1775 to 1874 CE - The Start of the Proby Era

Thomas Powys died in 1767 and was succeeded by a son of the same name who, in 1797, was created Baron Lilford and sold his lands in Warmington to John Joshua Proby, 1st Earl of Carysfort, of Elton Hall, in whose descendants (the Proby family) ownership still remains.

After the drastic decline of the 14th and 15th centuries, the 16th and 17th saw a slow growth of the population despite several outbreaks of the plague between 1550 and 1666 again brought on by a series of harvest failures. In fact an average of 1 in 4 harvests failed in the 17th century, with 10 failures in 15 years around the time of the Civil War.

The century following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 saw the emergence of many agricultural improvements, particularly in the first half of the 18th century when new crops were introduced as well as better drainage methods. The more forward thinking farmers were keen to implement the new discoveries but the open field system, for all that it had existed for about 1,000 years, did not encourage innovation since all decisions at to cropping etc had to be taken at the manorial court and needed agreement form all landholders to be put into practise.

Thus the pressure for enclosure began to rise. A further pressure was the need to feed a now rising population, some of whom were beginning to drift away from the land as the industrial revolution began.

The landowners turned to Parliament for action, and the Acts of Enclosure came into effect on most of the arable land of the country between 1760 and 1820. The Act to enclose the old open fields of Warmington was passed in 1774 and the commissioners drew up the map of awards of land in 1775. Over the course of the next two years the hedges, ditches and roads of the parish were laid out in the pattern that largely remains today.

It is interesting to look at the List of Village Inhabitants 1777 to see the range of names and professions that existed then in our village.

Enclosure satisfied the larger landowners and farmers because the land eventually became concentrated into fewer hands as many smallholders sold out, and it could be farmed as the holder wished without recourse to the manorial court.

Resentment was felt by the labouring classed who now received only day wages and lost many of their ancient rights, such as grazing their pigs on the common or in the woods. Their situation worsened in the early 19th century yet there seems to have been no mass exodus despite the lure of the industrial centres.

During this period the harvests continued to be poor and the land owners became increasingly worried. In 1804 the first Corn Law was introduced by the powerful landowners who dominated Parliament. They wanted to protect their profits by imposing a duty on imported corn. Farmers feared that when the Napoleonic wars came to an end in 1815, the importation of foreign corn would resume and the price of corn would fall. This fear was justified as the price fell from 126s. 6d. a quarter in 1812 to 65s. 7d. three years later.

Landowners applied pressure on members of the House of Commons to take action to protect the profits of the farmers. Parliament responded by passing a law permitting the import of foreign wheat free of duty only when the domestic price reached 80 shillings per quarter (8 bushels).

There was a dreadful harvest in 1816. This caused bread prices to increase rapidly. This was followed by industrial unrest as workers demanded higher wages in order to pay for the increased food prices. As well as strikes there were food riots all over Britain.

On 15 May 1846 Sir Robert Peel successfully repealed of the Corn Laws against an angry lobby of farmers and landowners. There fears were proved unfounded and the rural economy of the country grew at a fast pace. By 1861 the population of Warmington had more than doubled to 724, peak that would not be reached again until 1961.

During the middle of the 19th century the industrialisation of the country started to have an impact locally. The Peterborough to Northampton railway was opened by the Birmingham and London Railway Company in 1845 at a cost of £429,409. By 1870 Northampton was a centre for boot and shoe manufacturing and farms were employing 20 or more workers.

The population started to move away from the village centre in greater numbers with the development of farmhouses and their associated tenements for the farm workers. Warmington was a thriving village with two carpenters, a wheelwright, a tailor, a shoemaker, a baker, several grocers and butchers, two brewers, four public houses (the Angel, The Hautboy and Fiddle, the Queen Adelaide and the Red Lion), a miller and many trades relating to farming.