Petro Boyko “Social stratification and mutual relations between reference populationgroupsof Steppe Ukraine of the last quarter of XVIIIcentury (as exemplified by Olexandrivs’k town)

The investigation of the social stratification of population, as well as Mutual relations inside the society of a certain settlement, requires taking into account that fundamental fact, that the main goal of a statistical roll compilation, being a main data source concerning the problem, as for the last quarter of XVIII – beginning of XIX centuries,was primarily a registration of the inhabitants number to be taxed. Therefore, the information in accounting books and revisions show the quantity of inhabitants, legally registered at the certain territory, but not actually leaving there, and that is especially highlighted in the first decade after ruining of Zaporiz’ka Sich. Registration of the ethnical content and social status of the population was not the main goal for theseroll’s compilation, except the cases, when that influenced the taxation level. Therewith, the fixation is complicated by the fact that the revision materials and accounting books have been saved fragmented. Thus, the revision materials on Olexandrivs’kdistrict are available only by rolls of the VІrevision. Consequently, the matter of the traditional range of the source base for investigation of this topic and actualization of new sources arises. Such sources are the materials of the church accounting – church books and confession records. Church books let us considerably enlargeour cognitive abilities. In particular, the information referred to churchbooks and confession records,foremost lets us reproduce the following problems of a certain settlementon the micro-historical level:

1)peculiarities of demographic transformations, such as migration of a certain person, family or a group, changing the social status, registration of actual number of people living in the settlement.

2) mechanical and natural growth or reduction level rate in that settlement.

3) leverage of different population groups of the settlement, identification of isolated and open social groups.

On top of that, the information about the god-parents and married people, available in the church booksenables us to use the theory of M. Granovetter”The strength of weak ties”[i]in order todistinct the informal small reference groups, their location and quantity in the society,if they are isolated or open, criteria of the information,number and time of existence. Such data, in line with involving of documents and narrative materials enable to reproduce those social and demographic transformations, which took place in the certain settlement.

Of course, there is no point to consider the data from church books, as well as from the other sources absolute. However, it isworth to point out, that church books were taken by the local authorities themselves as the main sourcecontaining the data about inhabitants. That is why the authorities carried out the constant control over their running [ii]. Before the revision of 1782 the extracts from the church books, where the summarized information about the quantity of born, married and died people was contained, was the data to define the situation related to the regional population. Consequently, we have the available information about the number of born, married and died people sent by Azov Provincial Office to G.O. Potyomkin in 1777[iii], 1778[iv], 1780[v], 1782[vi]. Such summary information with registration of born, married and died people number was cumulated and sent to governorswithin all the investigated period.[vii]There have been many orders saved concerning,primarily – optimization of church books running (mainly that concerned the timely transfer of books to consistory at the beginning of the year, where they had to be kept separately by districts and towns), secondarily, rules of information input into church books[viii]and thirdly –as for the authenticity of data concerning the regional population.[ix]Besides, the identification of certain person’s belonging to some population social group sometimes completely depended on the church minister. Thus, for example, the church book of Pokrovka village for 1788 registersinhabitants without defined social status among such population groups as colonists, citizens, country people (e.g. “from parents”, or indicating only the dwelling place). Concerning this regulation we would like to point out, that I. Liman was right, when he warns against the usage of church books data on the trust. The remarkable example of mistakes through the ignorance of church ministers is the example of data input about the death of the person being 200 years old. It is also significant that this fact was not noticed whilst compilation of summarized roll by Katerinoslav eparchy and sending the information to Synod, where this case was revealed. It was right then, when the officials in the persons of Ye. Richelieu got interested in this fact, who asked ArchbishopJob to collect the information concerning the reasons of the old man’s long life and which documentsjustified the definition of the latter. As it was found out later, the reason of such a long life was the ordinary mistake of a sticharion verger Maxim Pukhal’skiy, who was not very good in dealing with figures. He wrote 200 instead of 90 years and wrote the wrong last name of the dead person as well, having had written Zhekul, though the real name of the dead person was Chalakul. The reason for that mistake in the last name and in the age of the dead person was in the fact that the church funeral routines were affected by the I. Sultanov priest, who ordered M. Pukhalskiy verger make the relevant records into the church book. That one, in his turn, mixed the dead F.Chalakul with his son-in-law kozak Zhekul, who had died 14 years before[x].

Summarized rolls about the number of born and died people were formed on the basis of church books and had to be sent directly into the first Department [xi]of the Senate[xii] annually. Besides that, before IV revision, except that certain special calculation of population number for 1776,1778,1779,1780 and 1781, the extractsfrom church books materials enabled the government to trace the number of the natural population growth. As a result we have the numerous rolls, sent by Azov regional office to G. Potyomkin in 1777[xiii], 1778[xiv], 1780[xv], 1782[xvi]containing the information about the born, married and died persons. This isthat data which enables to figure out the quantitative information about the total quantity of those who were born, married and died at the territory of Olexandrivs’k district and Olexandrivs’ktown itself,as the data for 1778-1779 is not available in the church book of Svyato-Pokrovskaya church.

According to the roll of Azov province, 6034 people were bornin 1779, among them- 3199 boys and 2835 girls.  2114 couples got married. 4612 people died, among them – 2510 men, 2102 women. There is also an extract in the roll,which shows that death rate among the men by ages. This summarized roll, which was made on the basis of the extracts from the church books of the Azov province townships, is informational for our investigation. The summarized data from this roll is shown in the Picture 3.1.

Pic. 3.1. Number of dead people in 1779 in Azov province

Thus, according to the indices, the biggest death rate is infantine mortality, namely –1 to 3 years old, the death rate came to 875 people (35,2%). Comparing to the roll for 1776, the infantine mortality was as highas that, but it related to the earlier age: 9 months to 1 year and came to 249 people[xvii]. The schedule visually shows that the infantine mortalitystarts to go down only after 10 years age. What concerns the other age indices, they have considerable leaps.Thus, according to the roll, the death peaks coincide with 30, 40, 45, 60 and 70 years. Besides that, there are numerous men who died in the extreme old age. It is shown in the roll that 3 people died in the age of 120 years, four people died in 105 years, six people died in 100 years, at that people who died between 91-100 years are not registered at all. It lets us admit, that at that time it was thought to be hard to find out the date of birth of the dead person when establishing his age. That is why the possibility of a reliable definition of a death rate trend is quite questionable.

Comparison of the rolls for 1776 and 1779lets us establish that the number of born people in 1779 increased from 5863 to 6034 people,married couples – from 1640 to 2114, died – from 3453 to 4612 people. That means, though the number of bornpeople in the province had increased, the natural of growth of the population went down for the count of death rate increase.

Usage of the church books for the reproduction of mutual relations between different social groups is possible on the levels of individual settlements.In the first turn, it is related to the big number of churches at the South of Ukraine in the last quarter of XVIII–beginning of XIX century,[xviii]as well as to the saving status of аchurch books and confession records. Then, it is necessary to take into account that one church township included several settlements and that influenced the location of marital status registrationin a certain township. The remarkable example are the church books of Svyatopokrovs’ka church in Olexandrivs’k, where the registration starts from 1774 and completely covers the investigated period except 1778-1779.

We have to point out that since 1789 the military church of Holy Olexander Nevskiy starts to work in Olexandrivs’k Fortressand, consequently, all the information about the marital status of military men and neighborhood is registered in the church book of this church.[xix]

In order to work out the reproduction modelof social relations in the townwe have chosen the data from the church book of Svyatopokrovs’ka church for 1787, when the population from Olexandrivs’k district and Olexandrivs’k Fortress together with satellites belonged to a township. According to this, the church book registers both military and civil population. We don’t analyze herein the earlier years, because the social status of the population as well as the place of residence are not reflected in the rolls. Thus, for example, there are some cases of population registration along the cloughs and rivers. It is related to the fact, that the ownership of the land lot, where the person lived, was not legally defined.

According to the data from the church book of Svyatopokrovs’ka church in 1787, 104 born children were registered. At that, only 47 children were born directly in Olexandrivs’k district, where Svyatopokrovs’ka church was, that is less than a half (45,2%), land lords settlements occupy the second place (37,5%) and the Fortress inhabitants are on the third place (17,3%). This statistical datalet us demonstrate which settlement ensured the nature of population growth in the township.

Table 4.2 Parents’ place of residence

Answers Frequency Percentage
Olexandrivs’k district 47 45,2
Land lords settlements 39 37,5
Fortress 18 17,3
Total 104 100


Data concerning the social stratification from Table 4.2 allows us to see in which social group families those children were born. Thus, 20 children were born in the families of military men and citizens and the mismatching of the families’ number with Table 4.3 can be explained by the fact that one family of retired military men was registered not in Olexandrivs’k Fortress, but in Oleksandrivs’k province. Right in that family one extramarital child was born by retired sergeant-major and his servant. Another military family is registered from the Kirillivka border battalion.

Table 4.3

Parents’ social status

Answers Frequency Percentage
Military men 11 10,6
Merchants 1 1,0
Bourgeois 39 37,5
Military men subordinates 9 8,7
Day-laborer 1 1,0
Land lords’ subordinates 38 36,5
Settlers 0 0
Priests 1 1,0
Crafters 3 2,9
Clerks 1 1,0
Total 104 100


On top of that, it is necessary to point out the considerable number of families of military men subordinates’ families, who lived near the fortress. It was spread that the female military high officer’s subordinates (commander of a border battalion, prime-major G. Runich or commandant colonel M.Kravatka) had lots of extramarital children, whose god-fathers sometimes were the children of those high-position officers, military people as well. Such a high percentage of extramarital children among the militaries and their subordinates, as well as many deaths related to the excessive use of an alcohol and general number of deaths due to epidemics had hardly a good attitude of the natives towards the military settlements and militaries themselves, and consequently we confirm the close character of this social population group. As for the choice of bourgeois and merchants as god-fathers by militaries, that is directly related to the availability of Russian merchants in Olexandrivs’k district, mainly from the district itself and from Oryol city.

Thus, the church book of mobile OlexanderNevskiy church registered 5 deaths in 1797, occurred due to the alcohol excessive use, when totally 38 deaths were registered during the whole year. Most deaths were in winter period, because militaries and retired soldiers visited German colonies at Khortitsa island or Schönwiesecolony that time, going to pubs, where the main revenue was from alcohol in the beginning of XIX century. Consequently, the military men going back to the fortress got frozen in the steppe or drowned in the river crossing the river ice.

As for the inhabitants of Olexandrivs’k district, it is necessary to say that according to the statics (Table 4.5) crafters were respected among bourgeois what is testified by their frequent choice as god-fathers.

Table 4.5

Analysis of god-parent’s choice for the children by parents, living in Olexandrivs’k district (N = 47) Х2=0,197

  Parents’ social status
Social status of god-parents Military men Clerks Merchants Bourgeois Priests Crafters Total
Military men 1 0 1 2 0 0 4
Merchants 0 1 0 4 0 0 5
Bourgeois 0 0 0 21 1 0 22
Land lord’s subordinates 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Priests 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Crafters 1 0 0 8 0 3 12
Manager 0 0 0 2 0 0 2
Total 2 1 1 39 1 3 47



It is known that as of 1788 there were 30crafters in Olexandrivs’k district. There were 2 smiths, 5 shoemakers, 6 tailors, 8 weavers, 8 butchers and 1 paramedic. there are some former Zaporozhians registered among the crafters, such as G.Taran and his son Ya.Taran, Demyan Korsunenko, Khariton Bily and others. In spite of such a status in the society, crafters themselves also used to choosethe other crafters as the god-fathers for their children, what gives us the basis to speak about the privileged position of this group in the society.

Concerning the merchants, this social group in Olexandrivs’k and in the district was mainly presented by Russians,retainers were also referred to this group, marked in church books as merchants. For example, Selchukov, a merchant from Oryol, who justified his right to trade in Olexandrivs’k hospital and spoke against Timofeyev, the tax-farmer and the commandant of Karavatka with major-General Lanov, the New Dnipro Line commander,who supported him. Though his competitors were quite serious,Oryol merchant Selchukov settled inOlexandrivs’k district to live. Besides that, it is known, that bourgeois also dealt with trading and subcontracting. Then, when building Svyatopokrovskaya church in Olexandrivs’k district, the subcontractors were Ivan Neskreba, Ivan Usaty, Semyon Brailenkov and Demyan Korsunov, but those people didn’t have the merchant status, so as Andriy Dragan didn’t, who owned chumak trolleys and he became a church warden of Olexander Nevskiy church[xx]

Table 4.6

Generalpeculiaritiesof choosing the god-parents for the children by their parents

(N = 104)  Х2=0,00

  Social status of god-parents
Social status of god-parents Military men Merchants Bourgeois Settlers Land lord’s subordinates Priests Crafters Manager Military men subordinates Day-laborers Total
Military men 6 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 11
Clerks 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Merchants 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Bourgeois 2 4 21 0 1 1 8 2 0 0 39
Land lord’s subordinates 1 2 3 1 28 0 3 0 0 0 38
Priests 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Crafters 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3
Military men subordinates 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 9
Day-laborers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Total 15 7 29 1 30 1 15 3 2 1 104


The analysis of rolls, shown in Table 4.7 lets us analyze the choice of god-parents by the landlord’s subordinates. The first place is occupied by the landlord’s subordinate themselves by choice frequency. On the second placethere are the crafters of Olexandrivs’k district, which have the respective status both in the district and among the landlord’s subordinates. Bourgeoisie and merchants are on the third place. If the choice of bourgeois as god-parents is completely understandable, the choice of merchants as god-parents in Olexandrivs’k district by landlord subordinates lets us see here the impactof some business relations arising between these groups.  Perhaps, these were the trade relations, as according to the narrations of Olexandrivs’k district, both in state and in landlords’ villages the inhabitants mostly dealt with cattle farming, as well as weaved linen and wool for sale[xxi].

Table 4.7 Peculiarities of choosing the god-parents for children by their parents living in landlord’s settlements(N = 39) Х2=0,00

  Parents’ social status
Godparents’ social status Landlord’s subordinates Day-laborer Total
Military men 1 0 1
Merchants 2 0 2
Bourgeois 3 0 3
Settlers 1 0 1
Landlord’s subordinates 28 0 28
Crafters 3 0 3
Day-laborer 0 1 1
Total 38 1 39

The relations between the international colonists and inhabitants of Olexandrivs’k district are also interesting. Due to the establishment of the colony on the left bank of Moskovkariver, the landlotfor colonists was granted from the pasture landsof Olexandrivs’k district, whose first group consisted of 17 families[xxii]. We have to point out that the colonists got the lands which had been already inhabited. Consequently, in order to free the territory, the property of inhabitants was bought on the auction for the account of newly arrived colonists. Settlements of colonists near Olexandrivs’k and buying of property from inhabitants, who lived at this territory, was not an exception. Thus, the inventory of property from each yard was made,where the last name of an owner, his building and general cost of the property was registered. For example, the inventory of Ignat Didenko’s property had been made, who later moved to Olexandrivs’k, it said – house with a closet, with a cellar inside, two barns, a yard and a fenced garden. All the property was evaluated in 35 rubles.[xxiii]Due to the settlement initiation the natives moved to another settlements. Thus, Ivan Sukhoy, Ignat Didenko and Grigoriy Shapoval can be found registered in the church book of Svyatopokrovs’kaya church as Olexandrivs’k inhabitants. MykytaNekrasov, being a state settler, according to the revision materials was moved to Voznesenka village. Unfortunately, it is quite hard to trace the migration of all the population which lived at the territory of the future colony, because the seller often used to change his last name when moving to another place of residence. Thus, according to the inventory of the property of natives,sold at the auction, we see the property of Laz’ko Durniy, but he also had another last name – Prikhod’ko, as it was found out later. Both Olexandrivs’k and Voznesenka church books register the last name of Prikhod’ko, but we don’t have any reason to identify him as the same person who moved from the territory of the future colony.

When the colonists arrived on the 20th of August 1793is the number of 16 families to the place of the future Schönwiesecolony, they started to erect theirhouses at once. The wooden logs granted for the state account for construction of their houses were insufficientand they began to cut the trees, which remained on Mokra Moskovka river banks, and says this forest was heavilydamaged by construction and military teams, who erected the fortress,the colonists begin to cut the treesclose to the houses of Olexandrivs’k inhabitants.[xxiv]The next stumbling Stone became the problem of land utilization, as after the settlers freed the land for the colonies, they considered hayfields and tillage to be the propertyof the population, who lived there beforeor had gardens there. That is the reason why we have the claims from colonists, that Olexandrivs’k inhabitants compulsorily take thehay out of the colony, and on top of that, they occupied all the convenient lands for green growing, having left the old fields to the colonists[xxv]. There were also arguments related to the non-acceptance of traditional native farming by colonists, namely – pig breeding. The matter was that traditionally they were pastured freely on the islands near the Velikiy Lug. The owners fenced their gardens around to avoid the cattle penetration there[xxvi]. The colonists were not used to such a farm management and they claimed to the commandant of Olexandrivs’k fortress, colonel Avramov, let the natives make them thistrouble intentionally, and both state and they have big lost because of that,because that grain for dropping and food were granted for the account of the state[xxvii].

Therefore, in our opinion, usage of church registration materials allows to trace the transformations of the population formation, kept in secret by the materials of taxation books, general and special revisions,Province and Vicariate map books. The most valuable information, given in the church registration materials is the transition of the populationbetween the society social statuses, population share from the former Zaporizhia inheritance, mutual relations between different reference groups of the population in certain settlement and other matters. Of course, it’s not worth to consider this source group, as well as any other,as unquestionable, but the synergy of information from the church registration materials with documental, narrative and map-making sources allows to reproduce the population formation process of some certain settlements of Steppe Ukraine more precisely.


[i]Granovetter M. S. 1973. The Strength of Weak Ties.The American Journal of Sociology.78 (6): 1360–1380.

[ii] Лиман І.І. Російська православна церква на півдні України останньої чверті XVIII – середини XIX століття. – Запоріжжя:РА “Тандем-У”, 2004. – с. 293

[iii]РДАДАф.16спр588ч.2арк 280 -282;

[iv]РДАДАф.16спр588ч.4арк 92 -94

[v]РДАДАф.16спр588ч.6арк 443-445

[vi]РДАДАф.16спр588ч.9арк 585-587

[vii]ДАЗО ф. 1. оп1. спр.1арк 171-171 зв.

[viii]ДАЗО ф.1оп.1спр 1 арк 48-48зв, арк 59

[ix]ДАЗО ф.1оп.1спр1 арк. 109

[x]В.Б. Из архивных материалов // ЛЕУАК .‑Екатеринослав, 1910.‑Вып.6.‑с.207

[xi]РДАДА ф.16оп.1спр588,част 6 арк 443

[xii]РДАДА, ф.16, оп.1, спр.588, част.2, арк.280.

[xiii]РДАДА ф.16спр588ч.2арк 280 -282;

[xiv]РДАДА ф.16спр588ч.4арк 92 -94

[xv]РДАДА ф.16спр588ч.6арк 443-445

[xvi]РДАДА ф.16спр588ч.9арк 585-587

[xvii] Бойко П. Джерела з історії етнічного складу населення Степової України останньої чверті XVIII ст. // Наукові праці історичного факультету Запорізького національного університету. – Запоріжжя: ЗНУ, 2010. – Вип. XXVIII. – С. 442-446

[xviii] Лиман І.І. Російська православна церква на півдні України останньої чверті XVIII – середини XIX століття. – Запоріжжя:РА “Тандем-У”, 2004. – с.139с.

[xix]ДАЗО ф.123оп1спр.1арк 79

[xx]Новицький Я.П. Твори в 5-и томах. Т.4.- Запоріжжя:ПП “АА Тандем”, 2010.- с80

[xxi]РДАДА ф.1355спр 366 арк 1-60

[xxii]ДАДО ф.134оп.1спр 18 арк 26 зв

[xxiii]ДАДО ф.134 оп 1 спр8арк 232 – 233зв

[xxiv]ДАДО ф.134оп.1спр.16арк21зв

[xxv]ДАДО ф.134оп.1спр.17арк 26-27зв

[xxvi]ДАДО ф.134 оп 1 спр8арк 232 – 233зв

[xxvii]ДАДО ф. 134 оп1 д. 14 арк 2-9

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