Post by Astral Voyager Post by Don Moody Post by Astral Voyager
He was a farmer again by 1891 - now located in Norfolk.
You are missing the point. 'Farmer' does NOT necessarily
I didn't miss that point. If you read the original post you will see
that if I made any assumption it was that he never owned his own
land and that it was possible he became bailiff to his former
landlord. The basis of the query was if becoming a bailiff was a
'step up' and something he would have been likely to do voluntarily
or a 'step down' and so likely forced upon him by circumstance.
If I were to generally make the assumption you claim then I would
also have to consider that my farming ancestors, of which there are
many, were almost all incompetent. Nearly all had no land to show
for themselves at the end of their days. Which would mean they all
failed or they never owned the land to start with - I prefer to
think the latter until proved otherwise. Only one that I know of
actually owned the land he farmed and sold it when he retired.
The 'ideal' was and still is to both own and farm the land. My point
was that it is not NECESSARY to do both in order to call yourself a
'farmer'. It was rather an issue at Seale-Hayne College, where my son
went, to ascertain whether any of the girls (a) were daughters of
land-owing farmers, and (b) had no brothers to inherit the farm. Such
girls were highly prized, and married within days of Finals.
The blokes consisted of sons of land-owning fathers, sons of tenant
farmers who would themselves have to go for 'farm management', and
blokes like my son who went into 'agricultural services'. Neither of
the last two groups were land owners.
As for status, it's largely in the eye of the beholder. Who has the
greater status out of a dog-and-stick, self-employed, tenant 'farmer'
on 30 acres of sub-viable Dartmoor hillside or a 'farm manager' on
2000 acres of Lincolnshire arable? The bolshy sod who likes his
independence and doesn't mind being poor is happy with his few acres
of Dartmoor ( a deer farmer in this case, but it doesn't matter). Most
people I know would prefer to be an employee in Lincolnshire with all
the goodies and benefits to go with the job.Fortunately for me, the
terrain on the south slopes of Dartmoor is wholly unsuited to large
fields ploughed for arable. We have many dog and stick operators round
here and they produce 'hand-crafted' meat from small herds and flocks.
Pricier than your supermarket standard all-over-the-country
mass-produced but a hell of a lot tastier.
It does lead to some interesting byways. The deer farmer found that
stags' penises didn't sell very well in England and presumably in
olden days they'd have been fed to pigs. He built up quite a trade
with China. It took a long time to get a freezer full of penises but
one fax to China sold the lot, and generated a plea for more. Much
more. Neither he nor I wanted to ask what the wily orientals did with
It's just one illustration of the ingenuity which somebody who tenants
a small piece of land has to have in order to survive long-term. It's
a characteristic of the small 'farmer'. But nevertheless it cannot be
denied that in the UK the historical drift is to employment on the
land, with ownership separate, or employment in town. What isn't going
to happen in the UK, and never has happed, is my experience in South
America or my son's in Australia.
In South America a single cattle ranch was 2500 square miles, and took
three days to ride across. In Australia in his gap year my son was
driven out by a farmer to plough a field. When he got there he found a
tractor bigger than a house. He was given a brief lesson and told to
plough the whole field. All 28,000 acres of it. When it was done the
farmer told him it was the first time, ever, that land had been
ploughed. 'Farming' on those scales simply isn't the same thing as
tenant farming a few acres on south Dartmoor, but all the people
concerned described themselves as 'farmers',.
The message is that 'farmer' is one of the most unreliable terms as to
meaning and social status as can be found in genealogy.