Read the introduction below and work your way through the exercises linked to the left
he worst-off of the population were most definitely the farm workers at this time. Wages were lower than even the factory workers, and were often seasonal and dependent on the harvests, and therefore the weather.
Their employers usually owned their homes, and therefore farm labourers lived very uncertain and insecure lives. Much of the common land, which was used by the rural population for grazing for centuries, was taken by the rich for their own gain, backed by the Enclosure Acts passed by the government.
The winter work of threshing cereal by hand was now under threat by the purchase of threshing machines by the employers.
In 1828 and 1829 harvests were poor - meaning a rise in food prices and a cut in wages.
In the autumn of 1830 violence broke out across southern and eastern England (see map, left) Threshing machines were attacked and hayricks were torched - over 700 incidents during 1830 and 1831. Like the Luddites two decades earlier, mysterious letters, this time from 'Captain Swing' were sent to greedy landowners.
The state's response was just as severe. 19 people were executed, including a 12 year old boy. Over a thousand were transported or jailed. In some cases though farmers were forced to keep wages at a fair level, and some delayed the introduction of machines, but again, like the Luddites, technology would soon win.