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This article argues that farm service was an adaptable and sustainable system of hiring labour in areas of midland and southern England after 1850, having much in common with the model recently identified for northern England and Scotland. Analysing the Census Enumerators Books from selected parishes in seven counties in 1851, 1871, and 1891, we reveal an intricate pattern of farm service ‘survival’ both within and between counties. We then use a range of reports printed between the 1860s and 1920s to examine the national picture. The later regional persistence of farm service has implications for broader debates on the rural workforce and social relations.