A period in the early 1840s when Britain experienced an economic depression, causing much misery among the poor. In 1839 there was a serious slump in trade, leading to a steep increase in unemployment, accompanied by a bad harvest. The bad harvests were repeated in the two following years and the sufferings of the people, in a rapidly increasing population, were made worse by the fact that the Corn Laws seemed to keep the price of bread artificially high. In 1845 potato blight appeared in England and Scotland, spreading to Ireland later in the year and ruining a large part of the crop. The potato blight returned in 1846, bringing the Irish Famine.