Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Corn Laws

Corn Laws. In England, those laws which for a long period regulated the import and export of corn to and from the country. In 1360 a law was passed prohibiting the export of corn without the king's licence, and a law of 1436 enacted that corn should not be exported if the price were more than 6s. 8d. per quarter. A law of 1463 enacted that no imports should be allowed till the home price exceeded 6s. 8d. per quarter. By the law of 1534 all export was prohibited, but a law of 1562 allowed it when the price was under 10s. per quarter. After the Restoration, Scotland, which had under the Commonwealth occupied the same position in this matter as England, had its own regulations, and the two countries treated each other on questions of corn trade as foreign nations. In 1670 importation was not allowed till 53s. 4d. per quarter was reached, and a heavy duty was imposed, and in 1689 a bounty of 5s. per quarter was granted until 48s. had been reached, in order to encourage exportation, for at this period the country produced more corn than she could consume. Other changes were introduced from time to time, and the increase of population and altered circumstances led to the abolition of bounties in 1814. In 1815 no importation was allowed while the home price was below 80s. In 1828 the sliding scale, by which the duty lessened as the price rose, was introduced more systematically than before (it had first been adopted in 1791), but this was objectionable as leading to a great deal of speculative gambling. In 1842 Sir Robert Peel modified the sliding scale, but Protection of British corn growers was still looked on as a fundamental principle of national economy. The feelings of the country at this period are fully reflected in the cartoons of the early volumes of Punch. In 1836 an agitation had already begun in favour of an abolition of restrictions upon free trade in corn, and in 1839 this led to the formation of the Anti-Corn-Law League. In 1846 Sir Robert Peel was converted to its views, and free trade was inaugurated. There exists a lithograph dedicated to Richard Cobden to commemorate the triumph of the League, and in this, amid emblems of Commerce, Freedom, and Industry are busts of the three chief promoters of the movement - Cobden, Bright, and Villiers.