Blith, Walter

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b. Seventeenth century Warwickshire, England
d. Seventeenth century England
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English farmer and agricultural writer
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Blith was the son of a cereal and dairy farmer from the Forest of Arden. He wrote a treatise on farming which was of contemporary value in its description of drainage and water meadows, both subjects of particular relevance in the mid-seventeenth century. The book, The English Improver, contains illustrations of agricultural equipment which have become an almost obligatory inclusion in any book on agricultural history. His understanding of the plough is apparent from the text and illustrations, and his was an important step in the understanding of the scientific principles to be applied to its later design. The introduction to the book is addressed to both Houses of Parliament, and is very much an attempt to highlight and seek solutions to the problems of the agriculture of the day. In it he advocates the passing of legislation to improve agricultural practice, whether this be for the destruction of moles or for the compulsory planting of trees to replace those felled.
Blith himself became a captain in the Roundhead Army during the English Civil War, and even added a dedication to Cromwell in the introduction to his second book, The English Improver Improved, published in 1652. This book contains additional information on both practice and crops, an expansion in knowledge which presumably owes something to Blith's employment as a surveyor of Crown lands between 1649 and 1650. He himself bought and farmed such land in Northamptonshire. His advice on the choice of land for particular crops and the implements of best use for that land expressed ideas in advance of their times, and it was to be almost a century before his writings were taken up and developed.
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Bibliography
1649, The English Improver; or, A New Survey of Husbandry Discovering to the Kingdom That Some Land, Both Arable and Pasture May be Advance Double or Treble, and Some five or Tenfold.
1652, The English Improver Improved.
Further Reading
J.Thirsk (ed.), 1985, The Agrarian History of England and Wales, Vol. II (deals with Blith and the agriculture of his time).
AP

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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