In Trøndelag there was a large group of cotters already by 1645. It continued to increase for some time after that, but then diminished in the first part of the 1700s. For Orkdal the author has analysed at a detailed level the information about farmers and cotters found in tax returns and male censuses for the period 1610–1701. The grouping of tax subjects in these lists indicates that the cotter concept has remained unchanged in its content.

Ståle Dyrvik found for Etne in Hordaland that the cotters were tenant farmers at the smallest farms. Not so in Orkdal. The cotters there were a separate tax class regarding for instance the union tax and the contribution tax. On no occasion do we find that the cotters were taxed as farmers of registered farm land.

According to the poll tax of 1645 at least 85 % of the cotters were married or widowed. Retired men and lodgers can only constitute a small part of the cotter group, and the seaside cotters at Orkdalsøra are kept outside of the analysis. Most of those belonging to the cotter group must have belonged to what were later labelled cotters with or without land.

Among the seaside cotters at Øra and among the cotters of the mining company at Svorkmo, most households had some land. This seems to have been a typical economic adaptation also applicable to the cotters in the countryside, ensuring that the wives could contribute actively to the household.