E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
was anciently a forty-shilling freeholder, and as such qualified to vote, and serve on juries. In more modern times it meant a farmer who cultivated his own freehold. Later still, an upper farmer, tenant or otherwise, is often called a yeoman.
His family were yeomen of the richer class, who for some generations had held property.R. C. Jebb: Richard Bentley, chap. i. p. 2.