Home British & World English yeoman
1historical A man holding and cultivating a small landed estate; a freeholder.
- ‘It is at this point that we see the emergence of the yeoman farmer: a peasant smallholder with up to 100 acres of land.’
- ‘Until more recently, historical accounts of nonslaveholding whites of the antebellum Southeast have focused heavily on yeomen and sharecroppers.’
- ‘Around 1700 they had less wealth than yeomen in each region, but by 1810 they owned as much personal estate as yeomen and were approaching the wealth of farmers.’
- ‘The early Republican ideal of the yeoman farmer was giving way to the virtues of urban capitalism and concern for, or fear of, the urban masses.’
- ‘Those in the middle of society, whether yeomen farmers or tradesmen, prospered.’
- ‘They rearranged their estates to create larger tenant farms on rack rents, with a decline in small yeomen farmers with customary tenure or freeholds.’
- ‘A virtuous citizenry, which Jefferson considered essential to a republican form of government, was most reliably constituted of yeomen farmers he believed.’
- ‘A market revolution occurred as a yeoman and cash crop agriculture and capitalist manufacturing replaced artisan economy.’
- ‘For the agricultural writer Arthur Young, yeomen were only freeholders who were not gentry, and the same definition was used by witnesses before the 1833 Select Committee on Agriculture.’
- ‘The poorly-educated son of a yeoman farmer, his social graces, and those of his wife, left something to be desired.’
- 1.1 A person qualified for certain duties and rights, such as to serve on juries and vote for the knight of the shire, by virtue of possessing free land of an annual value of 40 shillings.
- ‘The hoplite’s presence on the battlefield was a reflection of his own free status in the polis community and thus reinforced his privileged position as a free yeoman farmer and voting citizen.’
- ‘These folks here at the sheriff’s office have done a yeoman’s job for the citizens of this county.’
- ‘The event at the Charterhouse, where the young Elizabeth I stayed before acceding to the English throne, featured musicians, a court jester and yeomen guards in a bid to recreate the regal splendour of the Tudor age.’
- ‘As rumours of the impending rising grew stronger the Government ordered John Derenzy to form a party of yeomen in the area.’
2historical A servant in a royal or noble household, ranking between a sergeant and a groom or a squire and a page.
- ‘Throughout the medieval period the term yeoman was used within the royal and noble households to indicate a servant’s rank, degree, position or status.’
- ‘In other words, whose servant is the yeoman, the squire’s servant or the knight’s servant?’
- ‘Popular printed portraits of Elizabeth may have been more expensive but they would have been in reach of yeomen, artisans, clerks and many others who lived above a subsistance income.’
- ‘In the 17th century it developed into a general term for the lord of the manor, well below the level of nobility, but far above yeomen.’
- ‘One contemporary account notes that before her visit to Croydon in April and May 1585 a gentleman usher called Francis Coot and nine yeomen and grooms spent eight days making ready for her Majesty the Bishop’s house.’
- ‘One is a canon; the other his yeoman (servant). The Host welcomes them and asks whether either has a tale to tell.’
3historical A member of the yeomanry force.
- ‘Many stories told about O’Keefe recount his daring and athletic escapes from pursuing yeomen and soldiers.’
- ‘The suffering caused is remembered in the many stories about women fleeing their homes and taking refuge for fear of soldier and yeoman repression.’
4(in the Royal and other Commonwealth navies) a petty officer concerned with signalling.
- ‘A signalling (tactical communications) petty officer in the British Royal Navy (known as a ‘Yeoman of Signals’).’
- 4.1 A petty officer in the US navy performing clerical duties on board ship.
- ‘For cold weather wear there was a navy blue cape. The normal Yeoman’s rating badge was worn on the jacket’s left sleeve.’
- ‘US Navy yeoman Jack Adams witnessed the war in the Pacific.’
- ‘Gary was assigned basic training in Orlando … serving as Operations Yeoman and Squadron Admin Awards Petty Officer.’
- ‘Petty Officer, U.S. Navy enlisted rate insignia; comparative military ranks … such as MM for Machinist’s Mate, QM for Quartermaster, or YN for Yeoman.’
- ‘As a young Yeoman Petty Officer, Hal was assigned to the U.S.S. COLORADO.’
Efficient or useful help in need.‘the minister has performed yeoman service for Mulroney’
- ‘Of all the uniformed services, it is the Scouts and Guides Movement, which seems to have been relegated to the background, though it has rendered a yeoman service to society.’
- ‘Percy Brown has done yeoman service in painstakingly documenting the architecture of India in his book Indian Architecture: Islamic Period.’
- ‘I think here particularly of such ‘older’ Seniors as Jimmy and John, two stalwarts who have given, in cliched terms, yeoman service to the club over many years.’
- ‘Ships such as HMAS Bombo and HMAS Coongoola provided yeoman service taking equipment and stores to the remote Anjo Peninsula in WA, helping in the construction of the Truscott airfield.’
- ‘The Rotary Club, doing a yeoman service to the poor and the needy, has also been carrying on the arduous task of identifying and honouring those upholding the professional values and maintaining dignity in their professions.’
- ‘Several organisations and non-governmental organisations are doing yeoman service to society by promoting activities that bring out the faculties among the people, be it in sports or music.’
- ‘The Institute as is its practice will present the ‘Sangita Kala Visharada’ Award to a senior artiste who has done yeoman service in the field of Indian music, art and culture and who also fits the theme of the festival.’
- ‘Memon Education and Welfare Society, MESCO, Khair-E-Ummat Trust and others are providing yeoman service to the community by giving financial assistance.’
- ‘During the unprecedented ‘great deluge’ of November 1978, which claimed several lives and destroyed property in and around this hill station, the club rendered yeoman service to many victims.’
- ‘But it is not ‘well-equipped’, as claimed by the District Collector, Gyanesh Kumar, whose yeoman service has helped materialise the park in record time.’
Middle English: probably from young + man.
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- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
Yeoman, in English history, a class intermediate between the gentry and the labourers; a yeoman was usually a landholder but could also be a retainer, guard, attendant, or subordinate official. The word appears in Middle English as yemen, or yoman, and is perhaps a contraction of yeng man or yong man, meaning young man, or attendant. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (late 14th century) depicts a yeoman who is a forester and a retainer. Most yeomen of the later Middle Ages were probably occupied in cultivating the land; Raphael Holinshed , in his Chronicles (1577), described them as having free land worth £6 (originally 40 shillings) annually and as not being entitled to bear arms.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:
- history of Europe: Landlords and peasants…farmers constituted the free English yeomanry, and their appearance marks the demise of the last vestiges of medieval serfdom. In the Low Countries, urban investors bought up the valuable lands near towns and converted them into leaseholds, which were leased for high rents over long terms. The heavy infusions of…
- United Kingdom: Economy and society…prosperous tenants who were styled yeomen to denote their economic independence and the social gulf between them and those who eked out a bare existence. Some were the younger sons of gentlemen; others aspired to enter the ranks of the gentry, having amassed sufficient wealth to be secure against the…
- military technology: The English longbow…the lifestyle of the English yeomanry, and, as that lifestyle changed to make archery less remunerative and time for its practice less available, the quality of English archery declined. By the last quarter of the 16th century there were few longbowmen available, and the skill and strength of those who…
- Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed, English chronicler, remembered chiefly because his Chroniclesenjoyed great popularity and became a quarry for many Elizabethan dramatists, especially Shakespeare, who found, in the second edition, material for Macbeth, King Lear, Cymbeline, and many of his historical plays.…
- Social classSocial class, a group of people within a society who possess the same socioeconomic status. Besides being important in social theory, the concept of class as a collection of individuals sharing similar economic circumstances has been widely used in censuses and in studies of social mobility. The…
More About Yeoman
3 references found in Britannica articles
- longbow use
- In military technology: The English longbow
- social status
- In history of Europe: Landlords and peasants
- In United Kingdom: Economy and society
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