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Peter Ewarts’s Biblography
for background reading on Agricultural Labourers

A short list of published works, likely to be useful background reading for those interested in rural and agricultural history in Kent particularly and in England generally.

Hastead's History & Topographical Survey of Kent (publ. 1790s etc.- a contemporary multi-volumed work covering each parish in the county of Kent's most well-known historian). Later editions of the collection are available in most larger libraries in Kent and in major Kentish record offices. Nature of the agriculture in most parishes is described briefly.

F. W. Jessup: A History of Kent (Phillimore 1974, 1978 etc).

C. W. Chalklin: 17th Century Kent - A Social & Economic History (Longmans, 1965, J Hallewell publns 1978)

E. Melling (ed.) The Poor  Vol IV in Kent Sources series (KCC 1964)

E. Melling (ed.) Aspects of Agriculture & Industry. Vol III in Kent Sources series (KCC, 1961)

M. Lawrence: The Encircling Hop- A History of Hops & Brewing (SAWD publns, 1990)

R. Filmer: Hops & Hop Picking (Shire publns, 1982)

There are many others on the Kentish hop industry & hopping in Kent generally, especially covering the 19th and early 20th century.

B. Keith-Lucas: Parish Affairs- the Government of Kent under George III (Kent Co Libraries, 1986)

A. Darby - Journey through the Weald. (Robert Hale 1986)

M. Winstanley: Life in Kent at the Turn of the Century (Dawson & son, Folkestone 1978)

R. K. I. Quested: The Isle of Thanet Farming Community- an Agrarian History of easternmost Kent: outlines from early times to 1993. (Wye College Press, 1996) This work has since been updated and republished.

Hobsbawn & Rude: Captain Swing (Lawrence & Wishart 1969). Reprinted more recently in paperback, and is probably still in print. (Origins of the "Swing" Riots were in Kent).

The Kent Archives Service also sells its own info pack on the Swing disturbances, available from CKS, CCA, EKAC etc and perhaps larger libraries. 

B. Reay: The Last Rising of the Agricultural Labourers - Rural Life & Protest in 19th Century England (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1990). Despite its title, this book is primarily about the "Sir William Courtney affair" of 1838 and is the best & most scholarly offering on the so-called "Battle of Bossenden Wood", including research on some of the families involved in the rural areas between Canterbury & Faversham and the conditions in which they lived.

Howitt: Rural Life in England (London 1838, Irish Univ press 1971).

A. Armstrong: Farmworker - A Social & Economic History, 1770-1980 (Batsford 1988)

J & B Hammond: The Village Labourer (Longmans 1911). Continually reprinted, probably still in print in paperback Contains large section on the "Swing" disturbances of 1830. Authors were early socialists.

G & K Fussell: The English Countryman-His Life & Work from Tudor Times to the Victorian Age. (1955, Orbis 1981).

J. Clarke: The Price of Progress- Cobbett's England 1780-1835 (Granada 1977)

Chambers & Mingay: The Agricultural Revolution 1750-1880 (Batsford 1966, etc etc).

W. Cobbett: Rural Rides (1830 Penguin paperbacks etc., always in print). Includes Kentish part of his travels.

W. Cobbett: The English Gardener (1829. OUP 1980). Probably still in print.

F. Huggett: A Day in the Life of a Victorian Farmworker (Allen & Unwin 1972, several reprints). Unwin's Victorian Day series. Basic reconstruction of a farmworker's day, originally intended for schools and local history students but a very good introduction & a popular publication.

R. Jeffries: Landscape & Labour (Moonraker 1979)

R. Jeffries: The Toilers of the Field ( Longmans 1892, Future 1981). Jeffries' work tends to remain in print. Most books by him appear to be compilations of individual essays he published in late Victorian times about contemporary rural life as he saw it. Compelling descriptions from first hand knowledge. Mostly involving Sussex and further west.