Georgian Suffolk, 1710-1800

Georgian Suffolk, 1710-1800

 

This period, between two very stormy ones, is not so obviously dominated by great national events nor, at a local level, is it particularly well-documented. It does, however, present opportunities of looking at how people actually lived, how local institutions worked and how new economic trends were beginning to change society.

Poverty

Poverty was now a major threat which required constant attention. The returns for the Hearth Tax of 1674 had already shown that many communities had a third or half of their inhabitants classified as poor. At Walberswick, as many as 61 per cent of local people were listed as too poor to pay the tax. Since 1674 the manufacture of Suffolk woollens had further declined, and many small farmers had sold out under pressure from bad harvests, low prices, indebtedness and the expansionist policies of their richer neighbours. To cope with poverty, a complicated system had been set up by Tudor and Stuart legislation. Each parish regularly levied rates on occupiers of land, and elected overseers of the poor who worked with churchwardens and constables. Many paupers were given relief in their own homes, or in kind. At East Bergholt, the overseers dispensed not only cash but clothing such as shoes, shirts and petticoats, and working equipment such as spinning wheels and woolcombing cards. They also apprenticed pauper children, paid for the services of doctors and nurses and organised the buying and distribution of fuel for the winter months. In the last resort, the parish paid for a pauper’s funeral including coffin, bell, watchers, layers-forth and bearers.

As the 18th century wore on, a growing number of parishes provided their own workhouses, either purpose-built or adapted from an existing building. These establishments, under the control of specially appointed masters, gave shelter and employment to those who were unable otherwise to cope. By 1766, 94 Suffolk parishes had their own workhouses. The main concentrations were in Ipswich which had 13, and in the declining industrial districts of the south. In size they varied considerably: Melford’s workhouse could accommodate 150 paupers but Somerleyton’s only three. In the next 60 years or so the number of parish workhouses continued to grow. A fair proportion of these can be iden­tified with surviving buildings, and more await discovery. At Brandon, for example, a handsome workhouse built in the early 18th century, still survives as church rooms; at Hadleigh, the famous medieval gildhall was adapted for the purpose. In 1783, Assington built a new workhouse, which still survives, at a cost of £230 (illus. 117). An inventory of 1808 shows that the Ward Room contained tables, stools, chairs, a coal range and 18 spinning wheels to keep the inmates busy.

Contemporaries soon appreciated the economic advantage of providing larger workhouses for groups of parishes. As early as 1747 James Vernon, a local landowner, left a farmhouse at Great Wratting as a workhouse for four contiguous parishes. From the 1750s, the eastern half of Suffolk was one of the first rural areas in England to provide large workhouses for whole ‘hundreds’. The first was built in 1757 at Nacton to serve the Incorporated Hundreds of Carlford and Colneis: it could accommodate 350 paupers. Eight more such houses were built between 1756 and 1781. Architecturally they were imposing and good examples can still be seen at Onehouse near Stowmarket and Shipmeadow near Beccles. Meanwhile the urban parishes of Bury and Sudbury also combined to support centralised workhouses. Ipswich, however, retained its 13 separate workhouses until 1834.

By an act of 1662, each pauper was regarded as the responsibility of that parish where he had legal ‘settlement’. Four basic qualifications could be claimed: by birth, by payment of rates above £10, by hired service for a full year, or by a full term as apprentice. Where an individual had claims on more than one parish, it was the latest which counted. Women gained the settlement of their husbands, and children that of their father. The Suffolk Record Office has thousands of documents resulting from this system, in particular removal orders by which those requiring relief were transported to their last place of legal settlement; settlement certificates which guaranteed that a pauper would be accepted by his place of settlement; and examinations which recorded inter­views of paupers by local JPs.

The amount of human suffering and the actual effectiveness of relief are much harder to assess. At some periods, the attitudes of overseers and rate-payers were undoubtedly harsh—for example, from 1697, the poor were required by law to wear badges. Nor were the Incorporated Hundreds necessarily popular among the poor, for in 1765 the newly built workhouse at Bulcamp was attacked by an angry mob. In 1783 George Crabbe described the sad, forsaken and disabled inmates of the squalid parish workhouse at his native Aldeburgh.

Yet genuine concern and compassion can occasionally be glimpsed. In 1711, the officers of Castle Hedingham in Essex wrote to Walsham-le-Willows about Tim Fair and his family who were ultimately Walsham’s responsibility. This family was considered to be frugal and industrious, but had been afflicted by the mother’s poor health and the father’s lack of work. Their neighbours in Essex had already made a collection for them. Without threatening removal, Castle Hedingham was keeping Waisham informed of the family’s situation and inviting their co-operation.

Politics

In the 18th century Suffolk returned 16 MPs, two for the county itself and 14 (two each) for the boroughs of Aldeburgh, Bury St Edmunds, Dunwich, Eye, Ipswich, Orford and Sudbury. About 7,000 people had the vote out of a total adult male population of approximately 38,000. By far the most numerous group was the 5,000 or more freeholders who elected the county MPs. By contrast the two members who represented Bury were chosen by the town’s corporation, an electorate of only thirty-seven.

As in other parts of England, some boroughs were controlled by major landowning families. Until 1747 the Earl of Bristol virtually nominated Bury’s MPs, and the corporation were happy to vote accordingly—especially when they were handsomely entertained at the earl’s expense. Afterwards the patron­age was shared between the earl and the Duke of Grafton. Eye was a ‘pocket borough’ too, controlled by the Cornwallis family; Dunwich fell to Sir George Downing when he bought a local estate; Orford in the 1730s was captured by the government which then spent £3,000 on houses for the free accommodation of voters. In other boroughs, however, elections could be decided by the cor­porations themselves, either by creating new freemen (as at Ipswich which had an electorate of over 500), or by making themselves available to the highest bidder. Thus Aldeburgh usually elected wealthy strangers who were expected to spend money on the borough. By the mid-18th century Sudbury was already said to be ‘very venal—it may be had by money’.

Great houses and estates

The social landscape of 18th-century Suffolk was dominated by country houses and stately homes. All over the county, landowning gentry and aristocracy were investing heavily in building. Miles Barne, MP for Dunwich, bought Sotterley in 1744, demolished the old house of the Playters and built a new red-brick hall with pediments, Corinthian columns and fine fireplaces (illus. 105). The great­est of the county’s Georgian mansions is Heveningbam Hall, built for Sir Gerard Vanneck, a merchant of Dutch descent; it was designed c.1778 by Sir Robert Taylor and finished internally by James Wyatt. On the other hand, the two aristocrats who presided over county society, and who might have built Palladian mansions to rival Norfolk’s Holkham and Houghton, got no further than contemplation. The first Earl of Bristol talked to Vanburgh about a new house at Ickworth but, faced with the extravagances of his family, did no more than modernise and extend a former farmhouse. At Euston, the 2nd Duke of Grafton was tempted by a new design from William Kent, but finally contented himself with Matthew Brettingham’s modernising of the old hail.

Major houses and parks, 1783
Major houses and parks, 1783

Indeed, the majority of owners chose merely to remodel their existing houses by putting on Georgian fronts and reorganising internal spaces. At this time, many Elizabethan and Jacobean porches, pinnacles and transomed windows must have disappeared behind new façades with pediments, porticos and sash-windows. Dudley North, one of Suffolk’s leading Tories, substantially altered his Tudor house at Little Glemham in 1720; slightly later, Richard Powys, MP for Orford, transformed the old Elizabethan hall of the Timperleys at Hintlesham.

The country house was not simply a residence. It was surrounded by gardens and parkland which provided ornament and the opportunity for walking, riding and field sports. Hodskinson’s fine map of Suffolk, published in 1783, is dotted with over 70 parks of varying sizes (illus. 109). They were particularly thick in the west of the county, near the coast and around the social capitals of Bury and Ipswich. By contrast, the centre-east, the homeland of the yeomanry since at least the 15th century, was still relatively empty.

Suffolk can still show a few examples of the geometrical and formal type of landscaping which was fashionable from 1660 to 1730. At Euston, part of a straight avenue of trees, originally over two miles long and focusing on the house itself, can still be seen (illus. 100); Campsey Ash has an excellent example of a long straight ‘canal’, its sides revetted in brick; at Ickworth the first earl’s delightful summer house still nestles in walled gardens beside another canal, later naturalised (illus. 107). John Kip’s engravings of Brome and Brightwell (illus. 99) in their heydays show such formal layouts in their entirety.

From about 1730, the new English style took root. Parks, invariably man¬made, began to look more ‘natural’ with winding rivers and lakes, large plantations and clumps of trees, and great sweeps of grassland. The best-known of landscape designers, ‘Capability’ Launcelot Brown, left his mark on more than six places in Suffolk. One of the last parks on which he worked was at Heveningham. In 1784, when Francois de la Rochefoucauld visited Sir Gerard Vanneck, he was shown a small stream which, following Brown’s plans, was about to be dammed and converted into ‘a magnificent artificial river which promises … to have a very natural appearance’. Humphry Repton succeeded Brown as England’s leading landscaper. Examples of his famous Red Books, in which he summarised and illustrated his proposals for clients, survive for Culford, Henham and Tendring.

Beyond the park lay an area of farmland which was the economic base to the whole system. The owner either farmed it himself, from a Home Farm, or let the land to tenants in return for rent. An estate might range from a few hundred acres belonging to a local squire, to huge agglomerations containing thousands of acres. The Euston estate was said, in 1820, to have a circum­ference of 40 miles. This included six parishes and parts of several others. The Home Farm contained 3,200 acres and the whole estate, by 1873, stood at 13,643 acres. The finest farm in the county was said by Arthur Young to be Westwood Lodge at Blythburgh, the property of Sir John Blois. The house was the former lodge of a park or warren, converted into a farmhouse in 1637. From it a tenant farmed about 3,000 acres of light land which, by enclosure, marling and dunging, had been made highly productive.

Ever since the Restoration of Charles II, the market in country houses and agricultural land had been buoyant. Men with money (or credit) were keen to buy land, not because it was necessarily a good investment but because it conferred status, influence and power. As in the 16th and 17th centuries, many new men arrived, most of them not Suffolk-born. Having succeeded in their chosen fields, they (or their sons) had the money to buy themselves into the landowning gentry or aristocracy. John Crowley, who settled in Barking near Needham Market, had inherited England’s largest iron-works in Co. Durham; William Churchill, who purchased Dallingboo, was bookseller, bookbinder and stationer to the king; Samuel Kent, who bought Fornham St Genevieve in 1731, was a wealthy malt distiller from London; and Sir John Holt, who bought Redgrave from the Bacons, was Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench.

An important group were comprised those who derived wealth from over­seas.—especially from England’s expanding empire. Charles Long, who bought Hurt’s Hall at Saxmundham, had inherited the largest property in Jamaica; the Davers family, who took over Rushbrooke, owed their wealth to sugar planta­tions in Barbados; and Edward Vernon of Orwell Park was a successful naval commander who became a national hero when he captured Porto Bello from the Spanish in 1739.

Although the turnover of estates was very high, life for some old-estab­lished families proceeded smoothly enough. In a few cases, their fortunes rose steadily, or even dramatically. The Cornwallises of Brome amassed an impres­sive record of service to various sovereigns. In different generations they had been appointed steward of the household to Queen Mary, ambassador to Spain for James I, treasurer of the household to Charles II and paymaster-general to George I. Over this long period they naturally accumulated honours: knight­hood, baronetcy and earldom. Charles Cornwallis, who lived at Culford, achieved even greater distinction: he was a resourceful army commander (though he lost the battle of Yorktown which sealed the independence of the American colonies): and became governor-general of India. He was created a marquis in 1792.

The progress of the Hervey family is equally fascinating. They had been squires of Ickworth since the 15th Century, but had made no great impression until Sir William Hervey was elected MP in 1628. This started a great tradition of parliamentary service which lasted, with one break, until 1906. Sir William raised a regiment for Charles I in the Civil War yet still became sheriff in 1650, and his son John became a favourite of Charles II. It was another John (1665 1751) who suddenly catapulted this family into the ranks of the Whig aristocracy by his shrewd support of the Revolution of 1688 and the Hanoverian succession. In September 1713 he was at Greenwich to welcome the new king, George I, and was created Earl of Bristol for the ensuing coronation.

A minority of county families forged links with the wider world of national government as MPs, courtiers and statesmen. Between 1715 and 1754, about 40 gentlemen resident in the county served as MPs for constituencies in Suffolk and elsewhere. From 1767-70, Augustus Henry Fitzroy, liberal-minded 3rd Duke of Grafton, was Prime Minister (the only time that a man with his principal seat in Suffolk has held that high office). His tenure, however, was short and unhappy because of his own moral laxity and the attacks of powerful enemies.

The wealthier and more powerful landlords steadily expanded their estates in the 18th century. For example the 2nd and 3rd Dukes of Grafton assiduously acquired land around Euston. In some cases, they embarked on a policy of purchasing individual holdings within a manor, and finally bought out the lord himself. When the land was brought under control, it could be reorganised and improved by re-allotting the parson’s glebe, extinguishing commons, enclosing open fields and marling.

Agriculture

Well before 1700, the agriculture of Suffolk was experimental, innovatory and increasingly specialised. Central Suffolk was the first area in England to grow turnips as a field crop. The practice was established by the mid-17th century and provided a means of feeding cattle during winter and spring. Similarly, cabbages were grown on heavy land and fed to beasts which sometimes achieved record sizes. On the lighter land of the south-east, large numbers of carrots were grown, principally to support the growing population of horses. Clover was another popular crop from the mid-17th century onwards. ‘Alternate husbandry’, whereby certain crops were grown exclusively as fodder for animals, was now normal. This in turn led to new rotations of crops, usually covering four to six years.

In 1718, Edmund Edwards of Levington found that ‘crag’, a subsoil of sand and shells which can be dug in various places along the east coast, made an excellent natural fertilizer. This discovery gave a new dimension to traditional marling—huge quantities of crag and coprolite were dug and spread during the 18th and 19th centuries, improving the texture of all kinds of land but particularly encouraging the enclosure of sandy heaths in south-east Suffolk.

Although large-scale mechanisation did not affect Suffolk agriculture until the mid-19th century, new pieces of equipment did appear from time to time. Tumble-churns for making butter were in use by 1639 at Fressingfield while a wheel-less swing-plough pulled by only two horses had been developed by 1681. Towards the end of the 18th century, a few wealthy farmers were experimenting with threshing machines and seed drills. Meanwhile, Robert Ransome, in his newly established foundry at Ipswich, was producing a self-sharpening plough-share.

The three major divisions of the Suffolk landscape gave rise to different kinds of farming. To the north-west of Bury a virtually medieval landscape of heaths, ‘Fielding’. In open-fields, sheepwalks and rabbit warrens was called the 1764 Kirby described ‘delicious champaign fields’ still stretching for miles across the Breckland. For centuries this region had relied on two complementary ‘crops’  -corn and sheep. When the open-fields were fallow they were grazed, dunged and compacted by horned Norfolk sheep who thus contributed to the quality of the next harvest. A similar landscape along the east coast was known as the Sandlings, but it also contained extensive marshland which had been progressively drained since Elizabethan times and used for grazing.

In the centre of the county, the heavy enclosed land known as the ‘Wood­lands’ or ‘High Suffolk’ supported a different kind of mixed farming in which dairying was important. According to Arthur Young, the classic dairying area extended from Gislingham in the west to Heveningham in the east, and from Hoxne in the north to Coddenham in the south (illus. 137). The farm of William Dermant of Winston, as described in his inventory of 1702, provides a good example of the complex farming practised here: he grew wheat, barley, oats, peas, flax and hay; he owned 26 dairy cows with five calves and a bull (which together were worth £100), 20 other cattle for fattening, seven horses, 30 sheep, 11 pigs and some poultry; he ground corn with his own horsemill; and he made malt, cheese and butter.

Central Suffolk had been noted for its dairying since at least the 16th century. Its dairy cows were already a distinct regional breed, ancestors of the modern red-polls. In the 18th century, they were then described as small, with­out horns, and ranging in colour from cream to red. They each cost seven to eight guineas, and were ‘the best in all England for giving milk’ (illus. 111).

The reputation of Suffolk butter had also been high since Tudor times, and the very best was said to come from the second growth of grass. Some butter was marketed by farmers, particularly at Ipswich Fair, but most was produced by agreement with factors who organised its export to London and elsewhere—chiefly through the port of Woodbridge.

Suffolk had also been capable, as Fuller said, of making ‘most excellent cheese’, but by the early 18th century the concentration on high-class butter meant that cheese was ‘disesteemed’. Indeed, Defoe painted a stark contrast: in his opinion, Suffolk made ‘the best butter and perhaps the worst cheese in England’. Its so-called ‘bang’ or ‘thump’ was hard and made of milk which had been skimmed several times, but it kept well and was therefore ideal for use on ships. To some commentators, however, it was only fit for the ‘labouring classes’ or ‘for making wheels for wheelbarrows’.

In coastal marshes and along the valleys of eastern Suffolk, particularly the Waveney, beef cattle were another important specialisation. Many of these beasts were black ‘northern’ steers. At the age of 14-16 months, they were driven to East Anglia from Scotland and northern England, in the charge of men like ‘Peter a Scotch drover’ who was buried at Spexhall in 1770. The northern animals were smaller than native cattle, but grew faster on the lush grasses of East Anglia. Halesworth Fair in late October was particularly noted for its ‘lean cattle’; after fattening these beasts were again put in the care of drovers and sent to various markets, principally Smithfield in London.

One reason for the progress of agriculture at this period was a new interest in diffusing knowledge. In 1784, de la Rochefoucauld commented, ‘It is incred­ible how intelligent these farmers are, even the smaller ones … Experiments are made on a big scale by the great landowners and they are promptly taken up by the farmers’. One of the leading influences was Arthur Young, squire of Bradfield Combust, who achieved an international reputation as observer, writer and editor. He had a circle of local friends who discussed agricultural trends and prospects, and welcomed distinguished visitors such as de la Rochefoucauld and Robert Bakewell.

Towns and communications

Commercially and industrially, important changes were taking place in 18th-century Suffolk. Some traditional industries were declining: for example, the weaving and finishing of woollen textiles. Nevertheless, spinning continued to give employment, and woolcombing actually increased—the wool and yarn was sent to weavers in Norwich and Norfolk. Hence in Bury and Ipswich, the feast of St Blaise, patron saint of woolcombers (3 February), was specially celebrated with processions and high jinks.

Of the 98 markets which had been founded in Suffolk during the Middle Ages, only about 25 survived into the 17th century. Travellers often referred to the ‘disused’ or ‘long disused’ markets of places like Earl Soham, Stradbroke and Haughley, and the process of weeding-out continued. Of those which existed in the early 1700s, a substantial proportion such as Ixworth and Dunwich were dubbed ‘mean’, and faded out before the end of the century. On the other hand, some of the larger markets were undoubtedly flourishing and growing in influ­ence. Those of Mildenhall and Beccles were ‘plentiful’; Stowmarket was ‘well served’, especially with corn; and Bungay had ‘all manner of Provisions’. Annual fairs survived in greater numbers and were sometimes of real commercial signifi­cance. Thus Woolpit was noted for horses and Hoxne for ‘Scotch cattle’.

Meanwhile the appearance of successful towns was fast changing. Older timber-framed and jettied buildings, regarded as ‘meanly built’, were often given new-style Georgian façades in brick or plaster, with parapets, sash-windows and pedimented doors (illus. 112). Bury St Edmunds has a Georgian appearance, but many timber frames still survive behind its 18th-century façades. Similarly a new air of civic pride led to the improvement of street surfaces and to greater cleanliness. By 1735 Beccies was noted for its well-paved streets, while by 1764 the Thoroughfare at Woodbridge was kept ‘so clean that it will tempt the substantial inhabitants to build and reside there’. Medieval walls and gates were now regarded as nuisances to traffic and to health; therefore Ipswich demolished its West and North Gates in 1781 and 1794. The quickening of commercial life, especially in ‘thoroughfare towns’ like Saxmundham and Newmarket, also meant that local inns were improved as coaching houses and ‘places of Good Entertainment’.

As the region’s economy became more complex, so individual towns, ports and even villages became identified with particular industries or trades. Woodbridge was noted in the 18th century for the manufacture of fine salt; Aldeburgh was the ‘principal place in England for drying fish’, particularly sprats; as today, Southwold was associated with brewing because of excellent springs, and with the making of nets; Halesworth dealt with ‘great quantities of linen yarn’ spun in the neighbourhood; and by the 1730s Woolpit made ‘the Best White Bricks’. Meanwhile, Newmarket had become a national centre of horse racing, breeding and training. Twice a year, boisterous crowds enjoyed its races, gambling, cock-fights and plays.

Major changes certainly overtook the two main towns. Since the later 17th century, Ipswich had been in serious economic decline; it built fewer ships, lost its manufacture of cloth and canvas, and saw outside competitors reduce its coal trade. These pressures led to the abandonment ‘of the better sort of Houses’, and to poverty and unemployment. However, by the mid-18th century, recovery was well under way, even though a new trade with Greenland was only short-lived. More important, though, was the fact that the town shared in the expan­sion of regional agriculture and became a major centre of the corn trade. So great was the demand for malt that Ipswich could not find enough barley from its own hinterland and had to import it, by coasters, from Norfolk.

Bury changed even more radically. Its traditional industries, such as the weaving of ‘Darnex’ coverlets, were fast declining and spinning remained as the only significant manufacture. In compensation, however, Bury was becom­ing a major social capital. It was described by contemporaries as ‘The Montpelier of Suffolk and perhaps of England’. The chief trade of the place depended on the nobility and gentry who flocked to it, and on the various commercial and professional services which they demanded. As Defoe put it, ‘the beauty of this town consists in the number of gentry who dwell in and near it, the polite conversation among them, the affluence and plenty they live in’. The principal fair held every September on Angel Hill was a great attraction for all classes, not so much for its merchandise as ‘for the Company’. Among the entertain­ments available were assemblies, balls, concerts and plays. Bury got its first purpose-built theatre in the Market Cross in 1734; it was improved by Robert Adam 40 years later. (Interestingly, Ipswich got its first permanent theatre two years later, in 1736, while smaller towns such as Bungay and Sudbury had theatres by the end of the century.) The first newspaper published in the county was The Suffolk Mercury or St Edmundsbury Post which began in 1714 (to be followed by the Ipswich Journal in 1720).

Communications had been improving since the 17th century. By 1637, carriers were plying regularly between London and certain Suffolk towns, and after the Restoration, a rudimentary postal system was operating. Five towns in Suffolk were designated major ‘stages’ and 15 others became minor ‘post-towns’. But the general condition of roads remained poor, especially where the land was heavy and full of ‘sloughs’. Real improvement did not come until the second half of the 18th century. Under the pressure of increasing traffic, new ideas of road-engineering quickly spread, and the principle of turnpiking was generally accepted (illus. 133).

Turnpike trusts were established by Acts of Parliament. They charged tolls on travellers, so that particular lengths of road could be maintained and im­proved. Eventually, 14 separate trusts were set up in Suffolk. They administered about 282 miles, mostly the trunk roads of today, and by 1839 were together spending £10,583 a year. This left, however, over 3,000 miles of road under the control of parishes and their highway surveyors. Yet they too were notably improved. Arthur Young, in 1797, wrote that the improvements made to Suf­folk’s roads in the previous 20 years were ‘almost inconceivable’. At the same time many roads, major and minor, were diverted around country houses and parks for the convenience of owners; this is well appreciated today by anyone who drives, for example, through Little Glemham or Culford.

The earliest schemes for improving waterways date back to the 17th century and affected the rivers Lark, Little Ouse and Waveney. By an act of 1705, the Stour was made navigable up to Sudbury; the Blyth was opened to Halesworth in 1761 and the Gipping to Stowmarket in 1793. The cost of the latter project, involving 15 locks, was £26,000 and Stowmarket immediately benefited from increased trade in corn and malt. All the examples mentioned above were ‘navigations’—that is, improvements to natural rivers, but true canals were also contemplated. In 1789 alone, proposals were being debated for canals from Stowmarket to Diss, Bishop’s Stortford to Lakenheath and Bury St Edmunds to Manningtree.

Religion

Compared with its predecessor, the 18th century is not outstanding for its religious fervour and controversy. The Church of England is often represented as slumbering and neglectful. However, it should not be overlooked that many parishes still repaired their churches and refitted them with, for example, pews, galleries and communion rails. Nor was Suffolk immune from that great wave of religious revival associated with John Wesley. This tireless preacher frequently addressed audiences in Suffolk, usually on his way to and from Norwich. In 1764 at Lowestoft, he had to preach in the open air—’a wilder congregation I have not seen, but the bridle was in their teeth’. He often stayed at Lakenheath, a village with a revivalist tradition going back to the early 18th century. One December evening in 1757, a newly built ‘preaching house’ there was filled when Wesley preached, and again at five o’clock the next morning.

Population

In the second half of the 18th century, a fundamental change was taking place in Suffolk’s population. After a period of decline between 1700 and 1720, the population was again rising and, moreover, continued to rise. Summaries of 472 parish registers from 18th-century Suffolk, published in 1801, show that the numbers of marriages and burials rose slightly whereas the number of baptisms rose considerably, especially in the decades 1750-70 and 1780-90. This widen­ing gap indicated a rising and increasingly youthful population which was to create awesome problems in the early 19th century, particularly in the fields of housing and employment.