Diggers

English communistic movement. Led by Gerrard Winstanley and William Everard, a group of about twenty men began in 1649-50 to cultivate common land in Surrey, and to plant vegetables to feed the needy. Local gentry and other conservatives incited mobs to harass them; later the government dispersed the group. The Diggers would have been forgotten but for Winstanley's writings which made new followers. Winstanley held that the Civil War had destroyed the claims of landholders and caused the land to revert to a “common treasury” which presumably had existed before the Norman Conquest. Holding land in common would be accompanied by complete social equality, abolition of trade, universal suffrage, education for all, and the arrival of the Millennium. Some have tried to find in the Digger movement an agreement with modern materialistic communists; others have stressed their basic adherence to a millennial interpretation. The weight of evidence suggests that the digging was not the beginning of a worldly revolution, but the outward manifestation of an inner confidence that the time had come for God's intervention in history.