1) The earliest examples of this word date from the fifteenth century when they referred to countrymen, or men who followed country pursuits (OED). In the records of Healaugh Park are much earlier Latin uses which seem to point to workers of villein status working in the park.
The charters are undated but probably of the thirteenth century: servicium rusticitatis Waltero Tornario
cum duobus rusticis et eorum catallis … scilicet Johanne filio Matill et Roberto fratre ejus. They are also directly compared with free men: n.d. liberis hominibus meis cum eorum tenementis et rusticis meis cum eorum catallis, Healaugh Park.