Imperial Russia Ivanovo

Ivanovo: Property

When Kirill Ermolaevich Gandurin died in May 1820, he left behind a wife, a daughter, and a long list of property. A one-story stone house, a list of sixty four icons, a second list of twenty seven additional icons, two clocks, silver, jewelry, seven books, all on religious topics. And, of course, extensive lists of clothing and cloth. The last is the least surprising, because Gandurin was not a nobleman, nor was he a merchant. He was wealthy—no one looking at the long list of property could doubt that—but he was wealthy in a most unusual context. He was one of the wealthy serf industrialists of the village of Ivanovo, the major textile center of early-nineteenth-century Russia.

Because Gandurin was a serf, the settlement of his property was overseen by the Ivanovo estate administration, which represented the interests of the village’s owner, Count Dmitrii Nikolaevich Sheremetev. It operated according to strict regulation—a set of domovye postanovleniia that had established regular practices regarding serf property. As a result of that regulation, “Ivanovo represented its own little self-contained state [gosudarstvo] within Russia” as the former serf Ia. P. Garelin put it in his history of the village (and eventually town).

There’s an unusual amount of information included in the file about Gandurin’s estate in large part because his heir was his underaged daughter. Less than two weeks after Gandurin’s death, his widow, Anna Ivanovna, petitioned the Ivanovo estate administration, asking that they appoint four figures—her late husband’s two brothers Lavrenty and Anton, as well as two other relatives—as guardians for the property (although she clearly did not write the petition herself, she did sign it herself, in a fully legible, though somewhat shaky, hand). The four men were appointed, and although the file includes some correspondence about disagreements between them, for the most part the estate was handled straightforwardly.

The file also contains a remarkable list, a detailed register of income and expenses for the Gandurin women’s household for 1821-1824. The whole register is too much to put here, but here’s the list of expenses for 1822.

Month Date Purchased or paid Rubles Kopeks
January 4 Firewood, seven sazhen for five rubles a sazhen 35
Beef, 26 funt for 11 ½ kopeks a funt 2 99
12 Tallow candles, 10 funt for 35 kopeks a funt 3 50
Beef, 35 funt for 11 kopeks each 3 75
26 Wheat flour, 4 pud 10 funt for 2 rubles 20 kopeks a pud 9 35
Beef, 23 funt for 10 ½  kopeks a funt 2 41
One sack of flour 21
Rye, 2 chetverti, 3 chetveriki for 14 rubles each 36 75
Given to worker Gerasim 10  80
Fish 4
Firewood, 10 sazhen for 5 rubles each 50
Gloves for the worker 1 25
2 2 Boots for the worker 5 40
Bought in Rostov a loaf of sugar, 14 funts for 1 ruble 15 kopeks each 16 10
One funt of tea 10
1 pud 10 funts of grey soap for 11 rubles a phd 13 75
Olive oil, 26 funts for 95 kopeks a funt 24 70
3 10 One measure of peas 3 10
Fish, two sturgeons, 1 puds 10 funt for 13 kopeks a funt 16 25
For easter, money given to Anna Ivanovna for expenses 5 40
Three spades 78
Paid for packing the cellar with snow 3
Paid for milling flour 1
4 30 Rye, 6 ½ chetverti for 14 rubles 40 kopeks each 93 60
One sack of wheat flour 16 50
5 1 Paid for replacing the vamps of boots for the worker 4
Paid for beef and mutton 5 30
9 One funt of tea 11
Paid for washing clothing 21 60
6 10 Given to the worker Agrafena for board for a year and a half 60 80
22 Paid for beef and mutton 7 40
A sugar loaf, 12 funts for 1 ruble 15 kopeks each 13 80
One funt of tea 10 50
9 2 One sack of wheat flour 18
Paid for beef and mutton 6 70
Two sacks of flour 41
14 Cabbage for 2 50
Two puds of salt for 2 rubles 50 kopeks each 5
Three pairs of hose for the servants (rabam) 4
Two barns (?) of clean (or possibly barley) straw 14
10 20 Five puds of wheat flour 11
Paid for milling flour 3 50
Tallow candles, 25 funts for 7 50
Beef, 11 puds 35 funt for 3 rubles 75 kopeks a pud 44 55
11 24 Paid for pasturing the cow 2
Three pairs of shoes (bashmaki) 8
One bale of hay 2 47
12 4 Six sazhens of firewood 30
For the servants two pairs of shoes 4
6 puds of malt for 1 ruble 70 kopeks each 10 20
10 Two bales of hay 50
Given to the worker Gerasim 70

(A couple of notes: a funt is just under a pound, or about 400 grams; a pud is 40 funts. A sazhen of firewood is somewhere around a cord—it’s normally a measure of length equivalent to a bit over 2 meters or 7 feet, but also used as a measure of volume. Rye is being purchased in quantities normally associated with sowing—a chetvert is a bit under 6 bushels, or a bit over 200 liters and there are 8 chetveriki in a chetvert. Also, there’s something wrong with either the original list or my notes at the end, unless the price of a bale of hay really jumped enormously over the course of a couple of weeks at the end of the year.)

As always, I love a list, and this one has a number of interesting things. First, that’s a lot of firewood—perhaps not surprising given that it’s Russia, but it’s still an impressive amount. I’m also struck by the amount of meat being purchased given that this was a small household of two women plus several servants. It certainly suggests that they did not live a life of retirement (or it suggests that the guardians were perhaps charging things to the women’s accounts). And there are few items “for the servants” or “for the worker”—footwear and gloves.

The file also tells us a bit about what happened to Ekaterina. In 1825, she petitioned the Ivanovo estate administration on her own behalf. Now of legal age, she wished to marry a peasant son from Ivanovo, Afanasii Afanasevich Kuvaev and asked the administration for permission. She signed her petition very neatly, and her guardians all approved her wish. She was allowed to go ahead with the marriage.

Ekaterina shows up again in another archival file, this one a report on serfs recently granted freedom. One of those serfs was Iakov Iakimovich Kuvaev, freed in 1829 with his family. That family included two sons, Afanasii and Ivan, as well as their larger families. Included in the list were Afanasii’s son also named Afanasii, and his wife, listed as Katerina Kirillova. She was at the time of her manumission still only 20 years old, and was already the mother of two small daughters, Varvara and Aleksandra.

(Source: RGADA f. 1287, op. 5, d. 5019, ll. 1-1ob (Anna Ivanovna’s petition); ll. 22-31 (the list of property); ll. 74-84 (the register of expenses); ll. 95-95ob (Ekaterina Kirillovna’s petition); RGIA f. 1088, op. 5, d. 389, ll. 4-11 (the list of freed serfs, compiled in the early 1830s);  Ia. P. Garelin, Gorod Ivanovo-Voznesensk ili byvshie selo Ivanovo i Voznesenskii posad (Vladimirskoi gubernii) vol. 1 (Ivanovo: Ivanovskii gosudarstvenii universitet, 2001; reprint from Shuia: Ia. I. Borisoglebskii, 1884), 113 (on the administration of the village)

By Alison Smith

Professor, University of Toronto, Department of History;

Author of For the Common Good and Their Own Well-Being: Social Estates in Imperial Russia (Oxford University Press, 2014)

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