History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2018-05-17

Statare - Sweden

Följande text är enbart en kort sammanställning av statarsystemet och inte en vetenskaplig avhandling. Materialet är till stor del hämtad från boken "Statarlängan från Berga" av Ivar Lo-Johansson m fl.

The "Statare" system -

A system of keeping agricultural laborer receiving allowance in kind

The system of keeping "statare" at large manors began in the middle of the 18th century and existed for roughly two hundred years. It wasn't abolished until 1945. The "statar" system come into existence in an area west of Stockholm called Mälardalen covering the provinces around Lake Mälaren, first of all the province of Södermanland. From this region it spread to the flat country of the southern parts of Sweden (region of Götaland). The "statare” system did not exist in the northern region, Norrland. The system reached its peak at the end of the 1800's. "Statare" remained a phenomena for the large manors, even if large farms also had "statare".

What was a Statare?

A "statare" was a married, poor agricultural laborer who didn't own any property, possessed no land nor animals, livestock etc. The agricultural laborer called "statare" were hired for a year at a time and lived in special lodgings at the manors, the so-called "statarlängorna" (statare lodgins). These special lodgings were poor accommodations, more like hutments. As mentioned above, the "statare" were married agricultural laborers and the whole family were employed. The wife of a "statare" was expected to work as well. The "statare" were partly receiving allowance (payment) in kind. This payment in kind was called "stat" in Swedish. The word "Statare" actually means someone receiving payment in kind (stat - statare). The "statare" families had the right to set a barrel of potatoes (100 kg - 220 pounds) per year at the manor's ground. Other part of the payment was firewood, grain, milk and of course the lodging. The "statare" signed a contract for a year at a time and the laborer year started in the last week of October. It was during this week the "statare" moved to another employment as a "statare". This week was called "slankveckan" in Swedish - slim week or hungry week in English. The landlord of the manor had the right to physically chastise and punish the "statare". This right was not abolished until 1926.

The difference between Statare and Torpare (Crofters)

In genealogy research of your Swedish roots you will sooner or later come across terms like "torp" (croft/cottage) and "torpare" (crofter/tenant farmer). Statare and crofters were two different groups. Both "statare" and crofters were agricultural workers but there were quite a difference between those two groups. The crofter (torpare) was a small-scale tenant farmer. He had his own dwelling (croft), cattle and belonging arable and pasture land. The "statare" were hired agricultural laborers without any land or property. The difference between a crofter and an ordinary tenant farmer was that the crofter didn't pay cash for the tenancy to the landowner. Instead the crofter made a certain number of full days work (labor) for the landowner on his estate. Kind of payment in kind but paid with manpower. This was called "dagsverken" in Swedish. Read more about "torpare" (crofters). The "statare" were hired to do various types of agriculture work. For those who looked after the cattle (herdsmen), the working day would begin at 4 o'clock in the morning. They would then work for up to 8-9 hours spread out over 24 hours. The women began milking as early as 3.30 a.m. The work was divided into three shifts, with the last shift at 18.30 p.m. They worked on weekdays as well as on the Sabbath and on holidays. They had the right to between 30 and 50 days off a year, which would include Saturdays and Sundays. Out of these so called "freedays", only 13 could be taken on a Sunday. A "statare" had the right to 7 paid "off work days" per year but less than half could be taken consecutively i.e. he could have only a 3 1/2 days' holiday at any one time. The cattle workers weren't allowed to have any "freedays" at all, instead they received an special allowance as a compensation. There was an unwritten law that, when the "statare" signed his contract, his wife and growing children would also be contracted to work on the manor or farm. The wife's duty was to milk the cows and she may have to milk up to 150 liters (40 US gallons) of milk a day or 16 cows! Afterwards, she would also have to clean all the milking utensils. The pay was very low and this kind of work had the lowest status on the farm/manor. As late as in the 1930's the payment was as low as 50 SEK (Swedish crowns) per month. The "statare" married young as the work under the " Statare” system involved the whole family. Without a capable wife, the man could get no employment. When the wife of a "statare" gave birth, she would not be given much time off from her work and she was expected to carry on working until the labor pains began. Soon after giving birth, often on the following day, she would be back on her milking-stool or performing her outdoor duties."  The lodgings of the "statare" were part of the payment. However, the lodgings were miserable barracks. They were drafty, cold and dank and in most cases only one room which also served as a kitchen. Vermin like loess, cockroaches and rats were very common in the lodgings. Diseases like tuberculosis were very common among the "statare". The "statare" had the lowest status among the farmhands on the farm/manor. The manor's forest rangers, foremen, carpenters, horse drivers, and blacksmiths were on the other hand high up in rang. The "statare" looking after the cattle and the milkers were at the bottom of the scale and therefore received the worst lodgings. The lodgings were often the biggest source of irritation among the "statare" and the major reason for the many moving between the manors. No place could be worse then the present one, they always hoped to get to a better place. The "statare" were also called the nomads of the Mälardalen (Mälardalen = the provinces around Lake Mälaren) due to their incessant moving. During the "slankveckan" (the hungry week), last week of October, the muddy roads were filled with the "statare's" vanloads of furniture and other belonings.

Other countries

The "Statare” system is a Swedish phenomena. However a similar system also existed in Germany and the Baltic countries. Our neighbor countries Denmark and Finland didn't have this system. Since this system with agricultural laborer receiving allowance in kind did not exist in the English spoken countries, it difficult to translate the word "statare" to English. Therefore I have kept the Swedish word "statare" in this article.

Related Links

The Old Agricultural Society and its People Snickartorp, the "statare" lodging at Berga manor, Södermanland province. Top of page
xxxxx Swegen xxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2018-05-17

Statare - Sweden

Följande text är enbart en kort sammanställning av statarsystemet och inte en vetenskaplig avhandling. Materialet är till stor del hämtad från boken "Statarlängan från Berga" av Ivar Lo-Johansson m fl.

The "Statare" system -

A system of keeping agricultural

laborer receiving allowance in

kind

The system of keeping "statare" at large manors began in the middle of the 18th century and existed for roughly two hundred years. It wasn't abolished until 1945. The "statar" system come into existence in an area west of Stockholm called Mälardalen covering the provinces around Lake Mälaren, first of all the province of Södermanland. From this region it spread to the flat country of the southern parts of Sweden (region of Götaland). The "statare” system did not exist in the northern region, Norrland. The system reached its peak at the end of the 1800's. "Statare" remained a phenomena for the large manors, even if large farms also had "statare".

What was a Statare?

A "statare" was a married, poor agricultural laborer who didn't own any property, possessed no land nor animals, livestock etc. The agricultural laborer called "statare" were hired for a year at a time and lived in special lodgings at the manors, the so-called "statarlängorna" (statare lodgins). These special lodgings were poor accommodations, more like hutments. As mentioned above, the "statare" were married agricultural laborers and the whole family were employed. The wife of a "statare" was expected to work as well. The "statare" were partly receiving allowance (payment) in kind. This payment in kind was called "stat" in Swedish. The word "Statare" actually means someone receiving payment in kind (stat - statare). The "statare" families had the right to set a barrel of potatoes (100 kg - 220 pounds) per year at the manor's ground. Other part of the payment was firewood, grain, milk and of course the lodging. The "statare" signed a contract for a year at a time  and the laborer year started in the last week of October. It was during this week the "statare" moved to another employment as a "statare". This week was called "slankveckan" in Swedish - slim week or hungry week in English. The landlord of the manor had the right to physically chastise and punish the "statare". This right was not abolished until 1926.

The difference between Statare and Torpare

(Crofters)

In genealogy research of your Swedish roots you will sooner or later come across terms like "torp" (croft/cottage) and "torpare" (crofter/tenant farmer). Statare and crofters were two different groups. Both "statare" and crofters were agricultural workers but there were quite a difference between those two groups. The crofter (torpare) was a small-scale tenant farmer. He had his own dwelling (croft), cattle and belonging arable and pasture land. The "statare" were hired agricultural laborers without any land or property. The difference between a crofter and an ordinary tenant farmer was that the crofter didn't pay cash for the tenancy to the landowner. Instead the crofter made a certain number of full days work (labor) for the landowner on his estate. Kind of payment in kind but paid with manpower. This was called "dagsverken" in Swedish. Read more about "torpare" (crofters). The "statare" were hired to do various types of agriculture work. For those who looked after the cattle (herdsmen), the working day would begin at 4 o'clock in the morning. They would then work for up to 8-9 hours spread out over 24 hours. The women began milking as early as 3.30 a.m. The work was divided into three shifts, with the last shift at 18.30 p.m. They worked on weekdays as well as on the Sabbath and on holidays. They had the right to between 30 and 50 days off a year, which would include Saturdays and Sundays. Out of these so called "freedays", only 13 could be taken on a Sunday. A "statare" had the right to 7 paid "off work days" per year but less than half could be taken consecutively i.e. he could have only a 3 1/2 days' holiday at any one time. The cattle workers weren't allowed to have any "freedays" at all, instead they received an special allowance as a compensation. There was an unwritten law that, when the "statare" signed his contract, his wife and growing children would also be contracted to work on the manor or farm. The wife's duty was to milk the cows and she may have to milk up to 150 liters (40 US gallons) of milk a day or 16 cows! Afterwards, she would also have to clean all the milking utensils. The pay was very low and this kind of work had the lowest status on the farm/manor. As late as in the 1930's the payment was as low as 50 SEK (Swedish crowns) per month. The "statare" married young as the work under the " Statare” system involved the whole family. Without a capable wife, the man could get no employment. When the wife of a "statare" gave birth, she would not be given much time off from her work and she was expected to carry on working until the labor pains began. Soon after giving birth, often on the following day, she would be back on her milking- stool or performing her outdoor duties."  The lodgings of the "statare" were part of the payment. However, the lodgings were miserable barracks. They were drafty, cold and dank and in most cases only one room which also served as a kitchen. Vermin like loess, cockroaches and rats were very common in the lodgings. Diseases like tuberculosis were very common among the "statare". The "statare" had the lowest status among the farmhands on the farm/manor. The manor's forest rangers, foremen, carpenters, horse drivers, and blacksmiths were on the other hand high up in rang. The "statare" looking after the cattle and the milkers were at the bottom of the scale and therefore received the worst lodgings. The lodgings were often the biggest source of irritation among the "statare" and the major reason for the many moving between the manors. No place could be worse then the present one, they always hoped to get to a better place. The "statare" were also called the nomads of the Mälardalen (Mälardalen = the provinces around Lake Mälaren) due to their incessant moving. During the "slankveckan" (the hungry week), last week of October, the muddy roads were filled with the "statare's" vanloads of furniture and other belonings.

Other countries

The "Statare” system is a Swedish phenomena. However a similar system also existed in Germany and the Baltic countries. Our neighbor countries Denmark and Finland didn't have this system. Since this system with agricultural laborer receiving allowance in kind did not exist in the English spoken countries, it difficult to translate the word "statare" to English. Therefore I have kept the Swedish word "statare" in this article.

Related Links

The Old Agricultural Society and its People Snickartorp, the "statare" lodging at Berga manor, Södermanland province. Top of page