A Sixteenth-Century Farmer’s Year

Michael Paffard opens for the visitor Thomas Tusser’s books on husbandry, which expounded the practical virtues of ‘thrift’ to Tudor farmers.

In 1523 Sir Anthony Fitzherbert produced the first book on agriculture to be printed in England, his Boke of Husbondrye. He was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas who farmed in his vacations and, no doubt, had ample opportunity for observing the agricultural scene when he travelled the circuit.

The work, which some experts attribute to his brother, has been followed by a constant stream of books offering advice to the farmer. Although some are unabashed plagiarisms, evidently written by contemporary hacks, many are of the greatest interest to the social historian, and mines of information about folklore, superstition and regional dialect.

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