Enclosure

Enclosure or Inclosure[lower-alpha 1] is a term, used in English landownership, that refers to the appropriation of "waste[lower-alpha 2]" or "common land[lower-alpha 3]" enclosing it and by doing so depriving commoners of their ancient rights of access and privilege. Agreements to enclose land could be either through a "formal" or "informal" process.[3] The process could normally be accomplished in three ways. First there was the creation of "closes[lower-alpha 4]", taken out of larger common fields by their owners.[lower-alpha 5] Secondly, there was enclosure by proprietors, owners who acted together, usually small farmers or squires, leading to the enclosure of whole parishes. Finally there were enclosures by Acts of Parliament.[5]

The primary reason for enclosure was to improve the efficiency of the agriculture.[6] However, there were other motives too, one example being that the value of the land enclosed would be substantially increased.[7] There were social consequences to the policy, with many protests at the removal of rights from the common people. Enclosure riots are seen by historians as 'the pre-eminent form' of social protest from the 1530s to 1640s.[6][8]