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General => The Common Room => Topic started by: PurdeyB on Thursday 16 September 21 20:13 BST (UK)

Title: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: PurdeyB on Thursday 16 September 21 20:13 BST (UK)
An ancestor is listed on various censuses as a farmer but I found his will recently and in that he is described as a yeoman farmer. A quick google suggests a yeoman farmer owned the land he farmed. His will deals with farm stock and implements, and his personal effects but does not mention the farm itself. This is early 19th century. Would you expect a yeoman farmer at that time to necessarily own his farm or land? Thanks.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Tickettyboo on Thursday 16 September 21 20:33 BST (UK)
You didn't say where he was listed as a farmer, but I have a farmer in Co Durham and managed to track him (and whether he owned or rented the land he worked ) from 1813 to 1827 by looking at land tax assessments which showed who the landowner and occupier was from 1813 through to 1827 - the time frame for my man.

My only experience of these records was in Co Durham and the Durham Records Office catalogue was very helpful as they had transcription lists in the results, followed by (not so helpful cos it took ages but I got there in the end ) Family Search catalogue for the original records

Boo
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Greensleeves on Thursday 16 September 21 20:38 BST (UK)
The yeoman farmers in both my Suffolk and Durham family lines owned their own land.  Unfortunately, my Durham 11 x gt grandfather was sentenced to death by Elizabeth 1 for his part in The Rising of the North (1569).  As was fairly common, he and his neighbours were pardoned and his lands were confiscated. 

Regards
GS
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: youngtug on Thursday 16 September 21 20:42 BST (UK)
https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/modern-europe/british-and-irish-history/yeoman
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: PurdeyB on Thursday 16 September 21 20:59 BST (UK)
Thanks, Tickettyboo. My chap is from Northumberland and I hadn't thought of land tax records so I'll definitely follow that up.

You didn't say where he was listed as a farmer, but I have a farmer in Co Durham and managed to track him (and whether he owned or rented the land he worked ) from 1813 to 1827 by looking at land tax assessments which showed who the landowner and occupier was from 1813 through to 1827 - the time frame for my man.

My only experience of these records was in Co Durham and the Durham Records Office catalogue was very helpful as they had transcription lists in the results, followed by (not so helpful cos it took ages but I got there in the end ) Family Search catalogue for the original records

Boo
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: PurdeyB on Thursday 16 September 21 21:04 BST (UK)
Thanks, GS. That's an interesting family story there. I've got a couple of Parliamentarians but nothing as exciting as someone condemned to death!

The yeoman farmers in both my Suffolk and Durham family lines owned their own land.  Unfortunately, my Durham 11 x gt grandfather was sentenced to death by Elizabeth 1 for his part in The Rising of the North (1569).  As was fairly common, he and his neighbours were pardoned and his lands were confiscated. 

Regards
GS
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: PurdeyB on Thursday 16 September 21 21:07 BST (UK)
Thanks, Youngtug. This is very helpful. His son definitely features on the electoral register at the farm so I'll dig into that angle.

https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/modern-europe/british-and-irish-history/yeoman
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Maiden Stone on Friday 17 September 21 12:45 BST (UK)
Did your farmer occupy the land at the time of the tithe assessments in England which happened  1837- early 1850s? Tenants and landowner of each parcel of land were recorded. Maps showing each field accompany written records. County archives may hold originals. They are on The Genealogist. Article here: 
https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/tithe/

Some of my ancestors in Lancashire were yeomen farmers. They were tenants on long leases (usually leases for 3 lives) with security of tenure. They were able to pass the lease on to their heir(s). Wills of some mention leases. They were tenants of the lord of the manor from late 1500s (estate records in reign of Queen Elizabeth) to 1820s. Prior to mid 1500s they would have been tenants of the local priory which was owned by Durham Cathedral. 
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: melba_schmelba on Friday 17 September 21 14:31 BST (UK)
Did your farmer occupy the land at the time of the tithe assessments in England which happened in 1837- early 1850s? Tenants and landowner of each parcel of land were recorded. Maps showing each field accompany written records. County archives may hold originals. They are on The Genealogist. Article here: 
https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/tithe/

Some of my ancestors in Lancashire were yeomen farmers. They were tenants on long leases (usually leases for 3 lives) with security of tenure. They were able to pass the lease on to their heir(s). Wills of some mention leases. They were tenants of the lord of the manor from late 1500s (estate records in reign of Queen Elizabeth) to 1820s. Prior to mid 1500s they would have been tenants of the local priory which was owned by Durham Cathedral.
Yes I have found similarly, that yeoman farmers didn't necessarily own freeholds, but they did have long leaseholds of maybe 100 years which were inherited by successive generations of the family. Below yeoman I think were husbandman, who probably paid short term rents or gave a certain amount of their produce to the freeholder. Then below that you had graziers who probably just had a few animals which they would graze on the common land or whatever land they could get away with putting them on! In Scotland, with the crofters, I think it was one tactic of the landlords to withdraw the ability to pay with produce and only accept cash rents which forced many out during the Lowland and Highland clearances.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Maiden Stone on Friday 17 September 21 15:48 BST (UK)

Yes I have found similarly, that yeoman farmers didn't necessarily own freeholds, but they did have long leaseholds of maybe 100 years which were inherited by successive generations of the family. Below yeoman I think were husbandman, who probably paid short term rents or gave a certain amount of their produce to the freeholder. Then below that you had graziers who probably just had a few animals which they would graze on the common land or whatever land they could get away with putting them on!

99 years or for 3 lives was typical for farm leases in Lancashire. My family had that type of lease as tenant farmers in the 20th century. My dad could have passed it on to one of his children as the 2nd life and that person could have transferred the lease to one of their children (the 3rd life).

I noticed that my yeoman farmer ancestors (1700s) tended to have the occupation husbandman at marriage  and perhaps at baptisms of elder children. They were yeomen in later records, either inheriting a farm lease from their father or taking one on their own account. A father (aged 73) and married son (aged 37) both had the occupation husbandman on the "Return of Papists" for the parish in 1767. This list of Catholics was compiled by the Anglican curate. The son's wife died 16 years later; she was wife of a yeoman in the burial register.
My dictionary defines husbandman as farmer. It's from Old English "house dweller". The term may have included farm labourers.       
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Vance Mead on Friday 17 September 21 15:49 BST (UK)
This is quite a lot earlier, but it's a good introduction:

The English Yeoman under Elizabeth and the Early Stuarts, by Mildred Campbell

It was originally published in 1942, but there have been several subsequent editions.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Jon_ni on Friday 17 September 21 15:58 BST (UK)
Freeholders https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forty-shilling_freeholders

Freeholders records are one thing that does survive in areas of Ireland so are online and used due to the scarcity of other documentary sources for the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Freeholders and the voting system went through a lot of electoral reform in the 1800's due to rotten boroughs and landholders creating short leases so their tenants would vote for them.
In Ireland only a Lease of Lives gave you a vote (typically for the unspecified period expiring on the death of the 3rd person named, one of the names used typically being youngest son or a grandson or one of the young Princes/Princesses). A lease for a fixed period eg 25 or 50 years did not entitle a vote. Few of these Freeholders owned their farm, it belonged to the local & sometimes absentee Sir or Lord etc.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: PurdeyB on Friday 17 September 21 18:36 BST (UK)
Thanks to everyone for your answers on this. So much really helpful information. I haven't really looked at the son who benefited from the will as he isn't my ancestor so I need to do some work on him.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: PurdeyB on Saturday 16 October 21 07:28 BST (UK)
You didn't say where he was listed as a farmer, but I have a farmer in Co Durham and managed to track him (and whether he owned or rented the land he worked ) from 1813 to 1827 by looking at land tax assessments which showed who the landowner and occupier was from 1813 through to 1827 - the time frame for my man.

My only experience of these records was in Co Durham and the Durham Records Office catalogue was very helpful as they had transcription lists in the results, followed by (not so helpful cos it took ages but I got there in the end ) Family Search catalogue for the original records

Boo

Thanks for this tip, Boo. I finally had a look at the indexes and my ancestor is there, initially as occupier of land owned by the Bishop of Durham and then as occupier of land owned by a private individual so I've got my answer.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Andrew Tarr on Monday 18 October 21 10:50 BST (UK)
Some of my ancestors in Lancashire were yeomen farmers. They were tenants on long leases (usually leases for 3 lives) with security of tenure. They were able to pass the lease on to their heir(s). Wills of some mention leases.

My 3g-grandfather died aged 82 near Ashburton in Devon just after the 1851 census.  He was described as a yeoman, as was his son while children were born and registered in the 1840s.  In 1854 the farm was sold at auction, where the son is described as 'Tenant'.  The family emigrated to southern Ireland soon afterwards.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: RobertHauteville on Tuesday 26 October 21 16:29 BST (UK)
Yeoman just means Freeman. It does not necessarily mean a man is a farmer and just means they hold some freehold land or property in return for a service or fee to the landholder above (a person, organization or the Crown). Although Yeomen farmers were generally wealthier than husbandmen in some ways it was better to be a prosperous husbandman than a prosperous yeoman as yeoman tended to have to fight in wars whereas a husbandman didn't.. Land came with strings attached!

Wills only list part of someone's property as the bulk of it usually went to the eldest male via a sentence like "and to my son Reggie I leave the residue." The "residue" meaning everything I own that I haven't explicitly mentioned in this will. An Inventory will have been made for your man which should list everything he owned including land. If it still exists (some do some don't) you should check it out.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Maiden Stone on Wednesday 27 October 21 18:47 BST (UK)
Yeoman just means Freeman. It does not necessarily mean a man is a farmer and just means they hold some freehold land or property in return for a service or fee to the landholder above (a person, organization or the Crown). Although Yeomen farmers were generally wealthier than husbandmen in some ways it was better to be a prosperous husbandman than a prosperous yeoman as yeoman tended to have to fight in wars whereas a husbandman didn't.. Land came with strings attached!

 An Inventory will have been made for your man which should list everything he owned including land. If it still exists (some do some don't) you should check it out.

Some innkeepers were yeomen if there was land attached. A lease in the name of one of my innkeeper ancestors (died 1780) was for land enclosed "from the waste". The landowner was the lord of the manor who owned the whole town and land around it. The innkeeper's daughter married  my yeoman farmer's 2nd son (who was himself a yeoman when he died in 1822) and innkeeper's son married a daughter of the same farmer, thereby keeping property and money in the family. (The innkeeper and the farmer were already related.)
2 sons of an earlier lord of the manor were killed on the Royalist side in the English Civil War. It's likely that a member or members of my yeomen farmer family accompanied them. The family occupied land in 1630s and had done since 1580s.

Did inventories continue to be compiled in 19th century when a person died?   
 
 
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: RobertHauteville on Friday 29 October 21 12:11 BST (UK)
The same Will/Inventory process continued til 1858 and then the Government took over from the Religious bodies. Executors to this day have to make an inventory, usually aided by a solicitor, and submit the final valuation to the GRO/IR so it can be taxed.

I don't think the GRO takes copies of inventories and they are kept by the executors/solicitors themselves, although I might be wrong...
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: melba_schmelba on Friday 29 October 21 12:33 BST (UK)
The same Will/Inventory process continued til 1858 and then the Government took over from the Religious bodies. Executors to this day have to make an inventory, usually aided by a solicitor, and submit the final valuation to the GRO/IR so it can be taxed.

I don't think the GRO takes copies of inventories and they are kept by the executors/solicitors themselves, although I might be wrong...
The latest inventories that I am aware of seeing are in the late 18th century, maybe 1770s. I don't think I've ever seen an inventory later than that, and I've seen lots of wills in different local courts.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Maiden Stone on Friday 29 October 21 13:34 BST (UK)

The latest inventories that I am aware of seeing are in the late 18th century, maybe 1770s. I don't think I've ever seen an inventory later than that, and I've seen lots of wills in different local courts.

The latest inventory I've seen for my ancestors was 1767. It was for one of the innkeepers. It included many chairs and beds + animals.   
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: melba_schmelba on Friday 29 October 21 14:28 BST (UK)

The latest inventories that I am aware of seeing are in the late 18th century, maybe 1770s. I don't think I've ever seen an inventory later than that, and I've seen lots of wills in different local courts.

The latest inventory I've seen for my ancestors was 1767. It was for one of the innkeepers. It included many chairs and beds + animals.
I wonder if there was some Act of Parliament which explains it? Maybe the inventories had to be made, but simply not archived or copied after that era?
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: youngtug on Friday 29 October 21 16:39 BST (UK)
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/821770/C3_2006_.pdf
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: melba_schmelba on Friday 29 October 21 17:14 BST (UK)
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/821770/C3_2006_.pdf
Thanks youngtug. I am pretty sure that with all post 1858 wills I have ordered copies of, there was never an inventory included. So maybe the law changed some time in the late 18th century, as regarding mandating the keeping originals or copies of those inventories by all the different courts.
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: Maiden Stone on Friday 29 October 21 17:38 BST (UK)

I wonder if there was some Act of Parliament which explains it? Maybe the inventories had to be made, but simply not archived or copied after that era?

Legally required England & Wales 1529-1782. Optional after 1782. Not kept in will archives after 1858.
Source: "Researching Historic Buildings in the British Isles"
https://www.buildinghistory.org/wills.shtml
A reading list is at end of article.

The last of my line of yeoman who styled himself "yeoman" died 1822. I was disappointed his will wasn't accompanied by an inventory. His main beneficiary was his only child, a daughter. Her husband was exalted from gamekeeper, employed by the lord of the manor, to "gentleman" on the next record after his father-in-law's death.
Compilers of the inventory of the innkeeper who died 1767 valued his mare + some "husbandry goods" at 2-17 shillings. A cow, heifer and calf were worth 12. Sow (it may be sows) and "pigges"  were worth more than the horse, although number of "pigges" wasn't stated. I've wondered if the mare was under-valued. The innkeeper was Catholic and Catholics weren't allowed to own a horse worth more than 5. Valuations were done by the schoolmaster, whose wife was R.C. and a man whose family was R.C. On the other hand, perhaps it was an old horse or in poor condition. The younger, unmarried daughter was to have her choice of cow or heifer + first choice of best beds + specified items of furniture. She had her pick of a dozen beds. There was enough seating for 30 people, mostly in the "great parlour" which was probably the main public room. 2 of the 3 executors  of the will were yeoman, one of them the yeoman farmer relative. There were 2 spellings of the surname in the will.
Inventory of previous innkeeper in the family (1752) stated total value of his 3 horses was 6-14 shillings, so average value of a horse was around 2. His 4 head of cattle (2 cows, a stirk and a calf) were worth 9. "A Swine" was worth 1. Compilers of that inventory counted 50 chairs!  An executor was the schoolmaster.   

 
Title: Re: Yeoman Farmers - Do They Own Land?
Post by: melba_schmelba on Friday 29 October 21 18:54 BST (UK)

I wonder if there was some Act of Parliament which explains it? Maybe the inventories had to be made, but simply not archived or copied after that era?

Legally required England & Wales 1529-1782. Optional after 1782. Not kept in will archives after 1858.
Source: "Researching Historic Buildings in the British Isles"
https://www.buildinghistory.org/wills.shtml
A reading list is at end of article.
Thanks Maiden, that definitely ties in with what we have observed then :).

The last of my line of yeoman who styled himself "yeoman" died 1822. I was disappointed his will wasn't accompanied by an inventory. His main beneficiary was his only child, a daughter. Her husband was exalted from gamekeeper, employed by the lord of the manor, to "gentleman" on the next record after his father-in-law's death.
Compilers of the inventory of the innkeeper who died 1767 valued his mare + some "husbandry goods" at 2-17 shillings. A cow, heifer and calf were worth 12. Sow (it may be sows) and "pigges"  were worth more than the horse, although number of "pigges" wasn't stated. I've wondered if the mare was under-valued. The innkeeper was Catholic and Catholics weren't allowed to own a horse worth more than 5. Valuations were done by the schoolmaster, whose wife was R.C. and a man whose family was R.C. On the other hand, perhaps it was an old horse or in poor condition. The younger, unmarried daughter was to have her choice of cow or heifer + first choice of best beds + specified items of furniture. She had her pick of a dozen beds. There was enough seating for 30 people, mostly in the "great parlour" which was probably the main public room. 2 of the 3 executors  of the will were yeoman, one of them the yeoman farmer relative. There were 2 spellings of the surname in the will.
Inventory of previous innkeeper in the family (1752) stated total value of his 3 horses was 6-14 shillings, so average value of a horse was around 2. His 4 head of cattle (2 cows, a stirk and a calf) were worth 9. "A Swine" was worth 1. Compilers of that inventory counted 50 chairs!  An executor was the schoolmaster.   
Thanks for those details Maiden, fascinating. I had no idea a Catholic had not been able to own a horse worth more than 5!! Presumably that law was abolished with the repealing of the Popery Acts in the 1780s & 90s? I always think it is slightly amusing how certain people get given the 'second best bed' and wonder if they were offended! It certainly sounds like a substantial yeoman's residence with seating for 30 people in the great parlour.
  I think the term yeoman was still in use into the 20th century, there are people on the 1911 census still referred to as such, but farmer seems more common by then.