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How wealthy were farmers

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How wealthy were farmers

Postby Suddes1926 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:51 am

I have some welsh ancestors who were farmers. It appears that their 103 acres was rented from a landowner.

Was this a usual situation? Is this a small plot in farming size for the mid 1800's? Was it hard to make a living from farming?

I'm a bit confused as my direct descendant left home and did other jobs (labourer and railway policeman), which I assume means there was not enough farm work to sustain the family. However the censuses suggest there were one or two servants.

Any information/thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: How wealthy were farmers

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:51 am

Interesting!

Looking at my relatives, most of whom were labourers on farms, 100-200 acres seems typical. (A half-mile square, i.e. a square with half-mile sides, occupies 160 acres, by the way, so it's not exactly that big). I found an article by a chap named David Grigg on http://www.bahs.org.uk/AGHR/ARTICLES/35n2a6.pdf Farm Size in England and Wales from Early Victorian Times to the Present - this is probably more detail than you want, but Figure 1 on the 6th page shows the numbers of farms split by ranges of acreages - there's not much difference between the numbers of farms in the 20-50, 50-100, 100-300 acre ranges in the 1870s. But a lot more in the 5-20 range.

Re servants - you didn't have to be that far up the social scale to afford a maid but what I'm not sure of is what you mean by "servants". Agricultural servants were basically agricultural labourers who lived in on the farm, so not the same thing as a ladies' maid.

And re the guy who moved out - if he wasn't the farmer, maybe he just didn't fancy the hard work, or fell out with them, or the farm might sustain only one set of parents and their children and he was the extra guy too many... Basically I'm just throwing wild guesses out to make you think...

Interested if anyone can find out stuff like this!
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Re: How wealthy were farmers

Postby Suddes1926 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 12:26 pm

Thank you for the link. I will take a look.

The census just said servants, but I think you’re right and it probably referred to agricultural servants (I hadn’t heard of them before).

Yes, he may have left the farm for a number of reasons - sadly, no way to find out!

Many thanks for all your input - given me lots to think about.
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How wealthy were farmers

Postby JaneyH » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:25 pm

I have a few farmers in my tree. In South Devon in the 1851 Census my 4G Uncle Is described as “farmer of 160 acres employing 3 labourers, 2 boys and 1 maid servant”. By comparison, his younger brother - my 3G grandfather - was a mere ag lab in the same Census. (I haven’t established whether he worked for his brother.)

In the parish registers for baptisms of his children, Richard is described as a “yeoman farmer”. My general understanding of this is that he farmed his own land, rather than being a tenant farmer.


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Re: How wealthy were farmers

Postby meekhcs » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:12 pm

Hi
My husband's Maternal, maternal line were Tenant Farmers for approx 150 years up until 1850.
By 1800 they were farming 1000+ acres in Dorset.
The last in the line, who passed away in 1847, had 6 sons by two wives. None of them continued Farming, and he made sure that they each took an apprenticeship in various trades. I would suggest that splitting up his land between the 6 would have left them with tough conditions in which to make a living.
Farming was fast evolving in the early 1800s with machinery introduced, and each machine would take the place of several labourers. Prices were falling as the wealth moved from the country to the towns. Labourers were expected to work from dawn to dusk.
The Swing Riots in the 1830s were an uprising by agricultural labourers in the south and east of the country protesting at mechanisation, harsh conditions and very low wages.

Sally
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How wealthy were farmers

Postby brunes08 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:33 am

Try to track down any wills for farming ancestors. I have several spread over the 1800s. They make fascinating reading, giving a privileged insight into their lives. If any ancestor died after 1858, you may find a will through the Government site probatesearch.org. Or you could try the relevant county record office. I found some from the 1700s for a friend in the appropriate CRO. Even if they were tenant farmers, they still had a personal estate.


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Re: How wealthy were farmers

Postby meekhcs » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:58 pm

Re reading my original post I realised that I failed to make the point that 1000+acre Farm could have afforded/encompassed mechanisation and would therefore have been able to increase output and trade on favourable terms with other large Farms, however I doubt that a 200 acre Farm could have done the same, hence sons of branching out in other directions. The demise of the small Farms also coincided with the growth in the Railway network and many people,certainly in our Family, moved in that direction for employment.
I agree with Brunes post. I have managed to find wills for all the Farmers in my husband's Family. They were all wealthy in their own right, but also, latterly, realised that Farming was becoming an increasingly difficult way of life unless they owned the land they were working.
It was from the will of my husband's 3x g grandfather that we discovered that he had provided apprenticeships for all his sons, still left his 2nd wife very well off, and paid £1000 to his Landlord!

Sally
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Re: How wealthy were farmers

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 2:18 pm

My, possibly uninformed, impression was that land owners (and I presume renters, etc) in England *tended* to leave their estate or farm business to one son and not to split it. Thus avoiding the permanently shrinking businesses that bedevilled farms and crofts elsewhere.

Certainly the idea in the upper middle classes was that the eldest got the land and the others went into the Church and the Army etc. Or so it's said.

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Re: How wealthy were farmers

Postby elsabels » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:47 am

I have some welsh ancestors who were farmers. It appears that their 103 acres was rented from a landowner.


If you post more info, looking at the census return may help establish whether it was landlord owned land or by a small farmer, Looking in the advertisements in the local paper may also yield clues as to ownership. Looking at Parish Registers or Parish Chest pre 1837 may give clues as to the status of your family !

Cheshire has a list of Victorian landowners on line.....others county may have the same
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Re: How wealthy were farmers

Postby Paparico » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:49 am

The Freehold of most Welsh farms was most commonly held by English aristocracy. Tenant farming families did the work. Usually, the eldest son inherited the tenancy and one silver shilling. Siblings had to marry into farming families, or find some other way to earn a living. During the 1800s, many Welsh tenant farmers and sons left the farms because they could earn more money in mining, especially the tin and coal mines in Sir Forgannwg (Glamorganshire). (After hundreds of years of farming, the land was not the most productive). Finding your ancestors is a challenge because common names were terribly common, so the Welsh identified each other by, "Jones-the-milk", "Jones-the-bank", etc., which you won't find on the census returns, so you must pay close attention to the details and hope they told the truth. An essential clue is place of birth; spelling was personal choice then, so verify the spelling with the County to make certain you are researching in the right place, then research baptismals during the period, remembering children were baptised when parents could afford it, and that transcriptions are always suspect. As one example, Lavernock transcribers reversed Christian/surnames so Mary George was transcribed as "George Mary", Dai Jones as "Jones Dai" etc. If you can not find the baptismal, there were any number of Protestant churches during the 1800s, so make sure to research them all. Good luck! Aloha! Rico
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