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The history about

Husmannsvesenet

Husmannsvesenet was a phenomenon that existed all over Norway, in different variants. Eiker and the other flat settlements in Eastern Norway were probably the area where the homesteading system became most widespread, and within Eiker's borders we find many varieties - there were homesteaders with land and landless beach sitters, village homesteaders and working homesteaders.

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Housemen in 1723 and 1765

The last half of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century were a period of great upheaval in the farming community on Eiker. The crown estate and the noble estates disintegrated, many farmers became sole proprietors, but also rich timber merchants from the towns bought farms and land on Eiker. The population increased, and many new homesteads were cleared.

The preparation for a new cadastre in 1723 is probably the first source that provides a comprehensive overview of homesteaders on Eiker. It shows that the homestead service at this time was an institution that was well established in all parts of the village. As many as 116 of the farms on Eiker had homeowners at this time. The vast majority only one or two homesteaders, but farms such as Nedre Hoen, Vestre Lo and Skjelbred had as many as six, Stenshorne had as many as nine homesteads, under Fossesholm there are 13 and under Haug vicarage 14 homesteads.

In almost all of these places, oats were grown, usually between half and a whole barrel. This means that these were homesteaders with land, while homesteaders without land are not included - reasonably enough, since this was a tax register and the land was a considered tax for. If one includes all the homesteaders who did not have land, the number would probably be considerably larger than the 246 homesteaders' places given in 1723.

The next year we find a comprehensive overview of homeowners on Eiker, is 1765, when a census was taken in connection with the collection of an extra tax. All people over the age of 15 were here, and 252 of them are listed as homemakers. That is, only slightly more than in 1723. But the tax in 1765 was a so-called cup tax, so that even homeowners who did not have land were included. These are not called homeowners in the census, but are entered in the same tax class as the homeowners. of them, there were a total of 413 pieces. Based on this, we can conclude that almost 20% of Eiker's population in the middle of the 18th century were homemakers. But more interesting than the number is perhaps to look more closely at what kind of homemakers one had on Eiker.

So many kinds of homeowners

Unfortunately, the census of 1765 says almost nothing about what people worked on. The exceptions are eight hammersmiths at the Hassel ironworks and fourteen at Nøstetangen who "work at the factory". But based on place of residence, it is also possible to say a lot about what the homemakers on Eiker made a living from.

Not surprisingly, we find most homeowners where there was a sawmill and other industry. It was in Vestfossen and Skotselv, along Hoenselva and in Mjøndalen. There is hardly any doubt that many of these were sawmill workers. Under farms such as Solberg and Krokstad, there was a large mill farm, and here we also find a concentration of homesteaders. The same applies to the sundstedet by Haug - both under Prestegården and on the east side of Drammenselva under the farms Lerberg and Hobbelstad. The homesteaders here may have been connected to timber floating and salmon fishing, but also the fact that Haugsund was an important hub for transport probably had its significance. Among the homeowners here, we probably find innkeepers, shutters and craftsmen.

Nevertheless, only a fairly modest proportion of the peasants in the 18th century lived in such settlements. Under all the larger farms in the village, it was common with both four and five homesteads or even more. This applied to both farms in the center of the village and those on the outskirts. The establishment of such homesteads must be related to the need for labor on the farm, especially in the onns. Farmers could secure work assistance by renting out land and taking payment in the form of compulsory work. Without having studied the homeowners' contracts in more detail, it must be possible to assume that the homeowners on such farms were so-called "working homeowners", while those who had permanent work in sawmills or in other industries were "building homeowners", ie they paid for renting space with money instead of compulsory labor. In some places it may have been a combination - this applies, for example, to farms such as Fossesholm, Ulleland and Hoen, which both had a significant dirt road and at the same time a large sawmill business.

Many homeowners were probably also timber floats. We probably find them along the entire Drammenselva, but there were especially many places near the large timber hinges at Kverk and Stenberg. Another industry that laid the foundation for clearing homesteads was mining. When there were as many homesteaders under farms as Berg and Stenshorne, it is probably related to the fact that there was operation in both Bergsgruvene and Krambudalsgruvene in the 1760s.

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This glass was produced at Nøstetangen in 1771 and is part of a series of 24 glasses that showed different types of business activities. On this glass it is glass production that is presented.  Engraver: Villas Winter.  Bilde 2 av 4. Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / CC BY-NC

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