Servants in husbandry in early modern England


Servants in husbandry in early modern England

Ann Kussmaul

(Interdisciplinary perspectives on modern history)

Cambridge University Press, 1981

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Bibliography: p. 205-229

Includes index



Servants in husbandry were unmarried farm workers hired on annual contracts. The institution of service distinguished them in many ways from their chief competitors, day-labourers. Servants were employed on an annual basis; they formed part of their employers' households; they were generally young and unmarried. Service was extremely common - most rural youths in early modern England became servants to farmers, and they composed as much as half of the full-time hired labour force in agriculture. Professor Kussmaul has marshalled information from sources as diverse as marriage registers, militia lists, parish censuses, settlement examinations, account books, records of Quarter Sessions, and the autobiographies of servants and masters, in producing this book which explores this important institution and to consider its wide historiographical implications.


  • Part I. Servants and labourers: 1. Servants: the problems
  • 2. Incidence and understanding
  • Part II. Form and practice: 3. Life and work
  • 4. Hiring and mobility
  • 5. Entry into and exit from service
  • Part III. Change: 6. Cycles: 1540-1790
  • 7. Extinction.

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