Seahouses, Probus

History of Bondagers

Saturday, 20th August 2016, 5:00 am
Weather picture from Monday January 4th 2016 View across to the Farnes from Seahouses Harbour Picture by Jane Coltman

The meeting of Probus was opened by our chairman Ian Wilkinson, who announced the recent death of honorary member Eric Birbeck, and a minute’s silence was observed.

Our chairman then invited secretary Fraser Suffield and treasurer Forbes Grant to give their reports. As is usual, both detailed satisfactory administration.

Apologies were then read, and birthday wishes given.

Our speaker Dinah Iredale was then introduced to us by Fraser.

She is from a farming background and was to speak to us on Bondagers.

Bondagers were women who worked on the farms of Northumberland and South East Scotland during the 17th to early 20th centuries.

They were part of an employment system whereby a farmer would hire a hind, who would agree as part of his contract with the farmer to provide another worker, normally a woman, known as a bondager to carry out outside work.

They wore very distinctive and attractive costumes, and William Cobbett described them as looking like “romantic milk maids”.

The main problem was the small size of the cottages provided to house the hind, his family and the bondager.

After a fascinating talk, which took us from the 17th century to shortly after the Second World War, it was left to Norman Laidler to reminisce about his school days when he lived in the countryside with far less mechanisation than we now have and gangs were in the fields picking potatoes etc.

He wasn’t the only one there with these memories and his vote of thanks was given sincerely on behalf of us all.