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The motivation of buyers and sellers

The most common reasons for sales which are mentioned in orphan books and land transfer registers are only general, such as ‘from necessary, important or great need' or ‘out of necessity'. These references to need were made particularly in the second half of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th centuries when the buyers were mostly institutions (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol. 155r, 1685; bk. no. 321, fol. 671r, 1657; bk. no. 338, fol. 196r, after 1702).

More specific reasons for selling farm money are found only rarely. Some sellers were motivated by the necessity to obtain cash quickly to cover various expenses and by their own worsening social, health or economic situation. Some sellers needed to get cash quickly to purchase their own farm holding and to pay for related expenses, such as furnishings (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol. 396r, 1692, fol. 213v, 1686; bk. no. 327, fol. 524r, 1657). The owner may have needed the money to repair the buildings on a farm holding (Vs Pee, bk. no. 325, fol. 953v, 1659). Selling farm money may have been connected to providing financial help to a family member, for example a husband (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol. 486v, 1707, fol. 46v, 1688).

Some sellers were motivated by health problems that made them pay for medical care for their relatives or themselves (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol. 474r, 1692; bk. no. 327, fol. 614r, 1704). Their deteriorating health and efforts to provide for themselves in old age were reasons for some people to prefer an immediate cash payment to a long-term repayment (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol. 59r, 1664; bk. no. 327, fol. 430v, 1688). Another circumstance which could have prompted the seller to sell was old age (Vs Pee, bk. no. 327, fol. 568v, 1697).

Social reasons would include cases where a widow decided to sell the farm money in order to provide financial resources for expenses connected to the upbringing and sustenance of orphans (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol. 335r, 1716). Widows were sometimes forced to pay off their late husbands’ debts and they evidently needed the consent of the orphans in these situations (Vs Pee, bk.' no. 336, fol. 46v, 1692; bk. no. 320, fol. 717r, 1596; bk. no. 285, fol. 70r). The obligation to pay funeral expenses could also have accelerated the sale of farm money (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol. 206v, 1716).

Some sellers sold their money in order to acquire resources for satisfying creditors and repaying debts (Vs Pee, bk. no. 327, fol. 174v, 1659; bk. no. 320, fol. 717r, 1596; bk. no. 336, f. 396r, 1698). Others needed to pay fees and the financial demands of the state (Vs Pee, bk. no. 336, fol 179r, 1719; bk. no. 338, fol. 196r, 1704).

A farm holder occasionally sold farm money on his already repaid farm. He would definitely have been motivated by the need to obtain cash which he could not acquire elsewhere. In this way, the tenant farmer obtained a loan similar to a mortgage (Mainusova 1965, p. 8). The sale could have been a symptom of his economic problems. But even this kind of sale was permitted by the landlord. Some sellers probably decided to sell a part or a whole share because the period for repayment of farm holdings was extended and they had to wait longer to receive their own share of the inheritance. There was also a chance that they would never receive it.

On average, after 1625, the period for repaying orphans or whole groups of heirs increased in the towns being studied. Before that, repaying a group of orphans took almost 22 years but during the Thirty Years’ War, it was almost 39 years. This period was not shortened until the beginning of the 18th century when it was more than 42 years. An heir who, as a rule, anticipated that they would be paid their share of an inheritance after many years and who would know the current economic situation of the holder and other circumstances, such as his abilities, preferred to give up their share of an inheritance. For many orphans, it was more acceptable to sell their farm money at a loss and to obtain at least some cash. It was common that a seller gradually sold their share of the inheritance, money inherited from parents or siblings or purchased money depending on how much cash they needed or inherited. The moment the farm money was sold apparently depended on a number of various factors and a seller’s individual motives played an important part in the process.

Understanding the motivation of buyers is even more difficult than understanding the sellers, since the records in orphan books do not contain sufficient information. For example, in Podulsany, these financial activities were related to building a new church instead of the existing chapel and securing financial income for the church endowment.

Some buyers managed to transfer the repayments which they had to pay from their own farm holding, to the farm where they had purchased money. This was a rare situation and it is not clear to what extent these buyers could rely on exchanging the claims of their creditors for their own claims on other farm holdings.

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