(possessional peasants), enserfed peasants attached to the possessional manufaktury (possessional manufactures) in Russia during the 18th and the first half of the 19th century. The possessional peasants could not be sold independently of an enterprise.
The category of possessional peasants arose in 1721 during the reign of Peter I, when it became necessary to supply the developing large-scale industries with labor. The category included peasants purchased for factories, peasants permanently transmitted according to the decree of Jan. 7, 1736, and skilled workers owned by the crown who were transferred to the owners of possessional manufactures. In the 19th century possessional peasants also included the forced laborers who replaced the category of assigned (pripisnye) peasants.
The legal status of possessional peasants working in factories differed slightly from that of the pomest’e (fief) peasants. They could not be transferred to agricultural work nor sent into the army in place of enserfed peasants. They could petition the Berg-Kollegiia and the Manufaktur-Kollegiia (Collegium of Mines and Manufactures), to which they were subject. The possessional peasants in factories were severely exploited: noneconomic coercion was combined with fines and with deductions from pay. As capitalism developed, the owners of possessional manufactures attempted to replace the forced labor of possessional peasants with the more productive labor of hired workers. The law of 1840, which permitted the release of possessional workers, initiated the end of possessional relations. The category of possessional peasants was abolished with the abolition of serfdom.
REFERENCESSemevskii, V.I. Krest’iane ν tsarstvovanie imp. Ekateriny II, 2nd ed., vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1903.
Udintsev, Vs. Possessionnoe pravo. Kiev, 1896.
Pankratova, A. M. Formirovanie proletariata ν Rossii Moscow, 1963.