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After making compensation for tithes, taking out allotments for turbaries and other things, the remaining part of the commons were divided as fol. lows : Seven-twelfth parts to the owners of ancient messuages, cottages, . tofts, and toftsteads, in shares of equal value, i. e. one equal share to each such messuage, without regard to the value thereof, and the remaining five-twelfths to the same owners, to be divided and allotted in proportion to the value of their lands; and full power was given to the Commiss sioners to make drains, ditches, not only within the commons, but on the inclosed grounds; and for that purpose to raise money to any extent by assessment on the proprietors of lands in both the old and new inclosures.
The first provision of this act was opposed, on the ground that the Lords of the Manors in the Isle of Axholme had no right in the soil of the commons, because Sir John Mowbray had by deed, in the reign of Edward the Third, made a certain approvement of the wastes to himself, and granted the remainder to the tenants, with an agreement that no further approvement should be made ; and that, notwithstanding this ancient deed, King Charles the First, who claimed under Mowbray, had conveyed all his rights and ina terests to Cornelius Vermuyden, in lieu of which the said Vermuyden did actually wrest from the Commoners 2868 acres, which was four times as much as any Lord of the Manor was ever allowed by the Court of Exchequer. Notwithstanding the just grounds on which this opposition was founded, the obnoxious clause was inserted in the act.
With regard to the power proposed to be given to the Commissioners to make assessments for defraying the expence of making new drains, it was argued, that the Participants were bound to drain these very grounds; and on that condition now enjoy a very large and valuable tract of land, which is subject to all the expences of drainage. To this, however true, it was answered, the drains of the Participants have never been of any use to the Isle commons, and they cannot now be compelled to make such new drains as might be effectual ; if, therefore, means are not found from some other source for improving the drainage of the commons, they must remain in their present wet state, and to inclose them would be of little use. However necessary it was to yield on this point, another clause was introduced which seems to me far more unjust and oppressive than either of these to which opposition was made. This clause gives the Participants power to use the drains made at the sole expence of the Isle Commoners, for the purpose of warping the Participant's lands; and thus the drains
may, at certain times mentioned in the act, be made in a great measure useless for the purpose of draining the lands of those persons at whose expence they were made. The Participants, as we have already mentioned, received their lands on condition of draining the Isle commons. Their works of drainage as far as these commons were concerned, proved totally ineffectual, and the owners being compelled to make drains at their own expence, the Participants have now the privilege of using these new drains for improving those
very lands which were originally given as a compensation for all expences of that nature.
The inhabitants were more successful in their opposition to another clause of this bill, though such success has proved most injurious to themselves. They resisted the inclosure of the arable fields, which, of course, still remain open. This conduct Mr. Secretary Young, in his Agricultural Survey of Lincolnshire, is pleased to designate by the epithet “barbarous,” because in open fields, where property is so subdivided and intermixed, it is almost impossible to cultivate them on any improved system of management.
I have been informed, that the barbarians, if Mr Secretary's opinion be just, could not bear to part with a sufficient quantity of this good land to exonerate the remainder from the payment of tithes.
In the year 1813 an act was obtained for inclosing Crowle, Eastoft, and Ealand, in which the great error of leaving the arable fields open was avoided. In this act all due provision was made for flooding the low grounds with Trent warp, and power given “to execute and complete all such locks, drains, sewers, banks, and other works as shall be necessary for effecting such floodings and warpings, fc." and a clause also was inserted, that “no powers in this act should be exercised so as to injure or damage the navigation of the river Trent, any thing in this act contained to the contrary thereof in any wise not. withstanding."
But acts of parliament in those days as well as the present seem to have been full of egregious blunders ; for, as no part of the parish of Crowle abuts on the river, there was not the least danger of the Commissioners, as long as their operations were confined to that part of the country, interfering with the navigation of the Trent; nor the least use in their being empowered to make sewers, banks, locks, and drains to flood and warp the land. Consequently in the year 1816 another act was obtained to amend the former, and to extend its operations, as far as warping was concerned, to lands in the
раrishes of Luddington, Belton, and Adlingfleet in the county of York; and to enable the commissioners to make “a new sea sluice, at Amcoats, in the parish of Althorpe, and another near the north end of the town of Keadby.” Since these inclosures, the commons, which were before in a wretched and unprofitable state, have been greatly improved. Considerable portions of them, especially on the Crowle Moors, have been warped; by which process land, in its original state not worth owning, has been converted into a soil of the first rate fertility, producing abundant crops of wheat, beans, oats, clover, seeds, and potatoes ; and which lets readily from thirty to fifty shillings per acre, and in small quantities, if conveniently situated, even for sixty shillings or more.
The process of warping is easily explained. The waters of the Trent being strongly impregnated with the earthy particles termed warp, would, as it constantly overflowed the adjoining lands, deposit this sediment in large beds along its shores, which in all muddy rivers, when unembanked, is always greatest near the stream, thus forming on each side a flatly curved surface, and causing the land in process of time to be much higher near the river than at some distance from it; so that a section of the country on the banks of the Trent presents this form.
A A represents the river Trent at high water.B B alluvial soil or warp deposited by the natural operation of the tide, before the
river was embanked. C land capable of being warped.-D D the Trent banks.
The suggestion would easily present itself to the mind of an intelligent observer, that, if the sediment which the tide so copiously deposited every day, could by any means be brought on to the low moorish grounds which were so much below the level of high water, it would have the same fertilizing effect as it had on those places on which it had been left by the natural operation of the stream. To cut a drain for this purpose, to embank a quantity of land which lay convenient, to make inlets and outlets to convey the water to deposit its sediment, and to return it after it had been deposited, to ascertain the proper quantity to be embanked, or as it is termed “ taken on,” at one time, and the best method of regulating the flow of water, were all easy steps by which experience would guide those whose ingenuity and observation had prompted this undertaking to complete success*.
The quantity of land to be taken on at once, and the length of time it will take to complete it, depends very much on the peculiar local circumstances of the ground to be warped. If the water has to be conveyed two miles, a greater portion of the warp † will be deposited along the sides and fore shores of the drain, than if the distance was only one mile, and consequently the operation of flooding the land must be repeated oftener, So also the level of the ground selected, with reference to high water, must determine in a great measure the length of time which it will take to warp it effectually: for, if the ground is very low, so that it can be flooded three or four feet deep, a much greater body of water, and consequently of sediment, may be admitted every tide, than can be done if the elevation admit of its being flooded only two feet.
The drainage to be obtained after the warping is finished is another material consideration; for sometimes it is necessary to carry on the operation
* See a valuable communication on the subject of warping to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, vol. 43, of their Transactions, made by Ralph Creyke, Esquire, of Rawcliffe House, who had himself warped 429 acres, for which he received, in 1825, the large gold medal of the Society. It is said the practice was first introduced about the middle of the last century, on some land in the neighbourhood of Howden.
+ The component parts of warp, appear to be argillaceous and silicious earth, with a portion of mica, marine salt, and mucilage.
for a greater length of time, in order to raise the ground sufficiently to keep it dry. At Ferry, Susworth, or Butterwick, however, sixty or seventy acres may be embanked at one time, when the public drains are used as warping sluices according to the act; but when large sluices have been made on purpose, as at Amcoats and Keadby, for the purpose of warping Crowle Moors, as much as three hundred acres are taken on at one time. The warping máy be effectually accomplished in about three summers; but aš, in fine hot weather, the tides contain much more warp than when it is cold and moist, the warping would progress faster in two warm dry summers than in three or even four wet ones.
The act of 1795, for the Inclosure of the Isle commons in the four parishes of Haxey, Epworth, Belton, and Owston; and the acts for the Inclosure, &c. of Crowle, contain provisions for carrying into effect this most efficient method of improving bad land in the neighbourhood of the Trent. By the former of these acts, the Commissioners are empowered to ascertain " what parts of the said lands were capable of receiving improvement by flooding or overflowing with the waters of the river Trent, and to give notice thereof;" and also to make rules and regulations for conducting and executing such flooding. Power also is given to a majority of the proprietors of such lands as are declared by the Commissioners to be capable of this improvement, according to the regulations laid down in the award of inclosure, to use the public drains and sluices for this purpose, to appoint proper persons to superintend the works, to ascertain the expences, and to compel payment of the same. And in the act of 1813, for the Inclosure of Crowle, to similar' pro visions, there is added this very salutary regulation, that no person “shall be permitted to overflow their land with water, or to use the sluices and drains for this purpose, until he or they shall make sufficient interior banks, sluices, tunnels, and other works; and also to enter into sufficient security, to the satisfaction of the Court of Sewers, for preventing any other lands or grounds from receiving any damage by or in consequence of letting in such water; for sufficient cleansing out the drains thus made use of after each season of warping; and if any damage shall arise therefrom, to make full and ample satisfaction for the same.”