As well as searching www.scottishindexes.com by name you can also search by keyword alone. This means it’s good for one place studies, but also for searching for different types of people. Let’s take an example: bondagers and hinds.
There was a practice amongst agricultural communities, mainly in the south-east of Scotland and north east of England where a man employed on a farm as hind would supply a young woman to work on the fields; she was known as a bondager.
When a man was newly married, his wife might work as a bondager. Once they had children and the married woman could no longer work in the fields, another relative, perhaps her sister would fulfil this role, until eventually a daughter was old enough to provide the labour. If there was no female relative to take the job, it was common for a woman from outside the family to become the bondager.
The hind would generally be a ploughman, having the important responsibility of looking after the horses, an integral part of any farm. The bondager would work in the fields, particularly during the harvest season.
The hind would often be ‘paid in kind’, often grain and a little land to cultivate. Any surplus could be sold at the market. The bondager could be paid in cash, or her wages might be the house in which they would all live.
You can see an example of this situation in our 1841 census record.
As the 19th century progressed, the custom gradually began to die out. If we follow the same family we saw in the 1841 census to 1851 we see John now described as an ‘Ag. Lab’. Another young woman is with the family, this time being described as a Farm Servant.
Exactly what arrangement was made is difficult to know, it could be a that Margaret was a bondager but not recorded that way in the census. We know however that the practice was dying out so perhaps the arrangements had changed.
To learn more about hinds and bondagers I would recommend www.thebondagers.com and www.foodheritage-berwick.org.uk.