The Commissioner for carrying into Execution an Act of
Parliament in the Thirty Sixth year of His Majesty's Reign (King George 111)
entitled "An Act for dividing and inclosing a Common called Guiseley Common
and other waste grounds within the Manor and Township of Guiseley in the West
Riding of the County of York".
Do Hereby Give Notice
That they have been served with
objections against all and everyone of the claims delivered in at their first
and second meetings for the Execution of the said Act and that they and the
said Commissioners intend to meet at the house of Abraham Sladen, in Guiseley,
in the County of York, on Monday the sixteenth day of January next, at 10
o'clock in the forenoon.
To hear and determine the Matters of the Said Claims
and Objections respectively and to enquire and determine which and how many of
the Freeholders of the said Township of Guiseley are Lords of the said Manor ;
what ancient Messuages, Cottages, Mills, Old Enclosures, Lands, Tenements and
Hereditaments their are within the said Manor and Township that have the Right
of Common upon the said Common or Waste Grounds.
What encroachments have been made upon
the said Commons or Waste Grounds by any person or persons whatsoever.
persons interested in the Business of the said meeting are required to attend
the same and to bring forth their evidence in support of their respective
claims and objections.
Smith, Solicitors to the Commissioners
Otley December 19th 1796"
Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archives, research by Edwy Harling
Further information by Christine Lovedale
The normal practice of farming had, since Medieval times
been operated by dividing fields which were owned or more usually rented.
section of the land would be divided into 3 strips on which crops would be rotated
yearly. Wills Gill in Guiseley is a rare local example of strip fields.
methods of agriculture began to evolve, for example the broadcast method of
sowing seed by hand had been superseded by the invention of Jethro Tull's seed
drill, there was a demand for enclosed fields to protect each farmers crops and
The population of England was growing, leading to a need for
increased production of food.
Common land was just that, villagers had the
right to graze their livestock, gather wood for fuel and catch any wild birds
or game for food.
These centuries old privileges were lost when common land was
enclosed as it was increasingly in the 18th and 19th centuries.
division of land during the enclosures usually gave advantage to large landowners
or the more wealthy farmers.
The loss of the common rights was the cause of
many poorer subsistence farmers leaving the land and seeking work in factories
in the growing industrialised towns.
Enclosure Acts had been obtainable for
hundreds of years but it was when the agricultural improvements were taking
place that application to Parliament for Enclosure Acts became normal.
Landowners and the better off farmers could petition Parliament for
Commissioners to asses the area.
The enclosure would take in any common land,
waste land etc., the cost would be shared between the petitioners who then,
according to the amount contributed, would be awarded a comparable area of land
of their own choosing.
Naturally the landowners took the most fertile and accessible
Most small holders or subsistence farmers were at a disadvantage, the
enclosure costs were prohibitive to them and without the advantages that common
land had given them were unable to continue farming, they had the option of
selling or losing their livelihood.