The Industrial Revolution
The time between 1750 and 1850, referred to as ‘the Industrial Revolution’, is a period when population movements took place. Transportation proved difficult, merchants using packhorses to transport their merchandise to fairs and trade centres. The animals, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, required staff to manage them. Scotch cattle required drovers; sellers and buyers needed representatives. It was only natural therefore that some of these people met and married a long way from their own homes.
In 1700 most of the population of England and Wales lived in rural parishes and worked in agriculture. By 1900 the population had increased six-fold and was centred around industries in towns. Between 1700 and 1900 two ‘revolutions’ had actually taken place. Though the Industrial Revolution is far more widely recognised, the Agrarian Revolution saw the reduction in the need for farm labourers. With the abolition of the common field system (the enclosure of land once worked by many families), farms were consolidated and farmers who could not afford to buy the land were forced to work for those who could.
The Industrial Revolution saw the invention of such things as the spinning Jenny, which meant that what was once a ‘cottage-based’ industry for spinning cotton saw manufacturing move into factories. New factories were established in towns and country people, mostly in the Midlands and the north, left their homes in the country and moved to the factory areas for work. The migration involved thousands and more followed in 1800 when the power loom and the coal and iron industries had developed further to produce the factory system.