Peasantry levels, occupations, and personal descriptions found in Czech records:

Diacritical/Orthographic signs ignored in some cases.


ausnehmer = parents or older relatives, often without pension or income, who were taken care of or were allowed to live in the house and got fed as well.  Probably only refers to poor and/or old people.

baba = midwife

baracnik = farm worker with 2 or 3 acres.  Worked for sedlak & chalupnik and on nobles’ estates.  Similar to domkar.

bauer = farmer.  A German word but is seen in Czech records.

čeled’ = level of serf. See poddana.

celedin = hired hand, usually owned no land.  See poddana.

čeloláník = highest level of peasantry.  The best-situated farmers in the mid 1800s.

chalupnik = “upper” cottager or gardener, allotment holder, held abt. 3 hectares of land & livestock.  Worked the land of others, did not employ others.  Most emigrants were chalupnik, many having a trade or skill besides farming.   [ch is after h in Czech alphabet.  Using English alphabet order here.]

chlap = level of serf. See poddana.

choden =  free farmer

ctvrtlanik = farmer holding a quarter of a normal piece of land.

ctvrtnik = farmer holding a quarter of a normal piece of land.

dcera = daughter

dědic = level of serf. See poddana.

dělník = worker, laborer

devce = girl, maid

děvečka = farm maid, paid wage labor.

domkar = “lower” cottager, held no land or a small piece like a garden.  Worked for a farmer or practiced a craft.  In ca. 1800 the duties of a domkar were:  1. Pay 3 zlaty (florins) to the suzerains (gracious authorities)/yr. 2. Pass 3 mejtnik (a measure of volume) of rye to suzerains/yr.  3. Work 13 days/yr. for suzerains (corvee/robota). 4. Pay 1 slaty (florin) & 24 krejcary (doits) to the village/yr.

dřevorubec = woodcutter, forester

drvoštěp = lumberjack, tree cutter

duchodce = pensioner

duchovni = priest

dušník = level of serf. See poddana

dvorak = held a farmstead

Emphiteut/Emphitert = in tenure by an emphyteusis, a right, susceptible of assignment and of descent, charged on productive real estate, the right being coupled with the enjoyment of the property on condition of taking care of the estate and paying taxes and sometimes a small rent. (the way our peasant ancestors held land they could farm, pass it to their heirs, etc. but was actually owned by the noble.)

familiant = laborer, slave-like.  Received property from local nobility or town with the right to make a living of it.  They paid cash rent for 10 years, then cash or crops.  Land use rights were inheritable.

farář =  priest

fojt = old word for village magistrate.

grunt = land, abt. 70 acres

hajny = forest keeper

hectare = 2.471 acres.  1 acre = .4047 hectare.

hejtman = mayor’s officer (town council)

honak = herdsman of cows

hospodář = farmer.  Rare in Czech records.

hospodarstvi = farm

hostinsky = barkeeper (hostinec = pub)

hrncir = potter, ceramic potmaker

inmann = village person with no rights to common lands like grass off the community meadow, usually lvg on farm & a farmhand.

invalida = cripple, disabled

inwohner = inhabitant

jaeger = forestkeeper.

jirchar = tanner of hides

kaplan = chaplain,  assistant to priest

Katolík = Catholic (Roman Catholic).  Most peasants in South Bohemia were Catholic.  The Patent of Toleration of 1781 made the Protestant belief legal.  German Martin Luther founded Lutheranism in 1517, about 100 years after Czech Jan Hus went public with complaints against the Catholic Church, following other reformers like John Wycliffe.

kmet = level of serf. See poddana.

kmotři = Godparents

knez = priest

kolář = wheeler, wheel maker.

kolodej = wheelwright

kovar = blacksmith

krejčí = tailor

kruhar = wheelwright.

kupec = merchant

lán = measure of land, abt. 18 hectares. Originally represented the land that could be cultivated by 2 oxen and provide sufficient living for medium family.

lanik/lannik = farmer.  Lanik used mainly in Moravia.  One lan = ca. 36 acres.

lesnik = forester

localist = pastor or chaplain of a branch church.

malorolnik = cottager

manžel = husband

manželka = wife

manželsky = legitimate.

mastalir = groom, worked in stable w/horses.

matka = mother

měšťané = middle class aka towns people.

mistni = local

mladenec = young male farm hand

mlynar/mlnarik = miller

muz = husband

myslivec = hunter, gamekeeper.

nadenik = day laborer

najemnik = tennant (worked for lodging)

nemanželsky = illegitimate

neusedli = working for others, having no land including craftsmen.

nevěsta = bride

nevolnictví = villeinage, a harsh serfdom of the 17th century, abolished in 1781.

nevolník = villein.  Serf under harsh terms.

nezenaty = single, unmarried

obcan = burger, citizen, freeman

obchodnik = merchant, trader

obecni slouha = shepherd

obuvnik = shoemaker.

otec = father

pacholek = farm hand, (horse) groom.

pachtyr = property renter, tenant

padla = mother of an illegitimate child.

pan = Mr., would not be used to address a peasant

páni = aristocrats, high noblemen.

panna = maiden (unmarried young woman)

panstvi = authority, lord of the manor, estate, domain that the serf was subject to.

pasak = herdsman

pastorek = step or foster child

pastyr/pastejr = shepherd, herdsman

pekar = baker

poddaná/poddany = serf/subject (to authority)/peasant.  Tied to the land and serving the noble/lord/patroni. Levels in early days were dušník, dědic, chlap, kmet, and čeled’.

poddanství = serfdom/servitude, abolished in 1848.

podruh = farm laborer who was his master’s subtenant, room part of his pay or he rented space.  Sometimes slept in the barn or shed. Worked for sedlak or chalupnik.

podruzi = plural of podruh

podsednik = small farmer

pohunek = farm hand

pololanik = farmer holding half of a normal piece of land.

povozník = carter, carries things in carts.

prtak = shoe repairman

pulnik/pullanik/pulstatnik/pulsedlak = farmer holding half of a normal piece of land, a lan (ca. 36 acres).

purkrabi = the count of a castle or fortified town.  burg rave, burggraf, castellan.

reeve = an official representing nobility.

renta = rent for using the noble’s land.  Until year ____, peasants did not own land, they only held it with certain rights like passing it to heirs.

reznik = butcher

richter = see rychtar

robota = corvee or manorial service.  Usually labor, typically several weeks per year, but sometimes produce, eggs, meat, etc. to the land owner, noble, lord of the manor.  At one time robota required 3 days per week, sunrise to sundown, for the master, an example of how the peasants were not able to “get ahead” in their financial condition, making America even more attractive.  It was estimated that the serfs were able to keep abt. 27% of their income.  If the noble owned the village farm equipment, he collected rent for its use.  In 1775 a cottager had to work 26 days/year for the manor.  Serfdom and robota ended in 1848.

rolnik = peasant farmer, had land, horses, livestock.  aka sedlak.

rusticus = Latin for rural person and farmer.

rybar = fisherman

rychta = pub run by the mayor.

rychtář = village magistrate, mayor.  Earlier represented the nobility.

sedláci = peasant farmers, middle-class, who were láníci (whole-tract holders) and půlláníci (held one-half tract).  One tract = one lán (abt. 20 hectares).

sedlák = peasant farmer, had land, horses, livestock. aka rolnik.  Held abt. 10 hectares, had obligation to breed oxen or horses for corvee (robota).  Employed chalupnik & baracnik.

senkyr = innkeeper

sirotek = orphan. Children of a deceased man were called orphans all their lives, even if mother living.

skotak = herdsman of cattle.

slechta = nobility

slouha/sluha/sluzka = unskilled worker, sometimes even a slave. A low social position.

snoubenec = fiance, betrothed

šoltys = old word for village magistrate.

starosta = mayor. Also called rychtar & purkmistr.

stredni rolnik = farmer

svec = shoemaker.

svědci = witness

svobodný = free, not servile.

svoji = spouse

syn = son

tchan = father-in-law

tesař = carpenter

tkadlec = weaver

truhlar = carpenter, woodworker

tvrz = the lord’s manor/house/residence

učitel = teacher

urozenstvo = nobility, including knize (duke), hrabe (count), pan (lord), & rytir (knight).

usedli = settled, having land

usedlost = farmstead

vcelar = beekeeper

vdova = widow

vdovec = widower

vlastni = natural child (not step-child or adopted)

vogt = an official representing nobility.

vojak = soldier (military)

vulgo (surname) = also known as.  Usually from living in a house of that name.

výměnkář/vyminkar = retired peasant farmer, usually on his property, cared for by his children.

zahradnik = “middle” cottager or gardener, held a small plot, abt. 1 hectare. Worked for rich people or practiced a craft.  Called podsednik in Moravia.

zakonnost = illegitimate

zemedelec = farmer of a small farm.

žena = wife

ženich = bridegroom

Quoting Dr. Duncan B. Gardiner from the November 1997 newsletter of the Germanic Genealogy Society:  Actually, feudal emancipation took place all at once in the Habsburg lands, but in two steps.  First, in the 1780s, under Joseph II, serfdom was formally abolished (1781 in Bohemia and Galicia, 1785 in Hungary), but those serfs in debt to their landlord (or their descendants still in debt) could not leave until the debt was paid off.  For the overwhelming majority, that meant still being bound to the landlord.  Leibeigenschaft (personal bondage) had been abolished, but Unterthanigkeit (the status of being the lord’s subjects) still existed.  The local lord still represented for the peasant the full authority of the emperor.  The revolutions of 1848 resulted in distribution of the peasant lands of the feudal aristocracy and complete abolition of feudal dues and debts.  This occurred, as far as I can see, in all the Habsburg lands including Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, etc.

Property Owning, by Drs. Robert Dulfer of Rozmberk Society, casual discussion, not a formal writing:

The peasants obtained the right to appoint their heirs or sell the use of the farm first under the Rozmberks in the late 16th century.  However, the Catholic nobility stopped that after the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and it took some time before it was re-instated as a legal right.  However, the peasants did not really own the free-hold until the 19th century, they could only sell or inherit the right of use, not the actual estates.  It is strange because after the first Austrian Constitution of 1848, most farmers had to really buy their farms from the nobility, even though they already had sold and bought the right of use for decades or were living there for several centuries.  The lands they owned somewhat earlier sometimes.  We saw some really nice land deeds from 1772 with all nobility stamps and regal writing explaining everything in detail……….


Some records are in Latin and some in the old German script. Here are just 12 occupations in German:

bauer = farmer, like sedlak                    hausler = cottager

chaluppner =  cottager                          hind = farm laborer

cotter = cottager                                      hufner = farmer

grunt =  land                                               inwohner = laborer

gutshaus = noble’s house                      lahner = farmer

halbbauer = farmer of ½ land piece       taglohner = day laborer


Judy Nelson, 4-5-13