xxxxxThe English politician Viscount Charles Townshend served both George I and George II as secretary of state for foreign affairs, but in 1730, following a power struggle with Robert Walpole, he was forced to resign. Today he is best remembered as "Turnip Townshend" because of the various improvements he made in farming methods while managing his estate at Rainham in West Norfolk.
VISCOUNT “TURNIP TOWNSHEND” 1674 -
(C2, J2, W3, AN, G1, G2)
Reaper: date and artist unknown. Townshend: detail, after the German/British portrait painter Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-
xxxxxBy this reign, the Agricultural Revolution, started a good century earlier, was well under way, driven on by a rapidly expanding population. Recovery in farming was slow after the disasters of the 14th century -
xxxxxImprovements introduced by Viscount Townshend were but part of an Agricultural Revolution which had started a good century earlier and, because of a rapidly expanding population, was quickly gathering pace. As we have seen, events of the 14th century seriously affected agriculture throughout Europe. Three consecutive years of extremely bad weather (1314-
xxxxxRecovery was slow, particularly on the continent where a series of wars continued to devastate vast tracts of farm land. Partly for this reason, in the 16th century, farmers turned to sheep and cattle raising, and the production of fodder crops. This in turn led to the enclosure movement -
xxxxxThese changes were intensified by the invention of improved farming equipment. As we have seen, for example, in 1701 (W3) the Englishman Jethro Tull, working on his father's farm in Oxfordshire, invented the horse-
xxxxxMeanwhile, experiments in the rotation of crops -
xxxxxAnd such Improvements were becoming increasingly urgent. The Industrial Revolution was beginning to move into first gear and by the end of the 18th century the demand for food in the new industrial centres was fast outstripping local production. This stimulated the growing of cereal crops in eastern Europe, especially in Poland and parts of Russia. And the New World also began to play an increasing role. Some tropical imports were already supplementing the food supply -
The xxxxxxx Agricultural x Revolution
xxxxxViscount Charles Townshend was a prominent Whig politician. He served as secretary of state for foreign affairs under George I, but in 1716 was dismissed for opposing a foreign policy which, as he saw it, put the interests of Hanover above those of Britain. For a time, together with his brother-
xxxxxAlthough an able minister and a leading member of the Whig administration, he is best remembered today as "Turnip Townshend", due to the improvements he made in farming methods on his estate at Rainham, West Norfolk. By experimenting with crop rotation during his eight years of retirement, he substantially increased the quality and quantity of both his fodder and food crops.