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Document number: 4729
Date: 14 Feb 1843
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: ILLINGWORTH Richard
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 1st September 2003

<dated and signed by Illingworth but body of text in another hand>

3 Queen Square

February 14th 1843


Conceiving that the establishment throughout the Country of Local Agricultural Clubs upon an uniform plan, and so organized as to unite subordinately with County Associations and through these with the Royal Agricultural Society of England, would conduce materially to the general diffusion of sound Agricultural knowledge and improvement; and being of opinion that, if the matter were undertaken in a systematic and business like manner, such Clubs and Associations might be set on foot effectually and without serious difficulty, I beg leave to submit to you (as interested in the subject) the following outline of a plan by which the object in question might probably be accomplished.

I recommend that a convenient number of parishes should be united for the purpose of forming a distinct District Club. Perhaps the already formed Unions under the Poor Law would afford convenient divisions for that purpose, while the adoption of them would save much trouble and obviate the differences of opinion which might impede an original arrangement –

The following are the Poor Law Unions in your County

No of Parishes in each Union

1. Alderbury – 22

2. Amesbury – 23

3 Bradford – 8

4 Calne – 11

5 Chippenham – 29

6 Cricklade & Wotton Bassett – 14

7 Devizes – 28

8 Highworth & Swindon – 16

9 Malmesbury – 25

10 Marlborough – 14

11 Melksham – 6

12 Mere – 12

13 Pewsey – 23

14 Fisbury – 20

15 Warminster – 21

16 Westbury & Whorwelsdown – 10

17 Wilton – 22

Subscribers should be sought for in every parish, and every such body of subscribers (where parishes were small, two or three might be united for his purpose) should choose one of their number as a Member of the District Club – Every such Club should elect a Chairman and Deputy Chairman. The Chairman of the several Clubs in a county would constitute a County Agricultural Association; the Deputy chairmen filling the places of their respective Chairmen, as well in the District Clubs as in the County Associations, in the event of the absence of the latter – It would also be desirable that the Chairmen of the several County Associations should be exofficio <sic> Members of the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society.

The District Clubs being thus subordinate to and intimately connected with their respective County Associations, and the latter being similarly situated with respect to the Royal Agricultural Society, a regular and systematic inter-communication would be thereby established between the main stream and the several trunks and branches of the Agricultural interest throughout the Country.

Every District Club might procure, either by purchase, rental, or gratuity, the appropriation of a moderate quantity of land for experimental farming; should obtain, exhibit, and test implements, manures, and systems of cultivation; and establish a select Library of the most useful and approved agricultural Works both standard and periodical –A regular system of Reports from the District Clubs to the County Associations and from the latter to the Royal Society should be set on foot, as well as a general course of communication downwards from the last named Society to the County Associations and from the latter to the District Clubs. An organized system of this description (besides the immediate objects of general instruction and improvement in agricultural matters) would enable the Royal Society to gather complete and important statistical information with considerable ease.

I would suggest that the Committee or Council of the Royal Agricultural Society should undertake the organization of the plan proposed and the Settlement of its details; so that, while the whole Agricultural Community would thereby receive simultaneously the wisest Council and the best digested arrangements, the great difficulties in regard to cooperation and unanimity which endanger most voluntary undertakings would be obviated.

Perhaps every County Member of Parliament would furnish the Royal Society with the name of a Gentleman resident in each Poor Law Union, who would undertake to canvas for subscribers within the limits of the Union, so as to lay the necessary foundation for forming the Clubs and Associations.

As I am neither an owner nor a cultivator of land, and as I intend addressing this Communication to the Secretary of the Royal Society as well as to several principal landed proprietors in the adjacent Counties of Gloucester, Somerset, and Wilts, I now leave the subject for correspondence and arrangement amongst the parties interested, provided my suggestions be deemed worthy of consideration –

I have the honor to remain Sir your most obedt Servt

Richd Illingworth

Wm Henry Fox Talbot Esqre