A farm records book kept by a well off farmer Andrew Taylor has been found. He lived at Craighadoos, St Johnston. This townland is described as belonging to the Barony of Raphoe. Basically the picture one gets from his records that if you knew what life was like in that townland then you got a picture that matched life in the whole Laggan area. The picture from Andrew's records is one from the latter part of the 1800's.
The book is a ledger written by hand. It bears his name and is inscribed Andrew Taylor Book, July 5th, 1869, Craighadoos on the fly leaf.
There are two parts in this ledger.
The first gives forty names of servants who were hired from 1869 to 1887. Up to 1897 the records of these servants were not kept very well after. The second records what crops and livestock were sold and also Mr Taylor's business expenses. The first record was made September 1st 1872 and ended in September 1884.
Mostly this farming family went to the hiring fairs at Strabane and sometimes they went to Letterkenny. These fairs took place every May and November. Most of the labourers were hired for six months starting on May 12th with their time up on November 12th. Some workers were hired in November just for the winter season and kept until May the next year. The Taylors brought in extra workers for the harvest period of August and September.
Workers got board and lodging and were not always paid in cash. Some got other items as pay for their work. The pay depended on how well one's parents bargained at the hiring fair for one as well as on gender and age. Ploughmen with plenty of experience could get paid best. About one third of the names in the ledger are of female workers. They got paid half as much as the men got paid. They were domestic servants but yet doing farm work was a part of their job as well.
The Taylors were literate and well educated so that explains their high standard of bookkeeping. This standard may have been a bit unusual in those times in the Laggan.
Here is an excerpt from the ledger,
John Ward: wages from May 12th to November 12th, 1869 £6-10-0.
Each page is referred to by a folio number. Cash payments made to workers during the contract period are recorded with the date. The outstanding balance due to the worker was paid in November, as follows in the case of John Ward:
£ s. d
June 27th to cash 1-0
July 28th to cash 2-0
August 8th to cash 2-6
Sept. 3rd to cash 1-0
Sept. 22nd to cash in Derry for clothes 15-2
Sept. 25th to cash to pay for making trousers 2-0
Sept. 25th to cash for your father 1-0-0
Sept. 28th to cash for the priest 2-6
Oct. 2nd to cash to pay for your trousers 2-6
to cash to pay for making clothes 2-11-0