Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Jethro Tull

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Jethro Tull (30 March 1674 – 21 February 1741), was an English agricultural pioneer during the period before the Industrial Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution.

Tull was born in Basildon, Berkshire to Dorothy Buckridge and Jethro Tull and baptised there on March 30. He matriculated at St John's College, Oxford at the age of 17 but appears to have not taken a degree. He was later educated at Gray's Inn.

He became sick with a pulmonary disorder, and as he went in a search for a cure he travelled Europe seeking more knowledge of agriculture. Influenced by the early Age of Enlightenment, he helped transform agricultural practices by inventing or improving numerous implements.

In 1701, Tull refined the seed drill, a device for sowing seeds effectively while living in Crowmarsh Gifford.

Tull also advocated the use of horses over oxen, invented a horse-drawn hoe for clearing weeds, and made changes to the design of the plough which are still visible in modern versions.

His interest in ploughing derived from his interest in weed control, and his belief that fertilizing was unnecessary, on the basis that nutrients locked up in soil could be released through pulverization.

Tull's inventions were sometimes considered controversial and were not widely adopted for many years.

Tull published his famous book, The New Horse-Houghing [Horse-Hoeing] Husbandry, c.1731, with the sub-title "an Essay on the Principles of Tillage and Nutrition"

Tull died in Shalbourne, Berkshire (now Wiltshire), and is buried in the churchyard of St Bartholomew's Church, Lower Basildon, Berkshire.

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