This is a confusing term that has had lots of meanings over time In the 17th century, a yeoman was a prosperous, hard-working farmer A less prosperous farmer would be called a "husbandman" Don't get confused with the earlier meaning of an attendant to a knight or noble--or the later meaning of a petty officer in the navy
in former times was free and cultivated his own land officer in the (ceremonial) bodyguard of the British monarch
A freehold farmer who cultivates his own land; a "rich peasant" exemplified by the English longbowmen of Agincourt
of the gueard a sort of foot guards to the king's person, of larger stature than ordinary, every one being required to be six foot high; they are in number 100 in constant duty; the one half wear harquebuses and the other partuisans; their attendance is on the sovereigns person both at home and abroad; they are clad after the manner of king Henry VIII's time
Early references usually refer to Knights retainers but later the term came to mean a freeholder or tenant engaged in agriculture The major difference from the minor gentry was that a yeoman would put his own hand to work rather than employ servants Economically yeomen could and many did acquire substantial wealth and in the 16th and 17th century were the backbone of the rural economy Many of Leicestershire yeomen were descended from Danish soldiers who were allocated land to farm surrounding the Danelaw boroughs providing a ready defensive force
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