The Introduction of Threshing Machines
- During the French war, prices of food grains were high and farmers expanded production vigorously.
- So the landlords had to depend on the labourers.
- They feared the shortage of labourers, their drinking habits, and the difficulty of making them work.
- To reduce the dependence on the labourers, they introduced the Threshing machine.
The threshing machine was a machine first invented by a Scottish mechanical engineer, Andrew Meikle, in 1784, for the separating the grain from stalks and husks. For thousands of years, previously, grain was separated by hand with flails, which was very laborious and time consuming. Mechanization of this process took much of the drudgery out of farm labour.
The war ended and food grain from Europe flooded England.
An Agricultural Depression set in. Landowners had to reduce production. This resulted in unemployment.
- The unemployed poor tramped from village to village, and those with uncertain jobs lived in fear of loss of their livelihood.
- The Captain Swing (a Mythical name) riots spread in the country side at this time.
βThe Swing Riots which took place in the United Kingdom was partly a result of the threshing machine. As a consequence of war, the taxes were high and wages were low. The farm laborers ultimately rebelled in 1830. These farm laborers faced unemployment for a number of years due to the widespread introduction of the threshing machine and the policy of enclosing fields. Thousands of men who were employed to tend the crops were without a job. The threshing machine was the final straw, the introduction of the machine placed them on the brink of starvation. The Swing Rioters smashed threshing machines and threatened farmers who had them.
The riots were dealt with very harshly. Nine of the rioters were hanged and a further 450 were transported to Australia.β