Royal Agricultural Society of England
The Old Board of Agriculture – initially known as the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement – was established in 1793 by Sir John Sinclair. It aimed to inform farmers across the country of best farming practice, and encourage them to experiment with new techniques. The Board achieved this by publishing information on farming methods, and by assisting farming societies. It also conducted land surveys in order to record the agricultural performance of the nation. By the early 1820s, the agricultural slump in Britain resulted in a lack of enthusiasm for the Board’s continued activity, and in 1822 it was dissolved.
However, in 1838 the Royal Agricultural Society took its place as the central authority on agricultural practice, with a greater focus on science and modernisation. It received its Royal Charter in 1840, founded the Royal Agricultural College in 1845, and became increasingly prominent as it advised the government on agricultural legislation throughout the latter part of the 19th century. The Royal Agricultural Society still exists today as the foremost advocate of the use of science and technology in farming.
The records consist of the archive of the Old Board of Agriculture 1793 – 1822, and the archive of the Royal Agricultural Society from 1838 – 1960. The Old Board material is not extensive but contains a valuable run of minutes, including those recorded by Arthur Young while Secretary of the Board. It also contains a copy of the Old Board of Agriculture Charter. The Royal Agricultural Society’s records, on the other hand, are both detailed and fairly complete. They include accounts, administration material, legal material, social and personal material, specimen farm account books, journals and agricultural works.