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Title: The Royal Agricultural Society of England and agricultural progress, 1838-1880
Author: Goddard, N. P. M.
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 1981
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The Royal Agricultural Society was founded in 1838 by a group of landowners, agricultural journalists, and 'enthusiasts' who were much impressed with the potential of 'science' for raising the productivity of English agriculture. Although the economic foundations of their programme were uncertain, the adoption of improved agricultural, technique was seen by the. Society's founders as essential to maintain rural prosperity and to fulfil the agriculturist's obligation to provide the food requirements of an expanding industrial population. The Society was associated with most of the agricultural innovations, and problems, of Victorian 'high-farming'. The study reviews the development of agricultural information sources such as farming literature and national and local societies up to 1838 and the circumstances which led to the formation of the 'Royal' are outlined. Its membership, links with the agricultural community, and relation to other agricultural information sources and organisations are surveyed. Chapters are devoted to the major areas of the Society's activities - the publication of a Journal, the annual country-meetings, and consultancy and education. A number of controversies and problems such as the question of the Journal editorship, the prize system, fertiliser adulteration, and cattle disease policy are examined. Attention is focussed upon the wider impact and significance of the Society's work and on some of the agricultural personalities of the period. A short concluding chapter suggests that although the advanced methods promoted by the Society did lead to some worthwhile productivity increments the optimism of the 18L s over what 'science' could do for agriculture was not justified and some of the new techniques, such as deep drainage, were seriously flawed. Between 1838 and 1880 the agriculturist had to face a number of problems, such as animal, disease and the labour difficulty, and the conclusion suggests that J.C. Norton's assessment of early and mid-Victorian agricultural experience (of which the Royal was an integral part) as a period of 'rough education' for the farmer may be a more apposite description than of a golden age'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities ; CB History of civilization ; D History (General) ; LA History of education