(A) was anciently a forty-shilling freeholder, and as such qualified to vote, and serve on juries. In more modern times it meant a farmer who cultivated his own freehold. Later still, an upper farmer, tenant or otherwise, is often called a yeoman.
“His family were yeomen of the richer class, who for some generations had held property.” -
R. C. Jebb: Richard Bentley, chap. i. p. 2.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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