Sunday, 26 November 2017

Pack Rag Day

 So many interesting days to recount!...
This is the day when hiring fairs were held through out the north of the country.
It was called pack rag day because the servants who were seeking new 
places would carry their possessions with them as they visited the fairs 
in search of employment.  

"Servant men, stand up for your wages
When the hirings you do go
For you must work all sorts of weather
Both cold and wet and snow."

Traditional Ballad from Shropshire

Hiring Fairs date from the time of Edward III, and his attempts to regulate 
the labour market by the Statute of Labourers in 1351 at a time of serious national shortage of workers after the Black death decimated the population.

The hopefuls would gather in the street, sporting some sort of badge or tool to signify their speciality. Shepherds held a crook or a tuft of wool, cowmen brought wisps of straw, dairymaids carried a milking stool or pail and housemaids held a  broom or mop. This is why sometimes the fairs a re known as mop fairs.
If they fitted the employers requirements a shilling would be handed over to seal the bargain for the coming year.

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