Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What is torppari?

Conventional translation of torppari is crofter, but as I don't know what sort of terms crofters were living under, I don't know if that is accurate or not.

A torppari had a (probably small and simple) house and a plot of land to farm (these together form the torppa). This was not an independent farm, but a part of one. A torppari would pay rent, usually by working a set amount of days per week for the farmer. Additionally there could be yearly work product requirements like spinning yarn, gathering berries, making baskets, making trips to the closest town ... whatever was agreed. Often they also needed to work extra days during harvest - just when they would have needed to work on their own land as well. The saying is that moon is the sun of a torppari.

The agreements were seldom on paper so the torppari position was not very secure. But it could also be that the torppa would go from father to son for several generations (as was the case in one part of my own ancestry). Whereas farms are often (though not always) today in the same place they were a hundred years ago, torppas can be harder to locate as they could be a long distance away from the actual farm. After the civil war of 1918 we got a law that allowed the torppari's to buy the land (or equivalent) and many small farms were created. Many of these have since disappeared.

In church books torppa is usually on the pages after the main farm. Depending on the parish they can also be in a separate book reserved for non-owning class.

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