Marshall, William

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b. baptized 28 July 1745 Yorkshire, England
d. 1818 Pickering, Yorkshire, England
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English commentator and writer on agriculture who established the first agricultural college in Britain.
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Little is known for certain about William Marshall's early life, other than that he was baptized at Sinnington in the West Riding of Yorkshire. On his own account he was involved in trade in the West Indies from the age of 15 for a period of fourteen years. It is assumed that he was financially successful in this, for on his return to England in 1774 he was able to purchase Addisham Farm in Surrey. Having sacked his bailiff he determined to keep a minute book relating to all transactions on the farm, which he was now managing for himself. On these entries he made additional comments. The publication of these writings was the beginning of a substantial review of agriculture in Britain and a criticism of existing practices. From 1779 he acted as agent on a Norfolk estate, and his five years in that position resulted in The Rural Economy of Norfolk, the first of a series of county reviews that he was to write, intending the somewhat ambitious task of surveying the whole country. By 1808 Marshall had accumulated sufficient capital to be able to purchase a substantial property in the Vale of Cleveland, where he lived for the rest of his life. At the time of his death he was engaged in the erection of a building to serve as an agricultural college; the same building is now a rural-life museum.
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Bibliography
Other titles in his Rural Economy series included Yorkshire in 1788, Gloucester in 1789, The Midland Counties in 1790, The West of England in 1796, and The Southern Counties two years later. Further titles included Experiments and Observations Concerning Agriculture and the Weather in 1779, Observations on the Different Breeds of Sheep in 1792, The General View of the Agriculture of Central Highland
Scotland in 1794, and Planting and Rural Ornament in 1796. He also wrote On the Enclosure of Commonable and Intermixed Lands in 1801, On the Landed Property of England, an Elementary Practical Treatise in 1804, and On the Management of Landed Estates in 1806. He was not asked to write any of the County Surveys produced by the Board of Agriculture, despite his own claims to the origin of the idea. Instead in 1817 he wrote A Review and Complete Abstract of the Reports of the Board of Agriculture as his own criticism of them.
Further Reading
Joan Thirsk, 1989, The Agrarian History of England and Wales, Vol. VI (deals with the years 1750 to 1850, the period associated with Marshall).
Pamela Horn, 1982, William Marshall (1745–1818) and the Georgian Countryside, Beacon (gives a more specific account).
AP

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

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