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From 1688 onwards all political power, central and local, was vested in the landowning classes.

The House of Commons gained in importance; the new ministers of a diminished Crown were men like Walpole, Montagu and the Pelhams, men who were successful alike as farmers and as speculators in the City..

Landed property had acquired a social value, a prestige which was unique; men who had made money in the City, or "nabobs" like Clive, settled themselves on the land as squires.

More important still, perhaps.

the way to direct political power, and participation in its pickings, lay through the freehold ownership of land.

For freeholds meant votes in the elections for the shires; and adverse votes might be extinguished by judicious purchase.

The extent of this has yet to be worked out by historians.

But it is certain that many yeomen bartered away their political rights at this time, and so made easier the consolidation which usually did precede and always should have preceded enclosure.

Many of them were enabled to take on larger leasehold farms, and so themselves had better opportunities for improvement.

Next Step: - Survey Of Imperial Development.

Effects of the Civil War

Why was improvement so long delayed?

In the first place, the seventeenth century was disturbed politically.

The gentry - those who might invest only in farming improvements - were engaged in a political niggle which ended in a destructive Civil War.

The King fought the Parliament; the Parliament fought the army; the army fought the Scots ;.

all with equally disastrous results for farming. Land fell into neglect because its tillers were pressed to fight on one side or the other.

Trade was ruined by long blockades, and the progressive farmer was left without a market; farmers... see: Effects of the Civil War

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