CORNISH-L ArchivesArchiver > CORNISH > 2010-11 > 1289932136
From: Sher Leetooze <>
Subject: Re: [CORNISH] Farmers in 1700's - from the No. Craven (YKS)Historical Research Group
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 13:28:56 -0500
Wow! What interesting stuff! yes, we do all need to learn, and with
listers like yourself the job is made easy! Thanks for the info!
At 05:52 PM 16/11/2010 +1100, you wrote:
>On 16 Nov 2010, at 6:02 AM, Julia Mosman wrote (snip):
> > It's interesting that the term "farmer" extended to tax collectors
> > as well as people involved with agriculture - shows how far a
> > word's meaning can vary from it's initial intention, given centuries.
>Words change their meanings in ALL languages, but perhaps especially
>so in hybrid languages like English, drawing words from many very
>different sources. And all languages of settled people seem to have
>many different words for farms and farming.
>Farm is "ager" in Latin, which is also a field, from which we get the
>first part of "agriculture"; and the Latin for a farmer of land is
>"agricola". In Dutch it is "boerderij" which also means the
>occupation of farming and "boer" means a farmer, but in Afrikaans
>this becomes "boerdery" whichmeans the same and a farm is "plaas"
>which derives from the Dutch "plaats", meaning simply a place. In
>German it is "Farm", or "Vachthof", or "Weierei" if it is a grazing
>property (but Farmland is "Gut" and the farmer is "Bauer" which is
>clearly related to both "boer" and "bou", and in German a building is
>a "Bau" or "Gebau"). In French it is "ferme" or "metaire", and in
>Italian it is "fattoria" which is clearly related to "factory", and a
>farmer is "fattore" but he is also a steward or a maker of something
>or a "doer".
>The French "ferme", from which the English "farm" comes, is from the
>Latin adjective "firmus, -a, -um", meaning strong or firm, whence
>also its English meaning, as a noun, of a business undertaking, but
>"farm" became attached to the idea of a rental or lease, or a licence
>which until recently all firms had to have too. So a farm also is a
>business undertaking (as well as as one might say a factory). Thus
>the term "tax-farmer" means someone who has a licence to collect
>taxes for the Government in a defined area and keep a percentage of
>the proceeds for his work; this (in any language) is an occupation
>that goes back well before the Byzantine Empire as mentioned by
>another contributor to this thread: Zacchaeus in the Bible was almost
>certainly a tax-farmer because the (western) Roman Empire had the
>same system, as no doubt its predecessors did, nobody was much
>concerned to take preventive measures against corruption then! This
>was, of course, a business operation, which is another reason why the
>word "firm" was attached to it.
>It's all very tangled and confusing, but it is good that Listers
>bring up these things, because we all need to learn, not only how to
>read old documents, but also how to interpret them, if we are serious
>about this pursuit.
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