Most family trees include an agricultural labourer somewhere. In his introduction, the author recalls how he kept coming across records of his agricultural labourer ancestors – “how many times have you read in the census return the description ‘ag lab’ and thought there was little else to find out about him? How wrong you are.”
This book gives the reader a good idea of what daily life was like for this impoverished and now largely forgotten section of society. The author covers the ordinary workers on the land such as ploughmen and shepherds, describing the skills they needed, including caring for horses. The country calendar of events is also outlined – ploughing, sowing and harvesting.
The second part of the book outlines the records themselves, including Quarter Sessions, tithe schedules, manorial records, estate records and even trade union records. There is a useful bibliography and a list of Parliamentary Bills which affected the lives of agricultural labourers.
This is a book which will interest all family historians.
Named “Best Occupational History Book of 2008” by Family History Monthly magazine.
Revised edition 2010
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