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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

General Summary of Holdings and Rentals

General Summary of Holdings and Rentals.

Holders of less than 1 acre each. Of between 1 and 100 acres. Of between 100 and 1,000 acres. Of 1,000 acres and upwards.
No. Extent of Lands. Rental. No. Extent of Lands. Rental. No. Extent of Lands. Rental. No. Extent of Lands. Rental.
Acres. £ Acres. £ Acres. £ Acres. £
England 671,667 144,928 28,598,764 205,358 3,668,082 16,537,105 33,030 9,012,610 18,717,992 4,736 16,352,606 27,789,719
Walks 31,622 6,243 528,915 15,104 352,283 712,511 4,086 1,132,413 1,390,319 672 2,342,922 2,245,520
Scotland 113,005 28,177 5,800,046 14,153 193,429 2,656,923 3,193 1,139,113 2,938,297 1,758 17,584,828 7,292,798
Ireland 36,144 9,065 1,366,448 18,110 696,929 1,451,117 10,781 3,848,921 3,048,674 3,722 15,604,762 7,553,016
Totals 852,438 188,413 £36,294,173 252,725 4,910,723 £21,357,656 51,090 15,133,057 £26,095,282 10,888 51,885,118 £44,881,053
No Acreage stated. No Rentals Stated. Grand Totals.
No. Rental. Extent of Lands. Holders. Extent of Lands. Rental or Valuation. Commons and Waste Lands. Population in Inhabited Houses in
£ No. Acres. No. Acres. £ Acres. 1871. 1871.
England 6,416 2,800,347 109 1,394 921,316 29,179,622 94,443,929 1,197,676 18,240,874 3,592,020
Walks 32 31,105 4 29 51,520 3,833,968 4,908,372 328,972 1,217,135 249,334
Scotland 11 10,739 11 1,147 132,131 18,946,694 18,693,804 not stated 3,359,567 412,187
Ireland .. .. .. .. 68,757 20,159,677 13,419,255 156,466 5,409,490 960,400
Totals 6,459 £2,842,191 124 2,570 1,173,724 72,119,961 £131,470,360 1,683,114 28,227,066 5,213,941

Hence it would seem that instead of the 30,000 persons or less who were proprietors of the soil of the United Kingdom, as estimated by Mr. John Stuart Mill and Mr. Bright, and instead of the "ten times as many" guessed at by the Earl of Derby, on whose suggestion the Land Returns were ordered, chiefly, if not entirely, to settle the point in dispute, we have no fewer than 1,173,724 "owners of land" in the Three Kingdoms, holding 72,119,961 acres, and having a gross estimated rental of £131,470,360, exclusive of such parts of the counties of Kent, Middlesex, and Surrey as are included in the "Metropolis," an exclusion which very much resembles that of "Hamlet" from the play, and is the more anomalous, seeing that, whilst we have no information as to the holdings and rentals of Dukes, Earls, Viscounts, and other magnates, who have become virtually the owners of a great part of the "Metropolis," such diligence has been shown in raking together the holders of minute portions of land in all other parts of the Three Kingdoms. For how is the list made up? Leaseholders are reckoned as owners, if their leases are reputed to be for 99 years, which (as Mr. Kay, Q.C., remarked) was very like calling hired horses the same as owned horses. Ecclesiastical Commissioners, Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, who and which hold land in almost every county, are counted as so many single owners; "Crown Property " also swells the list; War Office and other Departments figure for many separate counties; each Railway Company (the sums set opposite to which represent not "rental " but rated traffic) is counted according to the number of counties through which its lines may pass; and hosts of Almshouse, Asylum, Charity, Poor, and other Trustees, Churchwardens, parish and police officers, &c., none of whom come under the description of "owners of land" as officially defined.

The extent of Commons and Waste Lands is so untruthfully stated in the Return as of itself to form an impeachment of the whole of the figures (see next page but one). Also the vast area of woods, plantations, wastes, and unenclosed commons over which Manorial rights extend, is not added to the estates of the great owners, or at all noticed in the Return.

The following are very interesting specimens of one way which helped to manufacture 972,836 "Owners of Land" in England and Wales, "exclusive of the metropolis:"—
Acres. Rental. Represented in the Domesday-book as
£ i.e. in so many counties.
Ecclesiastical Commissioners 149,857 311,187 49 holders.
Crown Lands 101,224 156,153 49 holders. Governors of Charterhouse 16,049 20,551 5 holders.
Winchester, Eton King's (2), and Stonyhurst Colleges = 5 21,924 39,659 28 holders. University of Durham, Queen Anne's Bounty Commissioners, Corporation of Sons of Clergy, and 6 others = 9 35,225 59,018 59 holders.
The Church Lands of various Sees, &c = 60 96,882 173,019 147 holders.
War Department, Naval Knights of Windsor, and Commissioners of Woods and Forests = 3 23,307 68,146 19 holders.
19 Hospitals and Charities 73,350 107,289 46 holders.
11 out of the 12 Great Livery Companies of the City of London 9,960 18,718 36 holders.
33 Railway Companies 110,531 6,990,037 175 holders.
13 Canal Companies 15,517 237,000 26 holders.
Lords of the Admiralty 30,611 111,087 16 holders.
Totals 634,437 £7,291,864 655

Results still more extraordinary than the multiplication of "owners" may be extracted from the foregoing General Summary. For example, of the reputed 1,173,724 "owners of land" (including, by the way, 6,459 who have no acres, and 124 who have no rental) 852,438 have less than an acre each, and only 188,413 acres in the aggregate; but their "gross rental" is estimated at £36,294,173, which is £14,936,517 more than 252,725 persons with 4,910,723 acres receive; £10,198,891 more than 51,090 with 15,133,057 acres page 126 receive; and only £8,586,880 less than 10,888 holders of 51,885,118 acres receive. Of course the explanation as to the enormous sum set down for the fractional acre people must be that it is not rental, but the rated value of factories, workshops, houses, and other buildings which have little or no land beyond that on which they stand. Of the 6,459 "owners of land" who are not credited with any land, but who are said to have a "gross rental" of £2,842,191, there are 59 in Lancashire, whose "gross estimated rental" amounts to £214,878. On the other hand there are great numbers of persons who must be very clever managers indeed, seeing that they contrive to extract very large rentals from very small fractions of land. In the Financial Reformer for May, 1876, we published a list of 222 of them in Lancashire, holding altogether 534 acres, and credited with "gross rental" of £283,130-an average of about 2¼ acres, and "rental" of £1,050 for each, which would be an average of £466 13s. 4d. per acre!

A question of great importance, which has attracted but little attention, if any at all worth mentioning, is the necessity for a re-valuation of the landed and other real property of the country, conducted on a system widely different from that on which this modern "Domesday Book" was concocted; and again, in reference to assessments to the House Duty. The list of holders of 5,000 acres and upwards, in one or more lots, having been enlarged by the late Mr. Macqueen so as to show, in each instance, extent and rental separately, the vast disparity between them suggested to him the probability that fraud on the revenue might thus have been perpetrated, and wrong inflicted on millions of the landless people. Accordingly, with great labour, he set about a thorough analysis of the list, including the whole United Kingdom, and the result is here presented.

Large Holdings with Small Rentals, and Small Holdings with Excessive Rentals.
Acres. £ £ s. d.
Class 1. Lands apparently let under 5s. an acre 12,989,685 1,390,528 0 2 1½ per acre.
Class 2. Lands apparently between 5s. and 10s. an acre 7,385,902 2,688,240 0 7 0 per acre.
Class 3. Lands apparently between 10s. and 20s. an acre 8,324,678 6,343,173 0 15 1½ per acre.
Class 4. Lands apparently between 20s. and 50s. an acre 9,295,711 12,377,023 1 6 7½ per acre.
Class 5. Lands apparently between 50s. and £5 an acre 537,097 1,506,095 2 16 0¾ per acre.
Class 6. Lands apparently at £5 and upwards an acre 142,904 1,507,016 10 10 10¾ per acre.
38,675,977 £25,172,075 0 13 3½ Gen. average

The totals do not exactly correspond with those in the other summary, but they come sufficiently near for the purpose. To arrive at this classification every holding, large and small, was taken out separately, and calculated, according to the rate of letting, to produce the rental specified. Of the items constituting Class 1, 1,534,377 acres thus appear to be let for less than sixpence an acre, the average being only twopence and about the thousandth part of a farthing per acre; 1,534,880 acres more to be between sixpence and a shilling, average 10¼d.; 3,087,474 acres more at between one and two shillings per acre, average 1s. 5¾d.; 3,407,108 acres, average 2s. 4¼d.; 1,901,690 acres, average 3s. 4¾d.; and 1,524,156 acres with average of 4s. 7½d. per acre,—the whole making up the totals stated in the first line of the above classification. Making every allowance for mountain, flood, forest, and bog and waste land of every kind, it is quite impossible to believe that more than a third part of the 38,675,977 acres at the foot of the first column is let at rates under five shillings, and more than half under ten shillings an acre. The fact that it appears to be so suffices to show the necessity for such a thorough revision of the "Domesday Book" as is above recommended.

Nevertheless these "Domesday" returns, although of "no authority," and "a mere compilation from the ratebooks" (as Mr. Sclater-Booth, President of the Local Government Board, under whose auspices they were compiled, told the House of Commons), serve to demonstrate two very striking, if not startling, facts,— 1st. That landed and other real property must be most grossly under valued in the ratebooks, especially in the case of great and rich owners in the country districts, who have persons anxious to please them on the assessment boards.* 2ndly, that 2s. in the pound on the income attributed to 955 individuals, who hold over 10,000 acres each, would produce £1,789,933, which is £727,000 more than the yield of the Land Tax of four shillings in the pound on what is still called in the statute-book "the full annual rack-rent value" of the whole land of the kingdom, in the financial year 1883-4. This, too, "exclusive of the metropolis," from large possessions in which the Dukes of Bedford, Norfolk, and Westminster; the Marquises of Camden, Northampton, and Salisbury; Earls Cadogan, Craven, Dartmouth, and Somers; Lords Kensington and Portman, many commoners, the City Corporation, and the City Companies, derive princely revenues. Nevertheless, the landed nobility and gentry, who, according to Richard Cobden and according to fact, have "robbed and bamboozled the people for ages," still complain of being heavily and unfairly burdened in the matter of taxation; and, having succeeded in throwing many charges to which they themselves were properly liable on the public generally, i.e., on the Imperial Exchequer, are now clamouring to do the like with other and heavier items.

It is to be hoped that exposure may serve to check this leech-like disposition of theirs, or, at all events, to prevent its further gratification; to call public attention efficiently to the need there is for a reform of laws relating to land, eminently calculated, as they were obviously intended, to make and perpetuate its possession a monopoly in the hands of as few individuals as possible; and also to the necessity of a thorough revision of the Land Tax.

* The Financial Reform Association are preparing a list of such cases (of the undervaluation of great mansions, castles, and country houses), and invite information upon the point from readers of the Almanack who hear of or can suggest any instances in their own neighbourhoods.