Printer Friendly

By-employment and agriculture in the eighteenth-century rural Netherlands: the Florijn/Slotboom household.

For the last two decades research on the history of the family has emphasized the complexity of the relationship between peasant households and the process of social and economic change.(1) In her recent survey of the literature, Tamara Hareven discusses the state of the field of family history and points out how far research has come since William Goode challenged historians to prove that families did not remain passive or respond blindly to economic change but were active agents in the process of industrialization. Researchers began to ask new questions that were concerned less with the impact of industrialization on the family and more with the influence of the family on industrialization. This led to new insights into the family as well as into the process of social and economic change.(2)

Indeed, as Richard Rudolph demonstrates, numerous studies done over the past several decades by sociologists, demographers, anthropologists and women's, social, economic and family historians have contributed to the view that recognizes that peasant households were affected by economic, as well as institutional and cultural factors, and that households in turn influenced economic and social structures.(3) In other words, peasant households were not simply victims of social and economic change taking place around them, but active agents of change themselves. Perhaps peasants could not control their environment completely, but given a number of constraints (economic, institutional, cultural), they usually could make a choice among more than one possible course of action, each of which would affect their lives and future differently.(4)

There is no doubt that such individual household choices could be enormously important to the long-term economic development of regions. If enough households made similar economic decisions, the effect could be felt all over an area. For instance, if many took up weaving and spinning as by-employment, an agricultural region could be transformed into one of manufacturing, eventually affecting all households, including those which had not taken up such by-employments. Obviously, then, knowing more about households and how they operated can provide us with insights that go far beyond the individual units.

Economic historians looking at the process of industrialization and in particular at the development of rural industry have recognized this, and have begun to incorporate households into their analyses.(5) By and large, however, they have tended to examine them with an eye to future industrialization. Once evidence was found indicating that households were shifting towards manufacturing, households and their dynamics often disappeared from the discussion. If an area went on to industrialize, this was treated, at least implicitly, as a "natural" consequence of earlier choices. If an area did not industrialize it tended to be ignored altogether.

This represents a rather incomplete incorporation of the role of households in the process of historical change. If, following Rudolph, we acknowledge that the relationship between households and the economy is complex and reciprocal, there is a clear need to expand our research focus beyond regions that transformed from agriculture to industry to include those that did not (especially those where rural manufacturing existed). These areas are interesting as well, especially with regard to the operation of peasant households. After all, if household decisions could lead to rural manufacturing and possibly industrialization, decisions by those same households could lead to a return to agriculture.

Such a perspective also moves one away from viewing economic change as a linear development: one that advances from an agricultural stage to one of manufacturing to one of industry. Non-industrial regions provide evidence that peasants chose by-employments to survive a crisis, or to achieve other specific goals, but with the intent to return to agriculture. It suggests that they saw by-employments as something temporary. For instance, in the eastern Netherlands rural manufacturing enabled peasants to earn cash to improve and enlarge their farms. Weaving gave them a solution to a temporary need, and once the need had been met they changed back to agriculture.(6) They were fortunate, of course, in having a real choice, but the process illustrates how households interacted with the economy in a complicated way, with peasants not just victims but also actors. This vantage point places the household in a different light: one that empowers it more, and one that questions the motivations and willingness with which peasants took up by-employments.

It is dangerous to generalize from this to industrialized regions; conditions in agriculture and/or manufacturing may be different. Nevertheless, the process establishes the possibility that, even in those regions, peasants hoped to return to agriculture and simply did not manage it. Taking up a by-employment had set them on a road of no return, with agriculture slowly being squeezed out in favor of the other occupation.

How did households make these choices? What kinds of situations motivated their members to divide their time between more than one occupation? At what point, if possible, did they return to agriculture? This paper looks at the decisions and motivations of a peasant household named Slotboom in a non-industrial region in the Netherlands in the second half of the eighteenth century. It examines how that household dealt with pressures arising from deaths, births, and debt, and how its members managed to overcome them and remain peasants with the aid of by-employment and a keen awareness of market prices.

The Eastern Achterhoek

The area where the Slotboom household lived and worked is known as the Achterhoek, and is located in the eastern Netherlands [ILLUSTRATION FOR MAPS 1 AND 2 OMITTED!. It was a predominantly rural region, where agriculture consisted of a mixture of arable and cattle farming. Animals, primarily cows, were kept for the benefit of the arable; they grazed on large wastes that were also used to cut turf to augment manure needed for improving the infertile sandy soils.(7) That, in turn, necessitated the use of many horses: evidence for the rural area around the village of Aalten suggests that half of all households owned two of them.(8)

The large wastes and the numerous small rivers and streams that divided the landscape into strips worked against the exploitation of land in large units. Although the area had a landed gentry, they did not normally take a personal interest in farming and hence played no significant role in agricultural decisions. More often they were attracted by alternative careers in the army and bureaucracy and hence they had their eyes turned westward.(9) Aside from a few large farms, small- to medium-sized holdings of between 1 and 6 hectares predominated.(10) Since approximately 2.5-3 ha were essential for survival, peasants on smaller holdings could not subsist on their land and had to take up by-employment: they provided labor on the few larger farms or took up by-occupations.(11)

The main crop was rye rotated with buckwheat, barley, or oats. Some methods of intensification had been introduced during the first half of the eighteenth century, including the introduction of potatoes as a field crop; after 1750 these methods and new crops became much more common.(12) Peasants lengthened rotations so that the fallow was reduced or eliminated, and incorporated new crops such as clover.(13) By the last quarter of the eighteenth century the cultivation of clover and potatoes had become widespread: a set of local lease agreements of 1785 explicitly prohibit growing "clover, potatoes or such-like."(14)

Peasants in the Achterhoek sold grain on the regional Zutphen or Arnhem markets where prices closely followed trends in the western part of the country, particularly those on the central market in Amsterdam. Prices there, in turn, were determined by international trends.(15) Hence, prices in the Achterhoek reflected the international economic situation: between 1650 and 1750 grain prices, particularly rye, declined significantly, while after 1750 the trend was reversed with rye going up more rapidly than other grains. These trends did not represent any dramatic demographic changes in the Achterhoek, where, contrary to the rest of Europe, population growth was very slow after 1750.(16)

The mixture of arable production and animal husbandry caused farms to be labor intensive and to some extent self-sufficient. The household provided most labor but some came from live-in servants and extended family members. Servants were usually young people who were paid primarily in food and lodging and became virtually part of the family.(17) Although farms relied primarily on family labor, the servant presence allowed farmers to be flexible in the face of changing agricultural circumstances.(18) Moreover, three-generation households, in which one or more grandparents lived with children and grandchildren, were not unusual.(19) If farmers required still more labor, they could call upon small-holders who needed by-employment to survive. Certainly, the small number of large farms could not provide employment to many, but the heavy and intensive work associated with turf-manuring and harvesting created labor demands at certain times of the year. Another kind of by-employment peasants turned to at times was weaving. Weaving had been known in the eastern Achterhoek for centuries. Early on peasants had made linen cloth for their own use, but then merchants had become involved who placed orders and supplied yam. Particularly between 1650 and 1750, when agriculture experienced a Europe-wide depression, linen weaving had provided an additional income for many peasants. After 1750, however, the market for plain Dutch linens collapsed, allowing fewer people to earn a supplementary income from weaving.(20)

In short, the region in which the Slotbooms lived was an agricultural one, dominated by small to medium-sized farms that required intensive labor from family members and servants. By-employment was not uncommon and was found on other farms or outside of farming.

Florijn/Slotboom Customer Book

The source I have analyzed consists of a customer book kept by three generations of peasant/carpenters near the village of Eibergen, between 1752 and 1820.(21) It contains notes on the work done by the carpenter and his assistants for people in the area, primarily for other peasants. The book is not complete and a quarter of the pages are missing, but since the listings are organized by customer rather than by year, and since the missing pages are spread fairly evenly through the document, an overall pattern of how the peasant/carpenters spent their time can be reconstructed.

The customer book was started by Adolf Florijn who, from about 1762, employed an assistant named Gerrit Hendrik Slotboom. In 1766 Adolf Florijn died without leaving a son, but his assistant married his eldest daughter and took over the farm and business. Out of this marriage a son was born, Adolf Slotboom, who joined his father around 1788 and took over when Gerrit Hendrik died in 1805(.22)

During these years the peasant/carpenters kept a record of the work they did for others, usually noting the amount of time that was spent but occasionally only giving the amount charged. Most often, the entries in the book deal with carpentry jobs that consisted of repairing or building new farming tools and equipment such as ploughs, carts, and harrows. The carpenters worked on fences, doors, windows, stables and bridges, and made new cupboards, built-in beds, and, all too frequently, coffins.(23) At times the peasant/carpenter and his assistants also mowed, harvested, bound sheaves, threshed, cut turf and even slaughtered animals. Customers were charged for such work, hence they were entered into the customer book. In return, some customers performed agricultural tasks for the peasant/carpenter to work off their accounts. Those entries make it clear that the carpenter was a peasant as well. Seven different pieces of land are mentioned repeatedly, of which one was a garden and the others were fields where rye, buckwheat, oats, and the labor intensive crops of flax, potatoes, spurrey and roots were grown.(24) In other words, Florijn and his successors were not just carpenters; they spent part of their work year on agriculture to maintain their fields.

Balance Between Carpentry and Farming

How did the three generations divide their time between the two occupations? The largest number of days that any of them spent on carpentry in any one year was 234 in 1779, and the assistant(s) 109 days in the same year. Only three times did they occupy themselves more than half a year on it.(25) More commonly, less than a fourth of the year was spent on carpentry: between 1752 and his death in 1766, Florijn averaged 61.5 days per year; between 1767 and 1805 Gerrit Hendrik Slotboom averaged 63.1 days; and between 1805 and 1820 Adolf Slotboom averaged 15.8 days. From these data it appears that they worked mostly on the land and that carpentry came second.

The averages, however, give a false picture because they obscure changes in the long term trend of the number of days spent on carpentry. Figure 1 shows indices of the actual number of days per year worked on carpentry by the carpenter and of the average price of rye on the Arnhem market between 1752 and 1820. Rye was the most important grain crop in the region, and it is mentioned most frequently in the customer book with reference to the family's own land.(26) At first sight, the pattern is puzzling. Until 1780, the carpenter increased the number of days he worked, while after 1780 the trend reflects a decreasing number of days devoted to carpentry (a similar trend exists for the carpenter's assistant(s) as is evident from figure 2).(27) In the meantime, rye prices increased until 1775, fell back somewhat until 1780, and thereafter increased steadily until 1805. The two trends, time spent on carpentry and prices, began to diverge significantly between 1780 and 1790.

How can these patterns be explained? It is possible that between 1780 and 1790 the carpenter reduced the number of days spent on carpentry in response to rising agricultural prices. If, as I contend, peasants took on by-employments in times of need with the intent of returning to agriculture when possible, that would be a logical course of action. I will return to this argument below. That leaves the period prior to 1780, where the pattern is somewhat puzzling: why did the peasant/carpenter initially increase carpentry days (after prices had started to go up), and why was his response so late? The answers may be found by looking at the various generations of carpenters who lived during the span of the customer book.

Adolf Florijn and Gerrit Hendrik Slotboom

The first peasant/carpenter, Adolf Florijn, died in 1766. From the time he started the book in 1752 until his death fourteen years later he worked as a carpenter for more than 100 days on only two occasions: in 1764 and 1765. In those years he spent a large number of days on a few big projects: building a cart, and building or altering a house - an unusually large task.(28) During most years, Florijn worked between 43 and 93 days on a large variety of smaller carpentry jobs and spent the rest of the time working his fields. His involvement in agriculture is clear from the services done by some of his customers to work off their accounts, which included sowing, harrowing and harvesting, but primarily the transportation of turf, peat, manure, crops, and wood. In fact, judging by how often others hauled for him, Florijn probably did not own a horse himself.(29)

Although the information in the customer book does not cover a large portion of Florijn's life, it indicates that he maintained a relatively stable ratio between time spent on agriculture and time spent on carpentry. The low number of days in 1752 and 1753 must be disregarded because a customer book existed prior to this one which probably contained more entries for those years.(30) The high numbers in 1764 and 1765 can be explained by special projects. Therefore, between 1752 and 1767, Florijn kept more or less the same balance. This seems reasonable since rye prices did not begin to rise until after 1765, and there was no reason to alter a way of life that provided an adequate living for him and his family up until his death.

When Gerrit Hendrik Slotboom took over Florijn's workshop and farm in 1767, he increased the amount of time he spent on carpentry. Until 1780, Slot-boom worked well over 100 days as a carpenter during nine different years, while the number for the other years was not much lower.(31) This was kept up until 1781 when he cut back dramatically to an average of just over 30 days a year. Why this initial increase and then sudden decrease? It may be explained by looking at Slotboom's personal history.

Slotboom began working for Florijn when he was about 15 years old, and was still only 19 when his employer died. Shortly after, on February 14, 1767, he married Florijn's oldest daughter Barendina (age 19), starting a new household at a very young age.(32) This was hardly the beginning of an easy life, however, for that same year Barendina's mother and one of her sisters died, leaving two remaining younger sisters orphaned.(33) Clearly, 1766 and 1767 were disastrous years for the Florijn family and it was up to young Slotboom and his wife to put the pieces back together. In order to do that, they assumed an enormous burden.

An inheritance agreement dated December 17, 1767 shows that the couple received outright ownership of her parents' house and furniture, carpentry tools, and livestock (total value 200 guilders). In addition they were entitled to collect all debts owed to the estate, estimated at just over 210 guilders. Finally, the land was divided equally among the three sisters. Gerrit and Barendina seem to have received a very generous inheritance, but it came with several serious obligations. First, the couple was required to .take full personal responsibility for the estate's outstanding debts to the amount of 348 guilders. Moreover, they agreed to take in her two underaged sisters (ages 8 and 14), and to furnish them with proper "housing, food, drink, linen and woolen clothes." The agreement went on to stipulate that the children had to learn to read and write, and be provided with "an overall good and Christian upbringing until they reach the age of eighteen years and are able to earn their own keep." At that point Gerrit and Barendina were obliged to give them a decent trousseau, and were no longer entitled to the proceeds from the land inherited by their wards.(34)

In addition to the burdens assumed under this agreement, Barendina had her first child in 1767; others were born in 1768, '70, '73, '77, and four more in the 1780s.(35) In other words, Slotboom and his wife, at ages 20 and 19, assumed a large financial responsibility in addition to starting a family, and the only way in which they could increase their income rapidly was if he took all the carpentry jobs he could get. That would explain the sudden increase in days spent on carpentry beginning in 1767. For years he worked off their debt and helped maintain their extended family by fixing gates, carts, wheels, harrows, plows, wheelbarrows, doors, and the odd cupboard and bedstead. Then, in 1781, after the sisters-in-law had reached the age of maturity and possibly after they had left the household, he finally saw his way clear to spend less time on carpentry and devote himself more to farming.

It is likely that Barendina (aided by her younger sisters) already spent most of her time helping to take care of the farm, and had done so from the beginning. Although the customer book does not give direct evidence for this, she probably looked after the cattle mentioned in the inheritance agreement, tended the garden, helped in the fields, and assisted in processing crops such as flax.(36) In the region where the family lived, wives were normally fully integrated in the work on the farm. Moreover, at the time when Gerrit spent a significant number of days on carpentry, he and his wife also received farming help from his customers in the form of return services. Return services had been performed when Florijn was still alive, and they consisted of a large variety of farming tasks.(37) They continued under Slotboom, especially in the first few years after he took over. Combined with Barendina's work and his carpenting skills, it meant that they could maximize their household income at a time when they needed it.

The picture I have drown here is of a household that suddenly experienced severe financial pressure. Fortunately for this one, the husband had a very usable skill which allowed him to expand his by-employment in addition to the household's occupation in agriculture.

Shift to Agriculture

As seen in Figure 1, after 1780 Slotboom spent noticeably fewer days on carpentry, which coincided with a steadily rising trend in rye prices.(38) I suggest that the two trends are related: in response to rising prices Slotboom increasingly shifted his efforts from carpentry to farming. Circumstantial evidence extracted from the customer book corroborates this.

Already during the seventies Slotboom probably discovered that agrarian prices had risen to a point where a farmer could make a good living. Some of his customers may have told him as much, or indicated it to him indirectly by no longer settling their accounts with return services, but paying cash instead. Agricultural wages had long been stagnant;(39) hence, customers' labor was put to use more profitably on their own land, where the return was improved crops that were sold for high prices. Figure 3 shows the value of return services carried out for Florijn and Slotboom. It diminished significantly in the seventies and, with exceptions in 1793 and 1795, stopped completely after 1780.(40)

In addition to the fact that his customers may no longer have been willing to carry out return services, it is likely that Slotboom bought a horse sometime during 1774 or 1775.(41) After 1774 almost no more hauling was done for him, while prior to that year transportation had formed the largest share of all return services. Although the purchase of a horse provides a logical explanation for the decline of hauling, it does not explain the pattern for other return services. Human labor services, such as sowing, harrowing, harvesting, threshing and mowing, continued to be provided until 1780 when all of them stopped. Thus, it was probably a combination of unwillingness on the part of customers and the acquisition of a horse that led to the disappearance of return services.

In other words, already in the second half of the 1770s Slotboom had begun to pay serious attention to agriculture. The purchase of a horse - a large investment at the time - is evidence of his growing interest and concern. Moreover, the fact that return services disappeared at the same time that Slotboom cut back on the number of days he spent on carpentry had to be more than a coincidence. Indeed, the two are related, for Slotboom had decided to de-emphasize carpentry in favor of agriculture. He stuck by this decision the rest of his life and spent less and less time on carpentry. In the meantime, the price of rye continued to go up to the benefit of his agricultural income, something Slotboom surely was aware of. Though it does not prove a relationship, it is worth noting that the correlation coefficient for rye prices and days worked by the carpenters is a high -.44.(42)

It could be argued that Slotboom met with an accident and was forced to cut back on his activities as a carpenter, or simply "semi-retired" from it, exhibiting a "leisure preference." I think that is highly unlikely for several reasons. Slotboom's handwriting in the book continues until 1804, the year before his death, indicating not only that he did not lose the use of his arm or hand, but also that the "I" person doing the work was Slotboom himself. Moreover, the kinds of carpentry tasks carried out by this "I" person did not change; he did the same types of jobs he did before, only fewer of them. It should also be remembered that Slotboom was still only 34 in 1781; he had five children ranging in age from 4 to 14; his wife was pregnant with their sixth child, and they had three more children after that. Given what is known about them from the inheritance agreement, that does not sound like a household in which the husband could "retire." Moreover, it should be remembered that seven pieces of land are mentioned repeatedly in the book. Even with the aid of a horse, it is doubtful that Barendina could handle all agricultural tasks without return services (which stopped after 1780) and without Gerrit's help. Based on the evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that Slotboom consciously reduced the time he spent on his by-employment while he shifted more and more of his efforts toward agriculture.

Keeping the Option Open

It is interesting to note that until 1790 the carpenter's assistants always worked the same number of days or fewer than the carpenter himself [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED]. After that year this changed, and until Slotboom's death in 1805, the assistants worked many more days than he did. This fits in well with the notion that Slotboom himself became more involved in the farm from 1780 on. Assistants were employed to do specific jobs, and Slotboom charged 6-8 stuiver per day for them, depending on their experience.(43) Hence, even if he did not want to do a particular job himself, he could earn something by employing others. He used competent people for this: from 1794 there were always one or two assistants for whom he charged 8 st., the master carpenter rate. Moreover, in 1788 his son Adolf became one of the assistants, which contributed to his income even more. As Adolf learned his craft, Slotboom's customers had to pay a higher rate for him: 5 st. a day in 1788, 6 st. in 1791, 7 st. in 1792 and 8 st. from 1797 on.(44) In other words, Slotboom decided to spend more time on agriculture but he continued his carpentry business at a lower level of intensity, and made more use of assistants to do the work for him. This allowed him to work in agriculture and profit from the rising economic trend while maintaining a clientele for his services as a carpenter. That was useful for times when labor demands in agriculture were low and in case it became necessary again to increase his income from carpentry.

In weighing the alternatives, Slotboom had a genuine choice: demand for carpentry work did not go down but, if anything, increased. With higher prices, farmers were making more money and could afford to buy new and more equipment and have existing woodwork repaired. Still, Slotboom turned toward agriculture, which is an indication of his preference for farming as well as a desire to become better off. From the record it is unclear which one was more important, but given the long tradition of agriculture in the region and the attachment people had to the land, it is likely he preferred farming to carpentry.

After Gerrit Hendrik Slotboom died, his son Adolf inherited the business. Adolf continued his father's policy of spending more time on agriculture. The only difference was that he did the carpentry jobs himself rather than employ others. However, this is not altogether clear since the information for the last ten years is incomplete and it is possible that another book had been started in the meantime. Therefore, little can be said about Adolf's decisions except to note that he was 35 years old when his father died. He had worked for him for many years as a carpenter and on the farm. Presumably, during that time Adolf had learned from his father how to get the most out of the two occupations. Since agricultural prices were still high in the early nineteenth century and wages remained stable, he may well have continued his father's policies. In any case, the farm continued to exist: it appeared as the "Florijn" farm on a 1828 land registry map, and Adolph's descendants continued to live and work on it right up to the present.


The eighteenth-century Slotboom household is an example of a household that responded actively and consciously when its future was threatened. Its members increased their involvement with a by-employment when times were hard, but returned to agriculture when they could. This return was facilitated 'by their changing personal circumstances as well as by changing agricultural prices. Their story contains aspects that are unique to their household and others that are more universal. Thus, their hardships were caused by purely personal circumstances as opposed to, e.g., a decline in agricultural prices. However, their response of taking up additional work to keep their heads above water was not unusual. Here the Slotbooms may have been fortunate in that their problems were personal, because it meant that they could work both in farming and carpentry. As a result, they did not just survive but actually managed to work their way out of trouble. Obviously, that would be more difficult to do if one had to resort to by-employments due to structural causes such as declining prices or rising rents.

Nevertheless, whether or not their circumstances allowed them to succeed, peasants like the Slotbooms took on by-employments with the expectation that these were temporary arrangement until their situation improved, at which point they intended to return to agriculture. They took those important decisions consciously: aware of the needs of the household, aware of economic conditions, and mindful of their options. Because they were attentive, they could take advantage of by-employments or any other possibilities that arose. It also meant that they could recognize when the time was ripe to return to agriculture. The story of the Slotboom household is a good model of such conscious action: Slotboom shifted his worklife around when he needed to, and changed it again when rising agricultural prices made farming attractive again.

What is the broader significance of the experience of the Slotboom household? I do not want to generalize too much from this one case, but I do want to suggest that the Slotbooms reflected an attitude toward agriculture that was typical of peasants. They had a very strong attachment to the land and were extremely unwilling to let go of it. This attitude was not unique to the Achterhoek, but can be seen in other regions and other countries as well. Indeed, historians are producing more and more evidence to show how reluctant peasants were to give up their involvement in agriculture even when they were under severe economic pressure to do so.

In the Pays de Caux in France, for instance, families found that they could not subsist on agriculture alone. Large farmers dominated the area and the majority of the population was land poor. These land poor families, however, found that they could continue their involvement with agriculture as long as the women took on a by-employment during the off season. Hence, the men performed all nonharvest agricultural work, the women spun, and the entire family worked during the harvest.(45)

Since the early eighteenth century, peasant families in the village of Marlhes, in the Loire department in southeastern France, had been forced to earn additional income by working in industrial occupations. As families, they had not, however, severed their link with the land but had combined weaving with agriculture. Then, when a large market for dairy products developed during the second half of the nineteenth century, these families turned back to agriculture and away from weaving.(46)

In Flanders, Belgium, weavers continued to think of themselves as agricultural workers and returned to the land as soon as they were able to. According to an eighteenth-century contemporary: "the villager's first love is working the land - he applies himself to it with ardor - while giving to weaving or spinning linen and wool all the time that he cannot employ in cultivation."(47) Despite the fact that the countryside of Flanders may have been the most industrialized in the world, weaving remained a part-time occupation: on average, no more than 100 days a year were spent on it.(48)

The Slotboom household provides yet another piece of evidence of the importance of agriculture to peasants. It also reveals the active role peasants played in economic change. While no historical actors are completely free agents, peasants were not simply passive victims of economic forces beyond their control. Rather, they made conscious decisions, based on their own preferences and the options available to them; and these decisions had a bearing on the long-term development of agriculture, on what happened to by-employments, and even on what happened in rural manufacturing. Thus, a particular historical outcome cannot be seen as an inevitable linear development; rather, it is the result of conscious manipulation of the available possibilities. Many peasants clearly hoped to remain on the land; in cases like the Slotbooms, where circumstances cooperated, they were able to respond creatively to their situation so that this goal could be achieved.

Keeping this attitude in mind, we must also recognize that peasants made decisions throughout their lives and not just once. They were likely to review their options again and again, sometimes making new choices that brought them back to where they started, even reversing apparent long-term economic trends in their area. The process of historical change, far from being simple and ineluctable, is rendered complex by the choices of conscious human actors.

Department of History Cleveland, Ohio 44115


I thank Robert DuPlessis, Francois Hendrickx, Jonathan Liebowitz, Jim Oberly, and especially Roger Manning and Peter Meiksins for their suggestions and comments on earlier versions of this article. The maps are reprinted from my "Guild or Union? A Case Study of Rural Dutch Weavers, 1682-1750," International Review of Social/History, Vol 39 (1994). They appear here with permission from Cambridge University Press.

1. Tamara K. Hareven, "The History of the Family and the Complexity of Social Change," American Historical Review 96 (1991): 95-124, esp. 111-119; Richard L. Rudolph, "The European Family and Economy: Central Themes and Issues," Journal of Family History 17 (1992): 119-138.

2. Hareven, "History of the Family," 111 and n. 49.

3. Rudolph, "European Family," 120-122.

4. Ibid., 133.

5. See Rudolph "European Family," and Hareven, "History of the Family." Hans Medick was one of the first to investigate the role of the household in connection with industrialization. See his "The Proto-Industrial Family Economy: the Structural Function of Households and Family during the Transition from Peasant Society to Industrial Capitalism," Social History 3 (1976): 291-315. For an overview of proto-industrialization and references see chapters 1 and 6 in Joyce M. Mastboom, "The Role of Eastern Gelderland in Dutch Economic Development, 1650-1850" (Ph.D. dissertation, Brandeis University, 1990), the endnotes in P. Kriedte, H. Medick, and J. Schlumbohm, Industrialization before Industrialization (Cambridge, 1981), and F. F. Mendels, "Proto-industrialization: Theory and Reality. General Report," in Mendels, La Protoindustrialisation: Theorie et Realite. Rapports, VIIIe Congres International d'Histoire Economique, Budapest, Section A2. (Lille, 1982), pp. 69-107. For well-considered critiques, see M. Berg, P. Hudson, and M. Sonenscher, Manufacture in Town and Country before the Factory (Cambridge, 1983), and P. Hudson, The Regional Perspective, in Hudson, ed., Regions and Industries: A Perspective on the Industrial Revolution in Britain (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 5-38.

6. See Mastboom, "The Role of Eastern Gelderland," Ch. 5.

7. J. C. Pape, "Oude Bouwlandgronden in Nederland," Boor en Spade 18 (1972): 113. B. H. Slicher van Bath, "Geschiedenis van de Nederzettingen in de Graafschap Zutfen," Bijdragen en Mededelingen van de Vereeniging 'Gelre' 48 (1946): 29-76.

8. Municipal Archives Aalten, Archief van Drost en Geerfden van de Heerlijkheid Bredevoort, n. 155, "Kohieren voor de inning van de 'Liberale Gift'."

9. T. Heeringa, De Graafschap: Een Bijdrage tot de Kennis van het Cultuurlandschap en van het Scholtenprobleem (Zutphen, 1934), pp. 41, 63-65. G. Wildenbeest, De Winterswijkse Scholten: Opkomst, Bloei en Neergang (Amsterdam, 1985), pp. 82-84.

10. Mastboom, "Eastern Gelderland," pp. 70-75.

11. B.H. Slicher van Bath, Een Samenleving Onder Spanning. Geschiedenis van het Platteland in Overijssel (Assen, 1957, rep. Utrecht, 1977), p. 584; H.K. Roessingh, "Beroep en Bedrijf op de Veluwe in het Midden van de Achttiende Eeuw," A.A.G. Bijdragen 13 (1965): 204.

12. H.K. Roessingh, "Het Begin van de Aardappelteelt en de Aardappelconsumptie in Gelderland," Gelders Oudheidkundig Contactbericht 68 (1976): 4-5. See also Jan van der Maas and Leo Noordegraaf, "Smakelijk Eten. Aardappelconsumptie in Holland in de Achttiende Eeuw en het Begin van de Negentiende Eeuw," Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 31 (1983): 189-193.

13. The earliest evidence that potatoes were grown locally dates from 1719 when they are mentioned in a rental agreement. See H.A. Westrate, "Fen Geldersche Heerlijkheid in de 18de Eeuw," Bijdragen voor Vaderlandsche Geschiedenis en Oudheidkunde 5 (1906), Fourth Series, p. 451.

14. Rijksarchief in Gelderland, Archieven van de Rentmeesters der Voormalige Nassausche Domeinen in Gelderland, nrs. 8-10, Verpachtboeken van de Domeinen van Bredevoort, 1742-1781. The agreements dating from 1742 and 1748 contain no such prohibition.

15. H.K. Roessingh, "Landbouw in de Noordelijke Nederlanden 1650-1815," Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden 8 (Haarlem, 1979): 53.

16. Mastboom, "Eastern Gelderland," pp. 88-91, 123-127.

17. Servants were fairly common, making up as much as 10-15% of the total population. 32% of households in the Veluwe and Twente, and 39% in the arable region of Salland had live-in servants. See A.M. van der Woude, "Demografische Ontwikkeling van de Noordelijke Nederlanden 1500-1800," Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden 5 (Haarlem, 1980): 158.

18. Roessingh, "Landbouw," p. 50.

19. Van der Woude, "Demografische Ontwikkeling," p. 161.

20. Mastboom, "Eastern Gelderland," chapters 3 and 4.

21. "Het Klantenboek van het Eibergse Timmerbedrijfje Florijn, later Slotboom. 1752-1820," transcribed and introduced by Leendert van Prooije (unpublished typescript, 1980). This paper is based on the transcription after I made corrections based on a microfiche of the original manuscript. I thank Leendert van Prooije, who holds the original manuscript, for his cooperation and efforts in providing me with a microfiche copy of this document. A copy of the unpublished typescript may be found in the library of the Staring Instituut in the town of Doetinchem, the Netherlands.

22. Ibid., Wie waren de schrijvers van het klantenboek en waar woonden zij.

23. For more information on these coffins see Leendert van Prooije, "Timmerlui en Doodskisten in Olden-Eibergen (1754-1818)," Jaarboek Achterhoek en Liemers 8 (1985): 111-119.

24. "Het Klantenboek," Bijlage 9.

25. See Appendix I.

26. "Het Klantenboek," Bijlage 9.

27. It has been extremely difficult to determine the best manner in which to present these data. Five-year averages are too arbitrary, and running averages create too many high and low numbers that are not true to what is written in the customer book. After receiving much contradictory advice, I decided to present indices of the actual number of days worked per year, which has the virtue of not leaving anything out. However, it makes the graphs more complex so that I have had to display the information in two graphs instead of one.

28. See Appendix I. "Het Klantenboek," pp. 11, 60, 64, 273, 282.

29. Ibid., Bijlage 8.

30. From the text, it is clear that there was a previous book because Florijn carried over a number of accounts.

31. See Appendix I.

32. In the Netherlands, average age at marriage was between 22 and 28 years. Van der Woude, "Demografische Ontwikkeling," p. 156.

33. "Het Klantenboek," Bijlage 2.

34. Ibid., Bijlage 1.

35. Ibid., Bijlage 2.

36. There is only one mention in the customer book of a woman working: in 1808, Ruelfken (Gerrit and Barendina's daughter-in-law) was paid for one day helping a widow process flax. "Het Klantenboek," p. 219.

37. Ibid., Bijlage 8.

38. Rising prices were caused by the large amount of money in circulation in the late eighteenth century and by rapid population growth in Europe after 1740. Although the results of these developments were felt in the Dutch Republic and the eastern Achterhoek, rapid population growth did not take place there. The Republic's overall population trend differed from the rest of Europe by not showing a dramatic upturn in the second half of the eighteenth century. See W. Abel, Agricultural Fluctuations in Europe. From the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Centuries (New York, 1980), pp. 200-202. B.H. Slicher van Bath, De Agrarische Geschiedenis van West-Europa 500-1850 (Utrecht, 1960), pp. 243-244, 246. Jan de Vries, "The Population and Economy of the Preindustrial Netherlands," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 15 (1985): 661-664.

39. de Vries, "Population," passim. J.L. van Zanden, "De Opkomst van een Eigenerfde Boerenklasse in Overijssel, 1750-1830," A.A.G. Bijdragen 24 (1984): 123.

40. In 1793 a customer wove 18 el of checked cloth for Slotboom. This is not reflected in Figure 2 because its value is not given in the source. In 1795 a customer spent two days digging potatoes, valued at 4 stuiver per day. "Het Klantenboek," Bijlage 8.

41. Ibid.

42. A simple zero-order correlation test was done on the 5-year running averages of days worked by the carpenters and rye prices on the Arnhem market from 1755 to 1820. The resulting coefficient for rye prices and days worked by the carpenters is -.4437. I thank Thomas E. Feucht for making these calculations.

43. There were 20 stuivers to 1 guilder.

44. "Het Klantenboek," Bijlage 12. It is possible that a younger son, Jan, assisted in 1788-90 and another son, Albert, in 1801-02 at the rate of 5 st. a day.

45. Gay L. Gullickson, Spinners and Weavers of Auffay (Cambridge, 1986), pp. 196-201.

46. James R. Lehning, The Peasants of Marlhes. Economic Development and Family Organization in Nineteenth-Century France (Chapel Hill, 1980), pp. 35-48, 172-174.

47. Chr. Vandenbroeke, "De Proto-industriele en de Industriele Ontwikkeling van Belgie in het Kader van de Internationale Historiografie, ' Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Filologie en Geschiedenis (1985): 320.

48. Ibid., 321-322.


Return Services Expressed in Guilders and Stuivers(*)

Year Gld. St. Index

1752 14 2 82
1753 20 18 118
1754 24 3 141
1755 21 18 124
1756 30 16 177
1757 31 10 182
1758 20 4 117
1759 14 2 82
1760 11 4 65
1761 7 0 41
1762 11 5 65
1763 16 14 95
1764 33 15 194
1765 17 7 100
1766 16 15 95
1767 28 1 164
1768 29 8 170
1769 45 3 264
1770 18 2 196
1771 7 15 42
1772 17 12 100
1773 18 8 106
1774 3 1 18
1775 16 1
1776 10 16 60
1780 4 10 24
1795 8 0
W/o year 4 15 24

* 20 stuivers to 1 guilder.

Source: "Her Klantenboek van her Eibergse Timmerbedrijfje Florijn,
later Slotboom. 1752-1820" transcribed by Leendert van Prooije
(unpublished typescript, Utrecht, 1980), Bijlage 8.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Journal of Social History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Mastboom, Joyce M.
Publication:Journal of Social History
Date:Mar 22, 1996
Previous Article:The Amesbury-Salisbury strike and the social origins of political nativism in antebellum Massachusetts.
Next Article:The illegitimate and the illegal in a South African city: the effects of apartheid on births out of wedlock.

Related Articles
Female householding in late eighteenth-century America and the problem of poverty.
The Land and the Loom: Peasants and Profit in Northern France, 1680-1800.
Challenges of the rural environment in a global economy.
Indentured to Liberty: Peasant Life and the Hessian Military State, 1688-1815.
New York farmers and the market revolution: economic behavior in the mid-Hudson Valley, 1780-1830.
The significance of towns for rural livelihoods in Nepal--two case studies from Western Nepal.
A love for agriculture. (Careers In Ag).
Investing in the rural rebound.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |