A previous article in Rural History entitled ‘“Rustic and Rude”: Hiring Fairs and their Critics in East Yorkshire c. 1850–75’, examined a critique of hiring fairs and farm service mounted by the Church of England in the East Riding of Yorkshire during the mid-Victorian period. This discussion builds upon that article by offering a more detailed examination of the actual attempts to reform and abolish hiring fairs that emanated from that critique. The article examines three stages of reform and abolition stretching over the mid-Victorian period: a first stage that centred upon imposing a system of hiring based upon written characters; a second stage that focussed upon imposing segregated hiring for male and female servants, and a final abolitionist stage. The campaign's tactics and the various measures deployed against hiring fairs during each stage are detailed and their level of success evaluated and explained. The broader motivations of the campaign and the manner in which they signified deeper Church anxieties about the nature of the rural social order are also discussed in a concluding evaluation of the campaign's impact.
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