OXFORDSHIRE-L ArchivesArchiver > OXFORDSHIRE > 2002-09 > 1030897770
From: Eve McLaughlin <>
Subject: Re: [OXF] Word Definition Yeoman
Date: Sun, 1 Sep 2002 17:29:30 +0100
In message <00f201c251c3$ba506a20$>, Toni Skidmore
>> A 'yeoman' was a person of respectable standing who owned and farmed his
>own land, but he was below the rank of gentleman.
>A yeoman owned his own land? This is new to me ... was this universal?
Yes in 1700, not always in 1800, since major farm tenants might also be
>I've seen several of my 17c-early 18c yeomen buried 'in woollens only,'
>which I assume to mean that they were poor and could not afford a coffin.
'in woollen only' This means that he was wrapped in a woollen shroud,
complying with the law designed to protect the flagging woollen
industry, and not silk, cotton, fustian, or whatever else.
>Surely landowners, with tenants/labourers of their own, could have come up
>with the wood and labour to produce a coffin for the head yeoman when he
Could, but it was not the sutom.
Wooden coffins were not common for actual burial in c1700 anyway - a
coffin or bier owned by the parish perhaps to carry the body to the
churchyard, but the burial was in a shroud only. Simple common sense,
which would appeal to rural people - more rapid recycling/
In Scotland, they not only hired a bier by a pall or mortcloth to
cover the body in its shroud.
Only the gentry who tended to be buried on shelves in vaults used
coffins, wooden or lead, because they were not being returned to earth.
Customs changed by c 1800, certainly by Victorian times
Author of the McLaughlin Guides for family historians
Secretary Bucks Genealogical Society