North Cerney Agriculture and Trades

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Agriculture and Livestock

Sheep

"For many centuries the county of Gloucester has held a prominent place in the agriculture of the kingdom, originally by reason of the native breed of sheep which takes its name from the Cotswold HIlls. The wool of this variety was once highly valued for the production of the fine fabrics that were formerly in great demand, not only in this country, but on the continent of Europe, and numerous large flocks were maintained in the country, which was for a long period the centre of the English wool trade." (The Victoria History Of The Counties Of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert, Volume VII, Brightswells Barrow And Rapsgate Hundreds, Oxford University Press 1981, British Q Area, 942 H2svg, V. 2, Page 239.)

Arable Lands 

"Until the closing years of the eighteenth century the greater part of the arable land was cultivated on the unfenced, open-field system, it being the exception for agricultural holdings to be divided into fields by fences, or held, as it was then termed, 'in severalty.'  There were generally two or three large arable fields in each parish divided into acre or half-acre strips among the tenants."  ("The three tithings, Cerney, Woodmancote, and Calmsden, had their separate open fields.  The north and south (or upper and lower) fields of Cerney, which comprised mainly the lands of the archbishop's manor, were recorded from 1401; they occupied the slopes on the east side of the Churn. (79) [Glos. R.W., D 2525, N. Cerney man, 1713-32 , partition 1712.]  The two large Calmsden fields lay north and south of that hamlet. (80) [Ibid. Q/RI63]  Woodmancote tithing appears to have had at least four open fields." (The Victoria History Of The Counties Of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert Volume VII, Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate Hundreds, Oxford University Press 1981, page 156)  Owing to the absence of fences the whole of each field was of necessity in the same crop, and in the Vale the usual course was to plant two successive corn crops followed by a fallow, while on the lighter land of the hills a fallow followed each crop of corn.  Adjoining the village were crofts or pastures attached to each holding of arable land, which were mown for hay, or a meadow, of which every tenant might mow a portion, and in some cases a sheep or cow common, where the stock might graze at such times as there was no other pasturage available, which would be during the late summer and autumn.  Turnips not having been introduced, the fallow field was sometimes sown with rye-grass to be fed, but even if left uncroped there was a quantity of couch-grass and weeds which was fed off until June or July, when the land was ploughed for wheat.  After harvest the stubbles were thrown open, as well as the grazing common, and as the season advanced the live stock was brought home, and, when the lattermath of the pasture was gone, was as far as possible carried through the winter on hay.  This system was terribly wasteful."(The Victoria History Of The Counties Of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert Volume VII, Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate Hundreds, Oxford University Press 1981, page 156)

Open Land Caused Livestock and Crop Problems

"The divisions, or baulks, in the arable fields occupied a considerable area of surface and bore no crop, while the absence of turnips, and consequent scarcity of winter food, made it impossible to carry the whole of the live stock through the winter.  It was therefore necessary either to sell, or put out to agistment, every autumn, animals that should have been maintained on the holding.  Beyond this the cultivation of the narrow detached strips entailed great waste of time, and these  small holdings required a far larger strength in men, oxen, or horses, than would have been the case if they had formed part of a larger farm divided into fields and fenced.  While each occupier's land lay in scattered strips all over the parish, any amelioration of the soil by drainage was impracticable, and it was hopeless to attempt any improvement in live stock so long as the sheep were sent out in a common flock, and the cattle in a common herd, to graze under the care of a common shepherd and herdsman respectively, the male animals being in some cases provided by the lord of the manor, and in others by the tenants.  Under these conditions it was improssible to deal with the contagious diseases of live stock, and it will cause no surprise to find in the Agricultural Survey of Gloucestershire, drawn up by Rudge in 1805 for the Board of Agriculture, scab, or shab, described as 'a disease of the skin to which long-wooled sheep are more or less subject.'"

"The remedy for this state of affairs was to consolidate the various occupations, allotting to each the equivalent in value of the former holdings, not in detached strips, but in compact blocks that might be enclosed within fences.  Acts of Parliament were obtained to effect this change, the first Inclosure Act dealing with land in the county of Gloucester being that relating to the parish of Farmington, passed in 1714.  Inclosures in the county did not, however, become general until the end of the eighteenth century, more than eighty Acts having been passed between 1760 and 1800." (The Victoria History Of The Counties of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert, Volume VII, Page 239-240)

North Cerney Parish Arable Land Enclosures

"Inclosure of the Cerney fields had begun by the early 18th century, when Henry Combe's portion of the demesne farm included some newly inclosed arable, (8) Glos. R.O., D 2525, N. Cerney man. 1713-32]  and was evidently completed by the Bathursts later in the century; new inclosures taken out of the south field were mentioned in 1751.  Inclosure of the south part of Cerney Downs was in progress in 1755 (9) Ibid. N. Cerney leases 1715-89.] and by 1807 72 a. in the north part had also been inclosed and ploughed up.  The remaining 244 a. of the downs were attached to North Cerney farm in 1807 (10) Ibid. D 1388, tithe papers, N. Cerney.] and comprised the land laying east of the White way bounded on the north and south by the roads from Calmsden to North Cerney and from Calmsden to Perrott's Brook.  All pasture rights in that land apparently then belonged to the farm but other occupiers had furze-cutting rights.  Those rights were apparently extinguished and inclosure of the downs completed by Lord Bathurst in the 1830s. (11) Ibid. D 2525, N. Cerney drarft leases 170-1833; cf. ibid. P 70A/PC I/I, entry for 1898.] (The Victoria History Of The Counties of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert, Volume VII, Page 157)

"Gloucestershire shared in the agricultural prosperity of the kingdom from 1853 to 1874 due to the expansion of trade and manufactures, the gold discoveries in Australia and California, and the generally favorable seasons.  In spite of deplorable losses from rinderpest, pleuro-pneumonia, and foot-and-mouth disease, the numbers of cattle and sheep increased and agriculture flourished.  Wages, however, did not rise as quickly as the prices of commodities, and in the early seventies there were numerous strikes of farm labourers that were unprofitable both to employer and employed and created much ill-feeling on either side." (The Victoria History Of The Counties Of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert Volume VII, Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate Hundreds, Oxford University Press 1981, page 157)

North Cerney Farm's Cereal Crops

"The general depression in the price of cereals, owing to imports from the United States, combined with the wet seasons, culminating in the disasterous year of 1879, occasioned great losses among arable farmers.  In the Vale, in order to meet the altered circumstances, much of the heavier clay arable land was laid down to permanent pasture." The Victoria History Of The Counties Of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert Volume VII, Brightwells Barrow and Rapsgate Hundreds, Oxford University Press 1981, page 242-243)

"...c. 1899 the lease to a new tenant of North Cerney farm made particular allowances in respect of several fields that had degenerated to a foul condition. (39) [Glos. R.O., D 2299/1585.]  The farms attempted to mitigate the effects of the slump in cereals by building up their flocks and introducing more beef and dairy cattle: ...(The Victoria History Of The Counties of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert, Volume VII, Page 158])

"Dairying and cattle-raising were still important elements in the agriculture of the parish in the later 1970s, though the number of sheep had increased again to the late 19th century level and the two big farms, Calmsden and North Cerney, were devoted largely to growing cereal crops. (43) [Agric. Returns 1976; local information.])  (The Victoria History Of The Counties of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert, Volume VII, Page 159]

North Cerney Tradesmen

"Though predominantly agricultural, North Cerney parish usually had a fairly substantial number of tradesmen.  Eight tradesmen, including the tucker mentioned above, were listed in 1608 compared with 21 men employed in agriculture, (55) [Smith, Men and Armour, 252-3] and trade supported 33 families in 1831 compared with 90 supported by agriculture. (56) [Census, 1831]  With the exception of the man described as parchment-maker in 1751 and glue-maker in 1778, the tradesmen found recorded during the 18th and 19th centuries were the usual village craftsmen together with a few small shopkeepers. (57) Glos. R. O., D 2525, N. Cerney leases 1715-89, 1749-1825; H.O. 107/1968; Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).]  Carpenters were perhaps represented in more than usual numbers for a rural parish in 1851 when 12 lived in the parish; the 9 slaters and masons formed the next largest group while other trades had only one or two representatives. (58) [H.O. 107/1968.]  Weavers were occasionally recorded in the parish (59) [Glos. R.O., D 326/E, abs. of title to cott. at Calmsden; Hockaday Abs. cxliii, 1816.] and in the early 19th century it presumably had a number of cloth-workers; the increase from 16 to 33 tradsman families between 1811 and 1831 (60) [Census, 1811-1831.]may be partly explained by developments at Perrot's Brook mill. (See Perrott's Brook mill below.) A few crafts survived into the mid 20th century:  in 1939 Cerney village still had a boot repairer and Calmsden a blacksmith, (61) [Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1939), 62.] and a firm of tailors established at Woodmancote before 1906 (62) [Ibid. (1906), 55.] remained in business in 1978.  From 1927 a quarry beside the railway in the east corner of the parish was worked by the Fosse Lime and Limestone Co. which burnt lime for agricultural and building purposes; the firm employed 30 men in 1936 and remained at the site until at least 1959. (63) Glos. R.O., D 2299/5816; W.I. hist. of Chedworth (1959, TS. in Glos. Colln.), 70.] (The Victoria History Of The Counties Of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert, Volume VII, Brightswells Barrow And Rapsgate Hundreds, Oxford University Press 1981, British Q Area, 942 H2svg, V. 2, Page 159)

Developments at Perrott's Brook mill

"A new mill built on the Cerney manor estate by Richard Painter c. 1715 (49) [Glos. R.O., D 2525, N. Cerney man. 1713-32.] was probably Perrott's Brook mill c. 600 m. upstream of the Perrott's Brook bridge.  In 1799 John Radway, a wool-stapler, became lessee of Perrott's Brook mill (50) [Ibid. D 182/III/203.] and he was succeeded there by Giles Radway before 1809, when the mill was described as formerly a grist-mill (51) [Ibid. D2525, N. Cerney leases 1804-62.] and had perhaps been converted to cloth-making.  In or shortly before 1824 Giles Radway built a new cloth-mill south of the old mill (52) [Ibid. loose deed 1824; Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).] and he was still working it in 1837. (53) [G.D.R., T 1/45.]   In the later 19th century it was used as a corn mill. (54) O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLIII. SE. (1884 edn.)]  Both the old and new mills survived together with some cottages in 1978 when the newer mill was used as a farm building for Perrott's Brook farm, which had its other buildings and its recently built new farm house at the site." (The Victoria History Of The Counties Of England, The History of Gloucester, Edited by N. M. Herbert, Volume VII, Brightswells Barrow And Rapsgate Hundreds, Oxford University Press 1981, British Q Area, 942 H2svg, V. 2, Page 159)


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