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Servants were an important part of the northwestern European household economy in the preindustrial past. This study examines household-level characteristics that are predictive of the presence of rural servants using data from Orkney, Scotland. The number of servants present in a household is related to household composition, landholding size, and the marital status of the household head. In addition, the sex of the particular servant hired reveals that the labor of male and female servants is not fungible. The sex of the servant hired is related to the ratio of male and female household members of working age, the occupation of the head, household composition, and the size of the household's landholding.


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This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article made available by Taylor & Francis © 2012.

Jennings JA, Wood JW, and Johnson PL. (2012). Household-level Predictors of the Presence of Servants in Northern Orkney, Scotland, 1851-1901. The History of the Family.16(3): 278-291. Available at

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