the penalties (viz. 40s. and the value of the corn sold) which such informer will be entitled to upon such conviction.
"Resolved, that we will not, from and after the said 10th day of November next, 1793, buy or sell cheese, corn, or grain, in any other manner, or by any other weight or measure, than the standard weight and measure.
"Resolved, that we will contribute to any further legal expenses which may be incurred in prosecuting this business ; and that such persons, who shall be desirous of subscribing to this meeting, may pay their subscription, (2s. 6d.) to our treasurer.
"Resolved, that Mr. Owen, attorney, of Atherstone be appointed solicitor and treasurer of this meeting.
"Resolved, that these resolutions be inserted twice in the Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Derby, and Nottingham papers ; and that 3000 hand-bills, containing the above resolutions, be printed, and circulated throughout the counties of Warwick, Stafford, Derby, Nottingham, and Leicester.
"Resolved, that the thanks of this meeting be given to our chairman.
"Richard Astley, Chairman."

Notwithstanding all this, I believe but little alteration has been made, the ancient custom of any particular market still remaining, and the buyer and seller understanding each other, make that the governing principle ; of liquids, ale should be sold by the measure of 282 cubic inches to the gallon, but it is generally understood this measure is curtailed by the retailer, and that what passes for a full measure is only the wine gallon of 231 cubic inches, and that the smaller measures are made in that proportion.
Wool is sold by the tod of 28 lb. Avoirdupoise, being two stone to the tod of 14 lb. Each ; cheese and other articles of food are of course sold by the same weight to the pound, except fresh butter, which is often made a little over 16 ounces, by the dairy women who take it to market.
The general measure for grain in Leicester market is, as I was informed, 34 quarts or eight gallons and a half to the bushel ; whilst according to Mr. Johnson, he sold his oats at Ashby, at nine gallons to the bushel, and between these two measures, I believe the custom of the county fluctuates, except in the article of malt, which is seldom sold at more than eight gallons to the bushel.

Sect. VII.

Respecting the price of products, compared with expenses, in articles of great or general demand, the price is sure to find its fair level by competition ; for if the profits were considerable in any such article, numbers would be soon found to speculate in the trade, and to push a sale would offer an under price, till it found its proper level, and this is the case with every article of necessary food except bread, and the public are very probably as reasonably supplied as they would be under any interference from legal authority ; the price of every article, clearly enough depends on its plenty or scarcity, in proportion to the demand ; and they who possess articles of necessary food, must either have bought them or raised them at expense, which is similar, and are under the necessity of selling, to satisfy other demands, and supply wants, as the manufacturer of goods, and the competition between different growers, and in different markets, will generally fix a fair price to the consumer.

Sect. VIII. Manufacturers.

The principle manufacturers of Leicestershire are, wool combing, woollen yarn, worsted, and stocking principally or wholly worsted, the manufacture of which employs a great number of people, not only in Leicester, Hinkley and other towns, but also in the principal country villages throughout most parts of the county.
According to the returns made under the Population Act, the acting population, or number of people employed in trade, within this county, amounts to upwards of 42,000, whilst the number employed in agriculture falls short of 24,000 ; the number employed in trade is, therefore, to those employed in agriculture nearly as seven to four, and of these, a very large proportion are employed in the manufacture of wool into stockings.
In the town of Ashby are considerable cotton works, erected and set on foot by the late Mr. Wilkes, which employ a great number of the industrious poor of all ages.
In Hinckley and Ashby a good many hats are manufactured ; in Castle Donnington and its neighbourhood, a great many of the female sex principally are employed in the manufacture of patent net lace, for lady's veils, &c. dependant I believe upon Nottingham and its neighbourhood.
Mr. Monk says, "the manufacture of woollen yarn and stockings are lately much increased, and the landed interest much benefited thereby ;" if so I met with many, who are insensible of the benefits received. Mr. Watkinson informed me that poor's rates were enormously high in his neighbourhood, (but this was in 1801) which he attributed to the number of stockingers, who could not maintain their families ; and were sometimes, when out of employ set to work by the farmers ; but he observed, they made but indifferent labourers. Mr. King also informed me, that upon the Duke of Rutland's extensive demesnes, poor's rates were low, as there were no stockingers, and care was taken that there should be none ; the fact is, that with the increased population, occasioned by manufactures, poor's rates increased also, but the consumption of landed produce is thereby increased, and the price advanced in proportion.

Sect. IX. - Commerce.

This county is well accommodated with commercial conveniences, the Trent washing one of its borders, and the Soar, its own natural river, being rendered navigable into it, and for many miles through the county ; this with other conveniences executed or on hand, give it a fair share of commercial advantages :-See Canals.
The principal manufactured export of the county is stockings of worsted, and this must be very considerable from the number of hands employed, and has also hats, cottons and lace, as before mentioned to spare : it also sends a large quantity of raw wool into Yorkshire.
Of provisions, cheese is a considerable article of export, not less than 1500 tons per annum, according to the best information ; the produce of this county, going down the Trent for the metropolis, or the use of the navy ; this at 60s. per hundred, amounts to 90,000.
Of sheep, a very large number breed in this county, are sold fat to London and Birmingham ; half fat to farmers in adjacent counties to be finished on turnips, or in store condition to farmers to breed from- See the article Sheep. Of cattle a great many are also fatted in this county, more than it consumes, and sold to London, Birmingham, and the populous parts of Staffordshire ; these are in part breed in the county, and in part bought in from elsewhere.-See the article Cattle.
A good many excellent strong black draught horses, and some blood kind, are bred in, and sold from this county ; in hogs and butter, I suppose it to be nearly in statu quo ; respecting grain it has barley to spare, but certainly a deficiency of wheat, and its oats and beans are eaten by its own horses, as well as its green crops and hay, by other stock.
In minerals, coal and lime are both imported and exported, but it would have a deficiency of the former from its own supply ; it can furnish itself with English timber, but in common with the kindom at large, requires a supply from the Baltic of the foreign sorts, as well as of all other conveniences and luxuries of foreign produce.
Respecting the effects of manufactures and commerce on agriculture, as having a tendency to increase the numbers of mankind, and therewith the consumption of agricultural products, and to add to the general riches of the county, their effects upon the whole cannot but be salutary ; the great consumption of wool in the stocking trade, under the very eye of the grower, must encourage its growth and enhance its price ; the same may be said of provisions in a populous neighbourhood, and as good properties and fortunes are often acquired by master manufactures, and in commercial speculations, from the natural tendency to realize, the value of land in their neighbourhood, and the more populous is any neighbourhood, the more inducement, and even means there is to improve the soil, and its value is thus doubly increased, by actual improvement, and by increased demand for its products ; that manufactures may sometimes, and often do occasion local inconvenience, must be admitted ; but when we consider the resources and the riches of the nation, and how far they have been caused by manufactures and commerce, on which they are still in some degree dependant, as well as improvement and flourishing state of agriculture itself, the benefit and general advantage derived from them is too evident to be called into question.

Sect. X. - Poor.

 The poor of this county are, I believe, in as good a situation as others of the same class
elsewhere, yet when we come to consider it, and calculate particulars, it must be
pronounced rather pitiable. If a labouring family consists of a man, his wife and four children,
they will consume in bread if they can get it 1s
which is per week
Rent per week 1s 6d ; milk suppose 6d.
Cheese or butchers' meat 2lb. per day is : per week

Per week necessaries




s.
7
2
7

16




d.
0
0
0

0

but of the gains of a labourer and his wife will seldom exceed upon the average of 15s. per week, whence it appears that the above allowance must be curtailed, and privations sustained ; potatoes from the garden must be substituted in part for bread, and the cheese and meat allowance lessened, for which a pig should be substituted,, fed on the premises from the garden and from gleanings ; hence will appear the necessity of furnished labourers' cottages with sufficient gardens and a hog-stye, if the family is to be kept from starvation.

The gains of a manufacturers' family are more, and may be put at a guinea per week ; but even then if we make the above allowance for necessaries as stated, there remains only 5s. per week for fuel, candles, soap and cloathing, for the whole family, which are equally necessaries ; to say nothing of tea, sugar, butter and beer, which if not necessary to existence, are at least necessary to comfort ; the labourers' family is placed more on a level with the latter, by an allowance of beer from the farmer, as well as coals drawn and sometimes other privileges.

Poors' rates.- It appears from parliamentary documents, that the sums raised by poors' rates in this county were in 1776, 26,360, and in 1803, 107,568 ; increase in 27 years more than four-fold : this last is stated to have been 5s. 23/4d. in the pound, upon an estimated rental, but probably not much more than 3s. in the pound, upon real annual value of all property. - See Poors' Rates. Chap. 4.

Mr. Ainsworth says, "in the parish I lived in, I served the office of overseer of the poor, more than once at one shilling in the pound ; but in the year 1795, in consequence of the war, and the advanced price of necessaries of life, I had four shillings in the pound and it did not do. I believe in the county it may now average five shillings ; in great towns six shillings, and I have just paid a poors' rate (in Leicester) at two shillings in the pound, for one quarter (the above are upon an estimated rental). Manufactures, he says, affect and raise the poors' rates ; their employment is unhealthy, by too much sitting and confinement in one posture, and from the effects of confined air ; this brings on consumptions and premature deaths, and poverty brings the wife and children to the parish ; this shews that the great author of nature designed the field to be the occupation, as well as the support of man."

Mr. Monk says, "a gentleman informed me, that from a pretty attentive observation he had made of the habits and manners of the poorer classes, that a very small proportion indeed of the expense of supporting them was to be attributed to the sober and industrious poor, whether labourers or manufacturers, the immoral were generally idle and profligate, and there were few villages where their bad habits were not conspicuous ;" that mending the morals of the poor would lessen their distress, is not to be doubted, but it is too much to suppose that a very large proportion of such distress can be in the present state of things be avoided.

Mr. Ainsworth, who seems to have had experience on the subject, as well as to have studied it with some attention, observes, "the situation of the poor is deplorable ; and general as it is to exclaim against them, I am of the opinion that encouragement would make them better ; little noticed while they are wearing out their strength for a bare subsistance, left unassisted or scantily supplied under sickness or accident, so that they are depressed their whole lives after. In regard to sick clubs, some cannot be admitted through age or infirmities ; some are prejudiced against them, and some to my knowledge cannot spare from their families the weekly subscription ; and when their labour is totally over, they have no better prospect in view than the tyranny of overseers, a badge of disgrace, and the confinement of a workhouse, the entrance into which is to deprive them of the little property they had with hard labour attained by the sweat of their brow and pinching frugality ; poor incitements these to care and industry. I could wish by no means to give offence to any, but as I am more conversant with the lower classes than gentlemen can possibly be, I honestly and concientiously declare this picture is not exaggerated. Would to God it were! I fear it is not in the power of the philanthropic Board to give the spring of encouragement, to communicate the most extensive relief to them ; if they could, they would bear the nearest resemblance to the source of all good, who showers his blessings with a liberal hand on all without distinction. If a large population be the strength of a nation, it occurs naturally that the lower classes of that population are entitled to legisltive assistance, to ameliorate their condition ; and as every one thinks they have some natural right to the use of the ground, so most persons are willing to assist in harvest. Land originally was open and equal to all, and though one acre of land enclosed is worth more to the community than many acres in its natural state, yet when this appropriation first began, the poor were deprived of their egress and regress ; to compensate them for this loss, a public fund ought to be raised and supported by people of property, to pay annuity's to the aged, infirm, and those in distress, by which means the contributers would soon be gainers by abolishing entirely the poors' rate." - Ainsworth.

It appears from the observations on the Poors' Laws, by the Right Honourable George Rose, M. P. compared with other authentic documents, that the sum raised by the poors' rate in England, in 1803 was - 5,161,813
The sum expended on the poor in that year 4,267,000
Of which law suits and overseers' expenses took 190,000
It may therefore be admitted as a general rule, that in every five pounds raised by poors' rate, one pound is applied for other purposes, as county rates and constables, churchwardens, and other expenses, which to save trouble in collecting are in many parishes paid from the poors' rates.
There is no reason to suppose the poors' rate has increased since 1803, as seasons have been generally favourable, and corn comparatively reasonable ; the average annual sum now raised in England, upon eight millions of people, by poors' rate, may be called five millions, this is 12s. 6d. per head upon the whole population ; of this four millions is actually expended on the poor, and the other million applied to other purposes ; the assessed rental of the kingdom is 24 millions and a fraction, but the property tax near 34 millions, the poors' rate is therefore 4s. 2d. in the pound upon the former, and not quite 3s. in the pound upon the latter ; the number of poor persons relieved were 83,463 including children in workhouses, at 12 3s. 63/4d. per head ------ 1,016,422 16 111/2
And 956,248, including children relived at home, at 3 3s. 71/2d. per head per annum 3,042,053 19 0
Total relieved 1,039,711 ------ 4,058,476 15 111/4
Twelve in a hundred, including their families are paupers.
The numbers in friendly societies are 704,350.
An ingenious friend, who has had considerable experience amongst parish poor, and paid attention to the subject says where parishes are small and not very populous, it is entirely owing to bad management, if the poor are not well provided for and the payment is easy ; and where they are large it would be much better for each hamlet or division to provide for their poor separately, as their wants are thus much better known : he thinks the custom of choosing fresh overseers every year a bad one, they being generally strangers to the business, and by the time they have acquired some little knowledge of it, leave it to others as incompetent as they were themselves ; and such persons, however respectable, have seldom leisure to bestow the necessary attention to the situation and wants of the poor without neglecting their own concerns ; hence in extensive parishes, a proper standing overseer should be appointed with a competent salary, and his accounts and reports, examined monthly, by a select committee appointed by the parishioners, who might also attend, if they thought proper.
When poor families are in distress, from sickness or misfortune, he thinks it much better to relieve them liberally on occasion, than to commence and continue weekly pay, which growing into a habit, becomes a permament expense ; and much time is lost in large parishes by poor people going a great distance to obtain such pay, which is another inducement for large parishes to separate.
The wants of a farm labourer he says are trifling, compared with the poor in trade, who often contract habits of going to public houses, and spending on themselves what should be shared in their families, and thus bring a burden on the public ; respecting workhouses where the poor people are kept clean and orderly, it is so far good, but there is a great loss sustained where they are not properly employed ; it is much better to employ them, if possible in work they have been accustomed to, than to teach them anything new : it is much to be lamented that in many of these, improperly termed workhouses, the inhabitants are kept in a dirty, idle and vicious state ; the industrious poor are of great benefit to society, and the lazy are its greatest burdens ; it is better to have no workhouses, unless they are well managed, and the strictest attention paid to the poor, respecting their cleanness, their morals, an their industry.
Respecting the poor in large towns, where numbers are congregated together, the management of Shrewsbury House of Industry is recommended to attention, of which a satisfactory account has been published by the late Mr. Wood, whose memory will be long respected for his services to the town of Shrewsbury, and the public in general, and to the poor in particular.
The encouragement and extension of box clubs, or friendly societies, under proper regulations, is by many supposed to be a measure capable of removing and relieving much distress, and much benefit to society has already been derived from them ; but there is still wanted a further improvement, and it would be well if there was a handsome premium offered for the best plan of the kind ; the present custom of all members meeting periodically at a public-house, is subject to inconveniences, as tending to promote and encourage carousals, particularly amongst loosely inclined members. It is thought by many persons, that as every one capable of labour, may contribute a trifle weekly to a fund for supplying the wants of the poor in distress, that this, if properly assisted by those who already pay the rates, and the whole properly applied, a fund might be established, that should, at no very remote period, prevent the payment of any other rates whatever.
It seems now to be generally understood, that every institution of this kind must be voluntry, and not be enforced by any compulsatory law ; in the latter case it becomes a tax instead of a voluntary contribution, and thus changes not only its name but its nature. In some friendly societies in the country, a payment of 2d. per week by each member has been known to be sufficient, not only for all claims upon the box caused by sickness or accident, but has also produced considerable accumulation ; in towns and many places 3d. per week or 1s. per month is more common : if some plan could be devised, by which every person paying voluntarily to the overseer of the poor 3d. per week, or 1s. per month, should be entitled to receive 9s. per week in sickness, 7s. per week on superannuation, or 8s. 6d. per week after 60 years of age, or having contributed 20 years, after which length of time individual contributions should cease, it would do away the inconvenience attending ale-house meetings ; to the above payments may be added decent funeral expenses, and a payment to widows or survivors, upon the plan of the best friendly societies, as well as the admission of females upon proportional terms, and with similar advantages.
The whole population of England and Wales is now nearly nine millions,
of these one half may be under 20 years of age - - - - 4,500,000
Between 20 and 40 suppose - - - - - - - - - - 3,000,000
Above 40 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1,500,000
If one half of the whole middle class were to come forward, voluntarily to pay 3d. per week, and the different parishes were to meet it with an equal sum, this would amount annually to about two millions, of which one million would meet all the demands for payment, and one million might be annually funded ; this in 32 years at compound interest would amount to 80 millions ; the interest of which would equal the sum at present expended on the poor, and consequently the poors' rate if not increased, might then be abolished ; but hardly to be expected that the different classes interested, should be brought cordially to unite in a measure of such magnitude, or even that compulsatory means would be successful. What then remains is to encourage by fair means and bounties, those voluntary contributions, and to divert them from ale-houses as much as possible.
In a pamphlet, by Lord Somerville, on Wool, and other important subjects, are several projects for relieving the poor by contributions, instead of the present poors' rate ; but the general opinion seems to be, that such contributions must be voluntary and not forced, otherwise they partake of a nature of a tax on the lower classes to relieve themselves.
In different reports of the society for bettering the condition of the poor, are also many humane proposals for their relief ; but these being already before the public, need not be detailed here.

Sect. XI.-Population.

The population of this county, at the conquest, is stated in Nichol's History to have been 34,000 ; in 1789, it was estimated at 85,000 ; but this I suppose to have been an under estimate, as in 1803, under the Population Act, the following returns were made ; total inhabitants 130,081 ; males 63,943 ; females 66,138 ; houses 25,992 ; families 27,967 ; employed in agriculture 23,823 ; in trade 42,036, and the inhabitants upon a square mile 159, the average of England and Wales being 152.
In 20 parishes of Framland hundred, the north part, containing 5731 inhabitants, upon an average of 20 years the deaths were 1 in 48 per annum.
Bottesford, 1 in 36 ditto.
Goadby Maureward, 1 in 76 ditto.

 

Baptisms.

Burials.

Marriages.

Melton Mowbray for 20 years, from 1547
Do. For 20 years ending 1789

565
803

338
753

147
262

A tradition of the plague being at Melton in 1636, and in 1637, in 1636 were 122 burials.
In 1637, 405 ditto, not more than 60 having been in any former year.

Births and Burials in Sundry Places

 

Births.

Burials.

Burton Lazars, in 20 years from 1718
Do. last 20 years to 1794
Freby, from 1604 in 20 years
Do. last 20 years to 1794
Burton Overy, for 5 years ending 1575
Do. Last 5 years to 1794
The two Kibworths, Smeton and Waterby, 200 dwelling houses in the three
In 5 years from 1575
Last 5 years to 1794
Foxton, 1755 acres, from 1690 in 5 years
Last 5 years to 1794
Whetstone, 2025 acres, from 1595 in 5 years
Last 5
Blaby, 1750 acres, 100 houses
From 1560 in 5 years
Last 5
Kilby, 1020 acres, a former period of 5 years
Last 5
Wistow, 892 acres, 5 years to 1588
Last 5
Fleckney, 60 dwellings, 1300 acres, 5 years to 1586
Last 5
Ansty, 800 acre, 5 years to 1577
Last 5
Newton Linford, 60 houses, 5 years to 1653
Last 5
Swithland, 5 years to 1676
Last 5
Husbands Bosworth, 150 houses, 5 years to 1568
Last 5
Lutterworth in 1780 had 370 houses, 1784 souls.
In 40 years there had been
In 5 years ending 1653
Last 5
Many dissenters not registered -Wickliff rector here
Loughborough, 5 years ending 1539
Last 5
Market Bosworth, 150 houses, 5 years ending 1653
Last 5
Harborough, 5 years ending 1584
Last 5

100
140
90
50
57
76


125
164
39
58
57
79

29
102
17
40
25
41
29
21
39
92
45
45
25
39
60
71

1728
184
205

289
701
65
94
73
149

100
80
50
40
22
50
Acres
3930
100
103
18
46
40
72

12
57
17
36
18
26
27
22
22
68
39
42
15
30
42
72

1743
162
250

181
468
84
59
51
145

General Recapitulation.

 

Former period

Latter period

 

Baptisms.

Burials.

Baptisms.

Burials.

Melton Mowbray in 20 years
Lutterworth in 5 years
Loughborough Do.
Market Bosworth Do.
Harborough Do.
2. In 14 county parishes ditto


Deduct Lutterworth on ac. of Dis.

Remains

565
184
289
65
73
737
-----
1913
184
-----
1729

338
162
181
84
51
522
-----
1338
162
-----
1176

803
206
701
94
149
1018
-----
2971
203
-----
2765

753
250
468
59
145
744
-----
2419
250
-----
2169

These particulars were collected by Mr. Throsby, late town clerk of Leicester, whose accuracy is not to be suspected ; but it is very probable many births are omitted, on account of the parents being dissenters, who baptize privately, but bury at the church. The length of time between the two periods may be reckoned 200 years, the population in that time by the burials is increased in the proportion of five to nine, by the births only as five to eight.
The increase of population in this county, has doubtless been owing principally to manufactures, who, in the different branches of trade compose seven parts in eleven of its inhabitants ; the remaining four-elevenths being employed in or connected with agriculture, there is reason to believe, that agriculture population has not increased during the last half century, a general enclosure has nearly taken place, and large tracts of the ancient common fields are now rich pasture land, so that the growth of beans and wheat, and particularly the former has much declined, in favour of breeding and fatting sheep and cattle ; with wheat it certainly does not now supply itself, yet being in the midst of a fertile part of the kingdom, the price of bread does not exceed average.
Respecting cottages, the master manufactures, have supplied habitations to what workmen they wanted ; and every kind of food is in abundance at an average price ; the district is well peopled, but has large quantities of animal food to spare ; the county is certainly healthy, as any part of the kingdom ; but the greatest mortality is in the towns, as the above table will show, in which the number of deaths approach the births, much nearer than in the country parishes, though Loughborough upon a gravelly, sound dry soil, seems an exception.
The modes of living are good, and rather inclined to luxurious. Wheaten bread, with beef, mutton, cheese and butter of the best, are the principal diet of all who can raise it, as well as vegetables and beverage in perfection ; and the want of which is only known by those in poverty and distress, and whose feelings prevent their applying for relief.

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